Nutrition, Fitness, and Wellness articles for busy women who want to lead a healthy, fulfilled life they love.
Raise your hand if you’re feeling a little bit extra stressed these days! Yeah, I think that’s pretty much all of us—and far be it from me to try and convince you that you don’t have every right to feel that way.
Even setting aside the obvious anxiety of trying to avoid catching COVID-19, our social isolation is its own significant stressor. We’re separated from our tribes. We’re suddenly responsible for our childrens’ education. We’re trying to work from home, keep up reasonably healthy meals, provide enriching activities for our families, remain patient and loving to our partners . . . It’s a lot. Even for women like us who are used to balancing crazy life schedules, these are particularly anxiety-inducing times.
While our stress may be totally well-founded, it’s still a problem. Stress, more than almost anything else in life, takes a huge toll on our bodies and our mental health. It wrecks our immune system, can cause us to gain weight, makes us feel crabby and tired, and can promote poor decision-making.
So—while I’m in no way suggesting that you have no reason to be stressed out—it’s to all of our benefit if we can learn how to acknowledge that stress, manage it, and let it go (as much as possible anyway).
I teach my clients about the importance of your “Triangle of Health.” The three legs of the triangle are Eating, Moving, and Recharging. Why a triangle? It’s a super strong shape, but it’s only as strong as its weakest leg. You have to keep focus on all three aspects in order to be truly healthy. Eating intentionally, moving frequently, and leaving yourself space to recharge are some of the biggest, most crucial things you can do to encourage good health in your life.
If you’ve gotten away from any one of those three corners of your triangle of health, now is an excellent time to refocus on them. In times like these, making healthy choices isn’t about fitting into your skinny jeans or watching the number on the scale drop (though those things are nice too, sometimes)—it’s about boosting your immunity, sharpening your mental resilience, minimizing your stress levels, and staying engaged with your life even in the midst of something as hair-raising as a pandemic.
As a high-vibe, successful woman, you probably already have a few stress management strategies up your sleeve . . . But how are those working for you at the moment?
If you could use some encouragement (or even just some community with other stressed out women who might be having a hard time adjusting to our temporary new normal), I invite you to join me in my free Facebook community, Never Diet Again. We’re kicking off a four-day mini-class (10 minutes a day) TODAY, and if you’re like most of the women I’m connected with, you could probably use a little bit of a breather! It’s all about Simple Ways to Reduce Stress.
Just hop over to Never Diet Again and request to join. There, I’ll post more information about what the challenge entails and how you can strengthen your Triangle of Health and minimize your stress over the next few days. See you there!
Posted - 4/14/20 (Tue) Read more...
You’re working from home. You’re schooling from home. You’ve canceled all your plans for the next several weeks, and let’s face it: You may have more extra time on your hands than you bargained for this spring. So what’s a gal to do??
Snack. Bake. Eat. For most of us, the answer is food. Is that true for you?
This is the part where you’re probably expecting me to give you some advice on staying strong, getting the sweets out of your house, and sticking to your nutrition plan. I AM your nutrition coach after all—isn’t that what we do??
Sometimes, yeah . . . But other times, life happens. And I think we can all agree that this is one of those times.
Even as a health and nutrition expert, I still find myself craving my favorite comfort foods when life gets stressful. It should be no surprise to you, then, that our meals here at the McGee household haven’t been exactly picture perfect as of late.
We haven’t totally gone off the deep end, but we have done a LOT of baking. Our bread machine is firing on all cylinders—we actually just made a delicious, herby loaf the other day. And we’ve made a few more batches of cookies than what we’d normally go for, because what makes better comfort food than fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies?
Now, I’m not telling you this to give you permission to totally jump ship from your nutrition plan—and if you’ve actually managed to eat perfectly PFC-Every-3 so far, then kudos to you!
What I’m trying to emphasize here, though, is that THIS is the big difference between a lifelong nutrition plan versus a diet. Diets don’t work because they’re far too rigid. Our nutrition plan, on the other hand, accommodates for periods when we might need to be a little more flexible with our eating, like parties, holidays, and--yep--even pandemics.
