Healthy for the Holidays

“It’s the most wonderful time of the yearrrrr!…..”

And it’s also one of the busiest. And craziest. And….foodiest.

Many folks look to the start of the new year to implement healthy changes, and while implementing healthy changes at any time is fantastic, we don’t have to wait for the new year to start to work on what matters most: our health.

Is this a challenging time to choose to eat better, or to exercise more? You bet! But it is useless to focus on failures that the challenge may bring. What if a challenge brings success? (…even if it’s just a little?) Let’s celebrate our accomplishments rather than grieving over our failures. In reference to the invention of the light bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

So what can you do to be healthy during the holiday season?

Meal Plan. Start with a Meal Ideas List. Include on there healthy dishes you are confident in making, and look to other sources, either online or through cookbooks, to add to that list.

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 fitting them into a week, you can begin to shape healthy eating habits. 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.

Use a Grocery List and Keep Your Home a Healthy Haven! Write your meal plans into your planner, or use an app on your smartphone. From here, you can write up your grocery list. Check through your fridge and pantry to see if you need to stock up on any staples. My staples tend to be garlic, olive oil, butter (yes, I do use butter, but that doesn’t mean I’m right or wrong for doing so), milk (I am not exclusive to dairy or non-dairy), eggs, yogurt, mixed greens, and nuts. While you’re checking through your fridge and cupboards, see if there is anything there that does not need to be…

…Overripe fruit? Don’t throw it away! Freeze it for later use in a smoothie.
Leftovers a few days old that would exhaust your sanity to eat them one more time? Freeze those too!
How about any excess cookies, candy, chips or soda? Just get rid of it. Seriously!

If you are serious about making health a priority in your life, those things don’t belong in your home! And if you think it is a waste of money, you’re right, but you don’t have to waste your money any longer. Besides, look at the numbers and figure out exactly how much money is actually being wasted. Let’s say it adds up to $30.

Is your quality of life worth just $30?!

Alyssa, what about the cookies I want to make and give away to my family and friends? How about this: what if this year you tried not making cookies to keep in your house and to give to family and friends, and instead did random acts of kindness for them, and/or strangers? Spread love with health!!!
High blood sugars and inflammation is not love!

Navigate the Grocery Store Confidently. When your grocery list is written and the kitchen cupboards and fridge are cleaned out, you’re ready for the grocery store. Make your first stop the produce or non-perishable/non-food sections. Keep the chilled and frozen items for last to keep these out of the temperature danger zone (40-140°F) for as long as possible. That also means: make the grocery store your last stop if you have other errands to run that day. Become familiar with reading and comparing nutrition labels. If you don’t know how to read them, find out! I am just a click and a few keystrokes away from you, and I want to help. Believe that the answers are out there; you just have to look for them.

Make Healthy Food Accessible. As you reach home, get those chilled foods into the fridge right away, and frozen foods into the freezer next. If you’ve got time, wash or even cut your produce now, that way it is ready to go when you need it! But be sure to cut up only what you will use within two days. When you have healthy food within reach, it takes the difficulty out of reaching for soda, chips, or cookies (if you cracked and bought them at the store anyway!).

Schedule Exercise. Without exercise, our brain turns mushy, we lose energy and enthusiasm for life, and we lose strength in our muscle, bones and even our state of mind! The best way to get some exercise into your life is to make time for it. I hear people often say they don’t have time for exercise. Look, if tomorrow you suffered a major health condition that threatened your life, and you were informed that if you don’t change now you will die in a month, you would find that time! People often wait until something traumatic happens to change. You do not have to put your mind, body or soul through this stress! The opportunities are lying before you in this very moment.

There is never a better time than now, and how to do it is by changing your daily habits. You may try waking up an hour earlier. Maybe you can delegate some chores at home so there is a little more you-time. Perhaps you’re spending up to an hour a day on social media — don’t waste your time on this anymore! Use your time effectively, and include the stuff that matters! The time is there. Get rid of the things that don’t serve you.

STAY POSITIVE. If you don’t think you can do it, you won’t.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” Mull that over in your brain for just a moment…..

