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5 things I’ve learned about planning (and not planning)

I’m a planner.

I like lists and calendars and accountability partners and, well, planners (you know, the old school ones you actually write in?).

I like planning SO much, in fact, that I sometimes have a hard time going with the flow.

Because planning has served me well in my life. It’s helped me land great jobs, build a business, eat healthy food more often than not, run two half marathons, and travel to amazing places.

2014 calendar

Seizing 2014…with dry erase markers + sticky notes. ;)

Planning has even helped me make new friends (like you, for example…you’re a planner too, right? ;).

But here’s the thing: There’s magic in NOT planning too. Stuff happens when you don’t plan…stuff you couldn’t possibly have imagined in your plan.

Here’s what I’ve learned about balancing planning with not planning + some really amazing tools for creating – and simplifying – your 2014 “plan.”

  1. The bumper sticker that sums up my planning philosophy would say “Plan + Flow. Repeat.” (I hate bumper stickers, by the way…but I digress.) It all came together around my 40th birthday, when I wrote this post. Plan + flow has become a personal mantra…one that I use when I’m pushing forward a little too impatiently enthusiastically and just need to go with the flow. My friend Nathalie Lussier puts it another way. She says we need to cultivate two different energies when we’re working towards our goals: making sh*t happen and being open to receiving what comes. (Nathalie might put it a bit more delicately than that. ;) The trick is to know when to use which energy; but the bottom line is the same: Plan + Flow. Repeat.
  2. The end game isn’t about the goals. It’s about how you want to feel when you get there. No one articulates this more elegantly than Danielle LaPorte in The Desire Map. (In fact, she’s the first person I’ve seen to say it at all.) The Desire Map walks you through what was originally Danielle’s personal planning system, one that she created when she realized that traditional goal setting – I want to get a new job, go to Hawaii, clean out my closet once a month, make a million dollars, run three marathons, lose 20 pounds – doesn’t feel so great…that, in fact, it often makes us feel bad no matter the outcome. If we fail to reach our goals, we feel bad because we failed. If we reach our goals, we feel bad because we don’t feel as good as we thought we’d feel. If we exceed our goals, we feel bad because we didn’t ask for more. Crazy, right?! And so true. The Desire Map helps you figure out how you want to feel (i.e., your Core Desired Feelings) and make decisions based on generating those feelings every day. You might be surprised how your goals change when you consider how you want to feel first.
  3. Eventually, we must get down to mapping out a plan…but not too much. My favorite new planning tool is my wall calendar from NeuYear.net. I write in personal and business travel + key business dates first. Then, I add sticky notes for things that a) I know I want to do this year but I’m not sure when (like another half marathon) or b) I’m not sure I want to do, but could make it on the priority list depending on what else happens. Once that’s done, I just sit back and watch the year unfold. I move the sticky notes around or take them off as things get clearer. I erase and re-write plans if I need to. It’s like this gorgeous – and totally flexible – window into my future…a constant visual reminder of plan + flow. I LOVE my wall calendar!!
  4. If I try to do more than three things in a day, I get nothing done. This trick will sound familiar to anyone who’s done one of my coaching programs: Choose three things to do each day. That’s it. Three. I know it sounds crazy, but give it a shot for a few weeks and report back. I’m all about to-do lists, but there’s nothing more paralyzing and productivity-killing than a massive daily to-do list. Break up your list by timeframe each week – things I need to do this week, next week, later – and then force yourself to choose just three priorities each day. It will absolutely transform your productivity (i.e., you’ll get way more done)…and significantly lower your stress level. I promise.
  5. Making stuff happen requires vigilant self-compassion. If you’re a planner and achiever like me, you’re probably pretty hard on yourself. You want stuff to happen and you want it to happen NOW (especially with health goals like losing weight or eating better). When it doesn’t, that little voice in your head gets a little nasty sometimes. Mine does, too. Making time for a regular “self-compassion practice” has been a game changer for me. As hokey and self-indulgent as that may sound, recent research suggests that self-compassion is essential to achieving our goals. Check out these resources from Dr. Kristin Neff, Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal, and shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown for practical ways to create your own self-compassion practice.

