Resolutions are not Realistic

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential. – Ellen Goodman

Every January, I hear people talking about their resolutions for living a healthy lifestyle in the new year.  They will exercise more, eat better, stop drinking and the list goes on and on.  But, resolutions are not always realistic.  They are a promise you make to do things differently, but most times they are never fully carried out.

Every January, gyms are overcrowded with people who have made these resolutions.  They vow to come every day and start off strong, but inevitably they can’t maintain this pace because it’s not realistic.  You can’t go from not working out to working out every single day without some soreness, or loss of motivation.  I don’t set resolutions, I make plans.  They often say goals (insert resolutions) are dreams without plans.  I can’t agree more.  So, this year, instead of making a resolution to do a list of things, spend time planning for your success.  Buy a calendar and plan your weeks for healthier living – when will you workout, what will you eat.  This simple change could put you on the road to success.  Now that I’m close to being cleared to return to full activity, that is exactly my plan for this weekend.

Happy Holidays and New Year to all my readers.  I’d love to hear what your plans are for 2018.  Leave me a message below.

Click this link  –  New Year, New You!  to enjoy my New Year’s column to help you get started on your plans for 2018!

 

 

Celebrate You

Christmas is next weekend and for many it can be a time of great emotional pain.  There are empty chairs at tables around the table and loved ones left to deal with this loss.  One way I deal with it is to always keep my loved ones near.  I have something of these loved ones included on my tables when I set them.  It may be a simple thing like the salt shakers, or the china we eat on, or my memories of them sitting and laughing at my table.  It can be a very trying time, but we must celebrate life and continue our journey as that is what they would want for us.

When I think back on Christmas past, I often take out old photographs and am always surprised by how absent I am in large chunks of time.  I remember avoiding the camera at all costs but I never thought about the future and how I’d be noticeably missing from our past.  What will my children and grandchildren have to remember me by?  I wrote about this in a previous column and I think it’s worthy of a reread.  The unintended consequence of my action is that I removed myself from my children’s past memories.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Get in those photographs this year regardless of how you think you look.  I guarantee when you look back on them they will bring you joy and you truly won’t even notice!

Take a moment to read this column and leave me a note below.  Enjoy the holiday week with your loved ones and be sure to capture each moment.

Unintended Consequences

Try Something New

When you find yourself in a rut and can’t seem to snap out of it, try something new.  Step outside your comfort zone and you may be surprised by how it rekindles your workout motivation.  That’s been my mission these past two weeks and I slowly feel myself getting excited again.  This week alone, I tried two new things Galloway running and Orangetheory.  Both were enjoyable and both proved to spark my motivation levels.

Galloway running is based on the premise that continuous use of specific muscles and tendons can lead to exhaustion and injury.  The Galloway run-walk-run method builds recovery into your runs. You should be able to continue a training regimen for a whole season leading up to your goal race without injury and wouldn’t that be a nice change!  I actually joined this running club last year, but never attended a session.  My mindset was one that if I am running, I need to run.  I rarely took any walk breaks over my distances.  During one very hilly 10K distance race last year, I allowed myself to walk up the steep hills and run the downhill and flat sections of the course.  Imagine my shock when I had the fasted 10K time ever that day.  I did think there might be something to this walk/run idea but still didn’t embrace it.

This week, I decided to go out and try it.  A local club member agreed to meet me out at the park and take me through the paces.  It was an enjoyable three mile run for me and I felt refreshed and ready for the full day ahead of me.  We conversed the whole run and I wasn’t worrying about when it would be over, or even about my next breath.  It didn’t matter to me if the run signal came midway up a hill.  I thought I’d hate the stop and start nature of the run, but it felt fluid and natural.  I will most definitely do this type of run again, hopefully next week.

