The hustle and bustle of the season is upon us! I've lost track of how many stores I’ve bolted in and out of over the past two days. To be honest, I have been spinning my wheels and not being very productive! The straw that broke the camel’s back was the mad dash to find a chocolate Advent calendar at the last minute yesterday. It would have been an epic mommy fail to not have an Advent calendar for my son! I was so focused on the task at hand that I left my list at home. As a result, I have had to retrace my steps in each store because I forgot half of what I needed.
Days like this will happen during this time of year. It’s almost odd if people are NOT racing to stores, decorating their homes like a Pinterest photo, or checking off their lengthy to-do list. But, is this how the holidays NEED to be?
While shopping yesterday, I listened to two 4-year-olds interact with their mother. I thought it was so sweet how they asked questions about an item’s use, or if they could buy something. The mom patiently answered their questions. That was NOT my experience when my children were little. Before going into a store, I would often say, “Quick in, quick out!” I don't know if I was trying to preempt their requests to buy everything, or if my stress level was mounting because of my lengthy holiday to-do lists. In looking back, I can’t remember why I was always rushing from one thing to the next. I don’t know who I was truly serving in those moments. Several years ago, I made the decision to jump off the treadmill and make sure I wasn’t missing key moments with those most important in my life. For the most part, I haven’t looked back. Except for yesterday, of course.
So often, in this season of giving, we focus on materialism, that “stuff” on the list. What if we changed the way we approach the holidays? Be present, don’t just buy presents! The gift of time and really engaging with others is truly priceless.
Four Ways to Be Present This Holiday Season:
I challenge you this season to start each day giving gratitude, and setting your intention to be present for each person you encounter in your day! Being present is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other.
I have never liked being told that I cannot or should not do something. Ever. It annoys me, and immediately makes my resolve stronger to do that thing. Having a stubborn, driven, Type-A personality drives me to want to do things on my terms.
Over the past several months, I have been dealing with some heart rate issues. When I met with my cardiologist recently to discuss some test results, he indicated that I would need to modify my exercise regimen. I was FINE with modifying until he said, “Running may not be an option anymore.”
To me, running is not just exercise. I started running 11 years ago to bring awareness to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I ran because my nephew couldn’t, and my running helps to bring in research money for this horrible disease. I started off small, and worked my way up to 5ks, 10ks half-marathons and full marathons. My family runs, and many of my friends run. I truly love running with them! I coach my kids’ middle school Cross Country team. THAT’S how much I love it. Over time, running has become my stress reliever and something that gives me joy. I feel GOOD when I run. In some ways, it has become a part of who I am.
So many thoughts and emotions swirled in my head after my doctor’s appointment. I felt angry, frustrated, disappointed and defeated. Just thinking about how far I have gone literally and figuratively in my running, but no longer being able to maintain that pace, was a bitter pill to swallow. The thought of running less or more slowly seemed unacceptable because none of it was my idea.
It hasn’t been easy for me, but I have followed my doctor’s orders and modified my exercise program. It was not easy at all. I had to take a step back and accept that I cannot always control the situation I am in, but that I can control my reaction to it, and how I choose to move forward. I had to make the choice between staying stuck in the memory of what I had been doing, or accepting and even embracing what I CAN do now. It turns out, that I can run, just less and at a slower pace. I have incorporated more swimming and walking into my exercise routine. It turns out that it wasn’t the huge scary change I thought it would be.
The same can be said in our day-to-day living. There are times when our eating habits, exercising, self-image, or managing our time may be off-course or languishing, or not going the way we want them to. We think that getting back on track is an insurmountable task that will involve a huge amount of immediate change. But it truly doesn’t need to be that way. Small changes can make a big impact in all of these areas! Here are four small changes that can make a difference.
Eliminating all the yummy, unhealthy choices in one fell swoop will all but guarantee failure pretty quickly. Start small by adding one in healthy food every week. For example, add more vegetables or a protein to each meal. By adding these into your meals, the unhealthy choices eventually get crowded out.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. A marathon isn’t run in a day, either. Training for a marathon can take months! Taking that first step to go to the gym can take weeks of convincing yourself to go and ignoring all of your own excuses. The thought of getting up and exercising can be truly daunting. If you aren’t moving at all currently, just get up and move for 10 minutes a day, then start to add more time. Once you have mastered that, set a fitness goal that you want to achieve. It might be a race, mastering a yoga pose, or even just going to (and completing) a Zumba class. Every step, no matter how small, can make these goals become achievements.
Whew, this can be a tough one!!! It’s a lot easier to encourage someone else to not be down about their body image than it is to love and accept our own, isn’t it? We all know we are different, but it doesn’t stop us from comparing ourselves to others. One way to block the self-sabotage is to aim for being healthy and strong! Being healthy and strong can give us confidence. Confidence is such a gift that we ALL deserve to have, regardless of our shape, size, or the number of wrinkles we might have!
