My Goals for a Healthier, Happier 2015

Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored by General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. I was compensated for my time to write this blog and share it on social media. My thoughts are my own.


Hello, 2015!

I love the New Year! While I don’t do “resolutions” in the typical sense, I think the New Year is a great time to set intentions. My commitment to health is life-long and as such, I’m always looking for ways to strengthen my health in ways that are realistic, compassionate and positive.

In my concierge private practice I help my clients focus on 3 key areas of wellness: food, fitness and fun. Borrowing from that mindset I’ve set three of my own self-care goals for a healthier and happier 2015.

Food Goal: Make “Healthy” Easier

As much as I love nutritious and delicious I don’t always have the time to prepare food from scratch. Sometimes I’m even eating on the fly and that is something I’m trying to work on too. Intuitive eating is important to me and it’s the best way for me to know when I need food and when I’ve had enough nourishment. In an effort to edge out time to sit and enjoy my food, I want to look for even more ways to make healthy eating as quick and easy as I can.

One way healthy eating can be made easy is by simplifying meals. Pairing a couple foods together in a “grab and go” style is pretty darn simple. (see my list below)

Yogurt with fruit and granola is a quick, balanced meal or snack.

Yogurt with fruit and granola is a quick, balanced meal or snack.

Whenever I’m putting a meal or snack together I think about the USDA Choose My Plate and I try to hit those components. A healthy and easy breakfast can be as simple as pairing a yogurt with fruit and granola, and it checks all the boxes of providing a balance of nutrients.

Did you know 
the 2010 Dietary Guidelines report the average American consumes only 52% of the recommended three cups of dairy per day? (Source: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Chapter 4, page 38)

Having yogurt available for a quick meal component or snack is an easy way to make sure you meet your nutrition needs. I also love using yogurts in smoothies or mixed with plain oats to add flavor and nutrients.

If there are kids in your life, consider sharing a yogurt snack with them. Currently, only 26% of teen girls meet the daily requirement for calcium.Adding yogurt as a rich source of calcium would help an additional 25% of girls get the calcium they need. (Source: NHANES 09-10, females 14-19 yrs, NCI Usual Intake Method was used to estimate % below EAR)

Here’s a list of ideas for easy food pairings:

  • any fruit with yogurt and granola
  • any fruit with cheese
  • vegetables with salsa, bean dip, or guacamole
  • eggs with vegetables and cheese
  • yogurt with plain oats and nuts or peanut butter

For more information about yogurt, calcium, and health the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition website has a section on calcium worth checking out.

Fitness Goal: Embrace Joyful Movement

Living an active life is an important ingredient of living a healthy life. Unfortunately most of us don’t get enough exercise and a big part of the problem is we don’t actually enjoy what we’re doing. I love running, but if it means getting on that “dreadmill” you can forget it. I like challenging myself in group classes, but if the instructor is going to try to “motivate” me by focusing on reducing my thighs and getting bikini body ready, I’m out.

I have learned in life that the best type of exercise is the one you actually do. You’re more likely to be consistent with exercise if you are enjoying yourself. This is why I am specifically looking for joyful movement in 2015.

Find the fun in fitness!

Find the fun in fitness!

Here’s how I’m going to do it: before I do my regular workouts, even if I’m looking forward to them, I’m going to set an intention and dedication for the exercise like a little secret gift. “I’m taking care of me today in yoga because I love my sister and I want to be there for her in every way possible.”

The other thing I’m going to do is schedule more non-traditional exercise like going hiking with my family on the weekend. Or running around or dancing with my 2 year old – things she loves to do for a loooooong time. Instead of letting these things be “what I do when I run out of time for MY workout,” I want to appreciate the joy (and health benefits) of these activities as intentional movement.

Instead of stressing about how you’re not exercising, discover ways to move your body in your everyday routines. Maybe it’s running errands on foot or dancing around the house to your favorite tunes. Focus on moving your body in ways you love—you’ll be happier and healthier.

