Join My Happy Holidays 60 Day Wellness Challenge (It’s FREE!)

Happy Holidays

 

Would you like to have more energy, more fun, and more happiness this Holiday Season? Join me in a free 60-day challenge to make “Happy Holidays” more meaningful. It’s free. It’s online 24/7. There will be surprise prizes throughout. There will be one GRAND prize – three months of nutrition coaching with me over Skype*.

All you need to do is sign up.

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What Will We Do?

Once you sign up, you’ll start getting weekly e-mails with the self-care goals for the week. You will also get tips, recipes, and freebies. Some e-mails will have a contest, a quiz question to answer or other challenge to enter to win. (Winners will be chosen at random.)

This is not a holiday diet. Heck, it’s barely a plan. I won’t tell you “5 foods you must avoid” or any other negative rule like that. If you can’t do it for life, why bother at all?

Our focus will be finding happiness in the holidays by setting realistic goals for my three pillars or wellness: Food, Fitness, and Fun. Tips will be positive, empowering, and actionable. I’ll help you overcome the typical wellness barriers we all struggle with over the holidays. If you aren’t familiar with my non-diet approach to healthy living, read more about my philosophy. Check out what others say testimonials from real clients.

You can ask me anything during the challenge through my Facebook page or send me a private e-mail.

If you’re up for it, you can play an important role in motivating others in the challenge.  If you have advice to share, do it. We can all inspire each other and be there for each other.

If you will be using social media to chronicle your experience, use the hashtag #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Let’s make these holidays truly happy (and healthy) by taking care of ourselves and each other.

Why a “Happy Holidays” Challenge?

“The Holidays” are always an interesting time of year for me. I love the seasons, celebrations, enjoying good food, spending time with wonderful people, hot chocolate, a warm fire, crisp air, and even the seasonal music.

As much as the holidays are about pleasure and enjoyment, I’ll admit that other holiday traditions of mine have included stress, anxiety, fatigue, guilt over what I’m eating, guilt over what I’m spending, guilt over the exercise I’m not doing, and overall bah-humbug kind of feelings.

A few years ago, I secretly decided that this was no way to spend the holidays, especially as a food and nutrition expert. (I’m supposed to be the one to help people, right?!) So I decided to help myself first. I committed myself to squashing the urge to be so judgmental or perfect, trying to live up to some unrealistic ideal of what I should be doing (or not doing). I set some boundaries. I respected myself. I was nicer to myself. I was happier. And most interesting to me, my habits were healthier!

It was the best holiday ever.

I want to do this challenge to help more people enjoy the good that comes with the holidays and let go of the bad. My goal is to educate and inspire you, but really I just hope I offer you tools and solutions to help you achieve the way you want to feel.

Are You Ready to Get Happy?

Sign up below.

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Enlist a Crew

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sending them this blog post and sharing on social media. Social shareables below:

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

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

* Prizes will be announced on the e-mail list. Nutrition coaching winner chosen at random at the end of the challenge from e-mail list subscribers participating in the challenge.

My 2014 FNCE: Food, Fitness, and Friends

Another FNCE (Food Nutrition Conference and Expo) has come and gone. This is the one event each year where I am guaranteed to see many wonderful RDs I have had the pleasure to get to know through the years. It’s always a special time. From the education, to the expo and the social events, FNCE is fun!

This year, I was honored to host, not one but TWO special events for a couple of my favorite brand partners – siggi’s and Mazola Corn Oil. Check out my recap of these events and some of my other favorite memories below.

NE-Time, NE-Where Fitness, Powered by siggi’s

Now a mom of two kids  under two years old, I have embraced the idea of “making it work for me.” That includes workouts. If I don’t have the window of time to hit my favorite workout, I do effective exercises with the only equipment I need – my body. I loved partnering with Nutrition Entrepreneurs (“NE”) and siggi’s for the NE-Time, NE-Where Workout at FNCE. (I guess that includes 6:45 a.m. in front of the CNN offices and quite possibly viewers everywhere!)

Planking with Siggi and NE. Engage that core!

Planking with Siggi and NE members. Engage that core!

We started with my all time favorite – the plank – with multiple variations and push ups. Also included were lunges, burpees, chair and sumo squats, mountain climbers, and everyone’s 6th grade favorite… jumping jacks. We completed 30 minutes of a sweat-fest with intervals from beginner to advanced. We finished with yoga poses and enjoyed a delicious siggi’s yogurt breakfast.

Gettin' Siggi with It!

Gettin’ Siggi with It!

I love that siggi’s yogurt is real- no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. I also love that siggi’s has more protein than sugar per container. Just a slight sweetness from real ingredients, all which you can find in your kitchen. Be sure to pick up some siggi’s yogurt at the grocery store this week or if you can’t find it, let your grocer know  you want it.

