Nutrition, Fitness, and Wellness articles for busy women who want to lead a healthy, fulfilled life they love.
Silver bells, mounds of white snow, community goodwill and cheer… There’s so much to love about the holiday season! But as fun as the holidays are, they absolutely can take a toll on our wintertime nutrition.
If you’ve been a part of my community for very long, you’ll know I teach all about healthy habits from three different angles: eating, moving, and recharging. While it can be tough to get enough movement and enough me-time this time of year, I think we can all agree that our holiday eating choices are usually what get us into the most trouble this time of year. For that reason, I wanted to spend a little sharing about my #1 healthy eating tip for ALL seasons—yes, including the season of eating.
Now, before you roll your eyes and tell me that’s impractical, let me explain! I’m not suggesting you bring a full 7-course dinner everywhere you go. The tip I’m about to explain is focused more around providing yourself with supplementary items—snacks, small meals, staple food items, and water (of course). The idea here isn’t that you never eat food that’s been provided by someone else; we’re just creating space for options in our life. That way, we never have to feel like we’ve been pigeonholed into making a decision we didn’t really want to make.
That said, please allow me to introduce my #1 nutrition secret: The MRFK.
My MRFK (which stands for “Mobile Readiness Food Kit”) is a great little hack I picked up from the wonderful folks at Venice Nutrition. Everyone’s MRFK should look a little different based on personal preferences, but here’s what goes into mine most of the time:
A full bottle of water
A shaker bottle
Powdered protein shake mix
2-3 of my favorite protein bars
The items above are my must-haves. Depending on my plans for the day, I’ll usually also include some whole foods. Some of my favorites are:
Hardy fruits (think apples or sliced strawberries)
Raw nuts like cashews or almonds
Nothing about my MRFK is particularly specialized or fancy. I usually use a regular old cooler bag and the typical reusable plastic containers most of us have in our homes. But having this simple, thought-out food pack with me ensures that I never end up in a situation where my blood sugar is tanking or where I feel like I have no option but to grab a drive-through hamburger.
Great question! MRFKs come in super handy during the holidays because this time of year, you can’t typically control what foods you might be served at an event. If you wanted to be *extra* conscientious, you could literally bring a whole healthy meal in your MRFK to eat as an alternative to whatever is being served to whatever snacks and sweets are being served wherever you are . . .
. . . But let’s be honest. Who wants to do that??
So instead, here’s what I recommend: Go ahead and attend the parties. Enjoy your favorite treats. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you LOVE.
But bring your MRFK, too. Make sure you have lean protein and healthy fats on hand. That way, nabbing a sugar cookie at your child’s Christmas program doesn’t have to mean sending your blood sugar into an upward (and then downward) spiral—you can simply have some water and some lean protein to help balance things out a bit.
One last thing: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times, but I’ll say it again… Above all else, ditch the guilt! Remember that you’re human, that the number on the scale isn’t nearly as important as how you feel, and that you can always do better tomorrow.
I hope this tip helps you navigate your holiday nutrition with a little more ease than in years past. If you have any questions, I’d love for you to leave me a note in the comments. Or, feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Wishing you a holiday season full of happy memories and healthy choices. Cheers!
P.S. Looking for some extra support to get you through the holidays? Check out my free Facebook Group, Never Diet Again!
Posted - 12/03/19 (Tue) Read more...
Are you the kind of person who sees the holidays coming and takes it as an opportunity to loosen up on your health routine a bit? Or are you more the type to see the holiday season as a challenge—an obstacle that you won’t let stand in your way?
There’s no wrong answer here! Depending on your health goals, either attitude can be okay (as long as we don’t loosen up on our routines too much, of course).
However, if you’re the kind of person who wants to keep charging towards your health goals even in the face of the holiday season, I’ve got a few quick tips for you today. Here’s my best advice for keeping your body moving this Thanksgiving, and throughout the whole holiday season.
Try on Someone Else’s Routine
When my sister-in-law visits, we always take the opportunity to attend one of my favorite fitness classes together. She loves getting to try something new while she’s traveling, and it’s a great chance for us to spend some time together doing something besides cooking, eating, or shopping.
