It’s been a crazy few weeks here at Dalch Wellness!
I’ve worked my tail off to get my Effortless Eating Program out to the world (congrats if you’re one of my fall effortless eaters!). At the same time, I’ve insisted on not missing out on all of the amazing things that Fall brings to the Pacific Northwest.
For me, Fall includes lots of cooking (it’s cold outside!) with things like sweet potatoes, apples, pears, acorn squash, potatoes, and other yummy root veggies and fall squashes.
But recently – more than ever – I’ve needed to make simple meals to keep myself fueled and on track with whatever I’m doing.
So this week, I show you how to make one of my favorite fall dinners, using one of the beautiful fall veggies I bought at the Sunday Ballard Farmers Market in Seattle a few days ago. (I also threw in a random not-necessarily-fall-but-quick dinner idea that I recently rediscovered.)
The acorn squash recipe is here. And here’s a great fall breakfast idea from Kris Carr of Crazy Sexy Wellness that I made – and loved! – this week: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal. (I added a sprinkle of walnuts on top.) It’s quick, easy, nourishing, and yummy…for us busy, busy, busy types who need the extra energy. :)
P.S. Are we connected on Facebook? Join the party on the Dalch Wellness Facebook page! We share lots of good stuff…and have silly conversations about pancakes, waffles, pumpkin spice lattes, and the occasional “healthy” food too. ;)
P.P.S. You can find Skillet Diner Bacon Jam here. :)
I get asked a lot why I do what I do…why I care that other people feel relaxed and happy about their food choices, instead of obsessed and stressed out.
It’s a fair question. And the answer isn’t entirely altruistic.
Like all good Type A achievers, I think the world – and the people in it – should be a certain way…namely, like me. ;)
But the good news is that, in this particular case, my tendency to think everyone should be like me works to your advantage.
In this week’s post, I share a story I’ve never shared before…one that might shed some light on one of the reasons I’m on a mission to help you eat effortlessly and what I’ve learned in my journey to get there.
The world’s best pancakes (seriously)…at Lake Placid Lodge.
I grew up in the South (Richmond, Virginia to be precise) and went to a girls’ school from kindergarten all the way through high school.
While I’m beyond grateful for the things I learned there and attribute a huge amount of my success to the foundation I gained from the experience, I also learned first hand how relentless girls can be when it comes to looks and body image. (Remember the movie Mean Girls? There are a few in every bunch.)
I don’t think my high school was unusual in this respect: The way you looked determined, to a large extent, your social status.
Many of my classmates were obsessed with their weight. They dieted and exercised obsessively. They did anything and everything to maintain an unnaturally skinny frame. Several of them struggled with eating disorders.
And who could blame them?! Girls can be, well, mean! Add that to images of perfect women in magazines and on TV and…yeah, it’s tough out there for girls. (Sadly, not much has changed since I was in high school.)
Looking back on it, I see how lucky I was. I had a naturally athletic and slim build, one that I didn’t have to work all that hard to keep (although I was active in sports throughout my years in school).
Despite that, I wasn’t immune to the social pressure to stay thin.
I wasn’t one of the “popular girls.” I was somewhere between geeky and popular…not a total outcast, but a bit bookish…a straight A student who put studying first, no matter what else was going on in my life. As a result, I had to fight for my social status (that’s what my teenage brain told me, anyway).
While I escaped the hell of an eating disorder, there were times when I ate nothing for breakfast, a small frozen yogurt with a little granola sprinkled on top for lunch, and a Lean Cuisine or salad for dinner. I was probably eating less than 1000 calories a day in some cases. Not good for an active teenager (the standard calorie recommendation for a teenage girl is MUCH higher).
But I could never keep up with such restrictive ways of eating for long. Even then, it seemed a little crazy to me.
Emotional eating was my true demon in high school (still is on occasion) especially during one particular summer.
I have vivid memories of coming home from my summer job one afternoon, turning on the TV to watch Wimbledon (I was obsessed with tennis that summer), and marching back and forth between the TV room and the kitchen with a parade of different – and often bizarre – food combinations in hand.
She may not remember this, but my mom came home to find me sobbing on the couch because I just couldn’t stop eating and felt so full I wanted to be sick. I don’t remember what emotional hole I was trying to fill with that food (god only knows…I was an angst-filled, teenage girl ;); but it must have been big, because I just kept eating and eating.
Lucky for me, my 16-year-old body handled the abuse and bounced right back…and my restrictive diets and emotional eating never amounted to anything more than brief moments in time.
Somewhere along the way, I must have decided that diets were stupid.
