[for a prettier version, click here]

In the last article, we talked about how associations affiliated with pain and pleasure dictate personal behavior and how these associations manifest as positive and negative (irrational and/or harmful) behaviors.

That being the case, how do you overcome the negative thoughts and behaviors? You have to change your associations and manage your thoughts. That’s right; you have to manage your thoughts.

There is no magic bullet for this; it takes determination, self love and forgiveness, and lots of practice. It requires you to constantly monitor your thoughts and actions in order to bring them into your awareness. If your thoughts or actions are negative or harmful to yourself or others, stop right there and ask yourself what is going on. What is the underlying benefit that you are receiving by thinking those thoughts or engaging in that harmful activity? 

Better yet, write it down! Make a list of all positive and negative consequences of that line of thought or activity. If you look closely, you will see that it’s the short-term benefits that generally create the impulse to engage in negative thought or harmful action.  For instance, gossiping is a negative and harmful activity, but many people love to gossip! Why? It gives the ego a boost to declare how awful someone else’s behavior has been or how they don’t do things the way you would have done them. If you truly examine the pluses and minuses of gossiping, however, you will find that the negative aspects of gossiping far outweigh the benefits, especially in the long term.

So, when you make your positive/negative associations list, make sure you include long-term advantages/disadvantages on your list. Compare the list with your personal goals and principles and add any alignment or misalignment to the associations list. Be dramatic when making your list!

Using the junk food example above, here’s a possible list of positive/negative associations: Positive—it tastes good, it’s familiar, it distracts me from thinking about an uncomfortable situation.   Negative—it’s making me fat, I feel guilty, I feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable in public because of how it affects my body, it is deteriorating my health, long term it will make me chronically ill possibly even kill me.   Compared to my goals of being healthy and being a good parent: this behavior is 100% anti-healthy and it is setting a horrible example for my kids, not to mention if it kills me, then I can’t even be a parent much less a good one. If I don’t love myself enough to take care of myself, my kids will follow suit. Eating junk food is 100% anti-good-parent behavior!

Armed with these more powerful declarations about eating junk food, you will be empowered to change your behavior. Combined with a plan of action for how to handle it when the impulse arises (plan ahead to eat a banana or yogurt and fruit), you will soon find yourself reaching for that healthy snack instead, and you may even spend time productively addressing the situation you were trying to avoid (e.g., deciding to forgive your mother for something she said that sent you in an emotional tailspin, or forgiving yourself for having the impulse to eat junk!)

 So, the bottom line is, monitor your thoughts and actions, determine what is driving them, change your associations around them, and have a plan of action in place so you know what to do instead or giving in to the impulse. And, write it all down, not only will it be more powerful that way, you will start identifying trends that you can change in order to create the life you so deeply desire!!

I hope you found this post helpful. If you want some tools to help you through this process, be sure to sign up for the FIYB Healthy Lifestyle Initiative! 

Yours in health and well-being,

Alison

 
 
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Greetings readers!

We are now in the first full week of January and it is time for the rubber to hit the road.

If you have ever tried to change any long-term habits you know that changing behaviors can be downright difficult. There are many reasons for this, but here a few of the most common:

·      A habit is a habit is a habit. You’ve been going on auto-pilot for so long you don’t even think about your actions; 
       you just do them.
·      You set unreasonable goals or expect too much change at one time. It’s overwhelming.
·      Emotional blocks or emotionally driven behaviors (do you ever eat ice cream or chocolate when you are upset?).
·      Dread of missing out on something you will enjoy.
·      Dread of engaging in an activity that will make you uncomfortable.
·      Peer pressure (i.e., your dinner host insists you try their chocolate mousse or the boss buys everyone pizza for 
       lunch, and you don’t want to be contrary so you eat it even though it throws a wrench in your plan).

If you think about it, each of the examples above have to do with associations you affiliate with that activity (the pleasure/pain principle). As humans, we are motivated by two forces, pleasure and pain. If you associate more pleasure than pain with an activity, you will engage in that behavior. Likewise, if you associate more pain than pleasure with an activity, you will avoid it. This is the case even if engaging in or avoiding the activity does not make logical sense or if it ultimately causes you harm. As a result, logic and reasoning are thrown to the wind when it comes to our daily habits. That being said, how can you create positive change for yourself when you are inherently, biologically, and illogically change-resistant?