Try Something New at Home
Not traveling to visit family? Try something new at home! It can be easy to just stick to our same-old same-old routines this time of year, but involving yourself in a new class or a new accountability program might just give you the motivation you need to push through the next few weeks.
Get Moving as a Family
If you want to keep this really easy, try going for a walk after Thanksgiving dinner. This is something my family does almost every year. This is great for two reasons—I’m able to enjoy some movement, and knowing we’ll be walking keeps me from overeating (because who wants to go for a walk when you feel overstuffed?). If you’re feeling ambitious, you could plan a family game of kickball, tennis, frisbee, or touch football after dinner. Whatever you do, have fun with it!
However you plan to spend the time between now and January 1, I hope you’ll prioritize taking care of yourself. Eat your veggies, bundle up, get your body moving, and don’t forget to leave a little room for some me-time. :)
If you feel like you could use a little extra inspiration and accountability during this season, I’d love to invite you to join my free Facebook Group, Never Diet Again. Never Diet Again is a community of women who are committed to living healthier lives—I share tons of resources there, and we all support each other along our healthy living journeys. We’d love to have you as a member!
Until next time, stay well and stay warm! Wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving, and a great start to your holiday season.
Posted - 11/26/19 (Tue) Read more...
Welcome to the season of eating!
When you’re committed to living a healthy lifestyle for the long-term, the last couple months of the year can be some of the most challenging. I like to refer to the space between Halloween and January 1 as “the season of eating” because . . . well, it’s obvious, right?
This time of year is chock full of opportunities (I prefer to call them opportunities rather than obligations for the sake of staying positive 🙂) to socialize, celebrate, and--yes--eat, drink, and be merry with your friends and family. If we aren’t careful, it’s wayyyy too easy to wake up on January 1 with the sinking realization that we’ve been seriously neglecting our healthy habits for months on end.
For those of us who choose to live intentionally healthier lives, this can be a time when we either go off the rails or double down a little too hard and make ourselves miserable. We can easily become totally obsessed or totally neglectful with our food choices.
Here’s the thing though: Staying healthy this time of year is about more than food.
Yes, your nutrition plays a key role in keeping you feeling healthy and energized throughout the holiday season, but my biggest healthy holiday tip actually has more to do with your mindset than what’s on your plate. (I swear we’re not about to get super woo woo. Stick with me.)
Living a healthy lifestyle is all about flexibility and making choices that fit our personal goals. All year round, we talk about using our motivations and our goals to fuel our nutritional choices; the same rules apply when we talk about our holiday eating strategies.
Remember why your health is important to you. Remember whatever it is that gets you to the gym in the morning. Think back to the very beginning of your healthy journey, and reflect on the really important things in your life that make every single healthy choice worth it. Then, make your holiday eating choices with all that in mind.
You might be wondering why this matters. It matters because you cannot make health decisions from a basis of fear.
If you choose not to eat a second piece of iced gingerbread because you’re terrified of gaining a couple pounds, you’ll almost certainly feel a bit resentful, bitter, or like you missed out on something. And while you might feel some surge of immediate pride at exercising your willpower, those negative motivations are far more likely to lead to binging and overeating later on.
However, if you approach that same choice as an opportunity to make a decision that will benefit your long-term goals and your big WHY, you’re far more likely to feel good about skipping the cookie. You’ll be able to more clearly see this would-be deprivation as just a single moment in a long string of moments that will ultimately help you achieve your goals.
This means you’re welcome to enjoy some of your favorite holiday treats—everything in moderation! I simply hope you’ll use this mindset shift to make all-around better choices this season, and—perhaps more importantly—to feel confident, intentional, and positive about whatever choices you do make.
Do you have any holiday eating strategies that you find especially helpful this time of year? Drop them in the comments! Or, if you could use some extra support, health tips, and practical advice, please join me in my free Facebook community, Never Diet Again. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Posted - 11/19/19 (Tue) Read more...
Feeling tired all the time? Can’t seem to focus? Barely have enough energy to get through the day? If you’re suffering from low energy levels, poor nutrition might just be the culprit.
