My Three Step Method for "Detoxing" (That Doesn't Involve Green Juice or Suffering)

My Three Step Method for "Detoxing" (That Doesn't Involve Green Juice or Suffering)

Feeling a little bleh after the past month of holiday eating? You might be tempted by all the detoxes you're seeing marketed this time of year. But the key to health isn't in a bottle of green juice. Learn my three step method for "detoxing" (heavy emphasis on the ""s) that doesn't involve green juice, deprivation or suffering. 

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Wellness Wednesday: On Creating Habits

There's a common perception about creating habits that unhealthy ones form because it's easier, but that's not necessarily the case. Learn why in todays Wellness Wednesday post. 

Creating habits

Happy Wellness Wednesday! It's a bit of a crazy week for me. I'm headed out of town this weekend to Tybee Island for a girls weekend, then next Thursday, I'm going to Asheville with my mom for a night followed by a few extra days with friends. So basically, I've got two weeks in a row where I'm packing a weeks worth of clients and writing and emails into 3 days. Eek! It's great being your own boss and having the flexibility to do these things, but I definitely miss having coworkers who can cover for me!

Despite the craziness, I wanted to pop in with a quick post on habits, always a popular topic in my practice :) And with good reason! Forming habits that promote health is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. When an action gets embedded as habit, you do it without even thinking about it. Healthy habits make healthy living a breeze because you do them automatically.

However, the common perception is that it's really hard to create healthy habits. That healthy habits take a lot of effort to start and solidify, while unhealthy habits are formed because they're easy. We order takeout pizza after a long day of work because it's easy compared to cooking. We watch netflix instead of going outside for a walk because it's easy to stay on the couch. We shove our feelings and emotions inside instead of addressing them because it's easy to suppress and push on compared to doing the deep work.

But creating unhealthy habits isn't easier than creating self care habits, especially not in the long run. That's because your body will fight you the whole way. When you continuously choose ultra processed foods versus learning a few nutritious, tasty and easy to whip up dishes, you'll start to feel pretty bleh and your tummy won't be so happy either. When you deprive your body of movement, you'll feel lethargic and possibly even depressed without those happy endorphins. When you continuously bottle up your emotions versus expressing and dealing with them, it'll shown in your digestion, your mood and your relationships.

So in a sense, both good and bad habits are hard work. To create an unhealthy habit, you have to fight against your body. To create a healthy habit, you're fighting with your body.

I'll let you chew on that for a minute :)  Feel free to share thoughts in the comments below!

How does your body fight back when you try to form unhealthy habits? 

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Diets Don't Work. But What Does? Joyful Eating Program is Here!

Today marks the official launch of the Joyful Eating, Nourished Life program! Learn why diets don't work and what does, and how we incorporated it into our program. 

Joyful Eating Intuitive Eating Program

Hey guys! Exciting things are happening today - we are officially launching Joyful Eating, Nourished Life, the online intuitive eating program I created along with my lovely dietitian friends Anne and Alex!

As we wrap up the last little bits of the program (we're actually together in DC recording the audio this week!), we can't help but feel so proud of the program we've put together. And it feels like perfect timing too. With the release of The Biggest Loser study adding to a pile of evidence showing that diets simply don't work, plus International No Diet Day on Friday, the world is ready for a better, more compassionate way.

You probably know, either from research or experience, that diets simply don't work. You've experienced the cycle of weight loss and regain and the feelings of failure and shame that come with it. Whether it's the Whole 30 or low carb or Weight Watchers, you know it's not a sustainable way of eating. In your heart, diets just don't feel right.

But when another diet trend pops up, you hop on board, because what else is there to do? If diets don't work, what does?

First off, we must redefine "work." Working isn't getting your body as small as possible, as quickly as possible. If that's your aim, dieting is the way to go. Just don't expect your body to stay there or for your life to be very pleasant while you're dieting.

I understand the desire for rapid weight loss and having a "perfect" figure, especially when the diet industry makes it seem so achievable. But I think there's a growing number of people who want wellness over thinness. Who want to savor food and not fear it. Who want food to contribute to a joyful, well-nourished life.

When we use that as the definition of work, here's what does:

Making peace with food.

At the end of the day, no matter how much it's disguised as a "healthy lifestyle change," all diets set up a system of labeling food as good and bad, healthy and unhealthy. Of course, this simply creates a forbidden fruit scenario. You want it because you can't have it, not necessarily because you love it. In our Joyful Eating program, you create the rules. You dictate which foods bring you joy, taste good and make you feel great. You also dictate which foods aren't really worth it, deplete your body of energy and leave you feeling bleh. When you make the rules, you stick to them.

Moving your body for the fun of it.