Recipe to try: Easy peasy Post-Workout Smoothie

Cooking Right with Mazola Corn Oil: Chicken Tinga Tacos 

When I find a recipe that is easy, versatile, and good for you, I am a happy woman. The chicken tinga tacos is so simple, but the best part is that it practically cooks itself in the slow cooker. This frees up a good chunk of your time to do whatever you want – a hot bath, a workout or both!

Making chicken tinga tacos at FNCE 2014

Making chicken tinga tacos at FNCE 2014

If you aren’t cooking with corn oil, give it a try. Corn oil can help lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil thanks to the plant sterols. Corn oil’s plant sterols block cholesterol absorption by the body. Corn oil has 4 times the plant sterols as olive oil and 40% more than canola oil. (See the study at Mazola’s website)

I gotta tell you, the live food demo was a lot of fun. I was happy I didn’t start a fire on the exhibit floor!

“Wonderful”  Reception at the Skyview Wheel

I love working with the Wonderful brands through the year on TV segments. You are probably most familiar with Wonderful Pistachios and the Get Crackin’ commercials. We had a blast at the Atlanta Skywheel reception complete with Wonderful pomegranate champagne cocktails, tasty bites like pistachio chicken salad, and a ride on the massive wheel.

Wonderful time with friends at FNCE

Wonderful time with friends at FNCE

Kudos, Carlene and Janet

I was thrilled to see a former intern of mine, Carlene Thomas, speaking at FNCE on social media! (Way to go, Carlene! Keep rising that star. Your blog pics are gorgeous!)

I was ecstatic for the one and only Janet Helm, who received career distinction with the Media Excellence Award. Janet has pioneered RDs as the nutrition experts on social media by founding Nutrition Blog Network.

My P’s – Wendy Jo and Leslie

And of course, I got time with Wendy Jo and Leslie – my P’s (as in peas in a pod – and I know it means something else too!) We met at Academy Leadership in 2009 having drinks by the pool :) We got the bright idea to form a mastermind group. A couple of years later we were selected to speak at FNCE on the power of peer support. We still get people coming up to us saying that we inspired them years ago and they are actively pursuing and living their career dreams. That feels pretty darn good.

I’m happy for Leslie’s latest biz – Your Supper Solution. Check it out, subscribe or at least start with her free e-mails.

John F Kennedy said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” I think that sums up FNCE pretty well…  It’s full of leadership and learning… and fun! See y’all in Nashville 2015!

Disclosure: I worked with Mazola and siggi’s on the FNCE events, but I was not compensated to write this blog post. 

Give a piece of your heart this holiday season.

September 30-Day Challenge: Take Care of Your Heart

heart

I love the heart. For one, we all need our hearts to live and we need our hearts to love.

If you know me, you know I’m all about self-care and self-love. Most of my clients, family, and friends are so good at taking care of others, yet many of them struggle with taking care of themselves – yours truly included (hello, mom of two fabulous and energy-draining girls under two years old.)

We obviously need a healthy heart to live a long, happy life and enjoy the ride. Six years ago my mom suffered a near fatal heart attack. She’s had two more minor ones since then and quadruple bypass surgery. While she has heart disease, she has been able to quit smoking and she enjoys water walking.

As you can imagine, healthy hearts are personal to me. When it came time to come up with a new monthly challenge for September and I realized it was National Cholesterol Education Month, I decided to honor hearts everywhere – my mom’s, mine, and yours!

The focus of this month’s 30-Day Challenge is THREE SIMPLE WAYS you can take care of your heart (yes, only three!) and help keep your cholesterol in a healthy range. And maybe even more importantly keep your heart healthy for years, and years, and YEARS of love.

So What IS Cholesterol?

Our bodies actually need cholesterol in order to make vitamin D and hormones like estrogen and testosterone. We get some from out diet, but most of it is made in our liver. HDL (“good” cholesterol), is the kind that helps to protect our heart and carries cholesterol to our liver for our bodies to get rid of it. This is the one where a higher number is a good thing.  LDL (“bad cholesterol”) is the kind that carries cholesterol from the liver to other parts of the body. The problem is that when your LDL cholesterol gets too high it can end up accumulating in your arteries which can lead to serious issues like heart attacks and strokes. The goal is to have a low LDL and a high HDL to help keep your heart healthy.

What Are Some Ways I Can Take Care of My Heart?