Last night I decided to take a free class at a new local box gym – Orangetheory.  The sales girl has been calling me for over a year, but I’ve never gone.  Since many of my friends have been going and talking about it, I decided to take the plunge and add it to my, Try Something New list.  The group class is conducted wearing a heart rate monitor and your results are projected on a screen for all to see.  I guess they think that’s motivational to the competitive ones in the group.  Me, I couldn’t even see the screen without my glasses so not so much.  My friend was next to me during the 30 minute treadmill segment and she was looking at it and updated me a few times.  The workout is high intensity interval training, keeping yourself in the right heart rate zone throughout the sessions.  It is a 60 minute group class split into cardio and strength training.  I started the class on the treadmill doing what was comparable to the walk/run workout I did in the park.  I alternated between slow jog, push pace and all out running for 30 minutes under the direction of the instructor.  I then moved to a rowing machine segment and strength training.  We rowed for a bit, then did some TRX work, push ups, squats, planks, then back to rowing.  It was a fun, fast paced work out.  For me, I don’t need the competition aspect, seriously who cares what anyone else is doing.  I did like the equipment, music and change of pace though.  I did commit to doing one of these classes per week.  I would have done two, but the price to me is over the top.  Once per week will have to do and I will count this workout as one of my weekly runs.

Overall, doing new things does add spark to your life.  I felt better this week than I have in a long while.  I think it’s the combination of trying new things and being around people.  I am looking forward to this week’s workouts and will continue my climb back from the long winter of broken toes.   What have you done this week to step outside your daily rut?  How has it helped rekindle your motivation?  Be sure to leave your comments below.  I look forward to reading them.

Turmeric

One of the first spices I used in my quest to be healthier was turmeric.  Turmeric’s main active ingredient is curcumin which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.  A few years back, I was trying to wean myself off some medications and spoke to a holistic nutritionist who recommended I take a daily dose of turmeric.  This week’s tip is to consider adding turmeric to your diet as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Inflammation has been linked to almost all major diseases and is of great concern to me as a contributor to Alzheimer’s disease.  Alzheimer’s is associated with the build-up of plaques in the brain and I worry about the impact of long term inflammation on my brain.  Curcurmin is thought to fight these plaques so I’ve decided to take it as one of my supplements.  I read that mixing curcumin with fat seems to supercharge absorption rates, so I add turmeric to my superfood morning coffee.  I also take an additional  supplement daily.

While it is not a guarantee, I think turmeric is a worthy addition to my overall plan.  If you decide to take turmeric, try to get one that is coupled with black pepper as it is thought to aid in absorption.

This is the brand I have been using for a few years.

 

 

 

Do you use turmeric?  How has it helped you?  Please share your comments below.

Sleep Your Secret Weapon

My sleep struggles are well known to anyone who has received an email or text from me at 3:00 AM.  My midnight musings are well documented and laughed about.  Sometimes I find people during the day and say, “Last night I was thinking..”, followed by my latest idea.  It seems that my mind is very active during the night and some of my best ideas come to me then.  I really was never concerned, or annoyed by it.  I’ve just come to accept the fact that I don’t sleep more than 5 hours a night.

I first wore my Fitbit to track steps, but soon discovered a second benefit to this little gadget.  Fitbit trackers have a sleep cycle option that provides you with data on the quality of your sleep.  While I doubt it’s totally accurate, it sure does open your eyes about how well, or not, you sleep.  The report also shows how restless you are, as well as how many hours you are likely in REM sleep.  All this data got my attention because I noticed I was very restless and not getting much REM, or deep sleep each night.  This was troubling because that is the restorative sleep that is so needed by my body.

After reading and researching issues with sleeping, I came up with the following plans:

Find Out How Much Sleep I Really Need?

I used the data from my Fitbit to establish how much sleep I really do need each night.  While I like to lay in bed and read, I was really only sleeping 5-6 hours a night.  Knowing this made me realize that going to bed at 8:00 PM would always have my body waking at 2:00 – 3:00 AM, making this nothing to stress about.