I’d love to hear in the comments…

  • Are you a planner or a go with the flow kinda person?
  • How has being one way or the other helped you reach your goals? And how can you cultivate the one that doesn’t come naturally?

Oh yeah, and HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! :)

P.S. Did the holidays send your sugar cravings into overdrive? Get back on track and take control of your sugar cravings (for good!) with my 10-Day Sugar Cleanse.

xxoo,

Lara Dalch signature

Indulge.

I’m taking a break from writing this week to spend Christmas with my family.

But I have a VERY IMPORTANT HEALTH REMINDER for you…

Indulgent Holiday

Enjoy the holiday. :) I’ll see you back here next week with some New Year’s goodness.

xoxo,

Lara signature

Top 5 posts for winning the holiday sugar war

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know I love sweets.

What can I do? I was born this way. ;)

But I do have a few tricks to help me stay in control…so I can actually ENJOY the sweets I DO choose to eat around the holidays. (No guilt allowed.)

If the holidays feel like navigating a sugar mine field for you too, check out this roundup of tips for making it through the holiday sugar craziness…plus how to “deconstruct” your sugar cravings so you can manage them even better next year.

  1. How to navigate the Christmas dessert table
    Trader Joe's Ginger Snaps

    Ginger snaps are my FAVORITE!

  2. Holiday food: 12 upgrades and pre-party tips
  3. 5 reasons to eat more chocolate + how to find healthy chocolate treats (seems counterintuitive to include this here, but a little piece of dark chocolate is a GREAT way to take care of sugar cravings!)
  4. Halloween survival tips for sugar junkies (just as useful for the other “sugar holidays”;)
  5. 5 things you need to do if cravings are making you crazy

Sugar isn’t really the problem; it’s kind of the solution. You just have to know which sweets to eat – and which to avoid at all costs – and how to set yourself up so you don’t have to depend solely on willpower. (‘Cause that never works.)

The tips in these posts should give you some ideas on how to do that; so have a look if you missed them the first time…or even if you just need a refresher.

Keep me posted on how it’s going…

P.S. Are you ready to get serious about tackling your sugar cravings? If so, check out my 10-Day Sugar Cleanse.

xo,

Lara signature

25 healthy snack ideas for on-the-go

AvocadoYou’ve probably heard me say this before (like in last week’s blog post, for example :), but it’s worth repeating…

If you want to stay in control of how you feel and what you eat, NEVER leave home without a healthy snack in your bag. Especially during the holidays.

Sorry if that sounds bossy (I’m a little bossy sometimes ;), but I promise you’ll thank me later.

And because knowing what snacks to bring is almost as tough as figuring out what to make for dinner, I have some ideas for you. (A lot of them, actually. I heart healthy snacks.)

These healthy + portable snacks will keep you in control of your food choices, even when you’re on holiday party and travel overload.

  1. Fruit and nut bar (My favorites are Larabar, Kit’s Organic Fruit & Nut Bar, and KIND Bar)
  2. Dates stuffed with almond butter
  3. honeycrispWhole fruit (Apples and bananas are portable and not too messy.)
  4. Nut butter packets from Justin’s Nut Butter
  5. Homemade trail mix (Try dried cranberries + roasted almonds + pumpkin seeds + dark chocolate chips.)
  6. Baked oatmeal squares
  7. Roasted nuts (Trader Joe’s even sells them in single-serving packets.)
  8. Carrot or celery sticks + hummus (in a tiny plastic container for easy dipping)
  9. Edamame with sea salt
  10. Plain or light popcorn (Try popping it with coconut oil…so yummy!)
  11. Apple slices + peanut butter
  12. Justin's Nut Butter PacketGreek yogurt + honey (I like Fage’s 2% Yogurt with honey in the single-serving size.)
  13. Kale chips
  14. Baked polenta squares
  15. Homemade sweet potato fries
  16. Avocado slices with salt and pepper
  17. Olives
  18. Toasted Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread + nut butter or avocado
  19. Dried fruit (Look for no sugar added varieties.)
  20. Brown rice cakes + nut butter packets to spread on top
  21. Pickles
  22. Steamed veggies with sea salt
  23. Applegate organic turkey slices wrapped around a small piece of organic cheese or pickle slices
  24. Roasted pumpkin seeds (You can use my recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Seeds if you like.)
  25. Leftover pancake with almond butter on top (I make pancakes on Saturdays and always make extras for snacks. Purely Elizabeth’s Perfect Pancake Mix is my fave…not because it’s gluten-free, but because it makes yummy and super-nutritious pancakes. Add some fruit and nuts to make it even yummier.)

