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How To Read A Food Label

How To Read A Food Label

Last week we covered navigating the grocery store and how to best go about that to stay on track with our health and wellness goals. This week I want to help you learn how to decipher the black and white box aka a nutritional food label on the back of our food boxes. Learning how to read a food label in the grocery store as we are shopping is crucial to helping us make wise decisions that align with our goals. 

While I think most of us could recognize a food label, I am not sure that we all know how to read and interpret one. Nutritional food labels can be confusing at best and misleading at worst. It’s important to know how to read a food label so that we can make educated and wise choices when it comes to the food we are nourishing our bodies with. I want to break down this little black and white box so that the next time you head to the grocery store or pull something out of your pantry, you can read it, understand it, and be empowered to make healthier choices. Knowing how to properly read a food label can not only help us to limit nutrients like unhealthy fats (saturated and trans), but also give us an insight into increasing nutrients that we often do not consume enough of such as dietary fiber and calcium. 

The purpose of a nutrition food label is to help consumers make quick, informed decisions when it comes to food. A nutrition label can help educate us to make healthier food choices based on the information provided.

So, what are the key components to a food label? Every food label provides the following information (from the top of the label to the bottom)- serving size, calories, nutrients (macro and micronutrients), % DV (daily value), and a listing of each ingredient. Now- let’s break it down further and discuss each of these areas of a nutrition food label.

 

SERVING SIZE: The serving size is the amount that people typically eat at one time. This information is critical to how we read and interpret the remainder of the information below on the food label. The nutrition facts and information on each label are based on one serving size. For example, if the serving size is one cup and you consume two cups, you then need to double the calories consumed and double each of the other nutrients listed, as well as the % DV.

 

CALORIES: This area displays the total number of calories in a single serving. This number would need to be adjusted if you eat more or less of the serving size. The calories listed can help us manage our weight as calories are the measure of the amount of energy you get from one serving of that food. As a general rule of thumb, a food that contains 40 or less calories is a low-calorie food, a food with 100 calories is moderate, and a food containing 400 calories or more is a high caloric food. This guide is based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

 

MACRONUTRIENTS: Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, and protein. 

Carbohydrates- Carbohydrates are measured in grams on a nutrition label. Sugar, starch, and dietary fiber make up the total grams of carbs on the label. Fiber is a healthy nutrient that we want to aim to get 100% of the DV. Choose foods that have at least 2-4 grams of fiber per serving. It’s important to watch our sugar consumption as foods with added sugars add calories but do not provide essential nutritional value. Read the ingredient list to make sure added sugars are not in the first few ingredients. Sugar comes in many different names so be on the lookout for these words- sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, and fructose. 

Fat- When looking at the fat content on a food label, we want to pay attention specifically to the amount of saturated fat and trans fat. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol and lowers our good cholesterol, therefore we want to choose foods with 1 gram or less of trans fat. We also want to choose foods low in saturated fat to help prevent heart disease. 

Protein- Protein is an essential nutrient used by our body. Food labels generally do not provide a % DV for protein, so use the grams listed as a guide. Each gram of protein provides 4 calories. I typically encourage my clients to aim for 20-30 grams of protein per meal and around 10 grams for snacks. 

 

 

MICRONUTRIENTS: Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, which are found in the lower section of a nutritional food label. Most Americans do not get enough fiber, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, calcium, and iron in their diets. When reading a food label, we want to be sure to get enough of these essential nutrients. Aim for a higher % DV (daily value) for nutrients like Vitamin A, C, D, calcium, and iron. 

Sodium- Sodium also known as salt, is one of the micronutrients that we need to be really watchful of. Most sodium in the American diet is hidden in packaged, processed foods, which is why we need to know how to read this portion of the food label. Look for 140 mg or less of sodium per serving. The daily recommended allowance for sodium is 2,300 mg but more ideally we should aim for around 1,500 mg of sodium per day for adults. 

 

% DAILY VALUE: This percentage is based on the daily value recommendations for key nutrients based on a 2,000 calorie diet by public health experts. The percent DV that you see on a food label is for the entire day, not just one meal or snack. For example, a food that has a 5% DV of fat provides 5% of the total fat a person should consume when eating 2,000 calories a day. A low % DV is 5% or less. We want to aim for low DV % in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium. A high % DV is 20% or more. We want to aim for higher % DV in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

 

INGREDIENT LIST: Any food that contains more than one ingredient, must list out each ingredient on the label. Ingredients are listed with the largest amounts first and in descending order by weight or amount used in the food item. The fewer the ingredients, the better. Another rule of thumb I like to go by when choosing foods is whether or not I am able to pronounce the ingredients listed. If I cannot pronounce certain ingredients or I don’t out rightly know what they are, I likely don’t want to be putting it into my body. Also- if you see any sugars listed in the first 3-5 ingredients, it’s best to leave it on the shelf and find a healthier option. A few other tips when it comes to reading ingredient lists- steer clear of bleached, white flour and words like fortified and enriched flour as these grains are refined and more heavily processed. Look for words like whole, sprouted, rolled, and stone ground. These are all unrefined, whole grains which are a much healthier option. 