Here are several steps you can take to significantly increase your chances of success:

·      Set a reasonable goal with a timeline (e.g., lose 50 pounds in 12 months).
·      Create an action plan centered on the behavioral changes (e.g., exercise 3 times/week for 30 minutes and 
       eliminate sugar from my diet).
·      Educate yourself! (e.g., if you want to eat a healthy diet, you need to know exactly what that means so you can 
       make informed decisions).
·      Monitor your progress and adjust your action plan accordingly.
·      Identify the scenarios in which derailment is most likely to occur and have a plan in place for each scenario 
       (e.g., snacking on junk while watching the nightly news—instead, have some raw veggies and nuts prepared 
       knowing in advance that is what you will grab when you sit down to watch the news).
·      Figure out the pleasure and pain beliefs you associate with changing or not changing (e.g., if I lose 50 pounds, I 
       will look great, feel better, and find the perfect mate, but if I don’t lose weight, I will get sick, die an early 
       death, feel uncomfortable all the time, feel self-conscious everywhere I go, and feel lonely for the rest of my 
       life). And, don’t be afraid to be dramatic!
·      Change your associations (if eating a tub of ice cream daily brings you visions of delight, review your negative 
       associations before digging in).1 **I highly recommend watching the video listed in the References below. **
·      Know in advance that you may relapse into your old behavior. When you do, forgive yourself and get right back 
       to your action plan. (Don’t dwell on it!)
·      Reward yourself for your accomplishments.
·      Monitor your thoughts at all times—no negative self-talk is permitted, ever!

If you joined our 2015 Healthy Lifestyle Initiative (FIYB HLI), you can access our tools and resources that are designed to assist you through the process of personal change and the HLI blog where we help each other work through the challenges and celebrate our successes as a community.

If you would like to participate in the 2015 FIYB HLI and have access to these tools and resources, all you have to do is register (click here). It’s FREE!!

Here’s to your personal success in 2015.

Yours in health and well-being,

Allison

References:

1. Tony Robbins Pain and Pleasure. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfSj4_n_C_s.

 
 
Greetings and Welcome!!!

First of all, Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!  2015 promises to be a great year, and I am very excited to be kicking off this initiative with you.  But, before we get started, I would like to give you a little background on how this initiative came about.  (This is going to be a little long so please bear with me – I promise to keep future communications shorter – but this is important stuff!)
**if you don’t care to read the background, just read the last 2-3 paragraphs and the post script of this letter**
 
I have worked in the healthcare and/or fitness industry for 25 years, and I have been an active health enthusiast since a very young age. I began my professional career in the industry as a Senior Healthcare Management Consultant with Ernst & Young in 1990, then I became a Health Data Analyst and Client Reporting Manager for a subsidiary of Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield. Between these two jobs, I learned the ins and outs of the healthcare industry from the provider’s perspective (doctors and hospitals), from the insurer’s perspective, and from the employer’s perspective.
 
While I loved the work I was doing, the corporate environment was not an ideal fit for me. I decided at 32 years of age to change my career so I left my job and went back to school. To subsidize my income, I became a certified personal trainer in 1996. I have been training people ever since, and I started FitInYourBody® Personal Fitness Services in 2006.
 
As a health enthusiast, one thing I found curious over the years was the trend toward obesity and chronic disease and the seemingly impossible challenge of losing weight. It stumped me for many years because it was so easy in the 80’s. Clean up your eating habits, move your body, and voila, you easily reeled in those extra pounds. Really, it was that simple.
 
At first, I attributed the ease of weight loss and vitality to youth. But over the years, the challenge of staying healthy and trim, or obtaining that goal, has grown exponentially more difficult. Employing the same weight loss techniques not only didn’t work, but they seemed to have the opposite effect.
 
So here we are at January 2015. There is an alarming rate of obesity and chronic disease in adults, and childhood obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases are on the rise, autism is on the rise, and the average age of puberty in children is going down (in 1860 average age of onset of puberty in girls was 16.6 years, today it is 8-12 years), and there is a direct link between Body Mass Index (BMI) and puberty1.
 
