Often times, the problem is our mind.
Can you relate? I’m extremely guilty of conjuring up problems that don’t exist. This is mainly because when we allow a single negative thought to enter our mind, it can spiral out of control. And if you suffer from compulsive thinking, it can seem like the problem is never ending.
The impact a negative mindset can have on our health should not be easily dismissed.
How often have you started and ended a diet? Or perhaps you’ve tried to stick to a workout plan but quit before seeing results.
This is something that happens time and time again. I see it often and recognize the patterns right away.
But you know what? If you are one of the many who have started and stopped and started and stopped again, don’t worry. The issue is not the desire to change because in order for you to start, you must have had the desire to change something about yourself. The problem that I see with most is that they try to run before they can walk.
Let me share a quick story with you about a conversation I had with someone and how I was able to help Sue.
Sue used to attend one of my Zumba classes and since she knew I also helped people with their nutrition and mindset, she asked how she could lose weight. First, I asked her what her daily eating habits consisted of. Because she had a corporate job, there were always donuts in the break room so every day, she had 3. That’s right. THREE. I kept listening without judgement. I needed to know exactly what she was doing, how active she was and what she was eating throughout the day. Then I asked if she was willing to make some small changes and she looked worried. She didn’t think she’d be able to give up the donuts.
I told her I understood how important it was for her to not feel deprived. Her issue was that she didn’t want to deal with being uncomfortable or having to make drastic changes. This is a very common issue that many deal with. Some are capable of going cold turkey and giving up everything that made them smile because food had become a source of comfort. Others are not quite ready for this change because the mental commitment is not there. That’s what it all comes down to. The psychological commitment must be there in order to change.
For some, it’s a higher level of commitment and these type of people are super easy to work with. For others, we have to take baby steps so they can learn to crawl, then walk, then run.
For my friend Sue, we cut back from 3 donuts on week 1 to 1.5 donuts on week 2 and to one donut a day on week 3. On week 4, I had her cut back to half of a donut and I had her enjoy every bite. I also had her commit to walking up and down the stairs a couple times and to increase that over time. I had her water down her juice and drink half the soda. I had her increase her water intake and make sure she eats a small salad every day.
All these small changes compounded into a new lifestyle that was easier for her to manage. Once she began to notice how much better she felt and how her energy began to increase, she felt more determined to keep going and eventually added some weight training. She was able to lose 15lbs and grab control of her life.
I hope this helps you to understand how a progressive approach and how making one simple change at a time can lead to a lifestyle you can be proud of. Telling yourself that you can make these changes AND believe that you WILL is a sure way to help you get there.
If you need help with mindset and being able to finally stick to something will work in the long term, just reach out to me. I’d love to help!
Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?
Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing.
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)
OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???
Knowing this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
- To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
- To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
- To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. For real!
Try not to skimp!
(Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)
Tips for better sleep
- The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
- Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
- During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
- Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?
Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte
- 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
- 2 cups of boiling water
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
- 2 dates (optional)
- Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
- Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
- Blend until creamy.
- Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?
Yes, while I always say that it’s better to get your nutrients from food first sometimes supplements are necessary.
Unfortunately there are just some all-too-common nutrients that we simply don’t get enough of. And they’re absolutely critical to optimal health and wellness. Especially as we age.
Here I sifted through the supplements that are available on the market and boiled them down to three that can have the best effect for us.
Supplement #1: Vitamin D
If you live in North America chances are you are low in vitamin D. It’s the “sunshine vitamin” and we just aren’t able to hang out in shorts every day of the year. Even if we did we’d wisely use a bit of sun protection too.
Vitamin D is very important for everyone but especially women over 45. Want to know why?
It helps to protect our bones!
Vitamin D helps our body absorb and keep the calcium we get from our food and drinks. And we all know that calcium is one of the main things our bones are made of.
Want to know something funny about vitamin D (but it’s true, I swear)?
People who get enough vitamin D tend to fall less frequently. Especially as we get older.
Vitamin D can help your bones stay strong and help you fall less. Win-win!
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for over 300 reactions in your body.
As with vitamin D it’s very common for us to simply not get enough. Not even the 320 mg per day that’s recommended.
Low levels of magnesium have been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, low bone density, and even migraines.
Magnesium is found in so many healthy whole foods like beans, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. In fact, the magnesium element is central to a plant’s chlorophyll – it’s actually what causes green plants to be green! And most of us just don’t get enough green plants into our bodies on a regular basis. (You know I have a recipe with green leafies for you below, right?).
Magnesium is a very common supplement and is often added to multivitamins.
Omega-3s and don’t forget about the 5s, 7s, and 9s!
We’ve all heard that we need to get more omega-3 essential fatty acids, right? They’re good for our hearts, brains, and help to reduce inflammation.
These are all good things when it comes to our health and wellness.
But not all of us are ready, willing, and able to eat fish three times per week.
While fish oil supplements contain the “brain healthy” fats called EPA and DHA, those two are not technically the “essential” fats. The plant omega-3 known as ALA is essential and that is because our bodies can convert ALA into EPA and DHA when necessary.
Omega-3 supplements can be found in forms of flax oil, algae oil, fish oil, or even fish liver oil. But not everyone can take them which is why having a vegan option is a life-saver!
Pro Tip: Fish liver oil (e.g. cod liver oil) also contains vitamin D so check your labels and add the amounts together to know how much vitamin D you’re actually getting.
