Tame the Sugar Monster

OK – I admit it – I indulged in peanut M&Ms yesterday.  Somehow they made it into our house with other Valentine’s Day treats, and, while I know how sugary and how bad they are for me, I had one.  And then another.  And by the time I knew it I had eaten a large handful. And I still wanted more!  The sugar monster had hit.

While I am glad that I didn’t eat the whole bag (more on that below), the damage is done.  Today I am tired and even a little weepy from those darn M&Ms.  While it was the chocolately taste that tickled my taste buds, they contain a whopping 22 grams of sugar per serving.  My normal 70% dark chocolate bar only has 13 grams.  That’s a big difference!

You see, sugar is like crack.  It’s an uplifting food that makes you feel GREAT immediately after eating it, which is why we love it so much.  But, then, without notice is smacks you back down to the earth again with a thud (we’ve all been there about 30 minutes after eating a donut, right?).  It’s and up and down roller coaster but somehow we just want more and more of it.  To top off the evil effects of this monster, we still feel some nasty symptoms the next day with dark circles, mood swings, and an energy drain.

So, you guys are probably wondering, how DID you tame the M&M sugar monster and not eat the whole bag (like we all want to do)?  I put on my health coach cap and

  • I took a breath and thought of the consequences.
    While my mouth was screaming to have a party RIGHT THEN with that bag of M&Ms, I knew that my body would rebel later and be bloated, constipated and moody (all qualities which are SO sexy).  I knew I was going to celebrate Valentine’s Day  with Dave in the evening with some champagne and romance and I didn’t want to feel fat and icky.
  • I found a better alternative.
    Dave, knowing my chocoholic tendencies, gave me a nice bar of 70% dark chocolate (yep – the one with only 13 grams of sugar per serving).  I went ahead and had a small square of that, and you know what? One tiny square was enough.  Dark chocolate, the REALLY good kind that is at least 70% cocoa, is rich and satisfying with a much smaller amount (which means less calories and less sugar!).
  • I drank a big glass of water and waited a few minutes.
    Just to make sure those M&Ms wouldn’t call my name again, I decided to wash it all down with pure, clean water.  Water is SUCH a powerful tool in actively bringing us to health!  I did something loving for myself my getting some extra hydration (always a good thing!) and then pausing.  And, it worked – chocolate was no longer on my brain and I could focus on looking forward to that champagne and a nice night with Dave.

Whew – lesson learned.  No more peanut M&Ms in my future.  Only food that fuels me to my utmost potential, because I am worth it.

What challenges do you have with sugar?  How do you deal with them? I’d love to hear from you, so please post your comments below.

Do you need support around taming your cravings?  Contact me for a complementary 30-minute Wanna Eat Well Discovery Session and we’ll kiss those sugar blues away.

Hugs,
Heather

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Healthy People Don’t Just Happen

Many times I get bewildered looks when I pass up a glass of wine or tell people that my workouts are a treat instead of a chore.  They just kind of look at me like I’ve gone off the deep end and can’t imagine why I would rather make a different choice than them:  A choice that may seem against-the-grain, un-fun, or mightier-than-thou.  These people want me to partake and “have fun” and want to feel validated that they are OK in their own choices.

What they don’t seem to get is that it’s not about them.  I’m not trying to make anyone feel badly about their choices.  I’m not the food police.  What they choose to eat or drink is their choice, just like what I choose to eat or drink is my choice.  I am solely responsible for what I put in my mouth.  And, because of the health journey that I am on, 90% of the time I choose to put things in my body that will fill it with light and energy instead of leave it bloated and gassy.  Yep – 90% of the time I choose to be KIND to my body. And many times this means making choices that are different than the majority of people. (And yes, there is 10% in there for indulgences – none of us are perfect!  I’ll have that drink or those corn chips sometimes.)

When I was younger I EXPECTED health to happen. I had absolutely no regard or reverence for my body and how it should be treated.  I just thought I could keep ‘on truckin’ no matter what I fed myself or how I lived my life.