And as I entered my 20s and 30s, I learned that food is one of the great pleasures of life. I wanted to love food without abusing it…to feel healthy without being obsessive about it.
So I started experimenting, still trying to control the way I felt by making food choices that would get me there. What I learned, though, is that I had to let go of control to regain it. That approaching food with a measuring stick and a dash of guilt – or as a replacement for other things that were missing in my life – made it HARDER to “control.”
Here’s what I learned (and what I hope you’ll take to heart):
- You can enjoy food – whatever food you like, really – if the rest of your life is in balance.
- When your life is out of balance, food can be a drug.
- When your life is in balance – when you take care of yourself without becoming obsessed with the task – food is a journey; a comfort; a sensual pleasure; a creative outlet; fuel for your life.
- Eating well and being fit shouldn’t be inconvenient or overwhelming; they should be part of the fabric of your life. Finding ways to eat and move that make you feel good makes them feel as essential – and effortless – as brushing your teeth.
- Taking it one day or one week at a time gets you to your goals faster than trying to plan an entire year. The days on which you make “less than ideal” choices weave right in with the days on which you take care of yourself in a way that honors the beautiful, dynamic, amazing woman you are…and they all sort of balance each other out in the end.
All of these things make eating…well, effortless.
You know how, when you try too hard to do something, it never seems to work? Yep. That rule seems to apply to eating, weight loss, exercise and everything else we do to “be healthy” too. Who knew?
Oh, and by the way…this is an ongoing journey, so don’t beat yourself up for not having it all figured out yet. It took me years – a couple of decades, actually – to “figure it out.” And I’m still figuring it out every single day.
So, remember how I said that I think everyone in the world should be like me? Here’s what I mean…
It makes me terribly sad – and a little crazy, actually – when I hear stories of women whose lives are run by food, who’ve become so obsessed with the task of “being healthy” that they’ve lost sight of why they want to be healthy in the first place. I grew up with that all around me at school, and it just doesn’t have to be that way.
It makes me angry, even…angry that we live in a world that sends girls and women so many unhelpful messages about food and, to be honest, a little angry at them for not letting me help them. (There’s that type A thing. ;)
Because the answer is soooo amazingly simple!
That’s why I’m on a mission to help you eat effortlessly – and without stress and guilt – every day. Your answers may not be exactly the same as mine, but I’m trying really hard to shortcut it for you. :)
(FYI: I’m not talking about eating disorders…that’s a much trickier place to be and not so easy to get out of. My good friend Minh-Hai Alex is a rock star when it comes to helping those with eating disorders. Check her out here.)
Now I’d love to hear your story. Tell me in the comments:
- What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to eating right and staying healthy?
- What experiences did you have growing up that shaped how you feel about food, being “in shape,” and staying healthy?
- What have you learned as an adult that’s helped you create a happier relationship with food and your body?
P.S. This is your LAST CHANCE to secure a spot in the fall session of The Effortless Eating Program. Sign up now, because registration closes at 11:59p PDT on Wednesday, October 9th and won’t open again until Spring 2014. If you’re on the fence about joining the program, it’s time to take action. I and your fellow effortless eaters are waiting to welcome you!
With so much love,
Last week, I shared a few of the excuses I make to avoid the “work” of self-care. (A couple of you chimed in in the comments to share your stories too – thank you!)
Which excuse did you relate to?
My guess is that “I’m too busy” had you nodding your head, right? :)
Okay. I hear you. But since I’m in the business of making busy and healthy co-exist, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite posts about making self-care a priority…and what specific things to focus on when you’re in “self-care triage mode” (i.e., life gets insanely busy).
Pick one – maybe two – habits from these posts to rotate in this week and you’ll be on your way to feeling amazing…no matter what fall throws at you.
- How to keep up with self-care when life gets in the way
- Get slow: 4 steps to avoid exhaustion and enjoy your life more
- 11 tips for extreme self-care
- 5 ways to make travel healthy and stress-free
- Why sleep may be the missing piece to your weight loss puzzle
P.S. If you’d like my support in making your self-care habits stick, you won’t want to miss the fall session of The Effortless Eating Program. Registration is only open for a little while – and the next session isn’t until Spring 2014 – so take action now!
It’s the first week of fall and most of us have a project list a mile long.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about motivation killers…things that deflate us as we’re working towards big goals.
But what if you don’t even get to that point because you make excuses before you even take the first step towards your goals ?
I don’t know about you, but I’m a master of “reasons I can’t do this or that” when I want to be.
