FAT…why would you even use that word?

I am constantly learning and tweaking nutrition and tactics to support the healthy lifestyle my husband and I enjoy. It takes effort and time, but it is worth it. One of the reasons I work part time is to be able to do this for our family. Lifestyle decisions. My husband and I decided that a healthy lifestyle was a priority for us. We make choices to ensure we can keep it a reality. Weight management has much more to do with nutrition than activity level, and if you read my most recent post about the green cast, you will understand why I’m focused on nutrition again…

I’ve been intrigued by the potential health benefits a higher fat diet may support. After some research, I have come to believe increasing healthy fats in my diet may be key for keeping my weight under control as I age. But, there are many benefits from increasing the healthy fat intake.

Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that I am not about extremes. Carbohydrates are important and must be included in a healthy and balanced diet. I am advocating swapping out some carbohydrates for healthy fats day to day. An important key is to swap and not just add healthy fats, here’s why. Fat has more calories per gram and while good for us, will = increased weight if not monitored. Just keeping it real, peeps! Daily caloric intake is like a bank account…choose how you spend it wisely.

Adding Fat on Purpose

Healthy-FatThere is always a “new” diet surfacing in the media. Foods have phases it seems and research about our nutrition needs continues to evolve. A healthy lifestyle includes tweaking and changing daily nutrition to best meet the needs of our body for that day. We don’t do the same thing each day, our activity varies, our hormones vacillate, our circumstances change, it makes sense then that our body’s needs will be different. When we know better, we do better, right?

Recently I’ve added more healthy fats into my diet. The initial draw was to add a new tool to the weight management toolbox. I am drawn to carbohydrates and love sweets, so the idea of swapping out some of that to curb cravings seemed like a wise move. Not easy, but wise none the less. I did the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet for 12 days to jump-start my new normal (and let’s be real, lose a few pounds). My nutrition goals, while trying the Keto Diet,  were to stay below 50 grams of carbs daily and have 70-75% of my diet come from fat. Maybe you’re asking, why 12 days? The answer is because that is all I could stand! I’m afraid I may have ruined myself on avocados for life. Not really, but I did take a break from them for several days after this experiment. The change was so big that I felt stifled & trapped which is not a good place for me in my head. These types of drastic changes can lead to binges and epic failure…noted. I knew I needed a new plan.

I learned a lot, though, and I’m very glad I did it. I learned that healthy fats really do minimize cravings and increase satiety. I learned that I can do hard things…for 12 days. I learned that there are carbs hiding in all sorts of places! For instance, sugar-free mints. Seriously? I learned that the low-fat way of eating is deeply ingrained in my mind. I was raised in the low-fat/carbs are good generation (Misguided mentality included “eat all the bagels you want, they are low-fat!”). The importance of accurate information, continued education, and adaptation cannot be overstated. All of this discovery led to conversations with my husband about what we wanted our diet to look like. We agreed that a more Mediterranean diet is best for us. This includes a larger portion of our calories coming from healthy fats. I shoot for a break down of about 45% Carbohydrates, 25% healthy fats, and 30% Protein. I use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone for easy food tracking. Carbohydrates from mainly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein from lean meat, dairy,  and vegetables sources. Fats that are healthy for my body and without *trans fats. Oh…and wine. All things in moderation, right?

Quick lesson on dietary fat: *Trans fat is the fat that increases our bad cholesterol and decreases our good cholesterol. A diet high in trans fats leads to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Trans fats are usually found in foods that are processed and have a good shelf life. When reading labels, look for “partially hydrogenated oil”. Baked goods, ready-to-grab snacks, chips, fried foods, refrigerated dough (think canned biscuits, pizza dough, etc) , non-dairy coffee creamers and stick margarine are common places that trans fats will be lurking. Monounsaturated fat is your friend. Look to increase this type of fat when adding fats to a healthy lifestyle.