Hate working out? You're most certainly not alone. That's because diets have turned fitness into a chore, an action that needs to be checked off the list in a quest to obtain a perfect body. The focus is on efficiency, not fun. Not only that, but recent research has shown when you exercise with a weight loss mindset, it frequently results in weight gain. Think of how easy it is to compensate by eating more ("I worked out hard so I earned that extra cookie") or moving less ("I went to the gym this morning so I deserve to relax on the couch the rest of the day"). Learning how to move your body in a way you enjoy, for benefits other than calorie burning, is a game changer. Yes, even you, the gym-phobe can learn to love fitness! In Joyful Eating, you'll learn to stop working out and start moving, how to view fitness as 'you time' and tips for building movement into your day.

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Building sustainable habits and healthy behaviors.

Diets mean changing everything at once. One day you go to bed with a belly full of ice cream and chocolate (probably because you knew you were starting your diet tomorrow and weren't sure when you'd be "allowed" to eat it again), and the next day you wake up to a breakfast of egg whites and grapefruit. That's fine for getting quick results in a short period of time, but we're guessing you're wanting to live a healthy lifestyle for, well, life. Research on building habits shows that to build habits that stick, you have to start small. Joyful Eating teaches you how to create small, achievable goals that lead to habits that stick, so eating and living well eventually become fairly effortless.

Looking at the big picture.

What you eat matters, there's no question about that. But so does sleep, movement/fitness, stress, emotions, mindset. Each of these factors is so interrelated, it's impossible to change one without considering another. Have you ever sacrificed sleep to fit in a workout? Sure, you made it to the gym, but the missed hours of sleep mean a slower metabolism and greater hunger. Have you ever tried to diet without addressing your emotional connection to food and emotional eating? Then you know all the willpower if the world won't help when you're feeling stressed and there's chocolate cake nearby. In Joyful Eating, we look beyond the dinner plate and take a holistic approach to your wellness.

Embracing your body for where it's at now.

There is no single "right" body. If you've seen some of the stunning plus-size models working today, you know that to be true. Furthermore, there's no "right" body for health. Health isn't a size, it's the outcome of healthy behaviors. The truth is, you can be healthy and you can be beautiful (or handsome!) at any size. It's impossible to know what size is right for you, where your body will naturally settle when you're feeding it well with nutritious foods and leaving some room for mindful indulgence. There's no harm in embracing your body for where it's at right now. It's not the same as giving up - it's allowing you the strength and confidence to make changes that focus on health without the distraction of the scale. 

[Tweet "Diets don't work....so what does? "]

Joyful Eating, Nourished Life is a 6-week, online program that seeks to do all this and more. In it, you'll learn how to improve your health without calorie counting, diets and restriction and instead, foster wellness with healthy habits and a positive mindset. While the program is rooted in intuitive eating principles, we've also included basic nutrition, like meal planning strategies, fitness, and meditation to give a well rounded, holistic approach.

Here's a look at what the program includes:

  • A 50+ page starter guide, including 10 principles of joyful eating, 15 no-recipe formula meals and snacks, finding your happy weight and additional resources.
  • Bi-weekly emails with in depth, written lesson plans packed with action steps, learning activities, strategies and support.
  • Access to a private facebook group during the program for support, encouragement and sharing with other participants, and access to Q&A with Anne, Alex and Rachael.
  • Membership to a Joyful Eating alumni facebook group with other graduates of the program for the life of the Joyful Eating program.
  • Weekly challenges provided on a handy tracking worksheet to monitor your progress and success.
  • A guided meditation series in audio format.
  • Weekly thought provoking journaling exercises.
  • Four audio lectures for listening and learning on the go.

[Tweet "Joyful Eating, Nourished Life, a 6 week #intuitiveeating program is here! "]

Our first group starts June 20th! We're offering it at a special rate, so sign up today if you're ready! If you'd like to learn more first or sign up for the mailing list for future groups, head to the Joyful Eating, Nourished Life website. 

Read what Anne has to say about Joyful Eating! And Alex too! 

Wellness Wednesday: How To Set A New Years Non-Resolution That Will Actually Change Your Life

Fed up with new years resolutions that don't last past February? Learn my strategy for how to set a new years non-resolution that will actually change your life by 2017! 

Learn how to draft a new years non-resolution that will change your life, not just your January!

This Friday, 127.6 million or so Americans will make a New Years Resolution. Over the course of the year (who are we kidding, over the course of January), 117.4 million of those resolutions will fail. Failure will lead to guilt. Guilt will lead to running shoes collecting dust and empty pints of Ben and Jerry's and general feelings of crappiness.

Then next year, we'll do it all over again.

Most people know New Years resolutions don't last, usually from experience. But it's one thing to know resolutions don't last, and another thing to make it through the hype of the season without setting one.

