Staying Consistent Through the Holidays

Staying Consistent Through the Holidays

Tis the season for holiday gatherings, busyness and stress, which often leads to the lack of priority on our health and well-being.  Though we are still in a pandemic, holiday travel, parties and get-togethers in many cases are back this year.  Along with the holidays often comes end of year work projects, kids on holiday break and an overall change in routines which leaves little time for consistent exercise and a solid nutrition plan. 

Our society tends to have an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to exercise and nutrition.  We are either on, working out fairly hard most days of the week while eating chicken breasts and asparagus or off, and forgoing exercise and eating everything we want.  

However, consistency beats perfection.  Every time.  You will likely get more results (or at least maintain) during this time of year by being consistent.  Exercise often, make healthy choices often.  Do not strive for perfection.  Perfection is an unrealized idea. 

How about this year, instead of trying to be perfect, we just try to be consistent?  Read below on a few tips to stay consistent through this busy time of year. 

  1. Focus on maintenance.   The holidays are not the time for hard core goals.  Do not get me wrong, I always believe in working towards goals or bettering yourself, but this time of year is filled with travel, parties, different schedules and routines.  Do not set yourself up for failure.  Set yourself up for success by just trying to maintain.  Not gaining weight is an excellent goal, yet we often think goals can only consist of losing weight or bettering our performance.   Weight maintenance or keeping a consistent exercise/nutrition routine is an excellent goal during the month of December. 
  1. Do what you can with what you have.  Stuck at the in-laws for Christmas?  Take walks, play with the kids, play active games, throw in a couple of body weight workouts.  All movement counts and a 15-min walk after dinner is better than not doing anything.  Change your mindset that exercise always has to be long, formal and hard.   Exercise when you can, even if it is only for a few minutes.  
  1. Navigate the middle.  Though the holidays are filled with great food, it does not mean we have to eat everything in sight.  Can you enjoy some holiday treats while also choosing mostly healthy foods?    Food is amazing and is a part of our culture and social lives.  We do not want to try to white knuckle our way through meals by only choosing the most healthy foods.  On the other hand, just because there are an abundance of goodies, we do not have to overstuff ourselves with all the sweet treats. Can you “navigate the middle?”  Can you leave a party feeling satisfied but not stuffed?    For example, fill your plate with mostly vegetables, lean protein and a moderate amount of whole grains.  Then choose a few items that are more indulgent and satisfying such as cheese, maybe a small amount of a dessert or bread etc. This does take some practice but once you have learned how to navigate the middle, eating around the holidays and at social events in general, can be much more simple and enjoyable. 
  1. Have some compassion for yourself.  The last two years have been hard.  For everyone.  Though we collectively experienced the pandemic and it affected literally everyone in the world,  each person had their own unique grief, loss, anxiety and sadness.  The last two years have been unlike anything we have ever experienced.  If you feel that you have not made the best food choices or have not been exercising consistently, acknowledge that but move on.  Do not berate or shame yourself.   Just simply move forward.    You do not have to wait until January 1st to go on a walk or to have a healthy meal.  Make healthy choices at the next opportunity.    Talk to yourself (and others) kindly.   Nourishing your body with good food and movement is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  Take care of yourself and others. 

Wishing you and yours very healthy and happy holidays!

Originally published on www.elevationcorporatehealth.com

Back to School and Healthy Habits

Back to School and Healthy Habits

It is hard to believe that summer is wrapping up and fall is just around the corner.  Depending on where you live, many kids are already back in school or will be starting school soon.  With the start of school and often fall sports and activities, many are facing a routine change.  Some might have more time with their kids back in school, while others are busier with the additional activities.  If you do not have kids or school-age kids, fall still might represent a change in routine with many heading back into the office or less travel as summer vacations wind down.

Take a close look at your current exercise, nutrition and sleep habits.  Are these systems working for you or is an overhaul in order? 

Exercise

As days are slowly becoming shorter and possibly cooler, exercise routines might need a revamp.  It might not be possible to get in an early morning run as it is darker later. Yet, with temperatures cooling down, outside workouts might be more available to many in the afternoons when this time might have been normally avoided due to hot temperatures.  A few questions to ask yourself include, have you been doing the exact same routine all summer? Have you been exercising inconsistently due to summer vacations and other activities?  Have you only been running/riding outside; though a great form of exercise, have you avoided strength training?   As we begin this new season and often more consistent schedule can you try or add a new group exercise class to your routine?   Can you commit to exercising 2-3 days a week on a consistent basis?  Take a moment and think about your goals or set some new goals as the season begins. 

