It's simple, really. Vegetables make up basically the healthiest food group that exists. They're densest in nutrients, lowest in sugar, really high in fiber, and typically really low in calories. I'm as far from being vegan as a dog is from being a chocoholic...but the vegans are onto something! (Note: feel free to ask me why I'm not a vegan and why I'm also still friends with them.)
But eating vegetables is hard.
So here's how I do it:
-I dislike wasting groceries, so I buy lots of pretty, beautiful vegetables even when I'm not in the mood just so they're in the fridge. Shopping for veg is the best! It's almost as pretty as shopping for flowers.
-I prep snacking veggies at the beginning of the week (Ever had a cucumber stick? Way more fun than a cucumber circle.).
-I eat lots of loaded salads. Toppings are the best! (Pictured here is my Red and Green Christmas Salad)
-I incorporate veggies into one-pot wonders like soups, chilis, or whole grain veggies dishes.
-And when all else fails, I hide them in smoothies. Hello, spinach.
What's your favorite vegetable? (Maybe if we're super affirming of them, we'll actually indulge this week...) If you comment, I'll send you a fab salad recipe. For real! Try it!
Less than 10% of Americans stick to the New Year's Resolutions they set for themselves. Does this surprise you? And why is this so? My theory is that most of our resolutions are too complicated, immeasurable, and difficult. Take, for instance, the year I decided to limit myself to two warm, half-caf, low-fat beverages per day and one treat beverage per week...I found this resolution in a journal from 5 years ago and honestly can't tell you what I was thinking when I wrote that out nor if I accomplished it. Complicated!
But other than a few resolutions like that one from my past, my personality type generally thrives on creating and sticking to goals. I thought I'd share with you today what my New Year's Resolutions were last year and how I accomplished them (or, sometimes, didn't). I'm doing something similar this year, but haven't yet nailed down the details. If this post is helpful to you, let me know in the comments and I can turn in into a series, allowing you guys to follow me through my 2016 resolutions.
In 2015, I had a few things I wanted to make time for. Two of them for sure were cooking and reading as therapeutic practices. But there were so many others that I couldn't quite decide how to compile them into one resolution. So, I decided I was going to focus on one aspect of self-discipline per month as well as making a simple and intentional plan for cooking and reading each month. On the first of the month, I would chose a word and write a few sentences in my journal about how I'd like to grow in that area, as well as a few sentences on what recipe I'd like to try and what book I was currently reading through. This was such a helpful way to tackle the many goals running through my mind one-by-one!
How did it go, you may be wondering? Well, not perfectly, but rather efficiently at the same time. Some months, I wrote up my word late or didn't think of one at all (like in August). But I consistently made time for checking in at the end of each month to talk with myself about how I did or didn't grow in the particular area of self-discipline. Here's a snapshot of one of those months:
My other words last year were: health, prayer, Sabbath, beauty, Summer, budget, work, faith, gratitude, and Advent.
So with this reflection in mind, my top three guidelines are as follows...New Year's Resolutions (and all goals, for that matter) need to be:
1. My goals were simple. In addition to trying out a new recipe and spending time reading each month (things I love to do anyway, but was just trying to make a more regular part of my life), I focused on one word every month. It was not hard to remember what I was working on!
2. My goals were measurable. At the end of the month, I knew whether or not I had read the book I wanted to read (just by looking at the location of the bookmark!), tested the recipe (again, duh), and grown in the particular area of self-discipline because I was really clear about what my intentions were at the beginning of the month.
3. My goals were doable. For example, in January, when my word was "health", I didn't challenge myself to workout every single day, but rather 5 times per week. I got into this routine very quickly because having 2 days off ever week felt like a luxury!
So if you haven't nailed down a New Year's Resolution yet this year, I challenge you to do so. I understand that my method, while simple enough for someone as detail-oriented as I am to follow, may be a little complicated. Don't do it that way, then! Maybe you will choose one word for the year and set a reminder at the beginning and end of each month to check in and ask yourself how you're doing with it. Maybe you'll simply work out one goal at a time without a timeline until you feel ready to move onto the next goal. Get clear about what goals have and haven't worked for you in the past and replicate the method you employed for the successful ones. Simply having a goal you're working toward is an important aspect of holistic health, whether or not it's a specific "health" goal.
