Tag Archives: nutrition

Healthier Together Series: 7A. Nutrition – The importance of calories in

hessam-hojati-M4hazNIyTsk-unsplashWe’ve heard that weight is all about the calories we consume. In fact, someone recently shared with me that she felt betrayed. She had been successfully losing weight eating very low carb, and had not been counting or restricting calories. She had been feeling so happy about her progress and how easy it was and how she had so much more energy that she had now been regularly working out for over 2 years. However, she recently heard that eating very low carb or “keto” was effective for weight loss because it cuts calories. This whole time, she thought it was being low carb that worked, not the calorie restriction. She felt “tricked.” Have you heard this too?

Allow me to clarify. If you are eating carbohydrates and your waistline is enlarging or you are gaining excess weight or you have prediabetes or diabetes or PCOS or metabolic syndrome, you have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that your body produces excessive amounts of insulin for the same amount of carbohydrates you consume. So, if you eat carbs, your body dumps too much insulin into your blood stream.

High levels of insulin prevent your body from being able to access your back up fuel source – your fat cells. You will not be able to get fuel from your fat cells. This means that when you need fuel, you will need to provide fuel, to run your body, by eating or drinking it. You know the feeling- you will be hungry or get the munchies when your fuel in your blood stream starts dropping low. Again, you have to eat or drink calories the have the fuel to continue to run your body. If you don’t eat and your insulin level is high, you don’t have access to your back up fuel source, so your cells begin to panic. You get hungry, ravenous and feel your blood sugar dropping and feel very unwell. Eating or drinking carbs (including sugars) is the fastest way to “feel better” in this scenario.

Now, let’s go on the “common” diet of cutting calories or portion size. If you started out eating a standard American diet with lots of carbohydrates and then begin calorie restriction, or cutting calories or eating smaller portions, it usually means you cut back on the fats and eat mostly carbohydrates. Carbs spike insulin. This means you keep insulin pretty high and as a result, you starve those poor cells in your body. Your body doesn’t like starving, so it adapts and starts to cut back on its activities and slows your metabolism to “conserve” your limited energy. With this method of weight loss, weight loss is very difficult to maintain unless you continue to add more exercise and/or continue to cut calories. There’s a limit to how far you can go with this.

When someone pursues a very low carb or ketogenic diet, your body adapts to running on the ketones produced from burning your fat stores (it continues to make glucose too). Good news, ketones act as a natural appetite suppressant- so you don’t need to eat as much or as often. You just aren’t that hungry because with this method, your insulin levels stay lower. When insulin is lower, your body can burn fat for fuel when it needs fuel (burning fat for fuel instead of requiring eating for chronic re-fueling). Also, by eating a very low carb or ketogenic diet, your brain and gut can receive the signals that you are “full” when you eat fat and protein.

Ultimately, by keeping insulin levels in the naturally lower range, when you need fuel, you can easily burn fat for fuel, your appetite is decreased overall, and your brain and gut can receive signals and know when to stop eating. Voila! Less calories in, but it is because you don’t need or want them- NOT because you artificially put your body into a starving panic mode. VERY different reason for less calories in. VERY different body response to less calories in. Long term weight loss and weight loss maintenance is achievable. Pretty cool, right?

Advertisements

Capsule Nutrition = Meal Prep

brooke-lark-jUPOXXRNdcA-unsplashI love the idea of capsule wardrobes. So I thought, why not capsule nutrition? How about the essentials same shopping list (change out seasonal fruit & veggies) & change up the meals? So easy! Also, make recipes/prep short or able to be done ahead of time when you have more time or motivation. Consider once weekly grocery shopping- so foods that don’t last as long, would be used earlier in the week after grocery shopping…AWESOME. That’s the dream. So, I came up with the capsule nutrition plan’s grocery list.

