I’m not usually a fan of January. I’ve always hated the New Year’s hype, along with its unrealistic expectations and pressure to “make change happen…NOW.” (You probably know by now how I feel about New Year’s resolutions.)
The second half of January might be one of my favorite times of year, though.
With the New Year’s insanity behind me and the rest of the first month of the year still to come, I can finally get back to basics and “reset” for the year.
(Funny thing is that the basics feel like indulgences now rather than chores. Isn’t it great how things just flow when we take a little pressure off?)
Here are some of the “basics” I’m focused on right now.
Water. I’m all about water at the moment: drinking water, breathing water, soaking in water. In the winter, it’s easy to forget how important water is to our body’s overall happiness. The air is dry, but we don’t feel thirsty in the cold. So I make more of an effort to drink up – sometimes plain water, sometimes herbal or green tea. I occasionally add Nuun All Day to my water if I want a little kick of flavor, too. (Go easy though. Nuun All Day has vitamins added. If you’re taking other vitamins, check to make sure Nuun All Day won’t send you over your daily dosage.) Humidifiers are GREAT for making the dry, heated air in your home more comfortable to breathe (no more waking up with a scratchy throat!). Not only that, but the flu virus prefers dry and cold conditions; so I figure a little moist air couldn’t hurt. And oh, the joys of soaking in a warm tub or snuggling up in bed with a hot water bottle at your feet. Love.
Breakfast. I love breakfast any time of year (and encourage you to eat breakfast every day if you don’t already…here’s why). Recently, I’ve been experimenting with different options, just to see what makes me feel my best right now. Oatmeal with almonds and apples. Scrambled eggs with chives. Smoothies with berries, bananas, and greens (a little too chilly for my taste most mornings). Beans and veggies. I even had fish for breakfast the other day (okay, so it was fried catfish for brunch at a Southern restaurant, but whatever). It’s a good time to get out of whatever breakfast rut you might be in and see if something else might make you feel even better.
Lovin’ my bod. I’m also experimenting with different “body care” routines. I recently added FlyBarre – a strength training workout with elements of weight training, Pilates, yoga, and ballet barre – to my regular exercise schedule. I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to strength training – I’m more of a cardio girl; but strength training is so important for increasing metabolism and protecting joints…I’m glad I finally found something I like. I’ve also started getting regular acupuncture treatments, something I’ve wanted to try for some time. As my acupuncturist, Inderjeet Ramgotra, says: “Life is more comfortable with acupuncture.” So far, I couldn’t agree more.
Winter cooking. Fresh produce is hard to come by this time of year (at least in the northern hemisphere); so I’m finding as many ways to use apples – available pretty much all year from cold storage – and root vegetables – like beets, carrots, and potatoes – as possible. Apples in my oatmeal. Apple slices dipped in almond butter. Diced apples sautéed with onions, garlic, chicken sausage, cooked farro, and a little sprinkle of red pepper. (Found that little recipe on the back of a Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Farro bag the other day. It was yummy!) Carrots and other root veggies make great stew material. Check out my quick “recipe” for winter stew at the bottom of this post.
“Visioning.” I bought a big wall calendar the other day, the kind that lets you see the whole year at once. I’m using it mostly for business planning, but I’ve also added the weeks I’ll spend in NYC and other possible times for vacations and other travel adventures. Every couple of days, another idea pops into my head – either business or personal – and I add it to the calendar. Each time I shuffle something, my year – and my priorities for it – become clearer. It’s like a Vision Board for Miss Practicality. ;)
Connections. My “word of the year” for 2013 is Abundance. Part of creating the kind of abundance I mean is connecting with the communities of which I’m a part – like women business owners through CRAVE, fitness lovers through Flywheel, health professionals through industry events, neighbors at the coffee shop where I hang out a few days a week – and with friends and family more often. This means going to events even when I’d rather be curled up on my couch hibernating. It means taking the initiative to plan outings with friends so all they have to do is show up. It means factoring other peoples’ schedules into my travel plans so I’m sure to see them when I’m in town. And it means disconnecting from electronic devices at least one day a week (I call it “Screen Free Saturdays”), so I can have more uninterrupted time with people I care about.