Being an analyst, I am a trend watcher and I fully understand that there are underlying causes for all trends. These trends deeply disturbed me so I became obsessed with figuring out what the hell is going on. And intuitively, I knew that being healthy should be a natural occurrence, not some unachievable desire moving ever further out of reach.
 
What I found in my research scared the daylights out of me. It was very difficult for me to accept the truth at first, but the evidence is so clear I could no longer deny it. And having accepted it, I was able to shift the focus of my research from what went wrong to what can I do about it.
 
So, what did go wrong, why are we in this mess to begin with?  I will spare you the gory details but in a nutshell, for-profit industries place profits first. Healthcare and big agriculture are for-profit industries. Unfortunately, that means that our health and the quality and integrity of our food takes a back seat to money. And, if you dig deep enough you will find industry executives in these and related industries (chemical and oil particularly) embedded in the executive positions of the agencies that oversee and regulate these industries, supposedly in the name of consumer protection.
 
I am not on a conspiracy rampage here, I am just telling you the truth. If you are interested in specific details, I will be happy to provide them. But all you really need to know is that the system is broken. Mass produced food is now engineered like cigarettes to be addictive, it’s laden with substances that are toxic, and official recommendations, policies, and legislation that arise from the overseeing agencies and government officials are not necessarily in your best interest, and frequently they are counter to your health and well-being. These are simply “business decisions” playing out on a grand scale. And the effects over time are cumulative, and frankly they are dangerous; hence you see the trends in obesity, chronic disease, and puberty.
 
How do we get out of this mess? Take your health and well-being into your own hands, period. Vote with your dollars. If you refuse to buy food with no nutritional value, produce that are laden with pesticides or that have been genetically modified, or animal products that have hormones and antibiotics in them, the industries will change their model accordingly, and/or a new healthier, consumer-friendly model will become the norm.
 
Will you have to pay more for food? Yes. Will you have to give up some consumption habits that you enjoy? Probably. Will you look and feel better? YES!  And, I promise you from my own experience, if you make the right changes, weight management will no longer be a struggle, your health will improve, you will look and feel better and have more energy, you will not miss the junk in your current diet, and you will realize that the money and time you spend is a proactive investment in your health and well-being. Think of it as a health savings account that accrues with interest.
 
The purpose of the FIYB HLI is to get the word out on how to take control of your health and well-being. I want to empower you to make the changes that will maximize you health, well-being, and happiness. I will be sharing a lot of information, tools, and techniques that I have found to be helpful in my personal self-improvement journey.
 
Early next week I will send you instructions on how to get started, provide you with some initial tools and helpful links. In the meantime, be sure to read this week’s blog post: http://eepurl.com/baqtl5. And, please start gearing up mentally for the challenges ahead. Everyone is on their own journey. Some challenges will be mutually shared and others will be specific to each person. Some challenges will be easy to tackle, others seemingly insurmountable. Just know it is doable! And, we will have each other for support – there will be a blog forum for sharing, questioning, ranting, or whatever you feel the need to express as you track along the journey.
 
Thank you for coming along for the ride, I look forward to working with each of you over the upcoming months. And PLEASE SHARE this with anyone you think might benefit from the contents. All I ask is that you not give them the tools and resources you receive, rather I ask you to have them register so that they are part of the community.   The registration page is http://www.fitinyourbody.com/new-year.html.  You may, however, forward them today’s newsletter.
 
Here’s to 2015 being the best year ever!
 
To you, your health, happiness, and well-being,
 
 
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I am not big on new year resolutions per se. Don’t get me wrong—setting goals, creating a plan of action, and taking concrete steps toward achieving your goals is a good thing. And it is a tried and true system for successfully effecting change.

My problem with resolutions is that most people approach January 1st as a trigger that will magically empower them with unwavering motivation and self-discipline to quit smoking, go from couch potato to super human at warp speed, or arrive at some other lofty destination without laying down a solid foundation for change or for dealing with the challenges along the way.

