Budgeting and Meal Planning

I know over the last year or so I have written a couple of posts about budgeting and working to save some money. Well on that exciting front, I have some neat news to report. We have started to use an app called YNAB (You Need A Budget) and it has been life changing. In my last blog post about saving money I talked about emptying out your pantry and how using up your food is helpful in saving money. I need to plan this next week to work to do that again … purge the items that you have accumulated over the last few weeks and use up literally ALL the things in the refrigerator and pantry.

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What we have been focusing over the last month or two has been eating out less. I have worked to meal plan over the years, but I have been using a new list from The Happy Planner and I love it. My mother-in-law gave me this planner and I left it on my desk for awhile, but I picked it up again in the last couple of months and I am obsessed with it. It has been so helpful to have a grocery list on one side and then a meal planning list on the other side. I take the list with me to the store, purchase ONLY the items on the list and then use the meal planning side during the week at home. Then as we make each item I check off that meal and it helps me keep track of what else I have to prepare for the week. I don’t get caught up in what day I prepare what food items. With this new list, we have been better about eating at home and not eating out as much. The combination of using YNAB and then meal planning has really helped us saving money.

We have been budgeting groceries, household items and alcohol separately. This has been helpful as well to see where our money goes throughout the month. We have worked to give each of the dollars we earn a purpose. Then we have the freedom to use that money throughout the month in our budget. If we don’t use that money then we save it for the next month and if we overspend in a certain category then we have to take that money from another area (and give up something else).

I think the main lesson we have learned in the last several month is intentionality. We are trying to be intentional with the money we have and what we decide to spend it on. We stick with our weekly food schedule and I routinely go to the grocery on Sunday afternoons. I make out my list and menu for the week, purchase those items and then bring them home for the week. That is our schedule. My husband has been taking a packed lunch with him and then when he works late he has a microwave dinner he will take with him. That way we all eat out much less and when we do choose to eat out it is a fun thing that we all enjoy!

What ways are planning on working to save money this week? Do you use a budgeting app? What have you found to help you use your money more intentionally?

The Evolution of the Packed Lunch

As I was packing my lunch, I was thinking about all the times I have packed my lunch and how many years I have been doing this task. Well, that answer is since 2010. I started packing a lunch during my dietetic internship, because it was cheaper than purchasing a lunch at the hospital where I worked and since then I have done it everyday that I have worked (well almost every day). For 9 years, I have spent time putting together my lunch and carrying it into work. This might seem like such a boring and totally uneventful thing to write a blog post about, but I started to think about this more in depth and I thought it was so interesting.

Bare with me. Don’t stop reading, stay with me and follow this chain of thought. Some things have changed over the years, like when I packed my lunch (the night before vs the morning of) or even what all I put in my lunch, but the components have stayed the same. I have always brought with me my lunch and snacks. Those snacks have included yogurt, crackers, and an apple. And then with my lunch it always included a protein, a grain, veggies and fruit. For 9 years the parts of lunch have been the same, but what those exact items were has changed. I have to admit that lots of fad diets don’t even last 9 years.

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Over the past nine years some things have changed or adapted during that time, but one thing has persisted … I always bring my lunch

Changes in Packing a Lunch

  • My first year of working during my dietetic internship, I was living on my own and just making a lunch for myself and taking into work with me. I would make up something for dinner the night before and then take the left overs to work with me. Since it was just me in Kokomo, IN during the week I would make 1-2 meals a week and then eat those throughout the entire week for dinner/lunch. I would often box up the leftovers in smaller containers after I made the meal.

  • After finishing my internship, I got my first job and moved back to Lafayette, IN. I was working in a hospital and living in an apartment on my own and still packing my lunch. I would often make meals during the week for myself or Chas and I and then I would take the left overs to work. I would often put together my lunch bag in the morning before I headed to work. This was a cheaper option compared to buying my meals at work.

  • I continued to pack my lunch after I got married and Chas moved in with me. Chas started working in Indianapolis for the Boy Scouts and it wasn’t super feasible at that time for him to pack a lunch so I just continued packing my lunch in the morning before work.

  • We moved in Lebanon, IN and Chas was closer to his job. He would drive south and I would drive north and I continued to pack my left overs for lunches and then snacks for my drive to/from Lafayette each day. I would get my coffee ready in the morning for both of us and then hit the road for my 45 minute commute. My snacks would always include yogurt, an apple, string cheese, crackers. I would eat the yogurt at the end of the work day and then the other snacks while driving, because commuting is boring.

  • I ended up taking a new job in Indianapolis at St Vincent, we continued to live in Lebanon and I still packed my lunch. It was cheaper and easier to just continue packing my lunch. Chas took a new job within Boy Scouts and I started packing his lunch as well. He would eat in the break room and had access to a microwave. So I would pack left overs for both of us to take to work and include veggies, fruit, protein and a grain.

  • We ended up moving again to Noblesville, IN and I continued to drive to St Vincent and Chas started going to Anderson, IN. I tried to pack lunches for him, but his schedule was all over the place and some times it worked well and other times he didn’t need a lunch. I still look my snacks and ate them while driving the 30 minutes to/from work.

  • Chas ended up going to graduate school in Muncie, IN and we were still living in Noblesville. It made the most sense for him to take a lunch to school and then purchase dinner if he needed it. That ended up being the cheapest option for us. I had to pack items that would stay in a cooler bag and didn’t have to be microwaved, because he didn’t have easy access to a microwave. I would pack soup in a thermos and then lots of sandwiches with fresh veggies and fruit. I continued to take my left overs to work.

  • At the end of graduate school, we moved into Indianapolis and Chas started working downtown. He rides the bus and then I pack his lunch that he takes at eats for lunch each day. I pack left overs for both of us. I also packed William’s lunch to go to his nanny’s house and it often was left overs as well. We all had our lunch bags and every night after dinner I pack lunches. Now it looks different, because I have three lunch bags and one bottle bag for Samuel. I measure out milk for his 3 bottles and then pack meals for the other three of us.

As you can see over the last nine years, we have moved changed jobs, added family members and those family members have been growing up. One thing as stayed consistent … I always pack my lunch and pack meals for the other family members. Taking our lunch has saved us lots of money over the years and honestly is healthier for us. When Chas was eating out during his time at the Boy Scouts and even during graduate school, it wasn’t always healthy options. Being in control of what goes into those lunch bags is key to making healthy choices and leading a healthy life.

So if you pack your lunch, great job! If you don’t pack your lunch and you want to … go for it! It is worth the time and effort!

Good For Your Greens

Spring is officially here and we have just wrapped up March and now it is April. That means that things will start to turn green soon and people will plant gardens and fresh produce will start to grow. I love it when seasons change and I especially love being able to enjoy fresh produce that I have grown or purchase from the Farmer’s Market. There are so many delicious fresh vegetables to enjoy and one of the first vegetable items that will be available is fresh lettuce.

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I am not sure how many of you have children, but it can be a struggle for parents to have their children eat vegetables, let alone green vegetables. Depending on the age of your child, it is normal for them to want to be independent and have their own opinions and often this comes out at the dinner table. I wanted to share with you some tips and tricks to help you get more green veggies into your meals and help your “picky child” eat those vegetables that you have prepared.

