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Four Ways to Make Meal Planning and Good Eating Habits Easier

Meal planning and healthy eating habits don’t have to be too difficult or time consuming if you apply these four ways to make weekly meal planning easier.Often people say they don’t have the time to eat healthy. Our busy work schedules and family demands can make it difficult. But it is not impossible – if you have a good reason for doing so.

Why wait until a health crisis, such as a heart attack or diabetes, forces you into making changes. The risk of permanent damage isn’t worth it. How much better it is to make proactive, mindful decisions that support you in building an excellent life now. The evidence indicates that proper nutrition plays an important role in the prevention of various physical and mental health problems. A balanced mood, sustainable levels of energy and feelings of wellbeing can be cultivated by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water.

So, what is your WHY? Why do you want to improve your eating habits? To prevent disease or needless pain? To have more energy so you can participate more fully in life? To see your children and grandchildren grow up? To look more attractive? Whatever your reason is, hold onto it. That vision will keep you motivated.

Once you have your reasons for improving your eating habits firmly in mind, here are four easy steps to make meal planning simpler. (Preparation is the key to success!)

1. Commit! Just decide you’re going to do it. Involve those who eat with you by asking what they do and don’t like to eat. Even children as young as five or six can be included in this discussion. When you can factor their preferences into your plans, you can avoid discouraging, negative feedback.

2. Make a cheat sheet for your shopping trip. List plenty of veggies, fruits, and protein that you want to always keep on hand in the kitchen. This list will keep you from being distracted by the candy and chips aisles at the store. It will keep you on the outside aisles of the store where the healthy food is. And remember, don’t shop when you’re hungry. The money you save by not buying junk food will allow you to splurge on more varieties of healthy food. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

3. Prepare your meals for the week on Sunday. Plan two or three recipes for dinners and use the leftovers for lunch the next day. Cut up your veggies and fruits and put them in the fridge in see-through, separate containers. This simple step makes it so much easier to build your salad, have a quick snack or prepare an easy side dish.

4. Pre-make your breakfast. Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day! You can save a lot of time by preparing yours ahead of time. Did you know you can make a big batch of green smoothies and freeze them in mason jars? The night before simply move one to the fridge and it will be ready for the next morning. Give it a shake or a stir and you’re good to go. Or you can make little egg-veggie muffins for a quick bite when your meeting is at 7am!

New habits are formed one baby step at a time. As the book, The Power of Habit, points out, often it only takes one pivotal action to interrupt the habit cycle in our brain thereby allowing us to form new habits. (If you haven’t read this book, I recommend that you do because it’s very insightful. And it’s fun to read.)

If you haven’t you received your free copy of The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, download it right now. It will help you determine the pivotal action that you need in order to create real change in your life. 

Regain Control as You Discover How Food Affects Your Mood

how food affects your mood“You are what you eat.” Often that is said about our physical health, but is it also true of our emotional wellbeing? Can we change our mood by changing what we eat? Women especially seem to be emotional eaters. Many of us seek stress relief by indulging in comfort food like ice cream, chips or chocolate. There’s even been a new word added to online dictionaries to recognize the connection between being hungry and being angry…it’s HANGRY.

Actually research is showing there’s a huge connection between why we eat and our emotions. But you already knew that, right? When we’re depressed or lonely we eat. When we’re excited and happy we eat. When we’re celebrating a special event we splurge on eating something special.

Food is an important part of our culture. The problem is we consume too much of overly-processed, chemicals-added, sugary, salty, fatty “fake foods”. Our taste buds have forgotten how to savor the delicate flavors of wholesome food.

It’s only in recent years that the human race has had access to so many choices. In times past, we were limited by what was grown locally or what took weeks to transport in. And people used up those calories quickly, as they did hard physical work to survive.

Dr. Leigh Gibson, a psychology professor at the University of Roehampton in London, makes this observation, “For much of human history, energy-dense foods, or what we now consider comfort foods, were the ideal thing to eat…Healthy eating is a modern thing that we now need because we’re living so long. You could almost say the default is comfort eating.”

