Achieve Wellness

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Eating Mindfully Can Help You Reach Your Health Goals

Whether your goal is to lose weight, improve your health markers (cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.), or just to feel more energetic and healthy, good nutrition is the best way to achieve your goal.

While having a solid nutritional plan is the best way to achieve your goal, just being in tune with and aware of your nutrition can make a big difference. That’s why I find mindful eating a great way to get in touch with what and why you are eating.

With mindful eating, you take the time to focus on not just what you are eating, but why you are eating, and how the experience makes you feel. Mindful eating gets you in touch with your personal hunger cues, improves your ability to taste your food, and makes the eating experience more pleasurable.

So, how do you practice mindful eating?

The first step you should take when eating mindfully is to get quiet. This may mean eating alone at first to avoid distractions or getting away from your desk or office. I had a friend that regularly ate lunch in her car so she could have time to herself to eat. Think of meal time as a type of meditation, connect with the experience, eat slowly, and enjoy it.

Once you have gotten quiet and focused, ask yourself:

  1. “Am I hungry?”

If your stomach is growling, you feel weak or shaky, you are irritable, or have a headache then you are probably hungry. If not, then perhaps it is better to wait until you are truly hungry. Now, this does not mean skipping meals or starving yourself. However, as you get in touch with what physiological hunger feels like, you will be better able to take in nutrition when you body needs it.

  • 2. “Do I want to eat?”
  • Sometimes our habits and emotions get the best of us and we eat because we think we are supposed to, “Hey, it’s 4pm it must be snack time”, “I haven’t eaten for 3 hours I’m not hungry but I better eat something anyhow”, or “Damn, that meeting was really stressful, I need a candy bar.” In these cases asking ourselves if we really want to eat or are simply responding to habit and emotions can keep us from making poor nutritional choices.
  • 3. “Does this food choice support my goals?”
  • If your goal is to lose weight, eating a big bowl of popcorn and a box of chocolate covered raisins at the movies is not the best way to achieve your goal. Likewise, having a burger and fries won’t help your reduce your cholesterol. Asking yourself if the food choice supports your goal reminds you of what you are working so hard to achieve and can stop you from making a poor choice. If, after you ask the question, your response is to still eat the food then you must be willing to accept responsibility for the choice. Looking great in those jeans or ice cream, which is more important?
  • Once you have started eating, focus on the experience. What does the food taste like, what’s its texture, how does eating make you feel, are you enjoying it? Eat slowly and consider these questions as you go along.

    Every few bites, stop and ask yourself, “Am I satisfied?” If you are then stop eating. If your answer is, “no”, then take a few more bites and ask again. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your body to register fullness so take your time.

    Eating mindfully takes work, and it is likely you will not be able to do it with every meal especially in the beginning. Start slowly and shoot for practicing for 2 meals every day.

    If the process seems overwhelming, that’s ok. Start slowly with 1 thing at a time. Perhaps you can find a quiet distraction free place to eat and just do that for a few days. Next you can ask yourself 1 or 2 of the questions. Once it is your habit to check in before eating, then you can move on to another question or step. Progress at your pace. The key objective here is simply to create awareness of your eating in relation to your goals. Do not obsess over it, make it fun, enjoy eating!

    If you need help building your nutritional plan or if you would like help learning to eat mindfully, I am here to help. Email me at achievewellness@ymail.com for a complimentary 15 minute consultation.

    Have fun and as always, Have a happy healthy day.


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    What’s Your Goal Look Like?

    Playing games can be a fun and effective method for helping you reach your goals.

    Today, let’s have some fun.

    Pictures only, no words…

    Have fun and be creative!

