Achieving Health and Wellness Resolutions, Step 2: Choose Better Behaviors

Once you’ve been choosing better food (Step #1) on a regular basis, choosing better behaviors comes more naturally.  You’ll find you want to choose actions that support health and wellness because the food you’re eating is already doing so.  You’re seeing the difference in how your body feels, performs, and looks.  You’re feeling the difference in your energy, mood, and outlook.  So why stop there?

Choosing better behaviors, like choosing better food, doesn’t have to be radical or painful.  Once again, consistent, small actions and steps lead to permanent change.  You weren’t born with the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day were you?  But now if you didn’t brush your teeth in the morning, you just wouldn’t feel right…right?

After choosing better food and behaviors become part of your lifestyle, you’ll feel out of sync when you don’t.  Your body and mind will crave nutritious food and supportive behaviors because they’ve enjoyed the benefits–they feel the difference–and prefer health and wellness.  You won’t just achieve your health and wellness resolutions, you’ll go beyond by living them.

Move your body. Every day.

Photo by K.C. © 2012 Kristin Conroy

While lengthy and/or intense exercise is necessary to strengthen your heart and build up your cardio endurance, you don’t have to go to the gym to feel the benefits of moving your body.

Chase your kids or pets around the yard, dance through the house to your favorite music while you clean, do a few easy yoga moves you remember from class, go outside and stretch your arms up to the sky a few times.  Do something that feels good.

When you are officially working out and not particularly enjoying it, concentrate on the benefits that moving your body gives you…circulation of oxygen and blood, firming of muscles, flow of happy endorphins, reduction in stress, and better sleep at night.

A body that moves every day is more flexible, powerful, and energized.  You’ll be surprised how those qualities will carry over to your mind.  Our bodies and minds are connected, so treating your physical self well will also benefit your thinking self.

Feed your body every 3 hours.

Photo by K.C. © 2012 Kristin Conroy

Yes, you heard me right.  Every 3 hours.  Eating small meals more often revs up your metabolism, maintains your blood sugar level, and tames hunger so that you’re more likely to make better food and behavior choices later.  It’s a heck of a lot easier to maintain balance and moderation when you’re thinking clearly and not starving.

Making this change in my eating behavior made a huge difference in my health and wellness.  At first I was dubious when my personal trainer boyfriend (now my husband) suggested it to me.  I was worried I’d gain weight eating so often.  Not only did I not gain weight, I actually lost weight…without ever being hungry and eating more food in a day than I ever had on a “diet.”  Any time I tested his theory by going back to my old dieting ways, I was miserable because I was depriving myself and my weight would creep up.  It only took a few tests to convince myself his way was better!

Most of these small meals are going to be snacks.  Just a little something to keep you going, like a piece of fruit, handful of almonds, or a protein shake.  I always have a bar in my purse or bag.  My first choice is one with simple ingredients, like LARABAR.  They’re made of raw fruit, nuts, and spices that combine into delightful flavors like Ginger Snap, Carrot Cake, and Coconut Cream Pie.  No soy, no weirdness (also no gluten or dairy).  When I start to feel hungry and I’m on the go, I take a bite of my bar and keep going.  Eating smart snacks keeps you fueled up and on the right track.

Feed your soul.

Photo by K.C. © 2012 Kristin Conroy

Primary nourishment is just as important as food nourishment.  Primary nourishment fulfills your mind and soul.  (Click here for a post I wrote on this subject.)  Taking a relaxing bath, talking to a good friend, receiving a warm hug, communing with nature, fulfilling your creative side…these are all ways to feed yourself, to completely nourish yourself.  You are not just your body.  When you fulfill your need for primary nourishment, you’re less likely to continue or adopt “bad” habits or behaviors.

If you feel guilty about taking time to relax, recharge, or re-inspire because of your responsibilities, think of it this way:  You can’t give 100% to others if you’re not at 100%.  If you take care of your needs, you’ll be a better friend, spouse, parent, employee…you’ll basically be a better person all around!

Seek balance and moderation in everything you do.

Photo by Anatoli Styf

This was one of the hardest concepts for me.  I had a tendency to be O.C.D.–Obsessive, Competitive, and Down-on-myself.  I still have those tendencies, as they’re part of my personality, but it’s rarely a problem when I focus on maintaining balance and moderation.

Our bodies and minds are like nature; too much of anything (and not enough of something) throws off the delicate system of balance, harmony, and synergy.  Too much food, too much activity, and too much stress lead to imbalance and has consequences we can feel.  Too little food, too little activity, and too little stress (in this case, stimulation) also leads to imbalance and has consequences we can feel.  So you see, it’s not just about what you eat (choosing better food) and do (choosing better behaviors).  It’s how much that matters too.

4 Wintertime Tips for a Healthy, Holistic Kitchen

Just as our wardrobes change as we transition into winter, so should our homes.  One of the most important places to make a few tweaks is in the kitchen.  I asked natural foods chef, Andrea Beaman, and organic recipe queen, Carrie Vitt, for their top wintertime tips for creating a healthy, holistic kitchen.

1.  Stock up on bone broths

“For me a holistic healthy kitchen in the winter time includes lots of homemade stock in the freezer (fish stock, chicken stock, duck stock).  It’s a great mineral and amino acid rich broth to use in warming soups and stews.  I think stocks are so important to any home kitchen that I have an entire chapter dedicated to stocks in my new book: Health is Wealth – Make a Delicious Investment in You!

~ Andrea Beaman, Natural Foods Chef, author, and television host dedicated to alternative healing and green, sustainable living.  Try her Basic Beef Bone Stock and Chicken Stock.

Carrie's chicken stock recipe in action

I always keep it [homemade chicken stock] on hand in the freezer for when the first sign of a cold arrives.