We need healthy fats in our diet. Fat aids us in keeping healthy skin and hair, absorbing vitamins, reducing inflammation, supporting brain function, and blood clotting, just to highlight a few things. Our body uses fat for energy when carbohydrates, it’s #1 pick for energy, are limited. Therefore, by swapping out some of our carbohydrates for healthy fats, we can increase our fat burning on a day-to-day basis. Fats are a more concentrated source of energy with 9 calories/gram. Carbohydrates and Proteins have 4 calories/gram. This is an important fact to keep forefront in your mind as you add fats into your diet. Portion size should be noted so that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot trying to do the right thing for your body, but instead pile on more pounds for it to carry around (track it, peeps, MyFitnessPal). It takes awareness and effort to live a healthy lifestyle. But here’s the deal: you get one life. One body. It is important to develop habits that promote health, not just weight loss. We are not just numbers on a scale, we are complex and valuable creations.

A recent joy in my life has been my grown children returning to more healthy nutrition by their own choices. We text and visit about easy menus and the importance of planning and my heart is so full. As I’ve grown, recovered from eating disorders, and learned about healthy living, while being their mom, they have been watching. The ripple effect of our eating habits is larger than we might believe. It is challenging to create healthy habits. It takes time and trial and error and a lot of getting up after falling down, but it is worth it. No one that you see that is fit and healthy woke up that way one day! It is a process for everyone and it begins with one choice. Adding choices up day after day leads to changes and results in feeling better emotionally, physically, and mentally.

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

The Story of the Green Cast

Once upon a time there was a young (yep, I said young…stop snickering) woman who loved to ride her bike. Actually she loved to be outside, period. She ran outside, worked in the yard, hung out in the pool, took her dog for walks, and planted flowers. A sun bunny to the max (with sunscreen and a hat, of course). This woman enjoyed being active, getting stuff done, and marking tasks off her to-do list. She walked fast, talked fast, drove fast, made decisions fast…I’m sure you get it. The bruises on her shins made the point clear that moving quickly was a priority over moving carefully.

While enjoying her bike ride one beautiful morning in May a battle between bike and sidewalk ensued with the sidewalk emerging as the clear winner. After checking to ensure her teeth were in their appropriate spots and holding pressure on her busted lip, she was able to ride home. I’ll clear a couple of things up right off the bat for you: No she was not on a mountain. No there was not a mountain lion chasing her. No she was not rushing to perform CPR on a choking child. She was just moving…fast. Bicycle fail. User error. #nooneelsetoblame

IMG_2187Cue green cast. After three rounds of negative x-rays and no perceived improvement of left wrist, the MRI finally showed the fractured wrist bones. A crack so hard to see had gotten this fast girl a place on the bench.  As the cast was applied, the reality of the doctor’s words pierced my heart, “expect a 3 month recovery”.  “Expect a 3 month recovery”.  He repeated it at least three times, my face must have shown my disbelief.  I’d love to say my attitude was great from the start. I wish I could report a positive mindset and trust in God to use this time to produce good things in my life, but I’d be lying. Instead, I stewed, felt guilty, denied my situation, and stomped my feet around a bit. I pouted and stressed. I felt anxious and disappointed. I felt bored and useless. I felt stupid. I felt sad. For a couple of weeks, not hours.

My response to the situation led to some introspection that was overdue. God didn’t judge me or tell me I was stupid for having an accident, and He didn’t want me to dwell on those emotions. He didn’t get frustrated with my pouting and struggling as I tried to resolve the feelings I was experiencing on my own, He was just there. I love God. He is my Father. I am a long time committed follower of Jesus who enjoys a precious, personal, and saving relationship with Him. I knew He was there, I just wasn’t ready to sit still with just Him. But He didn’t leave. Mentally I really struggled with being still, not accomplishing. I wanted to “do”. I would wake up and think, “What am I going to do today?” “What can I accomplish today?” “How can I fill this time?” I was a broken record. I knew I needed to be still with God, but I had forgotten how. It sounds simple, but just stopping and physically sitting still does not necessarily mean that you are emotionally or mentally still…do you get what I’m saying? Being truly still and receptive to His voice is a discipline that I had allowed to fade away.