I’m pretty convinced that busy women in particular have a special talent for coming up with reasons not to tackle this or that project, especially when it comes to self-care and health goals. We can ALWAYS find something “more important” to focus on, right? ;)
Here are some of the best (worst?) excuses we make for not making self-care (i.e., our health) our number one priority…and how you can move past them to start feeling amazing. (I should know. I’ve made these excuses myself…recently. ;)
- I’m too busy. Or “I don’t have time.” This is my personal favorite. It’s just so easy to use! But here’s the thing: We all make choices about how we spend our time every single day. If we want to make something happen, we make it happen. A few months back, I’d resigned myself to not having a regular yoga practice. I’d even shifted blame to my local yoga studio for not having classes at the times I wanted. (Ha!) Then I came across a website called Yogaglo that allows me to take amazing yoga classes online. I started streaming them from my iPad to my Apple TV about 2-3 times a week and voilà! – I magically had time for a yoga practice. In my living room. No more excuses.
- It’s too expensive. Maybe you’ve considered hiring a trainer or a health coach or participating in a program like The Effortless Eating Program…you know, to force yourself to make self-care a priority. ;) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed support and decided that it was just “too expensive.” Fast forward a few months, and I end up back in that place…desperately needing an assist and finally acknowledging that asking for support is worth every penny because it gets me where I want to go faster and with far less stress than trying to figure it all out on my own. (Sort of like the “going it alone” motivation killer I talked about a few weeks ago.)
- I’m already a healthy eater, athlete, whatever. I find that when I use this excuse, it usually means that I’m resisting taking care of myself out of fear rather than out of being 100% comfortable with how I’m feeling. Perfect example: My hip has bothered me lately (18 months of hardcore cycling at Flywheel is finally catching up with me). I’ve been thinking about calling my physical therapist for at least two weeks now. I’ve even told several people that I’m going to call him. But the little voice in my head keeps saying “I’ve had weird pains like this before and they’ve been fine after a few weeks. I know how to deal with it. I’m a Pilates instructor, for god’s sake! I’ve been active my whole life. What could my PT possibly tell me that I don’t already know?” Ummm…right. What could someone who works with clients with these kinds of challenges all day POSSIBLY know that I don’t? I call BS.
- It requires too much discipline. I just don’t have that kind of willpower! Here’s the thing about making self-care a priority: Once you start eating a little better or exercising a little more or allowing yourself enough sleep, it doesn’t take long for it to feel effortless. Creating new habits does require a smidge of discipline upfront – it took me about a month of dragging my butt to my yoga mat to make it a regular thing (and the support of a friend who was also doing a “30-day yoga challenge“) – but they quickly become second nature. The trick is to focus on the benefits that happen quickly – like more energy and clearer thinking – instead of on the stuff that takes a little longer, like weight loss. (That’s another one of my “motivation killers:” expecting instant gratification.)
- I feel guilty putting myself first. I saved the best for last. ;) This excuse is almost universal with women – married, single, kids, no kids. Doesn’t seem to matter. For whatever reason (too complicated to get into here, I’m sure), we’re programmed to take care of everything else – family, friends, work – before we take care of ourselves. I spend a big chunk of my time with clients giving them permission to take care of themselves…and reminding them that, if they don’t, they won’t be particularly useful to the people in their lives who depend on them. (Not to mention much less pleasant to be around. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, not putting you at the top of your priority list eventually makes you grumpy.) So give yourself a break. Do something nice for yourself, even if it’s just a couple hours a week to spend time on you. The people in your life will thank you.
Your turn! Tell me in the comments:
• Which of these excuses do you make most often?
• What’s helped you move past them and start making YOU a priority?
P.S. The next video in my free video training series goes live on Thursday! Learn the single biggest reason you’re not exercising…and how to tackle it so you can get movin’ again. :) Sign up to get the video series, designed to help you make little tweaks for massive results.
That’s right. I said it.
Get healthy is a bad word. (Yes, I know it’s two words. Stretching grammar rules for effect. Just go with it, okay?. ;)
Think about it. How many times have you set out to “get healthy”…and ended up feeling worse?
Worse about yourself. Worse about your body. Worse about “failing.”
Yes, it sucks. No, you’re not the only one.
Here’s why the “get healthy” tools we learned growing up – like diets, bootcamps, and cleanses – go a little sideways sometimes.
The timeline most of us follow when we decide to “get healthy”:
- Something inspires you to take control of your health (i.e., you finally reach the end of your rope with feeling like your body is holding you back in your life).
