Healthy Eating Through The Holidays

The reason that most major goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first. -Robert J. Mccain

OK! We have our orders....first things first! As you enter into the Christmas season you will have plenty of opportunities to make healthy food and lifestyle choices (first things) or make choices that are not so good for you. Ultimately these will be your decisions, but I'd like to give you some ideas for navigating through the season and keeping your health as a priority.

1. Eat a little bit BEFORE you go to a party. If you go hungry, you may be tempted to park yourself at the snack table and finish off every dip, cake, and cookie.

2. Don't skip meals. You'll only be tempted to overeat later.

3. If you're going to a potluck, bring a healthy dish (and be sure to have some of it!)

4. For parties where you walk around and mingle, keep a cup/glass of water in your hand. You can't eat off a plate if you have a plate in one hand and your drink in the other. Therefore, you can pick up one thing to eat off the food table and walk away.

5. Practice these 3 little words. No. Thank. You. You don't have to eat everything that is offered to you. You don't even have to give a reason as to why you are declining. Just a simple, "No thank you" will do.

6. Increase your vegetable intake during the season. Not only will they fill you up, but you will be giving your body some much-needed nourishment.7. Be the last one in line. The food will look far less appealing after everyone else has had a crack at it!

8. Don't neglect exercise! You may not have time to keep up with vigorous workouts at the gym, but at least keep moving by taking the stairs, walking as much as possible and/or doing "half" your workout at the gym.

9. Practice self-care. Sit down and put your feet up for 15 minutes, take a 20-30 minute nap, soak in a nice hot bath.

10. You don't have to be perfect, just make better choices more often. If you overindulge, move forward and get back on track the next day.

11. "Fill up" on a good conversation. At a party, make it your mission to learn one new thing about every person you interact with. Ask lots of questions,  keep the conversation going.

12. Be a helpful guest. Assist your host by picking up those empty plates/cups, filling up empty serving dishes and offering to hang up guests' coats.

13. Focus on the reason for the season. Christmas is a remembrance of the birth of Jesus. God loves you so much that He sent Jesus to die in your place, to pay the debt for your sin that you could never pay. Accepting Jesus' sacrifice for you is the source of eternal life. Though you may die on earth, you will live forever with God in Heaven.

Now THAT'S keeping first things first!


Beyond The Gratitude Journal

“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” –Tim Keller

Our minds automatically go to "Thanksgiving" this time of year. I love the above quote because it seems gratitude is something altogether different than Thanksgiving. You know that ad: "What's in your wallet?" Well, today I ask you, "What's in your heart?" If you look inside and don't see gratitude, keep reading. Gratitude is something that needs to be cultivated within you. Without it we take life and people for granted. But don't think this only affects others. Research shows that people who regularly practice gratitude feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. Try some of the following gratitude suggestions and see how much better YOU and others feel:

*Print a calendar off for the month of November. Have at least one family member write something they are grateful for each day. Read them at your Thanksgiving dinner on November 23.

*Create a year of gratitude. Set a jar on your kitchen counter. When you feel grateful for someone or some thing, write it down and put it in the jar. Read them out loud each month.

*Go "criticizing, judging and complaining free" for one month.

*Give at least one genuine compliment daily.

*Turn a negative into a positive. Change "It's so COLD outside." to "Look how beautiful it is out there."

*Be mindful of self criticism. Tell yourself, "I'm doing the best I can right now."

*Stay away from "always" and "never" statements.

*Find yourself in a bad situation? Consider what you might learn from it.

*Watch your tone. If you can't pick up your phone and sound genuinely delighted to talk to someone, let it go to voice mail and call them back later.

*Smile more. Smile with your mouth and your eyes. The movement of these facial muscles releases chemicals in your brain that cause you to feel positive and happy. Now you're in a perfect position to tell someone you're grateful for them!

*And yes, there's always the gratitude journal. Include people, situations, and things. But also include feelings, tastes, smells and kindnesses shown to you by others.


Portion Distortion

Hello and welcome Autumn!

Question: How many servings are in a bag of snack-size whole grain crackers? Or a small bottle of your favorite all natural juice? Or that 2 pack of granola bars you snack on?

Hint: It's not “one.” Often, the above products contain two or two-and-a-half servings per package.

Can YOU Eat Just One? More than likely you aren't going to eat half of a snack bag. If you place food in front of most people, they tend to eat it all. Remember the 1980's Lays Potato Chips ad, "Bet you can't eat just one"? They were playing on our need to finish what's in front of us. And it worked. Guess what? It still works!

The Dangers of Supersizing: Snacks aren't the only thing we need to be concerned about. Our meals have gotten bigger over the years and restaurants typically give us enough for 2 meals. Eating too much food in one sitting is hard on your body. Here’s why:

• Food is meant to be spread throughout the day. Eating too much food at one time causes pain, bloating, and slow digestion.

• When a lot of glucose is released into your blood your pancreas has to work overtime, pumping insulin through the body to try to move the glucose into your cells. This can make you feel spacey, weak, grouchy, and/or leave you with quite a headache.

