Self-care is NOT selfish

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“AN EMPTY LANTERN PROVIDES NO LIGHT. SELF-CARE IS THE FUEL THAT ALLOWS YOUR LIGHT TO SHINE BRIGHTLY.”

Happy December! As we are in the midst of the holiday season I wanted to address something that is SO important this time of year: self-care. The holidays can get super busy, and instead of time spent on love and getting into the holiday spirit we can get sometimes get caught up feeling overtired and run-down.

Soo what is self-care?

Self-care comes in many different forms and can look different for everyone since the definition is: “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

The first example that comes to mind when explaining the need for self-care is when a flight attendant instructs us to do in case of an emergency: “Put on our oxygen mask first..then help others!” Another analogy is the fact that “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Therefore, instead of thinking of self-care as selfish, I like to help my clients reframe this thought and think of it as a way to help others by starting with yourself first.

Another misconception about self-care is that it’s glamorous or expensive (i.e spa treatments, etc). Again, happy to report this is not always the case either and below I’ll be sharing 10 ways to practice self-care that are FREE below. 

Keep in mind that we all achieve happiness and relieve stress in our own unique ways, however there are a few overaching themes that most self-care practices address: getting enough sleep, feeding ourselves nourishing foods, not overworking ourselves,  or even the simple act of saying no to an activity that we don’t want to do. 

Top 10 Self-Care Ideas that are FREE

1. Take a walk. No final destination necessary; just walk until you feel like stopping.

2. Take a bath. Bath time isn’t just for kids! Throw in some epsom salt, make a bath time playlist, and even light a candle or two since everything feels more relaxing with a candle :)

3. Connect with others. Call or meet up with a good friend that always puts a smile on your face for a catch-up sesh.

4. Take a nap. Listening to your body and resting/napping when needed is an important part of taking care of yourself!

5. Watch a YouTube videos that make you happy or a show on Netflix that makes you laugh. Here are some great ideas from Huffington Post.

6. Listen to your favorite feel good Podcast or one that will give you a happiness boost. Check out these suggestions.

7. Put your phone on "Do Not Disturb." If only for an hour, spending time without texts, emails and social media can be super refreshing.

8. Write in a gratitude journal. Check out my tips here.

9. Put on your comfiest pair of clothes and meditate. Check out this article from headspace on how to get started.

10. Do something creative. Make a DIY craft project if that brings you joy or start that photo album from your last trip you’ve been putting off.


What is Intuitive Eating?

Embracing your inner infant…

We are all (for the most part) born with an innate ability to regulate our food intake. As babies we instinctly knew what, when, and how much food we needed for our body to be healthy and grow. However, for some of us our ability to continue through life as intuitive eaters gets lost over time as we experience things such as difficulty coping with emotions, fad diets or something seemingly so insignificant as being told to “finish our plate”.

So what is Intuitive Eating?

It is an evidenced-based, mind-body and weight-neutral health approach. It was first written about in 1995 by two dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in their book: Intuitive Eating. On their website (intuiveeating.org) they define Intuitive Eating as a “personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.”

5 Ways to Incorporate a few of the Intuitive Eating Principles:

  1. Reject the diet mentality - For those of us with a chronic history of dieting… the first step on the path towards intuitive eating is to leave diet mentality (i.e fad weight loss diets) behind. Tribole and Resch suggest “throwing out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently.” They recommend “getting angry at the lies that led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained all the weight back.”

  2. Make peace with food - Improving your relationship with both food and yourself is a large part of becoming an intuitive eater. Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat the foods that you enjoy while avoiding telling yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food is key. This “good” versus “bad” or black and white thinking can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that may build into uncontrollable cravings and, sometimes, bingeing once you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food. This mindset can create a cycle known as the “eat—>repent—>restrict—>repeat” cycle often rooted in feelings of shame and guilt.