- You decide to get healthy. You sign up for a bootcamp or grab the latest diet book or download MyFitnessPal. You map out exactly how many calories you’ll eat and how much exercise you’ll do every day for the rest of your life.
- You dive into your new plan with gusto. It goes really well for a while. You lose weight, get toned, feel better. Yay!
- You eventually get tired of feeling like you can’t eat any of the “good stuff,” bored with the exercise routine you’ve done every day for months, or discouraged because you stop seeing results.
- You give up and go back to the way it was before…and feel bad all over again.
Okay, so that’s a simplified version of your experience; but I’m guessing that some of it sounds at least a little familiar. (It certainly does to me.)
Ready for the truth about why that stuff doesn’t work? (FYI: It’s not you.)
First of all, human beings don’t like being told what NOT to do. You’re human (I assume). If I tell you not to eat carbs or chocolate or whatever, what’re you gonna want? Yep. Carbs, chocolate, whatever. Diets work against human nature instead of with it…which is why they never work in the long-term. Simple as that.
While we don’t like being told what we can’t do, we do want to be told exactly what we SHOULD do to lose weight, have more energy, have a flat stomach, whatever.
If you’ve tried to lose weight, eat healthy, or maintain an exercise plan and “failed,”, then you probably don’t trust yourself to ever make it happen. We all feel like a failure in certain areas of our lives. (Yep. Me too.) Totally understandable that you’d want someone else to tell you exactly what to do in that particular area.
But if you do that, you lose touch with your body and the signals it’s sending you to tell you what it actually needs because someone – a diet book or bootcamp instructor – told you “THIS is the way to do it. THIS will work!”. You’ve been locked into a regimented box for so long that you’re afraid to experiment to find foods that work for your body and exercise that you view as fun instead of as punishment. (Maybe you love bootcamps. I hate them.)
To make matters worse, most diets/bootcamps/whatever ignore the fact that you’re a whole person with needs far beyond food and exercise. What about stress? Sleep? A to-do list 10 miles long? Your annoying co-worker who makes you crazy every day at the office? Will your diet book or bootcamp instructor help you with all that? (All of that stuff is more important to your health goals than you might realize.)
Bottom line? Depending on willpower. Forcing yourself into a box based on someone else’s idea of perfection. Stressing out about every morsel of food you put in your mouth. All of these things block you from getting to your goals and make you feel like a failure when you can’t sustain them. Right?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the appeal of having a step-by-step instruction manual for getting where you want to go.
Unfortunately, your body doesn’t work that way. As soon as you figure out what works for you now, something changes – in your body, in your life, in your environment – that makes the old instruction manual obsolete. Knowing how to be healthy is like a life-long science experiment. (I created The Effortless Eating Program with this in mind…to give you some shortcuts to your own personal science experiment.)
So what’s a girl to do?
Listen to your body. Learn to view its signals (like cravings) with curiosity instead of annoyance. Spend a couple of weeks tuning into how different foods affect your energy, mood, and physical body (and writing all that stuff down in a food diary). You’ll be amazed what you discover when you stop and listen!
Then, do it all over again when something stops working. It’s not as tough as it sounds, I promise.
Now it’s your turn. Tell me in the comments:
- What have you tried in the past to “get healthy”?
- What didn’t work so well? Why?
- What DID work? (Yay!)
P.S. If you’re ready to tune into your body and eat effortlessly, make sure you’re on the list to receive my free video training series (starts September 23rd). Learn simple tweaks you can make now for massive results…without stressing out about every bite you eat. Get on the list.
I have a story for you today.
A story about a beautiful, dynamic, intelligent, successful woman who let her body get in the way of living the amazing life she wanted to live.
And how she finally stopped sitting on the sidelines of her own life and took control of her relationship with food.
I met Bree Hester – founder of the popular recipe and food photography blog, Baked Bree – in a business coaching program in NYC in August.
Reading Bree’s blog is like stepping into a warm, welcoming family kitchen, full of nourishing food made with love (and a dash of mischief).
As a professional photographer, Bree knows a thing or two about communicating through images. Proceed with caution if you go to her site: If you’re like me, you could lose hours of your life happily browsing the lush photos of food. This one’s my favorite.
You’d probably never know that Bree once let her relationship with food get in the way of living the vibrant life you see in her photos.
Here’s what Bree told me when we chatted about her experience recently.
Lara: What was your life like a year ago?
