Yesterday I wrote about one of my most memorable Valentine’s Day meals. But, in the four years since my husband and I have shifted our eating habits, our Valentine’s Day traditions and activities have reflected the change in our lifestyle. There is no pressure to give, or receive, Valentine’s Day candies and chocolates. And, going out to eat isn’t as appealing as cooking together in the kitchen. The intent of the holiday is to express love…and what better way is there to show love than by creating healthy, nutritious food and spending quality time together?
So, what will you be doing this Valentine’s Day? Leave your vote or a comment in the space below!
Years ago, before my husband and I were married, he took me out to a very nice dinner for Valentine’s Day. Now, my husband has taken me out for many excellent meals in the 12 years we have been together, and most of these I remember for the food and the experience of dining in the restaurant. But, this particular experience I remember not for the meal or for the experience. I remember it because I never want to eat this way again.
I was a Weight Watchers devotee in love with the points tracking system. In the week leading up to our Valentine’s date I worked to bank as many points as possible. I ate the minimum number of points allowed per day and exercised as much as I could to earn as many activity points as possible. I saved the extra points and worried if I had banked enough to keep me in my point range for the week.
My only memories of this meal are this – my husband had the duck and I wrote down everything I ate, and how much, while sitting at the table. When my husband finally brought me home I immediately calculated how many points I had eaten. It was twice the number of points I would normally eat in a day. I remember being horrified, feeling guilty, and worrying whether or not this would make me gain weight.
Looking back on it now, this is some seriously scary behavior. I was completely incapable of enjoying an experience because I was afraid, and I had absolutely no sense of moderation. This is no way to live.
Diets fail because they are an all or nothing endeavor. Screw up once and the whole thing goes in the toilet. But who can be perfect all the time? Wait…who would even WANT to? When we so rigidly stick to a set of rules, we set ourselves up for inevitable failure and miss out on the experiences in the mean time.
We eat several times per day, and those meals…the everyday breakfasts, lunches and dinners determine the quality of our health and the size of our waistline. There is a vast amount of cultural and social significance that comes with sharing a holiday/event meal or food related tradition – even if it’s one only made up by commercialism.
So, here are some tricks to consider when Valentine’s Day strikes tomorrow.
If you can cook…COOK because nothing says love like good food from the kitchen! Cooking your own Valentine’s Day meal gives you the most freedom to indulge in dishes you may not have had in a while, but allows you the opportunity to modify those recipes to suit your health goals. And, let’s be honest here, Valentine’s Day is mostly about the desserts. Use this link for some inspiration to whip up some decadent, delicious, and healthy desserts!
If going out to dinner is your thing…go out and enjoy the experience. Choose something exotic from the menu, or go for your favorite dish if it is something you wouldn’t normally cook at home and you haven’t had it in a long time. Savor every bite. Have a glass of wine, and go ahead, order dessert.
If a box of chocolate is your thing…buy the nicest chocolate you can afford. The biggest box of chocolates from the grocery store never tastes as good as the few pieces of fine chocolate you can get from your local chocolatier. The added bonus – built in portion control. And trust me, you’ll saver each and every bite when you spend more on less!
Are you in a place where on meal will turn into many that aren’t in line with meeting your health goals? Opt for a flowers only treat instead. Splurge on your favorites and put them where you can see them…or carry them from room to room to room with you so you can always see and enjoy them.
Never have I struggled with this concept more than I have these past 5 months. It was early September when I found out I was pregnant and to say it was unexpected would be the understatement of the century. Did I ever tell you I’m not big on surprises?
The first few weeks were the toughest and I cried, a lot. I felt very guilty for all of the negative feelings I was having. I mean, I should have been excited and joyful, like my husband. Thousands of women would give almost anything for the privilege of growing another human being. But, I wasn’t. I was absolutely terrified.