It has taken several weeks, but I am getting the hang of it. The perks include peace, joy, and rest. Nice replacements for stress, guilt, and anxiety! As I stopped talking and trying to “do” the right thing, I was able to listen. I was surprised to realize the focus of my life had become my two-day a week nursing position. Two 12-hour shifts had become king. Not having them created a void that shocked and dumb-founded me, I was used to having 5 days off every week, why was this such a jolt? I didn’t think I was defining my life by my job until my job wasn’t part of the equation anymore. My job provided my purpose, my social outlet, my mental challenge, and my excuse to be a hermit when I wasn’t at work. My job is a blessing and I realize that so much more now than ever before! I miss my job, my friends, and my patients, but I needed to get my priorities back their appropriate places in order to serve them best. I am grateful for my broken wrist. Not because it is so fun to wear a cast in June in AZ, but because I am excited about this time to reset my daily living. Work will be a part of my life, not the hub. Christ is the center, the cornerstone of my foundation. When I tried to put other things there, I felt the instability and relationships suffered. God didn’t push me off my bike, as much as I’d like to blame someone other than admit my own error. But He creates beauty out of every situation I give to him, He promises to do that for all His kids. “For we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

If we set our pace by the world around us, we are not encouraged to be still or quiet. Rather, a hectic schedule and fast pace is equated with success and importance. Technology reigns and connects us to devices rather than people. It is so easy to get lost in the tasks and the “doing” and slip into auto-pilot mode. That lonely, empty place where we just function without much thought. A healthy lifestyle involves creating space for inactivity and rest. We all need space in our days to unplug and slow our roll. It has to be intentional or it won’t happen. We need time to process emotions and events in our lives. We need a time to slow our pace and hear about the people we share life with. We need to slow down to take care of ourselves and model this practice in front our kids. It is hard to carry on a conversation while you are sprinting…you know?

Here are some things I’ve been reminded of as I’ve been re-kindling my relationship with God and learning to be thankful for stillness and quiet. Be sill for just a moment and consider these thoughts:

  • We benefit from coming to grips with enjoying free time and not feeling guilty. We need hobbies and ways to unplug and decompress, they are not a waste of time.
  • We are not as important as we think we are. (Surprisingly, the staff at work continues to function even when I’m not able to be there…crazy, right?)
  • We can relax and learn when we stop taking ourselves so seriously.
  • Perfection is not the goal…pursuing it is a waste of time and energy. Choose to pursue realistic goals.
  • Relationships are what life is about. Accomplishing tasks, mastering skills, making money…all good things, but relationships are most important. Relationships require a time investment and a mental presence to grow.
  • A solid foundation is critical for resilience. A reset is possible when our foundation is solid. Pursuing a lifestyle that promotes mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health is a great place to begin.
  • We are going to fall. Getting up is optional. Get up.

Movement is a Gift

“Verbing”

Here is a quick activity to prepare you to read this post. Read through this list of verbs picturing a 3-year old child doing each one: jump, run, skip, hop, walk, crawl, bend, sway, swing, shake, twist, gallop, leap, roll, twirl, kick, tip-toe, stamp, grab, punch, pull, push, wiggle, catch, throw, dig, wave, climb, shuffle, creep, march, turn, dive, skate, dance, jog, and stomp.

As I did this exercise myself, by the end of the list I was giggling. I especially like wiggle and creep.  Little kids are so adorable and watching them move in almost any way is cute.