If you’ve found yourself snacking, splurging, and treating yourself more than you meant to, that’s TOTALLY understandable, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for indulging in a little comfort food when we are, collectively, so very in need of something comforting. Now is a good time to give yourself a little bit of a pass.
The key is not to let yourself stray *too* insanely far off track. Have your cookies, but don’t have cookies and ice cream for every meal. Enjoy a delicious batch of fresh bread, but don’t eat half the loaf in one sitting. And by all means, have some wine after dinner. Just be mindful about your consumption and don’t over-indulge.
The important thing here is that you’re taking care of yourself. Some days, taking care of yourself will mean eating super well and getting in a great workout, but right now, taking care of yourself might just mean keeping your stress levels as low as possible, making choices that make you feel good, and setting a good example for your kids. Get extra sleep. Drink your water. Eat as well as you can. But by all means, cut yourself just a little slack.
In just a couple weeks, I’ll be hosting a free stress reduction challenge over in my free Facebook Community, Never Diet Again, and I’d love for you to join us! This will be a totally lightweight chance to check in with yourself, connect with other women who are also trying to prioritize their health during these crazy days, and get some daily tips from yours truly on keeping your stress at bay so you can feel as good as possible. Just click this link to visit + join the community!
Posted - 4/07/20 (Tue) Read more...
How should I even start, friends? My how things have changed over the last couple of weeks. While I normally like to show up for you here every Tuesday with tips on eating, moving, and recharging your way to good health, our new state of indefinite isolation inspired me to throw out the script and talk to you today about something that’s at once super basic and super unique . . .
Embracing our new normal.
What does this mean? Well, if your family is like ours, this likely means staying home as much as possible—including working from home and, if you have a kiddo, schooling from home too. You’re probably seeing way more of your immediate family than what you’re used to. You’ve likely dropped a lot of your typical routines (farewell for now morning Starbucks, office chit-chat, and commute podcast-listening). And unless you’re Wonder Woman, you’re probably still feeling things out and trying to settle a routine that’s going to allow you to play the roles of mom, partner, educator, and entrepreneur all at once, all the time. No biggie. Because let me add this - it’s not really going to stay as our ‘new normal’ - this is a momentary blip. A very difficult blip, where we’re are being asked to do all.the.things. for a little while. And then we’ll return to life. So hang on, this isn’t forever!
For folks who are new to the work-from-home life, this is a BIG shift. Fortunately for all of us, though, I’ve been working from home for over 20 years . . . which means I’ve had a little more time than most people to get our routine down pat.
So today, I wanted to share with you a few tips on working from home—and, as a bonus, my 15-year-old son Spencer (who attends a really incredible school that allows students to complete school online on snow days even when there’s no pandemic happening - huge shout out to The Clark School in Rowley, MA) also agreed to share a few tips from his perspective on successfully completing school from home. :)
Figure Out What Your Foundation Looks Like.
Are you required to work a certain schedule or a certain number of hours each day? Or is your position more results driven? If you’ve got another adult in the house who is also now working from home, what are their requirements? The amount of flexibility you have in your schedules will inform a lot of your other work-from-home habits.
Create an Environment Where You Can Focus.
This may be easier for some than for others. Maybe you’re one of the lucky few who has an office already set up; if so, that’s awesome. If you don’t have a home office (or if your partner already called dibs), claim a spot and set your boundaries. Determine whether you need a space with a closed door to take calls, or even a space with a solid wall and a lack of clutter behind you for video calls.
Determine Your Dress Code.
Speaking of video calls, do you still need to take time to get dressed “for work” in the mornings? That all depends on your work and your preferences. If you’re going to be hopping on and off of video calls, then yes, it’s obviously still important to get up and get dressed. If you don’t have video chats on your calendar, then the choice is yours. Personally, I find that it’s easier to get my mind into that mentally “at work” space when I get myself up and get ready as if I were heading to the office. But if you’re just as focused in yoga pants and a tee, that’s cool too. :)
Have a Family Meeting.
