31 Days of Health. Day 7: Avoid Sugar

Wooo! It’s been a week of healthy living! I hope you’re feeling fabulous.

Sweet, delicious sugar. Can you give it up?

Let me be specific: the stuff that is NOT naturally in fruit and some vegetables. I mean white granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave nectar; and all the prepared foods that include those things in their ingredients…

The obvious: cookies, cake, ice cream, “kid-friendly” cereal, candy, soda… And the not-so-obvious: whole wheat breads, frozen-prepared vegetable dishes, sauces, salad dressings, condiments, croutons…

Why should we avoid sugar? Sugar does not contain vitamins, minerals, protein or fat. Sugar contains only carbohydrates, which only give us energy. When we don’t use that energy, our body stores it for later use in the form of fat. This can then lead to weight gain. Sugar is inflammatory. Excess fat mass is inflammatory. Inflammation disrupts normal bodily functions that may lead to chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline – just to name a few. Excess sugar intake can also lead to dental cavities.

It is a challenge to give up sugar completely. It is present in many foods. In some cases that’s okay! Sugar does help with making certain foods taste better, just as salt does. You don’t need to avoid it entirely for the rest of your life. Your task is to avoid the big-ticket foods that contain plenty of it. And rather than scouring through ingredient labels, keep this message in mind: stick with foods that are closest to nature as often as possible. For example: orange juice versus an orange. You can pick an orange right off the tree and eat it! But to get a glass of juice, you may have to squeeze two oranges, and then throw away the fruit’s flesh that contains fiber, and phytonutrients.

And a quick note on artificial sweeteners. I don’t support them. And even if some day it is proven they are totally safe for us to consume, I still don’t support them. Here’s why: they fuel your desire for sweetness! You should be encouraging your taste buds to appreciate less sweet flavors, otherwise it will never be easy to kick the habit. And besides…artificial sweeteners are nowhere near close to nature.

See you tomorrow!
Alyssa

PS – I could talk about sugar and better options all day. But you didn’t plan on reading a text book this morning. Instead, let’s talk. We can cover way more ground that way. Head over to my contact page and request a free consultation!

31 Days of Health. Day 6: Practice Gratitude

Today, I want you to practice gratitude. This is a special action to take during these 31 Days of Health because it is your secret weapon to arm you against struggles that are guaranteed to stand in your way. When you feel grateful for the things you have, you begin to recognize that you actually have quite a bit, and that can bring fulfillment. During a difficult time, it is difficult to feel hopeless when using this tool.

Try it now. Just think of a couple people, things, or experiences that you can thank for being part of your life. There is absolutely no wrong answer! Be grateful for everything, big or small: that you can hear, see, taste, touch or smell; that you have clean water, a loved one’s company, a spoon to eat soup with, or that really tough experience that made you stronger. You will find that with daily practice, you discover more and more that you can appreciate. And the more you practice appreciation, the more successful you will be in anything you do.

I like to practice gratitude first thing in the morning. I jot down just two things. It may not seem like a lot, but each day is something different, and it causes me to give a lot more thought to those two things than if I was trying to come up with a list of everything at one time. I have to give credit to Dean Graziosi for this method. In his Better Life Challenge, he suggests writing down just two things to be grateful for. I LOVED that he gave a number to this because it really tames the go-big-or-go-home mindset. It is easy to do, and it blossoms into something magical!

I’m grateful you’re here,
Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 5: Eat Some Sweet Potatoes

Welcome to Day 5 of 31 Days of Health!! Woohoo! I hope you’re feeling strong and in control.

What good is a dietitian-nutritionist if she doesn’t share any fun food facts to fuel your motivation on your health journey!? Achieving health requires a balance between behavior change and knowledge about food. Today, I encourage you to eat some sweet potatoes.

Here is a fun story I like to share about sweet potatoes: I once worked with a man who moved here from Africa. (Unfortunately I can’t recall exactly what country he is from.) He frequently expressed concern for his skin having lost its glow. Considering his diet most likely changed drastically, I asked him what he used to eat back home. The most significant and obvious factor was: sweet potatoes. He had sweet potatoes every day!

I’m not saying it’s time to obsess over sweet potatoes, seek out a sweet potato extract supplement, or anything else extreme. But these babies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that do amazing things for your body, and eating one every now and then is the right thing to do!

