31 Days of Health. Day 31: Give Yourself a Break!

Ahhhh! It’s the last day of 31 Days of Health!! Amazing. I’ve noticed some consistency with the folks liking these posts – thank you. I hope there have been some positive rewards for you as a result of following the thoughts I have to share. In a day or two I will get into a recap of these 31 days, and what to look forward to from Fabulous Nutrition. For now, let’s devour this last healthy action!!!

Today isn’t necessarily about, “Hey, put your feet up and relax!” Of course if you need a reason to do so, please, put your feet up and relax! Today is more about accepting imperfection. I’ve thrown a lot out there this month to help you move toward a healthy lifestyle from including certain healthy foods in your diet to practicing healthier habits. There are even more things you could do to carry out a healthy lifestyle. And you know what? It’s not all always going to be easy.

Life happens. Some days you’ll be a little short on time, short on patience, short on sleep, or short on all three together! Don’t stress it if you slept in even though you went to bed planning otherwise, or had good intentions to avoid added sugar but couldn’t resist a cupcake, or tried to start your day on a positive note but your children have truly tried your patience today.

What matters most is your persistence over time. Think: progress over perfection. In fact, all the good and bad, right and wrong, ups and downs…that is perfection! We can’t know and appreciate success without knowing and experiencing failure.

Be patient with yourself. Appreciate your successes. Appreciate your failures! Give yourself a break! And when you do fall, intend to get back up.

Happy Day 31! You made it!!!

Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 29: Infuse Positivity Into Your Day

Infuse positivity into your day. Ahhh, this life saver. Love this one!

There is so much power in this healthy action! Can you believe that it is possible to be spiraling in a whirl of horrible emotions at one minute, and the next you can be feeling the exact opposite? It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling depressed, angry, sad, hopeless, or annoyed. You do have the ability – I don’t care who you are; if you’re human, you have the ability – to change your brain chemistry in an instant with this tool!

Years ago, I was an angry individual. I still struggle with handling this shitty emotion, but certainly not in the magnitude I have in the past. Anger was my go-to emotion for just about anything. It was the emotion I wore on my face often to signify power. It is still so familiar to me, that even in times of jest I use it for fun.

I think there were two catalysts that set me towards freedom. One was that I noticed chronic anger in others, and I could see it was not an attractive trait. The other was the multiple times I had been innocently asked, “What’s wrong?” when truthfully, at that time, nothing (at the surface) was wrong. I remember walking past a man on the street one day who said, “You dropped your smile on the ground!” I was so pissed at him…BECAUSE IT WAS JUST MY FACE!!!

But I heard it so many times that it was kind of starting to hurt my ego. I felt weak. I began to notice: I look mad pretty often. I suck. And I knew deep down I craved more for myself, so I decided I would try to change my image. I don’t think, at the time, I expected that slight action to lead me to happier places.

I decided that I would try lifting the corners of my mouth more often. I’m sure it didn’t start out looking very pretty or natural. But you know what, that shit worked. I just did it as often as I thought about it. For years I told myself I was miserable and that I wasn’t worth anything. I was depressed… I believed that I was too stupid, weak and shy to do anything admirable. I believed I was fake and lazy. I believed that I had nothing valuable to share with the world. As a result, all of these feelings surfaced as anger. But as I molded my face into a smile more often, I was telling my brain something phenomenal – that I was happy.

It wasn’t just the faking it ‘til I made it that launched me into a happier state. No, that was the beginning! When I experienced pain, I started reading positive quotes. I came to create a private Pinterest board titled “Pick Me Up” and another called “Keep Building.” Some days I would wake up feeling awful, and it just became a habit for me to open up my brain-building Pinterest boards and read through all the quotes that resonated with me. Lo and behold, I was fueling my brain…strengthening my brain! I was blessed enough to cross paths with someone who introduced me to affirmations. I began habitually listening to these on YouTube. These led to discovering more, and more, and more uplifting content.

And one day, I realized: I am happy! Even in the midst of difficult times, I can confidently say I am the happiest I have ever been.

It doesn’t matter if your story is better or worse than mine, the power of positive words goes a long way. There is a science to it, though I don’t really know much about it. All I know is that you can transform any moment, day, week, and year by the words or feelings you choose feed your brain. Try it today.

Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 28: Prep Fruits & Veggies

You know what I love and hate all at the same time? Being prepared.