What’s one thing you’ll do this week to “get back to basics”? Share it in the comments.
P.S. Only 3 days left to register for 6 Weeks to Effortless Eating & Ultimate Self Care! If you’re tired of second guessing everything you put in your mouth, don’t wait. It’s time for you to feel confident, energized, and in control of your food choices every day. I’d be honored to have you!
Lara’s Winter Stew
Serves 2 – 3. Prep Time: 30 minutes
Note: This “recipe” is pretty free form and designed for experimentation. You really can’t mess it up!
Saute chopped onions and minced garlic with olive oil in a soup pan until soft.
Add additional chopped veggies like carrots, red bell pepper – really whatever you have on hand – and saute for another minute or two.
Add some spices to complement the flavor of your main ingredient – bay leaf and fennel go well with white beans; or try bay leaf and rosemary with chicken – and saute for another few minutes. (Pick up a copy of The Flavor Bible for an amazing “encyclopedia” of flavor combinations!)
Add 2 cups of water or vegetable stock along with cubed potatoes.
Simmer for about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add some cooked chicken or a can of beans and gently re-heat. (You could also throw in some leafy greens like spinach, chard, or kale at this point if you like.)
Oooooo…carb. It’s a four-letter word, right? (Well, obviously…but you know what I mean.)
What if I told you that you might be making a big mistake if you’re avoiding carbs…a mistake that’s costing you the sublime pleasure of pancakes for breakfast or a slice of NYC pizza or bread pudding for dessert or (gasp!) macaroni and cheese?
(Oh yeah, and some really important nutrients.)
Here are some of the biggest “carb mistakes” even healthy eaters make…and what you can do to avoid them.
Mmmm…life without carbs.
Overlooking the evidence. Most nutritionists and doctors agree that eating a variety of whole foods is the best way to get the nutrients we need. Is it coincidence that the majority of whole foods – like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds – are carbohydrates? Or is it possible that nature knows better what’s good for us than we do? Just a thought.
Nature vs. fad diets aside, glucose – a simple sugar produced when we digest carbohydrates – is our body’s most important source of fuel. Glucose (sugar, in fact) only exists in plant foods (with the exception of lactose, a simple sugar found in milk).
Then there’s fiber, a complex carbohydrate found only in plant foods (i.e., carbs). Low fiber diets are associated with all kinds of unpleasant things, like constipation, hemorrhoids, diabetes, and obesity. Low carb diets also tend to be high – often too high – in protein. I won’t get into the dangers of eating too much protein here – that was a topic for a whole other blog post.
What to do instead: Focus more on eating a variety of foods and less on eating (or not eating) entire groups of foods.
Going to extremes. Here’s the thing: All carbs are not created equal. The ones you probably think of as “bad” – like bread, pasta, pizza, pancakes – are indeed less nutritionally helpful than whole grains, nuts, legumes, and veggies, primarily because they’re made from refined grains. (Translation: They’re stripped of things like vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making them likely to spike our blood sugar, causing wicked cravings later.) And there is some concern that excess carbohydrates in the diet create inflammation in the body, leading to illness or disease.
Moderation is key when it comes to carbs, especially starchy carbs like potatoes, legumes, and grains. My rule of thumb is about 1/2 cup or less per serving, no more than a couple times a day. (Your body might need more or less than me, so remember to experiment!)
But have some pancakes on occasion, for god’s sake! Just do it consciously, preparing yourself for the inevitable blood sugar spike and subsequent cravings for more carbs. Hint: Have a side of scrambled eggs or some veggies with your “carb cakes.” The protein and fat in the eggs and the fiber in the veggies will even out your blood sugar a little.
What to do instead: Don’t feel like you have cut out every single “carb” from your diet! Knowing which ones to eat and how much to eat are the keys.