 Fun Goal: Learn to Meditate

Fun is anything you do for yourself to help yourself feel like things are going OK and you’re generally happy. It could be a one-off viral video that makes you all warm and fuzzy (cue cute panda in the snow video) or something new you try to enhance your life. The reason why I put fun on my clients’ wellness radar is because this is the most positive way we have to prevent being overwhelmed by stress.

woman_jumping_happy

Find joy in the day to day.

Naturally, we have ways to cope with some amounts of daily stress without getting derailed. But then there are those days where life seems to blow up in our face and stress gets to the best of us. It interrupts our sleep, drains our physical and mental energy, making motivation to eat balanced and exercise even more challenging.

Having fun on a day-to-day basis is like practicing for the inevitable sh!8 storm. It strengthens our resilience so we can bounce back more easily, and hopefully control the emotional damages of the stress tornado.

There are a bagillion ways to have fun. For me, I want to experience meditation on a deeper level as a way to help keep my mind open and aware in the present moment. I tend to be one of those people who skips over appreciation and contentment in the day to day. I have to remember to enjoy the Play Doh mess everywhere because watching my daughter get creative is priceless. (Even dried up and smashed into the expensive area rug we swore we could keep clean before kids!)

If you’re interested in exploring meditation at all, I encourage you to try loving-kindness meditation (metta). It has been shown to enhance positivity and overall happiness. Or check out these free guided meditations on YouTube.

Taking some time to recharge and refresh will put you in a better frame of mind to tackle your day and enjoy yourself while you’re at it.

 Now, It’s Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you! What goals have you set to live a healthier and happier 2015? Feel free to share your comments below.


Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored by General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. I was compensated for my time to write this blog and share it on social media. My thoughts are my own.

#HappyHolidaysChallenge: Fitting in Fitness

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.

blog_mailSignup

Deck…the… Halls with Planks and Burp-ees

Fa la-la-la-la

Is it too early for the seasonal music?

Like it or not, holiday season is approaching, and with all the cooking, shopping, cross-country road trips to visit the in-laws, and hosting the family celebrations, where exactly is exercise supposed to fit in?

Usually, it doesn’t. On average, Americans get 17 minutes of physical activity daily when we should be shooting for 30-60.

It All Counts

A common mistake we’ve all made, is to think that because we don’t have the time to put in our “usual hour” at the gym, anything less would be a waste of time. In reality, it’s the opposite. During the holidays when stress can be high, those 15 minutes of movement can make a big difference in maintaining physical and mental health.

One of the beautiful things about fitness, is that it’s flexible. Any time, any place, with just about any piece of equipment, you can find a way to fit in a workout.

Busy holiday schedules are the perfect time to test that flexibility. So how do you fit an effective workout into 30, 15, or even fewer minutes?

The moment you realize your plan to exercise has been derailed, revise that plan.

You Can Do It Challenge:  If you can’t do a full workout, use WHATEVER time you have, even if it’s 10 minutes. 

Constructing Your Workout is Easy

An easy way to maximize your workout time, is to use whatever you have available as your time limit. Just pick three (or however many you want) movements, decide on a set of reps, and try to complete as many rounds as you can in the time you have.

For example, you have 20 minutes to workout. Assuming you take 5 minutes to get in a few jumping jacks and stretching for a warm up, your workout will take 15 minutes.

Using burpees, squats, and mountain climbers, your reps are 6, 12, and 18 (keeping those sides even!), respectively. You have 15 minutes to cycle through the 6 burpees, 12 squats, and 18 mountain climbers as many times as you can. You can do this anywhere!

If you read “burpee” and thought “excuse me, did you just burp?” No, that’s a real exercise and it looks like this. It’s intense. You can modify it down by doing one leg at a time and don’t do the jump. Or ask a fit friend or trainer to show you!

And if that doesn’t float your boat, how about a walk? Why not? It’s movement and it counts. Bringing activity to your errands can be effective when the clock is not on your side.

Get My 5 Moves Full Body Workout

Want my complete anytime, anywhere workout? Join the Happy Holidays Challenge. If you’re already in, check your inbox! It was in this week’s email. Once you join the challenge, you can contact me directly from the welcome email and I’ll send you what you’ve missed.

