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!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Mealtime Rituals

How much thought do you give to your food as you prepare it, and especially as you eat it? If you’re like most people, it’s not very much. In fact, chances are high that you sometimes get to the end of a meal wondering how you ate all of it without even really noticing.

Part of the problem is that we have all lost the role of ritual in eating. We eat on the fly, while stressed out, and while engaging in other activities. I’d like to suggest to you here today, that you may want to consider adding a layer of ritual to the beginning AND end of your meals. Doing so will not only help you to be more present, but it can also help you to enjoy your food more. Researchers at Harvard and the University of Minnesota discovered that people who engaged in small rituals before eating found that their food was more flavorful.

Here are some ideas for creating a beginning-of-meal ritual…I know some of them aren’t completely realistic all the time, but the point is that you’re signaling to your body that it is about to eat and that you can relax. Everybody has time to take a couple deep breaths beforehand OR say a quick note of thanks.

·      Clear off counters.
·      Set the table. Use real placemats ;)
·      Plate your food – don’t eat it out of the pan (and hopefully not out of a box) hehe
·      Turn off your phone/TV
·      Turn ON some nice relaxing dinner music
·      Sit down at the table
·      Set a timer for 1 minute to notice the colors and smells of the food you are about to eat
·      Take a couple of deep breaths
·      Sit up tall – improve your posture
·      Take a moment to acknowledge where your food has come from
·      Make a toast to someone at the table (or a loved one not there)
·      Smell your food
·      Do a mood scan (how am I feeling right now?)
·      Light a candle!
·      Sound a bell

Some ideas for the end of meal ritual:

·      Ask to be excused
·      Blow out the candle
·      Do a body scan (how does your body, stomach feel after eating?)
·      Sit for one minute in gratitude
·      Brush your teeth
·      Wash dishes and turn out kitchen lights – you are done in the kitchen for the night

I’d love to hear any other ideas you may have for mealtime rituals. I am going to make a better effort at implementing some of these myself. I like the idea of taking a few deep breaths and saying a note of gratitude for the food I am about to eat. I also really like the candle idea, but not sure I would do that every day. I also like the idea of doing a quick body scan afterward, as well as a note of gratitude again. Which rituals resonate with you?

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

Read my latest blog post on You Ate: And my smoothie recipe!