Not considering “upgrades.” You may have gathered that I like pancakes. Instead of making them from flour devoid of nutrition, I buy a super yummy pancake mix made from powerhouse (and gluten-free) grains like millet and buckwheat. Flour of any kind is most definitely not a whole grain, but Purely Elizabeth’s Perfect Pancake Mix is better than pancakes made from white flour, which might as well be a direct sugar injection to the blood stream.
Another “upgrade” example: If you’re a macaroni & cheese fiend, try making it with a whole grain like brown rice or millet. Not quite the same thing, but still yummy. Or how about mac & cheese style cauliflower? Sounds kind of awful, but it’s a favorite of at least a couple of my starchy carb-obsessed clients.
What to do instead: Find one or two ways to “upgrade” your carbs to more nutritious options, rather than cutting them out entirely.
Ignoring activity level.Are you just starting an exercise program? Or are you training for a marathon? Do you Iive in a “walking city” like New York or London? Or do you drive your car everywhere? Are you a generally active person or a natural couch potato? Your activity level is key to determining the right carb balance for your body…and, if you’re like most people, it will change over time.
My diet is a little carb heavy at the moment. I have a demanding workout schedule and I need the quick energy most days. (FYI: Your body gets energy from three sources, in this order: carbohydrates, fat, protein. You can see why excess protein might be a problem, particularly since its building blocks – amino acids – are converted to fatty acids if they’re not burned…which equals extra pounds.) During weeks/months when I’m not as active, I scale back the carb consumption to avoid gaining weight. Simple.
What to do instead: Adjust carbohydrate intake based on your activity level. Start with about 50% of your daily calories coming from carbs. (Remember: That includes fruits and veggies!) Raise or lower from there.
Losing touch with your body. Just because someone tells you that a low-carb diet (or a low anything diet, for that matter) is the answer to all of your problems, what if your body is telling you something different? One of my favorite quotes pretty much sums this up:
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
If I were Buddha (!), I would add “unless it agrees with your body’s wisdom.” The real question is, are you listening to it?
What to do instead: Tune into your cravings, your energy level, your hunger level, and your mood as clues from your body about what it really needs. You, like everyone else, have 100% unique nutrition needs.
Share your carb questions in the comments below. I KNOW you have something to say about this topic. ;)
P.S. Overwhelmed by conflicting nutrition info? (Who isn’t?!) These video health tips might help. They’re free…my gift to you from the January cycle of my online health coaching program, 6 Weeks to Effortless Eating & Ultimate Self Care. Get instant access to the videos here.
I know…it’s an unpopular opinion at this time of year; but have you ever known me to be shy about what I think? ;)
What’s that saying? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s pretty much how I feel about New Year’s resolutions.
It’s not that I doubt your ability to set goals and achieve them. I know you…you’re a doer. But even doers (especially doers?) bite off more than we can chew sometimes. And when we’re wired to do it all at once, during one particular month of the year, it’s pretty much inevitable that we’ll end up disappointed.
So what’s an ambitious, goal-oriented girl to do? Here are a few things to try.
Make tiny changes. This one idea is absolutely key…I see it work every single day in my life and in the lives of my clients. Ambitious, sweeping goals that scare you a little bit are important; but when it comes to health goals in particular – whether it’s losing weight, eating more healthfully, beginning an exercise program, or managing stress – working in “baby steps” is the way to get there. What tiny little change can you work on for the next few weeks? What about just adding one serving of dark leafy greens to your diet each day? Or trying to set your fork down between each bite of food? When you’re creating new habits, it’s amazing how much focus it takes, even for the little things. Willpower is a finite resource. When we use it all up on one massive goal, we have very little left over for permanent, long-term change. Don’t get sucked into the “I’m going to stop eating sugar FOREVER” or “I’m going to go to the gym every day for the rest of my life” mindset. (No you’re not…and that’s okay.)