Three supplements to consider now that you’re 45 are: vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3s. It’s nearly impossible to get them through food. My best recommendation is to make sure you’re getting enough through fruits and vegetables in concentrated form. The Juice Plus Trio Blend will take care of the vitamins and minerals while the Juice Plus Vegan Omega Blend will ensure you’re getting all your essential fatty acids.
Always read the supplement labels to see if there are warnings that would make them inappropriate for you. And, of course if you have any medical conditions or take medications or other supplements it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting anything new.
Recipe (Vitamin D, Magnesium & Omega-3s): Salmon Quinoa Buddha Bowl
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup quinoa (cooked)
- 1 can wild salmon
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- ½ red onion (diced) (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- dash salt and pepper
Split spinach, quinoa, wild salmon, sesame seeds, and onion (if using) between two bowls.
Mix sesame oil, rice vinegar, and lemon juice together and pour on top of prepared Buddha bowls.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: When looking for canned salmon try to get the ones with the most vitamin D and make sure cans are BPA-free. Good quality canned fish is usually in the “natural foods” section of many large groceries.
When it comes to staying on track with your nutrition meal prepping ahead of time is the way to go. And if you’re a busy mom like me I don’t have to tell you how important it is to plan ahead in between kids activities, your job, appointments, etc. I have to pay extra attention to my nutrition. As a fitness instructor and trainer I’m always putting my body to the test. Packing my meals ensures I’m eating well no matter what.
And because life is life there will always be something going on. As the saying goes, “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”.
So let’s dive into some great ideas on how you can meal prep, what you’ll need and some bonus recipes to set you up like a boss for the week!
What you’ll need for storage:
- Plastic or glass containers
- Zip-lock bags
- Dry-erase markers
- Lunch box
- Lunch bag
What you’ll need for planning:
- A calendar
- Your grocery list
- A little creativity!
Here are your action steps
- Look over the recipes and write out your grocery shopping list
- Wash all produce and let dry on a kitchen table
- Chop what needs to be chopped
- Roast your veggies
- Grill your meats
- Hard-boil your eggs
- Cook your quinoa
- Blend your salads without dressing and place in containers topped with a paper towel to absorb moisture. Use a combination of romaine, green leaf, spinach, baby kale.
- Let your cooked food cool before storing
You can either portion off your meals now or store in large containers and prep your lunch box the night before which is what I do because I have a little more time.
What should you pack for optimal nourishment?
I like to focus on always packing a mix of fiber, complex carbs, protein and some fat. As you can see in the image below it’s not so difficult. For example you can focus on packing a salad with mixed greens, grilled chicken, pork or steak, half of an avocado or some roasted root vegetables, quinoa salad and a couple hard-boiled eggs. If you use this formula you’ll always have something healthy to eat. You can load your salads with garbanzo beans, shredded carrots, perhaps dried cranberries, nuts and a little goat cheese. Always pack your dressing on the side. See below for some super simple and delicious ideas. Toss those bottles of old dressing away!
My go-to lunch box is from BentGoFresh. When you have a bento style lunch box it takes the guessing work out of portion sizing. Make sure your lunch box is designed to keep your food fresh for a several hours, is leak proof and dishwasher safe. You can learn more about BentGoFresh and their awesome line of lunch boxes including some really cool ones for the kids by going here.
Recipes that are perfect to-go!
Roasted sweet potatoes and beets
- 1 large sweet potato cut peeled and cut into large cubes
- 2 small beets peeled and cut into cubes
- Zest of an orange
- Vegetable oil and a little salt
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss ingredients together. Spread evenly on baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes tossing half-way through. Tip: I like to use my toaster oven rather than the big oven when I’m not roasting large quantities!
- 1 cup cooked quinoa: bring 1 and 3/4 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa with a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Let cool. Tip: If I’m in a hurry I’ll spend the quinoa over a cookie sheet to cool faster.
- 1 can drained garbanzo beans
- 1 can drained kidney beans
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 small can of drained corn
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and boom. Yes, that’s it! This is a favorite. You can top this quinoa salad with avocado, serve it as a main meal or side. You can also add halved cherry tomatoes and shredded carrots. Get creative.
Perfect marinade for chicken
I love using chicken tenders for meal prepping because they cook super fast and if you make sure not to overcook them they will be nice and tender. Tip: I slightly undercook my chicken tenders and then place in a plate and cover with tin foil. The residual heat will continue to cook the chicken without drying it out.
- 1 package of chicken tenders: about 6 pieces
- 3 crushed or thinly chopped garlic cloves
- Juice of one small lime or half of a lemon
- Zest of said lime or lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together. Let the chicken sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or you can cook right away. Use medium to high heat on a non-stick pan. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, careful not to over cook or burn. Transfer to plate and cover with foil until cool.
Simple salad dressings.
You can whip these up in no time. If you want to plan ahead do it on Sunday. Adjust the flavor as your wish.
- 1 part balsamic
- 2 parts olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of Mrs. Dash garlic and herb
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 part apple cider vinegar
- 2 parts olive oil
- Drizzle of honey
- Pinch of salt
Lemon and herb
- Juice of one lemon
- Zest of said lemon
- Double the amount of olive oil
- Mrs. Dash garlic and herb
- Salt and pepper to taste
For more delicious and healthy recipes download the 2 Week Detox plan.