Life

How Female Insecurity Adds to our Weight Woes

“Do I look fat in this?”

We women tend to ask questions we already know the answers to. And often we're not necessarily asking for  answers we don’t know but for the ones we want to hear.

The feminine species can be tricky sort.

Sometimes we play games. Sometimes we ask the right questions (and probably in just the right way, in just the worst scenarios) to get the right answers. And sometimes we like to nurture a little thing called insecurity.

A women’s level of self-confidence and esteem has an impact in just about every aspect of her life; her choice of clothing, her facial expressions, her job performance, her interaction with other women, her interactions with men, her sense of drive behind the wheel, her eating habits and possibly even her tweets. Yes, we women can gear a lot in life simply by how we view ourselves. The power of insecurity can be paralyzing, affecting the way we communicate, conduct ourselves and even may have a domino affect our progress in attaining a healthy weight.

If we haven’t been that girl asking those question, (which whohasn’t at some point) we’ve all known someone who’s questions and conversations are directed in such a way to edify themselves on a regular basis. Truly it’s a common mind game we like to throw on one another (and it’s exactly the kind of behavior women in my family have no problem calling each other out on) but it is also often the rooted insecurities we culture in our minds that wind up complicating so much more in life than is necessary, even possibly our weight.

It’s no shock to most of us that we are our worst critics, but we also are our worst enemies. Functioning in such thought patterns of self-doubt disables our ability to move forward, accomplish and achieve much of anything. Really spending the time we do analyzing, sorting and making a science out the simple task of “eating well” derails us into more emotional frustrations than our mind can contain, so tasks as simple as changing eating habits or being more active become like science formulas to us that we can’t unlock. (And instead we buy into the health industry, who’s books, diets and programs feed most everyone the same crap in just different forms. ) Women can also allow such a self-image to discourage them, feeling that they aren’t good enough or of a certain status to be worthy of a healthy and happy life. This creates a sort of cynicism to the idea of being happy and healthy for some females, as if it’s unattainable and far-fetched, as if it’s a joke. If we were to view ourselves as deserving and capable of a healthy weight, of a healthy and happy life, the steps to getting there would probably look entirely different, as would our view of physical fitness and emotional well-being.

More than likely, nothing and no one effects our weight loss efforts more than our level of self-confidence. Insecurity keeps us from doing what we love, dreaming of to reach for next and essentially living life. So with all these trickling effects of insecurity, could a healthy image of self play a key role in obtaining healthier habits, weight loss goals and overall holistic health? Now, why would I ask a question I already know the answer to?

The Stress-Eating Effect

At various points in life I’ve definitely been a stress eater, a closet-stress eater if you will. Sometimes I almost planned and strategized my stress eating for very specific days, in specific setting with very specific foods (surprise, surprise for those who know me.). I’ve gone in and out of these seasons like a singer with a bad smoking addiction.

But life can be stressful. Food can be momentarily comforting. We can’t eat perfect all the time, right? These are things I'd always tell myself, especially after any stress-induced noshing. Somehow this reasoning had a way  to make such indulgences completely justifiable.

Speaking of stress, let’s just say I wanted this post up, like, last Tuesday, the very morning my week was hit (once again) with just that. sTreSs! Ironically, of all the things I had planned to next post on was the  effects of stress-eating. It was just that kind of week.  The one that would make a great movie. Who knows. Maybe one day it will ...

Sidenote: Life gets a lot easier when you just learn to laugh at these crazy moments/seasons.

There have been days lately that would've turned the Kristin of 4 or 5 years ago, into reasoning a Oreo-peanut-butter-dipping, chocolate stashed bowl, cookie evening frenzy. You can just ask a certain former college roommate just how these evenings went. Sometimes I feel I've been bad influence with my bizarre eating habits.

Uncertain patterns of life collide with our eating habits, creating less than healthy attachmenst and daily rituals with our food, no matter what it is your polishing off. Stress eating is more than just simply sulking after a breakup with a can of Redi Whip and Ben & Jerry's while viewing a rerun of Jerry MacGuire. It's running out the door scarfing down toast for breakfast when your late for work, scarfing chips while waiting on dinner to arrive because you haven't eaten since noon or stuffing your face with chocolate chip cookies on fridays nights because the week has finally come to an end and no one is around tell you you can’t! Been there. Done that.

Our society lives in a perpetual state of stress we’ve become dumb to. Yet when stress isn't dealt with it’s effects are  going to to show up regardless. And if it’s not your crappy attitude, it’s likely going to be your waistline.

The past few months, when life has hit me blindside, I’ve tried to make a more conscious effort of my settings and moods when I eat.  Few in our Americanized culture truly know how to live in the moment let alone enjoy meals at a pace our bodies can  keep up with what’s being shoveled in. When stress isn’t dealt with and we continue to feed such emotions (literally), we’re just propelling a vicious cycle.