Happy New Year, friends. Today is a new chance to honor the vessel you were given...let me hear in the comments below your plans for making 2016 count. Just getting it out there, even anonymously, will help you to feel like what you intend to do is meaningful. Because it is!
Today is Part One in a series I’m entitling-Honoring the Vessel. I’ll be interviewing individuals over the course of 2016 who have taken back control of their health, but I wanted to start the series just before the New Year with a timely, high-impact story.
Meet Eric. In 2011, Eric weighed over 100 pounds more than he does today. He was tired of being lonely, knew this weight might affect job opportunities, and felt embarrassed to talk to family about his health problem. He didn’t like looking at himself in the mirror and had a hard time finding clothes in his size. He kept telling himself, “One day I’ll make a change,” but it wasn’t until he saw his grandfather one Christmas that he decided *One Day* needed to be soon. As he explains it, something just clicked for him.
Eric’s *One Day* was December 26, 2011. He knew he would be waking up and making changes. Eric began eating less, eliminating all beverages but water, and logging miles on the treadmill. He took on the incredibly brave learn-as-you-go approach and taught himself loads of information about how many calories his body needed, why sugar was hurting him, and increasing the difficulty of exercise as his body began to change. He lost a staggering amount of weight within the first month, proving to himself that he was determined to make this change a lasting one.
Of course Eric couldn’t have walked this journey alone. He recalls the consistent support of a knowledgeable friend who reminded him that for every small sacrifice or difficult task he was performing for his health, Eric was adding years onto his life. Eric also had the support of his family members, who began to make healthy changes at the same time as him. The process was far from easy, however.
I asked Eric about the biggest obstacles he had to overcome. He told me about how he would mindlessly begin driving to the same fast food restaurants to get the food he had craved and eaten for so many years. This was a serious habit that took conscious effort to break. He also had to make the all-important realization that weight loss (or achieving any health goal, for that matter) requires time management. He was not used to scheduling workouts into his routine. Possibly the most important discovery he made on this journey, though, was that his body is unique. There is no “normal” diet and when he gets into the mindset of eating like a “normal” person, consuming what our culture deems a “normal diet”, he will not be able to maintain weight, but will rather gain.
Eric is a changed man without a doubt. Thriving with exciting opportunities and relationships, he really seems to know greater freedom than he did when he struggled with obesity. I was so pleased to see that Eric is now in a place of getting to work toward more advanced health goals. This led me to my last question for him: “What’s next for you in health?”, to which Eric answered that he plans to better manage his nutrients and portion control in the coming year, as well as strengthening his body with more cardio in his workout routine. It was encouraging to see someone who has tasted good health own up to the fact that it takes constant effort to maintain it.
So here’s to you, Eric. Four years ago today, you took your health into your own hands and made changes that allowed you to embody the reality of health: that it’s about more than being the perfect body weight. It’s about feeling good in the body you were given and honoring that vessel. I give you my (virtual) standing ovation! May God bless you in 2016 with another satisfying year as you continue to encourage others who need to make this change by living such an exemplary life.
This past Sunday, I ran a 5K with two of my clients, Anastassia and Brian. It was so awesome to see them supporting one another in both the training and the execution of this goal. It was also a HUGE accountability to me, as this time of year brings with it a lack of motivation toward healthy movement. Because I had agreed to run this race with the couple, I was responsible for getting myself into 5K shape.
Finishing a 5K this month was one of my year end goals, so in due diligence, I'm reporting that it's complete! I try to talk about my own health a lot as I coach and blog here at Nourished! because believe it or not, eating well and moving...while they have become much more habitual in my life over the past few years, don't always feel fun to me. I find that remaining committed to living the life I desire my clients to live has been the most incredible way to stay accountable to good health in this journey. A couple of my other year end goals were to:
-Remain controlled with my lifestyle diet and limit cheat days to where they normally belong for me (holidays and weekends).
-Stay on top of immunity.
The first point has been difficult, I will not lie. When I wrote this year end resolution, I had forgotten about all the opportunities I'd have for celebration in December. I've been diligent about choosing just one treat when I'm at a party and trying to enjoy the heck out of it while abstaining from everything else...my energy levels and emotional stability thank me for this. But I have definitely had a treat here and there on a non-holiday or non-weekend day. There's grace for that, I tell myself! I'm just being honest with you all here that the struggle is not only yours.
