Thursday, July 28, 2016

Happy Trails!

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you probably have noticed that we hike. A lot. Especially with my sister here this summer - she fell in love with Arkansas over the 10 weeks she lived with us. It didn't really surprise me, though. It didn't take long for it to happen with me either.
The first time she headed out on her own for a hike, she came back hungry, tired and sunburned! I realized then that while I have been hiking for years, some people haven't been doing it for very long at all. I learned along the way what I needed (and what I didn't) when heading out to the trails.
Regardless of whether I plan to be out for an hour or 4 hours, I pack basically the same essentials, which I have listed below.
On shorter hikes (an hour or less) I leave things like sunscreen and insect repellent in the car after applying. If you are going on a clearly marked trail you may not need the map, but if you are headed into a trail system or a new wooded area I suggest taking it along.
Check It Off
  • Baby wipes/sanitary wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Backpack/daypack/fanny pack
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Hat (baseball style or wide-brimmed)
  • Insect repellent (spray or lotion)
  • Map/guidebook
  • Plastic baggie (to carry out any trash)
  • Snacks/lunch (pack extra!)
  • Sunblock & lip balm with sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Whistle
  • Water bottle/canteen/Camelback
  • Bandana or multiuse head wrap
  • Binoculars
  • Camera 
  • Multipurpose knife
  • Flashlight or headlamp (with new batteries)
  • Trekking poles
Making sure you have the right gear is just one aspect of preparing for your day hike; there are  2 other important parts of preparing that you just shouldn't skip.
1. Check the weather. I don't mean look out the window and see if there are drops of water falling from the sky. Tune the radio, internet or TV into a station reporting on weather in the area you are headed to.  Even if you are only travelling 30 minutes from home there can be big swings in temperature and conditions.
Expect up to a 10 degree temperature drop if you are headed to a higher elevation. In the warm summer and fall months this might seem ideal, but in the winter 10 degrees can be the difference between needing to add an extra layer of clothing.
2. Fuel and hydrate properly before you head out. You filled your water bottle and have trail mix in your pack. But have you had breakfast and a big glass of h2o today?
Think eggs, fruit and toast or oatmeal with dried fruit and Greek yogurt. If you are planning a half-day or longer hike you should swap your water for an electrolyte drink.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Updated Dirty Dozen and Clean 15!

As a fitness professional, it’s only natural that I get questions about nutrition from time to time. Specifically, people want to know what I’m eating and if it’s all organic. 

My answer: Sometimes. Eating all organic isn’t always realistic – or necessary. In addition, options and availability can be limited and pricing abnormally high.

In my experience, people generally buy organic produce for 1 of 2 reasons:
1) to avoid pesticides and other toxins (exposure to which is
often overstated)
2) to support local family farming (note: local does not always mean organic)

But no matter what reasons people have for “going organic” cost is what I most often hear talk about. It doesn't always stop people, but it often comes up as a burden - or sometimes a barrier for those who haven't made the switch yet.

The good news is that you can save money by buying some items that are grown conventionally.

Some fruits and vegetable absorb pesticides at a higher rate than others, so it would make sense to buy those items organic when you can. The Environmental Working Group has compiled the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists for you to print and take to the store or farmer’s market. 

The full, 48 item list can be found in The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. 

Remember: fresh fruits and vegetables are never a bad choice, regardless.

Other ways to save money on produce:

1. Buy frozen. Flash frozen at the peak of freshness, the fruits and veggies in the freezer section are not only less expensive - they taste amazing.

2. Purchase the store brand (this also applies to dried goods). Often, the store-branded items are manufactured in the same facilities as the name brand. They are just label and packaged differently.

3. Buy in season. If frozen isn’t your style, try buying in season. Just because the name is weird or you don’t have experience cooking an item doesn’t mean it can’t be great! There are so many resources for good recipes these days you really have no excuse not to push yourself outside of your comfort zone when it comes to foods.

4. Participate in a Community Share Agreement. These normally come with a seasonal fee, but in my experience there is plenty leftover each week for freezing or canning the items to use in the winter months, cutting down on grocery bills later in the year.

5. Shop around. Organic strawberries at Whole Foods may be more expensive than the same item at Sam’s Club, look at the local flyers or check online for sales ads and coupons before you head out for the day.

If you are one of those people who are asking me what I eat and how I fit it in, you might want to try my FREE 10-day Diet & Exercise program starting in September. Email me to find out more. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Let's be honest.....