Last month Psychology Today titled This Is Why We’re Fat & Sick: Stress in America:

Americans are more stressed and more unhappy than our counterparts in other countries. According to Columbia University's First World Happiness Report, the United States does not even make the top 10 in happiness rankings, logging in at number 11, behind Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. And our level of happiness has remained about the same for decades. As Paul Rosch, a clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College and president of the non-profit American Institute of Stress in Yonkers, N.Y., succinctly puts it, "We have more or less accepted it as a way of life..."

And, accept, I’d rather not.

The more we are aware of these tiny inhibits on our healthy, hopefully, the more we can make a conscious effort to change our currents state of stress. And it sounds like there may be more to change than just our level of stress...

Females, Food, our Freak'n Crazy Minds (& why bv is back)

“If I took all the time I’ve spent thinking about calories I could’ve learned Japanese!”

Through my healthy, mindful seasons and my not so healthy, not so mindful season it was sickening when I read that sentence and realized how much French I could’ve learned by now. Just how much time we women can waste worrying food, how much we ate, what to eat, when to eat, how to eat to fix how we ate earlier - it is mentally exhausting.

One study shows women think about dieting more than relationships and sex (if that gives you guys any ideas just how much we obsess over it). After trying nearly every cleanse, elimination diet and every quirky personal tactic I could to tackle discontent with my body, I discovered at the root, food was really not the problem. Organic, gluten-free, local or not, there were deeper issues with my frustrations than just eating right. Linked to all my pitfalls, and weight gain were my warped emotions, mind-set and outlook on life.

It’s no news now, but “dieting” isn’t the permanent solution. Still I constantly found myself in a cycle of “needing a good cleanse” or “detox.” Call it what you will, but ultimately it was making life more difficult than it needed to be. Why do we feel it necessary to restrict so much just to wind up overindulging and again return to this “need to cleanse myself”? It (and I) was becoming nonsensical. In the past I had embraced a healthy way of eating and living, yet somehow stumbled back into this bottomless pit of trying to perfect the way I eat. It was time to explore  these innate wrestling matches with my body that I couldn't seem to shake off and simply stop dieting, detoxing, cleansing... you get the picture.

We think about food and our weight way too much. We’ve allowed an obsession with perfection to either make us legalistic in our diets or just throw in the towel altogether. But there is something much more rewarding than perfection. Truth is your ideal body will never be perfect, because NO. ONE. IS.

While you can’t be perfect (and do not need to be) there is something more enriching and freeing. It is about “living,” not perfectly, but better. We have to start somewhere.

Enjoy Holiday Feasting without Letting Yourself Go

Tonight you might be scarfing down swedish meatballs and several helpings of Auntie Mae’s special brownies, but come January 1st you’re getting a membership and losing 10 pounds. Afterall “Tomorrow is another day.”

So yes, at every party you’re going to help yourself to another glass of eggnog with an extra helping of sugar cookies. Already you’ve committed to a gym membership, a carb-free diet and a guaranteed horrible time working out to strip the extra holiday weight from your body. Isn’t that how every American starts their new year?

Maybe most of us succumb to gaining weight every Christmas more than we have to.  ‘Tis the season. But before facing the holidays feeling totally powerless to maintain some kind of restraint, or healthy mindset rather, when faced with a never-ending Christmas smorgasbord, here are a few suggestions to approaching Christmas and New Years celebrations without completely losing yourself.... (or gaining another self, rather.)

1.Eat when you’re hungry -

I know - groundbreaking. While it sounds like a obvious idea, those who actually eat 3 meals a day or more (snacks don’t hurt) are probably the minority. By eating before you’re famished you’re more likely to savor, choose wisely and actually enjoy your meals.

Some of us girls like to micro-manage the way we eat and for most guys it’s just convenient to skip a meal if you know there’s going to be free food in 3 hours. Overall there’s this idea that by skimping on breakfast or keeping lunch to a minimum of a bowl of salad, we’re somehow leaving room for a third helping of pecan pie later tonight. Trouble there is, you can’t really outsmart your gut. So try listening to it. Eat when you’re hungry, which is probably more often than not. Stop when you’re satisfied. Simple.

2. Don’t save the gym for Jan. 1st.

An effective workout doesn’t have to be a P90x sweat session with Tony Horton everyday (thank God!)You don’t need a trainer or gym membership to stay active through the next week. In 20 minutes you can get a decent workout at home on days when you’re crunched for time, though 30 - 60 is always ideal. Recently I’ve enjoyed short cardio circuit sessions by James Duigan. Wait til you get to the “burpee” on the link below and 20 minutes will be more than enough.

Here are some ideas for simple & quick workouts -

3. Forget about deprivation & diets

I can’t count the number of holidays I’ve faced thinking, “Ok, after vacation I’ll nix this and that and feel better.” I’ve done the whole no sugar, dairy, processed foods cleanse thing a handful of times and while there are endless benefits to this, the aftermath of supressing every urge for chocolate or cookies can get you in more of a mess than where you first began. You don’t have to be a certified nutritionist to grasp the idea of  healthy eating. Just keep it simple. Plenty of greens, lean proteins, fruits, whole grains, nuts and learn to moderate sweets and processed foods. Enjoy a variety. Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.