  3. Hunger: identify, assess and honor - It sounds simple enough, but you wouldn’t believe how many clients I’ve met with that have lost the ability to listen to and identify their internal hunger cues after years of following external cues also known as “diet rules”. After you’ve determined what hunger feels like for you (i.e - stomach growl, feeling tired) , next you want to practice differentiating between physical hunger and emotional hunger (cravings). I often recommend that my clients drink a glass of water (since thirst can often be confused with hunger). If you are still hungry, ask yourself if you are willing to eat a balanced meal filled with lean protein, complex carbohydrates and fresh vegetables. If the answer is yes, you're likely hungry. This exercise can help you differentiate physical hunger from emotional cravings. Next, thinking about what you want to eat (see below…cravings). Last, but not least - if you are truly hungry… then eat. Simple as that!

  4. Cravings… listen to these too! - Most of my clients are shocked at first when I suggest they not only honor their hunger, but their cravings too. Listening to what your body wants is an important principle of eating intuitively.

  5. Seek satisfaction - After each bite, tune in to how you feel and make sure to practice mindfulness. Ask yourself whether you are still hungry, full or satisfied? The goal is to stop eating once you a comfortably satisfied, but not overly full or stuffed.

It is important to note that practicing Intuitive Eating can and will feel different for everyone. There is no wrong or right way to go about this since it is primarily rooted in the process of you becoming the expert in YOUR own body to support both your physical *and* mental health. Please see below for additional Intuive Eating resources and to learn more about all 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating.

Interested in learning more about working with me for 1:1 nutrition and health coaching to help you utilize the principles of Intuitive Eating in your own life? Sign up for your free 15-minute phone consultation here!


Resources:

  1. Tribole E and Resch (2013). Intuitive Eating, 3rd ed. St. Martin’s Press: NY, NY.

  2. Tribole E and Resch (2017). Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. New Harbinger: Oakland, CA.

  3. www.IntuitiveEating.org

Progress, Not Perfection

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When it comes to goal setting, many people attempt to take on a perfectionist attitude, thinking it will lead to success. However, from own personal experience as well as through the work with my clients I’ve seen that the opposite often rings true. Before goal setting with clients the first thing I make sure we go over is that our goals are realistic and perfectionism and realism generally do not go hand in hand.

Read below for my top 4 reasons on why and how to embrace a “progress over perfection” mindset no matter what your goals are (diet, fitness, career, personal development)!💛

1. Perfectionism can leads to unrealistic goal setting and often gets in the way of achieving your goals entirely since it leads to “all or nothing” thinking - aka sadly for many people…motivation is high in the beginning, but once you’ve veered off your desired path you’re more likely to throw in the towel and give up. Instead, dont be afraid to allow yourself to be “imperfect” and make mistakes - this is where the real growth happens!


2. Focusing on progress can make it not only easier to achieve your goals, but more enjoyable since it embraces a mindset of learning instead of failure. You know yourself best and therefore can also be your own best teacher.

3. Focusing on progress gives you an excuse to always celebrate something (I’m all about enjoying those small wins!), which motivates you to keep going in order to achieve your goal in the long run.

4. Lastly, its more sustainable…by prioritizing progress, you can more easily overcome obstacles and ditch “all or nothing” thinking, since you know that you don't have to be perfect and instead can embrace ups and downs as normal learning opportunities during a period of growth.

Understanding that the path to success is rarely a straight line will make it easier to succeed in time.

Interested in learning more about working with me for 1:1 nutrition and health coaching using a progress, not perfection mindset? Sign up for your free 15-minute phone consultation here!

Top 5 Mindful Eating Tips

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Happy National Mindfulness Day! Mindfulness Day is an emerging annual event, celebrated on September 12, on which day a variety of workshops are held with the intent to raise awareness to the general public about the profound value and benefit of mindfulness.

So what is mindfulness? It’s a a technique which focuses on concentrating on the present moment, while calmly accepting the feelings and thoughts that come to you — allowing your body and mind to reconnect.

Before I explain what practicing mindfulness means when it comes to eating - I want to share what it is not since many of us have experienced this at one point or another aka: mindless eating.

Does sitting in front of the TV eating an entire bag of chips without even realizing where they have all gone sound familiar? Or how about gulping down your coffee and bagel while checking emails at the office first thing the morning? And then barely being able to remember whether you enjoyed it or not? It happens! These are both examples of mindless eating, which can lead to not only lead to overeating, but to experiencing less pleasure and enjoyment from your food too.

Below are my top 5 tips on how to practice being more present while eating. Benefits range from weight loss, becoming more in tune to your body and increased enjoyment from food.