The good news is that there are things each of us can do every day to help bring our cholesterol into a healthy range. 3 things you can do EVERY DAY are:

  1. Eat well — this means eating a balanced and varied diet full of color and wholesome, nourishing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean proteins. Emphasizing heart healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, canola oil and nuts and seeds is important too. Cooking at home lets you control the ingredients of your meals, so set a goal to get in the kitchen more — even have your kids help out! Check out this list of 10 foods to break your low cholesterol diet rut to help keep your meals exciting and prevent boredom. The American Heart Association has a great collection of heart healthy recipes if you need some ideas to get you started.
  2. Exercise regularly — exercise has been shown to help improve your cardiovascular function, and it can help lower your cholesterol. Choose whatever kind of movement feels fun and makes your body feel good (yoga, hula hooping, walking your dog, playing outside with your kids, a dance class, etc.) and aim for 30 minutes per day (about 2.5 hours per week).
  3. Not smoke — smoking is the number one cause of heart disease and heart attack. Your body gets healthier even within 24 hours of quitting, so why not choose today to quit? For resources and support for how to quit, you can visit http://smokefree.gov.

I want to hear how YOU take care of your heart!

  • Share your heart healthy recipes, favorite workouts, and other inspiration with me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll also be posting motivations, tips, and responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  • If you have a blog, write about your experience and share those links.
  • I’m using the hashtag #heartsmart

Sleep Your Way to Better Health

I once heard a great Irish proverb that has stuck with me throughout my life, ‘A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.’ These days Americans are getting less and less sleep every year. Currently only 40 percent of the U.S. gets the recommended eight hours, on average receiving only 6.8 hours per night. While a short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about, long term sleep loss can really throw a dagger in your overall well-being and health. This month I would like to challenge you all to get a good nights rest. If you think you’re in need of some shut eye, join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge to learn how a good night’s sleep will help you be more productive during waking hours.

How Losing ZZZs Can Harm Your Health

Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night.

So why aren’t we snoozing? Stress is the number one cause of sleep difficulties. 48% of people report lying awake due to stress. We have too much to do and not enough time, but instead of respecting the boundary of sleep, we nudge precious minutes to hours off our sleep each night.

Stress is directly linked to poor health. According to the American Stress Institute 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms of stress regularly and 73% experience psychological symptoms. These include fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, hemorrhoids, digestive issues, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle tension, memory loss, fertility issues, teeth grinding, increased risks for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, changes in appetite, changes in sex drive, dizziness, irritability, and anger.

Whew. That’s a lot of crap!

Both quantity and quality of sleep are important. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones that regulate our appetite. With not enough good quality sleep, we wake up unprepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in work, family, and social activities.

Could Your Lack of Sleep be Affecting Your Weight? sleep clock

If you think you can survive on 6 hours of sleep, think again. Our body needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, however most people put more importance on physical well being, including food and exercise than mental well being which includes being rested. There is a strong link between sleep, appetite, and weight. According to a recent study published in PLoS Medicine people who receive less than 7 hours of sleep each night have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).

Lack of sleep elevates ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”  –so  if you’ve felt “tired and hungry” with strong craving for carbs, sugar, fat or  “comfort foods” that is your body looking for energy, when actually it needs to be energized through better sleep. Instead of reaching for a quick sugar fix, close your eyes and reenergize.

Stop Counting Sheep – Join the #30daysleepchallenge!

Be sure to join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge. All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll be posting motivations, and many more tips and tricks to help you get more zzz’s. I’d love to hear from you too! Be sure to share you thoughts and I’ll be responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Use the primary hashtag #30daysleepchallenge and #mefirst as the secondary hashtag.

Fuel Your Active Lifestyle with Food and Recipe Ideas

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and National Bike Month! The weather is getting warmer so it’s time to get out and be more active.  You can walk, run, cycle, hike, swim – aim for about 60 minutes of movement a day. Right now most Americans only get 17 minutes a day – YIKES! We can all move more. You can’t mess it up. Do anything you enjoy and be consistent with it.

This past weekend I appeared on WBAL TV 11 in Baltimore to share some friendly meal and snack ideas that will help fuel your active lifestyle! You can watch the full clip below, or read on to see some of the highlights:

Begin with a Balanced Breakfast 

Breakfast has long been considered the most important meal of the day and for good reason! Fueling your body first thing in the morning helps to warm up your metabolism so it’s ready to work throughout the dayFor breakfast, fuel up on whole grains, fruit, and protein. Milk is a source of high-quality protein – 8 grams in an 8 ounce glass. Protein not only helps build muscle, it helps keep you feeling full. Milk also offers three of the top nutrients most likely to be missing in the American diet – calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.

Pudding FINAL

Breakfast Pudding

Besides including milk in morning cereal, you can try this breakfast pudding recipe made with milk, eggs, almond butter, vanilla and layered with your favorite fruit and whole grain cereal.