Either way, you will need motivation and self-discipline, but without knowing where you are headed or having a plan to get there and an emergency preparedness plan for the bumps in the road, your motivation and self-discipline will soon drain out into the ethers and you will once again be back on the couch using your stomach as a TV tray table. I mean seriously, if you don’t think ahead to pack the spare tire, you will have a much bigger problem to solve when you get a flat. And eventually you will get a flat.

Then there's your feelings. Huh? Yep, your feelings. If you want to shrink your body size from a Mack Truck to a Mini Coop, your goal weight is arbitrary compared with how you believe this change in stature will make you feel—from self-conscious and self-loathing to proud, confident, and sexy?  Now that’s two totally opposite states of existence. Are you truly ready to be on the other side?

I ask because there’s a story behind your desire to change, to be different than you are now. It will help you immensely if you can identify that story and put it front and center so you know exactly what you are dealing with. And the story isn’t just about the end result; it’s about your beliefs around why you are in the position you are in and the reasons you are not where you want to be. Your feelings and beliefs are intricately woven in and around these stories. They prop you up, and they mask your fears and insecurities. They define who you are. And they manifest your physical reality.

Do you believe that Norm Peterson (Cheers barfly) would feel comfortable if he woke up one morning looking like James Bond? No, he would still be the same guy on the inside with the same thoughts and insecurities; he would not feel comfortable in his new skin. (I mean, how awkward would that be for Norm to be suave and debonair?!) Rather than embrace the new reality, he would likely sprint back to his cozy spot at the bar, his familiar comfort zone.

The point I am getting at is that making significant personal change is a process, one that requires planning, personal action, self-reflection, flexibility, and integration. It is personal. It is challenging. And, it is rewarding.

I hope you found the content of this post insightful. I will be providing strategies to help you every step of the way in your 2015 “self-improvement adventure” so keep your eyes peeled for future posts. Thank you for reading!

Here’s to you becoming the best you that you can be in 2015!

Yours in health and well-being,

Allison



 
 
Picture
<-- This is a boiled egg, avocado, nitrate-free bacon and sprout collard green wrap accompanied by fresh grapefruit and pomegranate seeds made fresh in my kitchen. I will be sharing this recipe and many more in the 2015 FIYB Healthy Lifestyle Initiative (HLI)!

If you are looking to make some sweeping changes for the new year, please join us for the FIYB HLI – FitInYourBody Healthy Lifestyle Initiative.

We will be methodically rolling out strategies for success related to healthy lifestyle behaviors that enhance health, wellness, and quality of life. I will be providing worksheets, menu plans, healthy recipes, exercise tips, how-to videos, and much more.

The community of participants will have a separate blog to communicate their questions, challenges, strategies, successes, and feedback so that we can all learn from one another.

It’s going to be a great year. I sincerely hope you will join us!!

SIGN UP HERE

If it’s free, why do you have to sign up?  Because, I am developing a support hub and a community of individuals who are sincerely interested in improving their health and assisting others in their development. Please know that member information will never be shared or sold without the member’s express permission.

How can I provide this for free? I am developing a self-empowering health promotion system that will eventually be packaged and sold. Essentially this is a beta test and the participants are self-selected volunteers. Also, it is my intention to provide such high-quality content that the participants will readily refer my services to others. This way it is a win-win situation for everyone.

Join us, won’t you?


 
 
Hello Everybody!

With Christmas only two days away, I thought a brief note would be more appropriate than an essay featuring a list of suggestions that no one is going to follow between now and the start of the new year anyway.

Seriously, I am just writing you today to say thank you.

I started this newsletter/blog a couple of months ago and I have been receiving a steady stream of positive feedback ever since. And I want you to know how much I appreciate it.

I am grateful to be able to share what I have learned over the years with people who are genuinely interested.

With that said, I have two requests for you:

     1.     Please be safe in all of your holiday travels and adventures. 
     2.     If you choose to overindulge in any less-than-ideal activities between now and the new year, (you know, like    
             eating the entire batch of Christmas fudge in one sitting, having a little too much fun at the New Year’s 
             party, or attempting to win the Couch Potato Olympics by a landslide) please forgive yourself afterwards and 
             move on.

I wish you, your family, your friends, and your loved ones eternal peace, love, joy, and happiness.