1. Limit multi-tasking during mealtimes

Make it a point to make each meal it’s own event on your daily schedule. Eating in front of a screen (i.e computer, TV or phone), while on the go or in the car, or any other time when your attention is somewhere else is a sure way to lose track of what and how much you’ve eaten.

2. Take a seat

Avoid eating standing up (another form of multi-tasking). Sit down..stay a while (aim for at least 20 minutes at mealtimes)…and enjoy. Don’t forget to plate your food as well :)

3. Remove distractions 

Scrolling through instagram or facebook (I’m guilty too! but do my best to be mindful of reducing these occasions), watching TV or reading while eating takes your attention away from your meal. Before you sit down, limit distractions so you can truly enjoy the meal in front of you.

4. Chew your food & put your fork down in between bites

Chewing your food can be a great way to slow down and really savor the food you are eating. By chewing your food well you can focus on the present moment — the meal. 

Aim to put your fork down in between bites (i.e if there is food in your mouth then there shouldn’t be food on your fork). if you are eating a meal with a friend, try enjoying the conversation and putting your fork down every once in a while before you resume eating.

Each time you begin eating again, you also have a new opportunity to check in with your hunger level as well as your sense of enjoyment. This strategy can help you eat a little less, and enjoy a lot more!

5. Progress, not Perfection (always my #1 philosophy!)

Be kind to yourself while practicing more mindfulness. The goal here is not to add another thing to your to-do list to then feel guilty about not doing :(

It’s to practice becoming aware (and mindful) of your current habits. Starting with small changes — if you currently eat dinner in front of the TV every night try switching it up and sitting at your table 1-2 nights per week. Or if you eat breakfast while reading e-mails at the office every morning try and designate a few days a week where you just practice enjoying your meal without distractions. Small steps—>great success :)


*In 2011, Mindfulness Day was designated to be September 12 by Wisdom Publications.

Resources:

  1. ‘Mindless Eating’ By Brian Wansink

  2. http://faculty.psy.ohio-state.edu/emerylab/documents/OlsonandEmery2015-Mindfulnessandweightloss.pdf

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046117/

Interested in learning more about mindful eating and working with me for 1:1 nutrition and health coaching? Sign up for your free 15-minute phone consultation here!

Stick to your goals at a Summer BBQ

With BBQ season officially in full swing we wanted to share a few tips on how to balance enjoying the party and staying on track with your health and weight loss goals. You don’t need to sacrifice one for the other this summer! Check out my top 8 tips below.

1. DON’T GO TO A BBQ (OR ANY EVENT FOR THAT MATTER!) STARVING

Have a light snack before you go like string cheese, a hard-boiled egg or a small handful of nuts.

2. STILL DECIDING ON WHAT TO BRING? OPT FOR A VEGGIE-FILLED DISH! 

Volunteer to bring the veggie tray or a veggie-heavy side dish. Not only will you be looking out for yourself here, but the host and other guests will thank you!

3. INSTEAD OF A FREE FLOWING DRESS OR LOOSE SKIRT...

Wear something a little more form fitting such as a part of jean shorts. You’ll be more likely to stick to your limit when not wearing “expandaware”!

4. VEGGIES FIRST! 

Avoid grazing on chips while waiting for the main meal – fiber-rich non-starchy vegetables can easily be substituted for chips and dip and save you a ton of unnecessary calories!

5. ANOTHER WAY TO KEEP PORTIONS IN CHECK...

Once the grilling is complete is to use the “plate method” by drawing an imaginary line on your plate and fill half of it with non-starchy veggies (such as leafy greens) and divide the other half between a starchy carb and protein. When It comes to the starchy carb choose between a side such as corn, or potatoes or a bun (opt for whole grain if available) instead of having all. After 10-15 minutes if you still feel hungry after finishing your plate go back for seconds of the veggies or one of the leaner protein options being offered.  

6. CHOOSE CONDIMENTS AND TOPPINGS WISELY

Opt for mustard over ketchup or mayo for less added sugars and saturated fat. Try topping your burger with fresh vegetables or avocado instead of cheese.