What’s your go-to healthy snack? Share your ideas for portable, healthy snacks in the comments.

P.S. If you did my friend Erin Stutland’s Say It, Sweat It, Get It Challenge, you already know how amazing she is at making exercise feel like a dance party (and keeping your mind off the fact that you’re working!). If you missed it, don’t worry: Erin is offering some really cool free bonuses with her signature Shrink Session program for anyone who buys it between now and December 15th. Check it out here. (Oh, and just so you know…if you buy Shrink Session through my link, I get a few bucks…and I appreciate it. :)

xo,

Lara signature

How NOT to eat too much during the holidays

Keep Calm and Be MerryIf you’re anything like me, this time of year brings a roller coaster of healthy and not-so-healthy “binges.”

You’re plugging along, eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep when…Thanksgiving hits.

You take a breath. You pull things back together when…Christmas!

Okay. Cool. Ate too many reindeer cookies. That’s okay. I’m back on track now…

NEW YEAR’S!!

It’s a never-ending feast, recover, feast, recover cycle…for nearly two months!

How ‘bout we do it differently this year? You and me both.

Check out my super-easy strategies for smoothing out the ups and downs…so you can have fun, but not so much that you hate yourself in the morning. ;)

  • Eat a nourishing breakfast to set yourself up for smarter choices during the day. Even if your lunch and dinner plans are hijacked by holiday revelry, you’ll be in better shape if you give your body quality fuel first thing in the morning. Here are some ideas for a quick one (and here’s why breakfast is so important).
  • Stay in control of your choices by carrying healthy snacks with you, no matter where you are. It’s really the only way I know to stave off impulsive choices, especially when temptations are EVERYWHERE. Nuts, apples, bananas, cut veggies (like carrot sticks), edamame, and dates stuffed with almond butter are some of my favorite portable snacks. I also like fruit and nut bars like Larabar, Kit’s Organic Bar, and Kind Bar.
  • Try really, really hard NOT to skimp on sleep. You’d be amazed what a good night’s sleep can do for your appetite. Here’s a whole post on why sleep matters so much for weight management; but suffice it to say that, if you do just one thing to avoid the holiday indulgence roller coaster, make quality sleep a priority.
  • Keep you body moving with at least a little exercise. Even if you can’t stick to your regular workout schedule, do what you can to move for at least 10-30 minutes a day. Here’s a 10-minute workout I put together for you that might help. A brisk walk together after dinner (and before dessert ;) is a holiday favorite in my family.
  • Know your limits…and honor them. This one is really, really tough, I know; but it gets easier with practice. Tune into your body to learn what happens when it’s time to dial things back. Most people can pinpoint a couple of signs right away – like low energy, hazy thinking, uncontrollable sugar cravings, or unhappy digestion. The trick is to notice them…and do something about it before you get too far down the path of overindulgence. It’s sometimes helpful to write down what you feel when you’ve let things get out of control (i.e., where in your body you feel it), when you feel it, and how you feel each time you honor that feeling and course correct. Positive reinforcement, ya’ll. :)
  • Don’t beat yourself up for “mistakes.” There are NO mistakes here! There are literally no “mistakes” when it comes to self-care, only choices. Sometimes those choices serve us well; sometimes, not so much. That’s all. There’s no reason to ever beat yourself up for one tiny little choice among the thousands (millions?) of choices you’ll make during your life. Acknowledge that you made a choice you weren’t thrilled with…and let it go. Being kind to yourself gets you closer to a different choice next time than labeling yourself naughty ever will.