Green vegetables are good for you, but why? What makes green vegetables healthy? The color green is made from a compound colored chlorophyll and this pigment absorbs like and is critical to the process of photosynthesis within the plant. That process of photosynthesis is the plant’s way of taking sunlight and processing it into usable energy to grow. Without the chlorophyll, the plant couldn’t collect and process the sunlight.

So plants are green, because they contain chlorophyll, but is that what makes them healthy? Not necessarily, the main reason that green vegetables are healthy is that they contain other vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that are used and metabolized by our bodies to fight off diseases and help us stay healthy and grow strong. The green color serves as a symbol that there are other vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants in that food item and it is good for us.

Ok, so green vegetables are healthy, but how do I get my picky child to try those foods? It can be tough to have a power struggle at the dinner table over vegetables. Honestly, that is not the ideal situation for yourself or your child. The time to start talking about and teaching about how good and healthy green vegetables are, is earlier. When you are grocery shopping, stop and look at all the green produce and talk about the different types of vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans, etc). Have your child help pick out a new vegetable to try and take it home. Then include your child in the preparation/cooking process for that food item. If your child choose broccoli, have them help you wash it, cut it up and then cook that vegetable. You can talk about the food item and discuss how it looks like tiny trees and how the top of the broccoli is bumpy and how the stalk is smooth. Then at dinner time have your child help serve the broccoli to everyone at the table (including themselves). Then at dinner, make sure that you eat the broccoli as well and talk about how good it tastes. Encourage your child to try 1 bite. Then praise them for helping to cook the food and taking a bite. Then leave it at that. This takes time and it is a process. Don’t feel like your child is going to eat all the broccoli right away, but keep offering that food item to them and keep including them in the cooking process. It is tough, but you are not in this alone and learning about how good for you green foods are is just the beginning of learning to explore and love food!

Check out the picture below with some other tips on dealing with picky eaters! If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out and I would love to work you and your children on trying new foods and making dinner time a more positive experience.

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Spring Into A Healthier Version of You

I am excited for spring! It is officially spring now and that means that warmer weather is just around the corner. I wanted to take a moment about take this time to do some spring cleaning when it comes to your diet and taking care of yourself. I have to admit part of this is selfishly motivated, because after having a baby, being home on maternity leave and breast feeding I have been eating ALL the sweets and I need work to clean up my own diet and refocus.

It is about 3-4 months after the New Year and how are those resolutions going? This is often the time when those promises we made ourselves are thrown by the wayside and we have fallen back into old habits. What bad habits have you not shaken yet? What things do you want to focus on this spring?

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Tips to Clean Up Your Diet

  • Load up on veggies! Spring means time to plant a garden and hit up the Farmer’s Market. There will be a variety of cooler weather produce that is going to start to be available. Start working more vegetables into your diet to help give you more vitamins and minerals. This will help your body function better and help you feel better. Aim to work vegetables into lunch and dinner and if you are able even breakfast (this could be spinach in with your eggs, kale in your smoothie, tomatoes on your breakfast sandwich).

  • Plan out your meals. Taking time to write out a plan for meals for the week will help you to be healthier and stick with those healthier choices. Planning out your meals will save you money overall as well. It is also hard to binge eat on unhealthy food items, when you don’t purchase them. That is another benefit to planning your meals ahead of time and only purchasing what you have on your list. You will be forced to eat whatever you have in your pantry and hopefully those are healthier options.

  • Try some new recipes. We can all get stuck in our routine when it comes to cooking at home. The same food items over and over again. Take the time to find some new recipes and mix things up. You can take this opportunity to try new foods, prepare foods in a new way and get you excited to cook again. Of course, find a new recipe that is healthy and is something that adds variety to your diet as well.

  • Hold yourself accountable. When you share with someone your goals, you are more likely to actually stick with/accomplish that goal. If a friend or even people on social media to help keep you on track and help call you out if you are struggling and need some tough love. Having that support system is critical when it comes to cleaning up your dietary habits.

  • Take time for some self-care/love. This idea of self-care/self-love applies to your food you eat as well. Taking the time to put healthy foods into your mouth will make you feel better about yourself in the long run. Yes, there is instant gratification from that chocolate bar, but then you end up with more negative feelings and even a lack of confidence. The goal in the end is to love yourself more and give yourself some grace if things don’t go quite as planned in terms of your eating habits of exercise routine.

  • Load up on the water. It is always humorous to me when I read about “detox” diets, because your body doesn’t actually need any help detoxing, you have a liver that does that for you. But I think focusing on staying hydrated and consuming enough water will help your body to function to the best of its ability. Your body is 60% water and that means your cells and muscles will be able to function better when you are hydrated appropriately. So if you are concerned about “detoxing” your body … just take the time to drink plenty of water.

So if you, like me have been struggling with your healthy eating and exercise habits, then use this spring to jump back into some healthy routines. Take the time to look at what you are struggling with and write down 1-2 ways that you can feel better about yourself and prioritize your health/wellness.


Get Rid of the Plastic

I have been debating this idea of getting rid of all the plastic food containers in our kitchen for awhile now. I have been going back and forth and how feasible this would be and if it is really necessary. Some of the containers that we have are from 2012. We got them when we got married and now it is 2018. That seems like WAY too long to keep plastic containers that are storing food items. I wash them, but they are looking a little rough. With that in mind, I was reading Real Food for Pregnancy and there is an entire chapter devoted to toxins. That was the chapter that really made me stop and decide to order more glassware. I am going to write up a whole review on this book, once I am finished reading it. I am almost done and I have to say it is such a great book for anyone who is expecting, planning on having children or counseling pregnant women. It is a must read! There is a blog post that Lily wrote up on this topic as well that I thought I would share. The big take away so questioning storing foods in plastic and reusing them over time. That is practice has not been shown to be healthy for pregnant women, but also can affect just healthy individuals as well.

I think this information applies to pregnant women obviously, but also all people. Those toxins are in these products and will have an affect on us whether we are pregnancy or not. I started to also think about all the times I am using plastic throughout the day. The cream cheese I got is in a plastic container, the bagel is stored in a plastic bag, my reusable water bottle is plastic, and then I am putting all of our left-over food in plastic containers in the refrigerator. I work hard to limit our consumption of certain products and we recycle the plastic that we do use. But I think there are always ways that we can do more. How many times are you coming in contact with plastic throughout the day? 

I took all the plastic containers out of the cabinets and started to put them out on the counter. It was amazing how many containers I had accumulated over the years. Some of these containers are older than others and I don't feel like they are suppose to last as long as they do. I have had some of this Rubbermaid since 2012 or before. That is over 6 years and I feel like heating and cooling plastic for that long and eating food out of it isn’t the best of ideas. I decided to go with glassware instead. Glassware can last for 6 years and hopefully more and you don’t have those same concerns as with plastic. I purchased a set of Pyrex glassware with plastic lids. The lids are replaceable and you can get new ones if needed. I ordered this set off of Amazon and then got some small 1 cup containers as well for packing lunches for work. I don’t have all the plastic and glassware in the picture below, but it is the majority of what we have. I have been slowly getting rid of the plastic and replacing containers with glass instead.

