Here I am two days after our Christmas celebration. The gifts are all opened, toys assembled, devices connected and boxes collapsed and ready for recycling. Next up? New Years. For me, this means setting my New Year goals and intentions. Looking for some inspiration, I hopped on over to some of my Health Coaching peers to see what they were all blogging about. As always, their posts are filled with inspiration and motivation, but I was immediately struck by the fact that every post I read was focused on losing weight. Now don't get me wrong....I too am looking to shed my COVID-19 like many others. However, I believe that weight loss is only a fraction of the equation to achieve steps towards optimal health and wellness.
Health is Multidimensional
When setting a New Years Resolution, many of us focus on only one or two areas of health. Commonly, I see many resolving to lose weight or save money. Both are very noble and realistic goals, but when considering overall well-being, unbalance in other areas may prevent one from achieving these.
I believe in the 8 Dimensions of Health. When these 8 dimensions are in balance, we thrive. When these areas are out of balance, or we consider all areas to be unhealthy, we may be living a life where all we do is survive. The 8 dimensions are Physical Health, Social Health, Spiritual Health, Emotional Health, Financial Health, Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Intellectual Health. Losing weight (physical health) and saving money (financial health) are only two areas of overall wellness that may be weighed down by unhealthy behaviors in social or emotional health.
The first step to a lasting New Years resolution is to mindfully assess where you fall in all these areas. I have created an activity that will help you find your starting point. If you think about goals through the lens of a journey, the first step is to identify your starting point and your final destination. If not, you are bound to get lost, frustrated and ready to give up. Hence the reason so many New Years Resolutions are quit in the first couple of weeks. You can find my 8 Dimensions of Health activity here. You will learn which areas of your health are holding you back from overall well-being and living your best life.
Setting Goals that Stick!
So once you know where you are starting from and where you are going, it is time to set a goal. I'm not talking about the "I want to lose weight" or "I will save money". While these are good, they are not very SMART.
Wait...what? My goal should have an IQ?
By SMART I mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Sensitive. When setting a goal, ticking off each of these categories will help you narrow in on one or two specific action steps, map out a course and allows you to know when you have arrived. Use this infographic to begin charting your journey with a SMART Goal.
You Don't Have to Go It Alone!
Did you know that when you clue others in to your plan, you are more likely to achieve success?
As you are mapping your journey, involve family, friends and loved ones. You will need support on the difficult days where life wants to throw you off course. Support provides accountability. When you take the journey with others with a similar path, you can lean on each other, offer support when obstacles pose a threat and share success to motivate and inspire.
I will be hosting a challenge starting January 2nd that will run for 4 weeks. As a group, you will learn the basics I have outlined here and begin to take action steps towards strengthening the dimensions of health that hold you back. You can read more about this challenge here. Ready to sign up? Register here.
There is no need to travel this road alone. Through this challenge, I will be with you every step of the way. Asking for help is a sign of strength and courage. Let's wave (or kick if you feel the need) 2020 goodbye and begin welcoming in a fresh new start.
I wish you Health and Happiness this year and always!
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is not uncommon to put health and wellness on the back burner. The lack of time to exercise with all the shopping and wrapping that has to get done. The gatherings with their spread of indulgent appetizers and sweets tempt the taste buds! The dinner table with decadent side dishes complimenting the perfectly roasted ham. ....
SERIOUSLY!!! What is one to do with all this pressure?
BREATHE and worry no more, my friend. I am going to share five tricks you can use this holiday season to avoid feeling overstuffed and guilty.
Is it OK to overeat on the holidays?
This is a question I get often. My initial response is "Yes, it is only once a year". However, it comes with a cautionary disclaimer.
Giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want gets your brain into a free for all mindset. Without a plan of attack, you may end up eating too much and paying the price later. I am certainly not going to forbid you from your mom's secret recipe crabby appetizer or grandma's famous pecan pie, just be sure to indulge mindfully.
Overeating does come with its share of unhealthy consequences including:
Disclaimer, this post includes affiliate links to some products I believe will help brighten your holiday and help with the festive feel. I only recommend items I either have or would personally purchase or hope Santa will leave under the tree for me.