We were created to move. Expectant moms celebrate the movement of their children before they are even born. As babies develop into toddlers, movement is eagerly anticipated and even documented in baby books: first time to roll-over, crawling, pulling up on furniture, first step…and on and on. Movement is miraculous and wonderful. It is awe-inspiring to consider all that occurs, beginning from the cellular level and spreading throughout our body systems, just for us to be able to get up to answer the door!

jumpropeMovement, then, should not be taken for granted! We want to do all we can to protect this ability, strengthen our bodies, and live life to the fullest…right? Now picture yourself doing all the verbs in the above list! When was the last time you shuffled, twirled, or galloped?

Re-framing Exercise

I love and am inspired by hearing about all the various types of physical activity that you guys are involved in! Hiking, half-marathons, boot camps, walks for charities, running, biking, weight lifting, cross-fit…I could go on and on. So wonderful! If you are regularly out there making it happen just take a moment and tell yourself “good job, self!” You are celebrating your ability to move and giving yourself a much better shot at being able to keep moving!

It takes a lot of determination and lifestyle changing to create a dedicated work-out routine. If you are watching from the side-lines and wish you could get a routine going, it is time to make it happen! Every person that regularly works out, at some point had to start and then keep going.

Re-framing exercise in our minds can motivate us to get started or continue to challenge ourselves. Our perspective holds a lot of power. For instance, when I don’t feel like exercising, I think of someone that can’t. We all know of people that struggle with chronic pain or other health issues that limit their mobility. We know of those with acute disease processes or medical treatments that make physical exertion impossible. Maybe this sounds dramatic, but it is important to think about how blessed we are to be able to move around!

Over the past 3 years my Dad has gone through two back surgeries in an effort to alleviate intense and chronic back and leg pain and weakness. It has been a difficult journey for him physically but also emotionally and mentally. Traveling this road with him has changed my perspective on the ability to move and exercise. During this time, if I didn’t feel like running one day, I would do it for my dad. While I ran, I’d pray for him and text him when I got home to tell him “we” had been for a run. When I hurt and ache from exercise, I am motivated to stretch and keep working so that those aches don’t become debilitating. Yes, I want to look good, but my perspective has shifted away from that desire to a more big-picture point of view. Being healthy, fit, and strong are my goals for whatever circumstance I may find myself in.

Maybe you need to re-frame your views of exercise. If you make it a “should” it can cause you to feel pressure and that can give birth to rebellion. If you put unrealistic expectations on yourself, they can be discouraging and lead to destructive behaviors. Instead of looking at someone else and wishing you were them, create the life you want. My dad is back on the tennis courts 3 times a week now. He and my mom are working out at a gym a couple times a week. I am so very proud of them! He still has a lot of pain, but he has re-framed his attitude about exercise and decided what kind of life he wants! He is making forward strides in improving his mobility and decreasing his need for pain medication. He is being active with my mom which is an important show of commitment to her and a time of bonding for them.

Exercise is not just a “should”. Being able to be physically active is a gift. A gift that comes with a lot of perks: better sleep, improved memory, cognitive sharpness, stress relief, increased self-confidence, better time management, higher productivity, improved mood, reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure,  & stroke! On top of all that: strong muscles, endurance, less fat, and less stress on our joints and spine. Feel better, play hard, get moving. I think a big twirl and some marching might just be in order.

The Grief Walk

Image result for griefAs a nurse, I experience many emotions with families that cross my path. The spectrum involved in one day can sometimes be dizzying and is often exhausting. The powerful emotions surrounding loss can easily overwhelm even the most veteran nurses when tragic loss arrives during a “normal” work day, unannounced and uninvited. A chaplain offers a prayer, nurses gather to cry and hug, and then the serving resumes. We proceed through our shifts and appear to be unscathed…but loss always leaves a mark, whether acknowledged or not. The grieving process is the healing process. As nurses we talk through our losses. We manage them alone at night while the rest of the world sleeps. The goal being to walk all the way through the grief and experience healing that can then ignite deeper compassion and nursing care that promotes true health and wellness for our patients as well as ourselves.