Why is it that Americans revel in the extremes of holiday weight gain? The reason most of us continually fail or backtrack during these weeks is more connected with our train of thought than anything else. You can enjoy the holidays, those special brownies and a healthy lifestyle. Give yourself a Merry Christmas and don't give yourself up so easily this year.

Female Food Fixation

   

This one’s for the girls ( and no I have not been listening to Martina McBride), because for females, food can be so confusing. All women want to be able to actually enjoy half the delicious things we posted on Pinterest while being able to wear the outfits we equally drool over, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting this. But most of us girls can be preoccupied with how to have our cake and eat it too - which, in this case, is more attainable than we often make it.

If you're like me, you anticipate that by the time you hit adulthood, say late 20’s or early 30’s (if you can call that adulthood these days) you've learned how eat in order to reach a desired weight, and maintain a balanced diet without raiding the chocolate stash every night. But, being the women that we are, we complicate things.

Some seasons have been easier for me than others when it comes to my “food philosophy”; eating in a way that keeps me where I want to be, both mentally and physically. At times I’ve been very regiment about it. I’ve had my list of do’s and don’t and felt the need to abide by it rigorously and I’ve had my not-so-angelic seasons, staying up late, raiding that chocolate stash, often due to times of being too "angelic" throughout my day to begin with.

Things get confusing when food becomes a fixation. Some of us formulate, sometimes manipulate our diet, with foods we think will effect either our a) comfort or b) physique. By comfort, I’m referring to foods we believe will make us happy, viewing them as awards, while the latter are those we think are ideal, healthy foods. In layman’s terms, a) is “bad” and b) is “good.” Now, maybe I’m the only female who has spent her fair share of time in both modes, but I find many women’s eating habits are driven by a desire to look good or feel good.

Food is just food. While the word “food” is used so loosely, as to now define, what Michael Pollan calls, “edible food-like substances,” please take what I’m saying with a grain of salt. But - food is just food. Food is meant for nourishment, as it is meant for pleasure, kinship, creativity, tradition and some sense of consistency and stability in our lives. I’m not saying we should throw caution to the wind and eat whatever (if you read my blog, you’d know that is not my philosophy whatsoever) we could benefit ourselves to learn about our bodies, by being mindful and sensible, rather than obsessing about every morsel.

While there's always new diet trends or some life-changing celebrity cleanse, as promising as they may seem, none of them have the answer we want. Sometimes we try to transform our habits to a list of do's and don’t’s, in hopes of a dramatic physical transformation. Most women, nowadays, understand “eating healthy” to mean a gluten-free, dairy-free, non-processed virgin-like approach to life. Not that these aren’t good ways of eating, but perfecting it and not allowing some kind give in your diet is not only unattainable, it sucks the life out of food. It sucks the joy out of eating with others and sucks the possibility of reaching a state of health that you will ever feel confident in - because forcing food plans makes us forever fixated on what we should and shouldn’t have, making us rather imprisoned to these ideals. If you are constantly relying on Health newsfeeds or some calorie counting App to navigate how to eat, instead of learning how to understand what you need and crave, you will likely face endless cycles of frustration and obsession.

If there’s one thing I’ve found, the harder I work at it, the less I’m able to maintain it. In other words, the more I try to tame my taste buds or I force rigid plans, the more unlikely I am to be at a weight I’m happy with, or maintain a peace of mind for that matter. A constantly hungry girl is not a happy girl and a unhappy girl isn't always a pretty girl.

 

The Monster Diet

America should call it's diet The Monster Diet. Through our 200 some years of existing as a Nation we've established some very interesting habits towards food, that have set certain trends that are very much, let's say, "American". While some countries daily diets include tea-time, lingering lunches or savory breakfasts at cafes most Americans average diet probably looks quite different. Breakfast is coffee and a granola bar if you're lucky, lunch is a salad and if you haven't raided the candy aisle before dinner, you last meal of the day (if you're being honest) is probably bigger that all the rest of the day combined. For some reason we've taken on this novel notion that being ferociously hungry through most of our day is how we are suppose to function. That or we are so driven in work, school or chasing kids all day as a Mom that we just "forget" to eat. But really how do you "forget" to eat? It's like forgetting you need to use the bathroom. Unless you work for Channel Five News or work under some crazy dealines like for UPS, I don't think many of us can forget that our stomachs are growling at us. But staying on a steady Monster diet - subsisting on a cycle of hunger and large meals, then more hunger and large meals - does more than just wreak havoc on your waistline.