Capsule Nutrition: What you need – Create your own list of the basics to have on hand for healthier nutrition. Here’s my list: 

Produce for the week (Varies with season & preference):

  • Green leaves – 2+ cups per day per person. Eat the flimsier green leaves earlier in the week as the heartier leaves last longer.
    • Lettuces – various kinds, Romaine hearts last longer
    • Kale, Spinach, Swiss chard, Collard, turnip or mustard greens
    • Parsley, cilantro
    • Salad packs – check the expiration date
  • Avocados, lemons
  • Additional veggies that looks good to you – 2 cups per day per person. Consider: cucumber, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms, celery, tomatoes, etc. etc.
  • Fruit – approx. 1 handful per day. Berries are extra nutritious.

Enough for 2 meals daily, some combination of (Varies with availability & mood & season):

  • Fish (Fatty, wild) – 2 days of week
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.)
  • Meats (beef –grassfed, lamb, pork, bison, etc.)

Dairy for 1+ week (if you are including dairy in your diet):

  • Cheeses – individually wrapped are easy for packing and for quick snack
  • Whipping cream – organic
  • Butter – organic
  • Greek yogurt – plain – enough for 1 week. Individual packed are easy for portion control & for packing
  • Eggs – pasture raised – 2 dozen. Older eggs are easier to peel (remember to boil with 1tsp baking soda or if steamed in an egg steamer!).

Keep stocked:

  • Salad dressing (No sugars or high fructose syrup. Avoid diet dressings)
  • Olive oil, coconut oil
  • Mustards, vinegars, capers
  • Seasonings: pick your favorites. Some of mine: Greek seasoning, garlic salt with parsley flakes, Malden sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried parsley flakes, soy sauce, thyme, ground ginger, cinnamon.
  • Nut butters – like almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter. Make sure they are without additional ingredients other than salt. This usually means the oil separates and you will have to stir it when you first open the bottle.
  • Various nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, etc.)
  • Old fashioned rolled oats
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Almond flour
  • Coffee
  • Tea – various

Frozen- keep stocked:

  • Veggies (chopped onions, peppers,  & greens such as spinach, green beans, peas, edamame, etc.)
  • 1 bag Berries
  • Ezekiel bread (if bread is part of diet)
  • Low carb tortilla

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The 5 Keys to Incorporating Morning Exercise & Healthy Nutrition – How To Guide

stil-N9uOrBICcjY-unsplashPrioritize your health. Learn to plan and to follow a plan successfully. Make “Success” your habit.

1. Develop a PLAN. Every 2 weeks: Plan exercise in 2 week chunks. Make your exercise plan every 2 weeks.

  • Sit down with notebook and calendar.
  • Write how many continuous weeks you have been exercising as planned.
  • Review how the last 2 weeks went & determine how you change your workout or advance it for the next 2 weeks.
  • Write down what you learn from your review.
    • I total the calories I burned in the last 2 weeks and the total minutes exercising.
    • I make notes of what I want to do differently or if I will try a different exercise or weight.
    • I note if certain music correlated with more enthusiasm or a better workout.
  • Then write what you will change for the next 2 weeks, such as increasing the weights you were benching or the incline on the treadmill or the lower body exercises you are going to do in the upcoming 2 weeks.
    • I write my plans for improvement
  • Look on the calendar and note any significant scheduling challenges in the next 2 weeks (such as travel).
    • I might move a harder workout to a better day fo th
  • Look at the next 2 weeks and pick 5 days each week that you CAN workout in the morning. PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR exactly when you will work out. Include time for your shower, blow dry, etc. and your commute if applicable.
    • For example, I am least motivated to workout on Monday mornings and Friday mornings- so those are my “flex” days when I don’t plan to work out. The rest of the days of the week, I will plan a workout. I figure out when I have to be on the road to work & I schedule my workout 2 hours before I go off to work. 2 hours gives me time for my planned workout & shower & getting ready for work & eating breakfast. If I will be travelling or have a particularly EARLY morning, I may move one of my workout days to Monday and/or Friday– my “flex” days.
  • Make sure there is NEVER 2 days in a row without a work out.
    • For example, I have been following my plan and working out Sat, Sun, (Mondays are off),Tues, Wed, & due to a family emergency, I miss Thursday (which is my usual workout day), I will make it up on Friday (instead of taking that off as would have been my usual). So, Mondays & Fridays act as my make up days, my “flex” days.