Being prepared is SO fricken fabulous. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have felt nervous about not having this or that ready for when I need it, then to my surprise, I actually had exactly what I needed! I fascinate myself most often. And here’s why…

Being prepared is one of my biggest weaknesses. Seriously. If I’m on my way to your birthday party, I’m picking up your card and gift on the way. Sorry :-/

Wednesdays tend to be very busy for me. I don’t start my work day until about 1:00. I actually don’t eat breakfast until 8 or 9 AM, even though I’ve been up since 5:00 – going through a more relaxed morning routine. Depending on how early I did eat, I might eat a little snack around 10:30. So my belly is content at 11:00, around the time when I am leaving the house with my daughter. Food is not on my mind. Often, once 1:00 hits, I have no time and limited options to grab food until roughly 6 or 7:00. So, yeah… about nine hours without food. Not good!

You might ask, “Why not just get something ready that morning?” Please, do not ask. I haven’t even begun to try to understand why preparing for Wednesdays is so complicated. (Perhaps it would help if I explain that my schedule on the other four weekdays are way more flexible, and that this business on Wednesdays is new for me. It’s a transition?)

Hopefully by gaining a little insight into my crazy life, you can rest, assured, that perfection is unattainable. The blessing of being human!! 😃🙄

So today’s healthy challenge is totally a team effort!! Let’s take some time today to prepare some fruits and veggies for ourselves. I’ve got five simple suggestions:

  1. Wash fresh, whole fruit so it’s ready to bite or cut into.

  2. Wash fresh vegetables so they’re ready for slicing and dicing.

  3. Cut fresh fruit or vegetables to have ready for snacking, cooking, or slapping on a sandwich. Store in ready-to-go containers or baggies. *Cut only as much as you will consume within two days*

  4. Roast, broil, bake, steam, poach, braise, or sauté veggies. Then store to reheat later or throw cold onto a salad.

  5. If part of the issue is just getting the produce into your house and you can afford any one of these conveniences: try a grocery delivery service, like Instacart; meal kit service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh; or a trusted local store that offers *healthy* prepared foods. Here in Buffalo, Wegmans offers perfect vegetable and fruit options.

We got this!!!

alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 23: Eat Some Kale

I am extending a bit from yesterday’s healthy action. Yesterday I talked about ensuring you are including vitamin K in your diet; and vitamin K is found in all sorts of green vegetables, especially the leafy types. Kale is one of those green, leafy vegetables with the most amount of vitamin K per volume… that’s an average of 1,400% of your daily requirement in 1 cup cooked!

Not only do I want you to add some delicious kale to your life today because it is high in vitamin K, but it is a generous source for so many other nutrients including vitamin A (100% DV), and vitamin C (about 70%); and together with vitamin K, these vitamins deliver antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, along with a healthy immune system and beautiful skin! You can also get a good dose of manganese, copper, iron, and vitamin B6 from kale. Collectively, these are supportive in bone health, energy production, prevention of free radical damage, blood sugar control, lowering cholesterol, metabolizing carbohydrates, detoxifying the liver, and promoting a positive mood!

The nutrient richness doesn’t stop there either! Kale also contains fiber, B-vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid; vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, and even omega-3 fatty acids!! Additionally, kale has over 45 flavonoids that fight against cancer, and a high concentration of lutein – a type of carotenoid that protects the eyes from damage caused by light and oxygen. Other carotenoids present in kale protect your body from oxidative stress and problems related to it such as cataracts, glaucoma, atherosclerosis, COPD and cancer.

Would it have been more convenient for me to say what kale does not have and what it can’t do?? All the hype kale had gotten in the past few years was definitely warranted. This is one of those foods I have to say, you’re crazy if you don’t even try to like it!!!

One of my favorite ways to cook kale is to roughly chop it after a thorough wash, keep the leaves wet and toss them into a pan over medium heat gently tossing and steaming them for a few minutes. I then toss in some garlic – crushed or minced – with olive oil, and sauté until the leaves are tender. Sprinkle with some sea or kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Sometimes I’ll squeeze a touch of fresh lemon juice in there too. I also love adding cubed baked sweet potato tossed with a little butter (yup), cinnamon, and sea salt. Now THAT. Is feel-good food!

Bon Appetit!
Alyssa

BTW – you can follow along the shorter versions of these posts on Instagram @fabulous_nutrition. AND if you’re looking for some one-on-one work with me to propel your life forward in health and success, head over to the Fabulous Nutrition page or Contact Me directly. Thanks for being here!

31 Days of Health. Day 20: Reduce Starches

Reduce your starch intake is the name of the game today!

To understand starch, you must first understand glucose. Glucose is a single unit of sugar or, carbohydrate, and it is the most used source of fuel by your body and brain. When one glucose unit bonds with another…
…and another…
…and another…
a large chain of glucose is formed – this is called starch. Starch is stored energy for both plants and humans. For example, when glucose is unavailable for fuel in your body, such as during a period of fasting, or increased physical activity, starch is obtained from the liver to be broken down into glucose for energy use.