Nutrition

Fall is considered harvest time for much of the United States and numerous fruits and vegetables are at their peak and fresh produce is in abundance this time of year.    Early fall is a great time to enjoy fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and more. Squash, apples and other heartier produce will start to be available at this time as well.    With school back in session, many are looking for quick, healthy and relatively easy dinners for school and sport nights.  Take the time to plan some meals around all the amazing produce available. Fall signals new flavors and as the cooler weather starts to set in, hearty soups and stews are not only easy but a perfect way to consume lots of vegetables and therefore nutrients.   Slow cookers and easy to assemble dinners will help busy nights be less stressful. 

Sleep

A third and most often overlooked crucial aspect of wellness is sleep.  Fall is a great time to look at your sleep habits and routines. Slowly we are moving away from often staying up late with the sun in the summer; time to get back on a consistent sleep schedule.  A solid sleep schedule is especially important for kids to thrive in school.   With it cooling down, fall can bring ideal sleeping temperatures.  Windows might be open at night to keep rooms nice and cool.   Our bodies should naturally change with the season so you might find yourself craving a bit more sleep with the sunrise later, and sunset earlier.  Listen to your body and try to follow that feedback.  Sleep is when our body and brain are resting and recovering.  Do not underestimate the importance of sleep; make it a priority for everyone in your family to help everyone perform at their best. 

As the seasons change, take a step back, evaluate your current wellness habits and routines.  Fall is a great time to set some new goals and get back on track with healthy habits. 

Originally published on www.elevationcorporatehealth.com-September 2021

Navigating Eating at Summer BBQs and Celebrations

Navigating Eating at Summer BBQs and Celebrations

It has been a while since I have blogged.   I went off social media almost completely last March, as I felt it was detrimental to my mental health.  However, I have had quite a few clients and followers telling me that they missed my posts and recipes.  So I will be blogging every month as I still want to educate and help busy families with healthy living.  I would love to hear from you and what you might be interested in reading about!

As the world starts to open up, we might find ourselves actually having social events back on our calendar.  We have missed so many milestones and gatherings this past year that getting together with friends and family is definitely something to celebrate.  However, just because we are celebrating with food does not necessarily mean throwing all healthy choices out the window.   Read below for a few reminders on how to enjoy social occasions while still prioritizing health. 

  • Focus on the people, not just the food 

Food is part of our culture and is made to be enjoyed.  However, if going to a gathering is causing you anxiety thinking that you will overeat, then the gathering will not be as special or enjoyable.   Yes, food is likely and should be a part of the celebration but there is more to the celebration than the food.  Especially since this past year and half, we have not gathered as frequently, focus on the people you are with.  Enjoy some food but mostly enjoy the ability to gather and socialize again. 

  

  • Taste everything, don’t overeat anything 

Parties are often filled with great food, maybe food you don’t always get to enjoy.  Give yourself permission to have at least a little bit of everything you want.  The key is a small amount.  If you use willpower to try to stay away from the brownies that you really want to try,  you will be left feeling unsatisfied which can often lead to even more cravings.  A tip that is helpful for holiday eating as well,  select foods that you love but don’t often have.  Grandma’s famous potato salad?  Have a little bit and enjoy.  Plain chips and salsa?  Maybe skip it this time. Moderation really does work.

  • Don’t exercise or skip meals to buy calories before or after the gathering.

Yes, exercise is important.  And if you know you will be eating a bit more, then sure, adding a bit more movement is fine but do not exercise solely to earn calories.  Do not skip meals because you feel guilty for having some treats.  Guilt has no utility when it comes to behavior change or making good choices.  Feel like you did not make the best choices at the gathering?  Simply make a healthy choice for the next meal and get back on your regular exercise routine.  One party will also not erase all your hard work or exercise efforts.   

  • Focus on lean vegetables, protein, fruit 

Fill your plate mostly with vegetables, lean protein and fruit.  All of these foods will give you the most bang for your buck.  They are the most nutritionally dense with higher water and fiber contents which will fill you up with less calories.   Once you have a good amount of these foods on your plate, add small amounts of the food you enjoy. 

  • Pay attention to liquid calories 

Sure, a cold beer or glass of rosé  on a hot summer day can taste amazing.  But at around 80-150 calories per drink (more for fruity concoctions) liquid calories can add up!  Try alternating with a glass of water or seltzer.  Luckily, there are many new, low calorie, non-alcoholic beverages on the market to choose from.  Staying hydrated with water will also help with not over-indulging on food as thirst can be mistaken for hunger.   

It is so wonderful to be able to gather again.   However, as we learned how vital our health really is this past year, do not let a few parties derail your efforts to eat well.  You can still enjoy the food and more importantly the company. 

I would love to hear from you.  What do you struggle with when it comes to social eating?  Comment below! And as always, thanks for reading. 

Originally published on www.elevationcorporatehealth.com-July 2021