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Find Comfort Outside of Your Comfort Zone with Self Care Rituals

Find Comfort Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I hear a lot from women that they want to get outside of their comfort zone.  In fact, research has shown that if you are completely comfortable you aren’t growing.  I love to witness this ambition and drive to make a difference and succeed.

But, here’s the thing: staying at this level of performance all of the time leads to stress, overwhelm, and burnout.  Certainly not the intended consequence.

The key is learning to find and create comfort outside of your comfort zone…to sustain your glow-getter status with self care rituals incorporated on a regular basis.  

Mindful Living

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Hudson of Mindful Haus, an online shop created with the intention to inspire others to live and give with more light and presence through artisan beauty, sacred self-care rituals and mindful living.  

Julie shared that, for her, a self care ritual can be taking even five minutes every day to honor yourself, slow down, and be a little bit more present.

Establish Your Own Self Care Rituals

Not sure how or where to start?  Here are six easy ideas to try in order to inspire comfort and help you find more joy even in the simplest of things:

1. Savor your morning coffee.  

Pick out a favorite mug. Smell the aroma as it brews and enjoy the sounds that mean the warm cup is almost ready.  Enjoy the flavor slowly and while setting your intention for the day ahead.

2. Treat yourself to fresh flowers.  

Select flowers that elicit a warm and pleasant feeling or that bring up a fond memory.  Place them in a handcrafted vase that suits your style in an area you’ll see often.

3. Light a candle.  

This can be a great addition to other self care rituals or can be one on its own.  Choose an artisan-crafted candle with a look, fragrance, and even crackle that makes you feel warm inside.

4. Take a warm bath with natural bath products.  

Read a book and enjoy a glass of wine or cup of hot tea.  Enjoy the warmth of the water, the fragrance of the products, and the taste of the drink.

5. Take a mindful walk without your phone.  

Establish a regular path that allows you to connect with the outdoors and causes you to leave your thoughts and worries alone for awhile.  Feel your feet hitting the ground, the sound of your breath, and even the beating of your heart in your chest.

6. Sit in stillness and reflection for five minute, do some deep breathing, or meditate.  

Taking even a few minutes to tune into your body’s cues and letting your mind relax does wonders for your soul.

Increase Your Awareness

Take a moment right now and ask yourself, “Am I showing up the way I want for myself? My family? My friends? My life?”  If you’re answer is no, consider investing some time and energy in establishing self care rituals.

I often say, the real secret to feeling energized and thriving is to find that space where your comfort zone and the discomfort of growth intersect…and then learning how to live there.  

Based on my own experience, self care rituals are essential to the “learning how to live there” part.

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5 Tips to Eat for More Energy

eat for more energy

What to eat can be so overwhelming!  Should you focus on brain health, heart health, weight loss, low fat, low carb…see what I mean?  A good place to start is to eat for more energy and to feel good. When you’re feeling energized, you’re able to accomplish what you need and want.  Not to mention you’ll be fueled to focus on other healthy habits like exercise, weight maintenance or loss, getting good sleep, and reducing stress.  

One of the perks of being in the health and wellness field is that I’ve built a wonderful network of trusted, knowledgable professionals.  To get accurate, easy-to-follow nutrition information, I turn to Rima Kleiner, MS, RD-N of Smart Mouth Nutrition. Keep reading for five quick tips to eat for more energy.

1. Start with mindful eating.  

Just like in my coaching practice, Rima encourages clients in her nutrition practice to become more aware before making any changes.  The best way to start is with mindful eating: listening to your body before, during and after you eat. If you are having digestive issues or just not feeling great after you eat, really take inventory of what you ate when and how you feel afterwards. There are no set trigger foods… what triggers cramping or bloating for one person may not be a trigger for you.  

It’s helpful to keep a food diary that includes what you ate, how much of it you ate, what time you ate it, and how it made you feel (energized and satisfied or bloated and sluggish?).  This way, you can look for patterns and start to recognize the foods that work (and don’t work) for you. Use a simple notebook, or consider an app such as YouAte.

2. Drink more water!

Water is the main component of blood, helping to carry nutrients to our cells and carting waste products away. Feeling low in energy is typically one of the first signs that you need more fluid. Try putting a rubber band around your water bottle for every time you refill it so you can keep track. Aim to drink water with every meal. And, if you’re drinking alcohol or other non-water drinks, be sure to drink a glass of water between glasses of cocktails or other beverages to help keep you hydrated.