Create a vision. Stumbling across this little nugget a couple of years ago – when I basically couldn’t get it together to set goals for the year – changed the way I look at annual planning. It may sound hokey, but “visioning” is a powerful way to make stuff happen (much to the surprise of no-nonsense types like me). In addition to taking the pressure off to have all the answers, focusing on a broad vision of what you want leaves you open to unanticipated twists, turns, and really cool things along the way. While I haven’t dug into it 100%, I love the idea of Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map, focused on directing your life based on how you want to feel every day (i.e., your “core desired feelings”). Think for a minute about what those feelings might be. (Some of mine: Connected. Present. Inspired. Useful.) Just the act of writing them down creates an amazing clarity and helps frame the little choices you make each day.
Choose your words. This is my new favorite goal-setting technique: Christine Kane’s Word of the Year. (Thanks to Nathalie Lussier for telling me about it.) My words for 2013 are Abundance and Community. Everything else is just details. In the few days since I settled on these words, the actions I need to take – in my life and in my business – are much clearer.
What about you? What have you found helpful in your own goal-setting this month? Share your thoughts in the comments. The best ideas always come from you. :)
P.S.Registration is open for the January cycle of my interactive online health coaching program, 6 Weeks to Effortless Eating & Ultimate Self Care! If you’re overwhelmed by all of the conflicting nutrition information out there, feel like your body is holding you back from living the way you want to live, or just want to know how to take better care of yourself without adding 100 things to your to-do list, then this may be the program for you. Get all the detailshere (+ info on how you can save $50 and get some bonus goodies if you register by Friday, January 11th).
And that I write about things that I notice in myself.
I talk with clients about fear a lot too. We might not call it fear, but resistance to change – even if it’s change that you desperately want – is all about fear, isn’t it?
In today’s video, I’ll share some of the things that scared me in the past 12 months – from major to minor – and how I moved through to the other side. (Hint: It’s less about willpower than you might think.)
Some things I mentioned in the video, in case you’re interested:
And here’s a book that I’ve found helpful for moving through fear: Do The Work, by Steven Pressfield. Read it. Repeatedly.
What scares you? How will you be afraid and do it anyway in 2013?
Share your thoughts in the comments (or just send me an email if you’d rather). I love hearing from you!
P.S. Don’t forget to grab a spot at my live online video event on Monday, January 7th. We’ll talk pantry stocking tips for the New Year and simple whole foods meals you can throw together in a few minutes…live from my kitchen. (You know you want to see me attempt to cook in front of a live audience. Should be interesting.) Get more details and sign up. (It’s free!)
As you walk into one more holiday party, there it is…the dreaded “sugar table,” staring you in the face. You’re starving, but you don’t have a healthy snack on you (even though you know you should); and the party host has decided that it’s an all sugar kinda night.
What do you do?
While I’m not suggesting that you make this a regular dinner habit, here are some tips and treats that are less likely to send you into sugar shock…until you can get a real dinner.
Skip the cocktails and drink lots of water. Now is most definitely NOT the time to test your drinking prowess. (Really, when is a good time for that?) Have a seltzer with lemon if you need something “cocktail like.”
Eat nuts. I always go straight for cookies with nuts. Or just plain nuts if your host happens to have those out in the sea of sugar. The way I see it, the nuts give you at least a little protein (I know…it’s a stretch), which might help your blood sugar stay more even than sugar alone. Don’t get hung up about the fat and calories in nuts. It’s all good, trust me…especially when you need something to get you through a couple of hours.
Stay away from anything that’s pure sugar, like fudge, caramels, and marshmallows. There’s really nothing redeeming about them nutrition-wise.
Skip the icing. Iced cookies sure look pretty, but that icing is…yep…pure sugar. Find the treats without the extra goo.
Find the oatmeal. While they’re not necessarily less sugar-laden than other cookies, oatmeal cookies at least give your body a bit more to chew on than the gooey, fudgy, chocolaty things on the table next to them.