2. TRACK it. Every Workout Day: Log every workout in the notebook on the day you work out.

  • Log at a minimum: date, time, what you did.
    • I log my weight & my heart rate (HR) monitor data: average HR, maximum HR, calories burned. I also take a minute to rate how motivated I was prior to my workout (scale 1-3) and how much effort I put in (scale of 1-3).
  • Jot down any notes on the past 24 hours including today’s workout .
    • I might reflect on how much I was yawning during my workout & recognize that it is because I ate so many starchy carbohydrates yesterday. Basically, by reflecting, I am learning to read my body and understand how I am feeling and how to optimize my daily function and happiness. It is kind of like mindfulness meditation.
  • Review what you will do tomorrow & make adjustments as necessary based on your reflection of the past 24 hours and how you are doing today.

Again, prioritize your health. Learn to plan and to follow a plan successfully. Make “Success” your habit.

  • KEY POINT: Once it is planned, you do not deviate from the plan unless you “plan” to deviate from it at least 1 day prior to the event. Here is an example using your workout plan: you planned to work out Upper Body on Tuesday, Lower Body on Wednesday, Upper Body on Thursday. Tuesday goes great. On Wednesday, after your Lower Body workout, you realize your Upper Body is not going to be ready to do the workout that was planned on Thursday. On WEDNESDAY, you can ADJUST your original Thursday workout plan, while you are reviewing the next day’s workout. You should change the workout plan for Thursday on that Wednesday- maybe you decide you will just walk on the treadmill. Now, when you wake up on Thursday and get ready to workout, your notebook tells you the plan is to walk for 20 minutes at a brisk pace. Fine. You are still ON PLAN and being SUCCESSFUL. You know the adjustment was thoughtful and deliberate instead of because of your “mood.” You are training yourself to be healthy and successful and feel good about what you are doing.

3. Have a BACK UP Plan. ALWAYS makeup any missed workout with SOME movement.

  • If possible, even if the workout will be missed, consider doing at least 5 minutes of some physical activity that will boost your heart rate.
  • 8Fit is an app with quick body weight exercises that can be done without any equipment in a small space- even a dorm or hotel room.
  • From the example above, that upper body workout that I planned not to do on Thursday, I will plan to make it up on the Friday morning. I put it on the calendar. I will also note that when planning my next 2 week workout schedule, I will need to reconsider if I need to change my workout pattern, the weights or the exercise(s) I am doing.

4. Keep meal planning simple. Have a plan for your basics (as back up in case you don’t have more exciting meal plan available) & modify as necessary. Here is an example of mine using drive thru which is on way to work :

