Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Try This Tuesday: Identify the Cue and the Reward

Today’s TTT is all about habits. Let’s begin by examining a habit loop:

First, there is a CUE (a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use).

Then there is the ROUTINE (which can be physical, mental or emotional).

Finally, there is a REWARD (which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future).

Over time, this becomes more and more automatic: I am bored, so I wander to the pantry to see if there’s anything exciting that I can eat; I see chips. Yay, I eat them and temporarily I receive my reward. Crunch! Sometimes you may not even be aware you are doing this until you’re halfway through a bag! Yikes!

But what if you want to change this routine? Charles Duhigg says that we need to keep the CUE and the REWARD but provide a new ROUTINE. He gives excellent examples of this in his book “Power of Habits” and explains that sometimes finding the actual reward requires self-experimentation. Watch this short video about how he addressed a chocolate chip cookie habit he had: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1eYrhGeffc

In order to change any habit though, you must be aware of it. Once you’re aware of it, spend some time trying to identify what the cue is and what the reward is, and then you can work on changing your habit to better suit your wants and needs.

My favorite authors on habit are James Clear (Atomic Habits) and Gretchen Rubin (Better than Before) and Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit). What habit do you want to change? If you need help changing some of your nutrition habits - reach out!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Try This Tuesday: Call it Something Fancy!

“Pureed nut butter with a grape relish reduction on a soft brioche bun” (AKA PB & J) 

“Al dente elbow pasta in a fromage cream sauce” (AKA kraft dinner) 😜

You get the idea. The description is what often “sells us” on something when we eat in restaurants or buy packaged food at the grocery store, and the same can be applied to the healthy food we make and eat!⠀

As Darya Rose writes in her book “Foodist”: “Would you rather eat a ‘healthy salad’ or a bowl of ‘crisp baby greens tossed with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette, salmon, sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes’”? I know what I’d choose! 

Changing the way we use language around healthy eating choices can have an effect on the way we view them. “Most people will choose tasty over healthy” but guess what? You don’t need to have to make a choice between the two! Healthy isn't at all synonymous with boring or bland! If you’re wanting to adopt (and stick to) an overall healthier lifestyle, start viewing and talking about healthy food in a different light! 

Caramelized, Citrusy, Creamy, Crisp, Delicate, Fresh, Fiery, Fruity, Hearty, Infused, Marinated, Nutty, Rich, Roasted, Robust, Sautéed, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet, Tangy, Tender, Zesty... 

So many options!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Try This Tuesday: Ask for Help

Taking care of our mental health is just as important (if not more) as taking care of our physical health. There are so many factors that can affect our mental health, and anyone at any age can suffer from mental health challenges, problems, and disorders. (Just look at all the issues of childhood anxiety these days).

It’s so important to reach out if you need help. I personally have reached out for professional help a couple of times in my life. As hard as it was to do, I was so glad that I did.  

Help can look different for everyone. Sometimes, it’s a friend lending an ear and you feeling completely heard and understood. But could also be the help of a professional, or a team of professionals. There are many resources out there, but you have to keep asking if you’re not finding the help you need. Whatever it looks like, asking for help is not at all weakness. It’s the greatest strength of all: being vulnerable and knowing you cannot do it alone.

Some mental health resources here in Alberta:

What makes something better is connection. I love this very short film on “Empathy” from Brene Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Try This Tuesday: Treat Yourself Like a Toddler

I got this idea from Gretchen Rubin, and she was inspired by Anne Lamott.

The premise is to consider yourself as a toddler in the third person, and provide the same level of care to yourself, as you would a toddler!

If you’re a parent, you KNOW how important it is to make sure that a toddler has his/her basic needs met: sleep, food, routine, not too much stimuli, etc.

We may be able to handle situations better as adults (we don’t throw all-out tantrums on the floor of the supermarket) but we are guilty of snapping unnecessarily at loved ones, overeating, staying up too late on social media and making bad choices because no one is telling us not to!

There’s a level of comfort to being cared for as a toddler, and it puts some things into perspective. We wouldn’t take a toddler on errands all day without proper snacks, breaks, and naps, would we? Of course, as an adult, we’re able to go without naps most days, but I love the elements of planning as well as care that are intertwined in this concept.

“Stacy needs her coffee before she can deal with the day”.

“I’m sorry, but we need to leave now because Stacy needs her 7-8 hours of sleep”

“Stacy needs to get her workouts in so that she can mentally deal with life”.

Let’s consider this as it relates to food: when we think of ourselves as toddlers in the third person, it also takes some judgment away from our choices. Some of the reasons we often overeat are: boredom, fatigue and overwhelm. If your toddler acts out because of these reasons, we don’t immediately go to unhelpful and judgmental places such as: “you should be ashamed of yourself!” or “you’re so undisciplined” or “you’re a terrible little person”! We simply consider that the actions are resulting from something that the toddler is feeling or experiencing, and we go to work to adjust their environment or experience. Similarly, if they are bored and need stimuli, we offer them a toy or a game and not food.