5 Tricks to Avoid Overeating
1. PLAN AHEAD Heading into a gathering full of temptation is like heading out on a road trip without a destination. You will likely find yourself lost and making decisions that are unhelpful and get you moving in the wrong direction. Before heading to your event, make a plan. What will you indulge on? What will you do if that voice in your head says "just eat it it...it's the holidays"? Role play in your mind what your evening will look like. You will be training your brain to stay the course instead of the crash and burn of an unplanned binge. Prepare a mantra such as "I will take time to enjoy this bite" or "I am in control". Repeat it each time you are browsing the buffet.
2. DON'T GO HUNGRY How many times have you starved yourself all day so you could "eat whatever you wanted" when you arrived to the party? Admit it...we have all done it in an effort to stay within our calorie budget (well, reasonably ay least), but did it really work? Be honest! While it sounds like a good idea, it is likely to backfire. Going in with a ravenous hunger monster usually results in a sensory overload causing you to eat MORE than you would have if you had fed the inner beast throughout the day. Eat a light breakfast and lunch and enjoy a light soup or a salad before your holiday dinner to tame your hunger monster and avoid a buffet rampage.
3. LIMIT ALCOHOL I know this is not what you want to hear but limiting or avoiding alcohol can help you stay in control. Alcohol directly affects the part of your brain responsible for decision making. It takes the body one hour to remove an ounce of alcohol, so imbibing freely could have you overindulging, not to mention making some other embarrassing memories to be shared later on Facebook. Enjoy a cocktail, glass of wine or eggnog but do so mindfully. Try alternating alcohol with sparkling water or seltzer or replace sugary beverages with infused water poured from a fancy pitcher served in a stemless wine glass.
4. MINDFULLY EAT (AND DRINK) You have been dreaming of your famous sweet potato casserole, decadent turtle cheesecake or festive martini. My opinion.... no food it off limits and you should be able to enjoy whatever your taste buds request. The emphasis here is on ENJOY! According to the American Psychological Association,
"Our taste buds are chemical sensors that tire quickly. The first few bites of a food taste better than the next few bites, and after a large amount, we may have very little taste experience left at all."
Mindful eating is a practice where you learn to savor each bite. It is literally a meditation while eating. Harvard Medical School has done a lovely job listing ways you can practice mindful eating so you can experience the nirvana that comes with these once a year treats.
5. KEEP UP WITH YOUR ROUTINE With all the last minute shopping, wrapping, cooking and cleaning, who has time for exercise? YOU DO!! I get it, we all wish there were 25 hours in a day during the holidays. Often the top two things to get pushed to the bottom of your to do list is exercise and sleep...the two MOST NEEDED items on your list. There is a saying, "You Can't Pour From and Empty Cup". Healthy food, exercise and sleep are your body's way of recharging or filling the tank. You would never try and drive to the mall on an empty tank of gas or shop online with a low battery, so why do you try to complete every day activities without first recharging your body? Keep to your eating routine as best as possible and have a plan if you are headed out on a shopping spree by packing some healthy snacks or plan to stop for a healthy lunch. Schedule a time each day into your calendar for the week and set an alarm to remind you it is time to get up and get moving. (I literally had to pause the writing of this to go do a 25 minute FitOn HIIT workout). Feeling stressed? Try some Yoga with Adriene. Rest a worried mind at bedtime with a Calm Sleep Story or diffuse some Lavender Essential Oil to bring on the sleep inducing vibes. Aim for 30 minutes each day of moderate to vigorous activity and 7-8 hours of restful, uninterrupted (that means charge your devices outside your bedroom) sleep each night. These simple steps will give you the energy, endurance and patience to tackle the rest of your to do list.
Wishing You a Happy and Healthy Holiday
This year has certainly been one of uncertainty and discomfort, but I am also grateful for how it has helped me slow down and appreciate my health and spend time with my family. While the holidays will look different, one thing we have control over is the opportunity to celebrate and reach out to loved ones in a safe and healthy manner. While social gatherings may be limited this year, I do hope the tips I have shared will help make this this holiday a happy and healthy one full of memories.