One of the things I like best about myself, one of the attributes I use to define me, is that I am a competitive CrossFitter. As that person I was happier, healthier, and more fit that I ever had been. Training intensely 5-6 days a week, sometimes with double sessions, was just part of my normal routine. I took a lot of pride in being able to do what I could do and I was more comfortable in my own skin than I ever had been. But, I couldn’t be that person and pregnant at the same time. So, who was I?
In those early weeks when visible changes had not yet begun to happen it was easy to keep my perception of myself. I didn’t look any different and I could still keep doing what I’d always done. Until one day I couldn’t. I remember trying to move a weight that earlier that same year would have been a piece of cake. Instead it felt like a million pounds and I was forced to confront the reality that my body was indeed changing.
More often than not I am finding it hard just to keep up with the regular programming and make it to class 3-4x per week. Week by week, the list of things I would have done with ease a few weeks ago and now know I will struggle just to get through gets longer and longer. This time of year is also Team training season and, for three consecutive years, since I began CrossFit, I have been a part of my gym’s competitive Regionals team. This year I can not be a part of my team, or participate in training, and I desperately miss being a part of it all.
My perception is, because I can not do what I used to do, I have lost what makes me – me. The reality, that part is just on hold. But, what drove me be strong and compete is still – and will always be – a part of me. Every day is not going to be a good training day. I may not use same weights or be able to do the same movements, but every day I am able train I make myself, and this tiny human, stronger. The goal has shifted from increasing strength to be a better competitor, to maintaining my strength in an effort to facilitate a healthy pregnancy, to ease labor and delivery, and to facilitate a healthy recovery.
I have good days and bad days. On good days I am able to appreciate and find joy in the changes I am experienceing. I can look forward to the future, and feel confident in who I am. On bad days think only of the negative and what I can no longer do. It is on those days that I am most grateful to have a husband, friends, coaches, and a community that help bring me out of my perceptions and back into reality – the reality that this is a precious experience…one that deserves to be savored , enjoyed, and appreciated because it will all be over before I know it.
There was a time in my life when I’d classify myself as a runner. During that time I trained for, and ran, two marathons and a Sunday wasn’t a good Sunday until I’d put at least 10 miles on the road with my favorite training partner. I felt better and looked better than I had in a long time because exercise was finally a consistent part of my life.
The thing about running is that it often doesn’t play a transient role in people’s life the way it did in mine. I’ve never met anyone more tenacious about their exercise regime than a runner – and especially a runner in training. Sick, hurt, it doesn’t matter…the running must be done!
Every year millions of runners take to the streets. For some, the local 5K is their goal. For others, perhaps a 10K or a half marathon. But for a growing number of runners, especially new runners, the goal is to run a marathon. Proper preparation and training, especially for newbie runners, often takes more than 20 weeks. And, for the majority of those weeks, total weekly milage exceeds 30 miles. But, is all that running good for you?
When I was living in RI, and running a ton, I knew several runners would train for 2 marathons per year, one in the spring and one again in the fall. Their days were scheduled around their running, they usually ran every day, and often for longer than 90 minutes. And, strangely enough, they were often some of the most injured and chronically sick people I knew. At the time, I couldn’t figure it out. They were exercising, often despite their injuries and illnesses, and they seemingly ate well. What was going on?
This article, posted today by Women’s Health, sheds some light on what may be going on inside the bodies of endurance athletes and is based on research published in several studies by the British Journal Heart, European Heart Journal, and the US journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. This article answers questions like, how much running is too much? And, if running a marathon is one of your New Year’s resolutions (or just something you’ve always wanted to do), how to train and increase your health instead of putting yourself at risk.
Running may not be for everyone, but exercise most certainly is. Exercise shouldn’t take hours a day…if fact, it shouldn’t! Read here to find out why. Today is a new day and a brand new opportunity to start your journey to better health. Now go out and GET SOME!