I encourage you to take a look at all the plastic that you encounter throughout the day. Are there ways that you can reduce your plastic consumption? Can you reuse or recycle some of those items? Do you have to use plastic as all? What if you looked to get rid of that plastic and replace it with another product like stainless steel or glass? This isn’t suppose to a post to scare you, but instead make you think and find ways to be healthier and help our environment along the way!

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Probiotics

I had a special request to write up a blog post about probiotics. I thought this was a great idea. I hadn't written about probiotics specifically before. I had discussed gut flora and keeping your GI tract healthy, but not specifically through the use of adding a probiotic to your diet.

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So I thought I would start with a definition of a probiotic. A probiotic is a substance that stimulates the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties in the intestinal flora. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are good for your digestive help. Our body is full of bacteria (good and bad). You can find probiotics in foods and also you can take supplements. There are lots of different types of probiotics with different health benefits. 

  • Lactobacillus is a common probiotics that you commonly find in yogurt and fermented food items. This strain can help treat diarrhea and also help people who are lactose intolerant. 
  • Bifidobacterium can be found in some dairy products. If can help to ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. 
  • Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast probiotic and it can help fight diarrhea and other GI issues. 

Probiotics are helpful for your GI tract. Your intestinal tract is often known as a "forgotten organ." Your gut needs to stay balanced and prevent a leaky gut (where your intestine doesn't absorb nutrients appropriately). This leaky gut can leave your GI tract vulnerable to other infections or illnesses. These probiotics containing foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, Tempeh, Kimchi and others. I love this list that I found on Health.com outlining a list of foods that are good sources of probiotics. I like the idea of getting probiotics from food sources. I think that your body can use and metabolize them better compared with a supplement. Plus supplements are not regulated the same way as food. Often with a supplement you are only getting one type of probiotic, compared with eating the food item you are eating multiple types of probiotics. Also just keep in mind that probiotics are not the same things as prebiotics which are dietary fibers that serve as the food for friendly bacteria that are already in the gut. 

The list of ailments that probiotics can help treat are long. Everything from skin eczema to Crohn's disease. Everyone's experience is going to vary and the type of probiotic that you take could help with a different issue. I believe that working to keep your intestintal tract functioning optimally will help you stay healthier and feel better. There was a guide which outlined various strains of probiotics and which strain helped with which issues. You can find that article if you CLICK HERE. I am not going to rewrite all of those recommendations, but know that resource is available if you need it or would like to look over it. 

Some other things to consider when it comes to intestinal health is fluid intake and exercise. Your GI tract benefits from physical activity just like your heart, lungs and brain benefit. Exercise helps your body to move through food you have eaten and absorb what is needs from that food and then excrete the waste in a timely manner. If you have had issues with constipation or just being irregular with bowel movements, work to add in some physical activity (even walking) into your day and that can help keep your GI tract moving appropriately. Fluid intake can also have a big role to play on how well your intestines work. Staying hydrated and focusing on drinking enough water is helpful. 

Your intestinal tract flora is able to change based on your environment and what you eat. If you had an illness and had to take antibiotics, that medicine probably wiped out that good bacteria that had colonized in your gut. Often a doctor may prescribe a probiotic at the same time as a antibiotic to help lessen that breakdown of the gut flora. What you eat can have an impact as well on helping your gut to re-colonize with healthy bacteria. There have been studies showing the gut flora in a healthy weight adult who regularly exercises compared with an overweight adult who never exercises and they have different microorganisms living in their GI tract. What you regularly eat has a role on your gut health. Aim for a healthy diet - filled with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy and whole grains. Those healthy foods will help fuel to healthy bacteria to grow in your intestinal tract. Do I think you need to take a special probiotic supplement to help with your gut health? No, I don't think you HAVE to take one, especially if you are eating this probiotic containing foods and an overall healthy diet. If you have noticed GI issues and try some of these probiotic containing foods and if that doesn't help, you can try some of the supplements and see if that helps with your symptoms. I think it is important to talk about gut health and helping people know that there are ways to aleviate some of these uncomfortable symptoms.

Hopefully that is helpful to provide you some insight into what probiotics are and how they can help your body. If you have any other questions or ideas for topics you would like me to cover on the blog, let me know! 

References 

  1. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/what-are-probiotics#1 
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-101#section1
  3. https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20918991,00.html#kombucha-tea--0
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
  5. https://www.humnutrition.com/blog/the-guide-to-choosing-the-best-probiotic-for-you/
  6. http://pilatesnutritionist.com/5-fermented-foods-boost-intake-probiotics/

Follow Up - Back On My Fitness Pal

I set a reminder on my phone to check back in with you all about my fitness/nutrition goals this week. If you remember my post about 4 weeks ago was about getting back on track and trying to use My Fitness Pal again and change up my fitness a little bit. If you want to read that first post - CLICK HERE and it will catch you up to speed.

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If you recall these were my goals ...

My 3 Weight Loss Goals 

  1. Do sit ups/planks before going to bed (spend 5 minutes doing a little core strengthening before crawling into bed). I want to do this during the week (Monday through Friday). 
  2. Track what food I put in my mouth using My Fitness Pal. I want to track my intakes every day for the next month. I want to see trends in how I am eating during the week and the weekend and see where I can make some changes. 
  3. Start some new strength training. I have some credit to go to a yoga class. I want to start my attending a yoga class at this new studio and try to go 2 times in the next month. I also would like to lift some weights at the gym. Goal is work out at the gym and lift weights 4 times in the next month (that could be once a week over the next 4 weeks).

I wanted to do a check in about 4 weeks later and see how things were going. I think that is one of the big things that people often fail to do ... follow up and check back in on their goals. It is easy to forget about them if you don't set a reminder.

So how did things go over the last 4 weeks. (I am giving myself 1-5 rating on how I did with these goals, 1=didn't happen, 2=did it occasionally, 3=did it half the time, 4=did it most of the time, 5=did it all of the time).

Evaluating My Goals

  1. Do sit ups/plants before going to bed = 3
  2. Tack what food I put in my mouth using My Fitness Pal = 4
  3. Start some new strength training = 1

As you can see I did ok with my sit ups and with using the My Fitness Pal app. I didn't make it to a new yoga class at all and I didn't go to the gym to strength train. I wanted to outline some obstacles that got in my way as well. That is important and often another thing that happens, people just give up and don't stop to recognize things that kept them from accomplishing their goals. I don't want you to see these as excuses, but instead things that kept me some successfully accomplishing my goals.

Obstacles

  1. Work was crazy busy. We launched a new program in our formula room that affected how baby feedings were ordered and that went live May 29th. So for the two weeks after that Go Live date, things were nuts. Long hours, weird schedules and no time to fit in working out or trying out a new class.
  2. Vacation. We went on a family trip over the Memorial Day weekend (Friday through Monday) and I choose not to stress about using My Fitness Pal. I enjoyed some yummy food and didn't track my intake/exercise.