3. Begin the day with breakfast!  

The best way to break that night-time fast and replenish your fuel stores is to eat a breakfast that contains high-fiber carbohydrate and a little heart-healthy protein and fat. This helps us improve focus and manage blood sugar levels. Some easy ideas for a breakfast rich in fiber and heart-healthy fats and protein:

  • Overnight steel-cut oats w/ berries and nuts/seeds
  • Plain yogurt w/ fruit and homemade or low-sugar granola
  • Smoothie made w/ yogurt or nut butter, berries, and spinach
  • Breakfast tacos w/ corn tortilla, spinach, cheddar, and avocado

4. Eat more iron-rich foods, including plant-based sources.  

Iron is important for helping to make sure oxygen gets into cells, and iron levels that are too low can cause fatigue and slow us down. Meat contains iron, but–to increase vegetable and iron intake–try eating more plant-based iron.  This includes beans, lentils, spinach, and other dark leafy greens and seeds. And vitamin C helps us absorb iron, so add an orange, kiwi,or bell pepper along with your plant-based iron-rich meal.

5. Steer clear of detoxes, cleanses, or fad diets.  

Fad diets and cleanses are appealing to some because of the ease of a prescribed list of guidelines or rules to follow. And, these sometimes do lead to weight loss, sometimes rapid weight loss. But, unfortunately, the science shows us that these diets and cleanses do not hold up in the long term. Also, diets and cleanses often drastically reduce the number of calories you are eating as well as eliminate entire food groups leaving you feeling sluggish and zapped of energy.  Your best bet is a balanced diet including plenty of water, breakfast, and iron-rich veggies.

Now you can be on your way to eating for more energy, as well as feeling good!  

If you’re looking to work with someone on specific food issues or concerns, it’s important to find someone who is knowledgeable and appropriately credentialed to help you.  A Registered Dietitian, like Rima, has received the science-based education and experience necessary to best support you with your specific food-based concerns.

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5 Ways To Have More Fun at Work

January 28th is Have Fun at Work Day!

Most of us spend more of our time at work than anywhere else.  Why not have a little fun?

Incorporating fun into the workday can increase productivity, enhance innovation, reduce stress, and foster engagement – among other things.

Here’s a quick list of five easy ways to have more fun at work:

1. Get creative.

Whether an off-site team-building or a designated space to doodle in a common area, inviting creativity to the workplace also invites more fun.

2. Begin meetings with an icebreaker. 

If you were a drink, what would you be?  What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?  As silly as it may sound, taking some time to learn trivial information about coworkers builds camaraderie…and fun.

3. Get out of the office…together. 

Pick an activity to do together, even if it’s just lunch outside of the office.  A change of scenery brings with it a change of attitude.

4. Create a “wall of positivity” or “inspiration wall.” 

Encourage coworkers to post inspirational quotes, awards, pictures, or thank you notes.  Inspiration and positivity definitely encourage more fun.

5. Have challenges or events that allow different people to shine. 

Does Doug have a mean chili recipe?  Host a chili cook-off.  Is Ann an amazing crafter?  Have an afternoon crafting social.  Allowing people to use their non-work strengths brings out the fun in all of us.

You’re going to be at work anyway…you might as well have fun while you’re at it!

Fun Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful!

Does the thought of creating more fun at work stress you out (after all, you’re maxed out as it is!)?

Having more fun doesn’t have to be one more thing on your to-do list. As a Health & Productivity Coach and Consultant, creating opportunities for your employees to have more fun at work is fun in my book. Plus – having more fun at work is both healthy and enhances productivity.

I’m happy to help you create and implement a strategy for more fun at work. Reach out if you’d like to learn more!

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Start the Day Stress-Free with Smoothie Prep

Smoothies are a great way to start your morning. I love them because they are easy to eat on the run. Also, you can pack them full of nutritious ingredients that will keep Godzilla mom/wife/partner/sister (or even dad) at bay.

I’m also a big fan of prepping as much in advance as possible. Prepping in advance allows you to be more organized, productive, and present throughout the week. (No more chasing after the kiddos while you try to chop veggies). What’s more – most of us hate to waste food – so if it’s already prepped, your chances of following through your goals of eating healthy are much higher.

Here’s how to prep a work week’s worth of smoothies so you can start the day stress-free!

Step 1:

Get the necessary ingredients from the store.

This is where meal prepping typically begins. Want to be even more efficient? Order your groceries online and pick them up! Make sure to add these ingredients for 5 days of smoothies:

Shopping List

10 cups almond milk
3 bananas
5 cups baby spinach
1/3 cup chia seeds
5 teaspoons cacao nibs
1/2 cup almond butter
5 servings protein powder (chocolate works best)

If you don’t already have these storage containers, you’ll want to grab them too:
5 baggies (ziploc or reusable)
1 mason jar or any large container with a lid that holds liquid

Step 2:

Prep all of the ingredients.

Pick a day to set aside 15 minutes to pre-portion your ingredients into baggies.