Bree: I’ve always struggled with my weight. I got to the point where I just didn’t care anymore. I don’t think I even realized how unhappy I was. I wouldn’t even go outside to play with my kids because I felt embarrassed about my body. My mom told me a story recently: We were at the beach once with the kids. They were playing in the waves, having a great time and I wouldn’t even put on a bathing suit. That really hit home. This went on for a good two years…I wasn’t really participating in my family, in my kids’ lives. My husband would take the kids for a walk and I would stay home because I felt so embarrassed by how heavy I was. I totally sat on the sidelines and let my weight dictate how I was going to live my life.
Lara: How did you feel during that time?
Bree: I felt really isolated, like I had that “missing out disorder.” I felt alone, ashamed, and embarrassed most of the time. My husband is in the Coast Guard, so we move a lot. We moved twice in those two years and, looking back on it, I think the food felt like the only thing I had control over. It’s how I dealt with not having any friends and living in a new place. I didn’t get fat because I was hungry; I got fat because I was sad.
Lara: What other negative effects did feeling that way have on your life?
Bree: I didn’t sleep well. I was always tired. I had no sex life because I felt embarrassed by my body (even though my husband never cared about my weight). I held myself back in so many areas – in my work, in my social life. I said “no” to social engagements because I couldn’t find an outfit I felt comfortable in. Then I was bitching because I had no friends!
Lara: What kept you from taking action? What was the biggest roadblock for you?
Bree: Just taking that first step. I often thought “well, I ate crappy today, so I’ll just start tomorrow.”
Lara: When did things change?
Bree: I think I had to get disgusted enough with my life. I had to want to feel better enough. About six months ago, one of my friends lost 60 pounds. She’d had enough of letting the way she felt get in the way of her life and finally decided to lose the weight. That was a wake up call to me. We’d let ourselves get to this place and it just wasn’t worth it – I’m not even in most of my family photos for the past couple of years.
Lara: What did you do and how does it feel now?
Bree: I worked with a health coach to deal with my emotional eating issues. It was life changing for me. I’m more confident now. I’ve taken huge risks in my work – I recently quit my job and decided to do something entirely different, something I’ve wanted to do for two years but didn’t because I felt suffocated by my body. I really had to learn to like myself again. Every day is still a struggle, but I have the tools to deal with it now. I can have just one scoop of ice cream now instead of eating the whole pint.
Lara: What would you tell someone in a similar situation, feeling like their body and relationship with food is dictating how they live their life?
Bree: It doesn’t have to be this way. It does get better. When I changed a lot of the things in my life that needed fixing – actually dealt with them – the weight started to come off. Losing weight became joyful work. Clean up your life and you will lose weight. You have to be willing to love yourself and invest time in your wellbeing. It’s so worth it.
I’m so honored that Bree shared her story with me. My hope is that sharing it here will give you hope if you feel like your body is holding you back in your life or like there’s no way eating well and feeling amazing could ever happen for you.
It can. All it takes is a choice and a little support. I believe in you.
P.S. Are you overwhelmed by your to-do list and underwhelmed by your body? Sign up for free video previews of The Effortless Eating Program, coming again this fall.
Woohoo! Fall is finally here. Time for pumpkin EVERYTHING. ;)
I talked last week about making a list of fall projects, just to get them out of your head so you could enjoy your last summer weekend.
Now it’s time to sort out the details, right?
And if you have a major life change on your list of things to tackle (like getting healthier, maybe?), I’d bet my pumpkin pancakes you’re feeling a little freaked out.
I hear you. I have a few of those on my list too…little things like being more compassionate to myself (soooooo hard when you’re a perfectionist like me!) and hitting a major milestone in my business.
These seven things can stop us in our tracks when we’re ready for a major shift. Read on to find out how to move past them, stay motivated, and get to the good stuff.
- Creating a “grand plan.” When we set goals, it’s so tempting to shoot for the stars, go big or go home, etc. We’re caught up in the freshness and excitement of new beginnings, and that’s exhilarating. I’m all for having big how-in-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-that goals – I firmly believe that those kinds of “aspirational goals” are sometimes necessary for real change to happen. BUT, especially when you’re setting health goals, small changes last longer. Skip the “grand plan” – like “I’m going to exercise every day for the rest of my life” (no you’re not…and that’s okay!) – and go for something you know you can achieve but that inspires you at the same time – like I’m going to try a new kind of exercise every week for the rest of the year so I can find one I love.
- Not planning at all. Okay, so I know I just bashed planning; but some planning is a must if you want to get to your goal. My best piece of advice – whether you have a health goal, business goal, or personal goal – is to use your calendar. If you want to eat healthier, for example, put meal planning and prep time on your calendar. If you want to exercise more, put your workouts on your calendar. If you want to reduce stress, put meditation time on your calendar. Putting things on your calendar makes them non-negotiable appointments…plus it motivates you to make them long-term habits.