Gratefully yours,

Allison    
 
 
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Happy Holidays!

Can I just say, I am so excited for the New Year to arrive?!!

I have been gearing up for the 2015 FIYB Healthy Living Initiative. What is it? Well, I am going to walk you through the steps to becoming the healthiest you possible.

It’s not a “change everything at once” plan. There will be no harsh dieting, days of starvation, or any other radical changes, sacrifices, or torturous activities that cause major distress.

Rather than burden you with New Year’s resolutions that are likely to fail, I will be suggesting incremental lifestyle changes each week. And, I will be providing you with lots of resources to help you make these changes, including meal and exercise planners, recipes, exercise recommendations, and much more.

In fact, I will have a dedicated page on my website where you can find the information and refer to it as often as you wish. So if you get off track, you can simply return and start where you left off, simple as that!

And the best part: it’s FREE!!  That’s right, there will be no charge for you to access the page. The only thing I ask is that you register so I know who is participating and so that I can communicate directly with participants individually and as a group. That way, we can tackle the challenges you experience, answer the questions you have, and share your successes, suggestions, and feedback.

If we work together as a group, we can help each other overcome the obstacles we all encounter.  And, we all have them, including myself and other healthy lifestyle promoters (whether they admit it or not). Together, we can tackle the seemingly unachievable goal of ideal health and fitness. Let’s go!

If you are interested in participating, please sign up here

Oh, and here’s the recipe promised in the subject line of the email. Thank you to my friend Tami P. for this killer dip recipe!!!

Lemon Garlic Artichoke Spread

12 oz frozen artichoke hearts rinsed, drained, and thawed

2 -3 cloves of fresh chopped garlic

Juice of ½ of a lemon

2 tablespoons of fresh chopped Italian parsley

6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Kosher or sea salt, and cracked black pepper to taste

Coat artichokes in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and roast at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  

In a food processor, place artichokes with chopped garlic and lemon.  Add olive oil as you go.  Place in bowl and stir in parsley reserving 1 teaspoon for garnish.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish and enjoy!  

**Add 1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan for a different taste/texture.

Enjoy!

Yours in health and well-being,

Allison

 
 
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In a recent article, I addressed the importance of detoxing as a means for resetting your body’s healing capabilities. But what does that actually entail?

In simple terms, detoxing consists of reducing or eliminating your exposure to harmful substances and/or removing these substances from your body and your environment.

Detoxing helps prevent disease and it allows our organs (skin, liver, kidneys, etc) to function more efficiently and effectively. And it has many benefits, including:

·      Increased energy
·      Improved brain function
·      Weight loss
·      Disease prevention
·      Improvements in chronic health conditions
·      Increased vitality
·      Higher quality sleep

However, detoxing can get quite complicated. So, unless you are the type of person who thrives on diving in head first by tackling everything at once, I recommend taking it in incremental steps, incorporating different aspects into your lifestyle over time. To help you feel better faster, however, it will help to jumpstart yourself with a 2–4 week detox diet, followed by a less restrictive regimen that is closer to your current lifestyle and therefore easier to maintain over time.

One easy way to start detoxing is to look for things in your environment that have chemicals or heavy metals in them, such as deodorant, hair care products, soaps, detergents, laundry supplies, air fresheners, fragrances, scented candles, etc. As these products run out, replace them with chemical-free, natural products. These are readily available in health food stores and in the natural products section of the local grocery store. 

Making your own products is a great way to reduce your exposure and save a lot of money, but there is a time trade-off. In any case, I will share more information on this topic later, but if you are interested in making your own detergents, house cleaners, and such, please contact me!

Another first step in detoxing is to get in the habit of purchasing locally grown, organic produce. If that seems cost prohibitive, start on a small scale. Apples, celery, strawberries, and a few other fruits and vegetables tend to have more pesticides on them from conventional farming methods (for a list of the most important produce to purchase organic, Google “dirty dozen organic”).