1. Prepare 5 individual baggies consisting of:
1/2 banana (you’ll have 1/2 banana left…put him in a baggie in the freezer for a smoothie on another day)
1 teaspoon cacao nibs
1 cup spinach

2. Place the baggies in the freezer (where you can easily find them). 

3. Have the following readily available in your fridge (not behind the water filter):
Almond milk
Chia seeds
Almond butter

4. Keep these tools handy:
Blender
Measuring tools (tablespoon and a cup)

Step 3:

Make your smoothie in 3 minutes.

Every weekday, throw all of your ingredients into a blender, and hit the button. There you go!

Ingredients
2 cups almond milk
1/2 banana
1 cup spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon cacao nibs
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 serving protein powder

Directions
1. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 45-60 seconds.

2. Pour into a mason jar or any BPA-free container and enjoy!

Step 4:

Read these helpful tips for the most enjoyable smoothies.

  • Freezing your bananas helps your smoothie’s consistency. Plus, it will keep you from needing to add ice.
  • It’s helpful to start with the liquid so you can use the marks on the blender for measuring.
  • It’s best to enjoy your smoothie within 30 minutes of making it. It’s still safe to eat it after that…but let’s just say it might not be as desirable.
  • Clean your blender quickly by filling half-way with water and adding a drop of dish-soap. Pulse for thirty seconds, rinse, and turn upside on a dish cloth to dry.

While you’re at it, make sure you have ingredients on-hand to prep some healthy lunches, too!

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How to Hate Exercising and Still Workout Five Times Per Week

In my line of work, I hear “I hate to exercise” more often than you might think.  A lot of people ask me how to lose weight or have more energy despite hating exercise.  So, I’m excited to share my secret to hating exercising yet still working out five times per week (or however many times you are aiming to workout).

I hate exercising, too.  What?!? This might be surprising to hear from those of you who know me.  You might be thinking “If you hate exercising, why are you always checking into Orange Theory on Facebook and walking around disgustingly sweaty in workout clothes?”  How in the world can you be a health coach who hates to exercise?

Here’s how.  When I hear the word “exercise,” I think of going to an indoor gym and doing thirty minutes on the stairclimber (without any music!) and then meandering from one weight machine to the next doing high reps with light weight.  Yuck. Not my idea of enjoying myself for the better part of an hour. But it is “exercise” nonetheless, and it’s the type of routine that used to be promoted as the ideal way to be more fit. Cardio and weights. And, ideally, you would stretch at the end. This is BORING in my book!

I Get to Workout

Now, here’s how I solved this problem for myself.  I started changing “I have to exercise” into “I get to workout.”  I first made this switch in college when I started running with my roommate.  I had been a runner before in high school, but it wasn’t ever something I loved.  But, when I ran with her, we used the time to talk, and the time just flew by. To top it off, I felt amazing afterwards, and I liked how it toned my legs.  I ended up training for a half marathon and eventually completing a marathon with this trick – running with another person. I absolutely loved it, and the idea of “having to exercise” slipped from my mind.

Fast forward five more years, and I’m new to Denver.  I don’t have the social network I did in college or even after first graduating and living in San Francisco.  My workout routine had dwindled to minimal levels and the notion of “having to exercise” had crept back in. I knew it was time to find something I connected with again.  You see, our needs and life situations change. And, even though a type of workout routine works well now, it might not always be what you find engaging or even able to meet the time constraints in your life.

A Fitness Community

In this particular situation, it took me trying a handful of different types of workouts and even workout times to figure out what would work.  This is when I discovered Crossfit Park Hill. I was amazed at how supportive everyone was even on my first visit. The workouts were so different than what I had done before.  I loved feeling strong and seeing my fitness progress from workout to workout. I never knew I could lift so much weight. And – I was excited to join a community of people – something I needed as a newcomer to Denver.

Crossfit was a great solution for me until I had children and moved to Parker.  The Crossfit community in Parker was different than what I had known, and I wasn’t able to make the class times as regularly as I hoped.  Plus – I started missing running. Time to shift again. At this point, I made the connection that “working out” is more than exercise. It’s “working out” other parts of my life through my chosen fitness routine.

My Workout Is MY Time

As a working mom of two little ones, I like to get in my cardio and strength at all once.  Thank goodness for Orange Theory, where I can do all of that in one hour! Now more than ever, I connect with the idea of “working out.”  You see, most of my day I need to have it pulled together (or at least I try). But, when I go to the gym, it’s my time to work out my frustrations or aggravations.  The music is loud, I don’t have to come up with the workout routine, and the trainers are great at pushing me to try my best. Also, as an entrepreneur, I’ve found that being able to push myself in the gym gives me that extra confidence to get out there more.  This has become my new workout, and it does so much more for me than just keep me in shape.

Five Tips to Working Out Even if You Hate to Exercise

Here are some key takeaways that you can use to find a workout that works for you yet even if you hate to exercise:

1. Consider your personality type and thoughts about exercise.  

Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Do you love to dance?  Would you prefer to be sweaty in the comfort of your own home? These are all questions you can ponder to help you narrow down your choice of workout.

