Category Archives: TWSM Health and Fitness Tips

New Year, New Fridge, New Pantry, Tips on Organizing-Part One

New Year, New Fridge, New Pantry, Tips On Organizing…

Another top New Year’s resolution is to de-clutter and get organized. I have to admit, I LOVE when all of the cute containers, planners, and organizing gadgets make their debut in early January. 

Clutter unfortunately doesn’t just stay in our closets or behind closed doors/drawers. It can invade our refrigerators, freezers, and pantries as well – a place we and our family members access several times a day. 

Why does it matter that we have an organized and clean refrigerator and pantry? And what does any of that have to do with our health and wellness? Well, it has A LOT to do with it! Have you ever been so overwhelmed by your refrigerator that you just grab whatever is easiest to eat- regardless of how it impacts your health goals? Perhaps you have a hard time cooking a healthy dinner at home because the kitchen is just too chaotic and un-organized and you don’t even know what food is there. 

This is why it matters that we maintain a clean and organized refrigerator and pantry situation. The more aware we are about what we have in our kitchens, the easier it will be to stick to our healthy eating goals. 

Maintaining a clean and organized refrigerator and pantry will not only make going to the refrigerator less stressful but it will also save time and energy when putting a meal together, especially at the end of a busy day. Stress-free meal preparation will not only save our sanity but also save your health goals. And of course, there is the money factor. In addition to saving time and mental energy, keeping an organized fridge and pantry will also result in money saved. Less food will be wasted because you won’t forget what you have and you won’t overlook ingredients and re-buy, hence helping you save money!

Here are 4 Steps to get you started on creating an organized refrigerator for 2021

Step 1: Remove everything from the refrigerator and freezer and wipe down all shelves and drawers using a mild soap and hot water. This will give you a fresh start and also help you take inventory of what you have in there (and what items need to be tossed because they are expired). 

Step 2: Toss any expired foods. 

Step 3: Adjust your shelves. Most new refrigerators/freezers have adjustable shelving and drawers- take advantage of that! Since most of us buy the same items time and time again, find a place to store said items in your fridge and adjust your shelving accordingly. This will help you stay organized and optimize the space you have. 

Step 4 (Optional): If you are really wanting to maintain a clean, organized fridge space, you can line your shelves and drawers after you clean everything and before you re-organize. Be sure to use a heavy-duty, water resistant shelf liner. Using a liner can help make clean-ups from spills easier and cleaning out your crisper drawers from fruit/veggie debris a lot easier too. 

Here are 10 quick tips on how to creatively organize your refrigerator so that it can stay that way and decrease your stress, help you stay on track with your eating goals, and put more money in your pocket. It’s a triple win! 

  • Store the same things in the same place every time you grocery shop. This way you will always know where to go to find the ingredient you are looking for and you will know when you need to buy more/replace the item. 
  • Group like items together- condiments, meat, vegetables, cheese, etc. 
  • Stack to save space, especially if you are storing bottles or cans. Try a bottle/can dispenser so you can get the most space out of stacking your cold beverages.
  • Keep your most often used items front and center and easy to grab. You can also keep healthy snacks (pre washed and pre-cut veggies, fruit, etc.) front and center so you are more likely to grab those when opening the fridge for a snack. 
  • Use your fridge doors for condiments, butter, cheese, juices, etc.
  • Use clear containers to keep like items together. You can even purchase ones with handles to make it easy to pull out and take to a prep area. Maybe you have a sandwich making bin with all of the ingredients to make sandwiches for lunches. You can also use labels to label your clear containers. Be sure to use clear containers so you can easily see what is inside. 
  • Stick kid snacks at eye level where they can easily reach without making a mess. Perhaps you even use a special bin for the kids snacks to keep them separate and organized in the fridge. 
  • Use drawers to separate items, especially produce. 
  • Always rotate items when you grocery shop…bring the older item to the front and the fresh items behind it so you can use the older items before the expiration date. 

 

See you next week for Part 2 when I give tips on organizing your pantry!

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach,
Certified Personal Trainer

 

 

Why You Need To Add NEAT To Your Day

Ok, you’re probably thinking what the heck is NEAT,  Meghan??, just from the title of this post.  Well, I am here to tell you! NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. That’s a lot of fancy words that are probably foreign to you so let me break it down for you.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis are calories burned outside of exercise. Any activity or movement you do during the day that is NOT formal exercise is considered NEAT exercise. Cleaning, walking, raking leaves, moving objects, climbing stairs…basically any activity where your body is moving outside of exercise, eating, and sleeping. Most of us do some amount of NEAT every single day without even realizing it. It’s truly just a part of living our lives. 

So, why is NEAT important and what is the benefit of it? NEAT exercise is important because we can burn more calories by simply moving more throughout the day doing normal daily lifestyle activities. It may be hard to believe, but the energy expenditure and caloric output from NEAT exercise can be substantial and help you to maintain or even lose weight. 

Research has shown time and time again that those who move throughout the day are more likely to maintain their weight or reach their weight loss goals versus those who are sedentary and expend most of their energy in a single exercise session. A greater caloric output occurs throughout the day with various modes of movement than oftentimes you can achieve in a single 30-minute exercise session. 

Most people spend a majority of their day at work sitting behind a computer. This mode of working and living has definitely contributed to our more sedentary lifestyles and obesity epidemic in our nation. One effective way we can shift this is by adding more NEAT movement to our days. 

I often encourage my more sedentary clients who work 9-5 jobs to set alarms throughout the day to stand, go for a walk, or do some air squats near their desk. Try walking to lunch instead of driving if it is feasible. Park further away at the grocery store. There are SO many creative ways we can add more NEAT movement into our day to day lives to help maximize caloric output. Not only can we benefit by burning more calories throughout the day but this will also make us healthier individuals and a healthier country overall. 