Fruit means fiber. Grab a fruit-based dessert. Again, it’s a stretch to think you’re getting much fiber from fruit cooked into a pie or cookies (fiber breaks down when you cook it); but hey! – desperate times and all. If you’re lucky, there’s enough fiber left in the fruit to slow down digestion and reduce the blood sugar spike.
Think dark. If dark chocolate is an option, choose that over the milk chocolate. You’d be amazed what health benefits come from a little square of 70% or above dark chocolate. (Learn more about the health benefits of dark chocolate in my video from last month.)
Have some coconut. Eating some naturally healthful coconut is another way to give your body at least a little something good along with the sugar. If you spot a coconut macaroon – with real coconut in it, not just “coconut flavoring” – grab it.
Not exactly the ideal dinner, but choosing wisely when presented with a sea of less-than-wise choices will at least minimize the damage. Your best bet, of course, is to plan ahead and grab an apple or a snack bar on your way out the door so you don’t eat 10 cookies as soon as you arrive at the party. Some days are better than others. :)
P.S. Did you miss this week’s sneak peek into the January cycle of 6 Weeks to Effortless Eating & Ultimate Self Care? (I shared my top secret to staying healthy. It was juicy!) It’s not too late. Sign up for next week’s video!
P.P.S. I’m taking a break next week to spend some time with friends and family over Christmas; so you won’t get the usual Wednesday food + fitness + inspiration post. (It’ll be back on January 2!) But if you’re on my mailing list, look for a special announcement from me on Monday, including asubscriber-only offer that you won’t want to miss!
How are you feeling this week? Have you been taking care of yourself? Do I sound like your mom? ;)
Seriously, though. I worry about you…especially if you’ve been looking to me for advice lately.
Because I got a cold last week…right after I bragged to my boyfriend that I rarely get sick. And if you want to be sick for the holidays, I can totally hook you up with a surefire way to make that happen.
Go to bed later and later each night. Lack of sleep does wonders for your immune system, making your body a particularly attractive location for a cold virus holiday party. Oh, and did I mention what sleep deprivation does for weight management? When we’re tired, hormones that regulate appetite increase, making us ravenous; and, to make matters worse, our bodies consume 20% fewer calories the day after a night of less-than-optimal sleep. AWESOME way to get a head start on your holiday weight gain goals!
Don’t plan your meals, go to the grocery store, or cook…ever. Instead, scavenge your meals from a combination of random leftovers and restaurants, eating only the things that you know won’t keep you satisfied or feeling your best. I especially recommend lots of sugar and caffeine (and minimal dark leafy greens and other veggies).
Work for at least 12 hours every day. This is very important. You MUST resist the urge to stop work at a reasonable hour. Feeling a little sleepy? Have some coffee. Eyes having a hard time focusing? Put on your glasses. Aching back? Sit up straight, for pete’s sake! But do NOT, under any circumstances, stop and take a break.
Ignore your body’s cries for help, like when you skip your 7am cycling class for the first time ever, wondering why you just can’t get out of bed. Or when you notice that your shoulder is aching and making a funny clicking noise just like it did a few years ago when your stress level was through the roof and your muscles were tighter than a rubber band holding a stack of overstuffed holiday packages. Just keep moving…you’ll be fine.
Okay…back to reality. May I suggest that, just this once, you do as I say, not as I do (there’s your mom again) and SLOW IT DOWN a little for the next couple of weeks? Or if that’s just not possible, at least give yourself little breaks when you can slip them in. Get enough sleep. Eat as well as you can. And, most importantly, listen to your body. It’s the best “health coach” out there.
P.S. Free video tips + a sneak peek of the January cycle of 6 Weeks to Effortless Eating & Ultimate Self Carebegin on Monday! Are you on the list?
But I’m good at making lists, so I thought I’d take a little pressure off and share a list of random – and generally “health supportive,” since that’s how I roll – things I love. Maybe you and your “giftees” will love them too.
