Friday, March 27, 2020

How to Stay "On Path" During Times Like These

I had a couple of clients ask for some advice around handling "off path" eating during this COVID19 pandemic. Almost all of us are off of our regular routines, and many of us are feeling the stress and anxiety of the situation. So, I offered them a couple of suggestions as to how they might better stay on path, and reduce the frequency of eating for any reason other than hunger. I thought this was worth sharing with everyone. I hope it helps.

1. First and foremost, please don’t beat yourself up. It doesn’t help anything. You need to give yourself compassion and some grace during this time. And instead of “writing off” a day or week (you know what I mean) simply begin again the very next meal with something healthier and more in line with your long term goals.

2. Try focusing more on things that make you happy. Is there something you can do or start right now that is totally unrelated to food? What could you possibly “lose” yourself in right now? Organizing? Reading? Mabe a great Netflix series that you would otherwise not have time for? How about trying a new recipe?

3. Get out that gratitude journal! Start tracking things that make you happy and that you are grateful for. Maybe it’s as simple as your morning coffee, not having to commute, extra time for sleeping, or spending time with your family. You could also work on a "Thrive List" or a “Happiness List” (things that make you happy and give you joy that are not food-related).

4. Remember that it all comes down to environment. Stop focusing on the things you cannot control and instead focus on what you CAN. Here are some practical examples from James Clear. You can read more about shaping your environment here:

• If you want to remember to take your medication each night, put your pill bottle directly next to the faucet on the bathroom counter.
• If you want to practice guitar more frequently, place your guitar stand in the middle of the living room.
• If you want to remember to send more thank-you notes, keep a stack of stationery on your desk.
• If you want to drink more water, fill up a few water bottles each morning and place them in common locations around the house.

5. Don’t invoke Loopholes! Gretchen Rubin talks about the top 10 “Loopholes” we may use to get out of our healthy habits, like "Lack of Control” and “This Doesn’t Count”. Watch this video and see if you are using a couple of these right now:

6. Get back to basics that don’t have to do with food. I have said it many times before. Ensure that you are getting adequate sleep (fewer cravings), are well hydrated (maybe make a new habit of drinking a ton more water while you are so much closer to the bathroom these days), and move your body!!

7. If you are going to choose less healthy options, make sure that you are enjoying the hell out of them. This means being present, focusing on the food in front of ou and appreciating all the tastes and textures. And, be aware of portion sizes! Try this chocolate meditation:

8. Try some more practical things like waiting 10 minutes before you eat anything more, brushing your teeth or chewing gum!

9. Use a food tracking app like Ate to start to notice new eating patterns that may develop. For example, do you notice patterns of stress eating after spending too much scrolling social media or watching the news for too long?

10. Finally, get some accountability partners! Invoke a "call a friend" option when you're tempted to do some damage in the pantry, get a pal to join you on the Ate app, or even better - enlist the services of an accountability coach (like me) to help get you through this!

Know that this will not last forever and that soon enough, we will all be back to "normal". If your OLD normal consisted of lot of healthy habits, make sure that you are working to maintain as much of those healthy habits as possible. And, if your old normal didn't include many at all, consider this a "clean slate" opportunity (also a reference to Gretchen Rubin) to make those changes NOW!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Including More Veggies In Your Life

We often know what we should be doing, but need a little help actually doing it. My clients KNOW that increasing veg in their life is a good idea, but they don’t always know where to start. Maybe this is you too! Below are 10 ideas for including more nutrient-dense vegetables into your lives!

1. Start With Veggies You Already Like

I’m all about not overcomplicating things! The best place to start is always with what already works! What veggies do you already enjoy? Cucumbers and carrots count! What are some ways to prepare veggie dishes that you already know and love? (Ok, if not love…then at least tolerate!)

2. Roast those Veggies

I think that roasting is one of the most approachable ways to prepare veggies, because you can’t really screw it up! The roasting process brings a “sweet” taste to veggies; so don’t be afraid to roast until they are brown and caramelized! Probably my favorite veggie to roast is cauliflower! But I like also doing a pan of bell peppers, onions, zucchini and mushrooms!

3. Dip it

Treat yourself like a toddler – maybe you need a “dip” to eat raw veg – make one or go get one! Or try out hummus! Keep chopped veggies ready to go in the fridge so that when you’re hungry and temped to snack on less desirable choices, your veggies and “ranch” are ready to go!

4. Buy pre-cut

Well all need short cuts sometimes! If that helps you eat more veg, then go for it! Or, even better - spend a couple of minutes cutting up some veggies for the upcoming few days while watching your favorite show on Netflix.

5. Make your Salads Exciting

Don’t eat boring salads! Have fun incorporating different dark leafy greens into your life. I enjoy buying local mixes and usually always add some arugula (my fave). Add texture and flavor by incorporating things like cheeses, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and good sources of protein to help you stay full for longer. Make your own salad dressing – it’s super easy!

6. "Sneak" Them In
There are so many recipes you can add shredded veggies into without anyone being the wiser ;) Veggies like carrots and zucchini are super easy to add to sauces, burgers, meatballs and the like!