Tools to Help You Out

If you’re looking for some variety, check out the 7 Minute Workout App and have a workout ready to go whenever and wherever you are. The app provides movement instructions, a timer, and announced and visual cues for easy use during workouts. After taking a look at this app, I’ll definitely be using it for those days I just can’t make it to the gym.

You can get even more out of these body weight movements using a tabata timer. Pick up any free tabata app like Tabata-Timer, and choose just one or two of the movements listed. You can get a workout in as little as 4 minutes, or do multiple tabatas for more volume. Never heard of tabata? It’s easy…a timed period of work followed by a period of rest, repeated as many times as you want. Set the timer and it will do the thinking for you!

Take care of YOU!

Remember, if you’re doing SOME kind of movement, you can’t get it wrong. Making the choice to find time for yourself in a seemingly impossibly busy schedule is an important self-care choice. Taking this time to recharge and refresh will put you in a better frame of mind to tackle your day, and make for an even more enjoyable holiday season.

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.

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

Exercise for the Health of It

Spring is in the air which means its time to come out of hibernation and start movin’! During April I will be promoting the Exercise Attitude Adjustment Challenge! This challenge encourages you to focus on exercising for the health of it, rather than trying to be the next olympic gold medalist! Remember-progress, not perfection-every little bit of effort counts!

We all know that the recommendation is to do 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week for optimal health. In reality, Americans only exercise for an average of 17 minutes per day. So what is slowing us down?

I believe that the key problem is exercise attitudes. Maybe you don’t have time in your busy schedule to set aside an hour for exercise. Or is it that you just can’t get yourself motivated to run on the treadmill? Many of us have unrealistic expectations about the changes we want to see to our bodies. The first step towards being physically active is an exercise attitude adjustment. Get rid of that negative thinking and turn your stroll into a skip!

Staying active is all about making it work for you and your lifestyle. Keep these three tips in mind as you race to meet your exercise goals.

1. Choose activities you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to go on a 10-mile run if that’s not your thing! It may be hard to believe, but some of the activities you probably already enjoy doing actually count as exercise. For instance, daily activities such as vacuuming, gardening, raking leaves, walking the dog, or even just picking up kids toys force us to get up and move. Personalize your exercise by discovering what makes you happy, whether that is dancing, yoga, biking, playing a sport or going for a walk with a friend. One exercise routine does not fill all!

2. Tailor your exercise to fit with your schedule. Making time for physical activity does not have to be stressful. Simple changes can make a world of difference:

  •       Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  •       Park at the far end of the parking lot or get off a stop early on the subway.
  •       Break up your exercise with a quick 15-minute morning yoga session, a 30-minute lunchtime brisk walk, and a 15-minute evening workout video- the combination is just as good as exercising for an hour straight!
  •       Multitask. Walk on the treadmill while returning phone calls in the evening or catch up on reading while on the stationary bike.
  •       On the weekends plan activities with family or friends that gets everyone moving. Organize a family bike ride, embark on a morning hike, sign up for a yoga class with a friend, or go for a swim.

3. Discover what motivates you. Whether you find a workout buddy, sign up for a group exercise class, or invest in a device to track your activity, everyone needs some sort of encouragement. Allot time for exercise on your daily calendar and make it a routine!

Your Turn to Share

Now that I’ve shared the secrets to achieving an exercise attitude adjustment I want to hear your ideas. How do you get motivated? What activities do you do to get moving? Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite exercise tips, quotes, or activities to help others get on board!

  • Use the primary hashtag #SelfCareChallenge in your messages
  • Be sure to “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll 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.

Foods and Gadgets to “Fuel” Your Active Lifestyle

If you like exercise like I do, then you might also like to know how to stay energized before, during, and after your workout. When it comes to eating, the key is quality foods, quality nutrients. I also think it’s important to “train smart,” meaning push yourself when you need to and cut yourself some slack when you need to. I support heart rate training as method for customizing your program to meet your goals and current fitness level.

I was on Let’s Talk Live DC this week sharing foods and gear that will help fuel an active lifestyle. Check out my tips on hydration, pre-exercise fuel, recovery nutrition and heart rate training tips.