- Expecting instant gratification. We all want things done yesterday. And we look for instant results, like losing 10 pounds in a week or having ripped biceps in three days or getting a promotion after only six weeks in our new job. We KNOW it’s not reasonable to expect it, but we want it anyway. (I’d REALLY like to have a multi-million dollar business. Now, please.) That desire for instant gratification can totally derail us when we don’t see the results we want quickly. Instead of focusing on things that take a little while to kick in, let’s focus on the things that do happen quickly. Like more energy, better sleep, and less sugar cravings when we start exercising more. Or happier digestion when we start eating right. Noticing these incremental changes – and celebrating them! – is the short cut to staying motivated to reach your bigger goals.
- Not breathing. Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy, said of fear: “Fear is excitement without the breath.” Getting stuck in fear – of failure, of change, of success – is a serious motivation killer. The best way I know to convert fear to excitement (which is far more motivating) is to just breathe…deeply. Check out my favorite breathing exercise at the beginning of this video.
- Having all the answers. When I embark on any journey – literal or figurative – I try really hard to slip into “beginner’s mind,” seeing things as if for the first time and staying open to the experience. (Yes, it’s hard.) For example, my little self-compassion experiment. I’m thinking that, on some level, I’m an “expert” in compassion. I mean, I spend my days listening to the challenges of others, empathizing with them, and helping them get to their goals. I’m a compassionate person, right? (If you disagree, just keep it to yourself until I’ve developed enough self-compassion to weather your criticism, okay? ;) Turns out, I don’t know jack about being compassionate to myself (which, by the way, makes it tough to be as compassionate as I probably should be to other people). Anyway…my point is…I have a lot to learn about something I kind of thought I knew a lot about. Thinking we have all the answers can cut us off from possibility and make working towards our goals feel mundane really fast. Staying curious is much more motivating.
- Expecting perfection. So, yeah, I know I mentioned earlier that I’m a bit of a perfectionist; so I speak from experience when I tell you that expecting yourself to be perfect all the time – especially when you’re trying to make a major shift in your life – is a complete motivation killer. You’re human. You will mess up. It’s cool. Celebrate what goes well. Be compassionate with yourself when you mess up. And keep going. I’ll be right there with you.
- Going it alone. Another experience familiar to those of us with high expectations of ourselves: the “I can do it myself!!” trap. Oh boy, have I had to work on this in the past few years. Sure, I could run a half marathon, lose weight, get in shape, start a business, conquer my sugar cravings, etc. on my own; but wouldn’t it be faster, more fun, and more motivating to do it with people who can guide me, support me, and hold me accountable for my goals? I can say with 100% confidence that every time I’ve gotten out of my own way and asked for support in reaching my goals, I’ve reached them faster, with less internal drama, and with more lasting results. Like when I joined Team in Training to run my first half marathon. Or, more recently, when I joined a business mentoring program run by my brilliant friend Nathalie Lussier. Sure, I could go it alone; but why would I when there are people who can help me cut through the clutter and get to my goals faster (and more permanently)?
Now I’d love to hear from you! Tell me in the comments:
- Which of these motivation killers do you find yourself falling victim to most often?
- What have you done to break free and move forward?
P.S. Want to take “figure out how to get healthy” off your to do list…for good? Get on the list for this fall’s session of The Effortless Eating Program. Free video previews are coming soon!
Lots of warm and fuzzy fall love,
Is it weird that the end of August still feels like back-to-school to me? (I mean really…does the thrill of buying new pens and notebooks ever wear off? ;)
As much as I love summer – especially in the Pacific Northwest – I love fall even more.
The exhilarating energy of fall is far more motivating to me than New Year’s. So this week – the last unofficial week of summer (in the U.S., anyway) – is when I begin to look ahead to fall projects that will set me up for a running start into the new year.
BUT…before I do that, I make a point of savoring the end of summer, especially the foods, outdoor adventures, and self-indulgent summer laziness I won’t see again until next summer.
View from my dad’s yard in the Adirondacks earlier this month.
Here are a few things I’m doing to take advantage of the last days of summer…so I can dive into fall feeling rested and ready to tackle a new “school year.”
- Fire up the grill. I had a barbecue on my roof deck in July and rediscovered my love of grilling. Maybe it’s because I no longer have a gas stove top in my kitchen (don’t even get me started about my hatred of electric stove tops), but there’s something uniquely satisfying about cooking food over a flame. Things I love on the grill: sockeye salmon, homemade turkey burgers (I LOVE the Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Cucumber + Yogurt Sauce on page 108 of Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good!), and corn-on-the cob.