7. Make more soups and stews
When you start with a really yummy sauce, it’s easy to sneak in veggies! You could either puree them or dice them up small. It’s amazing just how many veggies you can pack into a soup or stew! Veggies like celery, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, and riced cauliflower are a great place to start!

8. “Spinach it up”
Spinach really doesn’t taste like much, so it’s a fantastic veg to add to almost everything as well! It may turn some things green, but the taste isn’t really affected. I like adding spinach into my family’s pita pizzas, frittatas, and in my smoothies!

9. Experiment
Make trying new veggies a fun event! You could try adding a new veg each week or try preparing a veggie you already love a different way!

10. Ask Friends
Ask your friends about what veggies THEY and their family enjoy as well as what way they prefer that veggie prepared! If all else fails, check out Pinterest!

There is no shortage of inspiration for eating healthy, especially at this time of year, so take advantage and expand your “veggie repertoire”! Who knows? You might just find a new veggie that you love!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

What does YOUR “effort to results ratio” look like?

I recently read a book called “Healthy as F*ck” and I really liked most of it. (Except for the hard bias towards a vegan diet). BUT there were lots of great ideas in the book, and I would like to share you with you an important “effort-to-results ratio” concept. Let’s start with a quote from her book:

“The good news: getting lean and healthy and staying that way for life is actually pretty simple. The bad news: if you want different results than you’re getting now, you’re going to have to do something different”. Let’s face it: the problem with wanting to lose weight or eat healthier is that we want it without really having to change too much.

For everyone, there is a magical effort-to-results ratio. (I talked a bit about this in my post on “Ideal Weight” which you can read here). This ratio is about the results we want to achieve vs. the reality of what we are actually willing, able and prepared to consistently do (effort) in order to achieve them.

Let’s dig into this. Take a look at Beth’s graph.

She WANTS to be “skinny girl” but what she is actually prepared to do is not going to meet that result. She then has the choice to either stay “chubby but healthy” OR increase her effort.

Similar to Beth, as you continue along your health journey, you will need to figure out your own “sweet spot” as it comes to efforts vs. results (keeping in mind that there are many factors involved). For example, you may be in your forties, and the effort NOW required to maintain “skinny girl” is totally unrealistic for your lifestyle.  You too, always have a choice: either change the effort you’re putting in, or adjust your contentment with the results you are getting.

Now, let’s look at Tina’s graph: She really wants “smooth thighs” but the effort she can give sustainably won’t allow that, because Tina ain’t got time for a rigid training program, no alcohol and a 100% on point diet (hehe). She may be able to work at eating healthy more often (closer to 80% of the time) and get improved muscle definition (adjusting her choices or contentment with results) but the chances of her getting to that smooth thigh result are slim to none because she is NOT PREPARED TO DO WHAT SHE NEEDS TO DO ON A CONSISTENT BASIS in order to achieve that result.

All of this is meant not to depress you, but rather to empower you: it all comes down to choices. And the choices we make about our health and nutrition also have to fit into our overall lifestyle and happiness. I love what Dr. Yoni Feedhoff (a Canadian MD specializing in weight management) says: “Live the healthiest life that you can enjoy”. I think that is just the best advice.

More good news: this is not something you are going to do overnight! Not even close. Find a way to make time your ally and not your foe. Remember that we overestimate what we can do in the short term, and underestimate what we can do over the long term.

If I had to create my own graph, this is how it would roughly look.

So it comes down to this question at some point: What are you consistently willing to do to both be happy in life and be happy with the results that those actions give you? If you’d like some help figuring out your sweet spot, and working at building up your own healthy habits, reach out! There are about a thousand steps between where you are now and where you may want to be. You only need to take that first step to begin.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Three Options

The way I see it, you always have three options:

You can make excuses and essentially “argue” for your previous outcomes.

You can come up with creative solutions by yourself, or with the help of others, to go over, under or around your previously thought of impossible roadblock(s).

Or, you can simply re-evaluate and breakdown your goals into smaller parts.

Here’s the thing. If you “choose” option one, you have no right to complain or bitch about it. 

If you choose option two, you MAY need some help navigating that obstacle – and that is perfectly ok. 

And if you choose three, you sometimes have to break it down into the lowest possible unit OR scrap the goal entirely if you realize that it just isn’t in your heart.

 You can apply this to pretty much any area of your life. 

Don’t feel like going for a walk? Tell yourself you’ll only go for 5 minutes. Guess what? The fresh air and movement will feel good, and you'll want to do more. 

Don’t feel like wrapping your Christmas gifts? (Current mood). Tell yourself you’ll only do ONE. Spoiler alert: You’ll do more than that because it's all there anyway! 

Don’t want to food prep? Cut up ONE bell pepper. (Who the hell can’t do THAT)? Guess what? You'll figure out that you can do a few more while you're at it. 

Try this trick on yourself, and check out the video about Mini-Habits in my link in bio. I'm currently using it to get a meditation practice to finally "stick", by promising to sit down for 2 minutes each morning. Guess what? I usually stay longer ;) 

Anyone else tired of choosing option #1? 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Being Intentional During the Holidays

My #1 advice to people around this time of year is to be absolutely intentional with everything: with the parties you choose to say yes to, with the food and drink you choose to enjoy, and with the overall amount of “doing and buying” you choose to do. See the common theme: Choice.

