Monthly Archives: May 2015

8 Steps to Painless Weight Loss

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of losing weight? For many people, it’s the idea of just how difficult the task will be. There are many people who won’t even start the journey because they have this idea about the process. They think losing weight has to be painful, boring and awful but it really doesn’t have to be. A few mind and habit tweaks and you’ll feel good the entire time the weight is coming off.

Here are my 8 Steps to Painless Weight Loss:

1. Love who you are right now.

It’s imperative that you love who you are right now and not just who you think you’ll be when you reach your goal weight. I know that’s easier said than done but when we spend precious mental energy on negative thoughts about ourselves, it’s much harder to chose to eat well and take care of ourselves. When you feel badly, you’re more likely to reach for and overindulge in comfort foods, which will lead you to feeling even worse about yourself and the cycle will continue. If you can accept and appreciate who you are right now with any perceived flaws, without judgement, there will be far fewer emotional obstacles that can detour to “Overeating City” on the path to where you want to be. Negative thoughts about yourself are just that, thoughts! And you can choose to think alternative ones. Besides, if you don’t like yourself now, who do you think you’ll be stuck with when you do lose the weight?

Love yourself now – not just when you reach goal weight.     (photo credit: Love Heart via photopin (license))

2. Eat foods you love and don’t eat the ones you don’t.

If you hate kale, chia seeds or maca, just don’t eat them. There are so many healthy and delicious foods out there that you can eat instead. There’s no reason to suffer and choke down foods that gross you out or whose texture you can’t stand and doing that for too long will actually make your efforts backfire. If you feel like you’ve been depriving yourself because you’ve been living off of cardboard then at some point you’ll just go completely off the rails. It’s much more sensible and less painful to eat foods you do enjoy because you can do it effortlessly. Just because it’s nutritious and popular doesn’t mean you have to jump on board. Hate kale? Try Swiss Chard, Collard Greens or Spinach. No big deal. Love french fries and don’t want to give them up? Try roasting potato, jicama or sweet potato wedges in the oven at home. It’s not the exact same but it will satisfy the craving (especially with a generous pinch of sea salt).

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

Stop eating kale if you hate it.        (photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc)

3. Find exercise that feels good to your body and you enjoy doing.

Running is an efficient way to get into shape but running in 10 degree weather seems more like a form of torture than exercise to me. Some people love jumping on an elliptical machine at the gym and doing their 30 minutes every night after work. Others would much rather get their exercise by going to group classes or by doing chores around the house. It doesn’t matter what you chose. The most effective and the healthiest exercise is . . . the one that you do! Getting into an exercise routine is so much easier if you like what you’re doing. If going to the gym is something you just can’t see yourself doing, then don’t join a gym. You can workout in your living room if that’s what you prefer! And don’t forget the importance of having it feel good for your body. I used to love running but after a few too many injuries, my feet just can’t tolerate it anymore. Instead of repeatedly attempting to get back into it, I’ve had to chose other activities that don’t cause pain. This way, I can stay active, instead of spending weeks or months out of commission. If it feels good, it’s going to be so much easier to make it a long term habit that’ll make you look and feel great.

My cutie pie husband biking in Calistoga, CA in 2011.

My cutie pie husband biking in Calistoga, CA in 2011.

4. Cook more at home.

Who doesn’t love to go out to eat? I know I do! But restaurant meals often have many more calories than the meals you would make at home and the portions are enormous. Restaurants often use far more cheese, butter and oils than you would ever use at home because their goal is to make a super delicious dish that you’ll come back and buy often. One study has even shown that people take in more calories in restaurants when served larger portions. When you cook the food yourself, you can create a similar dish of whatever it is you are craving, in a healthier way because you’re in control of the ingredients and the quantity that you eat. If you eat out 4 or 5 times a week and cut that down to once a week, the saved calories can really add up to effortless weight loss.

Also, cooking at home is a great way to expand your palate. Many of us tend to eat the same foods over and over because it’s what we know but when we take the time to prepare food at home regularly it gives us a chance to be adventurous and experiment with new foods and preparations. This can lead to more enjoyment of our meals so we’re less likely to continue snacking or looking for something to satisfy us.

Cook at home more!

Cook at home more!