Now you may have noticed that none of my weight loss goals had to deal with actual weight loss. I did weigh myself back on May 14th and I was 140lbs and I weighed myself again on June 8th and I weighed 136.4lbs. So that is just shy of a 4lb weight loss over the past 25 days. That is an average of 1lb/ week. So even though I didn't accomplish all of my goals like I would have hoped, I did make some changes and I do feel better about what I have accomplished.

So now it is time to rethink through those goals and come up with new goals for the next 4 weeks.

My 3 Weight Loss Goals (Updated)

  1. Keep ... Do sit ups/planks before going to bed (spend 5 minutes doing a little core strengthening before crawling into bed). I want to do this during the week (Monday through Friday). 
  2. Keep ... Track what food I put in my mouth using My Fitness Pal. I want to track my intakes every day for the next month. I want to see trends in how I am eating during the week and the weekend and see where I can make some changes. 
  3. Keep ... Start some new strength training. I have some credit to go to a yoga class. I want to start my attending a yoga class at this new studio and try to go 2 times in the next month. I also would like to lift some weights at the gym. Goal is work out at the gym and lift weights 4 times in the next month (that could be once a week over the next 4 weeks).

I am going to keep the same goals and work really hard to actually try to accomplish my #3 goal ... trying a new form of strength training. I want to get to a class and try really hard to do that so that I find another way to stay active that isn't just running.

Hopefully this has been helpful to see how setting goals for yourself and following up with those goals can help you accomplish what you have set for yourself. It is possible, it just takes some patience and willingness to stick with your goals!

Back On My Fitness Pal

It is time to get back on My Fitness Pal. I used My Fitness Pal throughout my pregnancy with William, because I didn't want to gain too much weight. It helped to hold me accountable to what I put in my mouth. I also used it regularly before getting pregnant to help lose weight that I had gained after graduating college and sitting at my job. Well it is time to get back on that band wagon of tracking what I put in my mouth to help prevent future weight gain. 

I wanted to share this with you all, because I think it is important to talk about what makes you feel good for your own weight. Often we have some idea of what our ideal, personal body image looks like. Some times that is realistic an some times it is idealistic, but I think we all have a goal for ourselves. We also have a feeling at a certain weight where we feel comfortable. I had just mentioned to Chas last week that I just felt "fat." I know that I am not that big compared to others, but I just notice that it is harder to run fast, I want to do more sit ups to help with strengthening my core and I just need to work on toning up. Sure enough when I stepped on the scale I say that number that I knew would be my current weight, but I had been denying. 

I had lost the baby weight from being pregnant with William. I got up to 150-155lbs when pregnant with him, which was perfect. That is right where I needed to be. Then with breast feeding and taking care of a baby I got down to 130lbs. My normal body weight is 135-140lbs. The weight where I feel the most comfortable is 135lbs. So when I stepped on the scale this week and it read 140lbs I knew I had to make some changes. I know 5lbs doesn't seem like much, but my pants are tighter when I weigh 140lbs compared with 135lbs. So for my own self-esteem and feeling comfortable in my clothes I prefer to be closer to that 135lb mark. I think we all have that weight that feel more comfortable at. It might be our goal weight, but it is a weight that we are content with. That is what I hope you take away from this discussion, figuring out where you feel most content with yourself. 

I don't mean to throw out these numbers and have you judge if you think 140lbs is too skinny or too fat. That is not the point of this post. This is the share with you that we all have that goal for ourselves. Well my upper limit is 140lbs. So I have some work to do. I have been running and working on training for a half marathon. I do think that some of that weight gain has been leg muscle strength, but some has been more flab in the abdominal region. After having a baby, getting that abdominal strength back is so important and hard to do. So my goal is to track what I am choosing to put in my mouth, try to do more strength training, continue to run and hopefully start some yoga classes. 

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I have shared in previous posts that it is important to set specific goals so you can measure if you have accomplished them. That is what I am going to do, put together 3 goals and then try to follow up in a month and see how it went meeting those goals. 

My 3 Weight Loss Goals 

  1. Do sit ups/planks before going to bed (spend 5 minutes doing a little core strengthening before crawling into bed). I want to do this during the week (Monday through Friday). 
  2. Track what food I put in my mouth using My Fitness Pal. I want to track my intakes every day for the next month. I want to see trends in how I am eating during the week and the weekend and see where I can make some changes. 
  3. Start some new strength training. I have some credit to go to a yoga class. I want to start my attending a yoga class at this new studio and try to go 2 times in the next month. I also would like to lift some weights at the gym. Goal is work out at the gym and lift weights 4 times in the next month (that could be once a week over the next 4 weeks).

There you have it ... those are my goals for the next month and hopefully I will be able to accomplish those goals. I think they are realistic and totally achievable. I will check back in the next month with a follow up to how this weight loss trek is going. 

Intermittent Fasting

I was recently approached about my opinions on Intermittent Fasting. I decided that I should take some time, look into this diet trend and put together my opinion. Intermittent Fasting has gained lots of traction recently with lots of celebrities and high-profile executives jumping on this band wagon. As with any diet trend, it is hard to argue with people's personal experiences. If someone is telling me that they felt "so much better" or "it changed their ______." Who am I are argue with those experiences?! I wanted to share with you some evidence-based information on intermittent fasting in the hopes that would help you make an informed decision.  

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Intermittent Fasting can mean a variety of things, but in a nutshell it is restricting the time during the day that you eat or not eating for a set period of time. The goal is normally to achieve weight loss through calorie restriction. Often people talk about feeling better, less headaches, no more pain, etc. There are three main categories to intermittent fasting 1) Alternating day fasting, 2) Whole day fasting, and 3) Time restricted fasting. 

1) Alternating day fasting  - This involves eat one day, fasting for the next day and then resuming eating again the next day.

2) Whole day fasting - This is normally done one a 5:2 day ratio. You would eat normally for 5 days and then for 2 days you would decrease your caloric intake to ~500 calories/day. 

3) Time restricted fasting - This is limiting your eating window during the day to only 8 hours during the day and then fasting the over 16 hours. 

Now that we have an idea of the definitions for Intermittent Fasting let's take a look at what this means for your body. The main goal of intermittent fasting is to help optimize your body to metabolize nutrients appropriately and decrease your risk of various diseases. How does that potentially work? Our bodies are very complex and metabolic regulation is tied to our hormones, microbiota and lifestyle factors. This graphic below is from a research article (cited below) and I thought is accurately showed how all of these factors affect our risk for chronic diseases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4516560/figure/F1/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4516560/figure/F1/

There are limited studies done in humans with intermittent fasting. Some of the ones that have been done are small and didn't necessarily show significant weight loss changes in those that practiced intermittent fasting compared with more conventional weight loss methods. I think that out of the different types of intermittent fasting I prefer the Time Restricted Fasting. I think that limiting the window during the day that you eat has been proven to make a positive difference in weight loss. Lots of times when we eat late at night we are reaching for unhealthy food items and that is adding to our weight struggles. The idea of restricting calories all the way to only 500 calories in one day could have some negative side effects. You could feel tired, very hungry and that might not be an "enjoyable" feeling for that day. That may not be sustainable long term. When you alternate fasting days that can be tough because your body needs that food for fuel and not having that energy available can be tough. I always ask myself that question when looking into a fad diet trend ... is that practice sustainable? If I make that change, will I be able to continue that practice as the days and weeks go by?