Establish a Sleep Cycle

Creating a routine has been very helpful to me.  I actually like waking at 3:00 – 4:00 AM.  I find it to be the most peaceful, yet productive time of day for me.  I like to have an hour or so to read and write.  I like to have an hour or so to exercise.  I like to not feeling rushed in the morning.  Knowing that I want to be awake by 4:00 AM the latest helped me establish a bedtime.  I am in bed ready for sleep by 9:00 PM each night, unless of course we have an event.  Thankfully my husband likes the early morning too, as does my dog, so it’s all good.

Establish a Nightly Routine

Unplug your technology, including the phone, prior to bedtime.  I unplug by 7:00 PM each night to allow myself time to unwind.  I open the window to make the room slightly chilly as this can improve your sleep.  In the winter I turn down the thermostat slightly.  I am not a fan of television but do like to read in bed.  This works perfectly for me as it also helps me to fall asleep, unless it’s a thriller!

It is important to sleep in a dark room, so black out the room to improve your sleep.  Research has shown that exposure to blue light greatly affects your sleep cycle.  Blue light, or light that comes from most of our devices, suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light.  This is why it is critical to unplug at night to ensure better sleep.  If you simply must use your devices at night, they sell orange glasses that you can wear to block the blue light.  They are quite funny looking, but who cares if they work.  I keep a pair on my night table for nights I want to catch up on email.

Improving sleep can greatly improve your health.  Getting adequate amounts of sleep each night can help you lose weight and gain strength.  When you are not getting adequate sleep, your body can produce more cortisol causing weight gain.  When you get adequate sleep, your body may have an increase in testosterone causing strength gains.  This sounds like a win-win to me, making it worth the time spent improving my sleep cycle.

How are you sleeping these days?  If you could improve your sleep with a few simple changes, would you?  Please share below.

Mentioned in Article:

Avocado Oil

People tout the many health benefits of using coconut oil.  Some even suggest eating it as a super food.   Others say you should swap it for your olive oil when cooking, or on salad.  I tried cooking with coconut oil and noticed it changed the taste of my food.  Coconut oil has a very distinct flavor and using it in my recipes changed the taste of my meal and not always for the better.  Even in my super food coffee, I noticed a different taste when using coconut oil.  This sparked me to start researching oils to see what other options were available to me.

Cold pressed olive oil is still a staple oil in my home, but no longer my first choice.  In my personal opinion, the best choice for a healthy oil is avocado oil which is produced from the avocado fruit.  This oil is made from the pulp surrounding the pit, not the seed.  Avocado oil doesn’t have a strong flavoring that overpowers, or competes with the flavor of foods.  It also has a high smoke point which makes it ideal for cooking.

When choosing an oil for cooking it is extremely important to learn about its smoke point.  This is the temperature at which your oil begins to smoke in the pan.  Healthy oils, like olive oil, can become unhealthy when they reach their smoke point because it begins to break down and nutrients are lost.  Further, dangerous compounds can be created which are detrimental to your health.  I always used olive oil in my cooking and had no idea about this!  I no longer use olive oil for cooking and have replaced it with avocado oil.  Unlike coconut oil, this oil does not overpower my food.

When using any oil for cooking, it is very important to consider the smoke point (the temperature at which the oil starts to be visibly smoking in the pan) of the oil. Even a healthy oil like benefit-rich olive oil becomes unhealthy when it reaches its smoke point. When an oil reaches its smoke point, the structure of the oil begins to break down, nutrients are lost, flavor is changed and most dangerously, compounds can be created that are damaging to your health. Avocado oil’s high smoke point make it a top choice for any frying, browning or sautéing recipes.

I use avocado oil on my salads, as well as cold pressed olive oil.  I find the oil to be very versatile and it has become my go to oil for cooking.  Further, there are said to be many health benefits to using it including improving heart health, lowering cholesterol, arthritis support and skin care.  I buy my avocado oil online, but I have seen it available in Costco.  I don’t like to purchase super large containers of oil as I prefer my oil to be fresh.  I also don’t purchase oils in plastic containers ever!

Spend some time learning about the oils you use.  I think you will be shocked by what you learn.  I never knew there were so many different types of oils, or the dangers of using the wrong oil for cooking.