Did you know that milk is one of the top three items most requested by food banks, yet there is a nationwide shortage of milk at food banks according to Feeding America. The Baltimore community is in need of milk donations and it’s easy to do. Just go online to Milklife.com/give to show your support. Now through May 25, donations will be matched gallon-for-gallon by the nation’s milk companies and dairy farmers.

Recover with Red 

Red-Recharger-Smoothie-2007-Also-Cherry-Smoothie-700x455

Red Recharger Smoothie

People wonder what they should eat before and after a workout. For an ideal recovery you need to fuel your body with something that provides carbohydrates and protein, so I often find myself recommending smoothies. Both flavorful and easy to make, this Red Recharger Smoothie combines whole tart cherries, Greek yogurt and tart cherry juice to give you a boost of powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. Research published in the Journal

Mango Cherry Avocado Salad

Mango Cherry Avocado Salad

 

Nutrients shows that these natural compounds help reduce oxidative stress and muscle inflammation, which can help the body recover more rapidly from exercise.

This Mango Cherry and Avocado Salad combines creamy avocado with the sweetness of mango and tangy tart cherries for a balanced flavor pack full of nutrients. Top this salad with your favorite lean protein, such as a piece of grilled salmon to create  a perfect meal for the warmer weather.

You can also get tart cherries in dried form which make a great addition to any trail mix, cereal or as yogurt toppers.

Snack Smart 

When you’re on the move it’s always a good idea to keep a healthy snack close by. I love pistachios for snacks to fuel between meals because they are a convenient and healthy option for on-the-go with 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber per ounce – about 49 nuts.

WP flavors packshotWhen you choose Wonderful Pistachios you have options too, available in 4 flavors– no salt, lightly salted, roasted & salted, salt & pepper, and sweet chili. To make on-the-go even easier you can also purchase 100 calorie tubes or 80 calorie snack packs at local retailers or online.

Make Snack Time Fun!

In-shell pistachios are great for food art because your kids can help shell the nuts,turning the kernels into anything from water in the ocean to part of a smile or even ants on a log. This fun “Shark Plate” snack recipe below is composed of color, shape, texture, and nutrition. It just takes a little creativity to elevate a healthy snack of pistachios, cheese, red bell pepper, and toast into a delicious shark snack that you and your child can enjoy together. See recipe below.

“Shark Plate”

sharkplate

Shark Plate Food Art

Ingredients

  • In-shell Wonderful Pistachios
  • Whole Grain Toast
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Red Bell Pepper

Instructions

  1. Remove the shells from 49 in-shell pistachios to create the sea.  Your kids can help – cracking open the shells to create the sea is a fun and interactive way to involve them in the snack making process.
  2. Cut one slice of cheddar cheese about a half inch in width to create the body of the shark.
  3. Cut another slice of cheese the same width as the body of the shark to form the three fins.
  4. Toast one piece of whole grain toast, and cut your toast into a boat shape.
  5. Take half of a red bell pepper and cut into strips to form one triangle and one trapezoid for the sails of your toast boat.
  6. Cut smaller pieces of red bell pepper to create a small triangle or circular shape for the shark’s eye, and additional small triangles for its teeth.
  7. After the pistachios are shelled and the ingredients are cut, place your shark and boat on your plate and surround the shark and bottom of the boat with the shelled pistachios to create the ocean.

Cover Your Bases with Multivitamins 

Active people always ask me about healthy eating and the need for supplements. My advice is to look for a “healthy sweet spot”.  You want to eat healthy first and a good multivitamin can help fill in the gaps to help meet vitamin and mineral needs. Especially because active people need more vitamins and minerals.

I love Vitafusion Multivites – for adults and L’il Critters Gummy Vites - for the kiddos because they combine the power of vitaminsVF_MVPlus_HSN and a great-tasting gummy, making them a delicious alternative to hard-to-swallow tablets or capsules. Now there’s a PLUS line available, where you
LC_BoneSupport (1)can get more well-being support. The Vitafusion Hair, Skin, and Nails with biotin and lutein for adults and the L’il Critters Plus Bone Support for kids – with calcium and vitamin D. One serving of Lil’ Critters Plus Bone Support contains 200 milligrams of calcium which is as much as a 5 ounce glass of milk and 220 IU of vitamin D, which helps support calcium absorption and bone health.

It’s a small daily healthy habit that’s enjoyable and delicious so your family will be more likely to stick to it. Most importantly remember our health and enjoyment collide through the small, daily activities and habits that shape us into our best selves.

What Do You Fuel Up On?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send a tweet to @ScritchfieldRD to share your favorite tips for flavorful, healthy meals and snacks to keep you fueled.

 

Disclaimer: I was compensated by Milk, Vitafusion, Wonderful Pistachio and the Cherry Marketing Institute to do the tv segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.