For more information there was a great article published in the Journal of the Academy in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2015 about Intermittent Fasting. 

Professional Opinion/Conclusion: If you are wanting to practice intermittent fasting make sure that you work closely with a health professional. Make sure that your doctor feels comfortable with you limiting your calorie intake. If you are wanting to work towards losing weight, get in touch with a Registered Dietitian to help craft a successful meal plan that works for you. 

Gearing up to Move

Just wanted to update you all that my family and I are moving. We are staying in Indiana, but we will be moving into Indianapolis from the suburbs. It is exciting, but will be a slight headache over the next 2 weeks. Just wanted to let you know in case I ended up missing one of my Monday blog posts. 

With all this extra stress in life it definitely makes eating healthy and exercising tough. When life gets crazy it is so easy to use that as excuse to throw health out the window. It is way easier to stress eat and then grab fast, unhealthy foods compared with trying to reach for a healthier alternative. Honestly with moving, it is tough, because you are packing up your kitchen equipment and that means preparing food at home is challenging. Whether you are gearing up for a move and another stressful life change, work on handling that stress in a positive way.

Ways to stay healthy while stressed: 

  1. Plan and stay organized. I think this is such a challenge in the midst of moving or a stressful time in life. These are the times when you feel like you don't have time for lists, but it turns out to be the time when you need them the most. Coming up with a goal for your time and list of things that you need to accomplish. I know I have put together a list of places to contact to let them know of our change of address. I have been working my way through that list the past couple of weeks and I have been adding to it when I think of another place I need to contact. I  am going to make a list of what is left to pack/organize in each room this week as well. For example, I am going to get all the pictures off the walls by the end of Tuesday. Then I am going to make sure that everything is pulled out from under the bed and packed by the end of the week. Set small goals for yourself and then stick with your list you have made. Being organized and having a plan will go a long way in decreasing your stress levels. 
  2. What you eat matters. I am not sure if you have noticed this, but stress eating is a thing and then when you have over-indulged, you feel terrible. At least, I do. I literally feel like crap. Stress eating isn't going to help solve any of your problems. In fact, it might lead to more stress. So set yourself up for success, try to have healthy options around you and avoid the urge to purchase something you don't need. If you have to indulge. Try to have that food item in moderation. Really enjoy your small cup of ice cream and remind yourself when that craving comes up again that you already had that treat and you will have to wait. I have been using dried fruit as a trick for my sweet tooth. I have been trying to eat less sweet things and so I portion out a small baggie of dried fruit each day to take to work and that is my "sweet snack." 
  3. Make time to rest/sleep. Your body needs to rest and needs to unwind. Taking time to sleep is so important in your overall health and well being. I know that with the stress of moving, when 10pm rolls around, stop what I am doing and get ready for bed. All of the boxes and stuff will be there in the morning and I can deal with it another day. This holds true with anything. Work on your task as hard as you can for a set period of time and then take a break, walk away and get some rest. This will help ensure that you are ready for the next day and you can continue to work hard tomorrow.

Hopefully these tips will help you as you head into whatever challenge you are facing. I will definitely be sharing some pictures and moving progress on Instagram so make sure to check that out. It can be exciting to face a new challenge and at same time difficult. Embrace the change and remember to stay organized, make smart food choices and take some to rest. 

Thank you Mom!

I know this is a day late, but I thought I would share with you a few things that my mother has taught me over the years. I was very fortunate to grow up with a mother who valued her own health and her family's health. I am a Registered Dietitian today, because my mother suggested that I look into that major at Purdue when I was in high school. I have developed a love for exercising and encouraged to pursue my passion for fitness because of my mother. Thank you Mom for always encouraging me to pursue my dreams. There were plenty of times that I questioned what I was doing and how I would get there, but you were always just a phone call away to provide some encouragement. There were plenty of times that I would call you, frustrated and feeling discouraged, while taking organic chemistry, and you encouraged me to keep working hard and to give it my best shot. 

Now that I am a mother and have a child of my own. As I think back to things that you have taught me I want to be that example for my child. I want him to know how important his health and wellness is and learn to love exercise. I take him with me when I go out for a run and I know that as time goes on this will be something that he will remember and hopefully cherish. 

Things my Mom has taught me ... 

  • Never give up. You taught me to always finish whatever activity I start and to never give up. You encouraged me to keep working hard and accomplish the task at hand. 
  • Don't have regrets in life. This is something that I still live by ... going through life with regrets is a tough burden to bare. Working to make sure that whatever you do, you enjoy and when you look back, you feel confident in that decision.
  • Put your best foot forward. Be that best version of yourself and always push yourself to be better.
  • Enjoy what you do! My Mom has worked a variety of jobs throughout her life and she always worked to enjoy whatever she was doing. Life is too short to spend time doing something you don't enjoy. 
  • Gift of hospitality. I really enjoy having people into my home and hosting parties. I love bringing people together to have a good time and build relationships. This is something that I got from mother and I am so thankful she taught me how to give back to those around me. 

These are just a few of the many things that I have learned from my mother over the years. I am the person I am today, because of her and I am so thankful to be her daughter and get to call her Mom! 

Breaking the Sugar Habit

I have a confession. I have been obsessed with sugar and I have been eating WAY too much of it since becoming a mom. Yes, I am blaming my over consumption on my child, because I use to have more time to sleep better, eat better and exercise more prior to my child entering our family. Since his arrival, I sleep WAY less than I would like, I have WAY less free time do anything and then I have been eating more sugar, because I am starving and it sounds good. 

It has gotten so bad that my husband even noticed. He made a comment to me about eating most of a cake that I made and a blueberry buckle coffee cake. So it is time to break this cycle of too much sugar. My husband, Chas, is going to do this with me and we are working to eliminate unnecessary sugar sources in our diets. We are cutting out soda (don't need it and really should be drinking more water instead, even though it was diet), no more candy or other sweet treats (except for special occasions) and less sugary breakfast cereals. I am going to try to get up earlier again, go to bed earlier and then make breakfast in the morning (toast with an egg). I tend to eat better throughout the rest of the day if I have some protein in the morning. Breakfast cereal just doesn't stick with me that long. 

It is tough to break a habit. Eating too much sugar is a habit that I have fallen into over the last 4 months and it is something that I need to work to change. I really would like to lose the last 5lbs of baby weight and get my abs back. I need to focus on building back up my abdominal strength so that those muscles can help support my back and in my activities of daily living. Being able to make some small changes and break some of these bad habits will be helpful in living that "health lifestyle." 

I wanted to share this with you to help hold me accountable. I believe that sharing the good things in life and the struggles are important. We all struggle with things and have bad habits that we want to change. What is holding you back? What is keeping you in those bad habits? Once you have taken a moment to pin that down, then you can start creating a plan to make some healthier changes. Well so far I have made it all morning without needless sugar snacking ... I will keep you posted on how things are going!