    Here’s mine:


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    Beginners’ Guide to Healthy Eating

    If you are like most people I know, your hectic schedule often means you have no time to the little things, often they get put aside so as to get seemingly the more important things done.   Like this year’s resolution to eat healthy, for example! We miss meals, eat wrong food groups, grab meals on the run,  all for the sake of saving time.  Along with the failure to exercise, many forget the problems this life style can have on our health and wellness.  We get run down, over weight, stressed out and sometimes worse.  These symptoms are a reminder from our body that we need learn better eating habits.
    If you’re currently not eating a healthy diet, it can be difficult to get started. However, healthy eating along with some exercise is very important for maintaining a good bodily function and goes a long way towards living a disease-free life. If you struggle with healthy eating, then you know that breaking unhealthy habits can be the most difficult part of the process. Therefore, if you truly want to live the best lifestyle possible, it is important to follow tips in order to start eating a more healthy diet.

    A great first step when you want to start eating your way to a healthy life style is to rid your home of all temptations that will distract you from following better eating habits. Ideally, it would be a wise to keep junk foods and beverages out of your house so as not be tempted to snack during the day.  If you’re worried about getting hungry, keep healthy snacks like carrot sticks, yogurt, fresh fruit, or whole-wheat crackers on hand.  If you find that you just cannot bear to toss out the sweets, try keeping something tiny on hand, peppermints or miniature chocolates.  Eating a few, (emphasis on few) of these won’t ruin your diet but also will give you that little sugary fix you rave.  I buy full-sized chocolate bars and break them into pieces which I keep at my office.  Before I leave work I grab a piece to bring home with me for an after dinner snack.

    Another great step to healthy eating, when you’re first starting the process, is to take a few moments to learn what foods are the healthiest for you and how they work within the body.  To start eating healthily we must begin by thinking healthily.  Most people understand that fruits, vegetables, and low-fat meats and dairy products are good for you, but few people understand why.  The key is learning about nutrients. When you understand how specific nutrients work and why you need them, it becomes more reasonable for you to make healthier choices for your body. Knowledge really is power!

    Preparation is a major key in commencing a new healthy diet.  You must take into consideration your schedule for meals.  If you often eat in a hurry at odd times of day, you’re more inclined to grab a rushed meal which will probably do more harm than good.  So plan ahead!  Instead of grabbing a fast food lunch on the go, take a bagged lunch to work, complete with a healthy wrap and some fresh fruit and vegetables. Remember not to forget your evening meal, a simple plan to have a meal ready before you get home would be perfect, but in our fast paced life style, sometimes this just can’t be done.  One way to solve this problem is to plan out your evening meals for the week, on your days off.  Perhaps just before you do your weekly shopping.  Another warning: when going to the shops, do not venture there hungry because you are more likely to pick processed low nutrient foods. That becomes the first break in your healthy eating.  Also shop the outer edges of the store and stay out of the middle aisles where many of the unhealthy food options live.

    Initially you may find it very difficult to make the necessary changes to healthier eating. Along with the difficulty of change, you may not feel well for a short period of time. Usually this is normal as your body is adjusting to your new and improved life style and is cleansing itself from the unhealthy toxins built up from poor eating habits. However if this feeling continues or you are worried a visit to your doctor would be the correct thing to do.

    Start with baby steps. Even if you only replace one soda a day with a glass of water, you are really improving your calorie intake. If you eat fast food every day for lunch, try replacing that half of the time with better quality foods. When you start by taking small steps you aren’t cutting out all of the foods you love all at once. By taking your time to learn about your eating habits and slowly replacing them with better meals, by taking the time to learn and understand why you should be doing that and making the necessary changes in an orderly fashion, you will feel much better within yourself physically, mentally and emotionally and well on the road to becoming as healthy as you can be

     


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    Tuesday Tip of the Week – Have a Snacking Plan

    No matter how well you plan, prepare, and pack your meals, there will be times when something comes up that interrupts your best laid plans. An unexpected business call, a long line at the bank, or overtime at your child’s soccer game can mean you miss a meal or need an extra snack.