Our to-do lists can be ridiculous at times. Sometimes, it can’t be avoided, but sometimes, it really can. Lists are supposed to be edited and reprioritized. If something on your list doesn’t align with your purpose, then start saying NO! Saying no can be hard to do initially, but it does get easier. If items on your list do align with your purpose, then ask for help to get them done if you are swamped. The key to success with saying no or delegating items on your to-do lists is to finish what you CAN do on your list, not get lost on Social Media because you now have some free time.
Changes in your life don’t have to be huge shifts. Focusing on one area at a time, and making small adjustments to what you do makes change a lot less overwhelming. Accepting that I have a new reality when it comes to my running has allowed me to continue to move and do what I love. I run slower, and am much more focused. One added benefit to this change is that I can now write a blog post in my head during the first couple of miles :)
This summer a good friend asked me this question. The answer was (and is) a loud NO! There are days when I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and just don’t want to make healthy choices because it takes time. On days like that, I’d rather use my time to hibernate on the couch, drink wine, stuff my face with pretzels and cheese, and pretend that there isn’t a pile of laundry taller than I am that needs attention.
While I absolutely try to follow a 90/10 approach to health and wellness, there are some days that the ratio is more like 10/90. Sound familiar? And I don’t mean just when it comes to food and exercise choices – it includes all areas of our lives at times.
So what do we when that happens, and how do get back on track?
If you are like me, summer is typically low key and filled with entertaining! While we made great memories, our bodies are letting us know it's time to focus on treating them well. Fitting in exercise consistently, being mindful of self-care, and fueling with food the way nature intended (even when carpool is heading in two different directions)! While the treadmill of life gets cranked up and we are scheduled to the hilt, there is something about back to school that makes me feel like the reset button has been hit. Routine supports healthy choices because we know what to anticipate and we aren't making decisions on the fly. So, where do we begin??
Let's start today with adding in foods that support how our systems clean out what we don't need (or that we spent the summer adding in). We are inundated on a daily basis with toxins we cannot avoid. The world we live in is toxic, the air we breathe is full of pollution, our water is not 100% clean, and food is processed now more than ever. Fortunately, there are many things we can avoid and control when it comes to what enters our bodies. Choosing to fuel ourselves with foods that naturally fight toxins is an essential step in decreasing our toxic load AND it's doesn't have to be complicated.
Here are five foods that naturally detox the body…
1. Garlic. Packed with sulfur – a mineral that supports the body in detoxification. Garlic is also extremely valuable to the body as it contains antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties that keep your immune system resilient. Best news yet – it’s delicious and a great addition to almost any meal. So, eat up!
2. Turmeric. This word wasn't even part of my vocabulary 3 years ago and now I love it! You may know this beneficial herb as the main spice in curry. Great for inflammation, free-radical fighting antioxidants, and detoxing the liver. You can use turmeric to season your veggies, add into your soups, take it as a supplement or make a homemade turmeric tea. (recipe below)
3. Leafy greens. It’s no surprise that I’m telling you how advantageous it is to eat your greens, right? Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, getting greens into your diet will leave you with lasting results. Greens are also filled with fiber which helps you to feel satisfied longer. You can be sure to get your greens in salads, green smoothies, juicing and cooking your greens into your meals.
4. Beets. Beets are fantastic for detoxing the liver, among the tremendous amount of antioxidants, calcium and vitamins they possess. Full disclosure, I thought for years these tasted like dirt! This past year we started juicing beets in some of our juices that we make and the taste is great. I also love to have them roasted in a beautiful salad combined with arugula and goat cheese - yum!
5. Water. Ok while not technically a food we do ingest this. Many people are partially dehydrated all the time, which adds more stress on the body to do it's job optimally. Start your day with a glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon juice - yes even before your coffee. Make sure to sip on water throughout the day - where you go it goes!
Detox Tip: If you notice, many of these detox benefits include detoxing the liver. When the liver is clean and functioning optimally, your body is better able to balance your energy, hormones, and the rest of your body functions more pleasantly.
Homemade Turmeric Tea Recipe
Blend all ingredients together in a blender, pour into small pan and heat on the stove until the desired temperature is reached. Enjoy!
Have an amazing day! Check out my FREE Fall One Day Reset Guide - Set yourself up to have the healthiest and most energetic fall yet!
Happy Summer! While it's coming to an end and it's sad that we are jumping back into busier schedules, I love this time of year in NJ! We are surrounded by some of the best local produce. Everything is so beautiful in taste, texture and colors! No excuse to not fit our veggies in...
Check out the following video for a look into how and why we Can...stay tuned next week for an additional update when we Can our homemade sauce. We had slight operator error filming the canner :) I will post an update once we finish the 50 pounds so you can see that portion of the process. Hope you get a giggle out of our video editing!