5. Rethink strict time based goals.

While setting goals is important and can help give us the drive we need to create change, putting too much emphasis on how much time it should take you to lose weight can actually prevent you from being successful. How quickly we lose weight is dependent on many factors, including our age, sex, activity level, medical conditions and even stress levels. There will be times in our lives when losing weight is relatively easy and other times it will be more difficult. While calories in, calories out, works for many people, especially when they first take on a weight loss challenge, it’s not always that simple for everyone, and certainly not forever. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, try to focus on the big picture and work towards your goal day by day. Sometimes you’ll meet time based goals, other times you won’t. If there’s a ton of pressure to reach a time based goal and you push yourself but don’t meet it despite your effort, what happens then? In my experience, people often give up and gain back whatever weight they’ve lost to begin with because they feel not meeting that timeline is failure. If you’re eating well and getting exercise, there is no such thing as failure. Slow and steady wins the race, it’s not just a cliche, it’s the truth!
Calendar Test.tiff

6. Get rid of anything in your closet that doesn’t make you feel great.

I know you’re thinking you need to save your money and wear whatever clothing you have right now because when you lose all the weight you’re going to have to buy yourself a new wardrobe. It’s true, buying new clothes is very expensive, even when done frugally. But if your closet is filled with clothing that makes you feel terrible (it’s too big, too small, makes you look dumpy etc), when you wear that clothing, you’re going to feel terrible, and when we feel terrible, we’re not always so great at taking care of ourselves, right? Dressing well may seem like superficial, surface stuff, but it’s not superficial if it affects how you feel inside and the choices you’ll make that day. Wear clothing that makes you feel strong, beautiful and confident. If you don’t have any that makes you feel that way, go out and get yourself a few basic pieces that do that you can mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe. I promise you it will be worth the time, money and effort.

Only wear clothes that you feel confident in - get rid of everything else!

Only wear clothes that you feel confident in – get rid of everything else!

7. Accept that there isn’t a quick fix for losing weight.

If there was a magic pill that made weight loss easy, we’d all be taking it. If you want to lose weight safely and keep it off long term, then you need to learn how that’s possible. If you fall for a “quick fix” and it helps you lose the weight, what’s going to help you maintain your new weight loss? It’s a lot easier to do the work and then adapt that once you reach your goal, than it is to speed into your goal and stumble trying to figure out how to stay there. Constantly looking for something that can make us lose weight quickly sets us up for failure – fast weight loss usually is gained back. Why be disappointed over and over? Often, it’s poor habits that result in weight gain in the first place, so it’s important to create new & better habits slowly so that they stay with us for a long time. If you can accept that there isn’t a quick fix and you’re willing to do the work it takes to get there, then you are far more likely to be successful in the long run. And that’s what we really want, isn’t it?

Slow and steady means you'll arrive at your destination. photo credit: Ancient One via photopin (license)

Anything worth doing is worth working for, even if it’s slow paced!   (photo credit: Ancient One via photopin (license))

8. Connect with your Why.

Why do you want to lose weight in the first place? Is it motivated from somewhere inside of you? Or is your motivation coming from an external place – such as what someone else thinks of you or wanting to be seen in a bikini? While everyone’s motivation is different, having an internal personal reason for wanting weight loss is usually more powerful than an external motivator. Connect with a deep reason why losing weight is something you desire and you’ll be well on your way to reaching your goals.

I hope some of these tips help you to release some of the pain and pressure that we often associate with weight loss. We want to make your weight loss permanent – so we need to connect with things that support us and that we can do indefinitely.

If you like what you’ve read here, please consider signing up for emails from me (in the green box below). And if you think someone you know may benefit from this post, please email or share on social media (and thank you for sharing!). And as always, if you’d like some help getting to the bottom of your weight or food habits and struggles – contact me for a discovery session today. You are worth the investment in yourself.

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10 Days, 10 Dinners

Of all the things I get asked, “What do you eat?” or “What do you make for dinner?” is probably what I get asked the most. Last year I did a blog post that was an entire week’s worth of food in pictures.  It went over well – people loved to see what my meals / snacks consisted of.  I’ve been meaning to do one of those again but for some reason only seem to remember to take pictures at dinnertime!! So I thought I’d post a week and a half worth of our dinners so that you can see how I’m eating lately. So this is what I really ate for dinner from 4/28 – 5/7 (yes, it took me almost 2 weeks to get it into a blog post but when you see the LENGTH of this post you’ll see why!). I’ve included a loose version of a recipe for each meal (but I made most of these up on the fly with the exception of any linked recipes so it’s possible I’m forgetting an ingredient!) in case something interests you.