I get it. There's something magical about a new year. It's exciting to think of starting with a clean slate. Trust me, I've set my fair share of New Years resolutions that have fallen by the wayside.

Most resolutions are destined for failure. This post I wrote a couple years ago on seven types of resolutions that always fail will probably sound familiar to you. I promise, your failed resolutions have absolutely nothing to do with you, your abilities or your willpower and everything to do with the fact that resolutions aren't designed to last past January. They're either focused on a result rather than an action ("I will lose 30 lbs in 2016!") or if it's focused on an action, it's not exactly a realistic action ("I will cut out all sugar from my diet!").

This does't mean there isn't a way to dramatically transform your life by 2017. Try setting a new years non-resolution! Some day I'll think up a catchier name ;) A few years ago, I created a method for creating a sense of starting anew while making sustainable changes that will actually last past January 17th. I hope you'll ditch the resolution and give this a try instead!

STEP 1: 

Find a quiet place. Light some candles or do whatever you need to make it a calming, meditative space. Get comfortable. Spend 15 minutes or so thinking about what you want out of this new year. Where do you see yourself a year from now? If you could do, have or be anything in 365 days, what would it be? Think big!

STEP 2: 

Now, pull out a journal, your computer or even a few loose pieces of paper. Write down what you came up with. Don't feel the need to use correct grammar or even complete sentences. This is for you and you alone, so as long as it makes sense to you, that's what matters. Spend as much time on this as you like, but at least write for 15 minutes. I aim for about 45. Hey, you're planning out the next 365 days of your life - you can at least set aside a good hour!

STEP 3: 

Read over what you wrote. Do you notice any reoccurring themes? See if you can summarize your hopes and desires into one mantra, or even one word. No big deal if you can't, it just helps to have something memorable you can repeat in your head when times inevitably get tough. Last year, my word was 'joy' and my mantra was 'live joy, give joy.'

STEP 4: 

Pull out another sheet of paper or another page in your journal. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and write down as many specific actions as you can to make your dreams a reality. Remember, write down things you can DO, not the results you hope to attain.

STEP 5: 

Look back over the list. Pick out one action item that you feel pretty confident in your ability to achieve and you think will bring measurable results. Circle it. Now, turn that action into a SMART goal.

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable 

R = Realistic

T = Time specific 

So, something along the lines of "I will practice yoga for 30 minutes 3 times a week" rather than "I'm going to practice yoga tons!"

Congrats! You created your January goal! They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, so using one month to focus on this specific habit gives you some wiggle room to struggle, yet solidify your new habit. If needed, break your goal down into weekly steps, but whatever you do, make sure you sent plenty of reminders and accountability.

STEP 6: 

Come February, look back and your goal and see how you did. Did you achieve it or not? Since your goal is specific and measurable, that should be easy to answer. If you struggled and didn't achieve your January goal, that's okay. Really. Try to figure out why, troubleshoot, and tackle it again in February, or put it back on the list for later.

If you were successful and you're ready to move on to a new goal, find another from your list and go back to step 5.

[Tweet "Learn how to set a new years non-resolution that will change your life in 2016! #newyearsresolution"]

I should note that I'm a huge fan of doing this somewhere around January 4th. The holiday season is crazy! Right now I'm trying to catch up on work from Christmas, plan the New Years/Clemson party we're hosting and deal with the fact that there is a giant hole in our house where the wall used to be and hope that nobody notices said hole at the party (unlikely). I know I'm not alone in being exhausted. Give your body some time to recalibrate so you can do this with a fresh mind.

Now, a few tools to help with your non-resolution. This year I discovered the Passion Planner day planner and I am more than slightly obsessed. It was on back order so it just arrived on Monday. It felt like Christmas all over again! I was checking the mail every day for it's arrival! Besides being a generally awesome planner, with space for separate work and personal to-do lists, it's designed to help you plan and execute your own personal passion plan. There's space for you to write your daily and weekly focus, weekly challenges, and space to write and reflect on each month. It was basically made for keeping track of your non-resolution! And there's motivational quotes, my favorite :) If you pick one up, would love it if you could include my personal email as the referral (RachaelWallace4@gmail.com) - I get a free one if more than three people order and I'll definitely want another next year!

Passion Planner is the perfect tool for keeping track of your new years non-resolution!

Getting more exercise is always a popular new years resolution. Unfortunately, exercise sucks...or at least it does when you're doing a workout you don't enjoy. That's why I love Booya Fitness, which has hundreds of different types of boutique workout videos for less than $10 a month (rather than $30 a class!). It's a great way to try new workouts to find out what you love, or always do something different so you never get bored! In collaboration with Booya, I curated a Mind & Body 4 week plan that includes tons of different and FUN workouts, and daily eating advice with an emphasis on mindful eating. It's a steal at $4.99! (p.s. that's an affiliate link). If you're thinking about signing up, be sure to do so before January 10th when they'll be rolling out a contest where you'll have the chance to win tons of awesome fitness prizes!