Hopefully your older kids and/or partner understand that just because mom’s home, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re available 24/7. If this is an issue though, don’t be afraid to explain to them that when you’re in your work space, you’re “at work” and that they should only interrupt if they truly need something. Let everyone in your family explain what they need and agree to keep communication open as you all figure out this new normal together.
Remember: We’re All in the Same Boat.
Ultimately, we are all going to experience some inconveniences. If you do happen to get interrupted during a work task/call/etc., just apologize and move forward. Chances are, whoever you’re talking to has experienced something similar in the last few days. Choose to practice as much as grace—for yourself and for others—as possible.
Make Sure You Have a Variety of Things to Work On.
Don’t spend the whole day staring at the screen. Try to mix things up and incorporate necessary screentime, a Google hangout with some classmates, and time working on worksheets/assignments.
Block Out Time For Your Schoolwork—and Other Stuff.
It’s important to schedule time to work on your assignments, but you should also plan to go outside, take walks, experiment with cooking, and eat a good lunch.
Establish Your Own Space For School.
Just like adults need work space, students need a school space. Clear off a desk, table, or other workspace and get used to that being where you spend your school time. This will help you separate your school-time from your downtime.
Do you have follow up questions about working (or schooling) from home? Leave them in the comments! Like I said—we’re all in this together. I’m happy to share as many helpful tips and tricks as your family needs to start feeling comfortable in your new routines. :)
Until next week, stay well and stay safe, and don’t forget that I’m always just an email away if you need support during these difficult times!
Posted - 3/31/20 (Tue) Read more...
Spring is in the air, summer’s just around the corner, and during a normal year, that would mean we’d all be prepping for fun activities and vacations. Unfortunately, 2020 is proving not to be a normal year at all. This year, along with spring showers, March has us focused on a potentially deadly and rapidly spreading virus. With so many people wondering if they should cancel all of their plans—and if so, for how long—I wanted to share my thoughts on COVID-19, flattening the curve, and why you should care.
The term “curve” refers to a graph you may or may not have seen by now. Basically, the graph shows what happens when precautions aren’t put into place--it depicts a short amount of time during which a severe number of people are likely to become infected with coronavirus. In this example, the “curve” is sharp, high, and steep.
On the same graph, there is another curve—this one much shorter but longer, meaning the impact of COVID-19 would be widespread for a longer amount of time, but with less drastic effects. This curve is flatter and less severe.
Right now, a lot of people are wondering whether just getting things over with and allowing the virus to run its course might make the most sense. Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds. “Getting it over with” would have a significant enough impact to overwhelm our health care system and potentially lead to the type of triage tactics we’ve already seen play out in Italy and Spain.
Long story short, by “flattening the curve” (spreading out the amount of sicknesses over a long period of time), we’re essentially doing what we can to ensure that hospital beds stay open, ventilators are available, and our healthcare system doesn’t crash.
The phrase to remember is, “Act out of an abundance of caution.” This means we should start being cautious before we are forced to be. In practice, you may see businesses and public facilities closing, and while this can be inconvenient, it will mean the difference between a tall, steep spike versus a more temperate curve—or in plainer terms, a stable or highly unstable healthcare system.
The young and healthy may be wondering why they should care when they’re highly likely to be okay even if they do contract the virus. One reason we should be worried is because even though contracting coronavirus might not mean imminent death for most of us, it can mean lung scarring that can impact us for the rest of our lives.
Another reason is that even if you stay healthy physically, you may be passing on the disease to those who cannot survive the illness, such as the elderly and those suffering from common diseases like cancer and asthma.
Act out of an abundance of caution and avoid getting together with people outside the people you live with.
Try to relax. Stress lowers your immune system and puts you at higher risk.
Eat the rainbow! Have a healthy, colorful diet, and that can help keep you strong.
Maintain your movement! Now isn’t the time to give up on exercise, so go on a quick walk, try a routine in your living room, or get creative.
Now isn’t the time to panic, but it is a great time to make decisions out of an abundance of caution to keep yourself happy and healthy.
Have questions about keeping up your healthy habits amidst this pandemic? Wondering how I can support you as you navigate life with your whole family at home/without access to the gym? Feel free to comment or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above all else, stay safe and stay healthy, friends!