  • I drank at least 4 cups of coffee each morning and then switched to Diet Coke for lunch and then wondered why I was wired at night.
  • I had a huge sweet tooth and indulged frequently and then didn’t understand my up and down mood swings.
  • I didn’t get enough sleep but expected my brain to function normally.
  • I didn’t get enough fresh air and felt depressed from being inside so much.
  • I ate fast food and expected my body to digest it perfectly.
  • I didn’t take enough time to meditate or to just “be.”  I thought I needed to go-go-go all the time.
  • I had a low tolerance for stress but my life was pretty stressful.

Basically, I was like most busy people are today.  Going.  Going,  Going. Doing.  Doing,  Doing.  Rushing,  Rushing,  Rushing.  Not sleeping or being or thinking about how their actions impact their well-being.

It wasn’t until my body started rebelling on me that I had to wake up and smell the roses.  For me, my body rebelled through my digestive system.  But, for others the rebellion could come through headaches, joint pain, high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, stiff muscles, mood swings, weight gain, overwhelm or any number of other ailments.  Our bodies desperately want to be in balance, and when they get out of balance, they scream at us in their own way.

But what do most people do when these ailments creep?  They take a pill.  They turn towards a quick-fix powder or drink.  After all that’s what society has trained us to do.  The pill or other quick-fix may pacify the physical pain, but it won’t get to the root of the issue.  What we all really need to do is to listen to our bodies and say, “What are you trying to tell me?”

When I woke up and started to listen to my aching body, I began making choices accordingly.  I knew that the glass of wine may may me feel lethargic the next day when I had something important to do.  I learned which foods would sustain me without causing digestive upset.  I realized the importance of taking time to take care of myself.  After all – if I didn’t take care of myself – who would?

And, many of those choices weren’t (and aren’t) easy.  It’s fun to stay up really late and chat with Dave but then our lack of sleep slaps us in the face the next day.  It’s easier to slack off heading to the gym, but I my body always thanks me when I go.  It’s sometimes hard to pass up the queso at a party, but my belly definitely thanks me for it the next day.

Now that I am a health coach, I help people make these seemingly hard decisions in their life.  At first it’s difficult for them to be the “healthy one” or the “weird one.”  They feel awkward and out of place.  But, little by little, a transformation begins to happen.  As they begin to notice exactly how good they feel with their new found changes, they don’t want to go back.  They “get it.”  They have caught the healthy kick.  And, while it’s not always the most socially acceptable way to live in today’s world – it’s definitely the “feel-best” one.   And that’s the train I want to be on!

Do you need some support around the food and lifestyle choices that you are making in your life?  Contact me for a complementary 30-minute Wanna Eat Well Discovery Session.

Here’s to healthy choices and the feel-good train,
Heather

Posted in Holistic Health Tips, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Stay Thin with these Thin Mints (vegan and gluten free)

Yep – it’s STILL Girl Scout Cookie time.  And, while I help Kate sell her stock of Girl Scout cookies as she learns how to handle money, how to talk to customers, and the art of being professional, I am secretly cringing inside because I am hearing comments like,

“Oh – these won’t make it home – I’ll just go eat them all in my car”

“I grab a sleeve (of Thin Mints) and give a sleeve to my daughter and we eat them all”

“Ugh – I’m trying to lose weight after the holidays but but I can’t resist these”

My heart is breaking.  I used to be just as addicted to Girl Scout Cookies as the rest of the world.  Yes – they taste delicious!  I know the feeling of not being able to just eat a few but wanting to eat the whole box.  And I also know the guilt and the ickiness after having eaten too many.  BUT,  I’m on a mission – it’s one to allow you to have a delicious dessert but to give you a healthier, more kind option for your body.

A light bulb went on last night when my family and I were talking about other homemade Girl Scout cookies that I could make. Nathan said, “Mom, why don’t you make a homemade Thin Mint from your no-bake dark chocolate brownie recipe?  BINGO.  My son is brilliant! I ran to the store to get ingredients and started experimenting away.