A couple weeks ago I posted about my July 4th food hangover and what I was doing to recover.

I enjoy my family visits and share the struggles and relapses because I never want my readers or my clients to feel guilty about indulging now and then; we all do it!

But it's time I address the other side of the coin. It's NOT OK to use every small win to eat poorly or skip your workout.

You need to be brutally honest with yourself about how often you are using celebrations as an excuse as opposed to an exception.

If you find yourself saying "it's ok, I never eat like this" or "it's ok, I deserve it" more than once a week, you are indulging a little too often.

I'm not here to lecture you - kidding myself about where my habits had ventured was the reason I embarked on the Whole 30. I found myself reaching for crackers or processed snacks and foods too often.

I was headed down a slippery slope to relapsing and I want to help you avoid doing the same!

I chose the Whole 30 because I NEEDED something to get me on track and make me feel accountable. I ended up feeling better than I have ever felt and even determined that the inflammation in my body was likely due to too much dairy.

But it doesn't take a drastic dietary change (unless that is what you WANT to do). You don't need to invest in a health coach, a personal trainer or even a nutritionist to review your eating habits. You just need a pen and a piece of paper.

Log every single thing that goes into your mouth (even breath mints). I logged every single thing that went into my body for the 2 weeks following the Whole 30. It's amazing what I learned about my eating habits. I did not log after that - those 2 weeks were enough for me to identify changes.

Other things that have helped me through rough times.

Avoid unnecessary celebrations. The company I work with gives retirees the option to have a company-wide party - complete with cake, snacks and wonderful anecdotes about their tenure. At times there are a few monthly (it's a large company).  If you work in a similar environment, don't use every party as a reason to eat the cake. No one is saying you can't go, but maybe your treat come from the fruit platter instead.

Reward good behavior with a treat. Some might argue this undermines your hard work. I say it keeps you on track and out of the pantry. If you stick to your meal plan Monday - Saturday, treat yourself to your favorite snack on Sunday. But be sure it goes the other way, too....if you miss your goal through the week, you can't have that Sunday treat. Note: this is a one-time treat, not the famed "cheat day".

Share your goals and plans with family or roommates. When I did the Whole 30, I posted my food restrictions on the refrigerator, ate lunch with Michael more often and avoided going out as much as possible for dinner. It wasn't easy, but it helped to have someone looking out for me and helping make it easy to say "Yes" to the good stuff and "No" to the bad.

Monday, July 18, 2016

You've set your goal. Now what?

In March, I wrote about behavior change and it's role in creating and fostering a healthy lifestyle.

Advice on successful goal setting often revolves around some version of a S.M.A.R.T. goal - Specific (or significant), Measureable (or meaningful), Attainable (or action-oriented), Relevant (or rewarding) and Timely (or track-able).

Basically, the research tells us a measureable goal with a deadline is the most commonly reached goal - provided it is important to you and is achievable in your established time frame.

Example: Run more vs. run a 10K by December 31st to feel a sense of accomplishment.

The latter is much more specific and, for the reasons mentioned above, more likely to be achieved. What does 'run more'  mean anyways? Run 2 more steps, run 2 more miles, 2 more days a week?....

The most important part of goal setting isn't the goal itself.

 Approach reaching your goal the same was you would approach planning a vacation. People don't generally hop in the car or buy a plane ticket with no destination, no plan, no clothing, no money, no map. Even "drive until we are tired" is a plan.
The point is, there are a series of behaviors that need to take place in order for you reach your destination.

Determine the behaviors that will help you reach your SMART goal and translate those into smaller, weekly goals. Establishing these smaller, weekly goals gives you a plan and a guide and helps identify milestones and obstacles. This method can also help you evaluate which behaviors are contributing to your success and what behaviors might not be working for you at this time.

Back to our example: Running a 10K on December 31st to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Step 1: Identify behaviors to help you reach your goal.
1) Run 3 days a week
2) Drink a minimum of 64 oz. of water daily
3) Strength training 30 minutes 2 days a week
4) 10 minutes of stretching or yoga 5 days a week
5) Sleep at least 7 hours each night

Step 2: Create your goal tracking sheet. Now sure what that might look like, the one I use is here. Be sure to include a reward. If you reach your goal you get your reward -- if you hit all your goals for the week maybe you get an extra special reward for your effort!

Need an idea to get your started? Click here for a few feel-good rewards.

Step 3: Start tracking and achieving.

Reward Yourself!

Below are 35 non-food rewards to help you reach your goals. This is just a suggestion - find something that you enjoy and go with that.