If you watched the news this week then you know the flu is a hot topic. In Boston Mayor Menino has declared a public health emergency. Yesterday morning on the Today show, all 4 hosts received flu shots on the air. And this weekend in Boston, there will be 21 free flu shot clinics in which all residents over 6 months of age are strongly encouraged to take part in.
Now, I don’t know about you, but the more someone pushes me to do something, the more likely I am not to do it. Or, at the very least, the more skeptical I will become about WHY it seems so necessary. I mean, if so many are getting sick with the flu, is it because they are unvaccinated, or is the flu shot not offering the level of protection it advertises?
Making the Flu Shot
Every year in North America the flu season begins on October 1st. On that date doctors’s offices and other health care facilities begin to offer the annual flu vaccines to their patients. See, unlike other vaccines that are effective in your body for many years (think the tetanus vaccine – its good for a decade!) the flu vaccine is only good for one year. Why, you ask? Because each year the flu virus that makes people sick is a little different from the year before. In that way its a lot like the common cold. You may feel, every time you get a cold, that it is the same cold you’ve had a million times, but in reality it is a new and unique virus to your immune system.
So, if the flu virus is a little different every year, how do scientists and doctors know which virus to put into the vaccine? Vaccines take time to be made…so, how to they know which flu virus to make into a vaccine in time to have flu shots ready for the start of October? Lastly, how effective is the flu vaccine?
Production of the annual flu vaccine begins in January/February of the year the flu vaccine is administered (the 2013/2014 flu vaccine is already in production). Based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), the US FDA determines which 2 virus strains will be a part of the annual US vaccine. Once the strains have been identified, it will take manufacturers approximately 6 months to grow the virus in either chicken eggs or chicken kidney cells, then turn the grown viruses into vaccines.
When it comes to effectiveness, the flu vaccine is only as good as it is close to the actual virus in circulation making people sick. If the vaccine is exact, protection is excellent, if it isn’t, protection is spotty at best. In addition, how your immune system responds to the flu vaccine will determine the level of protection any vaccine can offer.
In light of what has been on the news and what your friends and family may be saying, you are now faced with a choice. Should you get the flu shot?
Let’s say you’ve made your decision…
You’ve decided in favor of getting a flu shot. We already know that simply receiving the flu shot is not enough to offer the level of protection we expect from a vaccine. So, what can you ensure that the vaccine you’ve gotten will provide the level of protection it promises? The answer lies in a single word…SLEEP!
Simple, beautiful, delicious sleep allows your body to produce the antibodies a vaccine is designed to stimulate. As you can imagine, inadequate sleep equals inadequate antibody production. This means less than suberb protection, or in some cases, no greater protection than someone who opted not to be vaccinated.
So, is one night of good sleep enough to cover you? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Even if you got a good night sleep the night before you were vaccinated, and then went to be early the night of your vaccination, this would still not deliver the desired outcome. In order for your immune system to achieve what a vaccine promises, good sleep habits and a history of 7-8 hours of sleep per night are both necessary. And, if you regularly get less than 6 hours of shut eye per night, your likelihood of achieving full flu protection from a vaccine are even slimmer.
In addition, scientists have found that regular exercisers have an enhanced response to the flu vaccine, making it more effective.
You’ve opted to forego this year’s flu vaccine. You’re initial thought may be, “Doesn’t skipping a vaccination make me more susceptible to the flu?” The answer is a resounding NO if you know what habits can help you make the most out of your immune system. Best part is, these strategies work for all the nasty pathogens (illness causing bacteria and viruses) winter has to offer so, you’ll not only will you reduce your likelihood of coming down with the dreaded flu, but you’ll give yourself a free pass from suffering with that horrible cold everyone seems to be passing around.
Strategy 1 – Catch some ZZZZZs
Give your immune system a fighting chance by getting plenty of rest, especially when you are feeling a little run down. Regularly getting 8 hours of sleep is ideal.
Strategy 2 – Get some exercise.