NEAT is pretty neat, right?! Give it a try!

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach
Certified Personal Trainer

Weight Loss: Dieting vs. Lifestyle Change

Weight Loss: Dieting vs. Lifestyle Change

As we ring in the New Year, many will also ring in a new diet…cause that’s what you’re supposed to do come the New Year, right?! I’m sure if you are reading this right now, at some point in your life you have been on some kind of “diet”, whether it be a New Year’s resolution diet or some other time of year diet. And by “diet” I mean restricting certain foods/food groups and/or calorie counting with the goal of weight loss. To diet is defined as “restricting oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.”  We could all share stories of success and failure when it comes to our dieting endeavors- whether we’ve done Atkins, Keto, Whole30, Paleo, the blood type diet, veganism, among many more. 

According to the CDC in 2017-2018, 42.4% of Americans were categorized as obese. Obesity is an epidemic that is plaguing many Americans. And along with this epidemic comes a lot of people trying a myriad of diets to try and lose weight- some successful and some not. It is estimated that 45% of Americans go on some sort of diet each year. What most diets have in common is the thinking that if you eat less calories, you will lose weight. But time and time again this has proven to not be the case (for many). 

What is the difference between “dieting” and making lifestyle changes?

Obesity and being overweight can lead to several dangerous and life threatening health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes just to name the most common ones. Oftentimes doctors and medical practitioners will tell their patients it is imperative to their health to make lifestyle changes- healthier eating and more physical activity. 

The difference is that a diet consists of making temporary changes (and often drastic, unrealistic changes) to how you eat. A diet is very input output focused. If I eat this certain way or eat these certain foods, the outcome will be weight loss. 

Lifestyle changes take into account a person’s psychology, behaviors, budget, and values when developing a sustainable plan. Lifestyle changes involve looking at the whole person and every aspect of their life. You can diet all day but if you are a highly stressed individual who emotionally eats and continues to fall into this pattern after a hard day at work, no amount of dieting will truly help you overcome this behavior that is rooted so much deeper. In a situation like this, we need to first address it from a psychological standpoint and help decrease stress or find other coping mechanisms outside of eating.

Why do lifestyle changes have a higher success rate than dieting?

Lifestyle changes have a higher success rate because it’s liveable. It’s balanced. It leaves room to enjoy life and leaves room for grace when unexpected things arise. The goal is to implement changes that can stand the test of time, changes that can be maintained for the long haul and won’t get “old” or “boring”. We have to implement changes and live a lifestyle in which we can get back on track once we have fallen off or we know what we need to do and can execute it after a weekend or a vacation where we were a bit more lax on our diet and exercise. 

The main focus and goal of dieting is weight loss but when this is the main focus, we miss out or give up on other changes in your life that could have positive effects and be beneficial- such as decrease in stress levels, improved health markers, sleeping better, and feeling more energetic. These positive benefits will help someone maintain and sustain those lifestyle changes long-term because they feel better and when we feel better we are in a better mental state to make positive, healthy choices.

4 Ways to Make Sustainable Lifestyle Change

  • Change your Mindset: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, our mindset and perspective is everything. Knowing WHY you are doing something is necessary in order to maintain said behavior. Oftentimes we view eating healthy as restrictive and boring and exercise as dreaded and torturous. Instead, what if we viewed healthy eating as a way to fuel our bodies and we viewed food as medicine? What if we viewed exercise and moving our bodies as a gift instead of grueling? Changing our expectations and setting realistic weight loss goals is important as well. Sometimes we don’t need to lose as much weight as we think we do in order to be healthier and to see our blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and other important health markers go down and in the right direction. Setting a realistic weight loss goal can help you to feel motivated and give you confidence that you can achieve that goal versus setting a lofty goal and feeling like you will never get there, get discouraged, and then quit. 

 

  • Consistent Eating Patterns: I like to live by and encourage my client’s to live by the 80/20 rule where 80% of the time you eat healthy, whole foods, and the other 20% is left for eating out, drinking alcohol, having a sweet treat, etc. It is near impossible and quite miserable to eat clean and healthy 100% of the time with zero sugar, zero wine, zero pasta, zero steak. It’s simply not sustainable. With 80/20 eating, you are consistently eating the same way but it allows enjoyment of life and enjoyment of food without guilting ourselves or feeling like we derailed all previous success. The key with 80/20 eating is to get right back on track after an evening of eating out or going to a party. 

 

  • Move More: Perhaps the thought of working out 30 minutes to an hour 5 days a week sounds daunting and overwhelming to you. Don’t let this fear of formal exercise scare you away. Just start moving your body more. Stand as you work. Take your meetings outside and walk and talk. Park further away. Do squats and lunges as you stand over the stove and sautee your vegetables for dinner. Take the stairs. Walk instead of using the moving beltway in the airport as you travel. There are so many creative ways we can incorporate more movement into our days. A body in motion stays in motion. The more we move our bodies and begin to feel more in shape, the easier it will be to transition into an exercise class or get to the gym for weight lifting. But movement doesn’t need to be formal to be formative. Simply move more and you’ll be amazed at how your body feels and responds. And maybe before long, you’ll find yourself taking exercise classes because you truly enjoy moving your body. 

 

  • Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Research has proven that slow and steady weight loss is the ticket to keeping it off. You may lose a significant amount of weight doing a fad diet, but the question is will you be able to keep that weight off long-term? Don’t get discouraged if it is taking you longer than anticipated to lose weight. It is hard work and takes time, but it is so worth the wait to be healthier and feel WELL!