2. Use your workout as an opportunity to achieve more balance.  

What are you wanting more of in your life? Less of? Your workout can be a great way to achieve the balance you are craving.  As I mentioned, these days, I feel like I need to have my stuff together (at least most of the time), and I spend quite a bit of time planning activities for my kiddos and running my business.  I want and need a workout that only requires that I show up and try my best, and that also makes me feel like I can take on the world when I leave. Are you the opposite? Maybe you are craving a low key workout that lets you stretch your muscles to relieve tension and stress.

3. Ask around.  

Do you have friends or family members who absolutely love their gym or trainer?  Sometimes the environment in a given studio or the playlist of a certain trainer is all it takes to start loving your workout.  You forget that you are pushing yourself or that you are exercising. And, if you have a friend or family member who is going, chances are, you’ll hold each other accountable to showing up.

4. Give it a try.  

You won’t know if you don’t try it.  Make a list of different gyms and/or workout classes you’ve been considering.  Many people who hate exercising can end up finding a workout class that they enjoy.  Don’t base your decision on the class after one try. It’s helpful to go a handful of times so you can start to get the hang of it.  If you don’t love it after a week, move to the next (plus, most gyms will let you come for a week for free).

5. Mix it up.  

You can do different workouts based on the day and time you have available.  Some people prefer getting sweaty in the comfort of their own home. There are tons of workouts available online!  In fact, I choose to do yoga online instead of paying for another membership.

I hope these tips help you overcome your loathe of exercise and help you find a workout that works for you.

Here’s How I Can Help

If you’re looking for more guidance for getting on the exercise bandwagon, I would love to help!  I’ve created three different fitness challenges to inspire confidence in exercising as part of my upcoming group program, Make it Happen in 2019.  You’ll spend just minutes a day working on a strength-building exercise that will not only help tone the most-requested areas of the body but will also increase your inner strength.  Visit www.bjbcoaching.com/mih2019 to check out the details, or schedule some time to chat so I can help you get a jumpstart on your own routine.

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3 Tips to Implement Rachel Hollis’ Health Tips in Real Life

Don’t you just love Rachel Hollis?  It’s hard not to. From her approachability, amazing hair, and catchy humor, I so appreciate her writing and unmatched ability to inspire people to take care of themselves.  If you haven’t read her book, “Girl, Wash Your Face” I definitely recommend it.

I also love that she’s brought such attention to the ability to achieve your dreams and the importance of taking care of yourself.  When I read her book, I felt like someone had put my thoughts about being healthy on paper (how did she see inside my head?). Specifically:

“You need to be healthy. You don’t need to be thin. You don’t need to be a certain size or shape or look good in a bikini. You need to be able to run without feeling like you’re going to puke. You need to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. You need to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every single day. You need to stretch and get good sleep and stop medicating every ache and pain. You need to stop filling your body with garbage like Diet Coke and fast food and lattes that are a million and a half calories. You need to take in fuel for you body that hasn’t been processed and fuel for you mind that is positive and encouraging. You need to get up off the sofa or out of the bed and move around.”

I Wish Healthy Lifestyle Change was THAT Easy

However, I do feel like she simplifies lifestyle change and healthy habits a bit too much.  She’s right about needing to be healthy and making the decision to do it. That is a large part of it.  But – she has a strength in being able to research something in a google search bar and implement it in her own life.  And, not all of us have that!

So, a huge thank you to her for motivating us, inspiring us, and helping bring attention to the need to take care of ourselves as women.  But, if you’re left feeling frustrated that you weren’t able to implement her suggestions as easily as she could, you’re not alone.

Here are three ways you can implement her suggestions for a happier, healthier life in the real world:

1. Create eating habits that are positively focused (think “What do I want to be eating or drinking vs. what do I want to stop eating or drinking?”).

When I read “Stop filling your body with garbage like Diet Coke and fast food and lattes that are a million and a half calories and take in fuel for your body that hasn’t been processed,” I get a twinge of anxiety; do you?  

Having been an avid Diet Coke drinker myself, I did not find it easy to give it up. I would stop drinking it for 30 days only to start drinking it again later because I hadn’t found a good enough reason to stop or a worthy substitute.  

Here’s the thing: when it comes to changing your diet, it’s a very personal thing. For years, I held onto drinking Diet Coke because it still fit within my values. In fact, when I first started out as a health coach, my tagline was “health and wellness coach who still eats bacon and drinks Diet Coke.”  I know we’re all not perfect, and I wanted to highlight that.

However, I did finally kick the Diet Coke habit this last year.  First, I decided it was no longer in line with my values.  This was big. I had rid our house of harmful chemicals and even started making my own coffee creamer to be more natural.  And, then I would pop open a Diet Coke mid afternoon. It just didn’t jive anymore.