    One of the tips I give my clients for this situation is to have a snack attack plan. I encourage my clients to make a list of quick healthy snacks they can pick up at the convenience store, coffee shop, or drug store. Then I suggest they keep the list on their phone. That way when the need for a snack arises they can dash into the store with a “shopping list” of acceptable treats. This not only saves them time by limiting the amount of time they spend looking for a snack but also prevents them from grabbing the closest possibly least nutritious option.

    A few of the snacks I recommend are:

    • String cheese
    • Greek yogurt
    • Hard boiled eggs
    • Low carb protein shakes
    • Apples

    Or

    • Serving size hummus

    Taking a few minutes to create your own list can ensure you make healthy choices on the go!


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    Tuesday Tip of the Week – Healthy Superbowl Tips

    For many of my clients, the Superbowl is the first big test of their dietary resolve.

    Chili, chips, dips, alcohol, and sweet treats can all add up and ruin all of the hard health and wellness work you’ve put in this year.

    Fortunately, you can still enjoy the big game and stick to your diet goals, just follow a few simple tips:

    1. Make smart choices about what you eat.
      • Sure, potato chips and pepperoni pizza are delicious, but they can wreck your diet goals.  Look for tasty ways to satisfy your hunger while still staying healthy.  For example, substitute roasted vegetables for pepperoni on your pizza or choose whole grain crackers over potato chips.
      • Load up on fresh raw vegetables rather than pretzels or popcorn.
      • Replace fat laden dips with hummus, salsa, or use greek yogurt in place of sour cream in dip recipes.
      • Guacamole is another great dip option, but use it sparingly.  Remember even though it contains “healthy”  Omega-3 fatty acids it is still high in fat calories.
      • Skip extras like shredded cheese, sour cream, or barbeque sauces on you chili, nachos, or burger.
      • Try a grilled chicken breast in place of a hot dog or burger and skip the bun.
    2. Limit or avoid alcohol.
      • Alcohol not only adds nonessential calories, it can also lower your inhibitions and make you to eat more.
      • Replace alcohol with sparkling water flavored with lime or orange slices, iced tea, kombucha or a tasty mocktail.
      • If you absolutely must drink, limit your intake to no more than 1-2 drinks.
    3. Practice portion control.
      • It is okay to nibble on a few of your party favorites, but limit yourself to 2-3 special treats and if possible limit yourself to a single serving of each.  Check packaging for a serving size or use the chart below.
      • Another good trick is to eat 50% of what you normally would.  For example, if you would normally eat 4 slices of pizza, stop yourself a 2 slices or if you eat a large bowl of chili with corn bread, serve yourself a smaller bowl and cut the corn bread in half.

    Following these tips may not save you total calories, but at least the calories you ingest will be healthier and serve your body better than traditional, less healthy options loaded with refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and alcohol.

    Check back on Thursday for some delicious Superbowl recipes to help you stay on track to a healthier lifestyle!

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    Tuesday Tip of the Week – Some Exercise is Better than No Exercise

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    We all experience days when we are short on time, but that is no excuse to skip a workout.

    Even if you do not have time for a full workout, aim to get at least 15 minutes of exercise in per day.  Try taking a brisk walk, doing bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, and pushups anyone?) while watching TV, or do a quick yoga class on youtube.

     


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    Tuesday Tip of the Week – Skip Perfect, Just Get Better

    When it comes to achieving goals, many of us get frustrated or discouraged if we don’t stick to our plan perfectly.

    But in reality, life can often throw a wrench in our best laid plans.   Work, school, family obligations can all get in the way of our best efforts and missteps can occur.  But rather than losing focus or even giving up when life gets in the way, look for ways to make better choices than you normally would.

    Rather than grabbing a candy bar or chips from a vending machine, look for a low carb protein bar, or pretzels.  Better yet pack healthy snacks to carry with you.  Protein bars, tuna packets, or nuts make excellent packable snacks for when you’re on the run.

    When it comes to your workouts it is best to stay on track, but if you cannot make it to the gym have a plan to ensure you get some physical activity in for the day.  Take a walk on your lunch break or do a few exercises while watching TV.