  • 4 Breakfast options – availability and convenience are key, I don’t have to think about it.
    1. At home: Eggs with baby spinach, mushrooms, feta cheese with avocado &/or tomato slices or other veggies. Tip: Make Omelette Muffins. Mix up a large bowl of 12 eggs with a handful each of: chopped vegetables (left overs from dinner the night before are fine), chopped ham/bacon/sausage/lox (optional), and grated/crumbled cheese (cheddar, swiss, goat, or feta cheeses work great) and pour into greased muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes into omelette muffins. Store in the fridge or freezer for quick grab and go breakfast options that can be eaten cold or heated up.
    2. Home or easily transportable: Omelette muffin (above), Chia seed pudding or Plain Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, dash of cinnamon and 2 Tbsp almond butter. Bonus additions: chopped pecans or ground flax seeds or Chia seeds too. Occasionally, I add 1/4 c. fresh berries. If weight or carbs is not an issue for you, you can add 2 Tbsp Old Fashioned Oats and/or 6 bittersweet chocolate chips.
    3. Traveling/On Road/No Kitchen/No Time: Drive thru breakfast sandwich or wrap with at 2 eggs (ask for the extra egg if it only comes with 1)- key when I am not able to eat breakfast before leaving the house and the boys ate the last of my prepared breakfast options.
    4. Anywhere: Large iced or hot coffee with cream with plan for midmorning “snack” or  late brunch out or just plan “not hungry.” Tip: If you make your own coffee at home, add cinnamon to the coffee grounds to jazz it up.
  • 3 At-Work QUICK Lunch Options:
    1. Time crunch day- no time to prepare or plan or grab a salad: In my work refrigerator: plain Greek yogurt, almond butter, cheese, boiled eggs. Will mix up yogurt, nut butter and nuts (always in my bag) for protein power lunch.
    2. Bring from home: salad or prepared salad pack & leftover protein from dinner night before or salmon or tuna pack. Often, I add cheese crumbles and/or avocado to the salad. Salad dressing at work.
    3. In a Rush/Out of Groceries at home: Drive thru Cobb or other salad with chicken, egg or other protein on top with unsweetened iced tea.
  • Dinners Vary. Make extra for lunch the next day. Always have protein & non-starchy vegetables. If no salad earlier in the day, I will have one with dinner on most days.
  • Drinks: Drinks are water, black coffee & unsweetened teas.
  • Desserts: Dark chocolate and berries and unsweetened fresh whipped cream,  individually or in various combinations, are favorite desserts. Nuts and cheese make a nice crunchy/savory option too.
  • The Day OF my plans to go out for dinner: If I am going out for dinner, ie. on Friday, I eat breakfast later and then nibble some cheese, handful of nuts or celery with peanut butter in the afternoon if I get hungry before dinner.
  • Eating out: Majority of the time– keep it simple with protein & veggies. Replace the bread/fries/potato with side of veggies or salad. If I had a great workout and did not eat any sweets or starchy carbs earlier in the day, I may share a dessert.

Keep your nutrition plan simple and easy to keep track of. Eat lots of veggies and eat your protein and stay hydrated. You don’t need to spend energy thinking up new ideas or figuring out what you need to eat when you are in a panic or have limited choices. Plan ahead and be prepared. Follow your plan.

5. Develop Self Compassion. Perfection is not the goal. You are human. Striving towards excellence as a human, as the most perfect version of you, means that sometimes, there are deviations. In those moments, practice saying to yourself: “I am doing the best that I can, right now.” Then, let it go.

Tomorrow, you can choose to reflect and learn from it. Ask yourself if there was something you could learn from that experience. For example:

  • Reflect: Was there something, a person, an event, a place, that triggered the deviation or altered your plans?
  • Learn: Is there anything you can do differently in the future under similar circumstances?
  • Reaffirm: Repeat to yourself, “I am doing the best that I can, right now.” Then, move forward as a wiser and more prepared You.

Summary: Prioritize your health. Learn to plan and to follow a plan successfully. Make “Success” your habit.

This post is in honor of my mom.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Healthier Together Series: Cycle 4A. Nutrition – Go To List

dan-gold-4_jhDO54BYg-unsplashREAL food. Here are some of my go-to REAL food ideas. A little planning & prep can go a long way.

Remember: Avoid foods and drinks that are artificially made “low fat” or “no fat.” If nature made it with fat, that’s how it’s best managed by your body. Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you are having something sweet, own up to it and only have a little. You can modify the list below to remove grains or dairy. 

Snacks to have on hand (**Always available, keeps longer):

In the Fridge:

  • Raw veggies – usually have 2-4 varieties in fridge for week:
    • carrot sticks
    • sugar snap peas
    • celery sticks
    • radishes (eat salted- yum)
    • cucumbers
    • peppers
    • romaine hearts
    • grape tomatoes
  • salad/baby spinach packs
  • hummus
  • Greek plain yogurt
  • Baby bell (or other individually wrapped) cheeses**
  • crumbled smoked blue cheese or feta cheese
  • blue cheese or other salad dressing**
  • boiled eggs (boil a dozen at beginning of week- remember boil older eggs & add 1 tsp baking soda to water helps make them easy-peel)
  • crispy oven baked nitrite/nitrate free bacon (line on cookie sheet & bake)
  • deli meats, (pasture raised IS better)
  • leftovers: roasted veggies or meats
  • Berries occasionally
  • dark chocolate covered cocoa dusted almonds** (Buy in bulk & stored in freezer)