Taking part in 30 min of daily exercise is the best way to ensure the cells of your immune system responsible for capturing and destroying foreign invaders, make contact with whatever could cause you to get sick. Keep it moderate though. Vigorous exercise that lasts longer than 30 minutes actually reduces immune function.
Strategy 3 – Reduce your stress.
Stress reduces immune function. Exactly what you don’t need when you are trying to fight a cold or the flu. Reducing your daily stress goes a long way in allowing your body to put energy where it needs to – keeping you from getting sick in the first place!
Strategy 4 – Avoid sugar like the plague.
Nothing slashes your immune function like sugar. Help keep your immune function optimal by reducing your white sugar and white flour consumption. And, get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables for some much needed vitamins and minerals.
This deal popped up in my inbox this morning…and it made me think of you. You know of my love for all things coconut, especially coconut oil. From cooking to skin care it is an oil that can almost do it all.
Well, if for some reason you’ve been hesitant and you haven’t tried coconut oil yet, this is the deal you’ve been waiting for.
Simply click the picture to go to this deal and buy to your heart’s content. Happy Monday!
Well, its the new year and, I don’t know about you, but it seems every TV commercial and pop-up add I see, and every Groupon/Living Social deal that has appeared in my inbox are all related to the New Year’s Resolution Weight Loss/Fitness Phenomenon. From cries of, “This year I’m gonna loose weight,” to “This year I’m gonna get in shape,” it seems everyone is on the bandwagon. But ask any gym owner, or visit any gym now and then again in February, to see how long these resolutions hold on.
We are an instant gratification society with the belief that if I work harder then the results I desire will come faster. Unfortunately, when it comes to achieving the results we desire via exercise, that belief is doing us more harm than good. Case in point, the New Year’s Resolution exercisers.
Full of good intentions they enter the gym to do some cardio, maybe hit a few weights and get in some crunches. Over those first few weeks the “quick trips” to the gym take longer than expected. Time gets tighter and meeting the normal obligations of the day become more difficult. The to-do list gets longer and longer as the days pass. Then there is the soreness. When you first go back its hard to know how much is too much and more often than not we over do it. It is this combination of time requirements and soreness that ultimately derails even the best intentioned individuals.
So, if your resolutions for the New Year include getting fit or getting healthy, how can you turn them into a reality in 2013?
Step 1 – Build SMART Goals
Getting fit and getting healthy are great goals to have, but what do they mean? Can you define them? How will you know if you’ve gotten fit? How will you know if you’ve gotten healthy?
How can you define health? Learn here.
Avoid not knowing when you’ve gotten there by building SMART goals. SMART goals are:
Let’s face it…nothing is a better motivator to keep you on track than a looming deadline. Take the time to construct the specifics of your goals. When you know exactly where you are going and how you are going to get there it makes it easier to stay the course.
Step 2 – Less is More
Spending 2 hours at the gym isn’t doing you any good. And contrary to popular belief/conventional wisdom less is more when it comes to gym time. In a study conducted by the University of Copenhagen, researchers found that 30 minutes of exercise was as effective in reducing body weight and body mass as 60 minutes of exercise.
“The participants in our study trained every day for three months. All training sessions were planned to produce a light sweat, but participants were expected to increase the intensity and give it gas three times a week,” explains Mads Rosenkilde, PhD student at the University of Copenhagen in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and author of the study. Over the course of 13 weeks the participants who exercised only 30 minutes per day lost 2lbs more than those who exercised for 60 minutes per day.
But wait, the news gets better. In addition to weight loss, participants who exercised for only 30 minutes reported having more energy and eating less throughout the day. Plus, when it came time to exercise, they had the desire to do so, and they simply felt better all day long.
Over exercising – a classic mistake of the New Year’s crowd – leaves us starving and exhausted, eating more and moving less as the days pass. Not seeing the results you are striving for makes motivation hard to maintain, and before you know it you are back where you started. So, get in, get a good sweat going, and keep it to 30 minutes.
