How Thinking “I’m Taking Care of Myself” Gets Results

NappingI sent out a tweet the other day that seemed to resonate. Whether you’re working out or losing weight focus on “I’m taking care of myself.” This will lead to better choices and decisions. Being healthy is a choice, not a punishment.

It works for eating, exercising and self-care. When choosing a meal, snack or treat think about how it’s going to support your commitment to taking care of yourself. Even a splurge can be made healthier or kept to a small portion. For instance you might say, I’m going to eat bacon but I will choose nitrate free and keep it to a piece or two.

A meal should keep you satiated for a few hours. Choose a meal that has a balance of protein, healthy fat and fiber. Lean beef, a sweet potato and a vegetable is a healthy choice, as is a hearty lentil stew. Neither meal looks like the other but both would help you take care of yourself.

When it comes to working out or sitting on the couch and watching tv – what is going to help you take care of yourself? Generally speaking it will be some form of exercise. On the other hand, if you have been doing strenuous workouts for several days in a row and are physically exhausted you may need the rest.

With exercise it’s best to listen to your body. If you’re telling yourself you’re too tired to work out, that’s your brain. Ignore it. When you’re feeling achy and sore, that’s your body speaking. Listen to it!

Self-care is another important component. Make some time to do things you enjoy and nourish your soul. That could be a simple time out for meditation. It could be taking a bubble bath or doing a beloved project. It might also be meeting a friend for a catch up.

A few weeks ago I realized I hadn’t been reading for pleasure, all my choices were work oriented. I’ve made time to pick some things out just for fun and entertainment. It’s a great way to start or end my day.

What choices do you make that could use a few tweaks when it comes to taking care of yourself?

Do you need help in making better choices or in figuring out where to start? Send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a 30 minute power session.

 

Could You Toss Out the Ice Cream? Old Habits and Mindset

DQ2A lot of the things I coach people on I also struggle with. It’s hard to throw away food, it’s hard to not be impatient and to want to see progress more quickly than I am. I split an ice cream with my husband last week. The portions were way too large and I really didn’t want to toss away 1/2 of my treat. We were nowhere near home so a lid would not have helped.

One of my clients struggles with the same thing, although he laughed when I said I split my ice cream. It wouldn’t have occurred to him to do that and he would have eaten the treat whether or not he was sick of it. I’ve been there. It’s hard to change the mindset that you grew up with. Don’t waste food and finish what’s on your plate.

Another client is frustrated when she makes poor choices. It doesn’t happen every day but once in a while, when she has a bad day, she reaches for comfort. I find myself doing that. I was angry and standing in the kitchen in front of the fridge. As I stood there I stopped and asked myself what exactly I wanted and why. Instead of grabbing chocolate I went for frozen berries. They’re cold and sweet with a satisfying texture.

It took a while to get to the point of realizing I am not going to eat 3 scoops of ice cream and feel good. It took practice to recognize that I’m grabbing for food when I’m not hungry. And even longer to make other choices, many of which don’t include food. A walk, some breathing time, a hug or playing with dog go a long way to changing my mood. Plus I am never annoyed with myself for walking or playing with the dog!

I like to keep in mind a quote my yoga teacher once told me about yoga: “it’s called a practice, not a perfect.” It’s good to keep that in mind about life in general. Some days we are going to make better choices than others. Keep practicing and you eventually get better at it.

Why I Laughed at the Trainer’s Ideal Weight For Me

WeightLiftingYesterday I had my complimentary training session with a trainer at my gym. I wanted a few tips on form and ideas on what to incorporate as I strengthen my hips and glutes. He was cool and I liked the moves, almost all of which I already do. We talked about goals in the post session assessment. And, of course, this always includes weight loss.

I have started to lose the extra weight I’ve gained over the last year, I have more to go. Stress over my husband and training for a marathon had me eating more than I should. (The food might be healthy but there was too much. I’m sure there were instances my choices could have been better as well). The goal the computer picked for me had me cracking up though.

Um, no, I may look good at 142 but I feel like crap. I’m tired and my body aches at that weight. A few pounds more and I’m a happy camper. I also will not count calories, calories are not created equal. And counting calories tends to lead me to crazy town. I’d rather focus on hitting nutrients and getting in my 9 servings of veggies. (Yes, 9. A serving is a 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables. It’s not that hard).