There is one way we can avoid having to read a food label and that is to choose foods that do not have a food label- fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. We should aim to eat more fresh, whole foods that are not processed but I know there are times when we cannot avoid eating something that is packaged. I hope this post educated you on how to properly interpret a food label so that you feel empowered the next time you are at the grocery store so you can fill your cart with the healthiest choices.

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

Quick And Easy Healthy Snacks

Quick and easy healthy snacks…Snacking! It’s so fun and easy to do. But if we aren’t careful and mindful, it can quickly get out of hand and have a negative impact on our health/wellness goals. Admittedly, I am a grazer throughout the day, so I need to have options readily available so that I am making healthy choices as I “graze” and not just simply eating whatever because I am so famished, which can very easily happen. As a mama to a toddler, it’s also very tempting sometimes to reach for his snacks- ya know, the goldfish crackers, fig bars, animal crackers. But- if I am exercising self-awareness and mindful eating AND have healthy snacks on hand, this is less likely to happen. I’ve found that if I keep these favorite items of mine stocked in the pantry and refrigerator, I am more prone to eat them throughout the day instead of reaching for something unhealthy and nutrient void. 

Thankfully, my husband and I are pretty health conscious, so we don’t typically have a lot of “bad” food in the house, which definitely helps! Although the toddler snacks can be oh so tempting!  If it’s not there tempting you and having a stare down with you as you battle in your mind whether or not to eat it, then the better you are able to stick to your health goals. So, we just don’t even tempt ourselves, (especially with items like cookies, ice cream, chips, etc.). 

Here are some of my personal favorite snacks that are my go-to. Some of them are Paleo and if they aren’t, we always try to steer towards gluten free at a minimum. 

Hummus: Hummus is a great choice because it can be paired with so much- cut up veggies, baby carrots, crackers, pita bread, the list goes on. I typically eat hummus with fresh cut up veggies like carrots, baby bell peppers, or cucumbers. I also like hummus with gluten free rice crackers. 

Greek yogurt: We really don’t eat a lot of dairy in our household, but this is one staple I always have on hand. I love Greek yogurt because it is naturally fat-free and is loaded with protein! Now, if you really want the healthy option, you’ll need to opt for the plain greek yogurt. I know those flavored Chobani’s are so tasty but they are loaded with sugar- like 18 grams or something crazy! I know some of it is “natural” sugar from the fruit, but when you are most likely going to add more sugar with granola or another topper, I think it’s just best to go with the plain. You can dress up the plain very easily. Add some honey, fresh berries, Paleo cereal, granola and you’re set with a tasty and super healthy-protein rich snack. You can even use greek yogurt in smoothies or shakes! In fact, I’ve even substituted greek yogurt for sour cream in spinach dip and used it in banana bread too! 

Fruit: I always like to have a plethora of fruit available in our home. Our typical fruit list is this: Cuties (clementines), apples, bananas, mangoes, strawberries (or some other type of berry). Occasionally we will mix it up and get pineapple or pears or a melon of sorts. Fruit is great because you can eat it alone or use it as a topper on oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, and many other options. And it’s easy to grab and go and take with you to the office or as you run errands. Pair an apple or banana with peanut butter to get a combination of healthy fats and fiber. 

Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Guacamole: This is probably my least healthy snack that I eat, but it’s really not too bad. I LOVE salsa and guacamole! I could eat it everyday no problem! I always make sure to get gluten free corn tortilla chips or gluten free sweet potato tortilla chips. Recently, I’ve been really into the  blue corn tortilla chips. Yum! Newman’s Own has a great salsa that tastes so fresh and is full of different veggies so I feel like it’s not too terrible for me! Trader Joe’s also has some delicious, fresh salsa options. And if you are looking for the BEST guacamole recipe, hands down Alton Brown’s recipe on The Food Network is amazing! I use it every time!

Nuts and Dried Fruit: This is another great snack for on-the-go. Almonds are so incredibly good for you (within reason, of course). Grab a handful and snack away. I love dried fruit too! I love raisins on Ants on a Log or on top of a rice cake with peanut butter. I also love dried apricots, but I can only eat a few at a time because they are high in sugar. Instead of getting the generic store trail mix that isn’t the healthiest, opt to make your own. It’s really quite simple. Choose 1-2 nut varieties (think almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts), 1-2 dried fruit options (choose from dried banana chips, dried apricots, dried pineapple, dried apple, dried berries, raisins, craisins, etc.), 1-2 seed varieties (pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds are great), and if you are feeling adventurous, you can add in some yogurt chips or dark chocolate chips. 

Chia Seed Pudding: This simple to make snack is chalk full of fiber! Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health. Basically to make chia seed pudding, you soak your seeds in liquid and the seeds soak up the liquid to make a jelly-like consistency. You can add in a variety of add-ins such as berries, nut butter, cocoa powder or cinnamon. 

Prosciutto and Cheese: Nothing sounds better to me than a little meat and cheese platter. I love charcuterie boards and could literally eat them everyday! Make your own little snack board with some dried meats, high quality cheese, veggies, and fruit. 