If your goal for 2016 is to become a more mindful/intuitive eater, I hope you'll check out my guide, 20 Days of Joyful Eating. It contains 20 exercises that will help you rebuild a healthy relationship with food, plus room for journaling. You could even pick out 12 of them to use as your monthly goals next year!

Have you ever set a new years resolution? Did you achieve it, or did you struggle? What do you think went wrong? 

 

 

 

An Exercise in Self Compassion

It’s always fascinating to me what I’m struggling with personally often parallel what my clients are going through. Perhaps it’s a case of synchronicity or maybe I’m picking up on topics weighing heavily on my mind. Either way, I often find myself immersed in a ‘theme’ from my personal to professional life.

Lately, that theme has been self compassion. If I’m not mindful about it, I can get pretty hard on myself, especially when it comes to professional success. After three months of website issues that have sucked up my free time and a slow client load with recent travel, I’ve definitely had days where the feeling of failure has been pretty overwhelming.

Seeing people beat themselves up over what they did or didn’t eat isn’t anything new, but recently it seems my clients have been struggling with it more than normal. A lot of it has to do with our recent flooding here in Columbia. The three week boil water advisory got many off their cooking game, and the nonstop dreary weather certainly hasn’t been helpful. I totally get it. I feel like curling up on the couch with a bowl of macaroni and cheese too (and probably would if I could motivate myself to go out in the rain to pick up some cheese).

Do you operate under the belief that willpower and self discipline are the key to weight loss success? If so, your self talk around food might sound a bit like an overzealous high school football coach. “What were you thinking eating those cookies Steve!?! How could you be so stupid?? If you keep messing up, we’ll never get to 130 pounds…I mean the State Championship!”

Many people are afraid that showing self compassion is the same as giving themselves unbridled permission to do it again. That forcing themselves in line with negative self talk is the only way to keep their compulsions in check

That’s not the case. Beating yourself up will just lead to a black hole of negativity and chip away at your self esteem. There’s even research that shows self compassion works. In one study, women were asked to participate in a ‘food tasting study’ that examined donuts, candy and other sweet treats. The women who were given a talk on self compassion and reminded that everyone eats food like this ate significantly less that those who didn’t receive the talk.

Trying to be a little nicer to yourself? Try this self compassion exercise I use with my clients next time you’re feeling guilty about something you ate. Take a close look at the eating event, and ask yourself the following questions to take a more compassionate look at the situation.

  1. PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION. Remind yourself that reaching goals requires progress, not perfection. No matter how awful you felt your slip was, there’s likely some glimmer of progress. Even noticing what’s happened or making the attempt to eat or think differently is a success. So you ate a bowl of ice cream. Maybe you used to eat it out of the container. At least this time it was portioned in a bowl. Maybe you overate French fries. Feel proud of the fact that you noticed you were eating mindlessly and made attempts to pay attention. Even if you can’t find the silver lining in that specific eating event, chances are there were other times during the day where you did make progress on other eating habits. Remember, it’s the cumulative effects of these small changes that make a difference, not one singular event.
  2. WATCH THE INTERNAL TALK. What are you telling yourself about the eating event? What words are you using? Try to catch all the negative words and stories in your head. Phrases like “I cheated” or telling yourself “I’ll always be fat so I might as well eat the rest of the cake” can only have a negative effects. Imagine a child or a friend was in your shoes. Would you repeat the things you say to yourself to them? No, because it would have a negative impact on their behavior and self esteem. So why do we talk to ourselves this way? Change your story to something more hopeful and constructive, even something as simple as “Hey, I slipped, but at least I’m trying.”
  3. ASK WHAT HAPPENED. Instead of beating yourself up in hopes of shaming yourself into submission, examine what events led up to your slip. Was it an emotional state that led you to self sabotage or make an impulsive decision? Or was it something physical, like hunger. Maybe there was a cue you missed, like forgetting to leave your apple snack on the counter. Try to find the root cause.
  4. MAKE A PLAN. More than likely, you’ll find yourself in a similar situation again. Plan for it. What could you do differently the next time? What could have prevented the slip. Or, maybe you really loved what you ate. What could you do to be able to enjoy it or other worth it splurges in the future without feeling guilty. Think of a plan and set concrete goals that will help prevent future slips.

Now, I encourage you to try this method yourself. Think back to the last time you felt regret about what or how much you ate. Try to remember everything about that event and go through these four steps. Did you learn or realize anything? If so, please share in the comments below!