Going through most days hungry or always eating past the point of comfort makes us on edge, and unpleasant. You can tell that many American's eat this way just by how startling it is when you meet a pleasant smile in public. Not only does not eating make us grouches, but we tend to not always make the best decisions when we're pushing past the point of hunger. We're hasty, we're pushy, we're scatter-brained and a bit of a mess.

What you eat can have the same effect. We all know at this point how we're suppose to and why. But did it ever cross you're mind that what you ate could be making you cranky? Particularly women. Hate to single us out here but if you're anything like me and you eat too much, or allow you diet to be healthy doses of Frappaccino's and chocolate, well you just not going to feel to hot - no pun intended. To top it off women tend to crave sugar, while guys crave protein. (So this idea that women have a harder time then men losing weight is just a fib we like to feed ourselves.)

Anytime my family would go to Sam's Club when I was a kid, we always knew we could forget about lunch. My parent's had this great idea that we could "fill up" on samples mid-day, call it lunch and save the extra bucks. (I don't quite think it to be abuse since my parents were blessed with feeding 6 hungry mouths at every meal - My poor folks). By 3 o'clock I would always ask for lunch, in which my Dad would reply  "But you just ate."  This often left me as the whiny "high-maintenance" individual in the family (which I still am teased for being from time to time.) Through the years I've tried so many different approaches to lose my extra weight. Believe it or not went into high school about 3, pushing 4 sizes bigger than I am now. But I found what worked for me was - drum roll please - eating when I was hungry. What a novel idea! Which in all honesty is more often then not. This means a few small healthy meals throughout my day.

None of us want to be ruled by food, but when we just ignore that our body's need substance we're not really doing the body good. There's got to come a point where you take responsibility and take time to understand how your body functions best. How could our country be so obsessed with food, be such infrequent eaters and still manage to top as the Nation with the highest rate of obesity? We often don't eat when we should and what we should. Moderation in all things is key. But I think most monsters are foreign to moderation.

Why Admins Can Easily Get Depressed (& The Purple Radish)

 

So I have come to the conclusion that sitting for too long makes me depressed. This may seem like a random place to pick back up but I’m in the midst of learning and growing (I'm  forever learning and growing,) the very reason why I should probably be writing here more often. But when I feel like I have a lot more to learn, or am in the process of growing, I kinda feel like I’m feeding you all a load of crap (or fill in the blank ...) if I’m not feeling all hunkey dorey and healthy. But I would gather that not even all my favorite writers embody the ideals they convey 100% of the time. So I write...

For those of you whom I’ve kept ill-informed, I have been giving much of my attention to another blog - The Purple Radish.  It’s a blog I’ve had for almost a year now, where I write or meander about life, love and culture. Post to post, it may come across as random, but that’s me. In a nut shell it’s where I write about what I’m passionate about. I hope to soon join Better Vita and The Purple Radish.

You don’t always hold jobs that are necessarily positions you’ve dreamed to be in. For me, that is any job where I’m serving coffee or sitting for an ungodly period of time. Currently I hold an administrative position, where e-mailing, documenting, mail-merging and meetings are just part of the job. Granted I’m working with several teams at a large church, so events and church services with 200 plus volunteers do get me off my feet a few days a week - obviously. But for anyone who works in a church, you understand that the prep time heavily outweighs the service and interaction time, though I wish this were reverseed. (When I was working on a College Campus I was always getting up to meet with students, be at services, classes, events... let’s just say there was a bit more movement required of me.) Since my hours are somewhat long and I live a bit away from work, I’m up earlier and try to get some movement for 30 minutes before I leave. Just some kind of activity to wake up before arriving to a desk.

Those of us who carry administrative jobs can often times feel like we’re the only one’s sitting at a desk while life and exciting things are  happening to everyone else outside these pasty walls. Or am I the only one who’s been struck with this thought from time to time? But I'm finding many of my biggest frustrations in life can be remedied with very practical solutions.

Frustration: "I feel lowsy and miserable after sitting behind a desk all day long!" (8 hours, if we’re counting)

Remedy: Get up!

It’s that simple, get up and start moving around. Who ever said I have to e-mail or submit room requests for a meeting while sitting down? When your sitting for long hours your body eventually adapts to a sedentary state. NBC.com news covered a Men's Health article, "Why Sitting Down All Day is Slowly Killing You" examining the health risks of desk jobs. "If you spend too much time in a chair, your glute muscles will actually 'forget' how to fire," says Hartman, a Men's Health Advisor. If you've ever had a desk job you know how this feels. There's a reason why so many people feel dead by the end of a work day, and often it's not from too much activity. Whether you exercise or not, if you're at a salary paying-desk job, though you may be making a significant amount more than a Starbucks Barista or grocer, you aren't expending as many calories as you would with a job where you stand. Basically, if your not moving as much, your not active as much and the inactivity eventually gets to your head.