7. IF PLANNING ON DRINKING ALCOHOL

stick to 1-2 drinks max and drink 2 glasses of water in between each drink to stay hydrated, especially if spending the day outside in the hot sun.

8. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SUMMER SEASON AND ENJOY SOME FRESH FRUIT FOR DESSERT! 

Red and blue berries are always festive staple dessert ingredients at any Memorial Day or 4th of July party (another idea if you’re still not sure what to bring!).

Last but not least...ENJOY! Remember that a holiday is ONE day – not a week! Enjoy it all (food, friends, fun and family) – one day out of your routine wont make or break your progress!

The key to *WELLNESS* (and no - it's not a "superfood")

One word: GRATITUDE. Plus a quote from Oprah to kick off this post: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey

Throughout our everyday hustle filled with endless to-do lists, it's often easy to forget that each and every day is truly a gift and there is always something to be thankful for. While Merriam & Webster defines gratitude as "thankfulness", it really is SO much more than that.

According to Robert A. Emmons, Ph. D., a professor of Psychology at UC Davis, who has done a great deal of research on gratitude, physical health and psychological well-being, gratitude is an "emotion that allows us to express appreciation for what we have while also acknowledge that other people (or even higher powers) gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

Don't get me wrong, I'm the first person to boast the power that both diet and exercise have to improve our lives and overall well-being, but after a discussion last month with my husband and sister about gratitude I realized practicing it was a big thing missing from my current routine. 

A little background info on what led me to realizing the importance of practicing gratitude... I spent the weekend before New Year's day with my husband in Boston visiting my sister. As we were discussing our intentions and goals for the year my husband brought up an article he read on gratitude and it's health benefits. We ended up spending a good amount of time on this topic, which lead us to do some more digging. We found several articles and even studies written about gratitude and it's relation to wellness (see my last post for my own definition of "wellness"). 

I quickly ordered 'The Five Minute Journal' off Amazon (check the shop page of my website to order one for yourself) after learning the benefits gratitude journaling offers. I've been using it religiously since and have already felt the positive change it has had in my life.

To no surprise to me after starting gratitude journaling this month, Emmons and his team have studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of amazing benefits including the following:

Top 3 Benefits of Gratitude and how it can help you be YOUR best:

  1. Gratitude makes us happier overall by...

    • Increasing levels of positive emotions

    • Making us more alert, alive, and awake

    • Adding more joy and pleasure to our lives

    • Increasing optimism and happiness

  2. Practicing gratitude may provide the following physical benefits:

    • Improved immune system

    • Less aches and pains

    • Lower blood pressure

    • Increased activity levels/self care

    • Improved sleep

  3. Gratitude can also help improve our relationships with others by making people...

    • More helpful, generous, and compassionate

    • More empathetic

    • More forgiving

    • More outgoing

    • Feel less lonely and isolated

To sum up all those benefits, if everyone practiced more gratitude the world would be a much better place!

See below for a few tips on how to improve your grATTITUDE :)

  1. Each day, think of 3 things you are grateful for :)

  2. Even better than thinking of things you are grateful for is writing these things down and start a gratitude journal. Making a commitment to writing down good things each day makes it more likely that we will keep track of good things as they happen thus being able to focus more on the positives in life as well.

  3. Avoid complaining or passing judgment for an entire day.

  4. Say thank you more often and BE PRESENT.

Sources:

1. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/profile/Robert_Emmons

2. https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-appreciation/

3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/gratitude

 

Interested in working with me for 1:1 nutrition and health coaching? Sign up for your free 15-minute phone call now!

 

Batch Cooking 101

Something that helps me be my best most (not every) week is batch cooking/meal prep. If you are searching for ways to be your best self that include healthier eating, saving time and money then I've got you covered with a few tips below on why and how to do so :)  

What is batch cooking? It's essentially preparing all of your meals and snacks for the week (or at least part of the week) on one day of the week. For many of us this day happens to fall on Sunday (#sundaymealprep anyone?). This is because many people are home and winding down their weekends while also preparing for the week ahead on this day.  However, it's important to note that meal prep doesn't have to occur on Sunday. The best day is the day that works for YOU and your schedule. 