 

The weight loss industry is definitely not suffering with it being valued at more than $66 billion. We are bombarded with products and programs that offer promise after promise to help us finally lose the weight and reclaim our lives, especially this time of year with New Year’s resolutions on the rise. Don’t get me wrong, there are some supplements and programs that are highly effective, but, it is so individually based. And oftentimes, people think by popping a few pills or adhering to a strict program for a short amount of time means they will see the results they want and can then go back to how they were living before- all while maintaining those results. This is why we see yo-yo dieting and people losing significant amounts of weight and then gaining it back or we see people giving up on their New Year’s resolutions come February. Lifestyle changes seek to mitigate this yo-yoing back and forth and help individuals lose and keep the weight off for optimal health for the long-haul. 

 

If you are interested in learning more about weight loss through lifestyle changes, feel free to email me (Meghan) at hello@homebodysoul.com. I offer a FREE 30-minute consultation. 

 

Have a happy and healthy New Year everyone!

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach
Certified Personal Trainer

Set Your Goals Into Motion For 2021

Set your goals in to motion for 2021….We are SO close to a new year when we can finally put 2020 in our rear view! I think we’ve all been anxiously awaiting this moment the last several months…or perhaps since 2020 began. 😉 While we may be putting a lid on 2020, not everything will magically disappear or fix itself once Jan. 1, 2021 hits. We must still be INTENTIONAL with how we want 2021 to be for us and our families. We have to know what we value most and what we want this year to look like for our families, even if the circumstances don’t change entirely or even if this is another hard year…because we really don’t know. But, we can go into 2021 with our eyes wide open, prepared, and ready to take on the year with grit and determination. And how we do this is by setting intentional goals that we CAN control; how we run our homes, how we care for our bodies, how we prioritize family time…all of these things we have more control over than we may think. Let’s choose wisely and intentionally for 2021. Let’s choose TOTAL health and wellness for 2021 and beyond. Today I am going to walk you through a proven way to set and achieve goals. Here we go…

Studies show that only about 19% of people who set New Year’s resolutions maintain their goals long term. 

What is goal setting? Goal setting is the practice of cultivating and developing an action plan to motivate and guide someone towards a specific goal. Goal setting is a common practice in self development and can include the use of goal setting techniques such as SMART criteria . Goal setting is the first step in planning ahead for the future and for achieving the life you desire to live in various facets including but not limited to your health, relationships, education, work/career, etc. 

So what is this SMART criteria? 

SMART is simply an acronym for the guide to goal setting. The purpose of using SMART to help guide you in your goal setting process is to provide clarity to your ideas, bring focus to your work, help you to use your time and resources in a productive manner, and help you achieve lasting success for your goals. 

What does SMART stand for? 

Specific: Target a specific area for improvement

Measurable: Set a goal that’s measureable

Attainable/Achievable: Is this goal possible to attain?

Relevant/Realistic: Can this goal realistically be achieved? Is this goal relevant and does it make sense for you?

Time Bound: State when you will get it done and state a specific time frame or end date for goal. 

Next time you want to achieve a specific goal, take some time and break it down into a SMART goal and write down each specific step and how you will achieve it. 

Questions to Ask when Goal Setting: One of the questions I like to ask myself and have my clients ask themselves first and foremost is ‘why are you doing this?’ If we do not assign a bigger ‘why’ to our goal setting, we will have no purpose or value to fall back on when things get tough and we want to throw in the towel. Your ‘why’ is not only your fire starter so to speak, but it’s also your fuel to keep the fire burning. When the flames have simmered down on your goals, what is the thing that will reignite that flame, that fire within you? It needs to be your ‘why’, your deeper purpose and vision for your life. Take some time to think about your ‘why’ and cast a vision for where you want to be in 10 or 20 years. Think about the life you want to look back on when you are 80 years old. Think about the legacy you want to leave behind and the imprint you want to leave on your family and community. 

I know it can seem daunting and overwhelming to think about your life in such a big picture kind of way and then figure out how you are going to get there. The secret sauce is to start small. I am a firm believer that little adds up and that the small daily decisions we make ultimately impact our life long-term. As Annie Dillard once said, “how we live our days is how we live our lives.” So our 80-year old vision for our life has to start here and now, today. Start small. 

Why Small Works: Again, going back to SMART goals, it’s important to have specific and reasonable goals. It can be easy to get excited and jump in with both feet without really thinking about the logistics of how you will achieve the goals you have set. This is one of the biggest reasons why New Year’s Resolutions fail. According to US News and World Report, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February. But they don’t have to. 

Find Accountability: Whether it’s a friend, a co-worker, spouse, or a health coach like myself, having an accountability partner will greatly impact your success in maintaining your goals and achieving them! Have your accountability partner check in with you via text or email once a week or however often you decide you need accountability for your specific goals. Working with a health coach is a great way to not only receive accountability but it also provides a time and space to discuss any barriers or obstacles coming in your way and how to overcome them so that your goals stay a reality. 

With these few pointers, I hope you can set your goals into motion this year and every year. And remember, there is nothing special about January 1st. Today is as good a day as any to begin working towards a new goal and begin living a healthier lifestyle. If you have a goal or need to re-evaluate your priorities and how you want to live your life, today is as good a day to begin! I promise you won’t regret it. Don’t wait until next year to begin living a life of purpose and priority, achieving the goals that matter to you. 

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach
Certified Personal Trainer

 

Sources:

 

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-mentality/201812/why-new-years-resolutions-fail

Healthy Holiday Round Up Part 3

Healthy Holiday round up part 3 is the continuation of a 3 part blog.

You can see ‘Healthy Holiday round up: Part One here.

Part Two here.

I am sure you’ve seen gift guide after gift guide this holiday season from your favorite bloggers. I don’t know about you but the gift guides can be super helpful when buying for that tricky person in your life or getting ideas for teachers, co-workers, and friends this season of giving.

Today I want to provide you with a healthy holiday roundup of some of my PERSONAL FAVORITE resources when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. I am by no means sharing this as a sponsored ad; everything I am sharing I am sharing freely because I genuinely LOVE the products/programs.