- Eat some berries. Next to cherries and peaches, berries are my favorite summer fruit…and they won’t be around for much longer. Grab a few pints and make a pie (or a cobbler if you’re short on time or just too lazy to make a crust, like me). My favorite cobbler recipe – and the one I’ll be using soon – is on page 383 of the Moosewood Low Fat Favorites Cookbook: Blueberry & Peach Cobbler. Mmmm.
- Finish off one last “summer read.” I have a stack of books on my coffee table from a couple of months back. It’s about half as tall as it was when I first made it, but I have some reading to do! I’m opting for reading – probably on a lounge chair on my roof deck – over movies and TV for at least a few more weeks.
- Have a glass of rosé. I guess you could drink rosé any time of year, but it feels best to me in the summer. (This was on last year’s list too. What does that say about me?) I’ve got a couple of bottles chilling in the fridge for the weekend.
- Head out on the trail. Trail running and hiking is something I neglected this summer, so I’ll be making up for lost time before the weather turns soggy in Seattle. I’m generally a road race girl; but I can run for much longer on trails, with their cushion of earth. Best to do it before the rain turns them to mud.
- Light a fire. My friend Melody recently hosted an event in Seattle called Urban Campfire. I was in NYC that week and had to miss the event, but I love the metaphor of a campfire as a place to connect, share ideas…and indulge in a few s’mores. Gather your friends – and some marshmallows – and kick back for one last evening around the campfire.
- Take a nap. Okay, so I do this all year; but summer naps – in a hammock, perhaps? – are the best! :)
- Make a list. I’m already working on my list of fall projects. Take some time to put your list on paper in the next few days. You can sort out the details later. Getting all of that stuff out of your head makes for a much more relaxing end of summer. :)
Your turn! What are you up to for the last days of summer? Tell me in the comments. I can probably squeeze in a few more things. ;)
P.S. If you’re celebrating Labor Day this weekend, have a GREAT holiday weekend!
How many times have you finally started taking good care of yourself – eating healthy, exercising, getting more sleep – when all of a sudden, chaos hits?
- Your travel schedule kicks into high gear.
- Your best friend from college – and her two kids – drop in for an unexpected long weekend visit.
- That big project at work is down to the wire and the buck stops with YOU.
Life has other plans sometimes, just as we settle into an amazing self-care routine. (And with fall just around the corner, life is more likely than ever to get in the way of our best intentions.)
Staying consistent with healthy habits can be a pain in the a** when everything around you is anything but consistent.
But it doesn’t have to be an endless source of stress and an excuse for beating yourself up for “never being able to keep it up.” (Tell that nasty, little voice in your head to SHUT UP…or it will have to deal with me.)
Here’s what works for me.
- When life gets crazy, go back to basics. I think of self-care as “triage” during busy times. What do I absolutely have to do to keep myself together, and what can I let slide for a little while. If I let everything slide at once, I’m in trouble; but if I pick two or three things to focus on, I can usually manage until life settles down again. For me, those things are sleep, nourishing food, and lots of water. (Not coincidentally, these are also the things that keep me from getting mad sugar cravings that I can’t resist.) I can scale back on exercise for a week or so without feeling too, too awful. Last week, when I was in NYC for a business retreat that required 120% of my energy, I opted for sleep instead of a run in the mornings…and still managed to slip in about 10 minutes of yoga each day to at least give my body something. (Oh yeah, and the pole dancing one morning. ;) Your top two or three things might be different from mine, but you get the idea.
- When you make food choices, focus on efficiency. Choosing foods that give you the most nutritional bang per serving allows you to get the maximum benefit from every bite. And since remembering to eat during particularly busy times can be a challenge, choosing nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and beans – things that give your body what it needs on less – is especially important. Think of each meal as an opportunity to choose the most efficient form of energy…instead of wasting time on options that leave you tired an hour later and searching for more food.
- Tune in and listen to your body. Learn your body’s signals for “the point of no return” so you can course correct when necessary. For example, I can always tell when I’m about to tumble into a sugar binge cycle (usually when I get a little too relaxed about eating foods made from refined flour, like bread, baked goods, and pasta). If I’m tuned into my body, I stop just before the bite that will trigger the downslide. It takes practice to figure out what your tipping point is, so try to tune in before life throws you a curveball.