Theo Chocolate Wine & Beer Pairing Kits. You may have noticed last week that I’m a little obsessed with chocolate…Theo Chocolate in particular. Check out their Wine & Chocolate and Beer & Chocolate Pairing Kits. Several people on my holiday gift list will be getting one of these this year…I may even throw in the wine and beer. ;)
Full Circle. If you know someone who’s not already a member of this cross between a CSA and a farm-fresh produce home delivery service, do them a favor and sign them up. (Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and San Francisco Bay area only.)
Healthy snack stocking stuffers. Healthy snacks are an absolute staple in my diet. These all make great stocking stuffers. Or wrap them up in a pretty package as a thoughtful gift for on-the-go friends and family.
Kit’s Organic Fruit + Nut Bar. While I still love my Larabars, I have to admit that these “Larabar knock-offs” (sorry…it’s true) have most definitely improved on the original. With all organic ingredients and a little less of an oily texture, Kit’s is quickly becoming my go-to snack bar.
Ambrosial Granola Athenian Harvest Muesli. The lovely folks at Ambrosial Granola sent me some samples of their 100% organic granola. My favorite – for its clean and just-sweet-enough flavor – was the Athenian Harvest Muesli. Put a 1/2 cup in a to-go container along with some milk or yogurt, and off you go to the office with a quick, easy, and completely pure breakfast.
Two Degrees Bars. Two Degrees is a mission-driven food company working to end childhood hunger. Their whole grain, vegan, and gluten-free bars are another favorite on-the-go snack.
Miro Tea. Best artisan tea in Seattle. Add one of their tea pots or mugs and you’ve got a cozy and healing gift for tea lovers.
YogaGlo. Get your yoga pals a membership to my new favorite yoga “studio.” With online yoga classes for every time of day, body part, or specific fitness goal – as well as an array of yoga styles and instructors – Yogaglo is a great complement to studio-based yoga, especially for frequent travelers.
Flywheel Sports. If you’re lucky enough to live in a Flywheel Sports city (Seattle, New York, Chicago, Atlanta to name a few), you’ll want to get gift certificates for you and a few friends to Flywheel’s indoor cycling and/or barre classes. Most fun you’ll ever have working out.
glassybaby. You’ve probably seen me rave about my glassybaby candle holders; but I still covet (listen up, Santa!) a set of glassybaby drinkers. Drinking wine or holiday cocktails out of these handmade lovelies would make things much merrier.
Oregon Soap Company. Treat yourself and your body to the yummy all-purpose soap from this Portland, Oregon-based maker of organic soaps. I can’t wake up in my morning shower without their Ginger Grapefruit or Oregon Double Mint “flavors.”
Four Winds Artful Living. I discovered this absolute treasure of a store when I returned to Seattle last December after an extended trip in Southeast Asia, including a stop in a remote village in East Bali. On my second visit to Four Winds, I found the EXACT soaps I had purchased in this little Balinese village, a remarkable discovery given that these soaps can ONLY be found at a little hut on a beach in Bali! (And at Four Winds, apparently.) Full of goodies lovingly sourced by owner Matt Fioretti at artisan co-ops and family-owned businesses in Indonesia, Thailand, and Nepal – including gorgeous hand-woven silk scarves, soaps, and Balinese wooden home accents – Four Winds will hook you up with truly unique gifts to make a home a haven.
The Yoga Barn. Speaking of Bali, if you need a super special gift for a super special yoga lover, why not send them to a retreat at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali (my yoga home away from home)?
P.S. If you’re in Seattle and are looking for even more unique gift ideas, come by the Holiday CRAVE-ings Shopping Party on Wednesday, December 5 (really more of a girls’ night out with music, munchies, gift bags, and shopping at the best woman-owned businesses in Seattle). I’ll be there giving complimentary 5-minute “ask the health coach” consultations. Would love to see you!
If you watched the tour of my pantry last month, you already know that my love of chocolate runs deep…about five bars deep. ;)
What you might not know is that there’s a method to my chocolate madness. Those bars aren’t just thrown into my shopping cart; they’re painstakingly and lovingly chosen from some of the best chocolate selections I’ve ever seen anywhere. (Coffee + chocolate = Seattle.)