It’s too easy to let life and our situations define us. Defining how we want our lives to look takes a bit more work than just rolling with the punches. Our bodies weren't even created for inactivity and how we feel after sitting for lengthy periods (when you’re legs are screaming at you to move) is a perfectly legitimate reason why we should not sit for so long at all (unless of course you're catching up with Breaking Bad or plan on attending "The Master" premiere). So if you’re working at a desk today, or for this period of your life, don’t succumb to feeling like crap. Get up and move! You will find your mind is sharper, your body will feel lighter and mood will be much sweeter (for you and everyone else you work with.)

Clean and Lean

Image from Womenshealthmag.com

Image from Womenshealthmag.com

So I’m not one to tweet every “tweetable” thought  or instagram every morsel of food that goes into my mouth. It can be a little overwhelming, for me and everyone else, when your life is exposed via social network, but I have enjoy writing (be it ever inconsistent and sparse as I it.) So here’s what’s going on with me currently health-wise. A few weeks ago Hillary, a friend (and former boss,) asked me to help her get healthier and wanted to go on some type of cleanse to kind of purge her system of sugar and processed foods. Prior to hearing from her I had been reading up on random health books and bought a new cookbook called  “Clean and Lean” by James Duigan, a well-know Australian trainer. His plan and approach, never mind the fact that he’s worked with the likes of Elle MacPherson and Hugh Grant, struck me as sensible and doable.

A few months ago my sister went on the plan for some wedding-prepping. She lost 7 lbs the first 2 weeks, and loved it so much she's kept up with the approach and lost 12lbs altogether, which helped her look crazy-hot for her wedding day. I suggested Hillary try the same plan and decided to join her, since I was feeling the need for a little tweaking myself. One too many movies nights of popcorn and chocolate can do that to me.

So Hillary and I have been kinda tackling this plan together.

Duigan's approach is so simple and satisfying, there's no reason anyone couldn't maintain this approach for life.

Here's the gist of it: For 14 days you...

CUT OUT  (what Duigan calls) CRAP : Caffeine, Refined sugar, Alcohol & Process foods, basically anything that comes out of a box. But Duigan says you can go ahead and have up to 2 coffee a day (sans the syrups & whipped creams.) So of course when I heard that, I was all over th plan.

EAT & EAT OFTEN - The approach for the first 14 days is just to get your body on track, eating less but more often.  The focus is a lot of greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, avocados, lean proteins like chicken, fish, yogurt and whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa & brown rice.

While I know the whole “Gluten-free diet” can be a whole other gimmick to get you to buy a lot of processed “gluten-free” nonsense, a whole foods approach cuts out processed food entirely. So technically this is a Gluten Free diet.

It may sound hard at first, but I honestly haven’t craved chocolate or junk in a week. Though I’ve done the whole yoga, pilates, health-foodie-blogging thing, it doesn't mean I’m not human and crave crap on occasion. I do look forward to my next splurge. But committing to a week or two of this helps you balance things out to make sure you're feeding yourself right, so that occasional treats are just that - occasional. Once you get through these 2 weeks you can allow a “cheat-meal” once a week. (Not gonna lie, mine may look more like a cheat-day,) but we'll see how things go.

CHEATING – I hate this term because it sounds like a free-for-all approach. But once you start eating whole, unprocessed foods all the time, really your body won’t be craving a day full of junk ( if you’re being honest with yourself.) Over time you may be able to understand when your body really is craving chocolate or can share a dessert with someone once or twice a week. The "Cheat meal" is a good approach to let yourself eat what you want and keeps things from getting boring or too restrictive. Essentially, following any kind of cleanse, you want to be able to maintain and live with more of a 80/20 approach.

This was just a taste of what a "cleanse" could look like. Let me know if you guys have any questions. More to come…

 

Keeping it Simple for Spring

 

The K.I.S.S. approach, Keeping It Super Simple (or Simple Stupid - depending on the day,) helps me keep peace of mind in my most stressful seasons.  In college I knew, in order to feel functional the next morning, I needed at least 7 and a half hours of sleep a night. Nowadays I seem to have to remind myself this. Both to keep it simple and to sleep. Sometimes we complicate losing weight or how to "be healthier" means, when really it's suppose to be simple. A simple tweek like more sleep may be what you need.

Consider this...

Most of us, when wanting to lose weight or feel healthy turn to diets and detoxes that guarentee speedy results. Of course these results are achieved quickly, but rarely last long. And to top things off, when you gain weight and are working extra hard to keep up with rigorous diet and excersice,  you tend to gain more stress. This only adds to your cortisol level, a stress-induced hormone ( which tends to add bloating and more weight. All that fun stuff.)

As one ages, we often want to blame age on things like  stress and weight-loss, when really it may just be lack of sleep, lack of a healthy diet and lack of planning ahead. First on my list to tackle (before I let age, my job or an insane schedule become a reason for any increase of  this stress-induced, weight-gaining hormone called cortisol) is to get more sleep.

Do yourself a favor,  keep things simple and sleep more.  I don't know about you, but I'm ready to fall asleep right now...

