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: 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.

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

Enter To Win Free Choice Organic Tea

Share Your Inspiration and You Could Win Tea

I announced this contest in my February newsletter. If you aren’t subscribed, you’re missing out on my recipes, exercise and food tips, and promotions. It’s a quick read. I know you got lots to do, but I think you’ll love it! Subscribe at my website.

Several lucky blog readers will take home boxes of Choice Organic Tea which comes in dozens of delicious flavors and varieties. To enter just leave a comment below sharing your favorite motivational quote. I’ll draw winners at random on March 1st. Be sure to include your blog or e-mail when completing your comment. Good luck! Inspire me with a fabulous quote and you may see me tweet it, Facebook it, Pin it or use it in an upcoming newsletter!

Tea for Relaxation and Energy
teaIf you’re someone who tends to reach for food when you’re stressed, you might consider trying a cup of tea instead. Nothing relaxes or unwinds me quite like a warm, soothing cup of tea. Whether it’s an energizing green tea to start my day or a soothing herbal tea before bed, I’ve never met a tea I didn’t love.

Tea for Health

The health benefits of tea come from the polyphenols they contain which are antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage to the cells in our bodies. Green tea in particular may help prevent atherosclerosis and is also thought to help raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower total cholesterol.

Win It

I love the samples of Choice Organic Tea I tried. I think the chai teas are my favorite. I have to admit, I made delicious chai tea lattes with my fun milk frother from Nespresso. You can win some tea of your own. Leave your positive motivation or favorite quote in the comments section below for a chance to win.

Like, if You Like…

If you are interested in articles, recipes, exercise and stress management tips all free and all for your self-care, then don’t forget to “Like” my page on Facebook

Disclaimer: I was provided with samples of Choice Organic Tea but was not compensated for this blog post or for admininstering this giveaway. You do not need to “Like” my Facebook page in order to enter the contest.

Four Keys to Wellness, Just for Women

shopping_5How many women do you know who put themselves last? Probably a zillion. We can’t help it. We’re women. We nurture. But the reality is that we really can’t take care of others unless we take care of ourselves first. That’s a tough pill to swallow because we feel so guilty when we think about ourselves and put our needs before others we care about. But putting yourself last day after day will eventually leave you at the end of your rope – all worn and frayed.

My hope is that this blog post will help women find some simple ways to achieve better wellness by being a tad “selfish” with no regrets. My hunch is if you trust the power of nurturing yourself, the rewards you get will empower you to do what comes natural – and care for your loved ones with more intensity than you ever thought you could muster.

Nutrition

There is no shortage of information about what to eat – books, magazines, websites, blogs. What really matters for women’s nutrition? I think its shifting the focus from choosing foods for what they don’t have to looking at foods for what they do have. Low fat. Low sugar. Low carb. Yawwwwwn…. You can go crazy in the grocery store keeping up with the products touting they’re the next best thing you need to be healthy.

Instead, why not try to make one positive nutrition change:

  • eat a power-breakfast daily like oatmeal with walnuts and fat free milk
  • get your fruit fix by making a fruit and yogurt smoothie or adding fruit to lunch
  • try something different like an unusal veggie (jicama) or cooking with beans

Exercise

If your ideas of exercise include time on the “dreadmill” and “personal draining”, you need to change up your exercise regime! No pain, no gain is so 1990’s. In today’s world, there’s no time to loathe what little personal time we get to sweat it out.

  • Try yoga – a moving meditation! Power yoga classes involve using your personal strengths to tone up. Heated classrooms bump up the sweat factor.
  • Dance your butt off. More than a popular summer tv show on Oxygen, people are into dancing like never before. Try Zumba or just google a dance studio in your area. Bellydancing, bollywood, ballroom, broadway jazz. Whatever your flavor, take a risk and shake it.
  • Sign up for a race. You don’t need to run a marathon to experience the exhileration of getting a race number and crossing the finish line.

All these exercise ideas involve some kind of commitment – and that’s what it takes to really nurture yourself toward wellness. Find something that sounds good. Then tell your spouse or family how important it is to you and ask for their support. Whether it’s relieving you of dinner duty or giving you a ride back and forth, take the help and enjoy your new exercise endeavor!

Stress Management

Maintaining emotional health is so important for wellness. Most women tend to think they strive under stress, but they don’t realize the harm that comes with it when the walls close in. You take on the burdens of others and then you become overwhelmed yourself.  Stress triggers changes in our bodies and makes us more likely to get sick. You get tight in your neck, shoulders, and back. You have trouble sleeping. Stress can also make problems we already have worse. Maybe you had a bad day at work, but because your family members had a bad day you keep it in. Then the food comes calling and you’re in for a night of emotional eating.

The key to healthy stress management is to let it all out. Every day.

  • talk to someone, and let others know if you can’t take on the burdens of their stress (give yourself permission to be selfish and not listen once in awhile)
  • find a quiet corner, lay down, and breathe to a slow count
  • remind yourself that food didn’t cause your stressful situation and it won’t solve it either
  • have some sex – what can I say, all those lovely endorphins will drown the stress out of your body and mind

Relationships

Relationships are one of the core human needs. The reason you are such a nurturing person is that you value relationships. But boy can they suffer if you are stressed, eating poorly, and not exercising. This is the part where you can’t really care for others (relationships) if your life is not in order.

Take a minute and think about your relationships today:

  • How strong are your personal relationships?
  • How much effort do you put in them?
  • Are you getting out of them what you need or do you give too much with little in return?

Let go of what you don’t need and transfer the newly available attention to the relationships that really matter most. Those relationships allow the other keys to wellness fall into place. You can lean on people to support you in your nutrition and exercise efforts and when life’s stresses get to be too much, they can help you deal with it.