So the next time that you feel tired, cranky, irritated, hungry, or any other negative emotion, remember that your inner toddler might need some attention. A fresh diaper, J some sleep, less stimuli, and a snack can usually solve a lot of our problems ;)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Try This Tuesday: Be in Alignment

I'm not talking about the chiropractor here...

Be in alignment with what you say you want. If you want it, take action. Otherwise, quit talking and/or complaining about it.

While I was in University, I learned Spanish. I actually got pretty good at it. But not long after (I graduated when I was 8 months pregnant) I had a baby and stopped practicing entirely.

For years I talked about how I wanted to get back into it, yet when every opportunity to practice presented itself (a trip to Mexico; a Spanish speaking friend; a friendly cashier from Latin America) I did absolutely nothing. My fear of saying something stupid or making an ass of myself was always getting in my way.  

The funny thing was that I really believed that I wanted to get back to learning Spanish, yet my ACTIONS consistently demonstrated otherwise. We think it’s too hard so we don’t do it. (And it often IS hard)! In Spanish, it feels like there are a million different ways to conjugate verbs, and don’t even get me started on how many “irregular” verbs there are: Here’s how you conjugate verbs in this tense, except for these ones…oh and these ones are a bit different as well.

But I ended up getting tired of hearing myself SAY what I wanted to do, yet not taking action. So, about a year ago, I signed up for online Spanish lessons through Verbalicity. I started with one lesson per week, and now I am up to two per week. I still have a loooooong way to go, and I still need to practice more throughout the week – but the point is that I am now consistently taking action. Taking action for me just felt so good, and I think it’s because of the alignment between what I said I wanted to do, and actually doing it. I don’t always look forward to my lessons. I feel like I don’t always have time for them, and some days I feel like I just can’t “think” in another language. Other days are great though, and the time flies by. But regardless…every. single. time. (like a good workout) I am ALWAYS glad I did it.

If there’s something YOU keep saying you want to do, then figure out how to start doing it! Ask for help or break it down into the smallest action you could possibly take. What’s something you say you want but haven’t consistently acted on and why?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Try This Tuesday: Exercise Patience and Faith

This can be so hard for us – especially when it comes to health, fitness, and wellness goals. However, being patient and holding faith WHILE taking the necessary actions and steps we need to take to get to our goals is so important. (And both do need to happen at the same time).

A lot of people quit “doing the things” too early because it FEELS like nothing is happening. It sometimes feels as though we aren’t reaping the rewards of what we’re doing because we cannot yet see the progress. However, I will remind you that the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.  

Keep doing the things. Keep having the faith. Find people who help you ‘stay on path’ especially while the magic is happening…beneath the ground, in the soil, germinating, coming to the surface.

For me, there is no better analogy than planting seeds and waiting for them to appear: do the work in the present moment for payoffs in the future.

What seeds are YOU planting?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Try This Tuesday: Find Simple Solutions instead of Complicated Excuses

Let’s be honest with each other: the reason we haven’t achieved some of our goals is because we have found far too many excuses and not enough simple solutions.

Think back to a time when you’ve achieved something that you’re really proud of. I am willing to bet that it took some sacrifice and that there were obstacles ahead of you that you had to overcome. I am also willing to bet that you didn’t focus on complicated excuses and reasons as to why you couldn’t achieve it, and instead focused upon what steps you COULD take toward that goal.

Healthy lifestyles are no different. We all begin at different places, but the hard truth is that some people focus on the reasons why they “can’t” change, instead of the small actions that they could try to take instead. (See last week’s Try This Tuesday). Too often, I also find that people overcomplicate things, which only exacerbates the excuses.

Do you really need to go on a full-blown low-carb/keto diet? Or do you just need to start making better carb choices? Most people aren’t unhealthy because they’ve eaten too many sweet potatoes and too much brown rice. They’re unhealthy because most of their carb options have consisted of highly processed, fibreless, refined carbs. Start slowly upgrading your choices. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Do you really need a Glencoe membership and/or an expensive trainer to get fit? Or do you just need to start moving your body in whatever way you can? (What about dusting off an old exercise DVD to use in the comfort of your home?) Most people aren’t unhealthy because they aren’t coordinated enough to do Zumba! Instead, start by finding NEAT activities you can do on a daily basis (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) since most of us spend too much time on our derrieres most days anyway.

Maybe you do need that low-carb diet or that Glencoe membership, but the point is that if your goal is to get healthier, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from taking small actions TODAY to that end. Don’t try to overcomplicate things. Get creative and find simple solutions. Then, you’ll be more likely to actually do it!

Need accountability? Need a little support in developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Reach out! I LOVE helping my clients come up with small tweaks to help them maintain consistency and growth in their own health and nutrition goals.

Try This Tuesday: Identify the Cue and the Reward

Today’s TTT is all about habits. Let’s begin by examining a habit loop: First, there is a CUE (a trigger that tells your brain to go into ...