- Give yourself permission to do what you need to do. It’s tempting to put ourselves at the bottom of the priority list, especially when other people or things demand our attention. Remember to ASK for what you need! You might be surprised how supportive people are, especially if you’re in a better mood when you take care of yourself. ;)
- Embrace the unknown. Your body is more resilient than you think, especially if you’ve been in a steady routine for a while. I’m a big believer in cultivating a strong base whenever you can so you’re prepared when life takes unexpected turns. It’s sort of like preparing for a race: Trust that your training was enough and that it will see you through to the finish line.
- Make a list of times that you kept up with your routine (or got back on track quickly afterwards), despite big changes or disruptions. Keep that list in your wallet or on your phone so you can look at it when you start to feel anxious. It’s the next best thing to having me on your shoulder, reminding you that you’ll be fine…because you’ve been fine before.
If there’s a theme here, it’s give yourself a freakin’ break! You’re doing the best you can…and that will always be enough. Keeping these six things in mind will make it just a little easier.
Now I want to hear from you! Tell me in the comments what you do to stay on top of self-care when life gets chaotic. The best conversations always happen when you jump in.
Consistently yours, ;)
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do on a hot night is cook.
My apartment in Seattle has big, gorgeous windows that let in tons of light. The windows also happen to face west; by dinnertime in the summer, it feels like a sauna in my kitchen…even before I put a pot on the stove.
If you’ve made less-than-healthy dinner choices because you just don’t feel like cooking in the heat (cereal for dinner, anyone? ;), read on for some no-cook summer meal ideas to keep you cool…AND well fed.
- Make cold soups. They’re a great – and usually quick – way to go in the summer. Try this Chilled Cherry & Heirloom Tomato Soup; or this Pineapple + Avocado Gazpacho (with a kick of jalapeno pepper…yum!). Super easy to make with any blender, but I especially love my Blendtec Blender.
- Substitute hearty salads for heavier, cooked foods on the hottest of nights. My favorites right now are this Mango Avocado Salad; and a simple arugula salad (buy a bag of pre-washed arugula to keep things simple) with sliced organic strawberries, chopped pecans, feta cheese, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Or slice up some tomatoes, stack a slice of fresh mozzarella on each slice, add a leaf or two of fresh basil, drizzle with olive oil + balsamic vinegar + a touch of sea salt, and you’ve got a homemade caprese salad.
- Use canned beans to whip up a satisfying bean salad when you need something a bit more filling. This Zesty Adzuki Bean Salad is a fun way to use an overlooked – and yummy! – bean. (Recipe Note: Add a little more spice than the recipe calls for – I find it a little bland as written.) Or dump a can of garbanzo beans in a bowl with some herbs, cheese, and veggies. Serve over a bed of pre-washed greens. Here’s a yummy garbanzo bean salad idea from Bon Appétit.
- Pick up a rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods or a pound of peel-and-eat shrimp. Yes, it’s cooked food; but YOU didn’t have to heat up YOUR kitchen to get it! ;) Some nights, it’s just worth the extra expense to let someone else cook. Pair the chicken or shrimp with one of the cold soups or salads, and you’ve got a summer feast.
- Have a “snack dinner”. This is my term for meals that I throw together from things like a few slices of cheese + my favorite gluten-free crackers + some fresh fruit and cut veggies + some nuts. Some nights, it’s too hot to eat much else. Snack dinner. :)
- Smoothies aren’t just for breakfast! Have one for dinner on a steamy night. Check out my “how to make the perfect smoothie” post for ideas.
- For a crowd-pleasing, no-cook summer dessert, buy some mini vanilla cakes (I found some at Whole Foods recently), pile on the fresh summer berries, and add a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Homemade whipped cream is so simple to make and tastes 100x better than the canned stuff, without all the mystery ingredients. Here’s my recipe:
Lara’s Homemade Whipped Cream
Because I use raw sugar and vanilla, my whipped cream looks a little “rustic,” not pristine white. I like it better this way, but you can use white sugar and skip the vanilla if you like.
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 tablespoons finely ground raw sugar (Raw sugar usually comes in large crystals. Pulse it a few times in a food processor if necessary. I learned the hard way that large sugar crystals make whipped cream a little chunky. D’uh. ;)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pour the chilled cream into a metal or glass mixing bowl. Using a whisk or electric hand mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks begin to form. At this point, fold in the sugar and vanilla. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form (i.e., when you lift your mixer or whisk out of the cream, it stays up). It seriously takes only a few minutes to get this done, less with an electric hand mixer. Why ever buy the nasty canned stuff again?!
What about you? Any favorite no-cook summer meals? Share your ideas in the comments!