~ Carrie Vitt, author of Deliciously Organic: Simple Dishes, Vibrant Flavors Everyone will LoveShe makes a tasty immune-building chicken stock that incorporates the whole bird (cooked chicken and broth, a two-fer!). 

2.  Cook with coconut oil

Carrie often uses coconut oil when whipping up one of her fabulously healthy meals because of its antiviral properties.  It’s also safe for high heat cooking, making it a great all-purpose cooking oil.  When the temperatures drop, coconut oil will solidify; but it melts easily.

Side note:  As I mentioned in this post, I use coconut oil (separate batch for hygiene) as a moisturizer too.  It melts in seconds when applied to skin warm from a hot shower.  It’s antiviral/antibacterial properties work topically too, so you’re moisturizing and protecting at the same time.

3.  Keep immune-boosting supplements on hand

Carrie also recommends her favorite vitamin C powder–Pure Radiance C, made from organic and wild berries–as a supplement to support immune health during flu season.

I swear by Thieves Essential Oil blend from Young Living.  It has 100% therapeutic-grade essential oils of clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary that combine to deliver antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial protection.  During times of stress (hello holidays!) and flu season this oil, along with Inner Defense Softgels (which also contain Thieves but with oregano, thyme, and lemongrass) give me a fighting chance of staying healthy.

4.  Sharpen your knife skills

No, you don’t need to practice knife throwing or even perfect your slicing technique.  All you have to do is sharpen your main prep knife.  Why?  Dull knives don’t just make hard winter veggies difficult to cut, they are a more serious hazard to your health than sharp knives.  Most knife injuries occur due to dull blades, which need more pressure to cut, making it more likely for the knife to slip off food and cut your hand instead.  Not a jolly good time.  If you don’t have a knife sharpener (or don’t know how to use the one you have), you can get them sharpened at hardware stores, cooking retailers, and some restaurants.  A Japanese restaurant in my neighborhood offers the service for $5.00. (These are NYC prices, so they’re probably cheaper elsewhere.)  No excuses…remain sharp for safety!

5 Easy Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle in a Time of Change

[tweetmeme]

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=healthy+food&iid=5264848″ src=”9/6/7/4/Woman_preparing_food_b7c4.jpg?adImageId=11371791&imageId=5264848″ width=”380″ height=”380″ /]Here’s another guest post on the topic of staying balanced and healthy during periods of change.  (Click here to see the previous post on this topic.)  The following article is from Diane Sanfilippo, a holistic lifestyle coach in San Francisco, California.

I’m a big fan of change. As much as I am a total creature of habit, nothing thrills me like making big changes in my life. Even sometimes all at once. I call it “shaking the snow globe.” I make the decision to change a lot of things at once, essentially tossing all those snowflakes up and then seeing how they fall when they settle into place. This makes me think of that old Brady Bunch song? They sing about change and how to handle it. And, yes, I really am quoting the Brady Bunch. Come on, I’m a child of the eighties, I’m allowed.

When it’s time to change then it’s time to change.

Don’t fight the tide, come along for the ride, don’t you see?

When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange.

Who you are into what you’re gonna be.

When we make changes in our lives, or when they happen around us, it can cause a lot of inner turmoil, too. And I don’t just mean making your head spin with ideas and questions. I mean, your digestion can suffer under the stress. Even if it’s “good stress,” to your body, stress is stress.

My 5 Easy Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle in a Time of Change:

  1. Hydrate! If there’s only one thing you can think about besides how hectic life has become, make it water. Get as much clean, fresh water in as you possibly can. If you don’t love the taste of plain water, try dropping in a strawberry or squeezing in some lemon or other citrus for a refreshing change of pace. Most of us aren’t drinking nearly enough water as it is, and stress will deplete your stores even faster. Keeping hydrated will go a long way in helping your body maintain inner peace while your world may spinning around you.

  2. Plan! You know you’re going to be cut short on time when things are more hectic in your life. Think ahead a couple of days when you get to the grocery store and grab items that you can put together for meals and snacks that you can prep or cook once and eat several times. Maybe this means buying a whole roasted chicken that you can pick on for a few meals, or grabbing extra nuts and dried fruit. Either way, remember that you’ll be eating several times a day and that never changes- so plan for it and you’ll be equipped.
  3. Choose fresh! Fresh foods will nourish your body and leave you more hydrated than things like crackers or chips. Plus, clearly they provide more nutrient value and your body will be craving the vitamins when under stress.
  4. Add Vitamin C! Did you know that Vitamin C is quickly depleted in the body when you’re under stress? According to an article in Psychology Today:

    The vitamin helps reduce both the physical and psychological effects of stress on people. People who have high levels of vitamin C do not show the expected mental and physical signs of stress when subjected to acute psychological challenges. What’s more, they bounce back from stressful situations faster than people with low levels of vitamin C in their blood. (Source: Psychology Today)

    Some of the best food sources of vitamin C include: parsley, broccoli, bell pepper, strawberries, oranges, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.
    (Source: whfoods.com)

  5. Keep your eye on the prize! For many of us, our healthy habits can be the first to slip when we feel we have too much going on to focus on our food. We blame it on time and say we’ll get back on track later, but that’s one of the biggest mistakes we can make. Taking the small amount of time to think about and plan for our meals will alleviate physical and mental stress later because our bodies will be well nourished and fueled.

What changes are you making in your life right now? I have big changes on the horizon myself, so I’ll be taking my own advice and keeping my health as a priority so that I can power through them with vigor.

Get more information about maintaining a healthy diet through changes in your life by contacting me today to get started with Holistic Lifestyle & Nutrition Coaching.

Enjoy & be well!
Diane Sanfilippo
Owner, Balanced Bites Holistic Nutrition & Wellness
C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach

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