    Remember, 10 baby steps are just as effective as 1 giant leap when working toward any goal.

     


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    Build a Foundation for a Healthy New Year

    A few days ago I was speaking with a potential client.  She said she did not want to get started with a diet and exercise plan until after the holidays.

    On the surface, this may seem like a sound plan.  Why start a diet that you know you won’t be motivated to stick to?  After all who wants to count calories, skip the egg nog and buttered rum drinks, and miss a holiday party to meet their personal trainer.  NO ONE!

    Personally, I think the holidays are the best time to start taking steps toward your health and fitness goals.

    Losing weight and getting in shape are about more than just exercising and cutting calories, they are about making lasting lifestyle changes.  Making changes to your lifestyle does not happen over night, it takes time and practice.  The holiday season provides a terrific opportunity to start making these changes.  Waiting until the new year to initiate sudden, drastic changes can make reaching your health and fitness goals a daunting task.  The holiday season lets you begin to make small changes that lay a foundation for bigger changes down the road.

    I have put together a few tips to help you establish lasting lifestyle changes this holiday season:

    • Start keeping a food journal.
      • A food journal will help you monitor the amount of calories and macronutrients (carbohydrates,protein, and fats) your are eating per day.  Seeing what and how much you are actually eating can be a wake up call and may help you start making better nutritional choices.
      • Even if you do not try to make any changes to your eating over the holidays, a food journal will get you into the habit of tracking and monitoring your new dietary program once the new year arrives.

    I recommend either myfitnesspal or myplate to my clients.  Both have extensive nutrient data and basic food tracking on the free versions of the app.

    • Get 15-20 minutes of physical activity every day.
      • If you are planning to lose weight or improve your fitness in the new year, getting into the habit of working out on a regular basis will make going to the gym easier once January hits.  Taking a walk on your lunch break, using the stairs, doing exercises or stretching while watching TV, or riding your bike after dinner can get you into the habit of scheduling time in your personal calendar to exercise.  Once you begin to see how easy it is to find time to exercise and the better your start to feel physically and mentally the more likely you are to continue into the new year and even increase your workout time.
    • Pay attention you how you feel after you eat or drink.
      • The simple act of noticing how you feel after you eat or drink certain items can lead you to make wiser food and beverage choices.  If you notice that you are frequently fatigued, bloated, and distracted the day after binging on hot cocoa and Christmas cookies, you can use this knowledge to remind yourself to limit the amount of sugars and other carbohydrates you eat in a sitting.  If you notice that you’re always hungover the day after snogging several eggnogs at the office party it can serve as a reminder to drink fewer drinks or choose another alcoholic beverage.

    This leads into our next tip:

    • Eat consciously.
      • Many of us mindlessly shovel food into our mouths without taking the time to consider what we are doing, especially when we are socializing. Practice becoming mindful of what and how much you are eating.  Pay attention to the experience of eating.   Before you eat ask yourself a few questions:
        • Will this help me reach my goals?
        • Do I really want to eat/drink this?
        • Am I hungry?
        • How will this make me feel tomorrow (sick, guilty, ashamed, terrific)?
      • You may ask yourself if eating a second slice of pumpkin pie helps you achieve your weight loss goal.  Even if your answer is, “NO, but I’m eating it anyhow”, you have created awareness about your eating habits and you can store this insight for use when the new year arrives.
    • Watch out for emotional eating (or not eating)
      • The holiday season can be stressful and this can cause us to eat and drink not to support our health but rather to satiate our emotions .  If you are one of those folks who gets extra anxious or emotional during the holidays, take note of your eating and drinking habits.  Consider whether your desire to eat an entire fruitcake is because you love fruitcake or because your stressed out about seeing your family on Christmas.
      • On the flip side, if you tend to lose your appetite when you are anxious, set a reminder to yourself to eat a little something every few hours, like a small handful nuts, a greek yogurt, or a few slices of turkey.  Not eating can be just as detrimental to your long term health goals as overeating.