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How To Never Cheat On Your Diet Ever Again

I'm on a one woman mission to get the term cheat meals out of our vocabulary. Read why on todays Wellness Wednesday post. 

The problem with cheat meals
The problem with cheat meals

Don't you just feel awful when you cheat on your diet? The guilt can be overwhelming. Wouldn't it be nice if there was some simple strategy that could stop you from cheating? Well guess what? There is.

I never cheat on my diet and you don't have to ever again because I'm spilling the beans on my top secret strategy today!

Stop calling it cheating.

The term 'cheat meal' is like nails on a chalkboard to me. When a client comes in for a session and confesses to cheating, they're always shocked to realize I'm disappointed in their terminology, not in what they ate.

The problem with cheat meals
The problem with cheat meals

When it comes to eating, semantics matters. Cheating is full of negative connotations. Whether in school, sports or in a relationship, cheating is wrong and cheaters are bad people. Does it not seem absurd to use the same term for committing adultery and eating too many cookies? By calling it 'cheating,' you're essentially telling yourself you did something wrong and you're a bad person for it. This, of course, will lead you to feel quite guilty.

One problem with feeling guilty about eating unhealthy food is that it inevitably leads you to eat more unhealthy food. You think "Welp. I've blown it. Might as well give up." I call this the 'to hell with it' effect. It's your greatest enemy in making real lifestyle changes, and the main culprit behind yo-yo dieting.

Another problem is that it distracts you from examining the situation objectively, figuring out why you overdid it, and developing a plan for next time you're in a similar situation. Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow, but that's hard to see when you're overwhelmed by guilt.

Cheating on your diet
Cheating on your diet

I beg of you, stop saying you cheated on your diet! If you ate something unhealthy that you truly loved, own it. Do you really expect to go the rest of your life in a monogamous relationship with salads and green smoothies? Of course not! Instead of saying "I cheated and ate a slice of cake" say "I ate a slice of cake and dammit it was good!"

If you ate something unhealthy that also wasn't satisfying (ummm, the crappy pizza I lived off for a couple days when I got real behind on meal prep), there are other phrases that don't carry the same emotional load as cheating:

  • I struggled
  • I slipped
  • I overate
  • I had a rough day
  • I binged

And for goodness sake, please stop planning cheat meals. The idea of planning your indulgences in advance is a smart one - it helps limit unplanned indulgences which usually aren't quite as satisfying (hello stale donuts at work!). Instead of calling it a cheat meal, I prefer the term 'splurge.' The term has positive connotations, implies getting the maximum amount of pleasure (aka SAVORING it) and that it's an occasional thing. Isn't that a much nicer term?

Cheating stems from an all-or-nothing approach to eating. It's a hard mindset to break. If you need help breaking up with dieting and getting started with a healthy lifestyle that will help you achieve your happy weight, feel free to contact me for individual nutrition coaching.

Wellness Wednesday: Meal Planning 101

Meal planning is key in a healthy lifestyle, but starting the habit can be difficult. Learn techniques in meal planning 101. 

Meal Planning 101

I worry that a few of my clients are starting to think I've turned into a broken record for all the time I spend nagging encouraging them to start meal planning. I hate to keep harping on it, but I know how critical it is to permanently change eating habits. When you've got healthy and tasty meals planned, you eat healthy and tasty meals. It's as simple as that.

Think about the last time you ate something you immediately regretted. I'm willing to wager a bet that it happened because you didn't have a plan for what to do when your stomach started to rumble.

Getting started is the hard part, but once you've done it awhile, it becomes second nature. Since it's the end of summer/back to the regular grind time, what better time than to develop a new habit?

To make it stick, you've got to find a method that works for you. There are many ways to meal plan, but most fall into one of these three categories.

[Tweet "Learn 3 strategies for meal planning in Meal Planning 101 by @RHartleyRD"]

Three Meal Planning Strategies

THE RECIPE METHOD // The recipe method consists of taking out a cookbook (or pinterest), picking out the recipes you plan to cook that week, then creating a shopping list from those recipes. It's helpful to have at least a few different cookbooks geared towards the type of food you like and want to eat (check out my resource page for recommendations). Or, save the money and use the vast resources of the internet. Some of my favorite websites are Weelicious for family friendly meals (and for new cooks), Cooking Light for quick meal ideas, and Epicurious for those with more exotic taste buds. And of course, there's always pinterest.