You could tell the trainer thought I was a bit nuts. I did explain why I won’t count calories and he understood. We both understand that there are many healthy, nutrient dense foods and that’s what I need to focus on with my training.

My current weight isn’t unhealthy, it’s just too much for me. My ideal weight is also well within healthy norms, just not as low as charts say it could be. As long as your body is healthy and strong don’t get caught up in a specific number or size. I have a few people who are my height and weight and none of us wear the same size. I’m no longer stuck on it.

I can run 18 miles. lift weights, touch the floor with straight knees and carry my 30+ pound dog when she’s afraid to go up stairs. That all means more to me than if I can wear a size 6 or 8 jeans.

Do you struggle with weight and body image? I’ve been there and it sucks. Shoot me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to discuss whether working with me is right for you. No blame, no shame – just getting healthy.

Do You Know What Paleo, Vegan, Mediterranean and Macrobiotic Diets Have in Common?

Assortment of High Fiber FoodsDo you ever look at all the diets out there and think, who is right? Paleo, vegan, Mediterranean, macrobiotic and the raw foods diet all make a case as to why they are the healthiest choice for you. Some of their arguments make a lot of sense and others give me pause. I have a hard time believing all grains are bad for me but if it makes you happy to skip them, rock on.

They all actually do have their good points. They’re full of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean protein and low on refined sugars and packaged foods. Their common ground is that they are based on whole foods.

It’s easy to twist some of the principles of the various eating plans. Vegans may find themselves buying “fake meat” products and Paleo may be relying a bit too much on less healthy cuts of meat. But if you stick to the basic principles you get a pretty decent eating plan.

Another part of what makes this work is finding an eating plan that you can live with long-term. I’m very happy with a more Mediterranean style eating plan; I love fish, vegetables and salads. I can eat that way pretty much for the rest of my life. I can’t see myself living without having any type of grain, it doesn’t feel good to me; neither does eating a lot of wheat.

You may find that you are happiest without animal products. Or, perhaps, you really don’t care for grains and find the Paleo diet works for you. You are the only one who knows how food makes you feel.

My challenge to you is to pay attention to how you feel during the next week. Did your meal and snacks leave you feeling happy and satisfied? Were you grumpy or looking to pick afterward? Did you reach for certain foods when your mood was good and others when you were in a bad mood? How did you feel after you ate the foods you were craving?

These are clues that will help you find what foods best sustain you. The trick is listening to your body and then nourishing it in the best way possible for you.

Do you need help in figuring out which foods work best for you? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a consultation. We will create a plan that works specifically for you and your busy life.

 

 

Fitness and Healthy Meals Can Be Done, Even With a Long Commute!

crockpotI usually avoid reading the opinion section of my local paper. The comments are usually pretty off the wall and tend to make me crazy. But every now and then I can’t help myself, like tonight. “No wonder why Staten Islanders are fat, they have long commutes. No one wants to cook or exercise after a 12 hour day. I suspect people are collapsing and ordering takeout.”

A four-hour commute is a pretty big exaggeration on the part of the writer. But even if it were true, there are ways to have decent meals and to get some fitness in. It takes some planning and some flexibility but it’s definitely doable. You don’t even have to get up at 4 a.m. to do it. (unless you want to and then I bow down to you).

I don’t love to get up super early but I can do a half an hour to workout. Not possible for you? How about 3 10 or 15 minute mini workouts? That gives you 30 – 45 minutes of exercise. Do you get a lunch break? How about squeezing in a quick sweat session or a brisk walk then? My gym offers 30 minute classes at lunch time, which is great if you get an hour for lunch. (I realize not everyone does).

No time to cook? Prep meals on the weekend so you have foods you can reheat. Stir fries can be made in minutes if food has been pre-chopped. (You can buy it that way, no one is judging). My other favorite tool is my crockpot. I can set it to 8 hours and it will turn off to keep warm when it’s done. Dinner is hot and waiting when you get home.

Another handy tool is the pressure cooker. They’ve come a long way and are much safer than older models. You can cook meals in minutes and you can cook a lot at one time. Leftovers are a blessing when time is tight.

What are your favorite tips for fitting in fitness?