Sweet dreams.

KISS your way to a Better Life (aka Better Vita)

Hello to all the Better Vita readers that I've been out of touch with for too long! For those just reading, about 2 years ago I was living in NYC and this blog was in the front of my mind most days. Simply put, since my short-lived stay in NYC and returning to FL, I've spent some time analyzing (probably over-analyzing) who I am and what I value; meaning everything from God, relationships, passions, even food. My time on Better Vita became inconsistent and, for a  lengthly period, altogether removed. I needed some time. Or better put, "time heals what reason cannot."

Life is not meant to be so complex. Yet as human beings we tend to create more stress, more anxiety and more issues when it's not necessary. Life is much more simple than we make it. Better Vita was becoming a little too serious, which if you know me, isn't always my state of mind. My Dad, a master as keeping things simple (yet by no mean a "simple man"), has always taught his kids the KISS rule: Keep. Things. Simple. Stupid. I'm sure this is no revolutionary idea to you, but sometime in order to grow it seems we have to re-learn things we were taught when we were 6.

This summer I have some people who've asked me to teach them an approach to "Better Vita," learning how to eat better, work out bette, and live better. It seemed the appropriate time to return...

Better Vita has been resuscitated.

Stuff the turkey - not yourself!

Believe it our not there is a way to enjoy the holidays without overdoing it this year. You may be in turkey-coma still as you read this. You may still be snacking on leftover pumpkin pie that still lingers in the kitchen and the guilt hasn't sunk in yet 'til sometime after monday. It's the typical holiday routine. Probably something your used to and even comfortable with at this point, but there is actually a way to enjoy your turkey and not become one.

A few things to keep in mind it:

1. Eat to fuel, not to stuff yourself. It's really common to think you need to starve all day because you're heading to a dinner or party that night, but that is the worst thing you can do. You will like be ferociously hungry, eat too much and not even be able to enjoy it. So make sure before parties or family meals during the holidays to eat and eat healthy the day of.

2. Eat only what you like. If you don't like it, don't eat it. Unless of course your boyfriends mom is asking if you've tried her pumpkin pie yet or Aunt Sue slaved all day over her

3. Leave your plate 80% full. You don't have to feel the need to take off your belt to know your satisfied. Leaving that extra room will make everything easier to digest and your eating throughout the day so it's not like you'll never eat again.

4. Focus on filling half of your plate with greens and veggies. I'm talking spring mix green, broccoli or green beans not so much the potatoes and starchy stuff. Keep that to about 25% of your plate. All in moderation...

5. Fill about 25% with carbs and 25% of protein, give or take. Granted you just have to get used to listening to what your body is craving and remembering how foods make you feel. Make sure to get about 3 oz of lean protein. Fish, turkey & chicken breast, eggs or even wild game such as venison.

6. Taste your dessert, don't devour it. If you know there is going to be dessert that you will want to eat you may want to leave a little more room. A calorie is a calorie. And you don't always have to eat a whole pie of pie or chocolate cake to get your satisfy your sweet tooth.

7. Drink lots of water. All drinks have calories or dehydrate most of the time, so you are much better off sticking to water. If you do choose eggnog, punch or coffee stick to one cup.

8. Don't throw in the towel. We all have slip ups. We all eat too much pie or have had our fill of stuffing, but it doesn't mean all your work is at a loss over one meal. And it doesn't mean you have to encounter these "slip ups" every holiday. So if your feeling crappy over too much food go play a game of football or go on a long walk (on the beach if you're in Florida ;) ) and tomorrow you can start with a clean slate.

Resourceful Eats

I'm an idealist. This can be a good thing and an absolute curse (totally inflicted upon me, by myself.) And they always say you learn more about yourself while teaching, it couldn't be more true. Most everyone in my classes will, at the end of my spiel, look at me and ask "How do you cut calories?", "What do you eat?" "What can & can't I eat?" Ok, it's not as hard as it looks and no I'm not going to direct you to Realage or Eatingwell to learn  healthy eating like it's a science. Eating good should be good. Good and simple. So the idealist in me sees the web as a massive gift from God, full of instantaneous creative and personable resources. And as far as food is concerned, eating well is finally a beautiful thing! So I want to share with you (those attending the class and those not) a few places that keep me coming back.

101Cookbooks

omeletterecipe

omeletterecipe

We all tend to assume that cooking healthy means bland and boring. Heidi Swanson proves that philosphy to be a farse. This site is incredible for learning to work with herbs,  spices, whole grains, what goes with what and her healthy baked goods are actually good! Mainly a vegetarian feast can be found here, but that doesn't mean you won't find an occasion stick of butter or a need for cheese .