So what do you think? Which one or two of these strategies really resonates with you? And which ones can you get on board with for the holidays? Tell me in the comments.

I’ll be right there with you, all the way to New Year’s.

P.S. Keep your body moving during the holidays with my friend Erin Stutland. She believes that movement in your body creates movement in your life…I couldn’t agree more. Check out Erin’s free Say It, Sweat It, Get It Challenge. You’ll love it. (And by the way, I rarely promote other people’s stuff, so you KNOW it’s good! :)

Holiday hugs,

Lara signature

The truth about gratitude

For those of us in the U.S., being grateful around Thanksgiving is a national pastime.

So much so that it sometimes feels a little cliché.

But what if the simple practice of expressing gratitude was, in fact, one of the keys to being healthy and happy…and to successfully reaching your health goals?

The science of gratitude and positive thinking is kind of fascinating (and surprisingly un-Pollyanna-ish ;). Since I’m a psychology geek, I LOVE digging around in the research to find little nuggets I can use to make my life – and your life – just a little healthier.

Here’s what I’ve found, plus some practical ways to build more gratitude and positive thinking into your life.

Gratitude

Practicing gratitude and positive thinking changes us both mentally and physically.

It seems pretty obvious that, if we can find the upsides in our lives, we feel better mentally. It turns out that positive thinking also has a ton of physical health benefits. From increased life span to greater resistance to the common cold to reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, focusing on the positive makes our minds as well as our bodies healthier.

And the truth is that, to reach our health goals (any goals, really), we MUST focus on what’s going well.

I see it every day with clients…there’s just no other way, because obstacles are inevitable. Cultivating positivity, resilience, and “grit” is key to success.

In fact, psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth found that “grit” is a better predictor of success than even IQ. (You can see her talk more about it here.) Dr. Duckworth defines grit as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Having stamina. Sticking with your future, day in and day out and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

One way to build grit, Dr. Duckworth believes, is having a “belief mindset.” A term coined at Stanford University, a belief mindset is the belief that “the ability to learn is not fixed; that it can change with effort.”

It seems to me that focusing on what’s going well – being grateful for the results of your effort so far – is a good way to start believing that you can do even more.

Before you tell me I’m being too “Pollyanna,” understand that positive thinking doesn’t mean being unrealistic about challenges.

In his influential book Learned Optimism, psychologist and founder of positive psychology Martin Seligman explains that pessimists “believe that bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault” while optimists “believe that defeat is just a temporary setback or a challenge, that its causes are just confined to this one case.”

Positive thinking, it seems, is less about being unrealistically upbeat and more about approaching challenges with a positive outlook…and with “grit.”

Now for the practical stuff. Staying positive takes practice, but it CAN be learned, even if you tend to be pessimistic.

When I slip into negative thinking – soooo easy to do and makes me sooooo unproductive! – one of these “tricks” usually gets me back on track. And there’s even research to back them up.

  • Think of three things I’m grateful for. Simple as that. Make a list, mentally or on paper. It works wonders.
  • Do what ought to be done. This is one of Gretchen Rubin’s “Twelve Commandments” from her NY Times bestselling book The Happiness Project. Nothing makes me grumpier than leaving necessary tasks undone. So just do it. Check it off the list…and feel 100 times happier.
  • Be mindful of negative thoughts (without getting sucked into them). Sometimes just noticing your negative thoughts – and letting them float on by without getting sucked into the unhappiness, my life sucks vortex – is enough to diffuse them. Having a mindfulness meditation practice is a great place to start cultivating this habit of noticing without attaching.
  • Replace “I have to” with “I get to.” If you’re like me, you often find yourself saying “I HAVE to go to the grocery store. I HAVE to go workout. I HAVE to do laundry.” As odd as it sounds, just replacing “have to” with “get to” flips things to positive in 10 seconds. I even wrote a whole blog post about it once. Try it and let me know how you feel.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me in the comments:

  • What do you do to cultivate gratitude and positive thinking in your life?
  • How has staying positive helped you stay happier (and healthier)?