It’s important to have healthy snacks available because there are always those moments when we “forget” to eat lunch or are just really hungry and it’s in those moments of feeling famished where we are the most vulnerable to blow our “diets” and grab for the Snickers or bag of potato chips. Creating snacks ahead of time or having something readily available and easy to make or grab helps us to maintain our healthy eating goals! Nowadays there are so many “healthy” packaged snack items. Try to stay away from too many packaged items (within reason) and aim for whole food options. Bars and healthy chip-like items may be “healthier” but they are still processed and not as nutrient dense as say an apple and peanut/nut butter. 

There are other great, healthy snack options out there but I just wanted to share some of my personal favorites and go-to snacks with y’all! Enjoy!

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer
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Fall Back Into Good Habits

As the slow, dog days of summer come to a close and the fall is upon us, our minds begin to shift towards our back-to-school routine and family flow. Now, our fall routines and schedules likely look a little different this year due to COVID-19, but there are still some ways we can use this change of season to reignite and refine our goals and habits.  

It can be challenging to not let our mood and behaviors be dictated by the shift in seasons. Instead of letting ourselves slide into the shorter, darker, colder days of fall and winter that I think we all dread, we can instead view this shift in seasons as a time to jump start healthy habits to carry us through the remainder of the year. 

It’s easy for our healthy habits to take a back seat during the summer time…and that’s totally okay! In fact, I think for many of us, 2020 has caused a lot of our healthy habits to take a back seat due to all this year has held. If you’re anything like me, it’s been a struggle since March when all of the craziness began and our lives were turned upside down. 

Our routines and habits should shift in the summertime. I am not saying they should all disappear entirely either, but summer is the season for margin and to live a little slower and savor a little deeper. Those three to four months of the year are precious! So sit back, enjoy, and live a little. 

But with summer in the rear view mirror and school and with fall ahead, it’s the perfect time to reevaluate schedules, routines, and habits. Because after all, we can’t live in summer mode all year long. 

So, how can you fall back into good habits this school season? Here are some tips for how you can fall back into good habits in your home, body, and soul this Fall. 

 

HOME: Create Morning and Evening Family Routines and Systems.  

I don’t know about you, but life runs so much smoother when we live by routines. I am a believer in living a lifestyle of flexible routines. It’s important to build in margin for the moments when life happens and things don’t go as planned, hence the flexible piece of “flexible routines”. But we can’t live each day flying by the seat of our pants either. How do you find a healthy, practical, and attainable balance? Enter systems. Maintaining a lifestyle of flexible routines is possible through the creation and implementation of systems. What do I mean by systems? I mean creating daily habits that keep things moving around the home and with your family. Systems and flexible routines make daily life predictable, practical, and gives us more bandwidth for purpose filled days. When the necessary tasks of life are built into our days, it gives our head and heart more space to be emotionally present and to enjoy our time together because we know we have a plan in place to get the daily things done that need to get done. And don’t be afraid to include your children in the implementation of these systems! Sit down as a family and discuss how each person can contribute. Allow your children to take part in truly being a part of the family and contributing and taking on more responsibilities. It will empower them and also build a spirit of unity and teamwork among your family. 

Here is an example of a morning and evening system that you and your family can implement and adhere to for more joy filled days. Obviously this is just an example and you can choose the tasks/chores that are important to your family to consistently maintain each day so that you can love each other better under the roof of your home you all share. 

Morning: Make the Bed, unload the dishwasher, quick tidy, family morning prayer time before everyone heads out for the day. 

Evening: Dinner clean-up, quick tidy before bed, family reading time, prep backpacks, lunch boxes, and shoes for an easy morning the next day. 

 

BODY: Fit Family Fun. 

What if we shifted our thinking to simply more activity and less exercise. You don’t need to move within the walls of a formal gym for your movement to be formative. Take it outside. And while you are at it, bring the family with you. With the heat winding down, now is the perfect time to take an evening stroll post dinner or play ball outside after school. Or you could do one of my all-time favorite fall activities- take the family apple picking. It’s a great way to get in steps, eat yummy, fresh produce, and spend quality time together. 

Moving together as a family is a win-win for everyone. It helps you stay in shape and find the time to exercise, a common barrier for a lot of moms, and it helps your kiddos burn off energy from the school day. Plus- you get to do it together, which is always fun! What a great way to teach your children about stewarding their body and health well starting at a young age. 

 

SOUL: Set social media boundaries and socialize. 

Social media is a blessing and a curse. While it is a great way to connect and remain in touch with family and friends from afar, it can very easily run our days if we don’t set boundaries around screen time. If we are not mindful and aware, our screens can take precedent over the people right in front of us. Take some time to think about and examine your relationship with social media and your phone and set realistic goals as you enter into the fresh, fall season. And if you need a little help along the way and some accountability, iphone has a ‘screen time’ app where you can set time limits for certain apps such as Facebook and Instagram. These limits have tremendously helped me to set my phone down more often, look up, and be present. 

One of my favorite quotes and mantras to live by is that said of Annie Dillard: “How we live our days is how we live our lives.” This truth should permeate our everyday decisions and help us to keep running the race of healthy, positive, and life-giving routines and habits. I don’t know about you but I want to look back at my life when I am 80 years old and know that I lived each day with purpose and presence. I want to know that I ran the race well despite whatever hurdles I had to hop over. Living a lifestyle of healthy habits requires discipline and hard work. It takes effort to establish these routines and what is most valuable to your family, but the hard work on the front end is well worth the feelings of freedom and simplicity on the back end. 