As sad as it is to admit, most modern diets are loaded with starchy carbs, simple sugars, and processed foods. It’s no secret that foods like hamburgers, white bread, and ice cream can cause you to gain weight. But even for people who are at healthy weights and not obviously at risk of any serious health issues, eating a diet heavy in processed foods can impact how we feel on a day to day basis.
If you’re struggling with low energy, a lack of focus, mental fuzziness, or even mild depression/melancholia, I’d invite you to take a look at what’s on your plate this week. If a quick nutrition audit proves that you’re eating infrequently, chowing down on huge portions, over-caffeinating, or under-hydrating, then congrats—you’ve just discovered a problem.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to increase your energy naturally by simply forming better nutrition habits. There’s no set, across-the-board formula that works for everyone on earth, but in general, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Eat as cleanly as possible. Fill your plate with lean proteins, fruits, and veggies whenever you can.
Plan for small, infrequent meals. Sorry mom (and the intermittent fasting community), but all that talk about needing “three square meals a day” is actually a myth. I recommend eating every 3-4 hours.
Make sure your meals are PFC balanced. This means appropriate servings of protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbs at every single meal.
Drink your water! Women should be drinking at least 2-3 liters of water per day. Caffeinated beverages and carbonated water don’t count.
Limit your caffeine and alcohol. I know cutting out caffeine when you’re tired feels especially counterintuitive, but caffeine dependency can have a severe impact on our overall energy levels!
No one eats perfect, clean meals 100% of the time. However, if you can practice these healthy eating habits *most* of the time, you might just be amazed at how your energy levels improve.
Give your health habits some thought and let me know in the comments: Do you feel like you’re getting the energy you need from your food? Or is your nutrition a source of fatigue and mental haziness?
Want to continue the conversation? Join my free Facebook community, NEVER DIET AGAIN, or click here to download my free guide, “7 Nutrition Lies We’ve All Been Fed.”
Note: While improving your nutrition is usually a good thing, it’s worth noting that you should always consult your physician if you’re experiencing prolonged or severe fatigue, unfocused thoughts, or mood issues.
Posted - 11/12/19 (Tue) Read more...
When I say the words “healthy habits,” what comes to mind? If you’re like most folks, I bet you immediately conjured images of eating veggies and working out every morning.
If you’ve been in this community for long at all though, you know there’s more to your health than just eating and moving . . . we have to prioritize recharging as well!
As women, it can be hard for us to prioritize self-care habits. Sure, you know that taking care of your mental health is important...but hey, everything else is important too! Whether it’s work, childcare, cleaning, cooking, traveling, social obligations, or something totally different, your plate is full to the brim. I get that. But even so, building good self-care habits is a crucial component of achieving lifelong health.
That said, here are a few of my best tips for building good self-care habits EVEN if you feel like you don’t have a single extra moment in your day.
Let your time do double duty.
How do I love multitasking?? Let me count the ways… If I only ever focused on self-care when I had extra time, it would never ever get done. The next best thing is finding ways to make my time count twice. I may not be able to take a client call and get a massage at the same time, but I CAN take a client call and enjoy a nice face mask at the same time.
Look for opportunities like these in your life—reading while you commute on the subway, meditating while you shower, or listening to business podcasts while you workout are all great examples of maximizing your time.
Learn to say no.
I know it feels like you can’t possible say no to anything . . . But be honest with yourself for a moment. If you really examine your schedule, there are *probably* some things you could technically let go of.
Spending quality time with your kids? Being present in your career? Attending your grandma’s 98th birthday dinner? Those are likely non-negotiables. But heading up your neighborhood’s holiday decoration committee? Doing your own grocery shopping (as opposed to opting for delivery)? Showing up for every single party you’ll be invited to between now and the New Year? Those might be opportunities to graciously decline and save your energy.
Know when to ask for help.
Much like saying no, asking for help isn’t as easy as it sounds. Often times, it takes a lot of humility, trust, and strength to admit when enough is enough. But like it or not, you DO have your limits. If you need to pipe up and ask your partner for more help at home, ask a co-worker for assistance with a project, ask a friend with help planning a special event, etc, there’s no shame in that!
Choose self-care activities that get you “the most bang for your buck,” so to speak.