NOT in the fridge (often in my desk drawers in office or pantry at home)

  • nuts** (various flavors ie. wasabi soy sauce almonds, smoked almonds, salted peanuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)
  • nut butters** (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.) – great to add to other foods or when in a pinch, just scoop it out in a spoon and eat 1 spoonful- surprisingly satisfying.
  • beef jerky** (pasture raised is best)
  • tuna packs**
  • salmon packs** (great way to get wild salmon, instead of farm raised “Atlantic” salmon – which doesn’t have the higher omega 3’s of wild salmon)
  • olives**
  • pickles**
  • Kind bars** – there are many varieties…these are when I want something sweet

Rotating foods:

  1. Kale Salad: kale- 1 bunch (julienne or chopped fine, massage leaves with drizzled olive oil), juice of 1 lemon juice, sprinkling of pine nuts, grated Parmesan to taste
  2. “Everything” Mix: nut butter + flax seed + chia seeds + old fashioned rolled oats (optional) + few choc chips + coconut flakes (unsweetened) (which is combined & put together with some maple syrup & stored in fridge in balls or crumbled…then when I want it, mix it into plain Greek yogurt +/- berries). Recipe for a no-bake snack.
  3. Chopped Colorful Salad or Wedge salad – nitrite/nitrate free bacon, boiled eggs (as above) +/- avocado/blue cheese +/- grape tomatoes on salad pack (or quarter of iceberg lettuce or cut up hearts of romaine lettuce) with leftovers from dinner
  4. Tuna/egg/salmon salad on romaine lettuce leaf (use like taco shell) or on cucumber slices/boat (scoop out the seeds) or on salad pack. (If you like capers, add some to your egg salad – it is divine!)
  5. Nut butter on celery or apple slices or stirred into Greek yogurt
  6. Deli meat (as above) or tuna/egg/salmon/chicken salad wrapped in romaine with hummus or cheese +/- additional veggies like peppers slices or tomato or avocado (wrap in saran wrap like nori-maki to store in fridge if making ahead)
  7. Spinach with almost anything (can saute or eat fresh or put in microwave. Then, put dressing or soy sauce or vinegar w/olive oil or sprinkle with cheese & bacon or toss berries in it)
  8. Broccoli slaw – saute or add to almost any dish. It’s easy and an excellent source of vitamins and delicious.
  9. Eggs: fried/scrambled/boiled with tomato slices & avocado (+/- sprouted ezekiel bread-if occasionally eating whole grains, found in freezer section only) +/- salsa
  10. Homemade Trail Mix: mixed nuts with some dark chocolate chips/carob chips +/- unsweetened coconut flakes
  11. Cabbage – sauteed as “base” for other foods in place of pasta or rice
  12. Spaghetti squash -baked – to eat with spaghetti with meat sauce
  13. Cauliflower – as “mashed potatoes” or “rice” or baked with parmesan or roasted or raw, etc. etc.
  14. Meatloaf, prefer grass-fed ground beef or ground lamb – great as leftovers & easy to add to almost any other meals (if have extra time, would make it into meatballs)
  15. Green beans (blanched) & grape tomatoes halved (soy sauce, chopped garlic & sesame oil)
  16. Edamame – boil x 5 minutes & sprinkle with salt over pods. Good hot or cold.
  17. Eggplant slices – baked or fried with some olive oil & salt or grated Parmesan or other seasonings. Add some tomato or marinara sauce on it with a sprinkling of Parmesan or Asiago & baked- it is AMAZING.
  18. Mushrooms – stuffed. Or baked with soy sauce or cheese
  19. Cheese crisps (sliced or shredded cheese placed on parchment & baked or microwaved until melted & flattened out, then browned just a bit to make them crispy when cooled down)
  20. Stir fry veggies +/- protein
  21. Hummus with veggies
  22. Peppers stuffed with deli meats (see above), tuna salad or sliced with hummus or in stir fry or salads
  23. Leftover meats cut into strips (Always cook extra protein for dinner & cut up the leftovers. Strips are easy to grab as snack or put in romaine boat or toss in salad or stir fry or with cabbage stir fry)
  24. Coconut granola (I did not use both honey AND maple syrup, so it wasn’t too sweet)
  25. Golden Low Carb granola from the Low Carb Diet Doctor

Keep healthy food options easy and readily available and you will improve your nutrition and your health from inside…out. Please share some of your suggestions for easy healthy real food ideas.