    Taking a moment or two to think about what we are about to eat gives us the opportunity to take responsibility for our eating choices, a skill you must master in order to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the new year.

    Finally,

    • Make an effort to eat clean and healthy 80% of the time.
      • While you do not need to follow a diet during the holidays, making a deliberate attempt to make smart nutritional choices the majority of the time will help you counteract the effects of holiday eating and drinking. For example, if you know you have a big holiday party coming up, focus on eating foods that are low in calories but high in nutritional value, like lean protein and vegetables, for a few days ahead of time.  That way not only will you have offset some of the less nutritious choices (and calories) you may eat at the party, but you will feel like you’re indulging on a delicious treat rather than just another cookie.
      • Also, consider your portion sizes.  Chances are you will need to cut back on portions once you start the new year so start practicing now.  Rather than a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, try cutting the portion size by 1/3 or 1/2.

    The great thing about adopting a few of these changes during the holiday season is that you do not have to be perfect.  Think of it as practice for the big event.  Because you have not attached these habits to a specific health goal yet, you can make mistakes, learn from them, and get better without feeling guilty or as if you have failed.

    While practicing these tips throughout the holiday season may not result in weight loss  or improved your health, they may prevent you from gaining additional weight or even getting sick.  After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  In addition, you will have laid a strong foundation to build on for amazing health and fitness success in the new year.

     


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    I LOVE Money…

    For many of us, having more money is one of our goals.  Perhaps we want to earn more money, increase our financial freedom, create a source of passive income, or become a multimillionaire.  But, despite our best efforts we struggle to achieve our dreams of wealth and security.

    Why?

    As we go through life we develop beliefs and attitudes about money that run counter to our intentions to attract more:

    • Rich people are “bad”.
    • Money isn’t spiritual.
    • Money is the root of all evil.
    • Money changes people.
    • Money doesn’t bring happiness.
    • etc…

    We have a love/hate relationship with money.  We love it because it makes us feel happy, helps us care for our families, and pays our bills, but it also brings us stress and feelings of lack, envy, and greed.

    However, in order to attract the money we want to improve our lives (and the lives of those around us) we MUST learn to love and respect money.  Take a few moments to consider how much kindness and respect you give your money.  For example:

    1. Do you have money wadded up in the bottom of your purse/briefcase, or is your money neatly sorted in your wallet?
    2. Do you “blame” money for your problems?  “No matter what I do I never have enough money!”
    3. Do you carelessly waste money on things you do not need or do you enjoy saving up for that special item?
    4. Do you have a financial plan or do you stash your money here, there, and everywhere?

    For years, I treated my money with total disrespect.  I kept extra cash lying around the house or stashed in a desk drawer, I tossed spare change on the seat of my car, I bought what ever I wanted whenever I wanted it, and I made no attempts to wisely invest a portion of my income.

    It wasn’t until I started “taking care” of my money that my finances started to shift.  Now, I keep spare cash locked in a safe, I neatly tuck my spare change into a change pouch, I follow (mostly) a budget, and I set up an auto debit from my checking account to fund my IRA.  I take time each day to show my money love, respect, and gratitude.  It has taken time, patience, and dedication but I am seeing an increase in my finances as well as in opportunities and creative ideas to help me make more.

    If reaching your financial goals is a bit of a challenge for you, take some time to consider if you are treating your money the way you want money to treat you.  Ask yourself,

    “If I treated my friends/family the way I treat my money, how many fulfilling relationships would I have?”

    If the answer is not many, then try this exercise to help you regain a positive, loving relationship with your finances:

    Every day for the next month, write down at least 10 reasons you LOVE money.  Consider things like: money makes me happy, money helps me care for my family, money bought me a new car, money supports me in all ways, giving money to help others brings me joy, money is a physical representation of positive energies, etc…

    This can be a powerful method to begin to rebuild a strong, healthy relationship with your finances.

    Have fun!!!

     

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