I love to remind my clients of this: Self-care doesn’t have to be some huge, schedule-altering thing. Expensive massages, spa days, and mini-vacays are swell, but they aren’t the only way to relax. Find small activities that go a long way towards recharging your batteries. For me, my morning workout is everything. For you, that might mean finding time to listen to a beloved podcast, paint your nails, or have a cup of tea on the back deck. Be realistic about your time and resources, and do your best to make those work for you.
Do you have a go-to wintertime self-care activity? Do you have questions about squeezing in “me-time” this time of year? I’d love to hear from you! Leave your answer in the comments, and don’t forget--you’re always welcome to email me at email@example.com if you’re looking for some personalized advice.
Posted - 11/05/19 (Tue) Read more...
Halloween is almost here! The first in a long string of winter holidays, Halloween can be tricky to navigate if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Even if you don’t have kids who are young enough for trick-or-treating, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be handing out treats, attending a friend’s Halloween bash, or just receiving a goodie bag at work… And all of those things mean candy, candy, and more candy.
So how can you stay on your nutrition A-game with bowls full of sweets sitting around your house?
It’s actually not as tough as you think! The key (as with many things) is in planning ahead to set yourself up for success. Here are a few of my favorite tips for avoiding the post-Halloween sugar hangover:
Keep your blood sugar stable from the get-go.
Dipping blood sugar levels are a big culprit of candy cravings. When we don’t eat balanced meals (protein, fat and carbs), our bodies remind us that we need fuel and we start craving sugar. To curb your cravings and maintain control over your eating, be intentional about really sticking to your PFC Every 3 gameplan in the days around Halloween. If you’re not really hungry, you’re way less likely to absent-mindedly reach for a chocolate bar.
Give out non-candy treats.
In past years, I’ve foregone candy completely in favor of other fun treats. Now that my son is 15, he’s totally appalled at the idea of not giving out candy at all… But I still try to give out a combination of some candy, pencils, glowsticks, erasers, stickers, etc. To me, these treats feel a little longer-lasting, and it’s a great way to make sure I don’t end up with extra candy sitting around the house for weeks to come!
Say, “Good riddance” to extra candy.
If we do end up with excess candy, I make sure to get rid of it as quickly as possible! My son keeps a few of his favorite pieces, and the rest goes out the door. In the past, we’ve sent it to work or school. You can also gift it to neighborhood kids, pack it into little gift baggies and give it to residents at a local senior center, or donate it to an organization that makes up treat bags for folks serving overseas with the military.
Do you have your own tips for keeping the Halloween candy at bay? Is there a particular type of candy that really tests your willpower? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Until next time, I wish you the best and hope your family has a safe, healthy, happy Halloween!
Posted - 10/29/19 (Tue) Read more...
You’ve probably heard the expression, “It takes all kinds.” That’s true! We’re all different, and when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, it makes sense that we’d all have slightly different “best practices” for keeping ourselves on track.
So, of course, I have to ask: are you the type of person who benefits from routines? Or do routines tend to make you feel bored, stuck, and unmotivated to stay on task?
I thrive with routines, but it may not be what you think.
When it comes to your health, your best bet is usually to strike a balance between establishing routines and knowing when to spice things up a bit. Personally, I really benefit from creating habits and sticking to them as best I can. Whether you’re talking about eating, moving, or recharging, I’m at my best when I have time to prepare and get my head in the game.
Does that mean I never get bored with those routines? Of course not! But part of my “routine” is planning for those moments when I’m likely to start feeling restless with my patterns. ;) Having a wide variety of healthy recipes on hand, a few different exercise classes you like to circulate through, or a variety of big and small ways to recharge your batteries is a great way to make sure you keep up healthy routines without the risk of your daily life feeling monotonous. And then there are those ‘treats’ that I look forward to working in when I’m ‘bored’.
Whether you’re a big planner or more of a go-with-the-flow type of person, I challenge you to reflect this week on where the sweet spot between “routine” and “flexibility” might be for you. Knowing your own preferences, habits, and weak spots is key in establishing a healthy lifestyle that works for YOUR life!
I’d love to hear more about your feelings on routines. Do you feel like routines help or hurt? How do you strike that balance in your own life? Leave your answer in the comments, and feel free to shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions! I’m always more than happy to hear from you. :)
Posted - 10/22/19 (Tue) Read more...