What I came up with is pure YUM.  AND – with that yummy taste comes the power of dates.  Check out how great dates are:

  • One Medjool date has 17 milligrams of potassium and 15 milligrams of calcium  (You won’t find those in plain ol’ white sugar!).
  • Dates have one of the highest antioxidant contents of any fruit or vegetable, which protects the body against degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
  • Dates have a high fiber content, and practitioners of Chinese medicine have long used dates to improve physical conditions such as stomachache, abdominal pain and anemia.

Homemade Thin Mints

1 cup raw walnuts
6-8 large Medjool dates, pitted**
1/2 cup pure cocoa powder (no added milk or any other ingredients)
2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

  1. Place walnuts in a food processor and blend until the nuts are finely ground.
  2. Add cocoa and process until everything is evenly combined – you might have to scrape the sides down.
  3. With the motor running, drop dates one by one through the feed tube until the mixture comes together.  Start with 6 dates.
  4. Add vanilla, peppermint, and maple syrup.  Mix and check consistency.  It should be sticking together and look a little like play dough.
  5. If mixture is crumbly, add additional 2 dates and process until it looks like this:
  6. Transfer the mixture into a small pan.  Mold into the pan and refrigerate for at least half an hour before cutting.
  7. If desired, cut into circles with a cookie cutter or simply slice into sqaures. You can eat these cold, or allow them to come to room temperature, which I prefer

Enjoy!  My family LOVED these, and this is a dessert I don’t feel guilty about indulging in myself.  They are very rich, so a little goes a long way.  Mmmmm – thin mints…..

**Note that these have a slightly oily texture to them – I experimented with using less versus more dates and we all agreed that the extra dates gave the cookie a much smoother texture and was more pleasing on the tongue.  But, as I mentioned, start with less dates (6 – ish) and work your way up to get the consistency you want.

Do you want to learn how to cook more, delicious food like this, or are you just needing some support with your food choices?  Contact me for a complementary 30-minute Wanna Eat Well Discovery Session.

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15 Ways to Get Slow

I’m at an extremely exciting time in my life right now.  My health coaching practice is growing and blossoming in so many wonderful ways, my health is fantastic and I feel much younger than my real age (which won’t be revealed here!), my kids are at a super-duper age where I absolutely love their independent, pre-teen selves, Dave and I are happily going on 17 years of marriage, and I am happy.  Yep – life is swell, but sometimes, like this past week, I get slightly out of balance and I need to be a health coach to myself.

You see, while things are going so well, I am doings lots of things for my business that are hard for me – networking, marketing myself, and gaining exposure.  I’m also still keeping up with my studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition while also trying to exercise, cook, and take care of all the things my family needs while also staying SANE.  And, this week, my body rebelled a little:  my stomach hurt.

Woah.  After my struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and all the embarrassment and discomfort (well, OK – PAIN) that comes with that, I thought I was cured.  And, for all intensive purposes, I am cured.    However, life is constantly in motion and we are all along a fabulous journey in it.  We are constantly changing and sometimes with change we may get out of balance.  For me, I get out of balance in my gut.  It’s my body’s way of telling me, “Hey, you are not being very nice to me right now. ”

Luckily for me I’m a health coach and I am taking my own advice.  Since I’ve been putting my health as a priority for the past several years, I am aware enough to listen to my body and to say, “Oh, OK body – I guess I better be a little nicer to you.”  So, what did I do?  I got slow.

What? Getting slow means taking time to smell the roses.  It means escaping the crazy, hurried rat race that we all live in these days.   Chillaxing.  Taking a little R&R.  Nurturing myself back to balance.

So, I put on my health coaching cap and implemented some of my getting slow suggestions.  Here’s some of my favorite ways to get slow.