What type of oil are you using?  Please share your experiences below.

Avocado Oil I Use:

Recipe Swap – Pulled Chicken Sliders

Recently I tried pulled pork sliders while out for dinner.  I’m not a fan of pork or barbecue sauce, but will admit to loving that slider appetizer.  I’ve been thinking of it since and decided to spend some time trying to recreate it.  I also wanted to update it to try and make it slightly healthier.

My first swap was the meat.  While I enjoyed it out I prefer chicken to pork, so I decided to use pulled chicken.  We happened to have a half of a roasted chicken from Sunday, so I began shredding the white meat for sliders.  I also made some spicy coleslaw to top the sliders, as they did at the restaurant.  You can eat the meat without the buns if you are gluten free, or use romaine lettuce for your bun.

With use of left over chicken, this became a super easy, quick weeknight dinner.   And it was delicious!

Pulled Chicken Sliders

Ingredients

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (this is a fabulous spice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless chicken breast (organic hormone free rotisserie or slow roast is best)
8 sliders mini buns

Directions

  1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; cook 3 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add chicken to ketchup mixture; stir to combine.
  3. Cook 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated.
  4. Spoon onto slider buns
  5. Top with spicy coleslaw

Recipe Swap – Creamy, Spicy Coleslaw

Recipe adapted from MyRecipes.com

If you want a little more heat, feel free to add a dash of hot sauce to your mix.  I was happy with the heat from the coleslaw.

Let me know how you like it if you make it!  If you have a pulled pork or chicken sandwich recipe to share, please leave comments below.

Recipe Swap – Chicken Pad Thai

I’ve been branching out and trying new recipes that I’ve never cooked before.  I’ve heard so many good things about Thai food, but have yet to try it.  I saw an easy recipe that I thought might be something I’d enjoy.  I decided against purchasing a ready made Thai sauce as I was unable to pronounce many of the ingredients listed on the label.  I used a recipe for homemade Thai sauce found below.  I did not include noodles, but I’m sure you could.  The recipe was super easy to follow and quick!  The whole process took about 30 minutes.  It will be perfect for a work night stir fry and no I don’t have a fancy wok – yet.  The taste of this was delicious, but it was a bit hot which I love.  I’m thinking the heat came from the serrano pepper and not the sauce, so go easy on that if you prefer it milder.

Pad Thai Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. coconut aminos (healthier alternative to soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 tsp. organic hoisin sauce
  • 1⁄4 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. organic ginger (I used minced ginger in jar)
  • 1⁄2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. organic cilantro
  • 1⁄2 tsp.  no-salt seasoning

Directions:

1. In a bowl combine all ingredients and set aside until needed for your stir fry.   Copyright © 2016 Danette May and Mindful Health, LLC

Chicken Stir-Fry:

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 oz. chicken, cubed
  • 1 small serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 tbsp. Pad Thai sauce
  • 1 cubed organic zucchini
  • 1 chopped organic red bell pepper

Directions:

  1. In pan, add 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, zucchini, red bell pepper, chicken and minced Serrano pepper. Cook until chicken browns and is fully cooked. (I actually had leftover grilled chicken that I cubed so it was done real fast.  I cooked the vegetables for a bit first, then added the cooked, cubed chicken to warm.)
  2. Add pad thai sauce.
  3. Stir and warm.

Copyright © 2016 Danette May and Mindful Health, LLC

This was a meal by itself, no sides required but you could make a nice garden salad with it.  Be sure you have something to put out the fire in your mouth.  I drank ginger kombucha.

If you try this recipe, please let me know how you liked it.  It was part of a 30 day meal program I participated in recently with Danette May.