Prep is key to keeping our days running smoothly! Remember to take a few moments each week to set a plan in place for healthy meals. Enjoy the last week of summer and go make memories.
I was fortunate to grow up in a house where my mom made pretty much every meal from scratch. We had salad every night with dinner, vegetables and fruit were canned while in season, everything was fresh ingredients for our meals of the day.
Can you just imagine my mother cringing as we got older, earning our own money, and we began to buy processed foods? Think peanut butter kandy cakes and yes, Spaghetti O’s – but I digress! When I got married, everything that was in my cart at the store was quick and simple. Our evenings didn’t start until 9pm, when we would meet our friends for appetizers (mostly all fried) and drinks. We would go to bed with heavy foods in our belly’s and our bodies began to rebel. My husband and I watched our weight increase, our routine bloodwork change, we led very sedentary lives, and were unkind to our bodies overall.
To this point we equated comfort food and convenience as the norm in our lives. However, once we started to realize just how unhealthy our choices were, we started to rethink our choices. This is a process that is still evolving today! We are human just as you are and have moments where old habits creep in and forget self-care.
So where do you start? How do you begin to make small attainable changes? An easy first step is to increase the amount of meals you eat at home. Most American families eat less than 70% of their meals in the home. That leaves a large portion of what we consume to be filled with fat, salt, and sugar. People who cook at home typically eat healthier and consume less calories than those who do not cook at home. Preparing foods in your own home gives you more control over the quality of the ingredients and portion control.
I hear you!! You, like most of my clients, are saying how can I do that when I am so busy? That’s the exact reason to begin to cook at home! Most of us really don’t have time to be sick and add another layer of appointments into our day.
Try to implement a few of the following tips to make home cooking easier:
An added bonus to cooking at home is the time you are able to check in with your family – even on the fly if that’s what the day brings. What a better way to show them you love them, than providing a healthy meal made from the heart.
Let’s think outside the box (pun intended) and make healthy home cooked meals a priority! One step at a time...You got this!
Would you like help learning how to implement healthy home cooked meals into your routine? Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today——or pass this offer on to someone you care about!
Slow down and chew your food! I am sure you have heard or repeated those words at some point in your life. Besides not choking – which is clearly an excellent reason to chew, what’s the difference if we “inhale” our food or leisurely eat a meal?
During spring break we were fortunate enough to travel to Ecuador. The farm we stayed on had groves of plants and trees that we could just pick and eat some of the most beautiful produce I have ever seen. While I am the kind of person that eats to live, I truly lived to eat while we were away! Sorry – I digress – back to chewing!!
This beautiful plate that's in front of me was my own breakfast after traveling early one morning. It was filled with beautiful potatoes smothered in a cilantro sauce, cheese (my favorite!) and a huge corn kernel salad – yum! I was so hungry that I leaned over the plate and I didn't lift my head up until I had inhaled the whole thing. There was no polite conversation, no breathing, and short of the first few bites not much tasting either. While I do remember this meal, clearly I missed a valuable opportunity to help my digestion and cultivate the relationships of the people around me.
Have you ever sat at your table with your family and realized that a meal that took you 30 minutes or more to prepare is gone in a matter of five minutes – if that? It's kind a like Thanksgiving dinner - where you spend days and days preparing the meal and then everyone sits down and all of your labor is gone and inhaled in minutes. Quickly getting through things is part of how most of us live.
So why is chewing so important? Chewing actually begins the process of digestion. Imagine how hard your stomach has to work on food that has been chewed 3-4 times versus 20 or more. Chewing lets the other key organs in our body know it’s time to get to work and keep the body in balance. It’s an easier process for our whole system if we just slowed down a bit.
Did you know it takes around 20 minutes for our brain and stomach to communicate we are full? Overeating or portion distortion is so understandable if we are just using our forks and spoons as shovels. My breakfast in the picture is 3 times the amount of food I would normally eat at a meal. Slowing down and chewing can help you avoid excess calories you don’t need or want. Consider too, the taste and texture! Have you ever eaten a fresh June strawberry? The color is as red as can be while tasting so very sweet! Really take a moment to taste your food.
A great challenge to do with yourself or family is to see who can chew each bite the longest. I promise it will be the quietest meal your house has had – followed by many giggles!
So you ask, how do I slow down? Put your fork down between bites, be present and mindful while chewing, and engage with those that are enjoying the meal with you. Above all, be kind to yourself…your body deserves it!
Would you like help learning how to slow down and incorporate healthy eating habits for you and your family? Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today——or pass this offer on to someone you care about!
Welcome to Balanced Healthy Self! I'm Amy and my passion is helping individuals who want optimal health, strive for peak performance, and know that prevention is better than treating just the symptoms. Do you crave balance in all areas of your life? You're in the right place.... Amy