  1. Get a massage (or have your significant other rub your shoulders for 10 minutes).
  2. Take a walk (even a 10 minute one).
  3. Have a cup of herbal tea and savor it.
  4. Eat a piece of dark chocolate and see how long you can stretch out the experience.
  5. Read a  trashy magazine or a chapter in a good book.
  6. Take 3 deep, cleansing breaths – anywhere, anytime.
  7. Write in a journal (I call this a brain dump).
  8. Pet the cat.
  9. Hug someone.
  10. Call a friend.
  11. Meditate.
  12. Treat yourself (yes, it is a treat!) to your favorite form of exercise.
  13. Watch Glee (or whatever upbeat show or movie you REALLY love).
  14. Make yourself something yummy but good for you to eat (so you won’t feel guilty afterwards).
  15. Paint your nails (or better yet, get a mani or pedi).

I could go on and on.  The important thing here is to get slow in a way that YOU enjoy.  Us women take so little time for self care, yet it is so very important.  When we take care of ourselves, we can be fully present for the people and things in our life that matter to us.  Without taking such care, we are really a shell of our best selves and we are cheating those around us to the best relationship possible with us – that we are truly 100% present and experiencing life to the fullest.

You know what? After I took my own advice (with the help of my unofficial health coach Lori) I feel better – more balanced.  Thanks Lori.  🙂

Have you ever felt like you need some support around your health?  Contact me to schedule a 30-minute Wanna Eat Well Discovery Session and we’ll walk through your challenges.  I am balanced now and here for ya!

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Homemade Girl Scout Cookies – vegan and gluten free

It’s Girl Scout cookie time!  Woohoo!  Thin Mints!  Caramel Delights!  And, my personal nemesis, the oh so dangerous Peanut Butter Patties.  Yep – the Girl Scouts know how to hit ya when you’re down right?  Just when we are all getting back on track with healthy habits after the holidays, then WHAM!  Those adorable girls are on every corner with cookies to sell. And we want to support them, don’t we?  It’s for a good cause so buying and eating just one box won’t hurt right?

But then what happens?  You buy just ONE box of your favorites and you eat them.  You feel bloated and icky and you hate yourself for falling off the bandwagon.  And then, you see more Girl Scouts and figure that you are already being bad so one more box won’t hurt and you buy another box (maybe a different flavor this time).  Pretty soon you are a few pounds heavier, your stomach hurts and your pants are tight.  UGH!

I want to support the Girl Scouts too – I actually have one adorable Girl Scout who is very excited to unload all her cookies and practice her business skills.  But, I can’t and won’t eat those cookies.  Do you know that those cookies are loaded with sugar, chemicals and yes, even trans fat?

So, what to do?  These adorable girls need our support!

Purchase a box or three for Operation Cookie or for any other charity that the girls are selling cookies for. 

In our troop, the girls are selling them for local fire fighters.  Let those hard workers get the calories and the trans fat!  Then, come home and make this DELICIOUSLY easy recipe for homemade Caramel Delights that my wonderful sister-in-law Cris Breshears sent to me:

Pure food deliciousness without all the guilt

Homemade Caramel Delights

  • 20 pitted dates
  • 1/2 C  unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 C gluten-free oatmeal
  • 1/4 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 C dairy free, gluten-free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy-Life brand).
  1. In food processor blend oatmeal until it is a flour-like consistency.
  2. Add in all other ingredients and process (and yes, make sure the dates are pitted!).  Mixture should still be crumbly but should smoosh together when pressed.  If it’s too crumbly, add another date.
  3. Spoon into plastic bag or onto waxed paper and form into cookies.  You can form these into small 1″ z 1″ squares (which I prefer), granola bar size, or roll into logs and then slice into “cookies.”  (Note that these are very sweet, so start small!)
  4. Enjoy a pure, whole food cookie made with only pure, whole food and nothing artificial to bring you down – just pure deliciousness!

Rating:  A!  These are a wonderfully sweet and yummy alternative.  My Girl Scout can’t get enough! And, not only is she NOT getting sugar and chemicals, she is getting fiber, iron, and antioxidants from the dates (things she WON’T be getting from those other cookies).  Now that’s what I call a dessert made for a Girl Scout champ!