Then, I considered what I wanted to be consuming instead.  I actually enjoy Kombucha, and I wanted to start drinking it on a regular basis.  Boom – this seemed like a good switch up (it also helped that Kombucha is fizzy). So, when the last Diet Coke can was finished, I bought Kombucha instead.  I did miss Diet Coke for a few days (mostly the caffeine in the afternoon), but the Kombucha helped fill the gap. Bottom line: when you are trying to change your diet: consider what you’d like to be eating or drinking instead to make the switch easier.

2. Find a workout that you enjoy.

Rachel says “you should be able to run without feeling like you’re going to puke and be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.”  Luckily, she (and I) enjoys running, but not everybody does (or even can given physical limitations). So, when it comes to moving your body more, it is important to do something that speaks to you.  

This might not happen overnight. In fact, I’ve had many clients come to me because they wanted to start exercising. It’s been trial and error, but they have been able to find a workout routine that works for them.  

We start with identifying how they want to feel after their workout, and then consider different routines that can get them there. Maybe running without feeling like you’re going to puke doesn’t speak to you, but feeling and looking strong does.  Either way, are you moving your body and getting off the couch? Yep!

3. Get a water bottle that you love.

Drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every single day” seems pretty straight forward.  However, I can also attest to the struggle with water that many of my clients (and even myself) have felt.  You know what has worked almost every single time? Finding a water bottle that they love.

This seems funny to write, but it needs to fit into your lifestyle.  For me – it has to have a straw or small opening as I drink a lot of water in the car (those big, open bottles just make my shirt soaked…not the look I’m going for).  For some clients, it needed to be big so that it didn’t need filling as much. And for others, they appreciated a smaller, insulated bottle so that their water stayed cold.  One of my clients even had a big cup with her name on it that became her go-to. Once you have your bottle: set a daily goal and keep track!

The Value of Coaching

At the end of her movie “Made for More”, Rachel also promoted her newly added business and life coaching – which I think is super cool.  It brings to life the value that coaching can have on someone’s success. Since hers is monthly and will be broadcast to a larger audience, I have to think it will be largely mindset related (which is all some people need). She is so good at motivating and inspiring a large audience!

What her program will lack is individualized attention (you just can’t get that with a huge audience), goal setting to address specific barriers or situations that are unique to individuals, and friendly check-ins for added accountability.

That’s where a personal coach or smaller group coaching program can come in!

So, of course, it’s the time for me to pitch what I have to offer.  🙂 If you’re looking to have more targeted support for your individual goals, a plan to help you address your unique struggles, a personalized touch to help you be successful in real life, consider my upcoming group coaching program, Make it Happen in 2019, or even 1:1 coaching.

I offer a free 30, minute call. During the call, we’ll develop an action plan to address your goals and discuss options to support you (no obligation). I aim to provide value during these calls regardless of your decision to begin coaching or not.

Ready to implement Rachel Hollis’ plan for success in real life?  Schedule your 30-minute call or contact me, and let’s get started!

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Gluten Free Homemade Green Bean Casserole

gluten free home made green bean casserole
I love a good Thanksgiving casserole! One of my favorites is Green Bean Casserole. It’s hard to go wrong!
 
These days, my philosophy with holiday cooking is using as many whole food ingredients as possible. This means trying to make things from scratch and using less canned ingredients.  It takes longer to do and often results in a richer dish.  This is actually helpful for enjoying holiday foods in moderation because you get fuller faster and avoid added sugar and sodium in most cases.  It also keeps you from overdoing it on all of the side dishes!
I’ve adapted Nancy Fuller’s Homemade Green Bean Casserole to be gluten free, and I’ve included suggestions in the recipe below to make it dairy-free and vegan, too.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons butter (you can also use a dairy-free or vegan alternative)
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken bone broth (substitute vegetable broth for a vegan version)
  • 1 cup half-and-half (use coconut milk for a dairy-free, vegan version)
  • 1 can gluten free fried onions (I don’t make these from scratch)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, season with 1 tsp salt, and blanch the green beans for 5 minutes.
  3. Shock the green beans in a bowl filled with ice water, then remove and set aside to dry.
  4. Melt the butter in a large cast-iron pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and cook until lightly browned.
  5. Add the mushrooms and some salt and pepper.  Cook until just softened.
  6. Add the flour and stir to coat the mushrooms and shallots.
  7. Add the bone broth, whisking vigorously to smooth out any lumps.  Whisk in the half-and-half.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
  8. Check the seasoning and adjust with more salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Add the green beans, then pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top and friend onions.  Return to the oven for 10 more minutes, then remove and serve!
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5 Tips to Gain Less and Stress Less During the Holidays

stress less and gain less this holiday season

Did you know that 75% of all weight gained throughout the year is gained during the holidays (and the average amount gained is between 7-14 pounds)? 