One important question is: What’s your immediate reaction when you eat? How does food affect your mood? Do you feel guilty? Do you feel sluggish? Do you feel invigorated? Do you feel nourished and happy?

Too often people define themselves by their relationship with food. Dieting has caused an unhealthy attitude toward food. If they eat something that’s not on their list, they call it “cheating.” One “slip” and they tell themselves horrible stories, “What’s the use. I’m such a failure. Why even try. I’m always going to be fat.” Food is not your enemy.

Another important question is: How does what you eat today affect your mood days later? In a study published in 2012, Penn State psychology professor Dr. Helen Hendy found that the link between foods and moods played out over a period of two days—what you eat on day one is linked to how you feel on day three. She noted, “Consumption of calories, saturated fat, and sodium was significantly associated with increased negative mood two days later.” Dr. Hendy has even changed her habits based on this. When she has a meeting scheduled, she watches her calories, sodium and fat intake to give herself a better chance of creating a good mood.

No matter what the studies say, you are in the best position to determine how you and your body react to your eating habits. If you intend to mindfully eat healthfully and you follow through, achieving that goal is guaranteed to contribute to better emotions. On the other hand, if you’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with food and want to regain control, give me a call and we’ll talk about how you can mindfully reconnect with your body, your spirit and your world so you make lasting changes

Best Diet to Lose Weight? Embrace Food as a Friend Not a Foe

The best diet to lose weight is a healthy mindset that food is a friend not an enemy “When I eat with my friends, it is a moment of real pleasure, when I really enjoy my life.” ~ Monica Bellucci

Food should be a friend, not a foe. But perhaps you know that you should lose some weight. You know it will improve your health, your energy and your self-esteem. What’s the best diet to help you lose weight?

The best diet is not dieting at all. Don’t even think about dieting! Rather than dieting, you’ll be so much happier if you replace unhealthy food choices and habits with a healthy lifestyle that you enjoy and can sustain. As every engine needs the best fuel to perform efficiently, so the human body needs healthy food to repair and reinvigorate itself.

According to the Boston Medical Center, “45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion annually on weight loss products. Yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.” It’s clear that traditional dieting isn’t working.

When someone says, “I’m going on a diet,” it implies that for a limited amount of time he or she is going to alter the way they eat. And if they go ON a diet, they will just as easily go OFF the diet and go back to their old eating habits that caused their health concerns to begin with. This on again off again approach is called Yo-Yo dieting. The weight goes on. The weight comes off (with ever increasing difficulty). And then the weight goes back on with more than before.

Instead, purposefully choose a healthy way of eating you can stick with!

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association you need to know this basic information about the food you eat. We spend so much time eating food we might as well understand what it’s doing to us. We need vitamins, minerals, good fats, and fiber to function well. And the best way to get them is by eating wholesome foods that supply this nourishment. By educating yourself on the basics of healthy eating choices, you empower yourself to create the life you desire.

Just as important as knowing what to eat is knowing how to eat. I’m not talking about how you hold your fork. What will enable you to make lasting change is to eat mindfully as you savor your food. Food is not the enemy. It’s something to be enjoyed.

 

A major problem is that we multitask as we eat. We’re working at the desk and stuff food in our faces so we can reach a deadline. We’re grabbing something quick because we’re too starved to take time to fix something from scratch. We’re sitting down in front of the TV mindlessly dipping our hand into the bag of chips until suddenly the bag is empty.