When picking out recipes, there's a few questions you'll want to ask yourself:

  • How often do I want to go grocery shopping? I think a good goal is once a week, but some prefer more frequent trips, others, less frequent.
  • What food do you already have on hand? Look for recipes that use ingredients you already have, especially those that might go bad in the next week or so.
  • How many meals do you need? Seems obvious, but if you're going out of town or have plans a few nights, don't plan meals for those days.
  • Do you eat leftovers for lunch? Or do you like to pack a separate lunch? If so, plan a make ahead meal that will last five days. Try my mason jar salads or a grain bowl.
  • How long will my vegetables last? Some vegetables spoil quickly while others can last a week or longer. Plan meals with both perishable and sturdy vegetables and use the ones that go bad quickly first. Here's a handy printable guide with the shelf life of produce.
  • How much time do you have to cook? If your week is crazy, don't plan to make authentic Spanish paella from scratch.

Another tip - plan one meal made with ingredients that will last longer than a week or pantry staple ingredients. That way if plans pop up, you aren't left with tons of leftover food.

I use the recipe method to meal plan, partially because I like the security blanket of having a recipe in front of me, but also because I love getting inspiration from my cookbook collection.

THE FARMERS MARKET METHOD // Although I call this the farmer's market method, you don't have to shop at the farmers market. This recipe method allows you the flexibility of cooking balanced meals without a recipe, so you can pick up whatever looks fresh and beautiful at the farmers market, or wherever you do your shopping! As long as you have basic cooking skills and aren't afraid to get creative in the kitchen, you can make this time saving method work for you.

Knowing each meal will need a 1 protein, 1 carb and a couple vegetables, count up how many meals you want and purchase enough from each category. So for 4 meals, you'll need four proteins, four starches, and at least eight vegetables. To save time, cook enough to stretch the ingredients into two meals.

For this to work, you'll need a well stocked pantry with plenty of herbs, spices and flavorful condiments which can transform dishes from bland to exciting. Most of these last essentially forever, so once you have it on hand, all you have to do is replace what you use each week.

Here's an example for four meals using a pretend farmers market/grocery store stash:

Proteins: eggs, whole chicken, black beans

Starch: brown rice, tortillas

Vegetable: head of lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, frozen spinach

Meal 1: Whole roasted chicken seasoned with dried herbs, brown rice cooked with onion and garlic, salad topped with sliced heirloom tomatoes and mustard-apple cider vinaigrette

Meal 2: Chicken and brown rice soup (made with leftovers) with carrots and celery. Swirl with jarred pesto for a flavor boost.

Meal 3: Make migas with scrambled eggs, black beans and tortilla strips served with grilled zucchini and cherry tomatoes. Garnish with jarred salsa and cilantro.

Meal 4: Vegan enchiladas filled with black beans, chopped broccoli, frozen spinach and a homemade enchilada sauce made with canned tomato sauce and spices.

[Tweet "A simple strategy to plan healthy meals in advance without a recipe! "]

THE OUTSOURCE METHOD // Hate meal planning? Or maybe you've got multiple allergies and sensitivities in your household that make planning difficult. Pay someone else to do it. Hey, it's an option!

There are many websites that allow you to generate healthy menus for your family, but there's only one I know of that features meals designed by dietitians. My friend Ann and her colleague Lesley recently launched My Menu Pal, which provides you with weekly downloadable meal plans. As the parents to young children, they definitely kept busy parents needs in mind when creating their service. It adapts the recipes the the number of children in the household and all of the recipes are simple and kid friendly, but exciting enough to keep parents more evolved taste buds happy. For only $6-9 dollars a month depending on the package, it's a great value.

I also work with clients to create individualized meal plans rooted in my philosophy of whole (and delicious!) foods. Because I adapt each menu to your individual nutrition needs, cooking skills, taste preferences and dietary needs, it's especially beneficial for anyone struggling to plan meals around food sensitivities, a crazy lifestyle or limited cooking skills. It's developed specifically for you and (if applicable) your families needs! For $200, my five day meal plans include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and each recipe includes ideas for multiple adaptations so you never get bored! Purchase a personalized meal plan in the nutrition shop or email me at AnAvocadoADayRD@gmail.com for more details.

Now, I want to hear from you. Do you meal plan? If not, what's kept you from meal planning? If you do meal plan regularly, what are your favorite tips? Share in the comments below! 

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Wellness Wednesday: Lessons on Emotional Eating from a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

If you're feeling tired, stressed, bored and sad, it's hard not to turn to food for comfort. Here's four lessons on emotional eating I learned from a particularly stressful week. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you somehow missed by 4,763 frustrated tweets and instagram posts, then let me fill you in. Last week stunk. Technological difficulties in getting our ebook launched, a virus that knocked out my computer and website for 48 hours, and getting ready for a weekend out of town added stress to an already full week.