And, ⅔ of people say they look forward to the holidays, but when asked once the season is over say they didn’t get to do the things they were looking forward to because they were stressed out over too many events, too many gifts to buy, and too many commitments. 

Sound familiar?

How would you like to finish the holiday season without having to squeeze into your pants after indulging in too much of grandma’s famous fruitcake (Does anyone really eat fruitcake)?

Or how about having the time and presence of mind to witness the joy of the season without running from place to place?

This year, you can actually enjoy the holidays and all they have to offer without feeling frazzled and needing to let out a notch on your belt!   

I’ve partnered with my good friend and Life Simplification Specialist Stephanie Sikora of Life Made Simple to keep you from overdoing it this season and finding more balance throughout the holidays.  

Top 5 Ways We “Overdo it” During the Holidays and Get Out of Balance

After some research and surveying friends as well as clients, we’ve determined there are five main ways that most people overdo it during the holidays.

  1. Overindulge
  2. Over-sedentary
  3. Over-schedule
  4. Overcommit
  5. Overspend

We’ve come up with some health and organizational tips to help you enjoy a more balanced season.

#1 – No need to overindulge!  You can enjoy holiday treats without feeling like an unsupervised kid in a candy store.

  • Health tip: Pause before you eat and ask yourself what it is you really want.  If onion dip is your favorite, plan to enjoy that at the holiday event.  Then, stop when you are satisfied.  More is not better in this situation.  Also, honor your hunger.  Starving yourself all day so you can splurge later just doesn’t work and leads to consuming more calories and fat.
  • Organizational tipTry to keep your kitchen clean and countertops clear.  Research on eating habits shows that those with clear kitchens participate in mindless eating less often than those with cluttered kitchens.  Take time each day to get rid of papers or other items that might be accumulating in your kitchen.  

#2 – Don’t become over-sedentary: keep your commitment to exercise! 

  • Health tip: Look ahead and plan even small amounts of time for activity.  It might not look the same that it normally does during the rest of the year.  That’s okay. The important thing is that you are making time to be active.  Not only does this allow you to eat treats without the guilt, but it burns off stress. For example, go for a walk at Aunt Millie’s…not only will you get exercise, you’ll get out of a house that smells like mothballs and is full of family talking about politics!
  • Organizational tip: Chaos around us, especially in our environment, triggers a stress response in our brain. This stress response shuts off the part of our brain that allows us to stay focused, optimistic, and disciplined.  Keeping things simple around us and having good systems can help you to keep things on track. Think about your environment – are things a little chaotic? If so, clean off a counter or better yet, have a system for keeping your counter clear. You will find that you stay focused on fitness even during the holidays.

#3 – Instead of over-scheduling, have time to truly enjoy what matters most.

  • Health tip: Talk to everyone in your immediate family to figure out which events or activities they enjoy most throughout the holiday. Set priorities based on these values.  Next, schedule time for other activities including down time, personal time, and family time. By having the most important things already scheduled, you can let go of the guilt from turning down other invitations.  
  • Organizational tip: Clutter can also occur in your calendar. This triggers stress!  Clear your cluttered calendar by setting some boundaries or a system to run your invites through.  Be okay with saying no or combine events if possible to help avoid clutter in your calendar.

#4 – No more overcommitting! Keep a handle on expectations of yourself and those around you.

  • Health tip: Be realistic about your commitments before you make them.  For example, when asked to make a pie for your kid’s classroom, ask yourself “Do I really have capacity for this?” or determine if there’s a different way to meet the need. Many times, we feel pressure to show up in a way that isn’t consistent with our values.  In this case, instead of making a pie, volunteer to lead a game of Simon Says during the holiday party.  This way, there is no prep involved, the kiddos aren’t all hopped-up on sugar, and you are getting to experience the activity along with them.
  • Organizational tip: Keeping things clear in your home and environment can help you to be more aware of what you are committing to and when things are too much.  And – don’t worry about what your organizational system looks like to others.  As long as it is working for you and makes your home feel clear and less chaotic, it doesn’t matter what others think.

stress less and gain less during the holidays

#5 – Resist the temptation to overspend and opt for more intentional spending.

  • Health tip: Focus on experiences over things.  Research shows that those who spend more often on experiences vs. things have less financial stress and worry.  They also enjoy the experiences more and for longer than material items.  Think of experiential gifts you’d like to give as well as receive to make it easy.  
  • Organizational tip: Do an inventory before you purchase.  Keep a simplistic mindset: you don’t have to go over the top just because it is the holidays!  Also, be aware of what you have already stashed away.  Create a good system to store gifts you buy during the year so you don’t duplicate efforts (and waste money).  Lastly, be okay with not buying a present if it’s not necessary.

Doing things differently can be tough!

We know how hard this season can be when it comes to sticking to a plan or doing things differently, so we want to offer support and accountability to have the balanced holiday you want.