Be graceful with yourself and your family as you enter into a new season and work to establish new habits. We as a family sit down and re-evaluate our systems and routines a few times a year. As seasons change, both physically and metaphorically, it’s important to recognize that and adjust accordingly so that everyone can thrive in their unique spaces while still maintaining a healthy and close family unit. 

While it’s sad to say so long to summer, I hope you feel a newfound inspiration to create healthy habits for yourself and your family going into this new fall season and the remainder of 2020. This year is not over yet, so don’t throw in the towel entirely just yet.  The fall is one of my favorite seasons because of it’s golden beauty, crisp air, and many opportunities for gatherings. Embrace this new season for all of its beauty and make the most of these last precious months of 2020. Who knows…your 2020 may redeem itself during these last few months of the year?! It’s worth a shot- your physical and mental health depend on it.

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

 

The Journey Of Health

The journey of health..

Have you ever felt like you are swinging on a pendulum- back and forth- in regards to your weight loss journey or in the area of your health and wellness goals? Maybe you have goals of going to the gym x number of times per week, eating this and not that, and choosing self-stewardship over self-negligence. But, oftentimes we find it’s only a matter of time before these well intentioned goals fly out the window, or rather get lost due to our busy and demanding lifestyles. It’s not that we do it on purpose, of course not. We WANT to succeed with our goals. We WANT to be healthier and feel better. Rather, our time and energy are in a tug of war with our self-stewardship and our personal wellness goals. And you can guess which one almost always wins.

This yo-yo back and forth is not only discouraging but also causes us to feel like we take one step forward and three steps back. And when we take three steps back, it’s that much further of a step forward to get back on track.

Can I admit that I struggle with my journey of health too? I love fitness and challenging my body with a tough workout, but there are so many days where it’s a sheer fight for me to get myself out of the house and off to the gym….or up out of bed an hour earlier than before my son wakes up to get it done. None of us can do it perfectly, and those that are doing it perfectly, I would bargain are struggling with some deep seated insecurities or are running themselves ragged and will eventually burn out.

Ultimately, for sustained success, we have to find a balance. So, what does that look like? How do we step off of this unstable pendulum and into a place of grace-fillled routine on this journey of health we find ourselves on? The reality is, our routine will be imperfect- that’s simply the nature of life. But we can find and build a routine that has breathing room for days when we don’t feel well, or are home with sick kiddos, or didn’t get a good night’s sleep before. We need flexibility in our life and in our journey of health, especially if we want to maintain these goals and this lifestyle for the long haul. So how do we get there?

Here are 5 tips for helping you on your journey to health through all the different seasons of life. These tips will help you start right where you are; whether that’s helping you refine your current routine or helping you to get on your feet and get active for the first time. These tips are meant for you, exactly where you are. When I find myself in a season of unpredictability or a season of plateau or boredom, I come back to these exact tips and figure out what I need to do personally to reset my mindset and my routine.

Find Accountability– This is key! And this is what I do a majority of my time as a health coach. I come alongside my lovely client’s and help them to stay on track. Because when we have someone who we know will ask us if we completed that spin class or how we fared at the work party, we are more likely to stay on track because we know we will have to answer those questions. And the only one we hurt by answering dishonestly, is ourselves. Accountability can come in many forms. Maybe you sign up for a boutique fitness studio that only offers Barre classes or Spin classes and if you don’t attend, you are still charged or charged an extra fee for not attending. Or maybe you begin to work with a personal trainer. Another idea is to schedule your workouts with a friend or co-worker and the two of you together can keep each other on track and cheer each other on. Finding ways to incorporate accountability into your fitness and health goals for this year will have drastic effects on your commitment and your progress. If you are interested in working with me for accountability and one-on-one coaching, you can book a FREE 30 minute consultation call here.

 

Find the Why- Before you even begin your new routine or program, I want you to sit down in a quiet place with just your mind or maybe a journal and reflect on a few questions. Ask yourself: Why do I want to accomplish this goal? Why is this goal important to me? How will I feel if I reach my goal? What if I don’t reach it? How will I realistically accomplish this goal or work towards progress? Will this goal get me closer to where I want to be and how I want to live my life? When we assign value and purpose to our goals, suddenly they take on a whole new meaning. People are far more motivated to stick to their goals when they are keenly aware of the purpose connected to their goals. For me, taking care of myself and investing in my health and physical well being makes me feel better, I am more productive throughout the rest of my day, I have energy, and I am a better wife. There are moments where I need to remind myself of my ‘why’ while I am begrudgingly doing my warm up. I remind myself of all of the times before that I felt this way yet still pushed through and how amazing my body and my mind felt afterwards. What is your ‘why’? Find it, hold fast to it, and constantly remind yourself of it. This will help you stay consistent which is key!

Find What You Enjoy- No one wants to do something they despise. I loathe running and therefore I barely run. I simply do not enjoy it. Finding an activity that excites you and energizes you will help you to actually attend and not skip your workouts. You can find multiple activities that you enjoy and switch it up so that you aren’t getting bored with your workout routine. I personally enjoy creating HIIT (high intensity interval training) circuits, teaching Body Pump, and hiking! The main thing is that we get out there, do something that brings us joy, and also helps us make progress on our goals.