My hope is that these types of posts inspire you to get creative in your kitchen and see how easy and delicious more whole foods in your diet can be! And while I don’t want anyone to think that they need to eat exactly how I eat to lose weight or be their healthiest – eating the way I’m eating these days makes me feel my best. It keeps my cravings to a minimum, gives me tons of energy and it keeps the binge monster at bay. I want to encourage you to pay attention to how the foods that you eat make your body feel (and how the way your body feels affect your brain/emotions). It’s different for everyone and I encourage you to experiment to find what feels good to you.

My only gripe with our meals lately is that I feel like I need to make more of an attempt to eat  a couple vegetarian meals, at least for me. This is hard to do in our house as we don’t eat soy protein and John hates/can’t tolerate beans/legumes (and it’s rare for me to cook 2 different entrees). It’s something I struggle with. The meat / fish we do eat is always the highest quality I can get my hands on. I do not buy feedlot meats. I can’t support that and I cut back in other areas of spending so that we can afford healthier and more humane options.

Anyhow, enough blah blah blah here are 10 Days, 10 Dinners

1. Tues – 4/28
Wild Salmon and Oat Cakes with Salad and homemade tartar sauce

(and Tessemae’s Green Goddess Dressing). I totally went back for a second helping of salad and an extra “cake”.

These came out super good which I was sort of surprised by! I bought a 14.75 oz can of Wild Alaskan Canned Salmon – the kind that has bones and skin in it – and the only way I could think of making it that would disguise bones/skin (gag!) was by making salmon cakes. I’ve always avoided these types of cans because the idea of the extra bits grossed me out but since my dairy consumption consists mostly of butter, I need to make extra effort to get calcium from other foods and guess what salmon bones have?? Yup, calcium (and vitamin D too).  And eating the skin increases the amount of healthy omega 3 fats by more than double per serving and since those are essential for reducing inflammation we need to eat them where we can! I’m over my fear of skin and bones in canned salmon and will definitely buy it again – it’s quite a bit cheaper than fresh and it’s already cooked so it’s a great way to save time and money.

How long this took to make: 20 – 25 minutes total (includes Cakes, tartar sauce and veggies for salad)

Wild Salmon and Oat Cakes with Salad and homemade tartar sauce

How to make this:

I just drained the liquid from the 14.75 oz can of wild salmon, poured the contents into a bowl and literally crushed the crap out of bones and meat up with my hands. The bones are super crumbly and the skin was rather soft so it all blended up in small bits very quickly. When it was the right consistency for cakes, I stirred in 1 whole egg, an egg white (leftover from making mayo so I thought why not?), roughly 1/4 cup of rolled oats (processed in the food processor to a breadcrumb consistency), a few tbsp of chopped onion, 1 stalk of chopped celery, a little dijon mustard, garlic powder, parsley and a dash of tamari.  Mixed it together with a spoon and heated up my favorite cast iron skillet on medium high heat.  I added about a half tbsp of both butter and olive oil to the hot skillet and when hot, scooped about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the pan (per cake) pressed it down with a spatula so it formed a patty shape, cooked for about 3 minutes, flipped and cooked for about 3 minutes more. I cooked 3 at a time (and I think this made 7 or 8 total). They got an awesome brown crust and stayed together well.

TIP: I think the reason they worked out so well was that I let the mixture sit for a few minutes while I cut up salad veggies and the skillet heated up so the oats had time to absorb some of the moisture.  For the tartar sauce, I just made my homemade olive oil mayo and added some diced bubbies pickles to it, and a little of the pickle juice.

The best part was this meal came together in just a few minutes – I think start to finish was 20 minutes. It helped that I didn’t make the salad dressing – Tessemae’s makes ones with really simple ingredients so I buy it occasionally to save myself some time (not that dressing takes more than a minute – but I get tired of whisking!).

2. Wed – 4/29
Whole Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower and green beans
.

I know, who the heck makes a whole roasted chicken on a weeknight? This girl does. We eat pretty late so even if I don’t get home until 7 I can still stick a chicken in the oven for dinner. I will roast a chicken with just about any vegetable combination – it’s an amazing way to have a delicious dinner that looks and tastes like you slaved forever! The juices from the chicken flavor the vegetables and the natural sugars in your starches caramelize – you can’t replicate this stuff on the stovetop (well you can but it’s a lot of work)!  After you’re done with the chicken, save the carcass for making broth (I put them in the freezer until I’m ready).