The Reality of Being a Parent

I know that this is a blog about nutrition, exercise and wellness. I however, feel that being parent overlaps with my nutrition, exercise and wellness so that is how I am tying this into my normal theme on this blog. I would also argue that being parent is having an impact on my nutrition, exercise and overall wellness. The balance of work, family life and staying healthy is quite the challenge when you add a small child into the equation. This small, tiny human now demands all of your attention and limits your ability to stay late at work to hit up the gym or may drive up your alcohol consumption due to his needless crying in the evenings. Of course, you also have to factor in the lack of sleep. When breast feeding at night, you have to wake up every 3-4 hours, change the baby and then feed him. All of this totally throws off your own sleep schedule. All of these factors have an influence on your overall health. 

I didn't want this to be a total complaining session about how tough it is to be a parent, but I wanted to discuss the challenges and maybe some ways to help you be successful in overcoming them. I have quickly learned that I need to take time for myself. That is use to always be going for a run, doing yoga or walking the dog. Now with a baby this has had to change and shift a little bit. I honestly haven't been able to run as much as I would like. By the time I get home from work, make something for dinner, feed the baby, and get the dog walked, the sun is setting and I have lost daylight for a run. I am excited with the lengthening spring evenings that I will be able to fit in more week night runs with William. But even if I can't fit in as many runs as I would like, I try to take time each night for myself. Last night it was a shower. Simple, I know, but after being frustrated by a fussy baby and needy dog I just wanted to do something for myself and nice warm shower fit the bill before crawling into bed. 

  • Take time for you.  I am working on this and I am still figuring it out. It looks different each day, but taking this time for me helps me to be a better mother, wife and employee. 
  • Don't sweat the small stuff.  I have to admit this is a huge challenge for me. I am a Type A, control freak and learning to let go has been tough. I like to do things my way and learning to delegate is necessary. I also have had to learn to be ok with things not always getting done, like cleaning the bathrooms or doing ALL the dishes every night. 
  • Enjoy the little moments.  There are some great moments in being a parent. Those smiles that I get after feeding William or taking a moment to snuggle with my husband on the couch after William has fallen asleep. Those little moments are wonderful. Stopping from rush of life and embracing those moments has been another thing that I have been trying to do.

Hopefully you have found this post encouraging. You are NOT alone in your parenting journey and it is tough. That balance between your role as a parent, your job, and your family is something that is always changing. Keeping working hard at it and enjoying every moment. 

How Much Water Do You Really Need?

I am sure that you have heard that you need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. But is that true?! Is there is something special about 8 glasses? Not 6 or 9 glasses a day, but 8. Who came up with that recommendation anyway?

That is what I want to talk about today ... what your body actually needs to keep you hydrated. Your body is made up of ~60% water. For babies, their body composition is about 75% water and decreases to 65% by their first birth day. Your body relies on this water and it is necessary for your survival.

Water does lots of things for you ... 

  • Utilized by the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters. 
  • Forms saliva to help you digest your food.
  • Keeps your mucousal membranes moist (eyes, nose, throat).
  • Helps to regulate your body temperature through your breathing and sweating.
  • Helps to rid your body of waste, through your urine. 
  • Lubricates your joints.
  • Helps deliver oxygen all over your body.

This list can keep going. As you can see this element is vital to your body working appropriately. Did you know that women actually have less water in their bodies compared with men. People who have more fatty tissue have less water in their bodies compared to their less fat counter parts. Now does this mean that we need differing amounts of water per day? YES! It does ... unfortunately we do not all need the same amount of water per day. 

Sadly there is no straight forward recommendation about how much water we each need every day. Instead,  you will have to do a little self-reflection. Do you feel thirsty? If so, that is a great indicator that your body is in need of water. I know it sounds simple, but making sure that you always drink water when you feel thirsty will be an easy way to make sure that you stay hydrated. Now if you are wondering if you are getting enough water, then take a moment and observe the color of your urine. Again, not glamorous, but it is effective. There is a great chart (CLICK HERE) to compare the color of your urine to your hydration status. Another easy way to know if you are drinking enough, is to track how often you use the restroom. Most well-hydrated people use the restroom 7-8 times per day that is about every 3 hours. Sometimes that can increase to 10 times per day or be as low as 4 times per day.  That is why noticing what color your urine is will help evaluate if you are appropriately hydrated. The handout mentioned previously, also includes some signs/symptoms of dehydration. One way to prevent dehydration, is carrying water with you where ever you go. Find a water bottle that you love and take it with you. You can fill it up with water, lemonade, tea, whatever is your favorite beverage and make sure it goes with you when you leave the house. This will help ensure that when you feel thirsty you will have a way to easily quench that thirst and avoid dehydration. 

As you can see, that 8 glasses of water per day recommendation may not hold true for everyone. It is a great goal to make sure that you are carrying around a water bottle and staying hydrated throughout the day. Make sure that you are using the bathroom on a regular  basis and taking note of your urine color. I know it is not glamorous, but it is worth it to make sure that your body's fluid needs are being met. This allows your body to function at its top potential. Now grab a glass of your favorite drink and bottoms up! 

Hitting the Pavement Again

I am back running! I couldn't be more excited. I got the go ahead from my OB that I could resume my regular exercise routine. It had been 6 weeks since I had been able out for a run and let me tell you it was kind of an adjustment getting back out there. I headed out on a Saturday morning run ... my favorite time to run! I love it because it is normal peaceful outside and I can come home and make a nice warm breakfast. This past Saturday was kind of cold and I thought about not going out, but then I saw a lady run past my house with her dog ... I was like "if she is out there running, I can too!" So I laced up my shoes and headed out. It was glorious.

It was also hard to get back out there, literally I was sore afterwards. My abs have been through quite a bit - having a baby, being pulled apart to make room for said baby and then the whole trying to go back to the way they were after baby was born. So being out there and running ended up being quite the ab work out. My hamstring was quite tight as well. I didn't realize that those ~3 miles would feel so long, but I did it and I was proud of myself. 

The weather ended up being kind of nice this past week and headed out again for another run, but this time brought William with me in the BOB jogging stroller. It was fun to get to bring him along and he did great in the stroller. I absolutely loved the BOB stroller as well. It worked great and I could easily control it as I ran. It did end up making the run a little harder. I found that it turned into a work out for my upper and lower body. I am sure that William and I will log lots of miles on that stroller. 

Besides just sharing with you my experience at hitting the pavement again after having a baby, I wanted to encourage you get out there, set a goal for yourself and make it happen. What are obstacles that are standing in your way of accomplishing your goal? Is it something like time, lack of self confidence or putting your family's needs above your own? It is important to take a look at what obstacles are keeping you from your goal. Take those obstacles and come up with ways to move them. If the obstacle is time, then schedule time to work out and meet your goal. If it is self confidence, then find a gym or park where you can exercise and feel comfortable without a lot of people around. If it family obligations, then talk to your loved ones and schedule "you" time where you can focus on what you want to accomplishment. For me, I want to go to the gym 2-3 times per week and lift weights, use the elliptical and treadmill. If the weather is nice, I want to get outside and run on weekends and maybe one night a week. I also want to go through and do the 31 days of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. I love yoga and I want to be able to do that in the evenings after work and before bed.

