Making changes to your diet is no easy task no matter what the situation. We tend to get used to our way of meal prepping, eating out, or no prepping at all. To make long lasting changes can seem overwhelming. If you can, it's often more manageable to make small sustainable changes rather than trying to jump off the cliff into a whole new way of eating.
Salt & Sugar
Although there are a lot of things wrong with the way most of us have become accustomed to eating, especially in the US, there are two evils that may be the worst. These two are salt and sugar. Our foods are over laden with them and we have become so unsuspecting and just trust the system to provide foods that do not harm us. If you eat out - you're getting tons more salt and sugar than you need in a day; pretty much in every meal.
Two Kinds of Salt
Let me make a distinction between the two types of salt. One salt is processed - plain "table salt." It is highly processed and contains virtually no nutrients. True sea salt actually contains nutrients you need. Even on a salt-restricted diet, most people are okay with consuming sea salt, but table salt is just flat not good for our bodies. Consuming table salt causes swelling, water retention, and can be connected to high blood pressure. Consuming sea salt can help the body maintain good hydration levels. It give the body real nutrients that won't cause the body to store water like traditional salt does. If you can make one change, I would suggest leaving table salt behind.
Not My Sugar Too!
The other hazard for our bodies is sugar. It's highly processed and stripped of all nutrients like salt is. If you deal with inflammation, consuming sugar is likely a factor. Let us distinguish again that I am not talking about natural sugars. Fruits, raw honey, and real maple syrup are natural, minimally processed sugars that contain nutrients. These are good for you in moderation. White sugar is so processed there's not much left. If you can make this change, drop off processed sugars and switch to natural alternatives.
Trading table salt for sea salt and processed sugar for natural sugars are two changes that can make a huge difference in your health. These two processed items wreak havoc on our body systems. It can be difficult to make the switch because we are so used to these flavors. But you can choose to reset your taste buds. I'm not saying it's easy - but it is certainly worth it!
Once again the holidays have nearly come and gone. Their impact leaves a lingering effect on our health making it difficult to begin again. However, many people like to take advantage of the new year and at least give clean eating and healthy living a shot. Don't let leftovers, sluggish feelings, and tiredness stop you from at least giving it a shot! That's what a health coach is for - to help keep you on track until you reach your goals. But how do you get started? Too bad our body doesn't have a reboot or reset button, huh? Here are a few tips to help you with a reboot once the holidays are hindsight.
Tip 1: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Hydration is way underrated in my opinion. The best way to calculate how much water/liquid you need to take in each day is to take half of your weight. That's how many ounces of water you need each day to lube the body and make all the systems work right. I'm a coffee drinker - but coffee and other drinks containing caffeine only count as half. For instance, if you drink an 8-ounce cup of coffee, you get credit for four ounces. I'd say get your ounces in any way you can. Water is always best. Fruit-infused water offers some flavor and hydration at the same time. Steer away from heavily sweetened drinks. Taking in enough liquids can help battle feelings of tiredness and sluggishness.
Tip 2: Exercise! No Matter How Little or How Much.
Seriously, exercise is an essential. Remember first of all, that something (anything) is better than nothing. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you don't have to jump off the couch or out from behind the desk and start training for a marathon. That would actually be hazardous! Exercise is beneficial for every part of the body. It boosts immunity, increases circulation, and also helps boost your mood. That's just touching the surface. If you already have goals for walking, running, weight lifting or any other form of regular exercise, simply raise your goals by about 10%. If you don't do anything right now starting with something simple like taking a few steps more each time you go to the bathroom, arm lifts while sitting in a chair, ankle twists, or just bending your legs back and forth. Do just a little more than what you are doing (or aren't doing) right now. Each movement is a step toward feeling better and each step toward feeling better... is always a victory! If you need ideas on how to start where you are and move forward, please contact me! I'd love to help you set your first set of goals from here.
Tip 3: Eat More Green.
I know, lots of people don't like vegetables like I do. Most of the time, I prefer a vegetarian or plant-based diet even though I'm not opposed to eating meat. Giving up meat altogether can seem overwhelming. Instead of making huge shifts and changes that cannot be sustained, start small with your reboot. Just add something green or fresh to each meal. If you like smoothies, sneak some fresh spinach leaves in your next one. Chances are you won't even taste it's there - but your body will benefit from its presence. Add green onions or jalapenos to your scrambled eggs. They are loaded with vitamin C and are great metabolism boosters. Be creative and eat more green. If you need ideas - I'm an email away!