When it comes to enjoying holidays, there are two big constants—socializing and food. Whether we’re talking about Labor Day, the 4th of July, or any of the big winter holidays, you can bet your days off will be full of friends, family, and delicious stuff to eat and drink.
Hopefully, you’re happy to have the time with your friends and family! But long weekends (or even weeks) spent celebrating can lead to derailed plans if we aren’t careful. So how can you enjoy your holiday festivities without blowing up your health goals and feeling crappy afterward?
If you ask me, the secret is in adding as much movement as possible during these times.
Depending on where your family lives, where you’re spending your holidays, and what your typical lifestyle is like, there are a variety of ways to incorporate more movement into standard holiday activities. When coupled with being intentional about what you choose to eat and drink, these activities can help keep you from straying too far off-plan so you won’t feel bloated, tired, or guilty once the holiday has passed.
Are you spending the holiday somewhere near your neighborhood? Consider walking or biking to your destination—you’ll be thankful for the extra exercise, and it’s better for the environment! Double win.
You’re going to be chit-chatting with your loved ones anyway . . . Why not do it while passing a frisbee around or playing a game of catch? Staying on your feet while you catch up with everyone is more fun than sitting around on couches, and the endorphin boost will keep everyone in great spirits all evening long.
In the spirit of continuing your social time AND increasing your movement, plan ahead for everyone to take a walk after dinner. Not only does this help boost your step count—you might find that you’re less prone to overeating if you know you’ve got some exercise ahead of you.
How do you stay moving during holidays and social gatherings? If you’ve got your own tips, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Posted - 9/17/19 (Tue) Read more...
When it comes to vacation, are you a planner or more of a spontaneous traveler?
I’m all for spontaneous activities, but when it comes to eating, I have to argue that planning (at least somewhat) is the way to go!
When I go on vacation, I like to generally stay on plan. Not rigidly—I love to leave room for trying new foods and wines! But I know that when I’m traveling, I frequently need extra energy to truly enjoy my days, so I make sure to eat well leading up to the trip and, often, while I’m on the trip.
That’s not to say my way is the only way though! Depending on your vacation food philosophy, you might find that you feel happiest when you allow yourself to loosen up a little on your trips. I can certainly appreciate that choice as well—when my family goes to Vermont, for instance, I often let myself indulge a little more than I typically would.
My point here is that there’s no one right way to approach nutrition while you’re traveling . . . But it is important to remember that vacation doesn’t HAVE to mean you’re coming home ten pounds heavier.
When it comes to finding that happy medium between enjoying yourself and staying on plan, here are a few questions I like to ask myself when planning a vacation . . .
By this I mean, what are you likely to end up spending your time on? And how does food play into that? If you’re going on a two-week hiking excursion, for example, I’d recommend that you plan your nutrition pretty carefully. After all, you’ll need your energy! However, if you’re planning to lounge on the beach for a week, you’re probably okay to enjoy a margarita or two. Ask yourself: Is this a culinary trip? Will my meals be influenced by my kids or partner? Depending on your goals for your vacation and your travel companions, you may find yourself feeling more or less inclined to watch your nutrition throughout the trip.
Are there events in your life that you’re going to need lots of energy for in the time around your trip? Are there any special occasions that might render this a bad time to look a little bloated in photos? If you’ve got any big stuff on the horizon—other trips, conferences, weddings, photoshoots, etc—they may be worth taking into consideration.
This one can be kind of a loaded question . . . Let’s face it, five pounds or so doesn’t hit us all the same way. If you’re the type who can lose weight somewhat easily, then splurging on vacation treats is probably no biggie. But if you’re like a lot of people, losing five or ten pounds is something that takes monumental effort and a few weeks. Having a few extra beers or a couple of ice cream cones might feel like the best choice in the moment, but are you going to beat yourself up when you get home? If you make the decision to treat yourself, you MUST be willing to ditch the guilt and get on with your life. If you struggle with guilt, you might want to consider sticking close to the plan for your own sake.
So, l ask . . . What’s your vacation food philosophy? I’d love to hear more about how you navigate nutrition while you’re on holiday! Let me know in the comments.
