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.

The Worst Diets of 2011

I can’t let 2011 go without ranting about some of the most absurd diet scams of the year. If you know me at all you know I loathe diets. How is it legal for companies to profit off of lies? They promise weight loss and health. Being thin and losing weight doesn’t make a person healthy. Your genetics and your behaviors influence your health – not the scale, not the BMI, and certainly not diets.

The truth is diets do not work in the long run. In fact, they set you up to suffer while you are on them, gain weight when you go off of them, and hate yourself for not being able to “stick to it”. Biologically, our bodies resist the restrictions of dieting. It’s not you, it’s just biology.

I don’t even like the “big name” diets like weight watchers, jenny, and nutrisystem. Weight watchers is the ultimate in food policing, it says that even if you aren’t hungry, as long as you eat a zero point food like bananas or apples, you can have it because it is a “good” food. Well guess what, bananas and apples have energy and if you aren’t hungry you are giving your body energy it doesn’t need. It keeps you from learning the important skills of fueling yourself.

Weight Watchers, Jenny and Nutrisystem don’t help you deal with any potential emotional eating issues and the idea of eating packaged and frozen meals (which they all offer) is not realistic in a person’s life in the short term or long term. Sure a frozen meal here and there, but when that is the basis of your eating, you miss out on so many foods, the cooking experience, and a ton of nutrition.

But these big three are nothing compared to the crap that was honored with the 23rd Slim Chance Awards.

Here are the 24th annual Slim Chance Awards:

MOST OUTRAGEOUS: Jesse Willms, the Canadian owner of Just Think Media. Willms is a multi-millionaire connected to more than 40 product and company names. The 23-year-old high school dropout is charged with deceiving people like Candice Rozak of Edmunton who ordered a free trial of a diet pill called Acai Burn that required only a small handling fee and later found her credit card depleted of nearly $700. It’s a major international problem says Canada’s Anti-Fraud Call Centre. The FTC in the U.S. agrees and is suing Willms and his associates—who collected more than $450 million from online consumers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The complaint says Willms sold at least 15 brands of acai berry weight-loss pills, six brands of colon cleansers and supplements containing resveratrol—all marketed with false or misleading claims. Promised money-back guarantees were often ignored. Despite the efforts of credit card companies and banks the money kept flowing through shell companies and manipulation of payment data.

WORST GIMMICK: The “Pure Energy Weight Loss plus Energy Band.” This plastic bracelet embeds green and silver hologram discs claimed to give off vibes that resonate throughout the body and stimulate weight loss and health. Among the alleged results are decreased appetite, balanced metabolism, balanced hormones¸ enhanced energy flow, increased energy levels and the promotion of positive emotions. A testimonial declares, “Since I bought my Pure Energy Band I have lost over 83Lbs and I feel fantastic.” Furthermore a disc does not even need to touch the skin—apparently it can hover at some distance. Supposedly, to be effective it “only needs to be within the body’s natural energy field. For most people, that is within two inches of the body.”

WORST CLAIM: Sensa weight-loss crystals. The Sensa website states boldly that users can lose an average of 30.5 pounds in six months without dieting, exercise, food restrictions or drastic lifestyle changes—by merely sprinkling these weight-loss crystals on their food. It claims that Sensa has been “clinically proven.” Smell and taste receptors supposedly send the brain messages to tell your body to stop eating. It “activates a hunger-control switch in the brain and you “eat less and feel more satisfied… no feelings of hunger or intense cravings.” Class-action suits have been filed in California and Texas against the marketers of Sensa, developed by Chicago neurologist Alan Hirsch, M.D. and sold by California-based Sensa Products. The California complaint states that (a) there is no competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate these claims and (b) an expert who reviewed Sensa’s main clinical study judged it “beyond worthless.”

WORST PRODUCT: HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin. HCG was first introduced more than 50 years ago by British physician Dr. Albert Simeon who claimed the hormone, found in the urine of pregnant women, would mobilize stored fat, suppress appetite and redistribute fat. He contended that regular injections would enable dieters to live comfortably on a 500-calorie-a-day diet. For a time, these weekly injections were the most widespread obesity medication administered in the US. In the mid-70s the FDA and FTC effectively shut them down by ordering the Simeon clinics to stop claiming their programs were safe and effective, and requiring they inform patients in writing that there was no evidence HCG increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction.” More recently infomercial king Kevin Trudeau took up the cudgel. His 2007 book claims HCG is “an absolute cure for obesity discovered almost fifty years ago,” but “suppressed” by medical experts and the FDA. HCG is heavily marketed online and in retail outlets as oral drops, pellets, and sprays, while injections for weight loss continue. Labeling states that each should be taken in conjunction with a very-low-calorie-diet which, the FDA noted, can trigger gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalance and abnormal heart rhythms. (HCG is approved as an injectable prescription drug for the treatment of some cases of female infertility and other medical conditions.) In December the FDA and FTC jointly warned six companies that it is illegal to market over-the counter HCG products labeled as “homeopathic” for weight loss. This is considered a first step in halting sales (Dec 6, 2011).

“Deceptive advertising about weight loss products is one of the most prevalent types of fraud,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The new marketing is so lucrative and people with weight concerns so vulnerable that case-by-case enforcement action has little impact, quackwatchers say. To improve the situation, our society needs a plan that includes screening of certain types of ads, publicly exposing sellers placed on the Visa/MasterCard Match list and routine criminal prosecution of violators.

The Slim Chance awards are sponsored by Healthy Weight Network and the National Council Against Health Fraud. They are a lead-up to “Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day” during Healthy Weight Week, the third week in January ( www.healthyweight.net/hww.htm ).

So if you happen to be thinking of 2012 resolutions and you happen to be thinking about your health. Take a risk and don’t set a weight loss goal this year. Set a goal that really has your health in mind. See a dietitian who doesn’t promise dieting. Take healthy cooking classes. Attempt to do a race – whether it is a 5K or a marathon! Whatever you do, make it positive and realistic. It’s what you deserve.

 

Best New Year’s Resolution: Ditch Dieting!

What kind of new year’s resolution have you made for 2012?

Odds are at least one of them has to do with losing weight. Unfortunately, as many people have found over the years, this strategy does not work. Research has shown that diets don’t work, and that although people tend to lose weight initially, the weight plus more tends to return shortly after. We need to accept that fat doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy, and thin doesn’t always correlate to being healthy. What works is having healthy habits that can carry you through life, and part of that means celebrating holidays and life milestones with family, friends and often times food.

But Rebecca, what about all the weight I gained over the holidays?

It’s actually a myth that people gain significant weight over the holidays. There is a general fear of gaining 10 or 15 pounds, when in fact, the average person only gains 1-2 pounds of extra weight during those holiday months. It’s long term behaviors that impact siginificant weight gain, and in turn, it’s healthy long term behaviors that impact weight loss. Depriving yourself to “be good” can lead to overindulgence later, so why not have 1 or 2 cookies now instead of 10 cookies later?

You can’t go wrong with self care

For almost everyone, it’s not healthy, realistic or even feasible to count every calorie eaten and every calorie burned. What’s important is to practice self care, and mindful eating. We should exercise because it’s good for our minds and bodies, not purely to stay thin. We should eat balanced, nutritious meals because our bodies need fuel and nutrients. Eat for hunger (not for boredom, stress, etc.), enjoy the foods of the season, and then get back to your normal, healthy routine. You will be less anxious, happier, and despite your fears, you will most likely still fit into the clothes you were wearing before Thanksgiving.

Check out this video for other healthy tips, and enjoy the holiday season!