Some ingredients needed:

Nutrifera Organic Coconut Coconut Aminos 12.7 fl oz (375 ml)

Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce, 20 oz

 

NoSalt Original Sodium-Free Salt Alternative 11 Ounce (Pack of 2)

 

 

Tracking Fitness

During a conversation with my nutritionist, I came to realize that I needed to track more than just my nutrition.  I was telling her how much I work out and felt I wasn’t making enough gains.  I went over my workout schedule for the week and explained how hard I was working each day.  She looked at me and asked, “What about the rest of the day?  How active are you?”  I remember thinking, why does that matter if I work out each day for at least sixty minutes I should be good to go.  That simple conversation was a turning point for me.  I realized that despite running for an hour I didn’t get to sit and be a couch potato the rest of the day.  Clearly I had the wrong mindset.  I was seeing exercise as something I needed to do, rather than a lifestyle change.

I left the nutritionist’s office that day with a simple plan.  I was going to see just how active I really was by tracking my steps in a day.  She said the goal was 10,000 steps per day.  I ordered a simple step counter, set the target and tracked.  On days I ran, I had no issue hitting the 10,000 step target, however I noticed all my step activity was from the morning run.  On days I didn’t run, I was way under that target.  I quickly started adding more steps to my day by taking short walks several times a day, parking my car farther away from the store door and yes, even circling my bedroom before bed to reach the target.  I just love when the watch signals meeting the goal.  Such a simple addition to my day that increased my activity immensely.

Today’s tip is to get a step tracker and log your daily movement.  You will think 10,000 is easy and it very well may be.  But, like me, you may find you are thinking of exercise as something to check of your to do list.  On a day I didn’t run my step count was as low as 4K.  That was truly eye opening for me.  I guarantee with this simple addition to your fitness routine, you will increase your daily activity.  My husband got a Fitbit for his birthday and I am seeing him go through the same process.  He’s always checking his steps and now consistently hits 14K a day.  My dog is super happy for this fitness tip and should really get his own Fitbit because he gets so many walks now.

Are you tracking your steps?  What’s your daily goal?  Please leave a comment in the section below, I’d love to hear about your goals.

Fitbit Trackers

Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker, Silver/Black, Small

Not ready to commit to an expensive tracker, try this inexpensive entry level Fitbit:

Fitness Tracker, MoreFit Slim Touch Screen Activity Health Tracker Wearable Pedometer Smart Wristband, Silver/Green

Recipe Swap – Creamy, Spicy Coleslaw

I am a recent coleslaw lover much to the surprise of my husband who has spent 34 years hearing me say otherwise.  He’s feeling sad thinking that when we go to a diner I will no longer give him my share of it.  He really shouldn’t worry though because I won’t be indulging in a mayonnaise laden version of this staple side dish anytime soon.  I have tested a few healthier, lighter versions and found one that I’m especially loving so I’ll be eating my coleslaw right here in my home.

My first taste of coleslaw came recently at a dinner out.  It was on top of a pulled pork slider and man was I sold on it after the first bite.  I haven’t tried the pulled pork recipe hunt yet, but quickly got after a coleslaw recipe I’d enjoy.  Here’s what I’ve settled on for now.  Spicy, tangy and crunchy while reducing some of the mayonnaise fat.  I served it last night on top of some grilled chicken and boy was it a hit around here.

Spicy Coleslaw Recipe

  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (I used green already shredded organic coleslaw mix)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 6 oz cottage cheese (I used goat cottage)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup coconut sugar ( I guess this could be optional but I used it)
  • Optional – add sprinkle of hot sauce (I didn’t but I will next time!)

Directions:

  1. Mix the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne pepper, vinegar, sugar until combined well.
  2. Begin to add the shredded cabbage until well coated.
  3. Chill covered for at least 2 hours.

I have some leftover right now in my refrigerator and can’t wait for lunch to crunch on some.  If you try this recipe, or have a version of coleslaw to share, please post it in the comments below.

Ingredients used in this recipe –

Natural Value Organic Sriracha Chili Sauce, 18 Ounce

I have to hide this from my husband who puts it on everything!

 

NOW Foods Organic Coconut Sugar,16-Ounce

Healthier option for recipes that call for sugar.  It is still sugar and should be used sparingly, but it does have a lower glycemic index.