The third and most important step is to eliminate processed foods from your diet. That’s right—sugar, breads, pastas, pizzas, chips, etc. The further it is from the food chain, the worse it is for you. (Did you know cellulose is used in many processed foods? It is wood pulp, and our bodies are not designed to process wood products). If stopping altogether is daunting, put rules around it. For instance, if you currently eat pizza once per week, have it once every other week instead, then reduce it to once per month, and so on. And I shouldn’t have to say it, but it is important to stop eating fast food and drinking sodas altogether.

Fourth, filter the water you eat, drink, and shower with. There are lots of undesirable particulates in municipal water and in many bottled waters. Any level of filtering is better than none. I highly recommend reverse osmosis water for cooking and drinking.  See also my recent article about water and water filtration.

Like many things, there is no one-size-fits-all program. But by starting with the four key steps listed above, you will be well on the way to living a lifestyle that supports the healthiest and most vibrant you that you can be!

Don’t forget, we are starting a Healthy Lifestyle Initiative in January. If you are interested in participating, please sign up here. This does not commit you to anything, it just gets you on the list of interested people that we will send more detailed information to in the near future.

Once again, thank you for reading this post!

Yours in health and wellness,

Allison

 
 
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As a personal trainer, I have worked with people across the spectrum, from deconditioned individuals to competitive athletes, youth to seniors, as well as individuals in special-needs populations.

Technically speaking, the formula for exercise prescription is the same for all populations except that modifications should be made based on individual circumstances.  Obviously, a competitive couch potato is not capable of doing the same workout as a competitive athlete. That said, there are some general rules of thumb that apply across the board.

Safety first
  • If you are over 40 or if you have any health issues, get a physical before starting a new exercise program. 
  • If you have a metabolic or blood sugar condition, check your sugar levels before, during, and after exercise – and, keep a record so you know your triggers for blood sugar changes so that you can deal with them safely and in a timely manner.
  • Start where you are – choose a routine that is appropriate for your fitness level (don’t run a marathon if couch potato is your normal pace, start with a 5K instead!).


Be aware of your body at all times

  • Learn the proper form for all of your exercises and check it relentlessly (you know, that is the reason gym walls are covered with mirrors).
  • There is good pain (from muscle exhaustion) and there is bad pain (from inflammation of joints, tendons, previous injuries, back problems, etc), notice any discomfort during exercise – if the pain is from muscle exhaustion, that’s fine. If your discomfort is from anything else, you need to change something (your form, the entire exercise, your pace, etc).

Know that the real challenge is mental rather than physical

  • Getting into the routine of exercising (or any new habit) is difficult. The biggest challenge, however, is not the activity itself but the mental chatter around it - pay attention to your thoughts! You can change them if you are aware of them. And, if you can change your thought patterns, you can change anything!!

Trust your intuition

  • If your gut is telling you that something you are doing isn’t safe or something is off, do something else or ask for help from someone you trust. Or, call me!

Change things up

  • Don’t do the same thing day after day, your body will not progress past the initial benefits of your routine.
  • Boredom kills motivation - try different styles of exercise like cycling, yoga, zumba, boot camps, weight lifting, hiking, running, etc… when you find an exercise style that fits your sensibilities you will be much more likely to stick with it over time!
  • Muscle confusion is a good thing. Changing up your exercise program regularly will help your body improve at a faster pace.

Proper nutrition will help you achieve the results you want

  • If you eat healthy, you will feel better, have more energy, and look better.
  • Your body will also have the building blocks it needs to convert energy into movement and to change the structure of your heart, lungs, bones, connective tissues, and muscles.
  • If you sustain any injuries, you will heal faster.
  • If you want to know what a day of healthy eating looks like, read last week’s post here

Don’t forget, we are amping up for a healthy lifestyle initiative for the new year. I will be providing nutrition and fitness guidance for any/all who wish to join. This will include tips for meal planning, healthy recipes, and exercise planning and incentives. We will also discuss as a group the challenges we encounter and present strategies for overcoming these challenges. If you are interested in participating, click here.

Thanks for reading this post. Catch you next week.

Yours in health and well-being,

Allison

 
 
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Lets face it—eating healthy is challenging on many levels. Aside from the higher price of organic and chemical-free foods, the inconvenience of shopping and preparing food makes it unappealing in our fast-paced culture. That said, we can tackle any challenge that we make a priority.