Staying on top of immunity has been a challenge as well as cold and flu is now at its peak. I came down with back-to-back colds a few weeks ago, but was able to fight them off more quickly that usual with plenty of fluids and rest. Also, the thing about zinc shortening your cold or flu really did seem to work on me! I loaded up on the stuff as soon as I felt the sore throats creeping in and was not down for long at all. Presently, I'm feeling perfectly healthy!
So there you have it: my year end check in. It's not perfect, but it's real and honest. I encourage you to openly share your year end goals with friends as well since talking about them is the most helpful way to follow through!
Is it just me or do you kinda piddle out physically toward the end of the year too? Something hits me around Halloween each year that tempts me to just "give up" on any ambitious personal standards around food and exercise. I think to myself, "Well, I made it though Halloween, but then there's Thanksgiving, about 3-4 holiday parties, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...and then I may as well eat whatever I want until New Year's Day because it's only a week later..."
Enough is enough! 2014 was the last year I'd do that to myself. Sure, there's a place for less stringent rules around food when you've got a handle on avoiding sensitivities and you're in maintenance mode. But truthfully speaking, if I let myself forget about diet and exercise entirely from now until January, I will enter 2016 in a fog. I don't want to live that way! I don't want to wait for New Year's Resolutions to get my body in check. I want to keep my body in check through the holiday season so that I can focus on more specific and advanced New Year's Resolutions...ones that require a pre-established high standard of health.
In order to do that, I'm setting a few goals for myself to finish 2015 well. I would encourage you to do the same! Ok, so in the next two months, I will:
-Stay controlled with my lifestyle diet and keep cheat days limited to holidays and weekends, like I normally would any other time of the year. I will not "give up" between Christmas and New Year.
-Stay on top of immunity.
-Participate in a 5K!
What about you? What do you need to do in these last couple months of 2015 to stay on track (or get on track, for that matter)? What can you do for yourself now to get a healthy jump start on any physical New Year's Resolutions you hope to tackle next year? You are worth that jump start and you are worth a good finish.
Let me know in the comments what your plan is!
If you're wondering what I, as a Health Coach, actually eat from day to day, it's good you tuned in today. I'm opening the doors to my refrigerator and pantry to show you what my grocery haul and times of food prep produced for this week's meals. Let me start with a throwback to the subject of bio-individuality. Subscribing to the philosophy that there is no one-size-fits-all diet, I'm ready and eager to share with you all how I eat, only with the caution that it does not prescribe or suggest a similar diet for you, necessarily. So here's a little snapshot of my personal dietary guidelines:
My only sensitivities are certain nuts and acidic foods, as I'm prone to mouth sores. With that said, I do eat gluten, dairy, and other animal products. I allow myself only whole grains and natural sugars (fruit, honey, coconut sugar, etc) for the most part. If I'm eating conventional sugar, it's organic and comes in at less than 10g/serving. As for organic products, I strive for organic (or at least naturally raised) animal products and organic produce from the dirty dozen list. Basically everything else is fair game. I'm at a point in my health journey where I know when my cravings are coming from my body or my mind and have a pretty good handle on exceptions to the personal guidelines I just shared. It has to be said--I love getting clients to this place! Knowing when and how much of a treat you can or cannot handle is so freeing!
Ok, back to the kitchen. This week, I've got the following foods on hand:
In the fridge door-
A small organic milk, fizzy waters, organic apple cider, organic half and half, and red wine.
Inside the refrigerator-
Cage free eggs, an organic cucumber, organic yogurt, and in the containers: sautéed brussels sprouts, quinoa pasta, antibiotic free chicken meatballs, and pumpkin puree.
In the pantry-
Organic dark chocolate with sea salt, raw honey, raw cashews, organic popping corn, quick oats, maple syrup, and all natural peanut butter.
Aaand in the fruit basket-
Clementines and bananas!
There you have it! This may or may not excite you as much as it does me, but my purpose in sharing a glimpse into my kitchen today is not necessarily to excite. It's to inspire you that making healthy choices takes effort even for a Health Coach who lives and breathes this stuff daily. The fact of the matter is: if I hadn't gone to the grocery store and carved out time to cook the ingredients that needed prep, I'd be relying on store-bought food or restaurants multiple times throughout the week. It's a simple concept, but one that requires a choice.
So my encouragement to you is to plan when you'll grocery shop and prepare your meals for the coming week! It will make all the difference if this isn't already a habit for you.
What day of the week do you most enjoy grocery shopping? Share in the comments below!