Our response to loss initiates an extensive ripple effect through our lives. It is worth acknowledging and discussing. I think people don’t understand how many losses are really experienced throughout life. Things that we may think are “just a part of life” create losses/wounds that need to be grieved. It is easier to disregard the impact of loss then to address the emotions of these difficult times. Left alone, these emotions destroy us. They build up and become distorted and impact us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. However, when we are willing to grieve and walk through the pain and out on the other side, we transform a gaping wound to a small scar. We can lift our heads and embrace a new normal.

So why have I brought up such an uplifting topic? My work allows me to see new life coming into the world every shift, and I wonder what lies ahead for these small miracles that have landed in this family called the human race. Hatred seems to be growing like a forest fire after a drought and I have to wonder…is this a ripple from grief and loss that have not been healed but rather passed down through generations? When the response to tragedy is finding someone to blame…a seed of hatred is planted. When the response to loss is jealousy of others who haven’t experienced that same loss…seeds of contempt and entitlement are planted. When the response to loss is isolation and self-pity…seeds of bitterness and resentment are planted. Destructive coping skills can impact families through generations and create deep chasms of pain in stone hearts. These hearts turn into nations imploding.

Loss is a given, but grieving and healing areImage result for grief choices and not mandatory. When we acknowledge our feelings and our grief, we are accepting the hurt and pain that come from the healing process. We must be vulnerable and welcome uncertainty and that is not in our comfort zone. However, the beauty is that as we journey, we grow and develop new skills. We meet others that reach back to aid us in our assent. And we stop the bleeding and heal. Then we can turn around and extend a hand to others with soft hearts and eyes filled with tenderness instead of hatred. I have walked a few roads that involved extreme loss and I have many scars. These times were dark, heavy, and oppressive. I would not want to experience them again. But the emotional stamina, faith, strength, confidence, hope, and clarity of thinking that I have today were all developed and nurtured during the grief walks of my life. Now, my scars offer common ground when others that are hurting. Ripples of empathy and non-judgmental kindness instead of hatred, bitterness, and pain are the result.

Take a moment and think about losses you have experienced. Some will be enormous, like loss of trust or control from an abusive situation or loss of a loved one or wayward child. Some may seem insignificant like the loss of a pet or a friend moving away. All loss leaves a mark. When kids move away we experience loss. When we retire there are losses to address. When loved ones pass and there are no answers, the loss is immense. We all experience loss and must choose our responses carefully.

I pray for you today as you read this blog. My journey has led me to a deep faith in God that sustains me each day. I know that He can be trusted and is my unwavering foundation of security no matter what losses come my way. Maybe I just lost you there. Maybe you have been hurt by something that happened to you at church or someone’s actions who said they were a Christian. I understand and I truly am sorry. My prayer is that you take it up with God. His shoulders are big enough and He can handle even the most rambunctious human heart. This is encouragement for healing, a hand reaching back, an acknowledgment of need. Please stop the bleeding and find rest and peace.

 

 

“May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, New Living Translation)

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Way

 

laughing-baby Unique from the Beginning

From our first breath, we are unique. I see it every day in my job as a baby nurse. Some infants are quiet and content, some are feisty and “talkative”. Some babies want to be held all the time, other babies need a break from the cuddling. I continue to be in awe of the unique personality traits that are evident from the first moments of life. From feet to fingerprints, we are individuals and one-of-a-kind miracles from the moment we arrive on this earth until the moment we take our last breath.

In order to fully embrace our lives, we must understand, accept, and remind ourselves daily that we are unique…and that is how it supposed to be. You have been created with a unique set of gifts, talents, desires, and characteristics. When honed and mastered these skills will enrich your life and bless those who come in contact with you. So, open your heart and identify your strengths. Nurture them, refine them, use them, and relax in knowing you are exactly who you were meant to be and you are precious.

In our world buzzing with social media it is easy to get lost and believe that only other people are having fun, enjoying life, and making dreams come true. That is a bunch of b.o.l.o.g.n.a! Don’t waste time wishing you were someone else, spend your time and energy becoming your best you!