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to you if you’re celebrating either…or both!

P.S. My friend Erin Stutland is a pro at using gratitude to create change, in your life and in your body. Check out her “Say It. Sweat It. Get It.” Challenge. It’s FREE and it starts next week! (And, by the way, I rarely promote other people’s stuff, so you KNOW it’s good. Check it out. :)

Love,

Lara signature

10 minute holiday workout you can do anywhere

10 minute holiday workoutKeeping up with exercise during busy travel times, like the holidays, can be a challenge.

Add a cramped hotel room or guest room in your family’s home to the picture, and making space for any kind of movement is tough.

Here’s a short – and surprisingly effective – workout I’ve been using for years to tone up my tummy, strengthen my core, and get my blood flowing…virtually anywhere.

Plus, you’ll get to see my fitness instructor alter ego in action for the first time in a while. (Try not to laugh…I’m a little rusty. ;)

So what’d you think? Is your tummy burning yet?

Share with me in the comments what you’ll do to keep up with exercise during the holidays. I’ll hold you to it. ;)

P.S. Are we connected on Facebook? Join the party on the Dalch Wellness page! We’d love to have you. :)

xo,

Lara signature

7 Thanksgiving recipes for a simple, healthy, and tasty holiday

Don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the pressure to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving dinner. (If you’re not in the U.S., you’re probably NOT having that problem. ;)

I’m going to two different friend Thanksgivings since my family and I are on different coasts this year. And, truth be told, I love whipping up something yummy to share with my hosts!

As I dug through my recipe stash for inspiration, it occurred to me that you might need a few ideas too, while you still have time to plan for the big meal.

Here are a few of my favorite side dishes (+ one breakfast and one dessert, just because)…some healthy, some indulgent (or both), all simple.

Recipes

pumpkin-pie-oatmealPumpkin Pie Oatmeal (Adapted from Kris Carr.com)

I love, love, LOVE this creative fall breakfast dish! And I’m a big fan of eating breakfast on Thanksgiving to keep my blood sugar at a normal level leading up to the big meal. That way, I can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without completely overdoing it. Besides, this recipe gives you an excuse to have dessert for breakfast. :)

Yield: 3 servings

  • 1 cup rolled or steel cut oats
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk + 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts (optional)

Add all ingredients – except hazelnuts – to a medium saucepan. Heat and cook according to oatmeal directions. Serve with hazelnuts sprinkled on top.

greensSpicy Mixed Greens (Recipe by Emily Casey, via a Whole Foods Southern Thanksgiving cooking class in NYC)

I made this quintessentially Southern side dish at last year’s Thanksgiving. My primarily West Coast-born dinner mates were not fans. ;) Oh well. Their loss. You’ll love it…but it does have a good kick, so get ready.

  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch turnip greens
  • 2 tablespoons butter, lard, bacon grease, or vegetable oil (Lara’s note: I used half butter and half extra virgin olive oil.)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • Pepper vinegar, such as Texas Pete or Goya brands

Wash and rinse greens. Chop collards and kale coarsely; chop turnip greens more finely (they get stringy otherwise). In a deep stockpot, melt the fat over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the chilies, salt and sugar, stir, and add the greens. Mix thoroughly. Add the vinegar and water, and cover. Steam greens until done to your liking, from 20 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding liquid, if necessary, to keep greens from burning. Southerners cook ‘em “to death” – until they are meltingly tender; I like them a little more al dente. Taste and adjust seasonings, then serve, passing vinegar alongside.

Recipe Links

Photo: Yunhee Kim; Styling: Kevin Crafts (via MyRecipes.com)

Photo: Yunhee Kim; Styling: Kevin Crafts (via MyRecipes.com)

Roasted Delicata Squash with Honey, Pomegranate Seeds, and Pepitas (Sunset Magazine)

Made this last year too. Gorgeous on the plate, packed full of nutrients, and definitely a crowd pleaser.