Sprouted Kitchen

brekkie-bed-eggs-benedict

brekkie-bed-eggs-benedict

Talk about aestically appeasing, this couple (brilliant chef and photographer duo from Cali) have created one of the most beautiful sites for food, let alone creative and fresh. Healthy sweets, the best lentil dish  ever (aka meat to vegetarians - which I no longer am, in case you were wondering) and a great french press tutorial (and  if you haven't tried a french press you may want to check you're pulse to see if you are indeed living and breathing.)

http://vimeo.com/18524628

Have I ever mentioned coffee is good for you?

Sunday Suppers

sunday_supper[5]

sunday_supper[5]

Learning  how to cook well means together. This "art of cooking for yourself" is far from appealing to me. Family meals are memories I'm so indebted to my mom for and finally there seems to be a demand for it again. Incredibly tasty and and seemingly highly-involved cooking, this site is a great guide to cooking a meal. It's all about cooking & eating together. And I could eateverything on this site !

Bon Appetit

pasta-perfect-ipad-app-484

pasta-perfect-ipad-app-484

An indispensible resource for any weathered or aspiring cook. Apps are available on ipad (might just be one of the first I buy the day I have an ipad.) Or check out Epicurious, for it's slightly-less-aestetically-appeasing iphone app equal.

Great  Free Apps:

Fooducate - Scan and rate food before you buy it. Now I really think common sense and the ability to read should be enough for us to be smart about what we eat, but hey it's free. Watch them have this for rating  people some day...

fooducate

fooducate

tumblr_lmsol4bVmd1qhmrl1o1_500

tumblr_lmsol4bVmd1qhmrl1o1_500

Whole Foods Recipes - Simple, whole food. You can't go wrong.

whole-foods-recipes

whole-foods-recipes

whole-foods-recipe-app

whole-foods-recipe-app

Jamie Oliver recipe app - What a beauty, eh?

jamies_recipes_693315d

jamies_recipes_693315d

5285340284_b4a6071e87

5285340284_b4a6071e87

                                                                       Bon Appetit!

Music & Moods

Because there is so much more to living than food and fitness, I like to make this a place about all things that shape life. Music being one of them... I can't tell you how the sound of Diana Krall singing "The Look of Love" surrounds my head with autumn leaves and begs me to throw on a big burly sweater. I can't explain why hearing John Mayer singing "3x5" brings me to my naive and  unassuming state as a college freshman, or even why the chords of  "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High" faintly depresses me (due to countless Sunday nights I would let myself become quite upset about spending the last night of my weekend at church, knowing the school week was only hours away. Odd, I know.)

Music has a way of transporting us almost supernaturally. It's a universal language that has the power to awaken the soul. A song can bring instant ease or immediate irritation. A song can make me high or make me miserable. My family has always had a deep connection to music. Awfully opinionated, but deep. Maybe it was being raised with a Dad who would come home from work just to immediately blast anything from Billy Joel to Steven Curtis Chapman, and get all  us kids wired before dinner, that marked the moods of music for me. That or it was the headphones that were on my Mom's tummy all those 9 months. Still, ever since I was young (and to this day) my mom could tell what kind of  music I was currently listening to ( or more so, what I wasn't listening to) just by being around me. Music is powerful and moods are the makeup of our personalities and character.

Moods are more easily altered, thoughts more quickly formed and hearts more swiftly swayed by a song than we dare say.

So here are a taste of songs that sway me.

For just making me happy to be alive...

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IH9gGywLk4]

For chilling out...

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flkByutsgTg]

For setting me at ease...

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_XG_YlTPPQ]

For bringing me down to the dumps. ( Don't get me wrong. I think his music is beautiful. It just depresses me. Don't know why...)

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ThuXEDvCZk]

For battling stressful situations. Don't ask...

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE0pwJ5PMDg]

For the love of God that leaves me at a loss for words...

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOJhJWZNQyU]

 

What songs move your moods?

 

Dinner For One

Writing about "Cooking for One" has never been something I've been dying to do. The whole "Meal for one" craze never bit  because, well let's be honest here, cooking for one is not nearly as fun as cooking for more than one. Whether it be 2, 4 , 6 or really any number over one (except for when you hit 30 +. Like this summer when I had my cooking class and was preparing to feed 30 mouths. Not so much fun. Quality in any catering seems afterthought for the sake of quantity. Not my kind of cooking.)  But I do this to help you guys and "cooking healthy for one" is an area some of you have asked about.

Like I said, it's a rare occasion when cooking alone, I get the urge to pull out all the pots and pans to cook and fork out some $30 on one solid meal that I plan to partake of in solitude. No thanks. I'd rather spend $30 on a night that consists of  sushi, a movie and coffee with the company of friends. When I do have a spare night to cook, I make something simple like roasted fish or herbed chicken stir fry along with a simple salad or roasted vegetables. And normally enough for leftovers. Cause I'm weird and I love leftovers.

 So how do you eat healthy and under $10? Simple, make the dish satisfying and sustaining. 

This meal I had last night and sat down realizing, gosh this is probably the kind of stuff people want to learn about.