How long this took to make:  Active time, 5 minutes Inactive time, 90 minutes

Desktop Pictures2

Whole Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower and green beans.

How to make this:

Prep for this took 4 minutes!! Chopped up a head of cauliflower into big florets, sliced two sweet potatoes into thick circles (skin left on but scrubbed well), rinsed a bag of fresh green beans, chopped an onion into a few chunks and then placed all of that in a big roasting pan. Drizzled with a little olive oil and tossed the veggies with my hands. Sprinkled with a little sea salt and black pepper, made a well in the center and stuck in a 5 lb organic chicken. The only thing I do to prep the chicken is open the bag it came in, remove any neck/giblets or whatever, stick it in the pan and sprinkle it with salt. That’s it (no rinsing, no trussing, no butter, no fuss!!).  Bake a 4-5lb bird with lots of veggies/root veg of your choice at 425 for 80 – 90 minutes. It’s perfectly done every time!  You don’t have that much time? You can cook just the bird by itself at 450 degrees for 50-60 minutes (and cook your veggies another way). This is the type of stuff we should all learn I was talking about here – techniques for cooking instead of specific recipes.

3. Thurs – 4/30
Got take out from You You in Nashua

I ate my weight in sushi and spicy mayo (though the spicy mayo was homemade and I used low sodium tamari instead of the soy sauce they gave us). Sorry no pic! Just picture me eating a massive plate of various sushi and smiling the whole time. I swear, I would eat it every day if I didn’t think it would give me mercury poisoning.

4. Fri – 5/1
Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg.

I was feeling a little breakfast for dinner ish but had some turkey I wanted to use up so a hash it was! I added some weird spices because that’s how I roll. Meals like this are a great way to work vegetables in and not even feel like you’re eating them. You’ll laugh but I cooked kabocha squash for me and potatoes for John. He can’t do squash but I would cut off my arm to eat it more often! I could have eaten potatoes too, but I just really wanted to eat my squash, so I made two things out of selfishness really. To be honest, the way I cook, it didn’t make extra work for me. I literally roasted the squash and his potatoes on the same cookie sheet in the oven for the same amount of time. This time, I went back for seconds of just the squash. I love me kabocha.  You should try it if you haven’t before – it’s drier and nuttier than butternut squash.

How long this took to make:  About 30 minutes for the hash and eggs, 60 min for my potatoes / squash (but you can microwave so that it can all be done in 30).

Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg

Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg

How to make this:

Cook your starch however you want (I baked potatoes and kabocha squash whole in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour or so. You’re welcome to microwave yours to save time). While your starch is cooking, saute a big bunch of chopped kale (I used lacinato – it’s my favorite), 1 chopped zucchini, half a chopped onion, and 8oz of sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil, coconut oil or butter. When they’re mostly cooked, remove from the pan and cook 1 to 1 1/4 lbs of ground turkey in the same pan until cooked through.  Add the cooked veggies back to the pan, plus some paprika, garlic powder, turmeric and (weird I know) ground allspice, plus some sea salt and pepper and stir / cook until most of the liquid released from the veggies are gone. While you’re cooking in the spices, heat a skillet up over medium low heat, add some fat and fry up a few eggs to your desired doneness. Serve the hash on top of your starch and an egg or two on top of that.  It’s super awesome with salsa on top.

5. Sat – 5/2
Went out to dinner at Copper Door with the hubs and his dad

I had Wood Roasted Haddock with corn-crab hash, fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, bell peppers and sweet compound butter. Also had 2 chicken rangoon appetizers (yup, I ate wheat) and a Manhattan the size of my whole fist. (sorry no pic!). I could totally replicate the haddock dish at home, no problem. Those rangoons though . . .

6. Sun – 5/3
Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

Made homemade Chicken broth (using the saved carcass from Wednesday’s dinner) while we were home this weekend and turned it into a delicious and easy to digest soup (was having stomach pains after my wheat indulgence the night before).  If you have a high quality, rich tasting broth, you can make delicious soups with just a few ingredients since the broth is already so flavorful. Try it, I swear you will wonder why you ever bought store broth!

How long this took to make: Since I had homemade broth already, soup took about 30 – 35 minutes total.