Plants that are known for significant starch content include potatoes, peas, corn, legumes/beans, and grains. A higher starch content = higher carbohydrate content = higher calorie content. But it’s not exactly the calories that are a concern. It is the carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the most readily digested macronutrient. Why? Because they all break down to glucose, and your body needs this simple sugar to keep you alive! Once glucose is obtained, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and used by cells to carry out all sorts of processes constantly happening throughout your body and brain. However, there is a cap on how much glucose is needed at one time. Excess glucose is stored in the liver in the form of starch; or in the adipose tissue as fat.

Heavy intake of starches leads to frequently elevated blood sugars, and/or increased storage of fat. Therefore, a higher intake of starchy foods may lead to reduced insulin sensitivity (as a result of having frequently elevated blood sugars), and weight gain. As you may recall from Day 7 (Avoid Sugar), excess fat mass is inflammatory, which can lead to several chronic diseases and other ailments.

Don’t get me wrong, starches are not on the No-No list. Many foods that contain starch also contain a good dose of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and sometimes even protein! Balancing them with other non-starchy foods, including healthy protein and fat sources, is the ideal way to incorporate these foods into your diet. I do, however, recommend choosing starchy vegetables over grains most often as vegetables will offer a greater range of nutrients; and when choosing grain foods, choose whole foods over processed types more often (i.e. bulgur wheat over whole grain bread).

So for today, plan to eat less potatoes, peas, corn, legumes, or grain foods such as rice, pasta, bread, and cereal.

Enjoy!

31 Days of Health. Day 19: Pump up the Potassium

I am very excited to talk about potassium today! Potassium is a mineral that many people are not getting nearly as much as they need. And a very interesting fact about potassium is that most folks typically associate bananas with potassium. But guess what!? Bananas have LESS potassium per ounce than MANY other foods!!!

The daily recommended intake (DRI) for potassium is 4,700 milligrams (mg). Most Americans are consuming about half of that. (Getting to the why you need potassium in just a sec! But first, let’s compare!) One medium banana weighs about 4oz and contains 422 milligrams (mg) of potassium. Now check out the quantities of potassium in the following foods, each weighing 4oz:

Beet Greens: 1,072mg
Fresh Spinach: 658mg
Swiss Chard: 647mg
Potato: 631mg
Yellowfin Tuna: 621mg
Sweet Potato: 560mg (remember Day 5?? 😊)
Lima Beans: 473mg

Other foods that contain about the same amount of potassium, if not more, as bananas per ounce include bok choy, tomatoes, broccoli, beets, and papaya. You’ll find there is quite the trend here for fruits and vegetables being great sources for potassium….Another benefit of a plant-focused diet!

Consuming plenty of potassium daily is associated with normal blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked to high sodium diets, and interestingly, a diet low in fruits and vegetables while high in heavily processed foods contains excessive sodium. Alternately, diets high in fruits and vegetables, hence high in potassium, are linked with regular blood pressure, and therefore a reduced risk for stroke. And let’s think back to Day 13’s healthy challenge to eat a plant-based diet – remember all the benefits that come with limiting animal products!? Are you starting to see the connection to an improved quality of health??

I hope you value your life more than enough to avoid risking a stroke.

Pack in that potassium! Eat more fruits and veggies!
Alyssa

If you need some help getting your potassium intake straightened out, I LOVE talking heart health. I believe in following your heart, so I believe in taking care of that baby. Get in touch with me if you’re ready to get to work. Thanks for being here!

31 Days of Health. Day 17: Get Adventurous

You know what I believe is a key component in achieving fabulous health? Having an adventurous spirit! It appears that most people associate adventure with extreme activity like frequent traveling, rock climbing and bungee jumping. While those definitely make the cut, being adventurous is simply trying something new; something outside of your comfort zone. And it totally applies to food, too.

You don’t have to be a trendy “foodie” to consider yourself an adventurous eater. If you’ve never even heard of, or seen an heirloom tomato before, you have an opportunity lying before you! If you are not open to trying new things, you will stay exactly where you are. If you want something you never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. How can you expect to achieve a different (healthier) lifestyle by doing the same things day after day?

Your task for today is to try something you haven’t had – or done­ – before. Is there a food that’s been buzzing in your ear lately? What little messages have you been getting, making you feel like you should do something a little differently? Fear of the unknown keeps us stuck exactly where we are. Think of the last time you did do something that was new for you, and what your experience was like following. Or, think only about what the positive outcomes will be as a result of trying something new.  Feel that satisfaction and excitement of busting down that wall and discovering what’s available to you on the other side! Then it’s on to the next one!

Let’s get it!