3 top reasons to Batch Cook:

  1. Saves time

    • Think of meal prep as an investment for the week. While you have to invest ~2 hours one day it actually will end up saving you loads of time later during the week since all you'll have to do is reheat the prepared meals and snacks. This will allow you more time to be productive in other aspects of your life/focus on the things you love!

  2. Reduces stress

    • You wont only be freeing up your time, but also will be freeing up your mind! Batch cooking can help give you extra mental space so that you can stress less over what to put on your plate during the busy workweek.

  3. Helps you reach your goals

    • For basically every aspect in life, planning ahead is the key to staying on track and reaching your goals. The same goes for goals related to healthier eating and weight loss. Planning ahead will set you up for success!

Tips for getting started:

  • Start with 1 recipe! Seriously - just one! I know it sounds small, but I truly believe small steps lead to great success! Something like a breakfast recipe for the week is a good way to start and then you can add on each week til you end up having 5+ recipes your making all at once. Look out for another upcoming post (coming soon!) on best practices for multitasking while batch cooking.

  • If you think you can handle more than 1 recipe the first week then aim for hitting all the food groups and select a few of the following and you're off to a fabulous start!

    • A lean protein (chicken, fish, tofu, turkey, eggs)

    • A whole grain (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oats)

    • Lots of veggies (I personally love making massaged kale because I find it lasts well and stays fresh throughout the week compared to other types of lettuce)

    • Cut up some fruit

Key point to remember - everyone is different!

  • While this method of food preparation is universally beneficial for everyone, it’s important to remember that it is also different for everyone.

  • There isn't one right way to go about it. For example, someone who has busy mornings and rushes out of the house they may find it more beneficial to prepare quick and convenient breakfast options, however for someone who works late they may benefit for preparing dinner ahead of time so all they have to do when getting home is heat it up.

  • Always take into account your individual lifestyle and figure out how food prep could help make your life easier.

  • It may take some experimenting to find a routine that fits you best, but once you do it will only continue to get easier and more rewarding going forward!

Interested in working 1:1 with me? Sign up for your free 15-minute phone call now!

 

My Philosophy: "Eat Better, Feel Your Best"

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Of course, we all want to feel and “be our best.”But how? What does “feeling your best” or "being your best" even mean?

In my experience, feeling your best (both physically and mentally) is an ongoing journey, not necessarily a destination. This journey begins with two things: #1) improving your health and eating habits with small, realistic changes (small changes—>great results is the name of the game) AND #2) having an open mind with a focus on progress, not perfection

As a Registered Dietitian and health coach who has helped hundreds of clients in their individual health journeys, I’ve learned a thing or two about what works well and what doesn’t. 

For starters, restrictive and/or fad diets don't work well for most of us - especially in the long run. Nor do they generally pave the way to success when it comes to becoming our “best” selves. In fact, more often they do the opposite - leaving us feeling deprived and frustrated. Been there? Me too. The hanger and frustration is real. Even worse than hanger, diets can wreak havoc on our metabolisms and digestive systems and also lead to disordered eating patterns in the long-term.

So then what does work? Doing the work to become the expert of your own body and incorporate lifestyle changes that emphasize better, more balanced and enjoyable eating patterns filled with plenty of nutrient-dense foods that make you feel YOUR best. Enjoyable being a key component here! if it’s not enjoyable , let’s face it – you won’t want to do it and it won’t last!

So... developing healthy habits and incorporating more nutrient-dense foods. Where do you begin and how can you make it enjoyable? Trust me, I get it.  Maintaining a “healthy lifestyle”can feel like a daunting task, but I’m here to empower you with a few of my tricks and tips for planning ahead, to show you it can be both simple and enjoyable, too! You'll learn how to properly fuel and listen to your body by honoring not just your health, but your cravings too! 

It’s important to understand that this journey is a personalized one. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. It’s my goal is to help you find your ideal balance between nourishing your body and your soul. I assure you, my daily bowl of fresh greens holds just as big a place in my heart as my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies (BEST cookies in the world, FYI). 

I truly believe enjoying delicious food with family and friends is one of life’s greatest joys, and you should never have to choose between that and living your best life! The two can go hand in hand with a few small (yet consistent) habit changes.

Interested in working with me to be and feel YOUR best? Sign up for your free 15-minute phone call now!