Is the prospect of failing scary? Absolutely! But you won’t know how life is on the other side if you don’t try. I find it useful to ask: what’s the worst that can happen? Oftentimes, the worst outcome as a result of striving toward positive change is simply a learning experience and not life threatening. Instead you might ask, what’s the worst that can happen if I don’t change my eating habits now? What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t begin exercising regularly? What’s the worst that can happen if I continue beating myself up? The outcomes of these have the potential to end your life.

Keep a power phrase turned on in your mind at all times. One I enjoy using is very simple and to the point, and I say it to a beat while bouncing my head, “I got thisss, I got thiss, I got thiss, I got this!” (because being goofy is awesome). It is time to start believing in yourself and stay focused on the positive outcomes!

Get Support! You need at least one person on your side to be successful. Surround yourself with those who are supportive of your needs. I believe you can achieve anything! Reach out to me for support – I want to help you! If you have a supportive spouse, friend, parent, cousin, aunt, uncle…whatever!…talk to them about your healthy goals. Sometimes this places you in a vulnerable state, but as you muscle through the fear, you will find it is alarmingly gorgeous on the other side.

Get adventurous, feel fabulous, and make some magic happen today!

Healthy Holidays, my friends.
Alyssa

Farmers Market Adventures Part 2

I visited the Elmwood Village Farmers Market on Saturday, May 12. It was okay.

It was nice to get out and wander through the market, say hello to people and their dogs walking by, but for me there was not much that tickled my fancy for the day. That day was mostly prepared products. Not really any fresh produce – except for the guy wearing scary dirty sweatpants selling eggs and Halos from Wegmans! It wouldn’t be illogical to assume perhaps the fruit and vegetables were from the grocery store as well?!? Who let that guy in?

did pass by a tent selling salmon. And salmon is on my menu this week. However, I had somewhere to be at 11 (and later realized I had to be there at 10; so already way behind schedule); I was not in a good position to be purchasing fish.

did pass by a tent selling honey, and I need honey. But they accepted cash only. I thought my daughter and I would take a little walk up to the bank and come back.

Well, we passed by a consignment shop and I couldn’t help myself. – I think the time by now was about 10:15 – We looked around and I found a pair of Hunters rain boots and a couple leggings. After I paid for our things we sauntered out of the shop and continued to head toward the bank. I received a text at 10:30 from my friend: “Are you still coming?” I thought it was just a friendly reminder to be there in a half hour. “Yes ma’am!” I said, “Be there soon!” 

I knew by now we probably wouldn’t make it to the bank, and then my daughter yelled, “Pee! I have to pee!” The closest bathroom was at the coffee shop back across the street from the farmers market, so we booked it!

Rewinding to the beginning: can you believe I bought a decaf coffee for myself and a scone for Aryana from there? Pour-over coffee and baked goods were being sold at the market. Why I did not purchase any from there, I don’t know. Let’s just say the first day was a warm up. And honestly, I think the first day for the Elmwood Village was a warm up for them also.

Here are two takeaways for a productive experience at the Farmers Market:

  1. Bring cash. Technically I knew this already, but thinking I did not have to be anywhere until 11:00 I assumed I would have time to walk up to the ATM.
  2. Bring a cooler and ice. This would be most convenient if there are other stops to make after visiting the market. I could have bought the fish! And now I have nothing.

Farmers Market Adventures Part 1

Hello there and Happy Spring Finally!!!!

Spring came so late for many regions this year. It’s hard to believe it started in March because it hasn’t actually felt nice outside until . . . maybe a couple weeks ago. It is so awesome to finally enjoy some heat and sunshine – I am sweating at this very moment, indulging in a Starbucks decaf coffee on the patio! (My caffeinated coffee abstinence is still current and I am going strong). Also, I’ve never been so happy to be sweating.

I have been feeling so anxious to live life outside: ride a bike, go for a walk,  hike, check out some festivals, go to the beach, garden, grill – sheeit, you name it, I wanna do it all! I have especially been looking forward to the start of farmers markets!