As we round out an utterly stressful, tragic year, I think we can all do ourselves a favor and bless ourselves and those around us with the GIFT OF HEALTH as we enter into 2021. If you’re anything like me, this year truly revealed the importance of being grounded in a healthy lifestyle- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Below are just a few ideas and products that I love and that I think you will too….or will love to gift to someone you love this Christmas season.

Mental Health & Wellbeing: 

Val Marie Paper– Val Marie offers some beautiful prayer journals where you can write down, record, and reflect on your prayers throughout the year. The planners offer prompts as well. I love this idea of having a special place to journal prayers and be able to look back on them down the road. What a tangible way to pray away the stress!

Powersheets– I absolutely love this goal planner! It was a game changer for me when it came to me actually writing down and planning out my goals for the year. It’s a beautiful yet practical product. If you are looking for a way to keep track of your goals and begin to live the life you truly want to, this planner is for you!

Thank You Cards– One of the best things I think we can do for our mental health and wellbeing is to move outside of ourselves. It can be so easy to become self absorbed in our own minds- our stresses, troubles, you name it. Oh how our minds shift and our spirits lift when we focus on others! Next time you are having a stressful day or feeling down, whip out a thank you card and write a friend, co-worker, or family member and share with them why you are grateful for them. I think you’ll be surprised what happens and how it makes you feel.

Blue Zones Project– I recently got this book and am so excited to dig in and learn more about the Blue Zones around the world and how these people live in certain areas, “blue zones”, around the world to optimize health and longevity. We actually lived in a Blue Zone area a few years ago when we lived in California, which is where I first heard about it.

Other Health/Wellness: 

Young Living Essential Oils– Essential oils are a great way to invite health and wellness into your home and body. I love the Thieves products from YL as well as their Progessence Plus oil, which I use to help balance my hormones because of my PCOS. There are SO many wonderful products at YL for your home, body, and even children. If you need help with ordering any oils or where to begin, feel free to email me at hello@homebodysoul.com.

Hatch Restore– The Hatch Restore is an alarm clock like no other! It doubles as a sound machine and a smart alarm clock that gently wakes you up with a soothing sunrise light. You can personalize your sleep-wake routine so you get optimal and quality rest, create a soothing mood before bedtime with a variety of sounds, and relax with a soft glow reading light.

Bluelight Glasses– I try to wear my blue light blocking glasses in the evening before bed if I am watching TV or on my phone. The blue light blocking glasses are designed to obviously block blue light which can disrupt our natural release of melatonin, hence why it’s important to wear them before bed to optimize sleep quality.

The Defined Dish Cookbook– I’ve been cooking a lot of these recipes lately and they are so yummy and healthy. This cookbook offers gluten and dairy free recipes that are also Whole30 approved.

Healthy Snacks (Great Stocking Stuffers):

Chomps Meat Sticks– These are SO yummy and SO clean and healthy! Each stick packs 9-10 grams of protein!

Aloha Protein Bars– These organic, plant based protein bars are all-things FREE (gluten, soy, dairy, sugar alcohols etc.). They offer 14 grams of protein and are delish.

Pink Stork Collagen Sticks– I talked about Pink Stork further up in this guide. These collagen sticks are great for on-the-go and they taste yummy in your water with their light berry flavor.

GoMacro Protein Bars– Another yummy and clean, plant based protein bar option for on the go meals. This bar is gluten free and vegan! There are 15 different flavors to choose from.

SmartSweets– Ever get a hankering for some good ol candy?! Here is a healthier alternative. These gummies have only 3 grams of sugar for the entire bag and are free of sugar alcohols as well. They are sweetened with stevia and bursting with fruit flavor!

Alright, there you have it! Those are a few of my favorite things! I hope some of these items bless you and help you on your journey to living a healthy lifestyle.

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach
Certified Personal Trainer

 

Healthy Holiday Round Up Part 2

Healthy Holiday round up part 2 is a continuation of a 3 part blog.

You can see ‘Healthy Holiday round up: Part One’ here.

I am sure you’ve seen gift guide after gift guide this holiday season from your favorite bloggers. I don’t know about you but the gift guides can be super helpful when buying for that tricky person in your life or getting ideas for teachers, co-workers, and friends this season of giving. 

Today I want to provide you with a healthy holiday roundup of some of my PERSONAL FAVORITE resources when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. I am by no means sharing this as a sponsored ad; everything I am sharing I am sharing freely because I genuinely LOVE the products/programs.

As we round out an utterly stressful, tragic year, I think we can all do ourselves a favor and bless ourselves and those around us with the GIFT OF HEALTH as we enter into 2021. If you’re anything like me, this year truly revealed the importance of being grounded in a healthy lifestyle- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Below are just a few ideas and products that I love and that I think you will too….or will love to gift to someone you love this Christmas season.

Programs: 

30 Day Fit & Healthy Jumpstart Program– This is MY newest program that I am so excited to share with y’all. It’s a 58-page digital guide that will walk you through 4 weeks of foundational health/wellness lessons. You will be equipped with knowledge in the areas of meal planning, exercise, fueling your body with proper nutrition, and much more. This program includes several worksheets/trackers as well as handouts such as a grocery shopping list, pantry list, and healthy snack ideas.

Metabolism Makeover– I personally know Megan who is a registered dietician and  is the creator of this program and I cannot recommend her enough. Her nutritional background is SOLID and her approach is flexible and sustainable. 

Nancy Anderson Post Pregnancy Ab Rehab Course– I have yet to purchase this course and use it myself but I will FOR SURE be using it during and after my next pregnancy. I’ve followed Nancy Anderson for a while now and I wish I would have known about this program when I was postpartum with our first child. She will help you get rid of your belly pooch by healing your core and pelvic floor from the inside out. I’ve seen some incredible results!

