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.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Nutrition Bars

Thank you all for playing along in my bar challenge! It was, however, a bit of a trick question because comparing some of these to others wasn’t fair (protein bar to snack bar) and it’s true that I am definitely missing some other good options in the mix, such as RX bars and others like EPIC.

However, the point of this project was to create a lesson for my clients regarding reading labels and being keenly aware of choices we make when it comes to anything processed (i.e. other than whole foods).

I am a realist, and I too rely somewhat on convenience items like bars. And when a couple of my clients recently asked for my opinions on a bar they were eating, I told them what I liked about it, and what I didn’t. Then, it was up to them to decide if they wanted to include space for it in their diet.

The main takeaway here is that a lot of these bars are high in sugar, full of processed food by-products such as vegetable glycerin and manufactured “fibers” and also some not so great oils. It’s also important to consider other factors like the number of ingredients in each bar, the ORDER of ingredients, as well as how much fiber and protein they contain.

Are they all terrible? No. Are some better than others? For sure.

We need to remember that there is often a good purpose for these bars. If it’s a choice between using a bar to help you quell your “hanger” before you raid your pantry when you walk in the door after work, it’s a positive thing. If you choose a Larabar instead of a giant piece of cake, it’s a positive thing. If you’re out running errands and it’s a choice between going through the McDonalds drive-thru or having a bar, then I’d also say that was generally positive.

I am not going to demonize one over another because the truth is that most of them fall into a middle range of ok once in a while. There are so many personal preferences given the types of proteins available (vegan, whey, soy), individual taste and even cost.

Here are some guidelines when choosing bars (GENERALLY speaking):

Stay away from bars that list sugar as one of the first two or three ingredients; have more than 10 or so ingredients; have lots of ingredients that are unknown to you.

More often choose bars that: contain whole food ingredients; contain fiber; contain at least 10g of protein (for satiation); aren’t full of fake sweeteners.

Even better options: Your own nut/seed/dried fruit mixes; a handful of nuts and portable fruit (such as an apple or banana); air-popped popcorn; beef/turkey jerky; veggies and hummus; crackers and cheese; hard-boiled eggs.

So, having said all that, in my opinion, my own personal choice from all of these would have been the Meatbar, as unappetizing as it sounds. The reason I chose the Meatbar was because it is overall the least processed, contains an excellent source of protein (grass-fed beef) and the other ingredients are basically spices. It offers 12g of protein for a small amount of calories, and that would likely keep me satiated for a while. 

To be fair, I haven’t actually tried this bar, but I have tried an EPIC bar and another similar bar and really liked them. The Meatbar is apparently the first meat snack in the Canadian market in “bar” format, and it contains pasture raised, grass-fed beef. (NOTE: I did send the parent company, Greenspace Brands) an email to confirm where the beef is sourced, but haven't heard back yet). 

I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t mention that if you do choose a “meat” bar (or jerky), it’s ideal to ensure that the animals used in the making of these bars were ethically raised (on pasture) without the use of added hormones or antibiotics.  

So at the end of the day, you need to ask yourself what the goal is with the bar, if it makes sense to include it in your diet, and if you actually enjoy it (because in some cases, you’re just better off having a damned candy bar). Do your homework, read the labels, and if it works, include it in your diet – just don’t rely on bars to provide too much of your nutrition needs. Your body prefers what it knows: WHOLE foods ;)

Follow-Up Articles: 

Soluble Corn Fiber (Maltodextrin)

Soy Protein Issues

Curious to know what vegetable glycerin is?

What’s the deal with inulin?

Oligosaccharides (another sweetener)

Tips for Managing Stress & Anxiety (plus a smoothie recipe!)

Read my latest blog post on You Ate:  https://youate.com/tips/september-stress-autumn-anxiety/ And my smoothie recipe!