 

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Healthier Together Series: Cycle 3A. Nutrition — When you’re hungry…

josh-bean-i817tD8-Ly4-unsplashNutrition notes today:

How to stay in control and eat for nutrition and health and achieve a healthier weight.

Do you frequently have times when you make poor food choices because you were too busy or tired to prepare ahead or cook? It’s all about having a plan and easily available options for when you get hungry. Make a list and make it a habit to keep a few options on hand ALWAYS.

First, recognize that sometimes, it’s not hunger but boredom or loneliness or feeling bad in some way and needing to fill a void. A walk, connecting with nature, listening to music, meditating or journalling for 5-10 minutes may resolve the “hunger.”

If you are still hungry, drink water first. Add lemon or lime or cucumber slices and even mint leaves if you like. Thirst can present as hunger.

If still hungry, eat protein. If the thought of eating protein doesn’t sound appealing, reassess if you are hungry. Boiled eggs or some meat, chicken, turkey, canned fish, precooked shrimp can be easy to keep available. Make some extra chicken tonight and store it in the fridge in strips that can be eaten tomorrow as a snack dipped in dressing, on a salad, in soup or in a Romaine lettuce wrap (like a taco). Nuts and nut butters are also easy to have on hand.

If you eat some protein and are still hungry, eat non-starchy veggies- like celery, leafy greens, cucumbers, peppers, jicama, radishes, cauliflower, zucchini, etc. Crunchy seems to be more satisfying sometimes!

If you are needing something creamy, Greek yogurt, smoothie, hummus, or a nut butter works.

Want something cheesy? Have a cheese stick or small individually wrapped cheese or real cheese dip for your crunchy veggies.

Craving chocolate? Dark chocolate covered almonds dusted with cocoa works wonders. This is also good when you want something sweet and/or crunchy.

If you HAVE to have fruit, a handful of berries are good.

Remember, most of us are chronically dehydrated- so drink water. When you eat, you are supposed to be nourishing your body with essential nutrients that are found in proteins and veggies. So if you are hungry, provide your body with those essential nutrients.

Make your list of “Go To” foods and have a couple of them available regularly. Then, when you are urgently needing some nutrients, you will be able to fill that need without resorting to the foods that don’t nourish you and that you will regret later.

 

Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash

Healthier Together Series: Cycle 2A. Nutrition – Hydrate

marek-levak-NEWFRkV4F3s-unsplashToday’s nutrition notes:

At this point, learn how to stay hydrated. Unless you have heart failure, chronic kidney disease or liver failure, or your doctor tells you to restrict your fluid intake, you will benefit from hydration.

Water is necessary for survival and optimum functioning of all of your body and cells. Many if us are in a chronic mild dehydration state. It’s hard to remember to drink water if you are running around and busy. Your body can function better if you rehydrate yourself.

You will know you have enough water if your urine is clearer and less yellow. The amount of water you need will vary, but you can know you need more water if your urine is getting darker or more concentrated in color.

When you first increase your water intake, you may have to go to the bathroom more often but your body (kidneys) will adjust. It may take a few days to adjust.

How can you increase your water intake?

1. Get a water bottle or other beverage container/glass you like. It may be colorful or steel or a certain shape. You may like straws if you wear lipstick and don’t want the lipstick mark on your cup/bottle.