Step 3 – Great abs are made in the kitchen
No matter how many days you train, no matter how much weight you lift, no matter how many miles you log, you will never get the body you desire if you don’t feed it right.
Not sure how to feed your body right? Follow these simple guidelines to build healthy plates meal after meal. You’ll find that you sleep better, your energy is more consistent throughout the day, and you’ll recover faster from workouts that previously would have sent you over the edge.
- Get white sugar and white flour out of your diet.
- Fill your plate with fresh vegetables, lean meats, and fresh fruits at every meal. Yes, this means vegetables for breakfast.
- Drink lots of water. Whenever you think of it, take a sip. Carry a water bottle so this is possible at all times.
- Incorporate healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, butter from grass fed cows (Try Kerrygold), cage free/free range egg yolks and coconut milk/coconut oil into your daily meals. Read why coconut oil is more than just a healthy fat here and here.
When asked to recall the events of 2012, either events in your personal life or world events, what do you most remember? Go ahead…take a minute and think. If you’ve got a pen and paper handy, or can quickly open a word doc, write down what comes to mind.
How many events were you able to recall? What percentage of those events would you consider to be positive? What percentage are negative? Unfortunately, most of us human beings have an easier time recalling the negative events that have taken place than we do the positive events. And focusing on the negative will only bring about more negativity. Now, I don’t know anyone who’s ever said, “I could use some more negativity in my life,” but I know plenty would could benefit from a whole lot more positivity (myself included – I am a natural born pessimist).
The solution? A Jar of Good Things. Instead of making a bunch of New Year’s resolutions this year – that, let’s be honest….won’t be kept – find a large jar or other container with a lid that can easily be opened and closed. Starting on January 1st, put this jar someplace conspicuous with a pen and scraps of paper near by. Then every day, every week, or every time you remember to, write down something positive and place it in the jar….accomplishments, things you are thankful for, health milestones, friends you have made, memories you want to cherish, anything you can think of. Encourage everyone in your household to add to the jar with their own positivity. At the close of 2013, open your jar and revel in a year’s worth of positive thoughts and memories.
So, if the law of attraction is really true – you attract back to you whatever type of energy you put out into the universe – think of what a whole year of positive thinking could do for you.
- What is Positive Thinking? (corporatewoowoochick.com)
- Positive Thinking’s Biggest Threat (corporatewoowoochick.com)
- Putting the Power of Positive Thinking to Work in Your Life (corporatewoowoochick.com)
It’s less than one week until Christmas…welcome to the craziest week of the year. Without a doubt you are going to at least one Christmas party this weekend. The goodies at work have likely been rolling in all week. And the alcohol is flowing freely. You want to be good, you know you should be good, but the constant temptation is just too much. Trust me, I’ve been there too.
Here’s the thing though. What you do once in a while doesn’t matter very much. It’s ok to indulge when it truly is a treat. Like when your Grandmother makes those cookies that taste just like your childhood, or a box of Godiva chocolates makes its way around the office. There is no need to fret about every morsel you consume at Christmas dinner or on New Year’s Eve. Go ahead, have a glass of champagne and toast the New Year!
Because it’s not what you consume at a holiday party, or even what you consume in the days between Christmas and New Years. It’s what you do every day matters. Your daily habits – all the other days of the year – that are the biggest contributors or detractors to your overall health and whether or not you reach your goals.
So, for the rest of this week and this weekend don’t add to your overall stress load by stressing out about all of the “food/drink mistakes” you’ve made. Instead choose the best options you can when the next opportunity arises. Treat treats like the treats they are. Don’t house all Grandma’s cookies and don’t hoard the whole box of chocolate.
Looking forward to the week between Christmas and New Years, eat as well as you can as often as you can. Move your body even if it is just for a stroll around the block or from store to store in the mall as you make returns. Drink as much water as you can and most importantly RELAX. We’ll all be back to the grind soon enough, so enjoy this time and enjoy each other’s company…it only comes once a year!