I am wishing and sending you all the gift of Health, Happiness and Peace
Tis the season of giving and there is no better year to give the gift of Health and Wellness. I encourage you to shop local and handmade to help support small business who are struggling. Etsy.com is a great place to start for personalized, handmade gifts for every interest on your list.
I also enjoy giving gifts that can be used all year. From kitchen gadgets that save time to self care items that provide a level of rest and relaxation. Here is a list of 10 gifts worthy of giving to loved ones you wish health and happiness to in the new year:. Disclaimer, I have included affiliate links but have only linked to items I myself would gift to loved ones.
1. Instant Pot
Confession. I received an Instant Pot last year for Christmas. I gave the gift giver the "Oh, I always wanted one of these" while thinking "I am never going to use this." My initial reaction was admittedly wrong and that baby now has a home in my kitchen and used on a weekly basis. The speedy pressure cooking has replaced my original method of making hard boiled eggs and spaghetti squash and I love that I can throw frozen chicken in and have dinner ready in under 30 minutes.
2. Chef's Knife
If there is one tool every kitchen should have, that would be a decent Chef's knife. I have personally witnessed people changing their view on cooking after investing in quality tools. I know it seems more codt efficient to purchase a $20 knife at Target, but I promise, it will not begin to match the ease of a quality tool. I received my first set of J.A. Henckels knives when I got married 14 years ago. With care and proper sharpening, the investment has paid off as I am still using them today. With some knife skill lessons and practice, your loved ones will find a love for home cooking.
3. Dutch Oven
There is nothing like the smell and taste of homemade soup, stew or chili simmering on the stove. Or the ease of browning a roast on the stovetop and transferring it directly to the oven in the same pot. A Dutch Oven Is a versatile pot that no kitchen should be without. The cast iron helps food cook and heat evenly and the ceramic coating is safer for health and the environment than non-stick coatings. The pot can go from stovetop to oven to fridge and is easy to clean. My boys are known to make a mean cobbler in ours.
4. Hello Fresh
So you know someone who wants to prepare more home cooked meals but just doesn't have the skill to gather ingredients. measure, chop, dice and slice. No problem. Meal delivery kits are popping up everywhere with every dietary lifestyle in mind. During sport season when I am short on time, I will often schedule a meal or two a week so I know I have everything I need. My favorite meal kit to date is Hello Fresh. They work with y budget, have meals for my pickiest eater, fresh ingredients and, most important, easy to make. This is a great way to introduce cooking to a newbie. Send a gift card and then sit back and brag about how you taught them to cook!
5. FitBit Charge 4
For the loved one who loves to track their health and wellness, the FitBit Charge 4 is one of the simpler activity tracker I have used. I really enjoy the sleek design (I am not a fan of the chunkier style of some Smart watches) and it gives great feedback in regards to steps taken, heart rate, calories burned and sleep. I can use the website or app to challenge friends and track my food intake. This tracker makes a great gift for the fitness techie in your life.
6. Earbuds with Charger Case
Confession #2...I am a headphone hoarder. At least I was until I was gifted these iFrogz Earbuds with Charging Case. I never thought I would be one to use earbuds. I always preferred headphones that went around my ears so I knew they would not fall out. I decided to give these a try and I never looked back! They connect easily to my iPhone through Bluetooth, have a great sound and stay put even during a run or HIIT workout. I love that they recharge in the case and that the case holds a charge for quite some time. Bonus: they are more affordable than other earbuds I have seen.
Who wouldn't want the gift of Calm? 2020 has certainly left its share of stress and worry. Meditation and mindfulness has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress and the harmful hormones that produced as well as make us happier. But where do you start? Our minds are constantly racing, thoughts keep us up at night. The Calm app was designed to help people of all levels and experience begin a mindful practice. From 5 minute meditations to sleep stories and masterclasses, your stressed loved ones are sure to find peace when they redeem the gift card you gifted. This is one I recommend you treat yourself with too. We could all use a little peace and calm this time of year!