Food and Drink: Unless we hide in a cave for the next month, we are going to be surrounded with even more temptation than is usual (and this is a lot, since we all know that “bad choices” are offered to us around every corner as it is already). Here’s how you handle it: 

I recommend that people begin with the big picture in mind. Look at your calendar. How many events are you going to? What types of events are they? And then, what do you LOVE MOST and ENJOY MOST about what will be served? Maybe it will be a glass of wine or two. Maybe it will be crackers and cheese because you normally stay away from gluten and dairy. Maybe it will be Aunt Sharon’s butter tarts because they are amazing and she only makes them during this time of year. 

Believe me, I know how beautiful and tempting a spread of Christmas baking can be. BUT, when I take a deep breath and actually look closely at all that baking, I realize that there are only a few things that I would actually LOVE to eat: whipped shortbread and gingersnaps (only if they are soft). I take a couple of these, and I then allow myself to deeply and fully enjoy them SLOWLY (make it last longer). This way, I don’t feel at all that I have been deprived because I have eaten what I REALLY wanted to, and left the stuff that is OK (I mean it all tastes good) but isn’t WORTH IT to me.

Planning ahead, or at least giving some thought as to the situations you will be in can be very helpful. Its true that sometimes you don’t know what will be served specifically, but you can still have a damned good guess. Like is this the first time you’re EVER going into a similar situation? NO. It isn’t. 

For appy nights, choose a couple of things you are really excited to eat (or don't normally have or normally cook) and balance it out with some good choices. None there? Plan on brining some. I usually do! Cut up some of YOUR favourite veggies and bring YOUR favourite dip so you know there are some good options. Going to a dinner? If it’s a buffet, fill half your plate with veggies, add a good protein and top with something that you really love – like a bun with butter or stuffing, or something like that. Having a served sit down meal with absolutely no say over what it is? Eat the veggies FIRST, then the protein, and if you’re still hungry (truly) eat the starches slowly until you are full. And BTW, a reminder here: ONE BAD MEAL means NOTHING. (It’s the habit of bad meals over and over that is problematic).

YOU are always in the drivers seat. YOU make the choices. Food doesn’t jump down your throat. If you feel too tempted by the food in front of you, don’t stand there. Go find a spot on the sofa talking to an interesting person you met at the party. Need major accountability? Announce to people that you are only having one plate and definitely NOT eating any sweets. There are so many things you can do, but you have to give some intentional thought to them first. If you need help with a specific event, please reach out and let’s brainstorm about some of the things you can do.

I’d also like to briefly touch upon the other two items I have mentioned because I think they influence our choices. I always tell my clients that saying YES to something always means saying NO to something else. And we really need to be intentional about what we are saying yes to. During this time of year, chances are you have been invited to way more things than you’d actually like to be going to. And if you show up to one of those events that you’re not too excited to actually be at (you said yes because you felt “obligated to”) and you’d actually prefer to be at home watching Netflix in your PJ’s, you may not be making the best food choices there. You’ll possibly want to “self-soothe” by eating more crap than you should. You probably should just have said no and stayed at home. We can only fit so much into our already busy lives; so remember that saying NO is a form of self-care.

And finally, make life easy for yourself. If you’re already so busy from January to November, it seems impossible to do all the extra Christmas stuff you have to do in December (and let’s be honest, it’s more like October – December). So be intentional with how you spend your time altogether. I like thinking about the season with BOTH of the “KISS” methods. You all know the first: Keep It Simple Stupid but I also like this one: Keep, Improve, Stop, Start.

Keep: Maybe you love taking your kids to look at Christmas lights at Spruce Meadows. You have a whole tradition around that. Keep that. It’s wonderful.

Improve: Maybe you’re the one always making Christmas dinner and it’s a BIG ASS responsibility. Maybe you need to improve this for yourself. Ask people to bring cooked dishes; use paper plates; stop making so many dishes; get it catered; tell someone its THEIR turn to do it; fly to Mexico and avoid it altogether ;)

Stop: Maybe this is the year to stop buying gifts for the adult kids. Maybe it’s time to give cash (gasp) or a gift card instead!? That can still be very thoughtful. Movie passes? Time spent together? OR, maybe it’s time to stop sending the Christmas cards that take you forever to do but honestly, no one really reads because they are so busy doing their own Christmas stuff lol!

Start: Maybe this is the year you implement a form of self-care around Christmas and start slowing down. Saying no. Maybe this is the year you treat yourself to a couple of massages in December and use up that health spending you have to use up before the end of the year anyway. You get the idea.

So, in summary, I’d say that my advice boils down to this: BE INTENTIONAL. You are the adult, you get to make choices. Make choices that are worthwhile to you, and always be looking for ways to make things more peaceful, and more enjoyable for yourself. A lot of times for us women, this means saying NO to things. Be your own best advocate. Know when to ask for help, and when to say no. And, if you need help with something specific, I’d love to help!

Top 6 Healthy Eating Habits

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