Fitness:

Whole Body Fitness Planner & Resistance Bands– This is another one of my own products that I created. This planner is a 6-month, undated fitness planner that is literally like having a personal trainer with you everyday for less than the cost of ONE session. The daily guided workouts provide the structure for that day’s workout but allows the user to choose which exercises to plug in (over 250 exercise options included in the exercise appendix in the back of the planner) based on preference and ability. This is like no other fitness planner out there and it is SO comprehensive, flexible, and scalable. This program/planner can be used at home or the gym. I also sell a set of 3 resistance bands (with a carry case) along with the planner. 

Gliders– A great and convenient fitness tool to keep at home to help you get an effective workout. There are SO many things you can do with gliders ranging from core work, to low impact, to high intensity workouts. 

Fabletics Fitness Attire– Fabletics is offering a special promo where you can get your first 2 pair of leggings for $24! It’s a steal! I love the quality of their fitness attire and it’s a fraction of the cost of other brands. The best way to get the most bang for your buck is to be a part of their monthly membership which is $49 (but you can skip any month and cancel at anytime).

See you next week when we will introduce Part 3-Mental Health/Wellness, Healthy Snacks & Other Health/Wellness.

Meghan Meredith

HomeBodySoul, FounderCertified Health and Wellness Coach

Certified Personal Trainer

www.homebodysoul.com

Connect with us @homebodysoul

Healthy Holiday Round Up Part 1

Healthy holiday roundup…

I am sure you’ve seen gift guide after gift guide this holiday season from your favorite bloggers. I don’t know about you but the gift guides can be super helpful when buying for that tricky person in your life or getting ideas for teachers, co-workers, and friends this season of giving. 

Today I want to provide you with a healthy holiday roundup of some of my PERSONAL FAVORITE resources when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. I am by no means sharing this as a sponsored ad; everything I am sharing I am sharing freely because I genuinely LOVE the products/programs.

As we round out an utterly stressful, tragic year, I think we can all do ourselves a favor and bless ourselves and those around us with the GIFT OF HEALTH as we enter into 2021. If you’re anything like me, this year truly revealed the importance of being grounded in a healthy lifestyle- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Below are just a few ideas and products that I love and that I think you will too….or will love to gift to someone you love this Christmas season. 

 

Clean Beauty & Supplements:

 

Vital Proteins Collagen– I love this brand of collagen powder because it’s clean and packs in 18 grams of protein per serving. I will add it to tea or a smoothie. It’s tasteless and dissolves easily. Collagen is SO important for the health of our skin, hair, and joints. 

 

Pink Stork– This brand is incredible in how they support women and women’s health. I take their fertility support supplement as well as drink some of their teas. They have supplements/vitamins for women in every stage of life. Their products are quality and the company is female-owned and everything is produced in the USA. So many wins! Use code ‘BFF10’ to receive 10% off your order!

 

Beauty Counter Clean Makeup & Skincare– I’ve been using Beauty Counter products for YEARS now and I continue to love them and share them with others. Some of my all time favorite products include their brightening facial oil, resurfacing peel, countercountrol pore cleanser, dew skin tinted moisturizer, luminous powder highlighter, and their twin skin concealer (AMAZING). You have to check this company out if you are looking for clean beauty products that have safe, natural ingredients. 

 

See you next week when we will introduce Part 2-Healthy Programs & Fitness.

Meghan Meredith

HomeBodySoul, Founder

Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Certified Personal Trainer
Connect with us @homebodysoul

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Sugar: It’s Not As Sweet As It Sounds

We are entering the season where there is an overabundance of sugar surrounding us. Between the cookies, pies, eggnog, wine, and candy, we are certainly not lacking on the sugar front. 

Before I have you rethinking your christmas cookie bakeoff, it’s important to define our terms and understand exactly what sugar is, in all of its many forms. I think you may be surprised that even some of the “healthier” sugar alternatives are still in fact sugar and may not be as sweet and innocent as they sound. 

What is sugar??

At its most basic form, sugar is a simple carbohydrate produced naturally in plants, including fruits and vegetables. The chemical name for sugar is sucrose, which is a disaccharide, meaning that fructose plus glucose bound together make up sucrose, also known as sugar. 

What is the difference between natural and added sugar?

Sugars can be naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy but they can also be extracted from plants and dairy and added to other foods. Sugars can also be man made by using various plant/dairy sources as the starting point. 

The term ‘natural sugars’ refers to the sugars naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables, and dairy. In contrast, the term ‘added sugar’ means “sugars that are added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono-, and disaccharides) and sugars from syrups, honey, and sugars from concentrated fruits and vegetables juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume 100% fruit/vegetable juice of the same type”, as defined by the FDA in 2016. 

Sugar comes in many different shapes and sizes aka NAMES! Oftentimes sugar isn’t blatantly labeled ‘sugar’ on the back of the label. Here are some of the top names for sugar that you should be on the lookout for on the back of your food packages. There are over 50 names that sugar can be disguised for. When reading an ingredient label, look for anything with the name sugar behind or before it such as beet sugar, date sugar, coconut sugar, etc. or a word ending in -ose as that typically denotes a sugar (i.e. fructose, maltose). 

Here Are Some Of The Top Names For Sugar:

  • Agave/Agave Nectar
  • Buttered Syrup
  • Barley Malt/Barley Malt Syrup
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Cane Juice Crystals
  • Caramel/Caramel Syrup
  • Carob Syrup
  • Corn Syrup 
  • Dextrin/Dextrose
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Ethyl Maltol
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Honey 
  • Lactose
  • Malt Syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Mannitol
  • Maple Syrup
  • Mannitol
  • Molasses
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sorghum Syrup

Sugar can be sneaky in appearance and sneak its way into many unsuspecting foods. Some of these unsuspecting foods include but are not limited to pasta sauce, salad dressings, marinades, bread, granola/cereal, instant oatmeal, nut butters, and dried fruit. It’s good to be aware of these sneaky sugar items so you can be on the lookout and read your labels thoroughly. 