Healthy Lifestyle – My Way

A healthy lifestyle means different things to different people. That makes sense being that we are all different! Acceptance of others and their beliefs is an important component of any healthy lifestyle. For me personally, my approach to eating is one of balance and moderation. I enjoy every food group and choose to focus on portions, monitoring my macro-nutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats), and overall caloric intake (Thanks My Fitness Pal!). This approach has developed over years of frustration with fad diets and yo-yo weight loss/gain prompting research and commitment to success. It works for me. Does that mean it is the plan, morsel for morsel, that you should immediately apply to your life? Nope. You need to discover your own style, your own methods, and a lifestyle that works with your big picture of life! It is unfair and unrealistic to think that just because a certain plan or approach works for one person that it will work for everyone. Flexibility and adaptability are important components in all of life, including the development and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.

That said, I still am passionate about sharing what I have learned over the years! Managing diet and nutrition can take up an inordinate amount of space in life and become an obsession. I got so tired of thinking about food all the time while trying to not eat! So I share, hoping to lighten your load and encourage you. If you truly desire to lose weight and eat healthfully, you can do it. It takes commitment and acceptance that habits will not change overnight, but you can do it. It takes support and willingness to be uncomfortable, but you can do it. It requires learning new things and applying that knowledge, but you can do it. You have to want it more than you want the instant gratification of a yummy morsel, but you can do it!

So what is “Your Way”?

What works for you? If you don’t have success stories, then what you do have is valuable experience. You have learned what doesn’t work for you and that is very helpful! When you fail (and we all do), realistically evaluate what happened and adjust the plan. Don’t keep trying the same thing and expect different results. This behavior modification is the difference between falling with a crash and burn vs. falling but building strength and momentum! We all run off the rails sometimes. A healthy lifestyle must include a recovery plan and realistic expectations.

baby fat If you know that you love lattes, then don’t develop a plan that completely eliminates lattes or you are setting yourself up for failure! If you are used to eating 2500 calories per day, don’t restrict yourself to 1200 calories and expect that you won’t struggle with that…be realistic and work your way down. Don’t eliminate all bread if you love bread, just commit to lunch being a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich…small changes grow into bigger ones! Modify and adapt changes in slowly and you are much more likely to enjoy success and create true and lasting change. An additional perk to a slow and steady approach is that you are not so irritable or frustrated! You will be able to sustain changes and even continue to tweak your choices. After a while you will look back and see the emptiness in trying to find satisfaction and contentment in cookie dough or a bucket of chicken.

healthy lifestyle pic                       Some Science

While we can tweak when we eat, what we eat, and how active we are, there are some things we need to accept and apply as fact to our healthy lifestyle plans. Here are a few things to log away as “givens”:

  • All calories count. Healthy food, junk food, vacation food, food no one sees you eat, every calorie in is faithfully either utilized or stored by your amazing body.
  • Math is involved. If your caloric intake is less than your caloric output then you will lose weight. If your caloric intake is more than your caloric output you will gain weight. Friend, it is math, I’m sorry, but it is. If you honestly and consistently create a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.
  • Balance is required. Our bodies function best from a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you want your body to perform for you, you must fuel it appropriately. This is about more than weight loss or gain, it is for your overall health and wellness. Our immune systems, emotions and coping mechanisms, mental processes, hormone cascades, and sleep cycles all depend on a balanced diet to function at optimum settings.
  • Patience is required. Weight management is an ongoing goal. Our bodies are complex and our habits are hard-core. Be patient with yourself and take one day at a time…one choice at a time.