1 cup of sweet potatoes provides more than 20% of your daily need of the following:

  • Fiber
  • Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene and other carotenoids
  • B-vitamins – including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, biotin, and pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Manganese

Sweet potatoes also contain trace sources of other nutrients, such as choline, which plays supporting roles in strengthening cells, helps brain cells to communicate, insulates nerve fibers and aids in memory development.

Studies have shown that sweet potatoes can raise our blood levels of vitamin A, which will then promote anti-inflammatory action, keeping cells alive and safe from disease. Eating some sweet potatoes will help to fill you up during a meal, prevent constipation, boost your immune system, reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure, and just like my friend from Africa, will give your skin a lovely glow!

Enjoy!
Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 4: Overhaul Your Fridge and Pantry

Today, I want you to overhaul your fridge and pantry. Just because you have left over cookies and stocking goodies doesn’t mean you must eat them. You have a couple options: 1) just throw them away; or 2) if you can trust yourself, keep them tucked away in the cupboards or freezer and plan not to eat them for a really long time. This comes with its challenges, but considering the time of year, I’ll be fair and say it’s okay and possible. Hey, you can work with me to enhance your success with this!

If you are on the fence of making the courageous move to throw them away, here are a couple things to think about: If you are serious about making health a priority in your life, those things simply do not belong in your home. Your home should be a safe and supportive environment. If you don’t have the strength yet to say no, then don’t set yourself up for failure! Set yourself up to win and toss ‘em. Wasting anything can be hard, so here is a way to look at it. Let’s say, collectively, it all costs $30….Your quality of life is worth WAY more than $30, don’t you think? Even if it all cost $1,000, your quality of life is still worth more than that. Your life is invaluable, so don’t waste time worrying if wasting some unhealthy food is worth it. It is!

If you have leftovers in your fridge that are on their third day and you are one reheat away from hating life, pop those in the freezer. No, I don’t recommend just throwing those away – because future You will be relieved when you’re in a pinch. And if you hate leftovers, I’m sorry, but suck it up. Because future HUNGRY You will be relieved when you’re in a pinch! Redeem yourself for “wasting” chocolate and Christmas cookies by freezing overripe fruit that you can use later in a smoothie.

While you’re cleaning out the fridge and cupboards, take notice of any staples you need to stock up on, and add those to the grocery list for your planned meals next week.

I hope these first few days are fun and exciting for you! If you want more success with your healthy lifestyle, work with me and I’ll help you get there more efficiently.

Have a Fabulous Friday!
Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 3: Plan Next Week’s Meals

Welcome to Day 3 of 31 Days of Health! I hope you have embraced Days 1 and 2 and are excited for more!

Your healthy action for today is to plan your meals for next week. Start with a “Meal Ideas List” where you will include healthy dishes that you are confident in making. If you don’t have many or any at all, start searching around online, through cookbooks or magazines. Keep a handy notepad on your phone where you can jot down ideas when an idea strikes

Decide how many meals you can, or need to, actually prepare in one week by looking at the week ahead. Also decide what you want your diet to include: do you want to eat more vegetarian meals? Eat less red meat and more fish? Do you want to stop eating so many foods that are high in added sugars?

By designing your diet goals and plugging them into a week, healthy eating habits will begin to take shape. For me, honestly, I plan only about three different dinner meals a week. I cook from scratch, and cooking from scratch and heart tends to take a little more time than “30-minute meals.” My three dinner meals a week lead to reheated leftovers, or I turn them into a different meal. For example, baked salmon for dinner could be a cold salmon salad for lunch the next day.

As you decide on the week’s menu, write up a grocery list that includes all the ingredients you will need to properly execute those meals. And once it comes time to do your shopping, you are well prepared to collect everything your home needs, and you waste no time walking down the aisles stocked with food you don’t need, like candy, cookies and other foods commonly called “snacks.” (I put snacks in quotes because I don’t classify chips, cheese puffs and pretzels as snacks).

Happy Day 3!
Alyssa

Hey, if you have any questions or want to share your planned meal, go ahead and drop those in the comments below! See you tomorrow.

31 Days of Health. Day 2: Exercise

Wouldn’t it be great to feel energized, think clearly, feel less stressed and be flexible? These benefits are guaranteed when you make exercise a priority. Regular exercise reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, is related to better cognition and reduced risk for dementia, and is associated with improved cholesterol levels, bowel movements, a healthy weight, and a positive mood!