Here Are 4 Ways To Overcome A Sugar Craving

  1. Drink a glass of water or hot cup of tea- Sometimes, oftentimes, we mistake hunger for actual thirst. And a hot cup of tea can feel satisfying and curb that craving for something sweet. 
  2. Distract yourself- Take 15-20 minutes and go for a walk or do another activity to try and distract yourself and your mind from the craving. 
  3. Take a breather- Breathe deep for a few seconds and let it all out! Focusing on our breath and taking time to slow down and breathe deeply can go a long way. Getting more oxygen to the brain and slowing down can help a lot with stress/emotional eating.
  4. Enjoy a healthier snack- If you are craving sugar or something sweet, it’s better to reach for a small piece of fruit or a snack that combines protein, healthy fat, and fiber which will keep you full longer and be more nutritious to your body. Some healthier snack options include a protein bar, greek yogurt with berries, chia seed pudding, an apple with nut butter. 

What is the daily goal for sugar intake?

Aim for 20 grams of added/refined sugar or less DAILY. This is the sugar that you read on a nutrition label, not those sugars naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables. 

We don’t have to be a slave to the never ending sugar cravings this time of year. WIth some forethought and fueling our bodies properly throughout the day by focusing on protein, healthy fat, and fiber, we can overcome those cravings and not give in. But by all means enjoy a piece of pie or a christmas cookie without guilt because it is the most wonderful time of year afterall. It all comes down to portion control and balance! So enjoy, but within reason. I hope these tips will carry you through this holiday season and beyond as you navigate grocery shopping and reading your labels more closely looking for that sneaky sugar.

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer

How to Have a Happy & Healthy Holiday Season

Oh the holiday season that is upon us! This most wonderful (yet busy) time of year is filled with food, festivities, gathering, decorating, shopping, and traveling. If you are anything like me, the sights, smells, and music all make this time of year so nostalgic and magical. But along with all of the magic comes the inevitable stress, overeating, last minute shopping, planning/hosting parties, and full calendars for the entirety of the month of December it feels like. 

Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK, which is crazy! But there is a 5 week period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s that we need to plan and prepare for. We all want to enjoy the holiday season and all of the fun and joy it brings, but we also want to do our best to maintain our healthy lifestyle that we’ve worked so hard for. And 6 weeks of festivities and parties and eating can sure do a number to our waistlines and all the hard work we’ve put in. 

The goal of today’s post is to help you feel confident going into this season and ready to take head on the temptations, reduce the stress, and simply enjoy! We’re going to talk about three of the most common “problems” people face this time and year when it comes to maintaining health and wellness and a few tips on how to maintain health given these potential barriers. I think everyone can agree that some of the biggest struggles in staying fit and healthy this time of year revolve around our time, food and drink, and overall stress

TIME

This time of year always seems to fly by. There are never enough hours in a day to get all of the items checked off our list it seems. In order for this season to not become overwhelming and no longer joy-full, we need to make a PLAN to maximize our time and priorities. 

If one of your priorities this holiday season is to continue to exercise and move your body, make a plan for it. Our bodies need just as much exercise during the holiday season as any other time of year. Plan your workouts/movement around travel or plan to move while you travel. Pack a pair of running shoes and some resistance bands. Even walking for just 30 minutes a day will keep you feeling good and keep you active and well. 

Here are some common “problems” or barriers around exercise that arise for people during this time of year and some solutions.

PROBLEM: There isn’t a gym at the hotel or grandma’s house (or wherever you are staying).

SOLUTION:  Body weight exercises are a great way to exercise when you have no equipment. Body weight exercises help to improve balance, coordination, core strength, and flexibility. Stair climbing, walking outside, lunges up and down the driveway, squats while you brush your teeth. 

Travel Tips- Pack those running sneakers and easy to carry equipment like a workout DVD or a jump rope. Those things easily can fit in your carry on or check on luggage. 

PROBLEM: There simply isn’t time to workout, Meghan! Shopping, decorating, cooking, running around…there is no time left for working out. 

SOLUTION: Use a Tabata Timer to do a quick HIIT routine. 

You can download a Tabata timer app on your phone. It’s simple- you do 8 rounds of exercise in 4 minutes. You can choose to do one exercise or two and alternate back and forth. You will complete 20 seconds of all out work followed by a 10 second rest for 8 rounds for a total of 4 minutes. Do a couple of tabata’s and I promise you will be sweating and your heart rate will be elevated…and you’ll feel so good afterwards! Exercises like squats, jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups, tricep dips, mountain climbers, and jumping rope are perfect to do with the Tabata timer. 

Second- plan your workouts! Because this season can be so hectic, it may be a good idea to institute early morning workouts for these few weeks. Getting a good morning sweat in will also help you to maintain those healthy habits and choices the rest of the day! If you can’t do 30 minutes to an hour at one go, split up your workout into 10 minute bouts throughout the day. 

PROBLEM: You’re family and friends don’t understand why you want to exercise. 

SOLUTION: Stick to YOUR goals! Don’t let others detract you from your plan and your wellness goals. Stay firm. Maybe invite them along. It’s a good way to de-stress and can be a fun family activity. 

Another family fun activity is to sign up and hit the road for your local Turkey Trot, which is typically a 5K race that you can run/walk. It’s a great way to get in some movement before you put on your stretch pants for your big dinner! 

FOOD AND DRINK

Cookies. Egg Nog. Casseroles. There is always plenty…and plenty of temptation. How can you overcome these temptations around all of the yummy foods and drinks this season?!

