Weight loss success is almost always measured in pounds, but a happier you is also a healthier you. Success is not only about getting to a healthier weight. Not at all. Success is…
* Showing up for yourself with kindness on a moment-to-moment basis.
* Appreciating how far you have come and how much you have learned.
* Being compassionate and forgiving of yourself and others.
* Stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new things.
* Never giving up on yourself or your dreams.
I believe that success is trying—PERIOD.
Still, most of us (myself included) tend to focus on what we are doing wrong. We see the negative more than the positive. This is totally normal, but you can train yourself to notice all the GOOD instead.
The following exercise is from psychologist and educator, Martin Seligman. Seligman is known as the founder of positive psychology, a field of study that examines healthy states, such as happiness, strength of character and optimism. And this scientifically-proven “happiness” exercise is one of my favorites…
At the end of each day set aside a few minutes to write down three things that went well for you that day. The three things don’t have to be earthshaking in importance (“Went for a walk in a beautiful park.”), but they can be important (“Received good news from the doctor.”).
Focus on the positive things you did for your health and well being that day, and on whatever made you feel joyful, supported or uplifted.
And next to each positive event, just answer the question “Why did this happen?”
1) This went well today: Drank a green smoothie for snack (and I really enjoyed it!).
Why did this happen? Because I decided to try something new. Turns out I like smoothies made with spinach, who knew!?
(You’ll find lots of delicious green smoothie recipes HERE.)
2) This went well today: Found a ton of healthy recipes to try on Skinnytaste.
Why did this happen? Eating better is important to me and I’m committed to making healthy changes in my life.
(If you think you’re too busy to eat healthy, go HERE.)
Why did this happen? Because I want to treat myself with love and respect (I deserve that!).
(Go HERE to discover how you can self-love your way to slimmer body.)
This simple exercise is a powerful daily practice—POWERFUL—because what you focus on expands and grows. And when you focus on your daily victories and appreciate what is already good in your life, your day feels like a success – because it IS a success!
Simple. Profound. Life changing. Try it for just one week and see what happens.
Be honest: Raise your hand if you’ve ever said something like this …
“I want to eat healthier, but I don’t have time to cook.”
“I’d love to eat home-cooked meals made with whole foods, but there aren’t enough hours in the day.”
“I really want to eat better, I just don’t have enough time.”
Yup, my hand’s raised, too. We’ve all been there, right? Busy is the new (not-so-healthy) normal, and it’s all-too-easy to use busy-ness as a self-sabotaging excuse.
But the real (busy) truth is this: You define your priorities every single day by how you CHOOSE (yes, it’s a choice) to spend your time. So let’s try replacing “I don’t have time” with “It’s not a priority” – like this …
“I want to eat healthier, but it’s not a priority.”
“I’d love to eat home-cooked meals made with whole foods, but it’s not a priority.”
“I really want to eat better, I just haven’t made it a priority.”
Big difference, huh!? Once you choose to make eating better a priority in your life, you’ll find a way to make it happen … no matter how busy you are.
Still, I know we all have a lot going on – balancing work, kids, family, friends, and more can leave us with little or no time to cook labor-intensive meals. I get it, truly.
But here’s the good news, with a little planning and a few hours of preparation each week, you CAN get healthy meals on the table in a flash, and it’s not complicated.
Simply streamline your week by prepping some of your meals ahead of time. It’s easy, effective, and (SERIOUSLY) sanity saving.
By investing a few hours on the weekend preparing for the week ahead, you buy yourself a whole week of fuss-free and good-for-you breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.
Remember, one of the BEST ways to love and respect yourself is to provide your body with nutrient-rich foods that make you feel your best (read more about how to eat like you love yourself HERE).
So today I’m sharing my own meals and food prep from a few weeks ago. This is exactly what I ate, and exactly what I prepped, for one week. Three quick things before we dive in…
1) Be Flexible. The key to food-prep success is flexibility. I never create a set meal plan; I just prep a bunch of meals that I can mix-and-match throughout the week.
That way when things come up (dinner at my sister’s house, running into an impossible-to-resist food truck, an impromptu date night with Aaron, or whatever), I can just roll with it.
You can prep foods (such as beans, hard-boiled eggs, chopped veggies, and grains), you can batch cook (double recipes and freeze half for later), or you can prep meals the way I did below. It’s totally up to you.
Try things out and see what feels right to you. Just don’t get stuck in the biggest meal-planning mistake of being too rigid. Keep it loosey-goosey and just adjust as the week unfolds.
2) Cook Mindfully. Cooking can be just as enjoyable as eating if you let it. Here’s how…
* Keep your phone out of the kitchen to minimize distractions. Same goes with the TV or any other tech devices. Make this YOUR time.