Posted - 9/10/19 (Tue) Read more...
If you keep up with the health and wellness world at all, you’ve probably heard a lot lately about Kurbo by WW. In case you haven’t though, here’s the scoop: Weight Watchers recently released Kurbo, an app intended to kelp kids ages 8–17 reach a “healthier weight.”
Using a traffic light system, Kurbo teaches kids to rate their foods as green, yellow, or red—good foods that the kids can eat all the time, moderate foods that are healthy but warrant portion control, and bad foods that should be occasionally budgeted in. The app pairs kids with a coach based on their goals and their personality, and between weekly coaching support and the nutritional info available in Kurbo, the child is supposed to lose weight and feel “more confident, healthier, and more confident in [their] skin.”
Now, on the surface, I can see where that might sound harmless. Limiting unhealthy foods and working with a coach aren’t inherently bad things on their own. Except when you take into consideration that we’re talking about CHILDREN. Because no matter how smart the Kurbo marketing team is and how carefully they frame their intents, Kurbo is a dieting app for kids. Period.
Before we dive in much deeper, I just want to say one thing:
PLEASE do not put your child on a diet.
Yes, some kids are technically considered overweight. Yes, childhood obesity rates are quite high in certain parts of the country. But a dieting app is NOT the answer.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, many of us have pretty messed up relationships with food. If we’re being *brutally* honest, we can take that one step further and realize that many of our unhealthy beliefs around food, weight, and health started when we were pretty young.
As sad as it is, this isn’t unusual. In fact, a 2015 study by Common Sense Media found that children start expressing dissatisfaction with their bodies as early as age five.
The fact is, our kids are bombarded from DAY ONE with images of what a “healthy” or “attractive” body looks like. Whether you want to believe it or not, your kid definitely has some preconceived notions of what it means to be or look “healthy.”
(Spoiler alert: Society is telling your kid that healthy means thin.)
Now, is it important to help kids form healthy habits from an early age? Absolutely! But dieting is NOT how we make that happen.
When you put your kid on a diet, what you’re telling them is that a) there’s something wrong with them and b) they can fix that thing by controlling what they eat. Forgive me for being blunt here, but if that isn’t a recipe for an eating disorder later in life, I don’t know what is.
Furthermore, dieting during childhood also sets kids up to be overly conscious about weight and physical size. They’re far more likely to prioritize meeting a certain arbitrary health standard rather than focusing on feeling healthy, energetic, and confident.
When it comes to teaching kids to eat well, food shaming is the BIGGEST no-go. It drives me crazy! Labeling foods as “good” and “bad” creates an inappropriate emotional relationship with food and sets your kids up to ride that dieting rollercoaster all their lives.
If you’ve personally struggled through the ups and downs of that rollercoaster ride, I ask you: Is that what you want for your child?
If you want to help your kids start life with the right nutritional footing, the most important thing you can do is to get them comfy with nutritional fundamentals. Expose them to delicious, healthy foods as often as possible. Get them excited to try interesting or exotic fruits and veggies. Make the enjoyment of healthy foods a regular part of your lifestyle, and don’t make it about a number on a scale. Being a good role model is the single best thing you can do to help your kids have a healthy relationship with food.
You can also include movement and activity in your discussions of what it means to be “healthy.” Encourage things like backyard play, family kickball games, or after-dinner walks—again, not as a means of losing weight, but as a way to simply have fun and feel great.
Thanks for listening to my rant. If you’re a parent, I hope this helped you make sense of all the controversy surrounding the Kurbo app. If you’re still feeling unsure about whether Kurbo is right for your family, I want to leave you with this: DIETS DON’T WORK. They don’t work for adults, and they definitely don’t work for kids. If you stick with a plan of moderation and incorporate protein, fat and carbs into each meal, you’ll be well on your way to success.
If you have any additional questions about your child’s health, Kurbo, or healthy living in general, I’d be happy to talk with you! Comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Until next time, what I wish for you (and your whole family!) is that you’d create a life you love with no feeling hungry, depriving yourself, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner (or weekend cookies, as it were. ;) ).
Posted - 8/27/19 (Tue) Read more...