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

How to make this:

Place 1 to 1.5 lbs organic boneless chicken breasts or thighs in a 4 quart dutch oven or stock pot. Add enough broth to cover the chicken plus 2 inches (they should be completely submerged and covered by 2 inches of liquid) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, I added a 1/2 cup of arborio rice, a two inch piece of peeled fresh ginger and about a tsp of anise seed (which I immersed in the broth tied into a piece of cheesecloth). You can also use 3 or 4 whole star anise.  I brought it back to a boil, then reduced to a simmer and let the chicken cook 15 -20 minutes (or until cooked through). I removed the chicken from the pan and let cool for a few minutes. Keep the rice cooking at a medium low temp and add more broth if needed. While the chicken is cooking, heat up a saute pan with a little fat of your choice and saute a chopped onion and 4 sliced stalks of celery until softened, about 6 or 7 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, chop up into bite sized pieces. Remove anise seed and ginger from the rice/broth, add chopped chicken, sauteed celery and onion and your raw but sliced head of bok choy to the pot. Add 1 tbsp low sodium tamari, a dash of rice vinegar and 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (or 1 tbsp fresh grated). Heat everything through and season with pepper.

7. Mon – 5/4
Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

This was the result of one of those nights when I came home and stared into the fridge several times and didn’t know what to make. Nothing was appealing to me, I was tired and really didn’t want anything that we had. Took a chance in throwing this all together and it worked out well!

How long this took to make: About 45 minutes.

Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

How to make this:

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut two big zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon then lightly rub with olive or melted coconut oil. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. While zucchini is cooking, heat fat of your choice in a medium sized saute pan and cook 1 diced onion and a roughly chopped fennel bulb (freeze the fronds for the next time you make broth – adds a delicious flavor and it’s good for the belly) until softened (about 6 or 7 minutes). Add 1 lb grassfed ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Add 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp ground allspice and stir until ground beef is cooked through. Season with sea salt and black pepper.  While the meat and zucchini are cooking, make a quick marinara sauce. I take a whole onion, cut in half and remove the skin and place the two onion halves in a hot sauce pan with a little olive oil or butter and then I add some dried oregano, either fresh or dried basil and 1 clove minced garlic and stir until fragrant (a minute or two). Then I add a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and generous sea salt and black pepper and I let it simmer for a good 25 -40 minutes (depending on how hungry I am!). When your meat and veggie mixture is cooked through, fill up your zucchini boats with the mixture and place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with marinara sauce (feel free to add grated parm or gruyere if you eat dairy). Serve with steamed green beans and (frozen) organic corn.

8. Tues – 5/5
Spiced Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with pineapple avocado salsa, quinoa and roasted brussels sprouts

This is really easy to make and John liked it despite not liking fish.

How long this took to make: About 30 minutes (Mahi Mahi takes about 10 minutes but brussels take a bit longer)

mahimahi

Spiced Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with pineapple avocado salsa, quinoa and roasted brussels sprouts

How to make this:

I totally cheated with my salsa. I had some Salsa Fresca from whole foods in the fridge. To that, I added some chopped fresh pineapple, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a diced avocado. Voila, Pineapple Avocado salsa bitches. I do make my own salsa sometimes but I’m also a fan of improvising with what I have available at any given moment. Put your salsa aside and make a spice rub for your mahi mahi. Use this as a rough guide and adjust to your needs: 1.5 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp sea salt. If you like spicy you’ll probably want to add some cayenne to that but I leave it out for John. Put it all in a bowl and mix together and then rub it all over (front and back) of 1 – 1.5 lbs Wild Mahi Mahi fillets. Let your Mahi Mahi sit for a few minutes, make some quinoa and prep your brussels sprouts. I roughly follow this recipe. Though I use less olive oil, less salt and cook at a slightly higher temp for less time (say 425 for 25 minutes – it really depends on how big your sprouts are). When your quinoa and sprout are almost done, heat a cast iron skillet or good saute pan over medium high heat, add about 1/2 tbsp of both butter and olive oil and when hot add your Mahi Mahi fillets. Cook for about 4-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through (will depend on thickness of your fillets – fish cooks pretty fast!). You should get a good sear if the pan is hot enough. Serve the Mahi Mahi with the salsa on top or on the side.

9. Wed – 5/6
Wild ramps, swiss chard and organic pork sausage risotto.

My risottos are really more like a bowl of vegetables that have some slow cooked rice mixed in, instead of the other way around. I used more of the chicken broth I made on Sunday instead of store bought – it’s way more nutritious and tastes so much better too.