Months ago I posted about my love for CSA’s and I was totally looking forward to a share this year. However, my cousin and I like to split it, and we both really couldn’t decide on one that worked for both of us. We are both very busy ladies, but each with different needs. While the drive out to the farm last year was a long one that required a whole week be planned around one evening, I enjoyed taking my daughter there for the experience. However, my cousin preferred a nearby pickup site. We didn’t exactly come to a decision; our last conversation about the CSA was just left hanging. However, neither one of us pursued the topic any further and I am confident that if it was that important to either one of us, one of us would have followed through.

One day I had an idea that if I am looking for an experience to get fresh, locally grown produce, the farmers market is the place to be! What better way to connect directly with multiple local farmers in one place, support those local farmers, have access to an even greater variety of local foods, and enjoy the wonderful social environment?! My intention is to visit several markets throughout the season, ideally one a week – the place to do a good portion of the food shopping.

My first stop – I hope, if my agenda is not too full – will be this Saturday, May 12 at the Elmwood Village Farmers Market in Buffalo. I want to fill you in on the foods I find, and show you how I prepare them (recipes 🙂 ). Look forward to a weekly post on my Farmers Market Adventures! I am so excited!! Let me know if you are too!

 

Eight Ways a Food Journal Will Get You Closer to Your Health Goals

Taking note of the foods and beverages we consume is a helpful way to visualize what our diet is truly like. There have been many times I’ve asked clients to write down every single thing they eat and drink for the health concerns we were addressing, and it was often very eye opening for them. Sometimes, they chose not to eat something because they knew they would have to write it down. The journal starts its magic right away!

If you are ready to lose weight, improve your cholesterol or blood pressure, or want to figure out why every day around 3:00 PM you feel fatigued, one of your first steps is writing everything down. Here’s what you need to do to make a journal your go-to reference in problem solving:

  1. Every single thing that enters your belly gets written down. If you pass by a dish of popcorn and throw a handful in your mouth, write it down. If you washed it down with just a gulp of soda, write that down. If you put mayonnaise on a sandwich, that counts!
  2. Details, details, details. Sandwich bread to you may be your classic white, whereas to another person it might be sprouted grain. Both contain different types and quantities of nutrients, and ingredients. It is important to include the details of the type of food you are ingesting.
  3. Measure! This is another very important detail.  What is “a glass of” juice, or “a cup of” coffee? This step will probably be the most difficult, but it is super important to become familiar with portion and serving sizes. Do NOT skip this step if you are serious about making healthy changes to your diet. Yes, it will be a difficult step, but you will not have to do this for the long-term, promise.
  4. Note the time. Indicating when you eat can give clues to why you may be experiencing issues with weight loss, not feeling so great at a certain time of day, or can be linked to moods or behaviors that are standing in your way to success.
  5. What mood were you in? Our moods can seriously affect what we eat. Maybe you blindly binge on salt and vinegar chips when your nerves are tense, or when PMS makes its obnoxious monthly visit all you crave is chocolate and cheeseburgers.

A helpful food and beverage journal contains at least three days, and is ideal at no more than seven. Start now! Grab a pen and paper or your go-to notebook. If you prefer the digital type there are many apps available for this. A simple search for “food journal” should pop up with more than enough suggestions. If you’re reading this near the end of the day, that’s okay! Settle into a quiet place and do your best to recall your day. Make no more excuses, the only time to start is now.

After you have a completed journal, this is how you’ll use it:

  1. REVIEW. Getting all these facts down on paper will paint the picture you need to see what you can do to make healthy changes. It might be that you skip lunch many times each week, or you eat a lot of deep fried foods, or you eat anything in sight as a result of boredom.
  2. PLAN. Let’s say you do skip lunch every day. Question yourself why you do this. Are you so consumed in work you forget, or worse – are unable to? Do you have no appetite? Whatever is causing this to happen, do some brainstorming and implement a plan you can accomplish.
  3. ACT. Nothing changes until you do. Your plan has to go into action right away, not next week. If you continue to hesitate with following through on your plan, it might be time to make a different plan. No matter what, when you’re taking on a huge task to change your health, it is important to have a support team. This can include your closest friends or family, doctor, or other health specialists. There is no need for you to do this on your own. The world is a better place when we help each other out!