Free - $
  1. Give yourself permission to take a nap.
  2. Visit a library or bookstore by yourself. 
  3. Enjoy a guilt-free “me time” afternoon. 
  4. Sleep in! 
  5. Spend an hour away from your phone or computer. 
  6. Eat lunch outside. 
  7. Clean out your closet & donate all the clothes that don't make you feel fabulous. 
  8. Share your progress so your friends can celebrate with you. 
  9. Take a bubble bath. 
  10. Drive to a beautiful neighborhood or park to walk instead of taking your usual route.
  11. Try a fun new exercise class that you're interested in.
  12. Make your own ribbon or trophy.
  13. Make or buy a refrigerator magnet with a motivational quote.
  14. Take a vacation day from work to do whatever you want!
  15. Unwind with a movie of your choice.
  16. Plan a night out with your friends. Hint: dancing is excellent exercise!
  17. Buy a lottery ticket.
  18. Subscribe to a fitness or healthy cooking magazine.
  19. Create a new playlist.
  20. Pick up a new plant for your garden.
  21. Invest in some moisture-wicking workout socks.
  22. Buy fresh flowers for your home or office. 
  23. Volunteer at a shelter and walk a dog(s)! 
  24. Hire someone to clean your house so you have more time to hit the gym.
  1.  Buy a small personal blender healthy smoothies and shakes.
  2. Order a pair of high-end wireless headphones.
  3. Invest is a fitness tracker to motivate you even more.
  4. Sign up for a charity walk or running event.
  5. Invest in new workout gear. 
  6. Treat yourself to a massage!
  7. Take a cooking class.
  8. Get fitted for shoes at a running store. 
  9. Start a charm bracelet. 
  10. Plan a weekend getaway with your significant other. 
  11. Get some new shades for outdoor exercise.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Knock-Off Cashew Cookie

 So I am obsessed with LARA Bars. And I am not embellishing here. I.LOVE.THEM.

But a LARA bar a day can be pricey. So I made my own. With 2 ingredients.

1 cup sea salted cashews
25-30 medjool dates

Once I thoroughly processed them, I flattened them out with my trusty rolling pin and cut them into not-so-neat little squares.

In the coming weeks I plan to experiment with some other flavors. If they turn out well I'll share those, too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Trying to recover from my food hangover.....

It's July 6th and I am still in major recovery mode after a long holiday weekend. 

It started Thursday with dinner at Doe's Eat Place and ended with Sunday night with fried catfish at Flying Fish.

Friday morning I woke up with a food hangover from too many tamales, shrimp, steak and fries from the best restaurant in town. I drug myself to yoga at 5:30 a.m. and spent the rest of the day trying to settle my stomach and prepare for the 7 family members coming to take over my house for the next 3 nights.

Friday I scarfed down some amazing key lime chip dip (only to find out it was made of cream cheese), had more chips and dip and salsa type appetizers. For dinner I avoided the make your own pizza bar & opted for eggs and veggies, but had a brownie to celebrate my sister-in-laws birthday, along with a few drinks. And some pepperoni's. Might as well be full-disclosure.

I managed to get myself together for most of Saturday morning, swollen legs and all. (damn you, dairy)

Once I realized we were having Italian sausage for dinner, along with a pudding & jell-o torte and that Sunday's menu was burgers for lunch followed by dinner at Flying Fish it became a no holding back situation. (FYI: anyone who can pass up the fried catfish and hush puppies at FF is my hero)

And guess what? I don't even feel bad about it!

I came to peace at some point Saturday that it was going to be a free for all and I'd be much happier if I stayed the course with exercise and allowed myself to give in to all the food chaos that comes with family get-togethers.

We have a tendency to beat ourselves up when we have that handful of chips or that extra sliver of cake. But the difference here was that I wasn't mindlessly scarfing these bad foods down. I was very very aware of what I was putting into my body. And I enjoyed every. single. bite. (and drink, let's be honest here)

Here's what I did to stay active and on top of my exercise game:
  • Yoga Friday morning
  • Power Pump Saturday morning
  • Hike to the top of Pinnacle Sunday morning (up & down the hard side)
Here's what I am doing this week to make sure I am back on track:
  • Lots of water. Lots and lots of water.
  • No alcohol until the weekend
  • No unnecessary processed foods or sugar-laden products
Hopefully by Friday this food hangover will be over and I'll be back to normal. I might just have to bookmark this post as a reminder to myself of how I feel after multiple days off the wagon.

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