You can watch the full video here, or check out highlights from my segment below:

Tip #1: Fuel Up Before You Exercise

You need to eat before you workout… the same way you put gas in your car before you drive. You want carbs, which provide “quick energy” to burn during exercise and quality protein for sustained and lasting energy.

KINDI love KIND bars for “on the go” energy, because they have ingredients you can see and pronounce (like real fruit and delicious nuts)  that provide that balance of carbs and protein you are looking for. As pre-exercise fuel “on the go” you can pair a KIND Bar with a piece of fruit, or on their own they’re a great snack too.

KIND Healthy Grain “clusters” provide quality carbohydrates from five whole grains, including ancient grains like amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa. Plus, they’re a good source of fiber to keep you feeling fuller, longer. Perfect for topping yogurt or oatmeal, or even on it’s own with milk.

-1Another great pre-fuel idea for any time of day is pancakes. The only problem is they tend to be low in protein. I was thrilled to find all natural “Flap Jacked Protein Pancakes” that have the protein already in the packet — a whopping 15-17 grams protein per serving! You’ll get your dose of carbohydrate from the whole grains (like whole oats and quinoa), and the protein and fiber will keep you full for hours.

They’re convenient and easy-to-make (just add water!) Plus they’re non-GMO, have no additives and no preservatives. Not only are they full of good nutrition, but they come in 3 delicious flavors – banana hazelnut, cinnamon apple, and buttermilk. You can find them in 4 ounce and 28 ounce packages on their website at www.flapjacked.com.

Tip #2: Replenish Nutrients and Reduce Inflammation with Recovery Nutrition

Endurance exercise creates inflammation and depletes your body of carbohydrates. Recovery 8588977321303240808nutrition is important to replenish those lost nutrients and to help reduce inflammation. Tart cherry juice and dried tart cherries are packed antioxidants called anthocyanins that reduce pain and inflammation comparable to some pain medications.

I drank/ate them as part of the Red Recovery Routine when I ran NYC marathon and recovered within 2 days and was back in yoga. The juice is great on its own or in a smoothie, and I love the dried cherries in my oatmeal and in yogurt parfaits. You can get the recipe for their Red Recharger Smoothie and other tasty goodies at www.choosecherries.com.

Tip #3: Train Smart with Heart Rate Training

Whether you want to manage a healthy weight, run faster, or just be more active, using a heart rate monitor is the best, most reliable way to maximize results. Polar is the industry leader in fitness assessment technology and has a number of affordable and simple to use monitors to fit any fitness level. Whether you’re new to heart rate training and are, or RCX3_black_340x395are an endurance athlete with thousands of miles under your belt.

As a bonus, every monitor comes with access to their Smart Coaching Program that can help you with tailored training advice. Go online to see all their heart rate monitors, including the FT4 and RCX3 models. You can also join their online community, or visit PolarPersonalTrainer.com to set up your free training plan.

Tip #4: Stay Hydrated with the Right Fitness Beverage

Vita CocoWe all need to stay hydrated all day long, but it’s especially important during physical activity. Vita Coco coconut water is a great alternative to many sports drinks, especially if you aren’t out there doing endurance training. You don’t need the calories or sugar from a fitness beverage, but you need to stay hydrated. Coconut water has electrolytes (like calcium, potassium and magnesium) and only 45-60 calories per serving.

A couple of recent studies showed that replacing sports drinks with coconut water helped to decrease sugar intake and increase nutrient intake. Check out the abstracts.

I also love that it is just the water from young coconuts — simple and delicious. It’s particularly delicious in “green smoothies” because it can actually help keep them from turning brown.

Here’s a refreshing “green smoothie” recipe you can try at home:

  • 2 c. Vita Coco coconut water
  • 1 sliced avocado
  • 2 c. lightly packed spinach
  • 1 sliced green apple, skin on
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 c. ice

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and whip until smooth. Serve in a cold glass.

To find Vita Coco coconut water in a store near you, visit vitacoco.com.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time to do this segment by Kind Snacks, Flap Jacked, Cherry Marketing Institute, Polar and Vita Coco, but was not compensated to write this post.