Well good luck to you as you set your fitness goals and work on accomplishing them. I will keep you posted on how my return to running is going and how well I accomplishing my own goals. 

LOVE Your Heart

Well February is upon us and that means it is time to think about your heart health. Even if heart disease doesn't run in your family, taking the time and making you are making heart healthy choices can improve the quality of your life. 

What is a heart healthy diet? A heart healthy diet is one that is low in animal fats and high in plant based fats. This also includes consuming fish on a regular basis. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in fish have been associated with lower risks of heart disease. Consuming more a more plant based diet as also been found to help heart healthy and improve your body composition. People who were of normal body weight had less instance of heart-related medical complications and lived healthier lives overall. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put together a great list of cooking changes that you can makes for your heart health. Make sure that you are limiting your saturated fats (from animal sources) and trans fats (man made fats, found in some margarine products). When cooking animal meats, make sure to drain off extra fat or grill the meat so that the fat falls away from the meat when cooking. If you consume high amounts of saturated (animal) fats this type of fat can build up in your arteries and this can lead to a blockage/heart attack. That is why a lower fat, more plant based diet is recommended. 

Put down that salt shaker. In addition to watching the amount of fat in your diet, keeping an eye out for the amount of sodium in foods will go a long way in blood pressure control. If you have a history of hypertension, or if it runs in your family, then taking the time to watch your sodium intake can help keep your heart beating strong. Lots of fast food or pre-made, frozen entrees have a fair amount of added salt to help with the favor and preservation of the food. That is why when you can prepare meals at home, from scratch, that will go a long way in limiting the amount of added salt you consume each day. Make sure that you are not adding salt to your meals after they have been cooked. That is why moving the salt shaker off the table and into the spice cabinet can limit your added salt intake. If possible, purchase lower salt food items - low salt diced tomato or chicken stock, low salt lunch meat or sliced deli cheese. These little changes can help with your blood pressure control. 

Move more. You can never under estimate the benefit of being physically active. Exercising helps your heart by having it beat harder and grow stronger. Your heart is a muscle and for it is stay strong it needs to be worked out. That means scheduling time to be physically active will help your heart to stay strong and continue to beat for a long time to come. Exercise can look different for different people. Find something that you enjoy and do that activity on a regular basis. If you enjoy exercise classes, find a gym and attend classes that you enjoy. 

Hopefully you can take some of these tips and recommendations and put them into use this month to help show your heart some love! 

Holidays, Moderation and Stress

Now that Halloween is over and we are into November, the holiday season has officially started.  This means lots of gatherings with friends and family and of course food! Celebrating holidays is very tightly associated with delicious meals and sweet treats. It can be challenging to always navigate this time of year in a healthy way. In addition, to the tasty food temptations, we normally are under additional stress to plan a Pinterest perfect party or give that one of a kind gift to our family members. Being able to balance the stress of the holiday season in a healthy way in terms of our minds and body is very important. Hopefully some of this information will help give you some peace of mind.

Tips for Handling Stress in a Healthy Way –

  • Stick to a budget. We all love to spend money during the holidays from clothes, to gifts, to food and travel expenses. It can be an expensive time of year. Take some time now to plan what you can realistically afford in terms of gifts this year. Think about your travel expenses and make sure that you set aside some money for those additional costs. Having a plan will help ensure that you are successful in sticking with it. There are ways to give gifts to co-workers or family members that are more cost effective, like baking goodies to give out or putting together fun gift baskets with items from thrift shops or the dollar store. The goal is to determine your budget ahead of time and then stick with that goal. This will help decrease that stress about money and stretching yourself too thin financially.
  • Plan ahead. This ties in to the previous point about putting together a budget. Figure out how you want to structure your time during the holiday season. What goals/traditions do you really want to do and then what things are not necessary to accomplish? If you are able to take time off, how are you planning on spending that vacation time? Have a plan in place so you know what to expect and that helps you feel less stressed. Have conversions with family ahead of the holidays to determine what days you will get together and mark that on your calendar. By looking at your schedule ahead of time, you can work hard to not over book yourself and still enjoy the holidays with lower amounts of added stress.
  • Don’t abandon your health. This can be challenging during the holidays to not totally throw healthy habits out the window. Take time to work in some physical activity into your vacation time from work. Go on a walk with your family or play in the back yard with your grandkids. If you have a pet, take the dog for a walk or head to your local park. Even, shopping at the mall could be made into some extra physical activity by walking some extra laps in the mall or parking really far from the mall entrance. Try to break up your sitting intervals, even when you are traveling by stretching, getting up and moving around. In addition to exercise, try to set yourself up for success through what foods you are eating. Before you head to the holiday neighborhood party, grab a healthy snack: a cheese stick and an apple, so that you aren’t famished and don’t over indulge on the holiday cookies.  If you are going on a road trip to see family, pack a healthier lunch with you so that you aren’t tempted to stop at the drive through to grab a bite to eat. Taking a little bit of time to plan through how you can stay active and make healthy choices, will go a long way this holiday season in helping you feel better about yourself.
  • Take a moment for you. More often than not, the holidays have us rushing around to see family and friends and not taking time for ourselves. There are some holiday traditions or fun things that you probably love about this time of year and making sure that you pause, and enjoy that moment is important. If you love to watch Christmas movies while drinking hot chocolate, plan one night where you sit on the couch and watch the whole movie, while sipping on your hot chocolate and you enjoy that little tradition. Finding time to take a moment will help you to feel grounded and enjoy the holiday season amongst all the hustle and bustle. 

This time of year is so special and being able to manage your health and stress levels in a healthy way will help to ensure that you finish 2016 off right and greet 2017 on a positive note. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful as we gear up for the holiday festivities. Remember, stick to your budget, plan ahead, don’t abandon your health and take a moment for yourself over the next month and half. By utilizing some of these recommendations, you will feel better and enjoy this wonderful time of year! 

Running Through The Heat

I recently shared an article on RD Anna's Facebook page about training/exercising outside in the heat. And I thought this would be a great topic to focus on for a blog post. I have heard this so many times ... "It is too hot to be outside! Oh the humidity is terrible and I can't be outdoors." Yes, there is a time and place that some times it can be dangerous to be outside, but nine times out of the ten that is not the case. If you take a few steps to be prepared and smart about it, exercising outdoors in the heat can have great health benefits. 