Would you like to learn how to make deliciously healthy food like this?  Join me for my Wanna Cook Well Club!  Details here.

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7 Tips for Feeling Fabulous While on the Road – part 7

Hey there!  WOOHOO!  Tip #7 is here, as is Christmas.  While you are busy remembering all the other helpful things to do while you are on your trip, like

#1  Take healthy snacks with you
#2 Plan in advance for meals
#3  Stay hydrated
#4  Take a probiotic
#5  Avoid a food hangover
#6  Indulge in self care

#7 is one of the simplest to KNOW to do but one of the hardest to actually do.  Are you ready?  It’s to rest before your trip.  Yep, I know for those of you moms out there this sounds like a crazy one, right?  Most of you rush around all night the night before you leave trying to get everything ready.  But, then you start out the trip

  • Exhausted, thinking you can catch up on sleep (but somehow that never happens)
  • Emotional, because you’ve been up all night and fatigue makes you teary
  • Craving bad food due to the fatigue

Is that an way to feel fabulous on your trip?  I don’t think so.

Here’s a tip I find useful for me.  I know that it takes my body about 2-3 days to “catch-up” with my activities.  This means that is I don’t get sleep on Monday, then I am OK on Tuesday but feeling it on Wednesday and/or Thursday.  It also means that if I have some not-so-good foods for me on a certain day that I will be feeling the negative effects of that food about 2-3 days later.  This timeline could be different for you.

The point is to be AWARE that your pre-trip food and lifestyle choices (i.e. to sleep or not to sleep) could really impact how your feel on your trip.  So, if possible, get lots of rest and be kind to yourself before you head out of town.  Your body will thank you!

Happy, Happy Holidays and Hugs!

Heather

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7 Tips for Feeling Fabulous While on the Road – Part 6

Wow – less than a week until Christmas!  If you are busy packing then you really don’t wan’t to miss out on this tip.  But first, here’s a reminder of other tips to keep in mind while preparing for and doing on your trip:

#1  Take healthy snacks with you
#2 Plan in advance for meals
#3  Stay hydrated
#4  Take a probiotic
#5  Avoid a food hangover

Tip #6 is my favorite.  It’s almost like a treat to yourself.  It’s to indulge in self care while you are there.  Traveling is hard on your body, as is being on a different schedule and eating different foods and sleeping in a different bed.  Most of us think that we should take advantage of our trip by staying up late, eating rich foods, and drinking too much.  But then after a few days we may feel tired, cranky, and blah.  Is that any way to enjoy your hard earned trip?

Here’s a few easy suggestions for self care while on the road:

Take luxurious lotions and bath salts with you.  Many of us try to pack light, especially with the airline regulations on liquids these days.  We think we can just use the hotel shampoo, etc.  But, doesn’t it make you feel so much better to use your own nice stuff?  Wouldn’t a nice hot bath with your favorite bath salts be a WONDERFUL way to recharge after a long flight or road trip?  Don’t skimp on these, and then be sure to use them once you get there to give yourself a little extra love.

Take at least 20 minutes for yourself everyday.  This could be taking a walk by yourself, reading a good book, taking a bath, etc.  It’s a time to recharge.  Usually on trips you are spending a lot more time with your family than you usually do.  While this is great, it can also lead to short tempers.  By taking time out for yourself, you can be fully present and enjoy your time with them to the fullest!

Make yourself comfy.  This could mean bringing your own pillow, bringing a hot water bottle or heating pad, or ensuring you have enough blankets.  By allowing yourself to truly rest and get a good night’s sleep, you will wake up refreshed each day.

These tips, to some, may seem selfish.  Yep, they are.  As the funny motivational speaker Colette Carlson says:  The -ish in selfish stands for “I Stay Healthy.”  Be a little selfish on your trip and your family will thank you!

Want to Double Your Energy in Three Simple Steps in the New Year?  Join me for a free teleconference on Thursday, January 5 at 8:00 p.m. CST.  Register here

Hugs and Happy Holidays,
Heather

 

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