Healthy Women Are (a Little) Selfish

Everything is connected, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and relationships all have a role in contributing to your wellness. While I spend most of my waking hours educating people about nutrition and exercise. I have come to realize that you can’t really tackle behavior changes without the strong foundation of healthy stress management and the social support that comes with stable relationships.

My personal opinion is that being a little selfish is one of the most selfless things you can do. If you’re going to spread your nurturing qualities to those around you, don’t you want to give the best of yourself?

This post is part of the Women’s Health Blogfest. Please check out the posts from other dietitians blogging about Women’s Health! (Thanks, Renata for organizing!)

BLOGFEST LINKS:
Angela White at Blisstree’s Breastfeeding 1-2-3 – Helpful Skills of Breastfeeding Counselors
Angie Tillman, RD, LDN, CDE – You Are Beautiful Today
Anthony J. Sepe – Women’s Health and Migraines
Ashley Colpaart – Women’s health through women
Charisse McElwaine – Spending too much time on the “throne?”
Danielle Omar – Yoga, Mindful Eating and Food Confidence
Diane Preves M.S.,R.D – Balance for Health
Joan Sather – A Woman’s Healthy Choices Affect More Than Herself
Laura Wittke – Fibro Study Recruits Participants
Liz Marr, MS, RD – Reflecting on Family Food Ways and Women’s Work
Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RD, NSCA-CPT – Healthy Women, Healthy Business: How Your Health Impacts a Powerful Business
Marsha Hudnall – Breakfast Protein Helps Light Eaters Feel Full
Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RD – A Nutritionista’s Super Foods for Super Skin
Monika Woolsey, MS, RD – To effectively work with PCOS is to understand a woman’s health issues throughout her life
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog – How breastfeeding helps you, too
Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD – Four Keys to Wellness, Just for Women
Renata Mangrum, MPH, RD – The busy busy woman
Robin Plotkin, RD, LD – Feeding the Appetites of the Culinary, Epicurious and Nutrition Worlds-One Bite at a Time
Sharon Solomon – Calories, longevity and do I care
Terri L Mozingo, RD, CDN & D. Milton Stokes, MPH, RD, CDN of One Source Nutrition, LLC – Crossing the Line: From Health to Hurt
Wendy Jo Peterson, RD – Watch Your Garden Grow

Relaxation, An Important Ingredient for Balanced Health!

The three keys to wellness are nutrition, exercise and well-being. I focus mostly on nutrition and exercise, but with today’s guest post. I’m going to discuss well-being. Thanks to Jens Upton at The Relaxing Zone for contributing to this post.

If you’re alive chances are there is something that is stressing you out. Family, work, money, the economy… We can’t live a life without stress. Some stress is good. “Fight or flight” allows us to respond to stressors like a deadline at work or avoid a car accident. But then our body quickly “comes down” from the stress and all is well again. However, when stress is chronic and never seems to go away and you don’t get a chance to recover from never-ending stressors it can be an emotional nightmare. If you’re trying to manage your weight it can be a real problem because cortisol keeps your cravings for rich foods high

The stress hormone cortisol acts as its own shut-off signal. When it reaches the brain it commands the brain to cease the body’s production of the hormone. Chronic stress is another story completely, reports a team of researchers from the University of California at San Francisco. The system does not turn off. As the situations that give rise to stress endure, they keep ramping up production of cortisol.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=20031121-000002&page=1

High levels of cortisol can make it difficult to lose weight and can even be a sign of a more serious medical issue like Cushing’s syndrome. Read more about it at Web MD.

But for most people, you just need to “take a chill pill” – so to speak. You can help manage your stress levels through exercise, yoga, and meditation work like deep breathing. Learn how from a relaxing expert (details below). And don’t forget to “chill out”.

Jens Upton
http://therelaxingzone.blogspot.com/

This is a powerful relaxation for quick use and learning. It has 10 stages which are useful as an introduction and can easily be abbreviated. It uses a person’s memory of relaxation which can be very recent or from a much earlier experience. Generally, people do not forget relaxation once they have experienced it. They can be reminded to feel how good it is again, so it becomes natural to them once more.

I recommend a person repeating it regularly so it’s familiar and feels even more natural. I recommend people to read this with a voice tonality that is calm, soothing and warm. Few people relax to a voice that sounds like a parade ground Sergeant or the wicked witch of the west. The same is true for our own inner dialogue. Make it a voice to soften the hardest heart and relax the most tense muscles. Enjoy!

Deep Relaxation

1. Remember a time you felt relaxed.
2. Remember that time in clear detail. See yourself doing whatever it was that makes you relaxed.
3. Close your eyes and savour every relaxing detail. Where you were, how good it sounded, how wonderful it felt.
4. Really feel everything that is most relaxing now.
5. If you haven’t already, move into that moment, being in the experience as if it’s happening now.
6. Notice which direction relaxation moves in and gently move it all over your body.
7. Feel what area is most relaxed.
8. Make the feelings deeper in your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
9. Double these wonderful sensations.
10. Sit and enjoy for as long as you like.

The style of this is based upon a Meditation technique and an NLP technique I was taught many years ago.

Links to relaxation studies you may find useful:

University of Otago researchers have found that non-dieting interventions to improve overweight and obese women’s health and well-being have a longer-lasting effect if they include relaxation training.
http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/2009/19-01-09_press_release.html

Relaxation training may improve control of hard-to-treat systolic hypertension
http://hms.harvard.edu/public/disease/affiliates/mgh/27mar2008.html

Don’t Wanna Be Sedated?
http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20000301-000019.html