Food for Thought

Nutrition, Fitness, and Wellness articles for busy women who want to lead a healthy, fulfilled life they love.

Changing Seasons, Changing Routines

Changing Seasons, Changing Routines

April is a month full of change. Spring is still settling in, and with a change in seasons comes a change in routines. Keeping up with the seasons and rearranging your routines to fit your new environment requires a lot of flexibility to adapt as you go. 

In New England, several days in the first few weeks of spring were full of more showers than flowers. Of course, we also had several days of beautiful weather, so we found ourselves stuck in a loop of never knowing exactly what to expect from the weather. 

The constant back and forth in the weather this time of year makes it feel like we could easily have all four seasons in a week!

After a freezing winter and a year of social distancing, my routines were pretty set in place. I had a lot of time to get used to having tea in the morning and evening, setting aside time for my workout, and building time into my day to spend on myself. Now that we’re getting extra daylight, I love having more time in the sun, but my routines need to be altered to make better use of the season without having to totally overhaul what I’m used to doing. 

For example, during the winter, I moved my walk to lunchtime, but now that we have more daylight, I can plan to take my walk a little later than normal. The warmer days also mean that I don’t have to pack on the layers just to go out for a stroll, and I’m loving that! At the same time, however, knowing that I can take my walk a little later sometimes leaves me working at my desk longer than I would like to be. Knowing that my daylight was on a time crunch in the winter helped me to have a better balance between the time I spent working and the time I took for myself. 

I have to consciously decide to end my workday so that I don’t end up glued to my desk for longer than intended. 

My challenge for you this week is to consider what things you may have unintentionally changed in your routine while the seasons shift, and consider if those changes are really serving you. Consider your new schedule and make a conscious decision to alter your plans in a way that you’ll benefit from. 

Can you plan more fresh produce into your meals now that our fruit and veggie aisles are refilling? Can you be deliberate in putting your work down in time to enjoy the new daylight? How will you interact with the new changes all around us? How can you be intentional in your routines?

Just for fun, what flower are you most excited to see bloom this spring?! Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

Posted - 4/20/21 (Tue) Read more...

 

Finding the Mindset to Exercise When You’re Just Too Busy

Finding the Mindset to Exercise When You’re Just Too Busy

I think we’re all thankful that March is behind us now and we are one month closer to summer, but that doesn’t mean we’re all clear. April showers are here, and that can make it really hard to find the inspiration to get moving. Whether it’s the rainy days that have you down, or springtime busy-ness, or something else, it can be difficult to get into the mindset to exercise. 

A few weeks ago, my schedule was packed full with cooking before the Passover Seder, so finding the time for exercise was a little tougher than usual. Because I was juggling so many things already, the temptation was there from that little ‘devil’ on my shoulder -  just let my movement time go by the wayside so that I could spend every possible minute on my preparations. 

Rather than giving up the time I set aside for movement, I decided to consolidate my to-do list. I had a dentist appointment too, so rather than driving the mile or so to the office, I threw on a coat with a hood and some comfy shoes and walked there. The trip there and back helped me reach my step count while still being productive. Of course I’m glad I was able to find a way get everything done, but the important thing about this anecdote isn’t just that I got my steps in. It’s all about the mindset. 

Instead of thinking “I can’t fit it in,” try thinking “How can I fit it in?”

Finding success is all about migrating into the “how can I?” mindset. Starting to look for a solution is half of the battle. If you show up with your mind and your attitude in the right place, you’ve already done the hardest part. Finding a solution may not always be easy, but if you get into the mindset where you really want to do something, you can usually find a way to make it happen. 

If you’re in that place where you really want to do it, but you’re just not sure where to start, pop into my Never Diet Again group. You can ask any questions there, and I’m always more than happy to help you work through it. 

When you need to get moving, remember you’re never really too busy to do it. It may mean a shorter workout, or it may mean taking the stairs or parking a little farther away. Tiny changes in your habits can help you find success when you’re in a time crunch. There’s always a way to get just a little more in. And over time, little bits can add up to a lot of great things.

What small changes can you make to fit it all in?! Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

 

Posted - 4/13/21 (Tue) Read more...