Carrot Ginger Soup with Pomegranate Seeds + Maple Thyme Brussels Sprouts (Lara Dalch)

Just a few of my fall standards. The Brussels sprouts are my fave.

Maple Thyme Brussels Sprouts

Maple Thyme Brussels Sprouts

Wilted Chard and Wild Rice Salad (Bastyr University)

I’ve not made this for Thanksgiving specifically, but it seems like a fun – and different – addition to more traditional side dishes. And it’s one of my absolute favorite winter salads.

Apple-Bacon Pie with Gingersnap Crust (Tasting Table)

I haven’t made this…yet. Maybe not the healthiest option, but oh my god! does it sound AMAZING! I might even make it this year. Will report back.

Oh, and check out my holiday pre-party tips from last year. They’ll help you stay in control with your holiday food choices…without skipping all the goodies. :)

What are you making for Thanksgiving (or just for dinner on the 28th ;)? Tell me in the comments.

P.S. Are you on my mailing list?

xo,

Lara signature

Why I always make time for a morning practice

What’d you do this morning? First thing.

Before you ate breakfast. Before you took a shower.

Before you fed every person/furry friend in your house. Before you hit the yoga mat or laced up your running shoes for a run.

Before you packed up your laptop to head to the office?

I know you’re busy – and sometimes not entirely in control of your mornings – but what if I told you that making one small choice every morning could make the rest of your day run more smoothly (and with less stress)?

Morning

The idea of having a “morning ritual” comes up often in my conversations with other busy women, especially those whose days seem to speed up as the minutes tick by.

Everyone swears that a consistent morning practice does more for their sense of wellbeing than almost any other health-related choice they make.

So, being a “don’t knock it ’til you try it” believer, I started experimenting – adding little things to my morning in those moments of relative calm before the rest of the world gets moving – just to see what would happen.

All of these take about 10-15 minutes – or less (it’s kind of up to you) – and don’t require a ton of planning. And since exercise is already a regular part of my days, I focused on adding non-movement rituals (although yoga, running, and cycling are often my “rituals” of choice).

(Quick side note: One thing I’ve been religious about for some time is drinking a glass of water as soon as I wake up. If you’re not already doing it, make this your morning ritual ASAP, even if you do nothing else. It’s the best way I know to wake up and start your day fully hydrated. You’d be amazed how many unpleasant body issues – like headaches and low energy – disappear when you front load your day with water and keep it flowing until evening.)

  • Warm water with lemon. I’d heard of drinking a mug of warm water with lemon as part of Ayurvedic morning practices, so I decided to give it a try. (Ayurveda is sort of the Indian subcontinent equivalent to Chinese medicine, an ancient system of traditional medicine that’s still popular today.) There’s something inherently calming about heating water in a kettle and wrapping your hands around a mug of warm liquid. The clean and tangy flavor of the lemon juice was just bracing enough to wake me up without the jolt of caffeine (and subsequent crash). And the few minutes it took to prepare it gave me a chance to think about what I wanted from my day and to calmly begin it. During the weeks that I practiced this ritual, I noticed an increase in energy and clarity in the mornings that often carried into the rest of my day.
  • Reading something low-key. I’ll be honest – this one didn’t last very long for me, probably because the books I was reading at the time were on my iPad and the last thing I want to do first thing in the morning is stare at a screen…since I’ll be staring at one all day long. But I did enjoy the practice of reading something other than the news (that was my rule) first thing in the morning. It allowed my mind to open a little – either with the escapism of a novel or with the stimulation of psychology, food, or health-related non-fiction (my non-fiction defaults) – before diving into the obligatory reading I do as part of my work day (which I love, but still carries the weight of “I have to,” you know?).
  • Mindfulness meditation. I’ve written about movement as meditation in the past, but I wanted to make a meditation practice separate from my exercise routine (which already includes plenty of “meditating” on endurance and getting my butt kicked via my rides at Flywheel and vinyasa yoga classes ;). I like to keep it simple: 15 minutes of “dropping into” the present moment by focusing on sounds around me, sensations in my body, and the rhythm of my breath. I especially love this “Affectionate Breathing” meditation from Dr. Kristin Neff. If you’re new to meditation, it’s helpful to start with guided meditations like Dr. Neff’s or these from Deepak Chopra’s The Chopra Center. You can also work up to it with some of the suggestions in this overview.