 

Find Creativity and Flexibility– Living a holistic and healthy lifestyle is far greater than what we consume at each meal and the amount of exercise we do. If we only do those things, we are pigeon-holding ourselves into a box and missing out on so many little ways to live healthfully and wholly. Each of our daily decisions add up and either help to cultivate a healthy lifestyle or cause us to remain stressed, overwhelmed, and feeling discouraged. Just a few simple, daily decisions we can make that lend to an overall healthier lifestyle include taking the stairs, parking further away at the store, taking a walk after dinner with your family, or getting outside with your kiddos after school and playing tag. If we limit ourselves to only the gym in order to get a workout in, we are missing out on so many joy filled and creative ways to fit exercise and fitness into our daily lives. If you can’t make it to the gym one day, that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Maybe when the kids get off the bus from school you all take the dog for a walk or go out back and run around together for twenty minutes. Get creative, think outside the box. I think when we shift our mindset and begin incorporating creative ways to be active into our daily lives, our goals will become more attainable. Remember, progress not perfection. Little by little our daily steps and choices add up.

Find Reason to Celebrate– Celebrate the big and small wins! Baby steps are okay! Changing your lifestyle is not an easy feat. It will take time and many stumbles and falls along the way. But that’s ok- get back up and keep moving forward. It’s important that we celebrate our little victories (and big ones, too) along the way. When we celebrate our progress, it encourages us to keep going. Celebrate by taking a day off, going to your favorite restaurant for a cheat meal, or going for a massage- you deserve it after all! Be cautious not to reward yourself with things or food that directly contradict the goals you’ve set for yourself. Now, I am not saying that you can’t ever indulge, but when it comes to rewarding ourselves for our small victories, we need to be cautious how we approach it and be mindful of the current state of our hearts and minds, for those emotions will either help us in our journey or de-rail us. Even if you miss some steps along the way, that is normal. Let’s not get into the habit of taking an all-or-nothing approach, but rather approach our goals and fitness routines with grace and the correct mindset.

I want to encourage you that our fitness and health goals are a journey, a journey that will last a lifetime and ebb and flow given the different seasons of life we find ourselves in. We don’t have to do it all perfectly- that is a lie. I want you to know that I struggle with some of the same things as the woman next to me, and simply because I am a personal trainer and health coach, doesn’t dismiss me from experiencing these same feelings or barriers. I eat ice cream just like the next person. And I skip workouts too. And I also work hard to stay consistent and make sacrifices to choose stewardship over negligence when it comes to caring for my body. It’s an ever evolving, ebbing and flowing practice for me and for all of us but it’s worth working at and seeking to find what works for each of us. I hope these 5 tips help you to reset how you view your goals and your own wellness journey. We are on this trip together, day by day!

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

Why You Need An Accountability Partner

Why do you need an accountability partner?

Setting a health or fitness goal (or any goal for that matter) is a great thing but it comes with a lot of challenges and hard work. In order to achieve our well set out goals it takes perseverance, diligence, and commitment. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, working towards goals takes TIME and EFFORT. But there are ways we can set ourselves up for SUCCESS.

According to research, the two factors that effectively help people achieve the behavior change they desire are incentives and accountability.” Let’s dig into accountability because I know this is HUGE!

I’ve experienced it time and time again with my health coaching clients and personal training clients…when you have someone you know is going to ask you about a specific thing, you are more likely to do it and stick to it. You know someone is waiting to ask you and simply knowing that, pushes you to action. The reality is, none of us like to admit we were wrong or we didn’t do what we said we were going to do. This goes against human nature. But when we only tell ourselves we are going to do something and we don’t, it’s not as big of a deal because most of us don’t have the same respect for ourselves as we do other people, especially as women. If we tell ourselves only and don’t follow through, we are queens of telling ourselves it was because of x, y, or z. We can tend to do this with others too, but we are more likely to follow through because there is fire under our bottoms. 😉 The reality is, it’s hard for ANYONE to follow through and commit to any goal when they keep it to themselves and have no one to answer to except themself. We are human and we tend to naturally want to avoid hard things, even if the hard thing is a good thing, like a health/fitness goal.

So, how do we get around the barrier of ourselves if we really want to make changes in our lives and achieve our goals? Enter in an accountability partner.  Having an accountability partner or support group is KEY to your success of your health and fitness goals.

I recently read an article on Entreprenuer.com that says that it is in fact possible to increase one’s chances of succeeding in achieving their goals. In fact, it’s possible to increase that change to a 95% chance, which is HUGE! How?? Well, according to The American Society of Training and Development, people are 65% more likely to meet a goal once admitting it to another person. But if someone is a part of an on-going meeting or has an accountability partner that they regularly check in with, that success increases to 95%.

An accountability partner could be a friend, co-worker, family member or you could be a part of a support group or a group like Weight Watchers.

So, who’s holding you accountable??

P.S. If you are wanting to improve your morning routine and wake up earlier and lead more purposeful days, join me in my 12-week morning makeover program! Accountability will be a large part of this program so you can be sure to make lasting change and transform your morning and your day! Check it out and sign up here. We start TOMORROW so if you want in, sign up NOW!