 

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

As the saying goes, March came in like a lion and out like a lamb! Now that April is here, we’re officially in spring, and of course, we’re also dealing with a few April showers. Today, I want to talk about a few tips for eating, moving, and recharging in a way that will help you get through the April showers when we’re all just really looking forward to the May flowers. 

When the weather is still kind of flip-flopping between rain clouds and sunny days, your body might not be sure what kind of food it’s craving. Some days, you might be looking for a heavier winter comfort food, but you crave fresh produce and summer salads on others. If you’re looking to keep the food on your plate fresh and lively, look into early spring produce! There are lots of great lettuces for spring that are light and refreshing, and you can find herbs this time of year that will help brighten up all of the flavors on your plate. Once you find some fun produce, head to Google (or just send me a quick message!) for great ways to cook up your new find.

 This is the best time of year to try out something fresh and different than your usual dishes! 

As for moving, your routine may change day to day with the unpredictable weather this time of year. My best advice for your movement in April is to keep going! We have a little bit of extra daylight now, and the sun is warmer this time of year, so it may surprise you how much better you feel with fresh air surrounding you. Some days might be chilly, but just keep walking–you won’t regret it!

When it comes to recharging, sometimes the best thing we can do for our bodies is just cut ourselves some slack. There will be days when we wake up and our scheduled workout really doesn’t sound good. On those days, instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, find something you can do for your body that sounds better and will still benefit you in some ways. When I have a workout planned that I just don’t have the motivation for, I do some yoga or turn to my foam roller! It helps me work out any muscle aches or soreness I may have so that I am still benefiting my body without pushing it when it needs a break. Cutting yourself some slack will give you plenty of time to recover and recharge so that you don’t overwork your body. 

Keep your spring routine fresh by trying new things, persevering through the chilly days, and giving yourself a well-deserved break when you need it.
 

What are your favorite things to do in spring?! Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

Posted - 4/06/21 (Tue) Read more...

 

Shake Up Your Routine to Reset Your Mindset for Spring

Shake Up Your Routine to Reset Your Mindset for Spring

We did it! We made it through winter, and spring has now sprung. I know the winter doldrums hit a lot of us pretty hard this year. In a COVID environment, many of our favorite indoor winter hobbies weren’t possible, and that takes its toll after a while. Now that spring is here, it’s time to switch gears and get our heads back in a great place to keep working towards our goals!

A couple weeks ago, the doldrums hit me pretty hard. I was struggling to maintain my workout intensity and look forward to eating the healthy foods on my personal menu. I realized I needed to shake things up a little bit to get out of my funk. I decided to take my son on a couple tours of local colleges and grab lunch together after. It was a small change, but it was enough to shake up my routine a little bit, get us out of the house, and keep our eyes away from screens for a while. Now that our weather is warming up, we’re excited to break out the pickleball paddles and change up my exercise routine a little bit! 

It doesn’t take a huge change to prevent the doldrums from keeping you down. You can make small changes that keep you from settling into a routine that gets old after a while!

Once you make a change, you might be surprised by how much easier it is to get into a new mindset. An easy switch to your workout routine might mean taking your daily walk in a new neighbourhood or different park than usual. You could also invite a friend out for a socially distanced walk to shake things up. If your diet needs a little something special, try grabbing takeout from a different restaurant than usual! When you’re looking for a small change overall, something as easy as a short drive can get you some new scenery and put you in a better headspace. 

It’s amazing what a tiny change can do for your entire attitude and mindset!

 

What new things have you tried recently? What do you look forward to trying? Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

Posted - 3/30/21 (Tue) Read more...

 

Using Our Food to Beat the March Doldrums

Using Our Food to Beat the March Doldrums

In like a lion, out like a lamb, right? During March, some days are all sunshine and smiles, and other days, the skies and our moods are dreary. When we can’t know what to expect of the weather, the March doldrums start to hit. Today, I want to talk about how we can handle the doldrums when we feel them settling in and enjoy what’s left of the month of March. 

Science shows us that when the weather is chilly, we tend to lean towards heavier foods, but warm weather draws us to lighter foods. So before we get to the season of fresh fruits and veggies, how do we stay healthy in this season when our bodies are still craving comfort food?