Your task for today is to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes. Use your gym membership. Go for a walk or a jog outside. Search “workout” on YouTube. Use the fitness equipment in your home. Or, turn on your favorite playlist and dance your heart out! Do something that makes you happy and feel good when you’re done.

Recently, I have fallen in love with boxing, by Christa DiPaulo. She has a fantastic energy that I totally relate to, and you can find her leading several workouts with Popsugar on YouTube. To me, boxing is just fun. I don’t even feel like I’m working hard, yet by the end of the workout I’m dripping sweat, and I love what it does for my physical appearance! Jeanette Jenkins is another trainer with awesome workouts and an amazing vibe. Some days I practice yoga which is phenomenal for strength and flexibility. Cardio is definitely my thing. It wipes out my stress, I feel strong, and my body feels light.

After a lot of research during 2018, I decided, it is much more worth it to do whatever exercise makes you happy. All I care about is that you move. Your body needs movement. It gets weak and stiff otherwise. I say poo-poo to any advice against running or cardio, or what time of day you “should” exercise…. Just move! Any exercise for any length of time is better than no exercise at all. You’ll figure it all out as you go along.

We all have 24 hours in a day – okay, I’ll be realistic, we have at least 16 hours in a day if 8 of them are spent resting. Okay, I’ll be even more realistic: we have at least 8 hours to ourselves if we sleep for 8 hours and spend another 8 working. You can – and should – set aside 30 minutes to an hour within those 8 hours. If you don’t make time now, then eventually you will be forced to find the time when a crisis hits, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack or stroke.

If you’re younger than 30, or if you are blessed with a fantastic metabolism where the food you eat is not reflective in your weight, you may brush this off as not pertinent to you. I suggest you reconsider. Continued poor health behaviors do catch up with you. And even skinny people develop type 2 diabetes.

Taking medications or providing extra, unaccepted TLC for your body is not a requirement of aging or crisis management. Make exercise part of your lifestyle now and experience an enhanced zest for life, reduced risk for disease, happiness, and the ability to do more for longer! You have unlimited capabilities in this short time on earth, and exercise will help you to realize those marvelous strengths.

Have fun, and I’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

31 Days of Health. Day 1: Establish a Morning Routine

Happy New Year!!

Welcome to the first day of 31 Days of Health, where each day throughout January, I will provide you with actions to implement into your daily life to assist you in achieving a healthy lifestyle.  I am so excited to roll out 2019 with a month full of healthy suggestions for you!!! My hope is that you will fall in love with at least ONE action that will enrich the quality of your life.

I can’t think of a better way to kick off Day One than with Establishing a Morning Routine. Starting the day focused on yourself is the cornerstone of healthy success. This is a guaranteed chunk of time when you can focus entirely on yourself with minimal distractions! It isn’t always easy, but it comes with great benefits: reduced overall stress, and increased happiness, health and success.

Rather than hitting the snooze ten times before rolling out of bed at the last minute to rush out the door, try this instead: head up to bed at least six hours before your alarm, and keep your phone a distance from where you sleep. This will force you to actually get out of bed at the time of your alarm. And, it will even encourage you to go to sleep at night since you won’t be tempted to indulge in low priority distractions! At the time of your alarm, in addition to getting out of bed, you may even try turning on some lights.

If you got at least six hours of sleep, you should be able to do this. With seven or eight hours, you will have a much easier time and after a few minutes, you should feel awake. Get excited to live today!! For an extra challenge, set your alarm a half hour to an hour earlier than normal.

Include any one of these items in your new morning routine:

*Have a glass of water as you sit in a comfortable place*
*Read something you are interested in*
*Journal some productive intentions for the day, or, given the timing: the year*
*Think of 3 things you are grateful for*
*Listen to something inspiring, or funny*
*Exercise*
*Remind yourself you’re awesome, even if you don’t believe it*

Today is your easiest challenge, because it is New Year’s Day and starting this on NYE would have been ignorant! It is okay to sleep in on some days, and January 1 is one of those exceptions. In preparation for your new morning routine tomorrow, spend today relaxed. Reflect on the previous year, as well as what your intentions include for 2019…dream a little.

So, make sure you get to bed nice and early tonight, and I’ll see you tomorrow bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with another suggestion to add on!

Alyssa

PS – do this on weekends too? Oh Yeah!!!