A few random leftovers I had in the fridge:

 Baby Romaine Salad with carrots, celery & cucumber

&

Lime Balsamic Vinegarette : a squeeze of lime, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil

Cilantro Chicken Stir-fry

Avocado wedge with sea salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime

Whole grain toast

 To the side was a little bubbly (aka sparkling WATER, always drinking water - diet drinks are a joke and sugary sodas are like sucking on a lollipop during your meal.)

 

When eating on your own it's easy to eat too much or too much of one type of food. So here are some things to keep in mind when concocting your solo meal.

1. Make 50% of your meal greens or veggies

2. Include lean protein lik fish, chicken, turkey, venison or tuna

3. Add fresh herbs (like cilantro, basil, oregano, italian parsely, mint), spices ( ginger, red pepper, paprika) and fresh citrus ( like a squeez or lime or lemon) to add flavor and depth to your meal.

4. Don't snack while your cooking or just before, because it's too easy to loose your appetite due to handfuls or pretzels or m&ms.

5. Try something new. We tend to be creatures of habit & habits are great, but try a new fish or a new recipe. New doesn't always have to be difficult and time-consuming.

6. Pay attention to what you're in the mood for (granted this doesn't mean whip up kraft mac & cheese every night) but maybe one night your feeling pasta with fresh basil, lemon and some grated parmesan with a salad and another your craving roasted chicken or maybe even breakfast for dinner. Don't be dogmatic about being healthy. Healthy should taste good.

7. Get creative with leftovers. Leftovers are sometimes my favorite, because you just open the fridge and voila, there's dinner.

 Some ideas:

Toss last night's roasted veggies in some greens (like baby romaine or arugula) with balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil. My favorite Italian restaurant in NYC serves this as there house salad (soooooo gooood.)

Use leftover chicken meat in fajitas or leftover fish  in tacos.

Make dinner more like a meal of tapas with several small portions of leftovers: cut up  leftover frittata, chicken, some cheese and crackers, cold brown rice made into a salad. leftover grilled broccoli & garlic with lemon juice, then maybe some olives and pickles.

Though I'm not married to this "cooking for one" concept, I'll send more meal ideas as they come...

 

What's in a nugget?

Someone please tell me why we eat things we know we shouldn't? And I'm not badgering here cause I've been there. I can easily go back there. I guess it's the memory of that first bite. That initial taste that we find so satisfying and continue to eat assuming it will satisfy every craving thats lingered. And so we indulge in something maybe we shouldn't be indulging in. Anyone that knows me knows I like good food. Real (as in actual, not artificial) good food. And I don't mean just plant-based food, though we all could be eating more of that. I mean cheese, chocolate, bread, chicken... real food. And I'm sure most would agree. But still our culture turns time and time again to foods we just know aren't good for us. If you saw last week's video I have up it should make more sense why out bodies reject, or aren't always pleased with things like ice cream and candy. Often it just makes us all the more hungry for something real.

You hear someone say, as they're polishing off a seven layer chocolate cake (from a well-known restaurant that will remain nameless,) "This is so good, I don't even want to know what's in it." Of course they don't want to know what's in it. Who wants to know they're paying top dollar to consume a cake drenched in sugar-laden mayonnaise? Then it won't be so good. So we say "I don't want to know" though we know we should. And typically we leave feeling stuffed, exhausted and lethargic. At some point we will discover the alarming truth. Better sooner than later.

Sometime last year I posted a video on food after reading Michael Pollan's book when I was in NYC. His book "In the Defense of Food" exposes the horrific truths of what we accept as "food" and promotes a more plant-based diet for America. Jamie Oliver has certainly done his part leading this "Food Revolution" as well. (Though it's sad we need a food revolution, when our world first needs a revolution in Christ's love.) Jamie Oliver, as a "celebrity" has a large audience already and is exposing America and many parts of Europe to truths that we decide to keep hidden.

In two weeks I'll be teaching a class on healthy eating at Victory Church here in Lakeland FL. As I've been brainstorming on how and what to teach I'm realizing people don't know or necessarily want to know what is in food. So that is where we will start.

 Last week when I posted the ice cream video someone thanked me for ruining ice cream (commercial ice cream, that is - go eat your Breyers or Hagen Daaz 5) for them forever. Next, the chicken nugget...

                                                                                                         [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9B7im8aQjo]

7 Things on My Mind

1. Looking forward to the weekend and lazy (hopefully uninterrupted) breakfasts. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4ainef2UEk]

2. Already eagerly anticipating fall, layers and warm tones.

3. Wishing there were a greater demand for timeless music and performance.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS7TbVuHtRI]

4. Thinking about making slushies cause it's so freak'n hot outside! (And I don't even like slushies.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. So glad to have seen my friend who finally came home from being in South Korea all summer and brought me back a taste of the culture !

6. I'm a little confused at Congress' means of motivation.

7.  George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman all in one film ???

Genius, or...

The Ides of March.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McCt-_yYLpo]