When I'm stressed, I crave everything sweet. Not an apple or a square of dark chocolate sweet. Like, a giant hunk or two of gooey blondie drenched in chocolate ganache kind of sweet. Or a double scoop of cookies and cream in a chocolate sprinkle cone sweet.

Oh, and cheese, lots and lots of cheese.

Yes, that's right. I do not posses superhuman willpower or taste buds that do not recognize the amazingness of chocolate cake or brain cells that don't light up when sugar hits my tongue.

What I do have though, are engrained habits that make it harder for me to dive face first into cheesecake and a (hard earned) balanced relationship with food so I don't feel guilty if I do.

The benefit of this was quite apparent as I came to the end of my week and realized I felt pretty great and ate mostly nutritious foods. Here's some of the lessons I learned and habits that were reinforced after my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

1. Keep it out of the house. Environment is everything. A number of studies have shown one of the most effective and easiest ways to reduce your intake of junk food is by simply keeping it out of the house. If you have cookies, candy, and ice cream available, you will eat cookies, candy and ice cream, probably until they're all gone. Goodness knows I would have. That doesn't mean you can't ever enjoy these foods or purchase the occasional worth it splurge, but limit the amount that's easily available. I like to enjoy a daily sweet treat, so each week I plan a healthy treat along with our weekly menu. Here's a list of 15 of my favorites or check out my Tame Your Sweet Tooth Guide for 16 low sugar and no added sugar recipes!

2. Delay. When a craving sets in, instead of telling yourself no or immediately indulging, tell yourself you can have unlimited amounts in the future, then delay. In one study, participants were provided with candy after being asked to imagine they can't ever eat it, imagining they can have as much as they want later on, or being told they could eat unlimited amounts. Those who were told to delay ate significantly less. I experienced this firsthand last week when I was having a major chocolate craving. We had one bar of Fireworks dark chocolate from Trader Joes (ah-maze by the way)  and my immediate desire was to eat the whole thing. Instead, I postponed, telling myself I can have as much as I like in the future, just not now. When I did finally indulge, I felt truly satisfied with a couple squares.

3. It's never too late to eat mindfully. I try to eat mindfully as much as possible, but I'm no Buddhist monk. One night, I found myself going to town town on a bag of lentil chips, barely tasting the chips as I ate. After my second handful, I noticed and slowed down. After a few more bites, I realized I wasn't hungry or craving chips in the first place, I just wanted a distraction. People often approach mindful eating with an all or nothing mindset, either setting out with intentions to eat mindfully or not at all. But it's never to late to stop a binge in it's place, reconnect with your food and savor it mindfully.

4. Sometimes food really does make you feel better. Thursday morning, all I wanted was a bagel sandwich with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I woke up early, immediately got to work on the web issues and three hours later, I still hadn't eaten. I wasn't intentionally trying to skip breakfast, but whenever I thought about making a smoothie or the overnight oats I had on hand, it was completely unappealing. So, I went out to Einsteins and got an everything bagel sandwich with smoked salmon and extra cream cheese. It was bliss. And guess what? As I took the last bite, I got a message from IT support saying they found a solution. Coincidence??? Probably..but it felt pretty great while I was enjoying it. In thinking about it, I think the key for successfully emotional eating (never thought I'd say that!) was that I identified a specific food that I really and truly wanted, didn't indulge immediately and savored it mindfully when I did. Most of all, it was because I didn't feel a single speck of guilt.

[Tweet "Sometimes food really does make you feel better. When is emotional eating okay?"]

Almond Trail Mix Cookies

 

[Tweet "Four Lessons On Emotional Eating by @RHartleyRD #intuitiveeating"]

Hopefully this shows you how emotional eating can be a struggle, even for people who seemingly have it all together (at least on the food side, ha!). Looking at the clients I work with, emotional eating is their greatest struggle. It's difficult to separate food from emotion, and impossible to do entirely. But by building healthy habits, you can start to have a relationship with food where it isn't your crutch.

For those struggle with emotional eating, tell me a little about it in the comments below. Are their certain emotional triggers you struggle with the most? Certain foods you crave? Any strategies you've used to combat emotional eating?

 

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Wellness Wednesday: Why Habits Fail

If you're one of the majority of Americans who has given up on your resolution, you might be feeling like a failure. While you have not failed, your habit has. Read on to learn why habits fail and what you can do about it. 

Why Habits Fail

It's that time of year. If you made a New Years Resolution, then you probably know what I'm talking about. The wave of motivation you rode through January has since crashed and the blizzards and sales on Valentine's Day chocolates and the fact that you can't find your favorite leggings all seem like valid excuses to give up on your resolution. I actually saw an article published last week called "The Week Your New Years Resolution Dies." Harsh, yes, but appropriate - studies show four out of five resolutions are given up by the first week of February.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've probably guessed I'm not a fan of resolutions. Most are destined for failure. But I promise, I won't say I told you so, even if there's a teeeennny little bit of me that wants to. If you're in that 80% of failed resolutioners (is that a word?), you likely feel bad enough already.