What are some ways you can introduce and embrace mindful eating into your life? It’s all about making conscious choices. Here are fifteen tips that you can incorporate right now…

  1. Remove unhealthy food from your house.
  2. Snack on vegetables and fruit. Baby carrots or celery sticks dipped in salsa is much healthier than chips.
  3. Put healthy snack choices on the counter or in clear containers in the refrigerator so they’re easy to see and grab.
  4. Eat slowly, chewing thoroughly as you savor each bite – paying attention to the color, texture, aroma, and flavorful seasonings.
  5. Unplug from technology – TV, phone, iPad – when you eat so you can think about how the food is nourishing your body and enriching your life.
  6. Sit at the table and reconnect with people you love as you enjoy good conversation over the meal.
  7. Use smaller plates and portion out food before you sit at the table to eat, which will keep you from eating too much.
  8. Don’t starve yourself, and make it a goal to eat several small meals throughout the day.
  9. Eat a moderate amount of carb-containing foods such as fruits, grains, pasta and bread as you increase the number of veggie servings you consume daily. This combination knocks down the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which will keep you from binging later.
  10. Sleep at least 7 hours each night or you’ll increase the amount of your hunger hormone ghrelin.
  11. Eat enough protein to stave off hunger pangs as well as keep your metabolism revved up.
  12. Keep a food diary for 3 to 5 days. Eat and drink what you normally consume and write it all down and see your weak areas so you can improve them.
  13. Compare your portion size to what’s on the nutrition label. One package may contain many servings.
  14. Learn nutritional information for what you eat. (You can get the total calories, grams of carbohydrate, protein, and fat from smartphone apps, computer programs, or the USDA database.)
  15. Identify your problem areas and make adjustments in your choices and daily routines.

Do you see several areas that you can improve on? One of the most important keys to making successful lifestyle changes is to focus on one thing at a time, taking baby steps until it become your newly ingrained habit.

Many people have found that having someone coach them and keep them accountable makes this so much easier. If you would like to work with me, in person or virtually, give me a call and we can schedule an appointment. We’ll create a plan that supports you as you achieve your desired goals. I’ve got time-tested tips that you’re going to love!

10 Easy Ways to Boost Self-Confidence and Attain Your Dreams

By starting these ten simple steps that boost self-confidence, you can follow your dreams and make them come true, even when others say it can’t be done.“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”E.E. Cummings

Don’t you admire people who confidently face their fears, challenges and tragedies head-on? They have a knack for always seeing the positive, the opportunities and potential in even the most trying circumstances. Their self-confidence supports and fuels them as they follow their dreams and make them come true, even when others say it can’t be done.

Does that describe how you live your life? Even if it doesn’t at the present, there are positive steps you can take to make this your reality. Here are ten easy ways to help you boost self-confidence…

  1. Reality checks. Is it really as scary or impossible as it seems at first? Fears are often not supported by reality. You’re not going to die of embarrassment when speaking in front of a crowd. More than likely, you will create a rapport and connect with another person on a deeper level if you simply acknowledge your mistake, sincerely apologize and move on. And you can often do “impossible” things if you break the huge project down into smaller, doable steps.
  1. Surround yourself with people that are good at what you want to improve. By removing the naysayers from your life and associating with those you want to imitate, you’ll find it easier to accomplish your goals.
  1. Make confidence building a daily practice. One small change a day adds up to a new way of living. I recommend that you begin with centering practices which are foundational for making real changes in your life.
  1. Transform your inner critic into an inner coach. Be aware of your negative self-talk and replace it with positive thoughts. If you begin thinking, “This is too hard, I want to quit”, replace it with “How” questions: “How can I make this a little easier?” “How can I keep my eyes on the prize?”
  1. Keep learning new skills. Never stop learning. Whether you’re learning just enough to get by or are striving to master a new skill, your self-confidence increases as you continue to acquire new skills!
  1. Develop a “Beginner’s Mind” mindset. When you admit you don’t know everything, your mind is open to asking for help, being curious, to asking questions. You won’t compare yourself to others, because you have nothing to prove. This positions you as a learner who is filled with child-like wonder.
  1. Practice psycho-rehearsing. Visualize in great detail, every step, to accomplishing a task. Athletes do this when they imagine over and over again successfully hitting the target or making the hoop. The brain can’t tell the difference between the visualization and actually doing it.
  1. Focus on competence not perfection. Perfection is a digital on or off switch. Either you’re perfect or you’re not. Competence has five stages, so life becomes an exciting journey of discovery as you move through these stages.
  1. Develop a Compassionate Mind. Treat yourself with the same kindness, concern and support you’d show to a good friend. Mindfully acknowledging and experiencing your feelings is a core component of self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff provides some guided meditations and exercises that you’ll find helpful. Straightforward self-compassion boosts self-esteem more than focusing on what we’re good at.
  1. Focus on positive experiences. You are what you do. When you change what you do, you change what you are. Always act and speak in a positive way. Pour your heart and energy into kind generous actions. You’ll soon notice an increase in your self-confidence.