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

Get Your Move On

Get your move on with exercise. You may love it or hate it but you likely know it’s good for your physical and mental health. Perhaps you, like many of us, struggle to find the time to exercise each day or even a few days a week. I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to find the time and you don’t need as much time as you probably think you do.  So, let’s get your move on!

There are so many people who think if you cannot commit a solid 45 minutes to an hour for exercise, then why do it at all?! Don’t buy into that all or nothing mentality. You can get a super EFFECTIVE workout while also being EFFICIENT with your time! I am talking 20-30 minutes. That’s it! 

In fact, research has shown that you no longer need to work-out in longer blocks (at least 10 minutes) for it to be effective and count towards your weekly goal of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. Mini exercise sessions such as a quick jog through the parking lot, doing squats throughout the day, or taking the stairs- it all adds up! Research also supports that small bouts of exercise throughout the day can provide many of the same benefits as a longer, continuous workout. These benefits include improvements in your cardiovascular health, weight loss, and even helping to promote long term adherence and consistency in an exercise program. Short and steady wins the race. It’s a great place to start especially if you are short on time or new to exercise. 

According to an article at Harvard Health, only 19% of women get the recommended amount of exercise each week here in America. So, how do we improve this? How can you improve this in your life? My answer- get your move on. Simply MOVE MORE! Take the stairs, park further at the grocery store, do core exercises while watching TV. Make the absolute best use of your time and I think you’ll be surprised how much movement you can actually get in a day. 

Here are 10 quick ways to get that burst of energy and movement into your day!

 

  1. Clean…vacuuming and mopping especially. 
  2. Walk around the work floor every hour.
  3. Do core exercises while watching TV.
  4. Play outside with your kiddos- play tag, frisbee, or kick a soccer ball
  5. Run up the stairs a few times.
  6. Do squats or lunges while cooking dinner.
  7. Start your day with 10 push-ups right when you get out of bed…it’ll help wake you up too!
  8. Park further away at the grocery store or Target.
  9. Get a standing desk and do squats and calf raises while you respond to emails.
  10. Go for a quick walk around the block post dinner with the family- quality time and movement time! Double win.
~Meghan 
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer

Wine, Me & Getting Healthy

In addressing my weight and deciding to get healthy one thing I have to address is alcohol. I LOVE wine.

Love it! I love the taste, the way chilled wine feels on a hot summer day. I love the tipsiness and the stress relief. I even love the lowered inhibitions.

I can be very closed off sometimes. I have the unfortunate habit of my mouth being like a steel trap, of overthinking every word before I let it slip out. I feel like that can make people feel lonely, like I’m not opening up to them, or I’m disapproving, which sometimes I am, to be fair. A glass of wine definitely causes my words to flow more freely. That is often a good thing, because it makes me easier to relate to and frankly, more fun. There have been times when I absolutely think I am more likable and also like I can relate to my son better. I am not sure why, but I have heard other special needs parents say it too.

When I was younger, I was not really a drinker. When I turned 21, I had a baby at my birthday dinner. Not long after, I was pregnant again. I was definitely not a drinker during that period. However, I lived near Napa and worked there. I became interested in wine and discovered a love for it, the way all newbies do, the sweet stuff first. During that period, it was just for enjoyment when socializing. I was low carb and it didn’t fit well into my diet.

But then I got to a different period of my life, one where I was stressed out most of the time. It was sort of a state of being for me for several years, maybe a decade. My ex-husband was deployed and I had two babies to care for alone. I was fortunate because I was able to stay home with them, but with a son who would literally climb the walls, and who I did not understand, it was a stressful time, with no partner.

During that period, my son was diagnosed with ASD and I delved into learning everything I could about that. I probably had undiagnosed PPD, but I was definitely depressed. My life felt hopeless. So, I would swing the pendulum from stress monster/helicopter mom to blubbering basket-case in the same day. Of course, I waited for the kids to go down for a nap or to bed for the night before falling apart.

But then, my mom and my stepdad would see how stressed I was. They tried to help me, and they did, tremendously. A lot of times that help was in the form of bringing me a bottle of wine. At that point, I would probably drink half a bottle per night. I would feel relaxation that I hadn’t experienced in so long and it was very, very welcome. It was a habit I had for maybe 6 months.

When my ex came back home we moved across the country, which was hard for me. But I got out of my wine habit for awhile.

It was a sad time in my life though.

I had a good friend, my father, my mother-in-law, and my grandmother all die in a short few years. In that time I took up running and I went back to school when the kids were in school. I would drink socially, but not every day or even every week. I was also very unhappy in my marriage, but he was was gone half the time. My life was hectic, but I loved being able to stay home with my kids. Until homework started…

I found that a glass of wine made homework time with my son infinitely easier. It gave me much more patience and gave me something to enjoy while sitting with him for hours. The problem became when I wanted another glass while I made dinner and then another when I put them to bed. For my wine drinkers, you know this equals a bottle. So, then I was drinking a bottle a day. This went on for several years. It may not have been every single day, but it was often. And this doesn’t include parties when I wasn’t responsible for anyone else and I let loose. My weight crept up, I say crept, but it really ran full speed ahead. I gained 50-60 lbs in a year. I wasn’t running, it wasn’t good for me.