               “The way I live either contributes to the darkness of our world or to the light

                                               and hope of our world.”  ~ Ann Smith

 

Healthy Lifestyle vs. Diet Plan

Oh my goodness, my heart breaks when I hear friends that are discouraged and depressed when diets are embarked upon and then abandoned. The feelings of guilt and self-degradation are useless and yet overwhelming. The self talk becomes damaging and discouraging. Self-esteem plummets and self-loathing moves in. This does not need to happen, it is not helpful or productive. There is a better way and I plead with you to read these words and take them to heart. A healthy lifestyle includes room for desserts and vegetables, physical activity and rest and relaxation, fun and hard work, protein and carbohydrates! Diet plans restrict and offer merely a band-aid, but a healthy lifestyle frees and brings long-term success. There is no comparison…a healthy lifestyle is the only way to lose weight and keep it off, maintain a healthy weight, create balance, joy, health, and wellness for you and your family.

It seems a new and improved diet plan shows up every day. Headlines boast: Follow these 15 simple rules and you will reap the benefits of “easy” weight loss, non-stop fat-burning while you sleep, unlimited energy, and detoxed cells…and they’ll even throw in happiness, whiter teeth, and a group of slim, energetic friends. Seriously, anytime you see the word easy next to weight loss…stop reading! Weight loss and weight management take hard work, period. Weight management is not a temporary mission or a destination, it is a journey.

Women, seriously, please stop the beatings! We must change our focus to healthy living instead of striving for perfect bodies. This is such a passion of mine. I have lived for years in bondage to food and perfectionism, I was never thin enough, good enough, disciplined enough, smart enough…you get the picture I’m sure. I understand the trap and I also understand the depression, discouragement, and hopelessness that comes with yo-yo dieting and failing time and time again. It is ok if you don’t love broccoli. It is ok if you have chocolate every day. It is ok if you “just” take a walk after dinner for your exercise that day. It is ok! You are ok! Just keep taking steps forward and use your head. If something seems too good to be true it probably is bunk. If someone says you can lose weight without changing your diet, it is bunk! If your self-talk says you are a failure and you’ll never change, preach truth to yourself–you are unique and valuable and the only one that can offer the world you! Simple things like portion control, desserts in moderation instead of three times a day, and adding more veggies and more water to your day will help you in your journey to better health and weight loss. Please stop wasting time looking for the quick fix…there isn’t one, that is a path to discouragement.

Start today to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Take time to relax, rest, and sleep. Enjoy the relationships you have in your life and laugh, smile, and play. Eliminate extra clutter in your schedule and spend more time creating in your kitchen, taking walks and bike rides as a family, and noticing the sunset. Take care of yourself! Get to the doctor to have your physical, have lunch with a trusted friend, share life and be genuine. These are the keys to a healthy lifestyle and will result in a life that is full and breeds contentment. You can do it and you will thrive! Spend your energy and your money on creating a healthy lifestyle…the benefits are endless.

 

Healthy food…You can do it

healthy lifestyle pic Healthy food is a part of a healthy lifestyle for more reasons than just weight management. Just as a car runs best with the appropriate fuel combined with care and attention to maintenance, our bodies function best with a balanced diet, stress management, and regular exercise. As healthcare costs skyrocket and stress is in abundance, one of the easiest ways to promote wellness is to eat the foods that support health and prevent illness. Feeling better, having more energy, lower #’s on the scale, & radiant skin…just perks.

The phrase “Healthy food” can be a bit vague. Healthy food, as I see it, is food that contributes nutritionally to the body. It is easy in this day and age to get caught up in a type of healthy food (we are so blessed!) such as organic, free-range, or non-GMO and those things are good. However, for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just take it back to the basics and talk about the types of foods that will help you create your healthy lifestyle, however you choose to purchase them is up to you. I point that out because it can all be overwhelming. If walking into Whole Foods promotes panic due to the immense number of options, then just go buy an apple, wash it, and eat it…start there. Creating a healthy diet is a process and a journey. You get started and learn and as you learn more you change more and so forth. Give yourself some grace, start with small steps, and smile…you’re gonna be alright.