It is possible to reach your dreams as you achieve your full potential. Sometimes it simply takes someone holding up the lantern and lighting the way. I would be delighted if we traveled on this journey together. Contact me and let’s talk about which of my life coaching services would get you to where you want to be.

Self-Assessment not Judgment Leads to Greater Self-Confidence

Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation empower you to let go of self-judgments as you realistically make a self assessment of your situation.Have you ever wondered why some people seem to view life’s challenges confidently and in a positive light, while others struggle with negative reactions? The distinguishing factor is whether a person is assessing themselves and the situation or if they’re judging themselves and the situation. What’s the difference?

Assessing is viewing the situation objectively, seeing what happened, why it happened and learning from it and moving on with greater self-knowledge.

Judging is the limiting mindset of labeling yourself as a winner or a loser based on a standard that either you or someone else imposes on you.

When you have a winner/loser mindset, it creates a desperate need to continually achieve your goals based on the fear of not measuring up to a self-imposed, unrealistic standard. This leads to chronic stress of fear of failure or to the other extreme of becoming narcissistic and egotistical.

Let’s examine ten typical behaviors of people with low self-confidence and see how realistically assessing the situation without judgment can create greater self-confidence:

Underestimate their capabilities. Rather than immediately reacting with “I can’t”, calmly think about the desired outcome and see how your skills can accomplish the task. Remember you don’t have to do things like everyone else does. When you succeed by your unique style, you gain immense satisfaction and confidence.

Take the blame for everything. Rather than thinking, “If only I had done…” let others be responsible for their own actions. This actually dignifies them with freedom of choice. And if you are responsible in some way, make amends as best as you can by saying, “I’m sorry I made a mistake.” In many cases we just have to accept that we can’t fix everything.

Are overly self-critical. Our minds are quick to judge and criticize so rather than holding onto those stories, acknowledge them as judgments and let them go without getting caught up in them.

Take feedback from others as criticism. Rather than disengage from the experience and switch to negative thoughts, become more engaged in what the person is saying and sift out what is helpful to you.

Constantly focus and review past failures. Acknowledge each failure as helpful feedback, allow yourself to feel the emotions. Accept and learn from them as a valuable part of your experience.

Predict future failures. Rather than saying, “It never works or I always fail so why try”, approach each new situation with curiosity and enthusiasm as you eagerly look for the possibilities.

Focus on being perfect instead of being competent. Rather than thinking, “I can’t allow myself to make a mistake”, recognize that everyone makes mistakes. That’s how we learn. Don’t demand the impossible from yourself, and be happy you’re doing your best.

Are people-pleasers. Rather than seeking validation from others, it’s okay to say, “I’d really love to help you, but I have a prior commitment.” That commitment is your commitment to yourself to set boundaries so you don’t over extend yourself.

Isolates themselves. Rather than retreating into yourself when you’re hurt, be present in your feelings without judgment. Acknowledge them and own them without letting them alter the kind of life you want to live.

Stop learning. Rather than wondering if the other person thinks you’re boring, continue being excited about learning new things about the world around you, about the people in your life and about yourself. Your confidence will rise as you have interesting things to talk about.

Compare to others. Rather than comparing yourself to others, “I’m not as pretty as her or I’m not as smart as him”, think about the kind of man or woman you want to be – your ethics, your loyalty to friends and family, your honest and integrity and strive to be true to those ideals.

Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation will empower you to let go of self-judgments. Many people have found that private coaching and group coaching sessions helps them become more mindfully engaged in life. If you’re ready to stop judging and start assessing as you embrace this new way of being, please contact me and let’s talk.

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