Notice I named this article "Why Habits Fail." It's not, "Why You Failed" or "Why You're A Lazy, Horrible, Worthless Human Being." I truly believe it's impossible to be a failure. If you have the ability to wake up and try again, then there's another opportunity for success.

Habits, on the other hand, can fail. And I would venture to say nine times out of ten, it's due to a failure to plan or a poor plan. Most often, I see the same five mistakes in planning repeating themselves. Do any of these sound familiar?

1. FOCUSING ON THE RESULT.

Was your New Years Resolution to lose 20 lbs? Or maybe to run a half marathon. That's fantastic, but you can't wish and hope and pray for it to happen, you have to make it happen by building a lifestyle that makes it difficult to fail.

Plus, what happens if you get this close to the result you wanted, but not quite there? Do you pack it in and call it a day?

I once worked with a man who had previously set a goal to lose 50 pounds. He had lost 43 pounds before hitting a plateau. After killing himself at the gym and basically starving himself to no avail, he gave up and regained most of the weight. When I asked him about how he felt 43 lbs lighter, it was clear he had actually reached this goals -  he was happier, his knee pain was gone and he fit into his old clothes. Despite that, his focus on the result told him he was a failure.

2. TAKING STEPS THAT ARE TOO BIG.

Habits change bodies and lives, not goals. To create a habit, you must regularly repeat the same action day after day. The bigger the action, the more motivation it takes to get started. Motivation is like a muscle and wears down with time, so you can go ahead and presume you'll have none of it at some point.

Eating a serving of vegetables at dinner, meditating for two minutes or jogging around the block may not get you the result you desire on it's own, but these steps are the foundation for building habits. The hardest part of each action is getting started. Once you start these actions, you may find yourself filling your plate with vegetables, meditating longer and jogging harder. If not, that's okay. These two minute actions are certainly better than skipping entirely and you won't feel guilty afterwards because you hit your goal.

3. SETTING TOO MANY GOALS.

Starting a new habit takes an incredible amount of mental strength and attention. If your mind is spread between too many new habits, you won't have enough to complete one.

Studies show the more habits and goals you work on at once, the less likely you are to succeed. I set three as an absolute max when I goal set with clients, and for myself. Note, we're talking about really small goals here. Working on two big habits at once is about as difficult as working on 20 mini-habits.

4. NOT ANTICIPATING BARRIERS.

When you're excited about making a change, it's kind of a downer to think about what could possibly get in your way. But, if life has taught me anything, it's to expect the unexpected. Rarely do things workout according to plan.

It's easy to maintain a habit when you have all the tools you need at your disposal. But some days, you'll be missing a hammer or a wrench or maybe your entire toolbelt. What will you do?

In motivational interviewing, a coaching technique commonly used in healthcare, there's a tool called the confidence in change scale. It involves asking someone to rank the confidence in their ability to change on a scale of 1-10, ten being 110% percent confidence and one being not at all confident. In one class I took on motivational interviewing, the instructor told us someone who says ten is just as likely to fail as someone who says one because overconfidence is just as dangerous as lacking confidence. If you're overconfident, you won't anticipate the barriers that will almost certainly arise. Without a plan to deal with the barrier, your goals are easily derailed.

5. BEING A NEGATIVE NANCY.

Let's say you want to lose weight. Losing weight generally requires eating copious amounts of vegetables. You hate vegetables. So, you silently whine about all the lettuce and zucchini and carrots and curse each bite of Brussels sprouts.

With that type of outlook, do you think eating more vegetables is a change you'll be able to maintain? Probably not.

Instead, what if you acknowledged the challenge, but viewed it as a way to find new foods you love and expand your taste buds? Approaching the new habit with a positive attitude makes success much more likely.

Forming new habits forces you outside your comfort zone and that's usually not a pleasant thing. Focusing on that negativity guarantees your habit will fail, while focusing on the positive almost guarantees success.

[Tweet "Struggling with a #goal? Learn why #habits fail & what you can do about it"]

So, which one of these killed your resolution?

There's no rule that says a goal has to start on New Years. If your goal is still important to you, take a step back, evaluate your plan and take another stab at it. View your earlier struggles as a learning opportunity, regroup and develop a new plan. And remember, you are not a failure, just your habit.

Need help in reaching your goals? It's hard to do on your own! I'm here to help.

Did you make a New Years Resolution? If so, how is it going? Has a goal or yours ever failed due to one of these five mistakes? 

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