How do we make risotto? I promise, it’s not as hard as people make it out to be but you do need to be present and available to stir regularly. Once you see that risotto is a cooking technique – and you just need to learn the formula you realize you can add anything to it – there are endless delicious variations. One word of advice, you probably don’t want to make it for the first time on a weeknight if you have hungry little ones waiting on you (try it on a weekend when you have some extra wiggle room).

How long this took to make: About 40 minutes.

risottoramps

Wild ramp, swiss chard and organic pork sausage risotto

How to make this:


You can follow this recipe here. To this, I added a whole bunch of chopped rainbow swiss chard in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. I also use more than 3 cups of broth (probably closer to 5 cups) and have my broth warm before adding it to the rice. I used DuBreton Organic Mild Italian Pork Sausages. If you can’t find Ramps (not exactly in every grocery store are they!), try using scallions, leeks or egyptian onions for a similar light onion flavor (though you won’t want to use the tough green tops of leeks – again save those for broth making!).  If you don’t have vermouth, try white wine – and if you don’t use alcohol, skip it and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a little acid kick. Lastly, the parmesan in risotto is totally optional – it’s still creamy and delicious without.

10. Thurs – 5/7
Paleo Pad Thai

This is super delicious.

Paleo Pad Thai (from The Clothes Make The Girl)

Paleo Pad Thai (from The Clothes Make The Girl)

How to make this:

Use this recipe for Paleo Pad Thai by Melissa Joulwan. It’s basically spaghetti squash with grilled chicken thighs, sugar snap peas, scrambled egg and a delicious sunbutter sauce. We’re not paleo but searching for paleo recipes is an easy way to find recipes that only contain whole foods / real foods and you can adjust them as you see fit. This recipe can take a bit to make so I usually try to make the sauce and cook the whole spaghetti squash the day before (both of which only take a few minutes of active time – but having some steps done saves time when I’m actually cooking).  This is definitely quite different from traditional pad thai but that creaminess and crunch we’ve come to expect from pad thai makes this total healthy comfort food.

There you have it. 10 consecutive days of dinners at my house. What have you been eating lately?

The Real Benefits of a Mindfulness Practice & Last Chance to Save 15%

Most of the benefits we talk about a meditation or mindfulness practice bringing to one’s life are the intangible kind – ones that can only be measured by each person’s individual experience.  But did you know that there are many real, scientific and measureable benefits from daily meditation practice?  Here are just a few of those benefits (with links from scientific studies that used blood tests, MRI’s and other accurate markers of effectiveness):

What’s amazing to me is that doctors don’t prescribe meditation to every single person walking in to their offices. It can help with so many conditions (mental and physical), it can be done anywhere, at any time and without any required equipment or tools. All it takes is a little discipline and a willingness to try something different.

Do you need special training to start meditating? Absolutely not. But if you want support to develop and structured practice that you can customize to your changing needs you should join me June 1st for the 28 Day Spiritual Cleanse. You don’t need to be religious, be into “woo woo” kind of stuff or have any type of experience to get a lot out of this program.  You just need an open mind and be able to dedicate 20 – 30 minutes per day (for just 28 Days) to learning, writing and meditating.  How will your life change for the better?

There are only 2 more days to save 15% with Early Bird Pricing (though you need to be on my email list to get it) so if you are thinking of taking part – now is the time to sign up! If you have any questions I’m happy to answer them – send me a message or leave a comment here.

How A Meditation Practice Can Help You Lose Weight

11187217_944500648914551_6888870963403059405_oMost of us know that practicing meditation can help us feel more peace, more focus and generally more at ease, but did you know that a meditation practice can also help you lose weight?

It’s true. It’s especially true for those of us who identify with being an emotional eater. For people who find themselves eating in order to not feel an emotion (or in order to feel a certain emotion), one of the things they have in common is a lack of paying attention to their eating. What I mean by that is, if we are eating emotionally – usually the act of eating isn’t a memorable one. We eat fast, we chew quickly, if at all, we barely taste the food we’re eating before we swallow it. Many of us read, watch TV or browse the internet while eating. We do anything we can to not be present during our meal.

Why is that? Well, most emotional eaters don’t want to feel something that they’re feeling and they believe that eating this food will bring them comfort. Eating fast and without thoughtfulness is in an effort to distract themselves from the feelings they don’t want to feel. On some level, they believe that overeating or eating the wrong foods feels better than feeling the emotions they are trying to avoid. The worst part is that eating this way feels terrible afterwards and the guilt and shame that comes with it leads to us repeating the habit again and again.