The holiday season – along with its many chocolate treats – seemed like a good time to unveil my love affair with chocolate.
So what does a nutrition geek like me look for in a chocolate bar? And what’s the deal with the whole “dark chocolate is good for you” thing? Can you really eat an entire bar of dark chocolate without guilt? (Without guilt, yes…I don’t believe in food guilt. Without consequence to your waistline? Probably not. Sorry.)
Watch the video to learn the secrets of healthy chocolate and what to look for to find it. And check out the list below the video for my favorite Seattle chocolate “dealers.”
My go-to spots for the best chocolate in Seattle:
Theo Chocolate - Seattle’s own chocolate factory (run by our very own Willy Wonka, founder Joe Whinney) is the home of my default chocolate bars. Theo’s Classic Bars are all at least 70% dark chocolate, and their cocoa sources are impeccably organic and fair trade.
DeLaurenti - This little artisan food shop tucked in Seattle’s Pike Place Market has one of the best chocolate selections I’ve ever seen, including bars from a favorite I didn’t mention in the video – NYC-based Antidote Chocolate.
Chocopolis - Lovely little shop at the top of Queen Anne offering house made truffles and chocolate bars galore. Chocolate is organized by the region from which the cacao was sourced, just like wine.
Whole Foods and PCC Natural Market - Great local and artisan chocolate selections, including Theo.
Share YOUR favorite chocolate treats (and sources) in the comments! I and my fellow chocolate lovers thank you.
P.S. Stay in control of your food choices this holiday season and kickoff the New Year with confidence. Exclusive video tips are coming next month…but you won’t get them unless you SIGN UP HERE (it’s free!). Are you in?
When did being in constant motion become our default? It’s not even about stress anymore; it’s like we’re avoiding life or something.
What if we took just a few minutes to actually experience life instead of distracting ourselves with to-do lists and electronic task masters? I don’t know about you, but “crazy busy” can become an energy-sucking habit fast if I’m not careful.
If you ever find yourself in an endless go-go-go loop of “what’s next?,” read on for four steps to “getting slow.”
Give yourself permission. Or, if it makes you feel better, consider this post me giving you permission to SLOW DOWN! :)
Develop an “I need a break alarm.” What happens in your body when you feel stressed out or overwhelmed? What physical symptoms do you notice? They’re different for everyone – headaches, feeling spacey, losing focus several times in an hour. Tuning into them is a good way to “self correct” when you get sucked into the “I’m soooooo busy!” vortex. Stand up. Take a walk. Get some fresh air. Have a glass of water.
Create – and honor – boundaries. Get clear about your limits around work, social engagements, and family responsibilities. You’re just one person – it’s okay to say “no” sometimes. In fact, I want you to actively practice saying no this week. Because I know you…you try to take care of everyone else first, right? (Just admit it.)
Make slow a habit. Pick one or two “get slow” habits to cultivate during the holiday rush. Some ideas:
Each time you estimate how long it will take you to do something or go somewhere, add a third.
Make Saturdays “Screen Free Saturdays.” No TV. No computer. No smartphone. (It’s just one day!)
Light a candle while you’re cooking dinner.
Instead of feeling rushed and pressured to get to the yoga studio, do a class in your living room with YogaGlo. (It’s my new yoga addiction.)
Take a random turn down a street you’ve never explored.
What habits will you use to help you take it down a notch this holiday season? Tell me in the comments.
P.S. For those in the U.S., have a very Happy (and slow!) Thanksgiving!
P.P.S. ONLY TWO SPOTS LEFT in my One-On-One Health Coaching program this year! If you’d like my support to reach your health goals, now’s the time – my rates increase on January 1. Schedule a consultation with me TODAY – by phone, Skype, or in-person in Seattle – and find out what it’s like to have me as your biggest cheerleader. :) (No pom-poms. I promise.)