What’s your quick and easy go to meal?

Need help with figuring out how to stay on track and eat healthy? Not sure where to begin? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, and together we can come up with a plan that works for you. No diets, gimmicks or magic pills!

 

 

Why Those Seemingly Healthy Foods Are Not Helping You Lose Weight.

smoothieAre you frustrated because you’ve been eating healthy but not losing weight? It’s easy to overdo seemingly healthy foods. It doesn’t help that some of those foods are as healthy as we are led to believe. I know, I’ve been there too.

Granola bars that don’t have much protein but do have a lot of sugar. Green juices that have 28 g of sugar but no protein or fiber to help keep you full. Fruit, which I love, is a natural sugar but we are meant to eat 2 – 3 servings, not 5! Packaged oatmeal and flavored yogurts have hidden sugars as well. Sugars are a big reason why we’re not losing weight.

If you look at reduced fat and fat-free foods you notice that the sugar content is higher than their full fat counterparts. Reduced fat peanut butter has more sugar than regular and it often has less protein. Once fat is removed from a food it needs additives to make it taste good and have the mouth feel we crave.

I’m not afraid of fat and I don’t choose fat-free foods. We need it to process fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K and we need it to build hormones. It also helps to keep you full. It is, however, calorie dense and if you are looking to lose weight it’s something to pay attention to. Choose the avocado, nuts or the cheese – not all three at every meal. But do have a little healthy fat at each meal, you need about 1/4 cup of healthy fats per day.

I generally do not count calories but I am a big fan of portion control. It’s one of the things I like about the 21 Day Fix Program. They send little containers that help you portion out your food so you can take your lunch or dinner along with you and not worry about if you’re overeating. It’s eye-opening to see what an actual serving of meat, grains and oils looks like.

I don’t recommend measuring out leafy greens and low starch vegetables, unless you tend to skimp on them. The calorie content is low and the fiber content is high, they’re great to help you fill up at a meal. Since there are so many options it helps keep meals interesting, colorful and crunchy. (Crunching is a great stress buster)!

Need more tips and tricks? Are you curious about the 21 Day Fix Program or Shakeology and how they can help you on your healthy journey? I’m happy to chat with you, send me an email: janinemchale@empoweredplate.com.

Are the Ads Promising a New You Too Good to Be True?

I did itHappy New Year! Do you feel like you’re being bombarded by companies promoting diets, pills, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions and such trying to capitalize in on your New Year’s Resolutions? So much pressure and frankly it’s annoying. I’d love a get thin quick trick, who wouldn’t?

Unfortunately most of it doesn’t work. Exercise will help you lose weight initially you’re going to plateau unless you also change your eating habits. When most people don’t see a change during the month of January they quit going to the gym and revert back to their eating habits.

Change takes more than a few weeks. If you stick with the gym and healthier eating habits for 3 months you will see a change, your body will become stronger and leaner. In my experience, both with my clients and myself, it takes six months for those new habits to become routine.

That may sound long but by making small changes throughout those months you’ll be motivated by seeing steady progress along the way. It won’t be the quick weight loss promised in most ads but it will be something you can stick with past the month of January.

Need help getting your eating back on track without tricks? I am leading a detox beginning January 25. It’s also a good way to jump-start a new healthy eating plan. If you’re bloated, tired, out of sorts and still craving yummy foods this is for you. If you don’t want to be stuck eating only salads and drinking smoothies this is for you.

It’s not for you if you’re looking for a quick weight loss program, although you will lose a few pounds. As with any short-lived program if you go back to eating extra helpings of food, treats and excess sugar you’ll gain the weight back. It’s not a miracle worker.

I’m here to help guide you and support you, to give you the helping hand and gentle push. With the detox you’ll get over 40 pages of recipes for meat lovers and vegetarians alike, meal ideas, daily check ins, preparation guide, step by step detox guide and what to do post detox.

If you would like to sign up for the detox or want more information please click here.

 

 

Getting Back on Track

e_may_photo_1I’ve gained some weight and I am not happy. It feels embarrassing to admit it since I know what to eat and what to do. Sometimes stress does get the better of me, I’ve been sitting more than usual and I’ve been hungrier than usual. I’m sure I could have made some better choices along the way as well.