Of these rituals, the one I’m still doing every day is meditation. It changes the trajectory of my day like nothing else, so I always find at least 10 minutes to do it. (I shoot for 15, but sometimes that’s just not possible. 10 minutes is better than nothing…and it’s a good practice to let myself off the hook for not “doing it right.”)

My perception of stress and my ability to move through it – and stay focused on what I need to do instead –  is completely different on days that I meditate versus days that I don’t. And, believe it or not, meditation tutorials are quickly becoming one of the things most requested by my private coaching clients. There must be something to it. (Actually, there’s definitely something to it. Here’s some of the research on the many mental and physical benefits of meditation, including managing cravings.)

I know some people like to journal or write down three things they’re grateful for…both really great ways to create a little space for yourself to get grounded first thing in the morning.

What about you? What’s your morning ritual? Tell me in the comments how you start your day and how it helps set you up for the kind of day you want to have.

P.S. Still coming down from the Halloween sugar high? Learn how to manage your sugar cravings NOW, so you can enjoy the holidays (and a piece of pumpkin pie!) without losing control. I’ll show you how in just 10 days.

Love,

Lara signature

Halloween survival tips for sugar junkies

sugarWelcome to “sugar season”!!

Sugar is everywhere year round; but between Halloween and New Year’s, avoiding the sweet stuff is nearly impossible.

If you have a well-developed sweet tooth like me, it’s time to prepare yourself for the temptations of the season…without going so far that you can’t have a little fun.

Here are some of my personal secret weapons for indulging in my favorite holiday treats without ending up in a sugar coma.

  • Stock up on naturally sweet treats at home. If you work these snacks into your day, you may find that your hankering for sugar at that party later are a little more manageable. My favorites are dates with almond butter (the protein will stabilize your blood sugar), honey or maple syrup mixed with almond or cashew butter and smeared on a rice cake, dark chocolate (70% cocoa content or above), and herbal tea with honey (especially for after dinner sweet cravings).
  • Eat lots of sweet fall veggies. Sugar season is a challenge; but it’s also a great time for eating naturally sweet foods. Winter squash like acorn, delicata, and butternut are at their peak and are super sweet on their own. Naturally sweet root veggies like beets and carrots are also plentiful…not to mention one of my favorites, sweet potatoes. Just like the naturally sweet snacks, eating more of these vegetables will reduce your cravings for the more damaging – and addictive – refined sweet stuff like candy.
  • Get some sleep. It’s tough at this busy time of year, I know…but I’m more convinced than ever that sleep is the key to ditching most of our self-destructive health habits, especially sugar addiction. Lack of it makes us hungrier than usual, weakens our resolve, and causes us to crave high sugar, high fat goodies. (For more on the science behind the effects of sleep deprivation, check out Why sleep may be the missing piece to your weight loss puzzle.) Just get some sleep…please? :)
  • Make nourishing meals a priority. When sugary temptations are all around you, it’s more important than ever to plan your meals and make sure you’re managing your blood sugar throughout the day. Eat breakfast. Get enough protein. Don’t skip lunch. Have little snacks like nuts and whole fruit if you need them. If sugar cravings are your downfall, now is NOT the time to skimp on nutrition!

Do these four things and you’ll be in better shape the next time someone shoves a candy bowl in your face.

Grab your favorite piece of candy. Enjoy…and celebrate your ability to walk away from the rest. (Maybe not EVERY time…but more often than you might think.)

Because a little indulgence never hurt anyone. :)

Happy, Happy Halloween!

P.S. Keep your eyes on your email this Friday for a special post-Halloween offer, just for sugar junkies. :)

Sweetly,

Lara signature