Have you recovered from Halloween and Election Day yet?
Well, get it together fast…’cause holiday season is in full swing. And I, for one, have already started bracing myself for the onslaught of fat and sugar-laden goodies.
As a good Southern girl (by birth, anyway), I love me some eggnog; but I also know how it makes me feel the next day. Sometimes I’m willing to take the pain with the pleasure; sometimes I’m not. Either way, I like to have options.
Here are some of my personal strategies for staying in control of my holiday food choices while still being the perfect party guest.
All alcohol is not created equal. The calories in hard liquor – and the mixers that go with it – can add up quickly. (Not to mention make me incapable of stringing words together.) I stick with wine and beer at holiday parties. Or, if I’m feeling “cocktaily,” I order one glass of Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks (yep) and then switch to water and/or a cranberry juice and seltzer.
Replace sugary sodas with sparkling water like Pellegrino or Perrier. Or, if your host happens to be a “nutritionista,” try the kombucha. The natural “carbonation” in this fermented tea beverage usually cures my craving for something bubbly…and the probiotic cultures are good for the tummy. :)
Cookies, cakes, and pies. Oh my! These innocent little baked goods are my downfall at this time of year, especially the chocolaty ones. One of my favorite sweet-craving tamers – with a nice ooey gooey texture – is Pure Bar Chocolate Brownie and Dark Chocolate Berry flavors. Toss one in your bag for brownie emergencies.
Swap cow’s milk for almond milk in your hot cocoa and chai. The nutty flavor is a nice addition and will save you some fatty calories (I like the texture better than skim milk). Hot cocoa is a lower calorie replacement for creamy eggnog too, which can run you about 350 calories per cup! (Try my Spicy Hot Cocoa for an extra kick.)
Pumpkin, apple, or pecan? Opt for pumpkin or apple pie instead of pecan if you’re watching calories. It pains me to say this because I LOVE pecan pie (with a little bourbon mixed in, of course); but this nutritional comparison doesn’t lie.
Sweet is best. See that big ol’ bowl of mashed potatoes over there? Have the sweet potatoes instead. There’s nothing wrong with white potatoes, but mashed potatoes tend to be loaded with butter and cream. Sweet potatoes put the super in superfood, delivering antioxidants (beta-carotene), Vitamin C, and dietary fiber to your holiday-party-wearied body. And the naturally sweet flavor will do wonders for your sweet cravings.
Replace cheesy, creamy dips with hummus. Not much more to say about that. Cream + cheese = saturated fat and uber calories. Hummus = “good” fat and a little protein. (Yum!) Salsa and black bean dip are other great, lower calorie options.
Bake better. I have a few standard baking substitutions, ones that are subtle enough that people rarely notice. If you’re the chef, try these swaps: white flour for whole wheat flour (try Trader Joe’s 100% White Whole Wheat Flour); white sugar for turbinado sugar or sucanat; and butter for fat-free plain yogurt (or half butter/half yogurt).
Finally, these pre-party tips will head off overindulgence before you even set foot in the door:
Stay hydrated! Have a glass of water (or two!) before you arrive. Dehydration often masquerades as hunger. Don’t let it trick you.
Have an apple 30 minutes before you head out to the party. The fiber will fill you up without entirely spoiling your appetite.
Be vigilant about managing your blood sugar throughout the day. Eat breakfast. Eat lunch. Have an afternoon snack. Arriving at a holiday gathering with your blood sugar in the toilet is just asking for trouble.
Wait 10 minutes. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner; but before you go back for a second round, wait 10 minutes. Giving your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach will not only keep you from overdoing it but will make what you do choose to eat that much more enjoyable.
What do you do around the holidays to stay in control of your food choices? Share your best tips in the comments.
About Lara Dalch
Lara Dalch holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia. She is a Certified Pilates Instructor – with certifications from both Core Pilates NYC and Power Pilates – and received her training to practice health coaching via the State University of New York and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.