2. Put your water in a visible location, easy to reach. You can take sips all day.

3. Make your water interesting. Try sliced lemon, lime, cucumbers, &/or sprigs of mint leaves. Try dropping some berries in your water. Make an UNSWEETENED herbal or green tea & have it hot or iced. You can try all sorts of teas and combos of fruit and herbs steeping in your water for infinite flavors. Some people have it chilling overnight in a large jug for the next day. In the morning, they take out the berries, cucumber, etc. before drinking the flavored water or pouring it into their water bottle to take to work, school or the gym.

4. Link a drink of water with a routine activity. For example, every time before you stand up from your desk, you might take a swig of your water. Or every time you check email, you will drink some water.

5. Log your water intake on an app on your phone or in a notebook and mark each time you have a drink and aim for a certain amount you know is right for you. This works well for people who like records of what they are doing, their progress.

Bottom line: find what works for you and stay hydrated! Your body will be able to better take care of you if you give it what it needs. Have fun with it!

 

Photo by Marek Levák on Unsplash

Healthier Together Series: Cycle 1 D. Putting It All Together — Midwest Winter

In this section, I am hoping to integrate people’s experiences and wisdom and/or offer examples of how we apply what we have learned. Please be sure to share your experiences and wisdom. This is how we can help each other and become healthier together.
*Disclaimer: Apps or links are listed as examples & do not necessarily represent the BEST ones or the only options. They are included to help you get started on your search for the right resources for you. So please share what you are using too.

Here is an example of putting it all together:

Scenario: Midwest. Winter. Cold. Darker earlier, longer. Work is busy. Traffic is terrible in bad weather- longer and more frustrating commutes. Not going outside much. Limited exposure to nature. See fewer people socially. Sleep is messed up. Craving and eating comfort foods that increase blood sugar and therefore insulin. Gaining weight. Getting more tired. Being less active. Feeling bad about not exercising, eating poorly and weight gain. Feeling progressively more down…sound familiar?

Thank goodness for Spring! However, what about all those months before Spring arrives?

Winter happens EVERY year. Plan for it. Let your healthy habits continue to help you. Many people schedule a break to warmer climates during winter or early spring (maybe too expensive for some of us), or they embrace it and find a physical activity that they can do in the midst of nature’s healing effects. Mental planning helps. Journal or keep a log of your observations. Here’s a plan:

1. Limit your new transitions that use up your activation energy and brain energy. You have lower reserves in the winter. Keep the things, people, activities that rejuvenate you and give you energy, maybe even increase the duration of exposure to them. Note: not adding more, just make it longer. It might mean eliminating some of the energy drains.

2. Maintain your healthy eating habits. In particular, keep the amount of white starchy carbs and sugars lower. This will keep your energy and mood up and also your weight stable! Stay hydrated- UNSWEETENED clear nonalcoholic beverages are best, like water or unsweetened tea.

3. Always continue your regular daily physical activity, especially in the winter. This is not the time to change it up or take a break. Start your day with a boost of activity- as little as 7 minutes will help you! It will save you from the winter blues and regulate your sleep and eating and your weight. When you are away from home or when there is a time crunch, try the 7 minute workout which you can find online. A sample iphone app: The 7 Minute Workout “Seven” with High Intensity Interval Training. There are MANY online videos that also show how to do the complete body workout.

4. Practice your self hypnosis to allow you to develop control of your mind so you can relax or sleep when you need to. When you are particularly stressed or if you have insomnia, it is nice to have your brain help you. Given the nights are longer, maybe you can use some of the extra darkness to practice relaxing the mind. 2 sample apps on the iphone: *Hypnopack. Has 5, 15, 20 & 27 minute programs and also can be used for other behavior change helpful for public speaking, anxiety release, studying & memory, etc. *Create Inner Peace & Calm with Glenn Harrold is another iphone app that many find helpful, has some free & some components you can choose but have to pay for.

5. Reach out and connect with nature and the people who energize you. This might mean taking a walk or snowshoeing in nature on a winter morning with a friend.

Bottom line: you can learn from previous experiences, what your patterns are and maximize the joy you get out of your life with a little planning. Taking care of yourself is a choice and it helps make the world a better place. And you deserve it!