It’s not a big amount and I can get rid of it; I have the tools and knowledge. Yes, it’s a challenging time of year with parties and holidays but it can be done in a way where I know I won’t feel deprived. It helps to remember that while some of the food is amazing at these parties often times it’s not something that you can’t get during the rest of the year. If it’s not special and amazing why bother?

Two other things that are going to help: Marathon training started yesterday and I’m getting a digital Smart Scale that tracks weight, body fat, muscle mass and body water. It will sync my stats to My Fitness Pal so I can track everything in one place without writing everything down.To be honest it sounds a bit intimidating but  will keep me honest if nothing else. (Stats and numbers are simply information, they don’t define who or what you are)

Why am I sharing this? Because life happens to all of us. I’m not perfect and I don’t expect my clients to be either. It’s good to be able to recognize that you have to reset your eating and get back on track. It’s great when you know you have the tools and the motivation so you can achieve your goals.

What are you finding challenging this season? Is there something you feel you need extra support around? You can reach me at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com to schedule a time to speak. I can consult via phone or Skype if you’re not in the NYC area..

 

Happy Halloween!

snoopyIs Halloween something you enjoy or dread? I mostly love it. I get a kick out of seeing the kids in their costumes and their excitement. I can live without the eggs & shaving cream, especially when tossed at vehicles or when Missy is trying to eat them the next day.

The candy is no longer a big part of the holiday for me but I know how it can be. When I was on Weight Watchers I started buying candy I didn’t like so I wouldn’t be tempted by it. That worked pretty well, even if I tried a piece I generally wouldn’t dive headfirst into the bowl of treats. If I wanted something I bought a small portion of it and enjoyed it.

If skipping the candy makes you feel deprived then have some. Eat what you want and  enjoy it; eat some real food as well and drink water so you counteract the sugar. Then tomorrow get rid of it. The holiday is over and it’s time to get back on track. Have a healthy breakfast, continue drinking a lot of water, exercise and eat vegetables. (Your body will thank you).

You can throw the candy out, donate it to the troops or find a dentist who buys it back. And if you’re having a hard time getting rid of it remember it’s not like you can’t have it ever again. There really isn’t any reason to hoard a stash, you can always buy candy when you want it.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

 

Got Stress? Here are the top 20 Foods to Fight It

stress (1)Feeling overwhelmed, tired and/or cranky? It’s tempting to reach for some comfort foods. Foods that remind us of happier times when we felt safe. Unfortunately most of those of foods are fatty and sugary and tend to worsen our symptoms by causing sugar crashes and by increasing our cortisol levels.

Cortisol causes food cravings, and in women those cravings tend to be strongest for carbs, especially sweet foods, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. The more of them we eat, the worse our mood gets. To make matters worse it triggers an enzyme in our fat cells (it converts cortisone to more cortisol). And the fat cells that are generally activated are ones around our middles, on our thighs and butts. As if you weren’t stressed enough!

So what can you do? Make sure you are getting enough B vitamins, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids can help ward off depression. Magnesium helps muscles relax; stimulates production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that eases anxiety and nervousness; and helps you fall asleep. And antioxidants help fight the damage that cortisol does to brain cells and memory.

B6 vitamins produce serotonin which calms our nervous system. Choose: legumes, tuna, chickpeas, avocados and baked potatoes with the skin

B12 vitamins help create GABA, which calms us. Choose: Greek yogurt, clams, chicken, salmon and sardines.

Folate creates dopamine to relax you and create feelings of pleasure. Choose: asparagus, Brazil nuts, oatmeal, lentils, avocados and leafy greens

Magnesium helps create dopamine to relax you. Choose: almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, amaranth and tofu

Vitamin C boosts your immune system & fights stress causing free radicals. Choose: berries, oranges, broccoli, brussels sprouts and green and red peppers

Omega 3 Fatty Acids help regulate dopamine and serotonin: salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax-seed, flax oil, and chia seeds and edamame.

A meal of chicken, leafy greens or broccoli and a baked potato could actually be your new comfort food that makes you feel good. Bonus: top it off with a square or two of dark chocolate which has stress fighting antioxidants too!

You’ll feel better without the sugar crash and sluggish feelings.

Want to learn more on how to balance stress and your moods? Contact me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a complimentary strategy session.