Naturally Fuel Your Fitness Routine!

I was back on Let’s Talk Live this week sharing a plethora of ways you can naturally fuel your fitness routine. Over 60% of DC residents are active, and as I always say — if you can’t fuel it, you can’t do it! So, check out highlights from the segment and maybe you’ll find a new pre- or post-fuel idea for your next workout.

Watch the entire segment here:

For this week’s segment, I worked with recipes that are made from Pure Canadian Maple Syrup which is 100% natural and rich in carbohydrates that provide our bodies the energy we need before workouts. Just remember to check the label and make sure it says “100% maple syrup”. Most of the “pancake” brands actually use high fructose corn syrup and don’t have the same vitamins and minerals. I also shared tips for protein-rich foods like smoothies and pistachios that can be great for recovery nutrition by helping our muscles repair themselves after a workout.

Step 1 — Fill Your Body’s “Gas Tank” With Carbs 

Carbs give your body quick energy so you can go the distance — check out these great pre-fuel ideas:

  • Pre-Workout Rice Pudding: Try this pre-fuel rice pudding with pure maple syrup and berries.  It’s got the right balance of carbs and protein for workouts. You can have it warm or cold and is a cinch to put together. Because the maple syrup is unprocessed, it contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, including potassium, an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid balance and normal muscle function.

  • Anytime Maple Energy Squares: These maple energy squares are another good choice for fueling your workout — either before or after. They’re a great “make ahead” item, and have nutritious oats, eggs, sunflowerseeds, almonds, coconut, dried fruit, and Canadian maple syrup, which contains 54 different antioxidants.  Exercise increases “oxidative stress” which can lead to cell damage so the antioxidants help protect our cells.

  • No Time to Cook? No Problem! If you’re short on time before a workout, you can always opt for fruit like bananas, apples, and pears. They’re nature’s perfect on-the-go foods and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Step 2: Hydrate As You Go

Most people can drink plain water throughout their workouts and be totally fine. Sports drinks are meant more for endurance athletes (think marathon runners) or team sports with lengthy practices. Aim for about half a cup of fluids every 20 minutes of exercise.

Step 3: Mend Those Muscles With Carbs and Protein

Smoothies are great after a workout because the carbs in them help replace what you burned so you aren’t as sore afterwards. The protein they contain helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Canadian maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and zinc, two minerals that are vital for muscle recovery. It also contains the electrolyte potassium that helps with normal muscle function. You can get these nutrients in the Fruity Maple Refueler Shake that I make with strawberries, bananas, quick cooking oats, Greek yogurt, and maple syrup.

Lowfat chocolate milk is another great recovery option if you don’t have time to make a smoothie — it has a good mix of carbs and protein too.

Step 4: Smart Snacks and Meals

I love recommending pistachios as a nutritious and easy on-the-go snack.  Wonderful Pistachios are one of the lowest calorie, lowest fat, and highest fiber nuts. And they have protein, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are important for recovery nutrition.

Wonderful Pistachios on Let’s Talk Live set

Plus, you can’t beat the serving size — 49 kernals!! 1 serving has 300mg of potassium which is way more than a sports drink (only 30 mg potassium in sports drinks). Reach for roasted and salted pistachios to replenish the sodium/potassium you lose during your workout.

Nutrition Main Page Image

For meals, I like to keep it really simple and use whole foods – quality ingredients. This is something you can do for lunch and dinner. Combine any 2 non-starchy veggies – cucumbers and tomatoes, and 1 type of bean – chickpeas, any one type of lean protein – tuna , one herb – flat leaf parsley, any one fat – feta cheese. All you do is mix up these ingredients, and add some fresh lemon or vinegar.

You have a simple, healthy meal ready in no time, it’s packed with nutrients, and will keep you fueled all day long.

What are your favorite “go-to” pre-fuel and recovery snacks?

Disclaimer: I worked with Pure Canadian Maple Syrup and Wonderful Pistachios as part of the TV segment. I was not compensated for this post.