Posted - 3/24/20 (Tue) Read more...
This month, even more than usual, health is at the forefront of almost all of our minds. In the face of our current COVID-19 pandemic, you might be wondering: How can I prioritize my own personal health in a realistic and healthy way as the world faces this large-scale health crisis?
Let me start by saying that this isn’t an article promising that you can healthy-eat your way out of catching COVID-19. That would be silly. This article is also not an invitation to panic. Panic is both unhelpful and unhealthy.
What I do want to talk about in this article, though, is how you can set your immune system up for success through proper nutrition and stress management—in the face of the coronavirus, the flu, or virtually any other health issue that comes your way.
You probably know by now that my favorite motto is, “Diets don’t work.” And diets definitely don’t work when it comes to keeping your stress levels down! When you’re trying to boost your immune system, one of the best things you can do is minimize your stress wherever possible. That means this is NOT the time to be stressing about every single calorie and making food decisions that leave you feeling grumpy and miserable.
I’m not giving you carte blanche to eat all the junk food your local grocery store has left on the shelves! However, if you find yourself craving certain comfort foods that leave you feeling calmer, warmer, and happier, then I say there’s no huge issue with treating yourself to some of those comfort foods right now.
Now, that said—comfort foods don’t HAVE to be unhealthy! If you find yourself craving something sweet, fatty, salty, carby, or otherwise not-super-healthy, I’d challenge you to think of ways to make your favorite comfort food a little more nutritionally well-rounded.
For example: I always crave a great, hearty stew this time of year. Especially given the still-chilly temperatures up here in New England and our recent need to hunker down and stay home, I’ve been pining for a bowl of delicious, savory, rich, comforting stew.
“Stew” can mean a lot of things. For me, I opt for lots of lean meat, beans, hearty veggies like carrots and kale, a garlic and onion base, tomato, red wine for flavor . . . Yumm. I make a point to use heavy, starchy ingredients like potatoes sparingly to keep my stew on the lighter side, and I don’t gorge myself on bread or cheese with the stew. In that way, I can enjoy my favorite comfort food in abundance without having to stress too much about how all that stew is going to impact my progress toward my health goals.
Another great example is one of my family’s other favorites, lasagna! Our trick for “healthy-izing” our lasagna is to add in lots of chopped veggies, use different types of veggie or quinoa-based noodles, be a little lighter with the cheese, and select sauce that doesn’t have added sugar. Unless you’re the one doing the cooking, you really can’t taste the difference!
I hope you feel inspired to rethink some of your go-to comfort meals! Post your favorite foods in the comments section, and let’s see if we can brainstorm some easy ways to make them a little more nutritionally sound!
Until next time, stay healthy, safe, and sane! And feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any questions about any of the info above. :)
Posted - 3/17/20 (Tue) Read more...
In my March Facebook Live in Dawn’s Thrive VIP group, I talk about Mindful Movement and how to incorporate it into your exercise routine. Here is the written companion to that video:
Let’s start by talking about purely mindful movement. The asana (movement) practice of yoga, tai chi, or a walking meditation are forms of mindful movement. These practices combine breath and concentration with the movement itself. I have heard yoga called “a moving meditation.” When you are practicing these forms of mindful movement you are not focused on the outcome or the end goal.
It is possible to combine mindful movement with mindset in your exercise routines Try to have at least one time per week that you dedicate your movement practice to mindful movement: Maybe you practice yoga or tai chi or maybe you practice walking meditation (try it barefoot on sand or grass).
You can even combine mindfulness and mindset within a single exercise session. When I’m on the treadmill in the mornings I start out with the display screen covered with a towel and I just let my body tell me how fast, or slow, it wants to go. I concentrate on my breath, taking deep meditative breaths. And I turn the speed up and down as my body instructs me to.
On some days, I leave the towel over the display and go for as long as my body wants to. On other days, when my body is warmed up, I take the towel off and push myself to go faster and/ or longer (mindset).
No matter what I do on the treadmill, I always follow my cardio time with at least 15 minutes of gentle yoga and 15 minutes of meditation. This allows me to get the full benefits of the mindfulness practices.