Overeating is the opposite of awareness. And when we overeat regularly, it leads to weight gain. Let a few years of this behaviour pass and it won’t just be a couple of pounds that we want to lose, it can be many pounds as well as health problems.  Most emotional eaters are aware that their eating behavior isn’t normal (how do we know this? We hide our emotional bouts of eating from other people – it’s usually done in secret).  They know it’s not a normal way of eating – so in that sense they are aware that there is a problem, but they aren’t always aware that the issue stems from a deeper unawareness in their entire lives. Overeating to deal with emotions allows us to not be present or mindful or take responsibility for our feelings and actions. It’s a distraction. It’s a painful way to live and can feel impossible to get out of.

Earlier I mentioned that meditation can be helpful in losing weight. The reason for this, is that meditation can be a path back to mindfulness, back to being present and being thoughtful about our choices, not just in our daily lives with how we treat others and feel about ourselves but with how we interact with our food and our bodies. There is nothing mindful about overeating, whereas meditation essentially is the practice of being mindful.

When you first start a meditation practice, it can be really challenging. Your brain likes to keep a constant chatter of thoughts to distract you and your body doesn’t feel comfortable no matter how you sit. But with practice and consistency, it gets easier and you get more out of each session. You’ll find that your meditation sessions bring you awareness in so many other areas of your life, including eating. Your meditation practice will put you more in tune with your body which can help you determine feelings of hunger or fullness and it will put you more in touch with your emotions, which can make us less likely to reach for food. If we’re not using food to deal with our emotions as often, weight loss often becomes a side effect of practicing being mindful.

Will meditation alone fix emotional eating issues? Probably not but it’s one of many tools we can use that can make a huge difference.

Mindfulness Meditation is one of the types of meditations that emotional eaters can benefit from and it’s actually a part of what we’ll be doing on June 1st when the 28 Day Spiritual Cleanse begins.  If you’ve ever considered starting a meditation practice, this is a great way to learn! If you are interested in joining us, my email subscribers get a discount so sign up in the green box below!

Wavering Over A Big Decision? Here’s What I do.

Image courtesy of ponsuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ponsuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it comes to making big decisions in your life, are the answers easy and clear for you? Or is it exhausting trying to figure out the right path for you? If you feel like you don’t really know what to do most of the time it might seem like everyone around you just instinctively knows the answers to big questions like what should I major in?, Should I stick it out at my job or look for a new one?, Should I move in with my significant other?, or Should we have a baby? But the truth is, there are more of us who struggle with making big decisions than those who don’t.

Why is it so hard to choose? Well, we get overwhelmed by the pros and cons of each. We’re afraid that if we chose it will be the wrong choice and we’ll forever regret that we didn’t chose the other way. We worry if it’s the right time or if this is really who we are. We worry about succeeding with either choice. We worry about failure. We feel conflicted between choosing what we want vs. what we think is expected of us. We question if we even know what we truly want deep inside.

I’m tired and anxious just thinking about it, aren’t you?

So what do you do when you have a big decision to make and aren’t sure which way to go?

One thing you can do is talk to friends or family about the decision and hashing out your thoughts on either choice can be a big help. Sometimes just hearing yourself talk out loud is enough to sway you in a direction.  Sometimes feedback from people who love us is helpful because they see parts of us that we may not be able to recognize ourselves. And sometimes feedback from those same people isn’t very helpful since everyone has an opinion (and sometimes their “stuff” gets in the way of what’s right for you) but it can bring up deeper feelings inside you that might be revealing. Writing can also be incredibly eye-opening when you’re going back and forth on something. Writing can helps you to see what you’re thinking about, where the balance is falling and if there are any red flags to watch out for. Writing privately in a journal is a space where you may feel safe to bring up things you wouldn’t in conversation. Doing this can really uncover your true feelings.

What if talking with loved ones and writing about our feelings doesn’t help? Don’t fret, there is still something that can help – Meditation. You’re probably thinking, but I thought meditation was for relaxation?  It is but it’s wonderful for so much more.  Meditation has been incredibly helpful to me when it comes to making some of the biggest decisions in my life (including quitting my job and launching into the coaching field).

Why will meditation help you with decision making? Deep down we are intelligent intuitive beings who have all the answers we need inside of us. It’s true! We really do. Sometimes we get clouded by external (media, parents, societal pressures etc) and internal (our own thoughts) distractions but your soul has an answer for you. You just need to find a way to access it! Meditating can help us access those answers because it quiets the chatter going on in our bodies and minds and it allows those deep intuitive feelings to rise to the surface. It’s an amazingly effective way to get clear and refine your focus in any part of your life.