But I continued. I did it until my ex retired and I went back to work every day. I would still indulge, but mostly just on the weekends. My weight stabilized and I even lost some. The thing was at this point, it was no longer something I leaned on to get through the storm, it was becoming the storm, slowly. For about 5 years, this was the schedule, I didn’t drink much if at all during the week, but I did on the weekends. And sometimes I took it overboard, making up for the week. I drank when I went out with work colleagues. I drank at parties and barbecues, but I lost 30 lbs during this time.

For the past 3 years I haven’t really stuck to the only on weekends rule. It has been a really rough period of my life. I decided I wanted a divorce, went through that life shattering process, had a series of unfortunate encounters with men, and lost my job. So, I leaned on the tried and true. But the problem is that it caused as many problems as it helped. In this time, I have completely stopped drinking for periods of time, been on benders, and done the drinking wine at night thing. I have always been in control of how and when, but I give myself permission and then I do. And I gained back the 30 lbs I lost.

I am no longer the person I was when my mom and stepdad would bring me wine. Then I could have 2 glasses and no more. I just don’t do that anymore. I also don’t get drunk much anymore, but I still drink. Until now.

Now things are wonderful. Now I have someone to share the load. Now my kids are largely self sufficient. Now is the time to kick the crutch, when things are good. So that when that inevitable hardship comes again, I have other ways of dealing.

None of this is hard to admit. Anyone who knows me well knows this stuff anyway. However, if I can help anyone see themselves more clearly, it is worth sharing.

Stronger Than Yesterday,

Alice

TWSM Fitness Tips For Beginners

Fitness Tips For Beginners

It’s a new day and you’ve decided it’s time to take back your life starting with your health. You are determined to exercise and get back into shape. You signed up for that online fitness program that you heard about on Instagram, got yourself a new pair of sneakers dropped off at your door from Prime, and you’re ready and raring to go! You’re super motivated day 1, 2, and even day 3 but then you begin to lose momentum and your body is tired! What do you do? How do you maintain the momentum and motivation to stick with your fitness and health goals? Here are 5 fitness tips for beginners to help you stay motivated. The goal is to keep you in the game for not just the first few days, but for the long haul. Because it’s about creating a lifestyle after all, right?!

Tip 1: Plan ahead! When we are beginning to implement new habits and routines whether fitness related or not, it’s important to minimise the excuses that could arise and derail us from our well intentioned goals. When it comes to exercise, I’ve found the best success for myself and my clients is to plan it. Literally schedule your workout. Put it on your calendar at work, your personal planner, whatever you need to do but SCHEDULE and PLAN it or else it won’t happen. And speaking of planning ahead- go ahead and set out your workout clothes the night before or pack your gym bag and put it in your car so you are ready to go and the excuse of not having your things together isn’t even an option.

Tip 2: Set realistic goals and start slow. Slow and steady wins the race. And this is precisely the approach and attitude you should have when it comes to your fitness regiment. There is nothing wrong with easing into your program and taking it slow or taking rest breaks as needed. Here’s the thing- if you go all out in your workouts and aren’t realistic about where your fitness level is at, you are setting yourself up to potentially burn out or injure yourself, setting you further back. Pushing too hard too fast isn’t going to get you to your goals faster, in fact it could actually do more harm than good. Remember- slow, steady, and CONSISTENCY is key! Set a goal that you can gradually work towards and track your progress such as running a 5K in a certain amount of time or doing a certain number of push-ups on your toes. Start with small, attainable goals and once you achieve those and feel stronger and more confident, you can add on to those goals.

Tip 3: Listen to your body. If you are new to working out or jumping back in after several months off, be mindful of your limitations. Experiencing some level of soreness is to be expected but don’t overdo it so much that you cannot walk the next day. Harder and faster is not necessarily better and won’t get you to your goals faster as mentioned in tip #2 above. Be sure to stay hydrated, cool down, stretch, and have an active recovery day to keep your muscles from getting too sore and fatigued. You have to be feeling good in order to stay consistent so listen to your body and take care so you can continue your program.

Tip 4: Find a buddy. Accountability is HUGE when it comes to maintaining consistency and motivation and truly making fitness and health a lifestyle. There is nothing like going through the suck with someone else right by your side. Find a group exercise class to attend or ask a co-worker or friend if they want to exercise together and be your workout buddy.

Tip 5: Know your ‘why’. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing is quite possibly THE most important component to making sustainable, lasting change. Take some time to sit down and write out or think about why you want to incorporate fitness into your life? Ask yourself these questions before embarking on your fitness and health journey.

  • Why is my health important to me?
  • Why do I want to be healthy and how do I want to feel?
  • How will my life be different with fitness and health incorporated?
  • How will I maintain this lifestyle and why do I want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Once you’ve thought through those questions, it will be so much easier to re-ignite yourself and get back on track if you fall off. Knowing our greater WHY and our purpose is key to maintaining and sustaining healthy lifestyle goals.

With these 5 tips in your back pocket along with your new sneakers and online program, you are primed for success- long-term success! Now, like the popular Nike motto says, ‘Just Do It’!