This is not about doing more: it is about taking things off your plate or simplifying things to avoid overdoing it.  

We’re here to help!

Stephanie and I have created a FREE calendar with tips and inspiration to stay on track throughout the holiday.  Coupled with weekly accountability emails and healthy recipes, we’re excited to offer this free support to help you find the balance you desire.

Click here to get the calendar delivered directly to your inbox!

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Bread

gluten free pumpkin spice bread

I love taking the time to bake over the holidays.  It’s nice to see the smile on my kiddos’ faces when I whip up something special.  And, many holiday recipes are traditions or handed-down from family and friends adding some nostalgia to the experience.

My philosophy on baked treats is to use as many whole ingredients as possible.  I also try to add-in extra nutrition where I can.  In this pumpkin spice bread, I used whole grain gluten free flour for added fiber, coconut sugar for a lower glycemic index, flax seeds for healthy fats (and fiber), and coconut oil for it’s many benefits.

It’s delicious with coffee in the morning or as an afternoon snack with some almond butter.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar (or use can use regular cane sugar)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (or you can use vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour (I use Cup-4-Cup Gluten Free Wholesome Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, allspice, and pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use a hand-mixer), beat together the eggs, sugars, and vanilla extract (1 minute on  medium speed or until well combined).
  3. Add in the pumpkin puree and oil and beat until combined.
  4. Next, add all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, and flax seeds) and mix until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.  Bake 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Want more tips and tricks for having balanced, wholesome holidays?

I’m excited to share a free gift with you to help you stay organized and remind you to take steps daily toward the holiday you desire.  Sign-up here to receive your copy of the Holidays in Balance calendar along with weekly emails to keep you on-track.

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12 Pantry Staples for a Healthy (and Easy) Lunch

13 pantry staples for fast and easy lunches

As a mom, wife, entrepreneur, and human :), I totally understand how busy mid-day can be.  On the days my kiddos are home, it’s easy to find myself eating leftover chicken nuggets and fruit snacks for lunch.  On the days I’m working, it’s not uncommon to still be sitting at the computer at 1:30 having missed my lunch completely.  What does this usually equate to later in the day? Godzilla mom.  No bueno.

Breakfast often gets the most attention as being an important meal of the day, and that’s still true.  But I think lunch is overlooked!  As busy moms (and humans in-general), it’s important to eat a healthy meal mid-day.  What you eat for lunch and the time you eat it can dictate your hunger, food choices, and mood for the remainder of the day.  I’ve found there are a handful of pantry staples to have on-hand so I’m not resorting to leftover kid food at 1:30 on a regular basis.  And, now you can make sure to have these on-hand, too!

1. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are full of fiber (keep you fuller longer), as well as vitamins, minerals, and the antioxidant beta-carotene.  Plus, they have a long shelf-life, so if you buy three or four of them and don’t eat them right away, they won’t go bad.  Also – they require very little prep in order to eat.  When I’m going to work at an office, I pop one into my purse.  When it’s time to eat lunch, I wash the outside and pop it into the microwave (I use the potato setting).  Voila!  I’ve got the base to my lunch in just a few minutes!

2.  Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt has become quite popular over the past decade.  It’s similar to regular yogurt except that it’s filtered so that it has a higher protein content (and it’s thicker).  In addition to being a good source of protein, it contains healthy probiotic bacteria to aid in your gut health.  I prefer to eat full-fat dairy products, so I purchase regular Greek yogurt (full fat products are less processed and have less added ingredients).  However, I’ve found that the lowfat and nonfat varieties still taste good.  I like to put a serving of greek yogurt on top of my sweet potato, or I will add some sundried tomatoes to a small bowl of it with mixed greens on the side.

3. Sundried tomatoes

For some reason, I feel like the addition of sundried tomatoes makes a dish fancy (Fancy Nancy would approve).  But did you know they also contain protein?  A 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes has 4 grams of protein.  Not to mention the fiber, antioxidants, and yummy taste.  They are easy to keep on-hand, and I throw some in a salad, mix it with canned chicken on a sandwich, or eat them in Greek yogurt (as mentioned above).  Give yourself a little something fancy by stocking up on them!

4.  Canned chicken breast

The quality of canned chicken breast has really improved!  It used to be rather disgusting and crazy salty, but now it’s pretty easy to find a good quality product.  I like to stock up on canned chicken breast at Costco – it’s cheaper that way, and they usually have a lower sodium, organic product available. I used to even store cans of chicken in my cube when I worked at the office full-time.  If you are in a pinch, you can literally open the can of chicken breast, drain lightly, and eat directly out of the can (don’t judge, I’ve done this).  But, if you’re not starving, it’s a great addition to a salad or can be mixed with other ingredients to make a salad of it’s own.  Three of my favorite things to add to it are dijon mustard, avocado, and sundried tomatoes.