• Thinking there is some type of emergency, your adrenal glands go into “fight or flight” mode and release adrenaline and cortisol, which is the body’s natural response to stress. Over time, this leaves you with an expanding waistline.

• When your blood sugar levels finally drop, you can experience cravings for more food—especially sugar and carbs.

• Research has shown that the immune system is affected for at least five hours after consuming large amounts of simple carbohydrates, leaving you open to getting sick more easily.

5 Tips to Kick Portion Distortion

• Don’t over order – go for salads, soups, and appetizers, which are typically more reasonably sized than entrees. If you do order an entre, eat half and take home half of it for another meal.

• Choose high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains to keep you feeling full and energized.

• Chew well to aid digestion and give your brain time to register you’re full before you overeat. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to tell you you're full!

• Drink enough water throughout the day. Often we mistake thirst for hunger.

• Carry your own snacks. Stock up on snack-sized containers and fill them with baby carrots, air- popped popcorn, or nuts.


Stress Management

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Previously we addressed Time Management. Now let’s take a look at its cousin, Stress Management. After all, lack of Time Management can easily lead to Stress Management problems. What is stress? What is its effect on your body?  And what can you do about it?

What is stress? We've all seen the "stress tests" where you circle the number of events that have occurred in your life in the past year-good and bad- tally them up, receive your score and somehow from that number determine that you are or are not stressed. It seems, therefore, that stress can come from healthy and unhealthy things, events and people in our lives.From a medical perspective, stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.

How does stress affect me? Your mindset may be, "I'll address that later when I have time." I urge you to reconsider this approach. While you continue on your high-stress path in life, the effects of stress are not slowing down. What you can't see is the changing ratio of good and bad bacteria in your gut causing bloating, reflux, and ulcers; the large amounts of cortisol being excreted from your adrenal glands leading to insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue and autoimmune disorders; or the constricted blood flow leading to headaches, stroke and/or heart disease.

So...what's a woman to do?

LIVE WELL: Be honest with yourself. You don't need to tally up the amount of stress in your life. Simply take a good honest look at all that you have going on. Do you have time in your life for quiet reflection? Are you constantly on the go? How do you handle interruptions in your day? Are you more irritable? Short tempered? Do you have stomach issues? Headaches? Fatigue? Not sleeping well? Poor memory? Low libido? All of these could be the effects of high stress.

Tell someone. You're not Superwoman. A shared burden is half the burden. Reach out to a trusted friend, counselor or therapist.

Socialize.  Don’t spend too much time alone. Get a group of friends together.  Make dinner. Linger longer at the table and enjoy good conversation.

Take the focus off of yourself. Volunteer. Reach out to someone in need. Practice your faith.

SLEEP WELL: Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Turn off all screens 1 hour prior to bedtime, read a book instead (one with actual paper pages).Soak in an Epsom Salt bath (2 cups added to a tub of water) for 15 minutes. Eat a palm-full of cherries and almonds before bed.

EAT WELL: Eat whole foods as much as possible. 80% of your plate should be colorful veggies, 20% is protein. Drizzle olive oil over your veggies for your fat. Don't skip meals.

Maxine says, "Stressed is desserts spelled backwards." Don’t’ fall for it. Limit the sweet stuff!

MOVE WELL: Stretch, take a walk, ride a bike, go for a run, get back to the gym, sit outdoors, breathe deep, laugh out loud, sing, hum.


Time Management

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is. C.S. Lewis

Do you find yourself saying or thinking things like: “I’m too busy“, “I just don’t have enough time”, “The month went so fast!” or “I could use a 25 hour day”? Do you really need more time or do you need to better manage the time you have? As C.S. Lewis points out, time is the great equalizer, we all are given 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day.

True “Time Management” is not a matter of the amount of time you have, it’s how you manage the time you’re given. Undoubtedly there are people and things in your life that you highly value. Understanding who and what they are is the key to addressing your supposed lack of time. When you clearly establish your values you are able to attach the things that you do to the things that are important to you. In this way, the things you do hold value and time is not an issue.

Here’s an exercise to make this happen. Although the following steps are simple, they will require some soul searching to accomplish. This also requires that you get absolutely clear on what you value most in life and what you do with your time. Okay, here it is:

First, write down everything you do in 24 hours. Everything. (ie, drink coffee, read newspaper, text, talk on phone, get dressed, pray, drive to work, eat lunch, check email, work on project, watch TV, etc)

Next, write down 5 things you value most in life. Think BIG- relationships, faith, work, health, people etc.

Now compare your list of your 5 top values to your daily activities.   Do your daily activities support the things you value?


Give the above exercise a try and see how much better you feel about the 24 hours you are given each day. Here are a few extra ideas for time management:

• Do you have multiple big projects? Pick your top 3. Do the hardest one first. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to accomplish it and move on to the next one.

• Ask for help. You don’t have to be a lone ranger. Ask a friend to help you on a project and in return you can help her with something on her list.

• Tell someone what you’re doing and ask to be held accountable.

• Take time to relax. Take a break in between projects. Breathe deeply from you abdomen. (not your chest!)

How did this go?  Were you able to cross something off your list?



Email me and let me know how it went.