When you’re choosing your meals during the cold weather season,  be sure that you aren’t using food as your primary method of staying warm and cozy. Be sure you’re eating mindfully and not just for the comfort. Intentionally choose foods that will serve your body and fill you with the energy you need to stay focused. 

It might sound like a tall order, but eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated!

You should absolutely eat foods that make you smile. Life is too short to eat grilled chicken salads every single day! At the same time, you can’t exactly just base your entire diet on cookies and ice cream even if that’s what would make you smile. You can choose delicious food that will satisfy your cravings and fuel your body at the same time. 

Personally, I like to make and freeze a big stew at the beginning of winter so that I have easy access to a healthy and hearty option. Another of my cold weather favorites is a mix of rice or noodles, sauteed veggies, and steak. There are hearty food options that are still comforting while also being good for you! 

On those March days where the sun does make an appearance, stir fry with chicken and fresh fruits or veggies is a great option that’s light and bright. It’s delightfully comforting, and has a little bit of spring in the flavor to match your sunny day mood. 

How do you like to fit your favorite food into your March meals? Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

Posted - 3/23/21 (Tue) Read more...

 

Why It’s Important to Get Back to the Basics

Why It’s Important to Get Back to the Basics

This time of year, the prospect of spring hangs in the air, but here in Boston, the weather is still pretty chilly. We’ve had a day or two when the sun is out, but overall, winter isn’t quite done with yet up North. This year, the winter doldrums have been hitting me either harder than usual because COVID prevents me from traveling somewhere warmer for a winter weather break. 

Sometimes the best way to shake up our routine and take a break is simply to get back to the basics. 

One way that I do this is to follow my own winter routine. Every year, I make a big pot of stew that I freeze for meals later on. I pack it full of proteins and veggies, so I have a really easy way to choose healthy meal options. I love getting local meats from my monthly delivery and fresh veggies at my store/farmstand/CSA. 

When you need a break, the easiest way to take yourself back to the basics of your health is to plan ahead of time. 

Waiting until dinnertime to start looking for healthy options might lead you to choose whatever you’re stuck with in your fridge. If you go with your impulses instead of intentionally stocking healthy snacks, you might find that your dinner is chips and salsa just because they are there (and it’s easy). You can build a healthy foundation for yourself by stocking your fridge with easy and healthy choices ahead of time. 

Your workout doesn’t have to be overly-complex or expensive to do your body good. 

If the cold weather is keeping you from your normal outdoor workout routine, you can switch things up by trying a workout video. The internet is a great resource for finding new workouts, like yoga or pilates, that you wouldn’t usually try. Use the bad weather as an opportunity to expand your horizons! 

Don’t forget self-care!

Participating in self-care is also super important when those winter doldrums hit. Getting back to the basics of self-care can be as easy as making sure you're getting plenty of water throughout the day or getting to bed a little earlier so that you get plenty of sleep. Give yourself some time, even just five minutes of your day, that you can spend on a quick recharge. 

Eating, moving, and recharging are the foundations of healthy living, and following them will help you get back to the basics of your health when you really need a break from your routine!

 

Have any questions about getting back to the basics in your health? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Posted - 3/16/21 (Tue) Read more...

 

How to Handle “Hitting a Wall” With Your Goals

How to Handle “Hitting a Wall” With Your Goals

After a full year of being in a pandemic, I think a lot of us are hitting a wall in this final stretch. Between social distancing, quarantining, and endless amounts of waiting, I know most of us are ready for the world to return to some version of normal. Back in March of 2020, most of us were trying to make the most of the time spent at home, but after a year of isolation, a real gym or a coffee shop probably looks pretty good!

If you feel like you’re hitting a wall, you’re not alone and you’re not wrong for needing a break.

On November 1st, I committed to walking 8,000 steps everyday. I made a goal to get to 100 days because I love a challenge that really pushes me. However, on day 98, I woke up to 7 degree weather here in Boston–and yep, that’s in Fahrenheit! I had been going strong for SO long, but I just couldn’t imagine bundling myself up and getting outside. I wanted so badly to make my 100 day streak, but just two days short of my goal, I didn’t know if I had the will to do it. 

Whatever aspect of life you’re going through, at some point, you’re going to hit a wall. There will come a day when you just have to sit yourself down and agree that whatever goal you’re trying to reach just isn’t going to happen that day. It will seem frustrating to put a temporary halt on your progress, but trust me–it’s completely normal, and it’s okay! 