Let us know how it goes with your mindful movement practice! Are you able to combine mindfulness and mindset?
If you have questions, always feel free to reach out to me at PeacefulLivingWellness.com!
If you would like to read about what mindfulness is and the health benefits of mindfulness practices, you can read my full mindful movement blog here.
Posted - 3/16/20 (Mon) Read more...
So often on our health journeys, we find ourselves trying to make our bodies do what we so desperately want them to do. Run that mile. Eat these foods. Gain muscle here. Lose fat there.
We’re so used to that attitude, in fact, that it can be hard to imagine a reality where the tables are turned. But what if instead of demanding that your body do as you say, you listened to your body’s feedback and made an effort to give it what it’s telling you it needs?
Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with Judy Hahn—a National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Functional Medicine Health Practitioner. Judy works with women who are struggling with day-to-day issues like gut health, low energy, and bloat.
You can watch the video below to check out our whole chat, but my big takeaway from chatting with Judy was this: A shocking number of basic health woes can be chocked up to gut health and inflammation!
If you regularly experience digestive issues and have taken to writing them off as annoying-but-normal, this conversation is for you. In our talk, Judy outlines how issues within the gut can be the product of an array of lifestyle choices—and how they can frequently lead to issues elsewhere in the body.
If you’re experiencing issues as a result of inflammation in your body, resolving these issues starts with understanding what might be causing them.
If you’re unsure of where to start, Judy and I recommend cutting out inflammatory foods like:
Eliminate these foods one at a time for several days, and pay attention to how your body reacts. If you notice that a particular type of food, exercise, or life event causes you to bloat or experience digestive issues—or that your inflammation seems to decrease when you cut something out—you’ll be well on your way to figuring out how to better control your inflammation.
For more information about inflammation, gut health, food sensitivities, and elimination diets, check out my video with Judy below, or click here to connect with her on Facebook!
Posted - 3/10/20 (Tue) Read more...
The end of winter is a tough time of year for a lot of people. Even though spring is technically only a few weeks away, most areas are still damp, cold, and maybe even still snowy. Living in the northeast, it doesn’t really start to feel like spring until further into April or even May, and I definitely struggle with the lack of sunlight and dreary weather during the first few months of the year.
If you’re similarly affected by the winter blahs, as I like to call them, you might feel low-energy, lazy, unmotivated, or even depressed. Maybe eating healthy and moving your body have started to seem more exhausting than rejuvenating.
If that’s the place you’re in right now, don’t despair! NOW is the time to really focus on recharging and giving yourself some grace.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to shake off the winter blahs:
Don’t Forget to Breathe.
Lay down flat on your back on the floor and spend a minute or two just breathing and relaxing your muscles. This will sound familiar if you’ve ever taken a yoga class—I’m talking about savasana! Even if you don’t want to do a full yoga class, spending a few minutes in savasana can have a profound effect on your overall sense of contentedness and your stress levels.
Drink Lots of Water.
You might think this is a strange way to recharge, but water does a lot of amazing stuff for your body! It curbs your cravings, hydrates your skin, and keeps everything in your body circulating. When you’re well-hydrated, you have more energy and feel better in just about every way possible. So drink up!
Take Some Time For Yourself.
Whether you just need those few minutes breathing on the floor, a weekend with a friend, or a dinner out by yourself, do something that makes your heart sing. You’d be amazed how much better you’ll feel if you give yourself a short reprieve from the pressures of everyday life.
While these tips may seem small, doing them consistently as we work our way through the final weeks of winter will help boost your mood and your energy levels. The key here is to do something simple and easy every day. Those small choices have a big impact over time!
For more tips on feeling and looking your best in any season, join me in my Thrive VIP community! We’re a group of women focused on eating, moving, and recharging our way to lifelong health, and we’d love for you to join us! Learn more here.
Posted - 3/03/20 (Tue) Read more...
If you happen to be the kind of person who loves skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing, that’s awesome — getting your workout in during the wintertime is probably no trouble for you.