The Process

My husband and I began to really change our diet about 12-13 years ago. Over the years we have adjusted and then made more changes, adjusted and changed, and then we adjusted and changed. It is a process, a journey. Each time we felt like we were really making a big change, but as we got used to it, we realized we could do more. Gone were the days of living on macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches (what??…we like cheese!) and in came the days of seeing the stove as more than a shiny object to look at. This was the beginning of my new obsession…modifying my favorite recipes to make them healthier and trying new things. I can laugh now at the whole wheat pancake batter that could have been used to patch a hole in the wall and the spinach frittatas that the dog even spit out…remember, it is a process, laugh often!

So, start somewhere. We got started by changing from white flour to whole wheat and looking for whole grain alternatives. I stopped buying unhealthy snacks that were quick grabs (read chips, cookies, crackers) under the guise of “it’s for the kids”. (Ummm…so the kids need trans fats and a bunch of sugar?) I switched from ground beef as the go-to protein to using chicken, pork, or beans. Nothing too crazy, right? Then I started adding in vegetables anywhere I could. I made zucchini muffins that we ate for breakfast. I added beans into the taco meat and peppers and carrots into spaghetti sauce. We also bought a high-speed blender for protein shakes and smoothies so we could incorporate spinach and other greens more easily into our diet. Here are some things that have helped us continue on this journey:

Start with small, manageable steps and be realistic. If you are short on time, then don’t buy 5 types of vegetables that all need to be prepped and think that you are going to eat them. We are fortunate to live in a time where you can walk into the store and buy a relish tray already prepared. Look at that, veggies that are ready to eat! Buy fruit that can be eaten as is or with minimal prep, like cuties, apples, grapes, blueberries. All of these fruits are awesome alone or on top of yogurt for snacks.

Decide what your goals are. If you don’t know what your goals are how will you get there? If you want to lose weight, then log what you eat. I guarantee you will be surprised at the number of calories you ingest if you honestly document everything you eat for a week. My Fitness Pal is an app I use most days. At first it is cumbersome, but it gets easier as you get used to it and build your own meals, etc. I’m more than happy to help you if you’d like! If you want to just generally eat a healthier diet, then pick a target and set goals to hit it. Less sugar? More vegetables? More home-cooking? All great goals and you can start working on them today.

80/20. This is my survival and longevity plan. I try to make the healthiest choice 80% of the time. The other 20% is for holidays, weekend dates, birthday parties, and just that time when I need an ice cream cone. This is being realistic, having a no-deprivation plan, and committing for the long haul. Healthy eating has so many benefits but you don’t usually see the impact after just one meal. It takes time for our bodies to repair the damage we have done.

So, love yourself and your family by upping the ante…healthy lifestyles rock!

 

As you shop:

Look for fresh fruits and vegetables, however frozen has been shown to be just as nutritional usually and offers wider variety not limited by the season. If canned veggies are used, it helps to drain and rinse them. You eliminate a lot of the added salt with that simple maneuver. Bumping up your fruit and veggie intake increases your nutrients and fiber helping you to feel full and easing portion control struggles.

Look for protein sources that are lower in fat, you’ll save dramatically on calories by just switching from beef tacos to chicken tacos. Still yummy! And pile on the veggies and your tacos become a serving of vegetables too. When you make scrambled eggs, use a combination of whole eggs and egg whites, the majority of the fat and calories is in the yolk. And again, add those veggies…peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms…all easily added in and delish! Beans and rice together make a complete protein as well…get creative and enjoy, just watch your portion control.

No added sugar. Yep, the enemy is sugar. Too much sugar ramps us up and then dumps us on the curb feeling blah. It also sky-rockets our risk for diabetes and a host of health concerns. Limiting sugar is difficult at first because most of us seriously are addicted to the stuff. Give yourself time and start small, but do it, start to limit it and your body and  mind will thank you.

Variety and Balance are the most-valuable players in this game. Feeling deprived will lead to unhealthy choices and limited success; so give yourself grace and remember that perfection is not the goal. 80/20 my friends, 80/20!

 

 

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