Allowing yourself to take a break when you’ve been going strong is really challenging. AND, giving yourself a day off is part of our Eat, Move, and Recharge Formula, and it’s important that we pay attention to recharging even when it doesn’t feel like progress. 

It's great to give yourself breaks whenever you need one, but there are days that will come where you have a task that must be completed even though you aren’t really feeling it. When this happens, you’ll have to give yourself some options for the best way to get the job done without feeling overloaded. When I realized it was going to be an extremely cold day for a walk, I considered the two options I had. I knew that I could always just walk on my treadmill instead of getting outside, but my FitBit doesn’t do a  great job of recording my steps on a treadmill. Secondly, I could break up my steps into a few short walks around the block so that I wasn’t outside in the cold for one solid chunk of time. I chose the second option of tweaking my routine so that I didn’t mess up my streak!

When you hit a wall but still have responsibilities to attend to, you have a decision to make. You can choose to give yourself a well deserved break and take the day off when you need it. That’s perfectly okay, and it’s important to rest and recharge! Your other option is to figure out a way to push through. Like any big goal we set for ourselves, breaking your task up into small chunks makes following through with achieving it so much easier. After all, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. ;)

Decide how much of your goal you can successfully manage within that day, and give yourself permission to only do that much! You can always pick back up and accomplish more tomorrow, so give yourself as much grace as needed. 

How do you handle your responsibilities when you hit a wall? Let me know in the comments! 

Posted - 3/08/21 (Mon) Read more...

 

Getting Back to the Basics

Getting Back to the Basics

February was back to basics month, and just because we’re in March doesn’t mean we should stop focusing on the keys for success! Last month, we talked about going back to the foundations of our eating, moving, and recharging habits. When you refocus on the basics, watch all of the confusing and complicated restraints on your food fall away! 

I often see people who want to make a real change in their lives get caught up in gimmicks. From complicated time frames to strict diets, there’s a lot of misinformation out there that will try to trick you. So what’s the truth of healthy living? The truth is that real change in your health will come with the basics of simple, fun, and healthy food that fuels your body. 

So what does it mean and what do we need to do to reduce the noise, and focus on the basics of healthy living? Here are two quick tips that will get you back to the basics today!

  1. Make Goals That Set You Up for Success.

We’ve been talking about goal setting since January, so it may seem like old news by now. However, if you haven’t yet gotten around to setting concrete, clear goals, this will be your very first step. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.: simple, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. By the way, you can ALWAYS reach out to me if you need help setting goals in a way that will really work for you. :)

  1. Compare Your Diet With Your Results. 

Once you know what goal it is you want to reach, the next step is to figure out how to get there! Take a look at your current diet (p.s. Diet just means ‘the food you eat’. It doesn’t mean restrictions or fads). Is it working for you? If not, what adjustments can you make that might give you better results? This process isn’t a one-time thing; you can continue to make adjustments throughout your health journey until you find what really works for you. An easy way to start this is to spend one week tracking your food and drinks, and then see what your diet is doing for your results. If you aren’t liking the progress you see, you can tweak from there!

Personally, I love the My Macros+ app because it lets me scan a barcode to track my foods. That makes it so much easier for me to see what I’m really taking in, compared to what I might think I’m taking in. 

Sometimes, I think I’ve had a great week with clean eating, but my body feels sluggish. When this happens, I have to wonder if I’m remembering my weekly food intake with rose-colored glasses. The truth is, those little bites from your kid’s plate or handful of a snack here and there can make a big difference. Over time, it’s the small things that can sabotage you! 

If you want to feel like you’re making progress with your health goals, try getting back to the basics and tracking what you’re eating each day! 

Whether you need help deciphering data, aren’t sure where to go next in your journey, or just want someone to celebrate your smooth sailings with, feel free to join the conversation in my Never Diet Again group! It’s completely free, and we would love to celebrate your wins with you. 

Have you tried getting back to the basics when healthy living starts to feel complicated? Let me know in the comments! 

Posted - 3/02/21 (Tue) Read more...