Meghan Meredith

HomeBodySoul, Founder

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

Divorce Did Not Ruin My Child

I have heard it many times… “My divorce ruined my kids lives”… False. Changes that happen in your life, do not ruin your kids lives. We all experience changes that will affect the lives of your children. And sometimes throughout all those changes, we all come out better.

Getting divorced does not ruin your kids lives… Before I decided to go through with my divorce, I struggled with how it would affect my kids. It was the number one thing that was holding me back from going through with my divorce. I would constantly worry if they would be ok and make it through all the transitions. Would they be upset, mad, angry, or would they act out… all of these worries raced through my mind over and over again.

But 5 years later…I can tell you that I did not ruin my kids lives. Yes, Their lives are different now. But they have adjusted to the changes. Yes, we have had some struggles through the way. However a lot of the struggles that we have faced, are just growing up parenting struggles. It has not always been a party…

However, I could not stay in a loveless marriage.

All of us worry about how divorce will affect our kids. I don’t think we would be human if we did not. But my kids saw everything and they picked up on so much that I don’t even realize.

My youngest was 4 when I got divorced. He often replays scenarios to me of his dad and I fighting in the last stages of our marriage. He will also mention how nice it is that dad and I don’t fight anymore. I am always so curious because his dad and I did not have loud arguments, but obviously to a 4 year old at the time.. he picked up on a lot more than we thought. It is also how a 4 year old interpreted our relationship and marriage.

I believe its how you handle all parts of your divorce, from the beginning, through the process, and all the years after…

There are things that I have done that have helped the transition over the last few years.

I have been able to tell when my kids needed a little additional support. All 3 of my kids have gone to counseling separately at different times in their lives. Each one faced different challenges at different ages and just needed to work through it. Alot of it was the changes in households and different parenting styles. I knew they could use a neutral person to talk too and work it out.

I continued counseling throughout and after my divorce. I did this because it was my outlet to let out my frustrations and emotions. It helped me control my emotions with my ex in front of my children. Counseling kept me grounded when I really just wanted to tell my ex what an idiot he was at times. Or it taught me to refrain from sharing my true feelings about my ex’s decisions in front of the kids.

My ex and I have also stayed very informed in their lives. I have learned to have conversations with my children and my ex all together, so there is no miscommunication between any of us. It gives my kids a chance to voice their opinion in front of both of us. And it has taken a lot of the pressure off me as always being the one having to speak for my kids.

I am very open and honest with my kids, even more so now that they are older. My girls are teenagers now, so their dad gets under their skin all the time… just being a dad to teenagers. I have always tried to keep my comments and negative thoughts to myself, and I still do now even more. Its hard. Many times I would love to tell them what I really think, but I want them to have a very healthy and positive relationship with us both. Its so hard to keep all my under my breath comments to myself. I also want my kids to form their own opinions and not be influenced by what I think.

So, no my divorce has not ruined my kids. I do not think it has ruined anything in any of our lives. My kids see how happy I am now, plus I can tell that they are happy. And they see how much love and support they get from both of their parents, just separately.

 

-snarky

https://www.snarkydivorcedgirl.com/

TWSM Protein Egg and Quinoa Salad Review

Protein Egg and Quinoa Salad Review

Let’s be real here. Since March our lives have been dumped upside down. “Normal” is no longer school and work and soccer games and spring weekend festivals and church services. “Normal” is isolation and anxiety and homeschooling (or not) and masks and hoping to goodness that for one day – just one – something new won’t happen. My anxiety bubbles just below the surface threatening to erupt at any given moment. My friend Schroeder and I check in with each other via text every day to see where we are on the anxiety scale, one being calm. Ten being a talk-me-off-the-ledge full-blown anxiety attack. The goal is to keep us both simmering at no more than a three.

Two months ago I wrote my review for SkinnyTaste’s Protein Egg and Quinoa Salad regaling you with “pack your lunch, sit in a quiet park on a sunny day on your lunch break” ideas. “It’s finally spring!” I declared. “Treat yourself, and get out of the office on a nice day!” I’m sure many of us would love nothing more than to be with our colleagues again, even the ones who make the Wicked Witch of the West theme run through your head. I know I would.

Yet, here I sit looking out my home office window at the warm spring day beyond, desperate to see something other than the same four walls of my home and the parking lot of my local grocery store when I pick up my curbside grocery order. So here’s the deal… It is finally spring. Treat yourself. Get out of your house and on to your yard, patio, deck, whatever small bit of outside space you have. Make your kids whatever their favorite sandwich is. Prepare this fresh protein rich salad for yourself, and have a picnic. Seriously.

SkinnyTaste’s Protein Egg and Quinoa Salad is delicious and can be adapted in so many ways. No lentils? Use black beans like I did. Add spinach instead of arugula. (I used both). Cut up two dyed Easter eggs. Use bottled dressing instead of making the lemon dressing suggested. No one will judge you for it. As you can see from my pictures, a jar isn’t necessary. In fact I preferred the rectangular food container shown so I could eat it straight from that. After your picnic when the kids have eaten most of their sandwiches, there are potato chip crumbs in your shoes, and everyone’s hair is wild, break into the bougie chocolate you know you’re saving “for a special occasion.” This is your special occasion. You all deserve a piece.

~Laura