5. Dijon mustard

When you are trying to eat healthy, it’s important to make sure you find ingredients that add flavor.  This is what Dijon mustard does for me.  It’s got a little bit of sodium, but it’s low in calories and is super tasty (another Fancy Nancy approved ingredient).  It can be used in a more traditional way – spread on a sandwich – or used as a base for homemade salad dressing.  I love mixing mine with canned chicken or even tuna in a pouch!

6.  Avocado

Need I say more?  🙂  Avocados are known for their healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which are good for the heart and circulatory system.  Including healthy fat in your diet is also important for brain health and keeping you fuller longer between meals.  Avocados are nutrient-dense, so eating even a small amount of them packs a big punch.  I love to mash them up with canned chicken and sundried tomatoes or with tuna from a pouch and dijon mustard.  They are also super yummy spread on whole grain crackers or on top of a salad.  So many different ways to use them!

13 pantry staples for healthy and easy lunches

7. Lemon

Lemon is really on the list because it helps keep your avocado from turning brown and also from breaking down in the fridge.  I like to make sure I keep some on-hand anytime I’m buying avocado (which is always).  Squeezing a little bit into your tuna and avocado or chicken and avocado can help keep it fresh until lunchtime.  Another tip: if you run out of salad dressing, lemon can be added to a small amount of vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil.

8. Tuna-in-a-pouch

I like tuna-in-a-pouch better than canned tuna because it’s more convenient.  While it’s important to watch your consumption of tuna due to mercury, eating one-to-two servings per week has been shown to still be healthy.  Tuna is high in protein and contains healthy omega fatty acids as well as other important minerals.  I have been known to keep a tuna pouch in my purse (right next to some gum…fish breath, yuck!) for a quick protein boost.  As mentioned above, I like to mash mine together with avocado and dijon mustard, but it’s also yummy on top of a salad or on some crackers.

9. Salad greens

Pre-washed salad greens make it so easy to have a salad!  Including more greens in your diet can improve your mood, ensure enough fiber, and keep you fuller longer.  Plus, having a salad for lunch tends to prevent that mid-afternoon slump.  Even if you work full-time in an office, you can bring salad greens to work with you and keep them in the fridge for easy access.  I like arugula when it’s available because it has a nice peppery flavor, but any mixed salad greens will do.  You can use them with canned chicken or tuna in a pouch, sundried tomatoes, and avocado.

10. Salad dressing

I sometimes joke that I eat salad for the dressing.  I know I’m not alone.  Here’s the thing: eating a full-fat salad dressing helps you absorb the nutrients in your salad.  Really.  Plus, just like with my full-fat Greek yogurt, there tend to be less added (unnatural) ingredients in full-fat salad dressing.  Just watch your portion (it can be helpful to measure it out until you have a good idea of how much to use).  Make sure you have one you like on-hand as it increases the likelihood that you’ll follow-through with making and eating your salad.

breaking the false nutrition cycle

11. Whole-grain crackers

Something about a good, crunchy cracker seems to be so satisfying!  Including whole grains in your diet is important because they contain B vitamins and many minerals, plus they have fiber.  My family is gluten free due to my daughter’s celiac disease, so I opt for non-wheat crackers.  I look for ones with the least amount of ingredients (less processed) and with whole grains.  I love “Mary’s Gone Crackers,” and have found them in bulk at Costco.  I eat my whole-grain crackers along with a salad, use them as my spoon in the can of chicken, or eat them with some deli meat and avocado.

12. Deli meat

Last but not least, I like to have deli meat from the deli counter on-hand.  I choose deli meat from the deli counter because it is less processed than the pre-packaged stuff.  It also tends to be lower in sodium and doesn’t get slimy in the package.  I buy whatever Boar’s Head deli meat is on sale each week as a way to mix it up, and I choose the low sodium option whenever I have the chance.  Not only do I eat the deli meat, but it has become a quick lunch for my kiddos on many occasions, too (they love it rolled around a cheese-stick).  You can easily put deli meat on your salad, roll up some greek yogurt in the middle (caution: this can be messy), or eat on the side with your sweet potato and greek yogurt for added protein.

Six Healthy Lunches You Can Make and Eat Quickly (even when you’re super busy)

There you have it!  The 12 pantry staples I keep on-hand for healthy (and easy) lunches!

Want some of my favorite lunch recipes to go with them?  You’re in luck!  Click here to get Six Healthy Lunches You Can Make and Eat Quickly (even when you’re super busy) delivered straight to your inbox.

With some pantry staples and easy recipes, you’re sure to fend off the Godzilla mom hangries for sure!

 

*Disclaimer: I am not a registered Dietitian, and I am not qualified to diagnose or treat food-based illnesses or conditions.  If you have concerns about specific foods and any health conditions (including pregnancy), please work with a Registered Dietitian to determine the best solution for you.