* Listen to calming music while you prep and cook for the week – check out one of my favorite chant CDs HERE.
* Stay present and try to focus on one task at a time before moving to the next one. This is challenging for me, for sure, but the more I practice this, the more I fall in love with cooking.
* Read this awesome article – The Quiet Joy Of Cooking. Author Dana Velden is so practical and so wise.
3) Eat Intuitively. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not (and no matter what you’re cooking for the week), learning how to eat intuitively is crucial. HOW you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat.
Your body knows exactly what it needs to thrive and naturally reach its ideal weight—you just have to get back in tune with it. Read my previous post on eating intuitively HERE.
Note: I cook for just two people (me and my fiancé Aaron), so 1 recipe yields 2 or 3 meals for us. If you’re feeding more or less, just adjust your menu and prep as need be. Also, obviously, use the freshest and best ingredients you can find. Check out this must-read book for more on this.
Honey And Wild Blueberry Smoothie from Pinch of Yum This is my favorite smoothie at the moment. (I make it with spinach.)
Avocado Toast + Summer Fruit Sliced avocado on toasted whole-grain bread with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt is so tasty, so fast, and so awesome. I pair it will melon, cherries, or stone fruit.
Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie from Gimme Some Oven This is my second favorite smoothie at the moment. (I do not make it with spinach – hah.)
Summer Fruit + Nuts + Hard Boiled Egg This no-fuss, no-muss breakfast is ready in minutes. Any combo works. I like…
Zoodles And Slow-Cooker Turkey Meatballs from Skinnytaste Spiralizing (AKA making noodles out of vegetables) is the best thing since sliced (whole wheat) bread – I use the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer. I serve this dish with a simple salad (greens, avocado, radishes, carrots, seeds, crumbled cheese, and oil & vinegar).
Weekday Vegetable Soup from 101 Cookbooks
This is my go-to veggie soup. I make this soup with vegetable broth instead of water. And I throw in whatever veggies are in season. In summer I usually add zucchini and corn. Instead of making the basil pistou, I top this with some leftover power pesto (see pesto recipe link below). I serve this soup with whole-grain crusty bread or a simple salad (see above).
Egg, Tomato And Scallion Sandwich from Skinnytaste Like everything from Skinnytaste, this sandwich is seriously delish. And easy! Having hard-boiled eggs ready to go makes all the difference (see Meal Prep below). I make this with toasted whole grain bread instead of rolls.
15-Minute Spicy Shrimp With Pesto Noodles from Pinch of Yum This power pesto, made with spinach, kale, and almonds, is to-die-for. And it goes with everything. I use the extra pesto for chicken sandwiches and as a soup topping later in the week.
Chicken Pesto Sandwich Whole grain toasted bread filled with grilled chicken, sliced tomatoes, and leftover power pesto (see pesto recipe link above). I serve this with a simple salad (see above).
If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I believe that long-lasting weight loss is NOT about dieting or deprivation. Slimming down, improving health, and living a happier and Bigger Life is about…
1) Understanding WHY you overeat and treating yourself with kindness (learn more HERE);
2) Learning HOW to eat intuitively and to trust and respect your body (find out how HERE);
3) Discovering WHAT foods help you drop pounds, feel energized, and keep your soul satisfied.
And (delicious, real, and good-for-you) food is what this post is all about. Because food is a seriously important part of self-care. In fact, one of the BEST ways to love and respect yourself is to provide your body with nutrient-rich foods that make you feel your best.
Food is also the universal connector—I mean, we all have to eat, right!? We all celebrate with food, socialize with food, and fuel ourselves with food. Food is a life-giving necessity and eating shouldn’t be complicated. Or boring. Or overwhelming. It should be simple. And nourishing. And enjoyable.
My own relationship with food has changed drastically over the last 10 years (you can read my story here), and I’m so thankful for that.
So today I’m sharing all of my (super-helpful and super-awesome) real-food resources and tools with you. Here’s what you need to know (and do) to start eating like you love yourself…
“Eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, Food Rules brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food.” If you only read one book about nutrition and food, THIS is the one to read, period.
Real foods are those that are unprocessed, unrefined, whole and fresh, free of additives, colorings, flavorings, sweeteners and hormones. They’re as close to their natural state as possible.
And when you eat real foods (rather than highly processed ones) you’ll notice that you just feel SO MUCH better, as these are the foods that provide your body with what it needs to function at its best.
While there are no hard and fast real food rules, my friends over at 100 Days of Real Food have a great list of good-to-eat foods that I love…
In a nutshell, you clean up your diet by eating MORE vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats, and LESS refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats.