And, if you do not make healthy eating a priority, then you are practically guaranteed to suffer mild to major health issues (from weight gain to allergies to life-threatening disease).

So what exactly does a day of healthy eating look like? In two words, nutrient dense. 

We are not counting calories or eliminating fat from our diet here folks, we are simply aiming for lots of nutrients, plenty of healthy fats, a variety of fruits and veggies, quality protein sources, and hydration. Honestly, counting calories and restricting fat intake will make you sick! (more on that in a future post)

Following is an example of a totally healthy menu, assuming you are not allergic to any of the items on the menu or have other restrictions from medications or otherwise. (Remember, your diet should be personalized to maximize YOUR health, there is no one-size-fits-all diet, so modify accordingly, and make sure all ingredients are local or organically grown from trusted sources.)

Pre-breakfast: Start your day with a glass of water with fresh lemon squeezed in it (hydrating and alkalizing), followed by a morning cup of unsweetened coffee or green tea (both are hydrating and green tea is highly anti-oxidizing).  If you must sweeten your coffee or tea, use local honey or grade B maple syrup; both have healthful qualities. Feel free to add a Tbsp of extra virgin coconut oil to your coffee or tea! Also, be sure to use natural spring water or filtered water for drinking and cooking as municipal tap water contains chlorine, fluoride, and other undesirable particulates.

Breakfast: Smoothie: In a blender, add ¼ cup of pure fruit juice (i.e., tart cherry juice or pomegranate juice), ¼ cup water, ½ of a banana, a cup of loose greens (kale, arugula, beet greens, spinach, etc), 1 Tbsp chia or hemp seeds, 1 Tbsp almond butter, a handful of berries, ½ apple. Blend until smooth.  Sometimes I add fresh ginger root (1 inch piece), cocao powder, turmeric, cinnamon, pinch of cayenne, or other health promoting herbs to amp up the health-promoting effects.

Snack: Morning snack: organic celery or apple slices with almond butter.

Lunch: Fresh dark green salad with a lean meat or fish and a variety of raw veggies. I like to add red bell pepper, purple cabbage, shaved beets, cucumbers, beans, nuts and seeds, including walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, etc. Easy dressing: fresh lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, sea salt/pepper to taste.

Afternoon snack: ½ avocado with sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil (cold expeller pressed) and a squeeze of lemon with a pinch of sea salt. Scoop it out of the shell with a spoon, deelish!!!!

Dinner: Baked marinated boneless chicken breast, sautéed mixed veggies (i.e., onion, shredded cabbage, and squash), raw veggie salad with vinaigrette (i.e., cucumber, red bell pepper, and carrots with vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper to taste). 

Dessert: ¼ cup dairy-free coconut ice cream with raspberries and a squeeze of lime and a small piece of 85% cocoa dark chocolate bar.

Other Notes: Be sure to drink filtered water, natural spring water, or mineral water from a trusted source, and no sodas (neither sugary nor sugar-free). Keep fruit juices to a minimum (due to sugar content) unless you have them fresh squeezed with lots of nutrient dense greens and veggies juiced together with them. Also, this type of eating is very low in carbs and high in nutrition, a formula for optimal health from my personal experiences.

Regarding fats, use only healthy fats—i.e., extra virgin olive oil for cold foods and salad dressings, coconut oil, and butter from local grass-fed free range cows for sautéing and hot food applications.  I give my eating plan, which has lots of other suggestions and guidelines, away for FREE. Click here to request one!

Eating this way takes some planning and advanced food prep, but it is well worth the effort!  I promise, if you eat like this every day, your life will change for the better. You will lose weight easily, you won’t feel hungry, and you will look and feel healthier and more vibrant.

For the new year, I will be leading a healthy living initiative. Keep your eyes out for the upcoming formal announcement and please join us! Basically, I will create weekly eating plans and will suggest modifications for special needs (i.e., vegetarian, food allergies, etc). I will also provide some guidance on exercise and recommended physical activity. We will walk through this together and discuss challenges, successes, and strategies for overcoming the biggest hurdles we encounter.

Once again, I hope you found this post informative and helpful. Thanks for taking the time to read it!

Yours in health and well being,

Allison