  1. Make sure the check the weather. There are times when the news stations/weather outlets will issue heat alerts for high humidity or extreme heat indexes. If this is case, then consider running inside or doing some other form of cross training that day. 
  2. Stay in the shade. This seems like a no-brainer, but it can make a world of difference. Being in the shade can help to keep you cooler for longer versus running outside in the direct sun. On a hot day the asphalt can increase in temperature upwards of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  3. Leave early. When you anticipate hot weather that day, plan your run in the early morning. This should be before the sun rise to help ensure that you are aiming for the coolest part of the day.
  4. Shorten your distance. Rearrange your route that you are running shorter loops and either passing a water fountain or a place where you could cool off. That way you are ensuring that you aren't getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere in a dangerous situation.
  5. Change your goal. Think about running based on effort versus just strictly based on distance or time. Sometimes with the heat, you are expending tons more energy while running and you are are working harder. This means, it is ok to run less in terms of distance or time, because your body is working just as hard due to the increased temperature.
  6. Hydrate! This is key. Before you even leave for your run, drink water. During your run plan to drink plenty of water and after your run, replenish your depleted water stores. On really hot days, using a product like Gaterade, Powerade, Skratch, etc can be a helpful tool to help replace electrolytes that you have lost sweating.
  7. Changes in blood/sweat. Your body is working differently in the heat and your more blood to rushing to the surface of your skin to help cool you off. This means that there is less blood going to your muscles and vital organs. This can be dangerous if you aren't staying hydrated and maybe even slowing down your pace to let your body keep up with the cooling process. 
  8. Heart is pumping harder. When you exercise in the heat, your heart is pumping even harder to get the blood circulating throughout your body and going to the surface of your skin. With this increased strain on your heart, this could lead to possible issues if you are not staying hydrated and aware of how you are feeling while exercising. The increased heat, increases the work load on the heart and makes your 8 minute per mile pace feel more like a 6 minute per mile pace. There is no shame in slowing down your pace, due to the heat, to help take some of that increased stress off your heart.

So the key to remember to know your limits. As a runner, you know your body and what you are capable of. You are familiar with feelings that your body has when running and you can identify if it is unsafe for you to keep running. Be smart about your outdoor running the heat, but don't use that increased temperature as just an excuse either. 

Healthy Weeknight Meals

If you are anything like me, you kind of dread cooking dinner during the week. With a full time job, after work activities, trying to stay up on your fitness, the Olympics on TV ... there is so much vying for our time in the evenings. Sometimes the last thing we want to do is sit down and cook an elaborate meal. I thought it would be fun to put together a list of some great recipes that you could print and maybe implement in your weeknight dinner rotation. Here are some of the criteria that I was looking for when I compiled this list: Meals taking < 30 minutes to prepare, easy to use ingredients, using healthy ingredients (variety of vegetables, fruits, lean protein) and minimal clean up afterwards. 

List of Recipes to Try: 

Vegetarian/Summer Recipes

  1. Orecchitette with Roasted Peppers, Arugula and Tomatoes
  2. Grilled Tempeh Skewers
  3. Two Bean Soup with Kale
  4. Seared Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce
  5. Chipotle Black Bean Burrito
  6. Carrot and Black Bean Crispy Tacos
  7. Sweet Potato Kale Frittata

Sandwiches

  1. Waffle Iron Turkey Melt
  2. Pulled BBQ Chicken with Coleslaw
  3. Caprese Sandwiches
  4. Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa
  5. Chicken Parm Sub

Meat Recipes

  1. Couscous with Chicken and Root Vegetables
  2. Sriracha Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
  3. Balsamic Steak and Berry Salad
  4. Creamy Salmon Chowder
  5. One Pot Lasagna
  6. Bacon and Brussel Sprout Penne
  7. Thai Shrimp Soup
  8. Corn and Ham Risotto

Hopefully you find this post helpful in at least exposing you to some new recipe ideas. Take them, try them and see what you or your family think about them. I always love encouraging people to try new foods and new recipes. Cooking should a fun experience and during the week I think if you stick to simple, quick meals that helps to make the whole process of preparing healthy meals fun again! 

Getting Back Into A Healthy Routine

It is the middle of August and school is back in swing. The summer is officially wrapping up. That means that fall is just around the corner. Now is a great time to get back in healthy lifestyle habits. Over the summer we are all on crazy schedules, between vacation time, traveling, eating delicious fried foods at your local fair and going to cook outs, we all need to get our health plan re-prioritized. I love the summer festivities as much as the next person, but some times it is nice to get back in a healthy routine. 

So where do you start? What do you start thinking about first? Let's begin with food ... what you choose to put in your mouth. 

  1. Make the choice to bring a healthy lunch to work. Believe or not this is huge. Eating out can be such a stumbling block to your health. Take the extra time to plan some easy, healthy lunches to take with you to work. If you are stuck and can't think of anything new then CLICK HERE for some great ideas. You can prepare these foods ahead of time and then pack them up so they are easy to grab when you head out the door.
  2. Pack healthy snacks for the day. Most of us all get hungry between meals and that is perfectly normally. We should be eating 3 meals a day with 1-2 snacks. So picking healthy snack options is so important. Something that provides fiber, nutritional value and some protein will help keep you filling full until your next meal. For some good healthy snack ideas, CLICK HERE.
  3. Meal plan during the week and schedule your grocery shopping. In order to be able to put together healthy lunches and snacks for the week you need to take some time to head to the grocery store. Always make out a list of things that you need and stick to that list. This will help ensure that you are choosing healthy options and that you are not spending too much money. For some good tips to navigating the grocery store, check out this post from earlier in the year - Navigating the grocery store in a healthy way.
  4. Only have healthy foods on your counters. This might not seem like a big deal, but what you have visible in your kitchen will have a huge influence on what you end up eating. For example, I had some delicious, candied popcorn out on my counter from a party last week and every time I walked past that popcorn I would eat some. It got to the point that I had to put the left-overs into the cabinet so that they were out of sight out of mind. Needless to say, after moving that popcorn my strong desire to eat it ALL quickly faded. Set yourself up for success and have healthy food items within easy reach if you are hungry.

What you eat is of course important, but your physical activity has a huge role to play in your overall health as well. 

  1. Schedule your work out time. If you want to start a new habit, then you need to set a time to practice that new habit. This applies to working out. Pick a time each day that you are going to do some intentional exercise. It doesn't have to be the exact some time everyday (if you schedule is varied), but you need to plan at the beginning of the day to exercise at a certain time. If it is helpful, set an alarm or a reminder in your phone to encourage you to get up and exercise. 
  2. Find some time of special class/activity that you really enjoy. I think this is important. Find a class or some type of activity that you enjoy and pay to participate. I have taken up prenatal yoga classes and every Tuesday night I spend 1.5 hours at the yoga studio doing yoga and it is awesome. I look forward to those classes each week and it is such a treat to get to take that time for myself. If could be a class at a gym, spinning at a studio or even joining a running group in your local community. 
  3. Get some new work out clothes/shoes and get invested. When you spend a little money on something you are just a little more invested. Go ahead and get that new pair of running shoes and then schedule regular times to run. Find a running buddy and enjoy this social time in your new running shoes/outfit. Also signing up for a race can provide great motivation in helping to ensure that you are actually training and getting ready for the event. So whatever it is you decide to do, get invested! 

So I have something fun for you ... a GIVEWAY! Take a couple minutes and fill out the form below. I have a gift card to Marsh Supermarket for you (this give away is not sponsored by or associated with Marsh). Write out 2 goals that you have for yourself to help make your health a priority. I want to encourage you to set goals and then work on accomplishing them! Good luck and I am excited to get lots of entries!

Enter to Win a $25 Gift Card from Marsh

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Write out 2 goals that you have for yourself to make your health a priority.