If you’re like me, though, you might not be too crazy about being cold. Despite the fact that I live in the northeast, I vastly prefer being warm, snuggly, and cozy inside during the chillier months.
This dislike for being cold can make it a little tough to keep our bodies moving during winter. Finding the time and motivation to work out is tough on a normal day—add to that the challenge of running in freezing temperatures, or even just bundling up to get to the gym? Not fun.
I did have a win this week that I’m pretty proud of though. I bundled up and went for a nice long walk outside, even though it was about 36 degrees! Yes, I had on thermal leggings under fleecy pants, earmuffs, scarf, hood, etc. You could barely see my face, but I did it and it wasn’t that bad!
That said though, it is totally possible to get a great workout during the winter—no slopes, lifts, or balaclavas required. Here are some of my favorite ways to move my body, even when it’s freezing outside.
You’ve probably gotten advice to take the stairs over the elevator—little changes like that aren’t enough on their own, but they do help. Consider parts of your normal routine where you can increase your movement, even if it’s only a little bit. For me, that means choosing a standing desk over a standard desk. You could even get creative and try standing on a wobble board or walking on a treadmill while you work!
Set an alarm on your phone and spend the last five minutes of every hour moving in some way. This can mean stretching, walking around your house or office building, taking your dog outside, doing some jumping jacks, whatever. The point is to shift your mindset so that you’re accustomed to moving and looking for opportunities to get up and move around.
Unless you have a home gym, this does involve pulling on your boots and your coat and trudging out to the car (sorry). But you’ll enjoy getting to shed some layers once you’re in the gym, and you’ll feel warmer for having worked out! PLUS, when you build more muscle, your body generates more heat . . . which means it’ll be that much easier to feel warm all the time.
Do you have a local shopping mall, indoor farmer’s market, YMCA track, or indoor garden? Places like those offer a fabulous opportunity to knock out your regular walk WITHOUT having to deal with the weather.
Curious to learn more? Come check out my Thrive VIP community! Together, my guest coaches and I work with you to offer personalized tips on eating, moving, and recharging your way to lifelong health, no matter the weather.
For now, I’d love to hear from you: What’s your favorite way to get exercise during the wintertime OR your biggest challenge when it comes to getting exercise in the wintertime? Leave your response in the comments!
Posted - 2/25/20 (Tue) Read more...
Winter time can be hard on our health habits for a variety of reasons. Chilly temperatures make us want to hibernate—to stay inside, stay warm, and comfort ourselves with our favorite foods. Living in the Boston area, I’m no stranger to the impact cold weather can have on our routines and our cravings. Every year, I look for new inspiring recipes, tips, and tricks to help keep myself motivated and on-task through the long winter season.
Most recently, this search for new information brought me to a really fun, delightful, and insightful course on flavors. Even as a lifelong foodie and nutrition expert, I have to admit: What I learned from this course was really fascinating and exciting for me! I learned a lot about the functional uses of different flavors and how they can interact with each other, but I think the most interesting and applicable takeaway I had was around using flavors to combat cravings. (If you're interested in learning more about Sherry Hess' amazing Flavor Remedy course, connect with her here.)
Simply put, we can use bitter flavors to punctuate our meals and discourage cravings.
How does this work? Basically, bitter flavors coordinate the messages between our belly and our brain. We may have eaten enough, but our brain hasn’t gotten the message yet. They act as a cue that we can move on from our meal rather than mindlessly munching.
In practice, the easiest way for me to make this happen is to have a couple of ounces of a bitter liquor like an amaro. I’ve tried a couple of different ones recently and really enjoy the Averna. The bitterness of the herbal base in the liquor really does wrap up the meal nicely, and I’ve found that on nights when I have my Averna, I don’t continue snacking throughout the evening.
During the day time, of course, I’m far less likely to have a liquor at the end of my meal. If you’re looking for good lunchtime (or generally non-alcoholic options) to punctuate your meals, some great options include:
Apples (don’t slice off the peel!)
If you struggle with snacking and comfort food cravings, I encourage you to give this a try! And if you do, I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know which bitter foods you tried and whether you felt like they made a difference for you.
Posted - 2/18/20 (Tue) Read more...