 

    Eat a pre-party snack. One trick I tell my clients if they are going to a party or out to a dinner where they know they could splurge and over-eat is to eat an apple before going! Apples are full of fiber and will help fill you up a bit before you even go to dinner, therefore you will consume fewer calories. This will help you to not overeat the bad stuff and keep your appetite in check. 

     Choose your beverages wisely. The holiday season inevitably comes with lots of alcohol consumption between the eggnog, wine, fancy cocktails, and social drinking. Drinking alcohol is consuming empty calories because it won’t curb those hunger pangs. Alcohol doesn’t provide satiety. It’s best to avoid mixed drinks that have a lot of sugar. The number of calories isn’t the issue per say, but rather the number of grams of sugar in these fancy holiday drinks. For example, 1 cup of eggnog typically contains 30-50 grams of sugar depending on the brand. Let’s remember that the daily recommended sugar intake is 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men according to the American Heart Association.

Eat your protein first. When we eat our main protein source first, we help to curb our hunger and keep our blood sugar in check. Eating protein can help to keep your insulin levels lower. Eating protein before a party or first thing at the party will help you to control your cravings for the other high calorie foods. 

Drink plenty of water. Drinking water helps to fill your stomach so that you feel fuller and won’t cave to those cravings as much. Try to drink a bottle of water en route to your party or drink several glasses throughout the party. 

Pick your cheat or “treat” meals and fully enjoy it. We all need a cheat meal! That is key to any sustainable life changes and finding balance. We can’t deprive ourselves all of the time, otherwise we will go off the deep end eventually and lose all progress. Each day during the holiday season, we are tempted with treats- whether leftover at home or sitting in the lobby at our office. We could easily consume cookies and pie everyday between Thanksgiving and New Year, which is 37 days by the way for 2020. Let’s say you are consuming an extra 300 calories per day of sweets and goodies, which is equal to about 2 cookies or a piece of cake or pie. This adds up to just over 11,000 calories which equals 3 pounds of fat! The average already overweight person gains about 5 pounds during the holiday season according to NY Times. A survey by Fitness Magazine and Jenny Craig in 2013 found that 47% of women gain 4-5 lbs during the holiday season. So what is the key? My suggestion is to enjoy those holiday parties and get together’s, which typically happen on the weekend, but that will require sacrifice throughout the week. Leave the cookies in the jar at the office and say no to any treats at home or that your kids bring back from school. Eating a reduced-calorie diet, higher-protein diet five days per week and enjoying a couple of holiday parties or get-togethers each week can easily result in maintenance of body weight through the holidays. 

  1. Try new recipes or try replacing ingredients in your favorite recipes with healthier ingredients.Try replacing the not so great ingredients with healthier options. It can be pretty simple to clean up your favorite recipes. Some of my favorite swaps include swapping oil for Greek yogurt in breads, applesauce instead of butter or margarine, whole wheat flour instead of bleached white all-purpose flour, veganaise instead of mayonnaise, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, honey or maple syrup instead of pure cane sugar. 
  2. Eat mindfully. Eating mindfully might be a new concept for you. Eating mindfully is simply being more aware of your eating experience. Paying closer attention, notice your thoughts, feelings, sensations of the food. Oftentimes we eat so mindlessly and just put whatever in our mouths and don’t think anything at all about the sensation, taste, texture, etc. Give your body 15-20 minutes to recognize if it is full or not before going back for seconds. 

STRESS

Over the years, this joyful time of year has transpired into a stressful, chaotic time of year for many. The holiday season shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be stress-filled. By using these 5 tips, hopefully you can reclaim your sanity and the season and say good riddance to the stress that every other year has brought you. 

 

  1. Be Realistic. Oftentimes we enter the holiday season with expectation in mind as to how things will go with certain family members, what food we will eat, what fun we will have, etc. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. Try to keep those expectations in check so that you don’t come away feeling disappointed and upset and so that you can be fully present and enjoy the time with family. 
  2. Plan Ahead. Planning ahead does take forethought and time but in doing so, it will greatly reduce your stress you feel later on once the crunch time comes. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup. Also, plan ahead with your budget! Our budget can easily fly out the window this time of year and then create immense stress come January. Think ahead, talk with your spouse or other family members and come up with a plan for your budget so you aren’t overspending and having to pay the repercussions of that later. Maybe instead of gifting to everyone this year, you can start a family gift exchange, or make homemade gifts for friends and co-workers. 
  3. Set Aside Differences. Everytime families come together, there will be differences in opinion, tradition, sometimes values, etc. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
  4. Take a Breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include: Taking a walk at night and stargazing .Listening to soothing music. Getting a massage. Reading a book.
  5. Learn to Say ‘No’. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time. Learning to say no is very powerful and freeing. Learning to say No then allows us the freedom to say yes to the things that really matter!

“The more you live in the extremes of all or none, good or bad, the more likely that’s going to get you into difficulty,” says Gary Foster, chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers International. “The key is that this is a lifestyle. When it’s an on-or-off diet or a boot camp mentality, that’s a short-term behavior. It’s destined not to work out very well.”

We don’t have to live in an all-or-nothing state of mind around the holidays. Starving to over-indulging. Feelings of deprivation to feelings of guilt. 

 Give yourself permission to enjoy but in reasonable portions and reasonable frequencies- not all the time and not the whole cheesecake. The goal is to strike a balance.  

I hope these tips will help lead you into a life-giving, balanced, and enjoyable holiday season.  If you need other accountability, book a health coaching session with me by emailing me at hello@homebodysoul.com. I offer a FREE 30-minute health coaching consult call if you’d like to set a plan in place for your holiday season.

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer

Keeping A Food Journal

I’ve always had a passion for writing, especially journaling. I religiously kept a journal from my freshman year of high school all the way through college! I still journal today but not nearly as often. I have about 8 old journals tucked away that are filled with nostalgic memories and pages filled with the depths of my soul. What does this have to do with a food journal? Well, I think journaling in general is very enlightening and eye opening, whether you are journaling your thoughts, your day, your prayers, or your food. Journaling helps us tap into the deeper part of ourselves that oftentimes stays tucked away. Keeping a food journal can help you detect why you eat what you eat and what feelings those foods give you.