 

The Most Important First Step for Your Health

The Most Important First Step for Your Health

When we first begin our journeys to better our health, we often look for some magic potion or hidden secret for the key to a healthy lifestyle. I wish I could give you one, but the truth is, staying in good health comes from making decisions that benefit your body and mind each and every day. 

Still, every great journey has to start with a first step, and here’s how I recommend you start. The very first thing to do when you want to make changes to your health is be completely honest with yourself.

No, it’s not slashing your calories in half or immediately going out for a run. You might be surprised that the first thing you can do to benefit your health is simply be honest about where you are right now. 

I started thinking about being honest to ourselves when I was working with my 16 year old to get him to come clean about some school assignments that may (or may not) have been completed. During our conversation, I saw so many parallels between that talk with my son and my experience working with my clients. It can be really hard to be honest about the work we still have to do, but taking an honest assessment about where you are right now in your journey can help you know exactly where to start. 

The point of assessing yourself isn’t to pass judgement on yourself or feel frustrated that you didn’t start sooner. It is just data, plain and simple, that will help you set your path going forward and keep track of the progress you make as you go. 

Personally, I’ve had both hips and one knee totally replaced. Being honest with myself means understanding that I’m not exactly in a place to be setting a goal to run a marathon. Recognizing my limits means I’ve traded in my running days for other forms of movement, and that’s okay!

Assessing where I stand in my health right now makes it possible for me to set attainable goals, feel good about achieving them, and keep progressing in my journey. 

If you’re struggling with assessing yourself in an honest way, I’m always happy to help! If you’re ready to take the step by yourself, you can do it by looking at each leg of our Triangle of Health (Eat, Move, & Recharge). Give yourself a fair and honest rating from 1-5 for each category. Do you feel good about your eating habits? Are you exercising as much as you’d like, and what exercises can you realistically start with now? Have you been giving yourself plenty of time to recharge your batteries? Consider where you fall in each category, and you’ll have a better idea of where to start!

It can be really difficult to make changes in multiple areas at once, so the first step you might take after your assessment is to choose one area to really focus on. That way, you can make gradual and sustainable changes so that will stick and prevent burnout before you really get started. If you want this week’s focus to be the eating portion of our triangle, maybe you can focus on cooking healthy home meals instead of ordering out. If your focus is movement, you can commit to three or more workouts each week, plus a quick stretch each day. If you really just need to give yourself time to recharge, you can set aside as much time as is realistic this week to do what makes you feel your best. 

We can’t do everything at once, so choosing one area to work on can be really beneficial for managing your time and making progress that’s sustainable. Give yourself an honest assessment and figure out what your body needs from you!

 

Have any questions? Drop them into the comments and let me help you get started!

 

 

Posted - 2/23/21 (Tue) Read more...

 

Recharge to Stay Sane

Recharge to Stay Sane

Eating, moving, and recharging are all essential parts of our formula for healthy living (our Triangle of Health). Looking at this triangle, what piece do you think is the most important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle? You might say that they’re all equally important, and you’d be correct. However, the most important piece also depends on what’s going on in your life right now. 

Personally, I’ve had lots of early-morning business to attend to, so I’ve been getting up an hour earlier to complete my workout before the day gets busy. The one key to getting through these extra-early mornings is to give special attention to the recharge leg of my own Triangle of Health. 

Do you ever feel like as soon as your head hits the pillow at night, that’s when you remember all of your to-do lists? That’s not unusual for me at all, but when I’m getting up earlier than usual, sleep becomes a big priority to help keep me sane. To keep myself from staying awake each night with my to-dos on the brain, I’ve started choosing a ten minute meditation to listen to each night. This helps me get out of my own head, relax, and get ready for a great night of sleep. 

Amazingly enough, I’ve found that I’m usually not awake by the end of the ten minutes! 

I want to encourage you to pay extra attention to your recharge practices over the next couple of weeks. Whether 2021 has you feeling anxious about the days to come or just breathing a sigh of relief that 2020 is over, we can all benefit from time to unwind each day. When we let stress get the best of us, don’t get enough sleep, or are overly-anxious, our health is negatively impacted, both short-term and long-term. 

Whether it’s a walk, a stretch, a meditation, or even just journaling to get your thoughts out of your head, share with me what you’re doing to recharge each day!

 

Posted - 2/16/21 (Tue) Read more...