A few minutes of quiet contemplation, where you focus just on your breath and the question at the forefront of your mind and you’ll often know what to do when the session is over.

You’ll know you’ve reached the right answer when what comes up feels like it is coming from your heart – our true place of knowing. If it feels wishy-washy or immediately wants to contradict itself, the answer is probably still coming from your mind.  Settling in for a longer meditation session may help you go a bit deeper. How do you know it is coming from your heart? It will feel confidently true. It will feel like something you just “know”. The doubt will move aside.

Do you want to try meditating on a big question? Here’s a free 1 Day Meditation for Decision Making that will walk you through it (save it to your computer for later). If you want more meditation tools like this, I have something that can help you go deeper!

When I chose to leave my desk job and start my own business, I spent time meditating on the decision. And when the answer finally came (on 4th of July weekend), it came from my heart (and I walked in and gave my notice that Monday). Yes, I was scared and worried about how or if I would make it all work (the details) but deep down I knew that this was where I was supposed to be.  Meditation helped me stop focusing on the “noise” and the anxiety that was preventing me from stepping out of my comfort zone.

Do you have a meditation practice or want to start one? Share with us in the comments.

Finding clarity is just one of the many many benefits that can come from starting a daily meditation practice. Earlier I mentioned that I have a way for you to go deeper if you are interested in learning more about meditation – it’s my 28 Day Spiritual Cleanse program which starts on June 1st.  In this program, you’ll learn all you need to know to start an enjoyable and effective meditation practice but at an unintimidating beginner level! We’ll go day by day and build on our knowledge step by step so that at the end of the 28 days you can move seamlessly into your own regular meditation practice (because you’ll already have developed one!). There are 3 levels / options for participation. You can read all about them to see which one is right for you here.
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Ps. I’m offering a special discount for early birds who purchase the program before May 20, 2015 at 11:59pm but you have to be on my email address to get access to the discount.  Sign up in the green box below if you’re not already a member!

Blueberry Protein Smoothie

Shutterstock Blueberries

Those of you who know me, know that I’m not a fan of making non-food items a part of our daily diets and for the most part, I think heavily processed protein powders usually fall into a non-food category. Sure there are some decent ones out there but many contain ingredients from questionable sources and fillers that can wreak havoc on your digestive system. While I don’t see anything wrong with using a protein powder occasionally or while one is training for a specific event for a short period of time, I just prefer that we get the majority of our nutrition from things that our ancestors would recognize as food! It’s not that hard if you are willing to spend a little time in your kitchen each week.

One of the things I frequently get asked by clients is how they can get a good amount of protein in their smoothies without resorting to a protein powder – well, there are lots of ways to do it and this recipe is one way that seems to be the most enjoyable for people to drink.  It’s sweet, creamy and super filling! Plus it’s a gorgeous purple color!

If you’ve never had greens in your smoothies, try adding just a leaf or two of the lettuce on your first try and increase the amount of greens you add as you get used to the flavor.  Romaine is pretty mild and blends in pretty well flavor-wise.

This makes about 24 oz of smoothie – 1.5 servings. I like to drink 2/3 of it as a meal and save the other portion (well covered) in the fridge for a pre or post workout snack.  This smoothie is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A and C. A 16 oz serving has about 19 g of fiber, 14 g of protein and 21 g of good fat.

This can be changed up to suit your tastes easily too! I sometimes swap out the blueberries for strawberries and sometimes add some avocado in place of one of the seeds (lowers the protein a bit but it’s just as filling).  Other nuts and seeds like pumpkin, brazil nuts or cashews work well also.  And you get bonus points if you add additional vegetables – I like adding a stalk of celery or some cucumber!

Try this and let me know what you think!

Ingredients
1.5 cups frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 romaine heart, tough end removed, leaves washed
2 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp almond or sunflower seed butter
1 cup water

A sweet smoothie packed with protein and even has hidden vegetables!

A sweet smoothie packed with protein and even has hidden vegetables!

Directions
Put all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend on high until smooth – about 1 minute. If you do not have a high powered blender you may find it easier to blend the hemp and chia seeds first with water, then add the other ingredients in slowly a little at a time.

This makes about 24 oz of smoothie – about 1.5 servings.