Tip4: Eat a Wholesome, Plant-Based Breakfast
When I first thought about plant-based breakfasts, I was at a loss. I've adapted what I like and transformed it into one of my best sources of plant foods for the day. You cannot get more well-rounded than steel cut or whole oats with fruit and nuts. You can also add cinnamon or nut butters to create a tasty start to your day. My personal favorite is what I call a "garden omelet" even though it's not really an omelet. I add avocado oil or olive oil to a skillet and then put red potatoes and sweet potatoes in to cook. While they cook, I add kale, onions, jalapenos, and squash. Once the veggies have cooked, I add a little cheese and then scramble an egg up with it. This is another area where something is better than nothing. Breakfast wakes up your metabolism and levels out sugar levels first thing in the morning. When you skip this meal, you set yourself up to overeat the rest of the day. It doesn't have to be elaborate. A slice of whole grain bread with natural peanut butter is a good, fast option you can eat on the go. A banana by itself is better than nothing! Need breakfast ideas? Hit me up - I'll help you find what works for you!
Tip 5: Replace Sugars with Naturally Sweet Foods
Giving up sugar altogether is challenging - especially during the holidays. Instead of going cold turkey and getting rid of all sugars too fast, try replacing your daily sugars with natural options. Peanut butter on an apple is a good afternoon snack. It'll keep your sugar levels up and help avoid the mid afternoon slump. Make your own healthy caramel using all natural ingredients. It's got lots of calories, but no processed sugar and boy is it delicious. It can satisfy a sweet tooth without overly processed foods. Begin the shift by substituting fruit or other naturally sweet foods for your afternoon snack. Move toward removing processed sugars from your diet completely. Again, if you need ideas on sweet alternatives, let me know. I'd love to help.
Ready to Reboot After the Holidays?
Grab a notebook and a cup of your favorite winter beverage. It's time to set some goals. In years gone by, it's not been one of my stronger suits, but the last few years I've gotten better at it. I've got a little bit of perfectionism in me. Just enough that I'll use it for an excuse for not getting things done. You know, if I can't do it perfectly, why do it at all?
Maybe it's my age - but I'm getting better at setting goals. I learned that when I set them - I at least get something done. Maybe it's just the fact that I am intentional and thoughtful about setting them, but at least I get make some progress. I've come to enjoy setting goals partly because I feel more intentional. Putting in the time to seriously think about goals can be inspirational.
Tips for Goal Setting
I don't think I qualify as a goal-setting guru, but I think there are a few things that are important, even if they are slightly outside the box. Here's my take:
1. Set Goals. It's better to set them than to not have goals at all.
2. Don't use someone else's goals for your own. You may draw inspiration from other people's goals, but you are unique - what works for one may not be fit for all. Make them your own.
3. Be reasonable. Make sure your goals are attainable. You don't want them too vast for you to succeed, but don't make them so easy you can have them all done by the end of next week.
4. Make them measurable. When setting your goals, make sure you will know when you reach them. Use definite terms or numbers.
5. Set different goals in various life arenas. I suggest one goal in each life arena: health/fitness, friends/relationships, spirituality, career, and fun.
The Making of a Goal
Take some time to set your goals. Think about them for a few days. Then write them down. Maybe put them in a journal or notebook. Your yearly goals need to be big - it should take you most of the year to reach them. Each month you can set medium-sized goals that keep you moving toward your yearly goal. Then your weekly goals become smaller, bite-size pieces that you can manage and accomplish.
Many people overlook this structure or try to bypass it. They write down their goals in January, but don't look at them again until December if at all. Refer to them often, at least monthly as you work on your weekly goals.
I am still working on overall goals for this next year. That means I have a lot of thoughts still running around in my head. First, I'll write the overall goal. For instance, I want to read a book a month so the next step will be to create a list of books to draw from. Another goal is working more hours each week. My next step is to decide on a schedule or how to block off some time. Start big and work your way backwards toward the smaller pieces. It's doable - I'll have mine ready by the first of the year.
Need Some Help With Goal Setting?
Do you ever feel like you are losing control? I know I do. It's especially true in our fast-paced lives, don't you think? In a generation of jugglers it is easy to lose control. We have to juggle family, spirituality, careers, fitness, food, and work entertainment in somewhere. If any one of these becomes imbalanced our world can topple and we end up out of kilter within our own selves. We struggle to get back in charge of our person and personal lives.
This weekend, I decided to take myself back. Mostly this decision pertained to my eating plan. I'm supposed to be on a strict diet, but it's so difficult sometimes. Fast foods are well, faster, easier and more convenient. Once I cheat, it seems it begins to spiral down until I am totally out of control.
I've said before that you are the MVP (most valuable player) in the story of your life. It'll all play out based on your decisions. This holds true even if you decide to give the decision-making over to someone else. Well, this weekend, I decided to put myself back in charge of myself. I cooked healthy, ate healthy and feel much better from the inside out. I'm glad I made that choice.
Take a few minutes to think about who you are putting "in charge" of your health? Is it your kids? Your spouse or significant other? Decide to take back the reigns and be your own boss again. Don't let others make the decisions that affect your health. You are the only one who can decide to workout, eat right for you, and maintain a healthy perspective on life.
You are In Charge! Wear it well!