8. Essential Oil Diffuser and Essential Oils
Essential oils are popping up all over the place. I even found them mixed in with shower gel at my grocery store. Not all essential oils are created equally and it is important you are purchasing oils that are of high quality for your safety and the safety of your loved ones and pets. I recommend doing your research before purchasing and using Eden's Garden when selecting your favorite scents. Diffusing oils is one of my favorite ways to stimulate and energize in the morning and relax in the evening. Gift a diffuser to a loved one, create a personalized gift set of oils to match their personality or find a variety of self care items like roller bottles and after shower oils.
9. Humidifier with Essential Oil Diffuser
Ready to up your Essential Oil Diffuser game? The dry air really does a number on my sinus impaired boys. It is no secret that a humidifier can replace the much needed moisture stripped from forced heat and winter dryness. My game changer was finding this Homasy Cool Mist Humidifier. Not only is it top filling, it also doubles as an essential oil diffuser. I love that I can diffuse my Eden's Gardens essential oils that support immune health, help keep breathing clear and help relax the mind as we sleep. It also keeps the room less cluttered by having two products in one.
10. Personalized Journal
Did you know that taking a moment each day to write down three tings you are grateful for can actually make you happier? There is research that says keeping a gratitude journal can rewire your brain for happiness. All it takes is a daily habit of writing three things you are grateful for. We all have time to write three things. Wouldn't it be extra special if you had a personalized journal just for this daily activity? I recommend heading on over to Etsy.com and supporting a small business or local crafter. You are sure to find a journal for every person on your list. Add a personalized pen and now there is no excuse to be grateful each day.
The gift of time spent with family and loved ones can never be replaced. 2020 has kept some from seeing loved ones while others have been brought closer together through quarantine. I would like to wish each and every one of you a healthy and happy holiday season. Please stay safe and may 2021 bring peace and joy.
"Your test lit up like a Christmas Tree"
Words muttered by the doctor at the walk in while I sat in the stale exam room with my body aches and chills. I was now a statistic for the News to report, clumping me into the other hundreds who would test positive for COVID-19. I tell you this not for sympathy or comments of "feel better soon". My intention is to educate you, and if I can do this through my own experience, why not make it that more real?
Before I begin, however, my disclaimer for my my story is that we are all different, and that my experience is just that...mine! What I share here is only one story, one of many, each with their own unique differences. When it comes to our health, it is important to remember there is a lot of information floating around. It is each of our responsibilities to do the research, understand the differences, listen to the experts and do what is right for ourselves. My story should only account for a fraction of the information you will absorb and use to keep yourself healthy and by no means is my story meant to devalue the stories of others who have had experiences better or worse than mine.
Be Ready for the Fight
Wash hands often. Wear your mask. Cover your cough...All great advice. But wait...there's more!!
Even though I took every precaution imaginable, it was no match for this invisible enemy. My dried cracked hands from washing and sanitizer and facemasks laid out for air drying each night are proof I have been vigilant when to comes to prevention, but alas, the virus has invaded my defenses and now lives inside me.
I was fortunate with my symptoms. Two days of fatigue, headache and loss of taste and smell. I never had a fever, congestion was minimal and the symptoms I did experience were mild and quick. I was lucky. I credit a healthy immune system before I was exposed. This amazing body system made up of a host of blood cells is designed to make us well when under attack. Making sure our army of blood cells are armed and ready is our responsibility.
You can boost the strength of your immune system with a few simple steps:
An Ounce of Prevention...
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" -Benjamin Franklin
These words truly resonate more than ever. I choose to not take my health for granted. The decisions I make, to wear a mask, wash my hands, eat my fruits and vegetables are all ones I hope will benefit me in the end. However, nature is stronger and what I do each and every day will hopefully be enough to conquer the invisible enemies and hidden dangers that lie around every corner These are not guarantees nor are they a false sense of security. My actions are simply what I am able to control and do for myself during a time of uncertainty. What actions will you take to prevent the spread of this virus? What actions will you take to prepare for a possible attack on our health and wellbeing?
I do wish and pray for health to you and your loved ones.
Take care of yourself.
Listen to the experts.
Above all...stay well.