It’s also important to choose foods that are good for you AND good for the environment (see sustainable food links below). And if you eat meat please consider only eating meat from humanely-raised animals. You can find out more about why and how to do this in these links…
So what about take-out pizza, peanut butter cups, donuts, and a zillion other not-so-great-for-you foods? Look, it’s all about eating real food in the real world. Here’s what I do…
Most of the time (maybe about 85% or so) I eat nutrient-dense, clean foods I love (I shop at farmers’ markets, I drink green smoothies, I cook delicious real-food recipes, and I search out healthy foods everywhere I go). And the rest of the time, well, I just don’t worry about it. And neither should you.
Clean-eating advocate Michael Pollan (see his above-mentioned book) really says it best…
“Obsessing over food rules is bad for your happiness, and probably for your health too. Our experience over the past few decades suggests that dieting and worrying too much about nutrition has made us no healthier or slimmer; cultivating a relaxed attitude toward food is important.”
Just do your best, and forget about the rest. Also know that once you get back in sync with your hunger (learn how to do that here), you’ll be able to eat anything (yes, anything) you want… and still lose weight.
But you’ll reach your goal weight a lot faster, and you’ll feel 1,000 times better, if you nourish yourself with whole and delicious real foods more often than not.
LISTEN TO YOUR (VERY WISE) BODY
As a dietitian, a question I get asked a lot is this: What’s the best eating style for health and weight loss? Is it vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, Paleo, raw-food, pescatarian or [insert any other eating style or specific diet here]?
My answer is always the same: Only YOU know which foods are right for your body. You can absolutely work with an integrative nutritionist (I suggest dietitian Danielle Omar) to help you get clear on a nutrition strategy, but you and you alone are the real expert of your body, and you are always your own best teacher.
A part of nourishing yourself from a place of love is listening to your body and noticing how it feels and reacts to your food choices. Start to make connections by tuning in to how different foods affect your mood, energy levels, and cravings, and pay attention to how your body feels when you eat (or don’t eat) certain foods.
Your body is communicating with you all the time, and it’s up to you to slow down and pay attention to its messages.
EAT LOCALLY-SOURCED AND SUSTAINABLE FOOD
Sustainable food is better for the environment, better for you, and better for the world. And local food is fresher, seasonal, and it tastes SO much better than food that’s been trucked or flown in from thousands of miles away.
Eat Well Guide—search over 25,000 hand-picked restaurants, farms, markets and other sources of local, sustainable food.
Local Harvest—find a CSA. CSAs (community supported agriculture programs) provide a direct link between local farmers and consumers by allowing members to purchase a share of a farmer’s crop before it’s produced each season.
Sustainable Table—an online directory of sustainable products in the U.S. and Canada.
At the very least, buy organic produce for the items on the following Dirty Dozen list…
The Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides identifies fruits and vegetables that have the highest (The Dirty Dozen) and lowest (The Clean Fifteen) pesticide residues. Switching to organic produce for the foods listed on The Dirty Dozen list can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80% (80%, WOW!).
Created by husband and wife team Jason and Lisa Leake, this pledge requires following their basic (above-mentioned) real food policies. This 10 day (or 100-day) challenge will give you a true sense of what it’s like to go back to eating whole foods.
COOK YOURSELF HEALTHY (AND SKINNY!)
Cooking blogs that use real, fresh, and seasonal ingredients make eating well extremely easy! My absolute favorite blog is Skinnytaste. I’ve been working with Gina Homolka, the very talented creator of Skinnytaste, for a few years now (I’m the Skinnytaste dietitian), so I know first-hand just how awesome her food is.
Gina’s recipes are exactly what good food should be – clean, nutrient-loaded, and super tasty. Search her extensive database here, or pick up a copy of her cookbook…
“The Fresh 20 is a meal planning service, created for busy families and singles who want to eat fresh, healthy meals, and save time and money. The meal plans rely on simple, healthy, homemade lunches and dinners using just 20 fresh, seasonal ingredients per week.”
“We have the resources you need to fill your freezer with a fresh variety of meals for you to enjoy when you want, and with the same convenience as the freezer aisle. We have two membership options for you to get started and on the path to improved eating!”
In this fabulous program by registered dietitian Danielle Omar, you’ll get clear on which foods DON’T work for your body – which foods cause you to feel bloated, sluggish or lethargic. And which foods DO work for your body – those foods which give you optimum energy, kickstart changes in your body, and reduce your waistline.
This program will also help you get clear on any hidden food sensitivities you may have that could be causing weight loss resistance.
This place is kinda amazing. Thrive Market is an online shopping club on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone.
Thrive Market members can buy the best-selling healthy foods and natural, wholesome products in everyday sizes, always at 25-50% off retail prices, delivered right to their door. And for every paid membership, Thrive Market donates a free membership to a family in need.
Remember, no matter where you are on your food journey, please please please be gentle with yourself and tell yourself (often) that you’re doing the best you can. We’re ALL a work in progress.