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS A FOOD JOURNAL AND WHAT IS THE PURPOSE?

A food journal is simply writing down and keeping track of what you eat and drink throughout the day. Keeping a food journal is one of the most powerful ways to change your habits. You may be intimidated to start a food journal because it seems time consuming and tedious, but there are several ways to make it easy and convenient, plus the benefit that can come from doing it far outweighs the time it takes to complete it each day. I’ll share those easy and convenient ways to food journal a little later on in this post.

Using a food journal can be helpful not only for those looking to lose weight, but also for those who are trying to figure out food sensitivities or allergies. Keeping a food journal can help individuals figure out their gastrointestinal triggers, especially individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which can sometimes be very elusive and hard to figure out it’s culprits. A food journal can also be incredibly helpful for diabetics who need to track their sugar intake.

Evidence says that keeping track of your daily food and calorie intake is the most effective way to change your behavior. Why is this? Well, I believe it is because it is an enlightening experience that will not only help you be more aware of what you are eating, but also why you are eating what you are eating and how you are feeling when you are eating. Food journals have been proven to raise our consciousness of what we are putting in our mouth. If someone has a tendency to emotionally eat, I encourage them to write down how they are feeling when they crave something or when they eat a certain food. Being aware of our emotions that are attached to our eating habits can be incredibly eye opening and powerful.

HELPFUL HINTS:

  1. Find a unique journal that you will enjoy writing in if you want to do it the old-fashioned pen and paper way. I always found I wrote in my journal more often when I thought it was pretty!
  2. Don’t change what you typically eat for the sake of the journal. Don’t change your habits. This  defeats the purpose of the journal. The goal is to record your daily food intake, even if it isn’t good- that’s how we bring awareness to our diets.
  3. Record what you eat or drink immediately. This will help you not to forget at the end of the day as you try and remember what all you ate/drank that day.
  4. Write out what you plan to eat before you actually eat it (or put it in MyFitness Pal). This can help deter you from straying from those decisions and keep you on track. A plan always helps in those moments of weakness and temptation.
  5. Break out the measuring cups! Oftentimes we have no idea how much of something we are actually eating and what the serving size means and looks like. Instead of eyeballing what 4 oz. is or a 1/2 cup, measure it out. This will help you learn portion sizes going forward as well and how you look at the amount of food you are consuming.
  6. Record beverages including water. Recording how much water you are consuming in a day is also very important and enlightening. Along with that, track the other beverages you are consuming and their calories. You may be surprised how many liquid calories you are consuming in one day. Do you drink a latte for breakfast and then a soda at lunch? That right there can easily be several hundred calories and a lot of sugar.
  7. Tell the truth! The only way keeping a food journal will really benefit you and help you reach your goals is if you tell the truth. Do it for yourself.
  8. Record your mood while eating, are you eating with someone or alone, where are you eating, and if you are doing an activity or at an activity while eating. Noting all of these things will bring more awareness and help you analyze your food eating behaviors to an even deeper level.

DO FOOD JOURNAL’S ACTUALLY WORK?

“In a study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, found that among 1,700 individuals in a weight-loss program , those who kept daily food journals lost twice as much as weight as those who didn’t.”

The key to a successful food journal is consistency and accuracy. You will not have as much success or data to work with and analyze if you only track for a few days. People find they can see real results when tracking for several weeks. It has been shown as well that food journals are less effective for those who eat out at restaurants a lot because it is hard to find the correct nutritional data for those foods, especially if you are just “guessing” how many calories were in your burrito or on your plate.

USING MYFITNESS PAL

According the The Wall Street Journal, “MyFitnessPal, an app with 100 million-plus members who can track their eating and exercise and connect with friends, has found users who come within 5% of their stated weight goals have longer streaks of logging data—with an average 6 consecutive days versus 3 days for other users, according to a spokeswoman for Under Armour, the sports-apparel company that owns the app. They also eat nearly 30% more fiber on average. Overall, 88% of members who logged meals for an average of seven days lost weight, she said.”

I have been using MyFitness Pal for years! It is my favorite food tracking app. One thing I love about it is that not only can you track your calories, but you can also see your nutritional breakdown- how many carbohydrates, fat, and protein grams you are eating each day. You can customize your goals as to how much of each of those macronutrients you want to eat in a day as well depending on your goals. At the end of the day, you can see your macronutrient breakdown and a nice little pie chart. I love the nutritional analysis aspect to MyFitness Pal because it isn’t just about the number of calories you are consuming, but also the nutrients you are getting as far as macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) but also your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

MyFitness Pal is a free app and is very easy to use and has a large database of food from grocery stores but also from certain restaurants, helping you to track as accurately as possible!

FOOD JOURNAL OPTIONS:

  • MyFitnessPal App. Other Apps Include: LoseIt!, MyPlate Calorie Tracker, MyNet Diary, and others.
  • Weight Watchers- Point System
  • An actual journal and keep track by writing everything down. Pinterest has several food journal printables that you can print depending what format works best for you.

HERE ARE A FEW FOOD JOURNAL’S THAT YOU CAN CHECK OUT AND SEE IF THEY WOULD FIT YOUR LIFESTYLE.

 

Food, Mood, and Health Journal: https://www.amazon.com/Food-Mood-Health-Journal-Inspirational/dp/1499669097/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1478905715&sr=8-9&keywords=food+journal

BookFactory Food Journal: https://www.amazon.com/BookFactory-Journal-Diary-Notebook-JOU-120-M3CW/dp/B00BCNM55C/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1478905715&sr=8-2&keywords=food+journal

 

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer