Tag Archives: Habits

Healthy Grocery Store Routines

If you can change your grocery store routine for the better, you can change your life. I’m totally serious. What we eat impacts our energy, body shape, body image, confidence and overall vitality. Healthy eating habits aren’t just about weight loss or gain. There’s a reason women and men trying to conceive are told to watch their diet for three months prior to trying. Even people attempting to heal from a physical injury are consulted on how best to eat to reduce inflammation and improve more quickly. The scope of what we can change through better eating is endless. The best place to start is your grocery store routine. From the moment you arrive to when you leave, there are simple strategies you can use to make the experience healthier. Here are 5 easy ones to try.

grocery-store-4

1) Where You Park

We’ve all been there…driving furious laps around the grocery store parking lot, attempting to find a space near the automatic front doors. It can feel like a personal assault that no spaces are open when we are in a hurry. We may even roll our eyes in exasperation as someone packing up their car with grocery bags seems to take fooorreeevvveerr.  

Instead of wasting time trying to find that golden parking lot spot near the front or waiting for slowpoke to roll out, just take the first spot that you see. Why waste time going up and down the lanes when you can save time by parking in the first open spot (even if it’s way in the back) and walking in to the store? The extra steps won’t hurt you. In fact, changing this simple “find the easiest route” mentality is a huge deal. If we look at walking 100 yards or less from our car to the store as a nuisance, what other forms of movement throughout our day are we trying to shortcut? Do we avoid getting up more than a couple times a day from our desk to stretch, get water or loosen up with a little stroll around the office? Do we routinely take the escalator when the stairs are right beside it? Change this one simple thing and you’re on your way to including more movement across your whole day.

grocery-store-3

2) Shop the Periphery

The periphery of the grocery store is where the good stuff is. You might be thinking I’m wrong because the cookies, crackers, chips and soda are all in the aisles, but I promise you, the periphery of most stores is where you want to do the bulk of your shopping. Why? The perimeter is where the fresh items are: fruits, vegetables, freshly baked breads, meats, fish, and dairy (or dairy substitutes rich in calcium). These foodstuffs are lowest in additives like sugar, sodium and processed chemicals. They are also lower in calories than processed foods and can be delicious on their own or cooked with a little olive oil or some spices.

There are some healthy items such as beans, legumes, plant oils, nuts and grains that can be found in the aisles, but if you spend most of your shopping experience wandering up and down tossing boxes and bags of food into your cart, you’re probably missing out on the most nutrient-dense items your body needs to thrive. Next time you’re grocery shopping make note of where you’re spending most of your time. See if you can pull away from the chip aisle in favor of the produce section.

grocery-store-2

3) Plan Ahead

Healthy eating takes planning. Writing down how many meats and veggies you need for the week is a helpful way to have a game plan versus walking into the grocery store, getting overwhelmed thinking about dinner prep, and buying frozen pizzas and burritos. Leave them for hungry college kids to buy. If you balk at the prospect of making a unique meal for each dinner and/or lunch of the week then find two or three recipes that you can tackle one weekend afternoon and separate into meal-size portions for the whole week (or toss some in the freezer for later). Whatever works for you, write it on a notepad or in a phone memo. You want to go in to the store knowing what you’re buying so that last-minute stress and indecision can’t throw off your choices and wreck an entire week of eating.

Another way planning ahead with a list helps is to keep you from overindulging, especially if you go to the store hungry. This will always backfire so try to go after you’ve had a meal or snack. For example, ever gone into Trader Joe’s in the fall? Every inch of that store boasts a delicious pumpkin item from pumpkin butter to pumpkin ice cream. It’s serious pumpkin overload for both lovers and haters of the food. For those of us who LOVE this time of year, especially at TJ’s, it’s nearly impossible to walk out of the store without making impulse buys without a grocery list plan ready.

grocery-store-1

4) Allow Yourself a Splurge (or two)

Would it be fair to walk into pumpkin heaven (see above) without allowing myself to splurge on an item or two? No. That would be mean and cruel. Allowing yourself a very specific number of splurge items to buy is totally fine each grocery trip. I suggest two. I usually allow myself to buy some of my favorite sweet potato crackers as one splurge item and then, depending on the week, will let myself get either dark chocolate or coconut milk ice cream. I don’t eat any of these things in excess or all at once, but I like having them in my kitchen for moments when a little something special fits the bill.

Contrary to what people might think, allowing yourself to eat things that you crave can result in eating less, not more. Studies have shown that people who try to deprive themselves of desirable foods end up caving and eating way more of them (they even think about those foods more too!). People also tend to “eat around” what they really want. For example, they really want ice cream but will try to eat some nuts to satisfy their craving first. When the nuts don’t seem to work, they eat some bread or cheese, and on it goes until the person finally eats the ice cream. At this point, they are feeling so guilty for having overeaten other items that they also overeat the ice cream in a shame-binge. Save yourself from this. Just eat the darn ice cream already. And buy it too. 

grocery-store-5

5) Get Active as You Exit

We often stand twiddling our thumbs while the cashier swipes our food items and bags them too. Instead of sitting back waiting to complete your transaction, try offering a helping hand. Start bagging the groceries. You will burn a little more energy, make things faster for other shoppers if the lines are long, and will help the friendly cashier with her job. Help out even if they aren’t friendly – you never know what someone is going through! You will also benefit by getting out the door faster and you will save your bananas and eggs from getting crushed. Always a worthy cause to motivate a shopper.

Lastly, as you prepare to leave the premises, your grocery bags neatly stowed in the trunk of your car, there is one last step before turning your key in the ignition. Put the shopping cart away!!! I see grocery store parking lots littered with shopping carts from people too lazy or busy to be bothered to complete this simple step. It’s a courtesy to the people working at the store and other drivers whose cars are at risk of getting hit by runaway carts. Just like step one in this article, this transition in mentality, taking action instead of the easy route out, transcends into other areas of your life too. This same mentality controls whether or not you get off your couch on the weekends and go on a run. It dictates whether you order take-out or cook something healthy.

Keep making the simple decisions that are best for your health and body. It doesn’t have to be hard. It can start with these basic steps at your local grocery store!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz-blue-sea

Advertisements

Workout to Get Paid More

If you think I’m pulling your leg, you’re mistaken. The evidence has stacked up over the past five years and I’m officially pulling it all together for readers so that they can see, very clearly, how exercise impacts earnings. So go on, read some, sweat some, make more money…and consider thanking me with a pair of Jimmy Choos. 😉

Be it formal exercise or mere play – movement matters!


exercise and brain power


Evidence that Exercise Impacts the Brain

We all know that exercise impacts the body, but we typically think of the benefits in terms of muscular strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and/or weight loss. But, exercise has major implications for the organ that makes us human: the brain. Just 30 minutes of exercise can pump a lot of extra blood to your brain, impacting your ability to problem solve and make decisions. In fact, exercise can even increase the size of your hippocampus, i.e. the memory center of the brain! Incredible, right?

According to Active, the extra oxygen, glucose and hormonal changes which accompany bouts of regular exercise may even lead to permanent structural changes in the brain. Here is more compelling evidence that Active has collected:

  • “In a study published in Perceptual and Motor Skills, women performed 20 percent better on memory tests after running on a treadmill than they did before exercising.”
  • “A study in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory found that people learned vocabulary words 20 percent faster after intense exercise than after low-intensity activity.”
  • “People who exercised during their workday were 23 percent more productive on those days than they were when they didn’t exercise, says a recent study from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.”

Wow. If this isn’t brain power, I don’t know what is!


exercise and professional success


How Spending on Gym Memberships Pays You Back

In 2012, Time Magazine‘s Josh Sanburn reported that a study published by the Journal of Labor Research revealed that employees who engaged in regular exercise earned 9% more compared with their less active colleagues. (The active employees engaged in at least three hours of weekly exercise.) Sanburn reflects “considering that the average hourly wage in the U.S. is $23.41, the time workers spend at the gym is valued at $70.23 — but the extra pay the exercising employee receives is $84.28, about 20% more than the value of the time spent at the gym.”

Older studies support this correlation between exercise and earnings by evaluating the financial well-being of less active people; women who were obese earned 18% less and women who were overweight had 25% less overall family income compared with more active women.

Considering that #2 on on the list of 6 Daily Habits of the Worlds Most Successful CEOS is “they exercise regularly,” I would venture to say we should all attempt to follow suit. For our waistlines and wallets! 


children and exercise


What’s More: Children’s Exercise, Learning and ADHD

Dr. Mercola, a renowned alternative medicine proponent, says that research has shown that after 30 minutes of exercise on a treadmill, children are 10% more effective at problem solving.

ABC for Fitness, a school program encouraging teachers to incorporate shorts bursts of activity at the beginning of their classes, was evaluated by ABC News and the Journal Preventing Chronic Disease. ABC News found that kids who participated in the program doubled their reading scores and increased their math scores by 20%! What’s even more incredible is that the journal found that schools adopting the program had a “33% decline in ADHD medications used by its students.” Some doctors who work with ADHD children say that exercise is a regular component in their therapy treatment.

Not only is exercise an important part of encouraging physical and mental health in children, but there is strong evidence to suggest that physically active children are more likely to become active adults. Since habits are often established at a young age, let’s keep encouraging the next generation – and ourselves, no matter how old – to keep moving. Your occupational success, financial well-being, and children’s health may all pay the price if you don’t!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

To Face Unafraid (the plans we’ve made and more)

The holiday season is full of cheer, gift wrapping, hot cocoa, and a familiar playlist of Christmas carols. One such popular song, “Winter Wonderland,” was written in 1934 and has since been recorded by over 200 artists. The song mostly references winter’s charms like sleigh bells, snowmen, and the thrilling chill in the air. If you listen closely to the words of the holiday tune you will notice that one verse in particular feels a bit out of place. It stands out from the bubbly imagery of winter. It speaks to one of the biggest challenges of the holiday season and life at large:

To face unafraid / the plans that we’ve made” 

Even in the midst of the holidays we too have made numerous plans and overbooked ourselves to the extent that we might now be timid about our agendas. Or perhaps we have cleared our plates of responsibility and must find the resolve to enjoy down time without a whirring voice in the back of our minds telling us about all the things we ought to be doing instead of relaxing. Whatever your situation, finding the ability to thrive instead of survive can be tricky business.

One way that people commonly quell anxiety about the holidays and the upcoming new year is by setting a New Year’s resolution. I’m shocking you with this breaking news. About 50% of us will set a resolution. Unfortunately, research shows that 88% of all resolutions set on New Year’s fail. Ouch. The failure rate is so high because of the way people proclaim their goals. Lucky for you, success is within reach if you do the following…

WW Recommit to Goals

Instead of focusing on a big, lofty goal such as “I want to lose 20 lbs.,” commit yourself to a simple, concrete routine. For example: “I will do my best to go to the gym on Mondays and Wednesdays” or “I will attempt to better control my meal portions by substituting certain calorie dense foods with filling vegetables at lunch and dinner.”

Focus your energy on a routine instead of a goal. This will ensure that you take action rather than sit back and stress over a lack of progress or fear that you won’t be able to attain the high standards that you have set for your future self. As a fitness professional, I have seen time and time again that when people set large goals for themselves, without also creating healthy routines, they get lost in a spiral of frustration and fear. People miss personal training sessions, avoid the gym, and sometimes even gain weight, all because of anxiety over how to achieve their goals.

Fear not. Over time, routines become habitual. According to research it takes approximately 66 days on average for an action to become a habit. This really isn’t too terribly long. It’s worth committing yourself to. Your new healthy habit will become an anchor that keeps you on track. It provides the powerful root structure from which you can grow additional positive benefits and behaviors. The daily choice to engage in this action is the way you consistently recommit to your goals. Thanks to the power of habits we need not fear “all the plans that we’ve made.” This year, there will be no stopping us.


WW Open your eyes

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

 

 

References

https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-science-of-new-years-resolutions-why-88-fail-and-how-to-make-them-work

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejsp.674/abstract

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_Wonderland

7 Ways to Ditch Your Scale

There is a better solution than weighing yourself on the scale! It’s called circumference measurements. I will explain exactly how to use circumference measurements on 7 different places of your body. It’s quick, simple and measures REAL results. The weight on the scale is meaningless!

Weighing yourself on a scale may not reveal the true results of your fitness or eating habits. Why? The scale reflects your weight, not your body composition (a reflection of how much fat vs muscle your body has). Without the need for additional evidence, we all know that adding muscle to your body can result in many health benefits. What women oftentimes don’t know is that muscle takes up less space than fat. In other words, you can look smaller but weigh more.

WW Scale

Hello, old enemy!

 You’re probably thinking “say whhaaat?” Yes, it’s true! For example, before my wedding I was doing a lot of cardio exercise to burn stress. Since I was less focused on weight training, I actually lost some strength during this time. Today, I weigh a solid 8 pounds heavier than I did on my wedding day because I reinserted weight training into my regimen. But get this – at a heavier weight, I’m still the same dress size thanks to gains in muscle!

The saying “muscle weighs more than fat” is a myth. One pound of muscle = One pound of fat. Again, the difference is that muscle takes up less space than fat. When I was studying Exercise Physiology in undergrad, a professor explained it to me this way: “Imagine a bag of cotton balls. Five pounds of cotton balls will take up a lot of space. Now, imagine a rock. A five pound rock will look very compact when compared to the enormous bag of cotton balls that weighs the same.” In this example, cotton balls = fat and rock = muscle.

Check out the following website’s images to see what I’m talking about (especially the first two – you will be shocked!): 

http://paleozonenutrition.com/2012/04/25/what-does-your-body-look-like-on-the-inside-more-reasons-to-lift-weights/

Many women I’ve trained have had challenges wrapping their minds around the fact that while becoming more lean and fit they might not lose weight (they might even gain weight)! If the scale is used to assess progress these women will be disappointed and confused.

Weighing yourself on a scale every day doesn’t always help you understand the changes happening in your body. It also can lead to obsessive check-ins and emotional highs and lows. Your weight fluctuates throughout the day and can quickly vary by 5 pounds or more! This can happen because of bloating, what you have eaten, not going to the bathroom, and the timing of your menstrual cycle (your period and ovulation can cause water retention and/or bowel changes).

WW Woman Upset

Measure your body, not your worth!

If you want to keep track of your weight, try weighing yourself once a week. Make sure you are weighing yourself at the same time on the same day. Also, keep in mind that if you ate a high sodium dinner and haven’t had a bowel movement in the past 24 hours that it will be reflected in the number. Try not to panic. Always take the higher perspective and think about the various factors impacting your body. The same is true for circumference measurements. They can vary from time to time but all said and done, they are better assessments of your progress.

At last, to answer your question, “what are circumference measurements?”

Circumference measurements assess size at key sites on your body. They are a good way to measure progress since even a few pounds of fat loss can mean exciting changes such as losing an inch on your waist or feeling your pants fit better. I recommend women follow the same instructions mentioned above for weighing on a scale. Try to do circumference measurements once or twice a week, same time/same day, and bear in mind the various external factors that can cause your results to fluctuate (ex: you just got back from vacation, you attended a cocktail party, you’re under stress, etc.).

There are 7 sites that I recommend women measure: Arm, Chest, Waist, Stomach, Hips, Upper Thigh, and Lower Thigh.

Check out the following image tutorial:

Arm:

 WW CM Arm 2

Measure mid-way between your elbow and shoulder, at the thickest part of your arm.

 

Chest:

WW CM Bust

Measure straight across the nipple line at the fullest part of your bust.

Waist:

PART_1416104040662_20141114_175630

Measure at the smallest part of your midsection. You can find your natural waist by dropping your arms by your sides. Where your elbows fall is where your waist is.

Stomach:

WW CM Stomach

Measure directly across your belly button while letting your stomach relax.

 

Hips:

2014-11-14 15.40.58 (1)

Measure around the center of your gluts (aka your booty). The tape should run across your pubic bone, the bony area on the front of the hip. Keep your heels together for consistent measurements. 

 

Upper Thigh:

PART_1416103996213_20141114_180117

Measure around the thickest point of your thigh, approximately an inch or two below groin.

Lower Thigh:

WW CM Lower Thigh

Measure right above the knee where your muscle and fat begin, not on the bony part of your knee.

 

Now that you know how to better track the changes in your body, remember that in the spirit of wellness, we must drop judgment of ourselves. Measure your body, not your worth.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

 

Maggie

 

 

References:

http://www.jillianmichaels.com/fit/lose-weight/myth-weighing-yourself?xid=nl_LosingItWithJillianMichaels_20130902

http://www.niashanks.com/stop-weighing-on-the-scale-for-weight-loss/

http://www.niashanks.com/10-commandments-for-simple-fat-loss/

http://paleozonenutrition.com/2012/04/25/what-does-your-body-look-like-on-the-inside-more-reasons-to-lift-weights/

Are You Dissatisfied?

A woman vocalizes her physical insecurities to her best friend, “I just hate wearing strapless dresses to formal functions. Everyone can see my arms jiggle when I dance. Ugh, I feel so gross. I need to lose weight.”

Her friend responds, “Are you kidding me? You’re gorgeous. I would kill for your arms. At least you don’t have a gross belly pooch like me. I’m disgusting. I look like I’m still pregnant.”

Does this interaction sound familiar? We would never say the belittling things about our friend’s body that she is saying about her own but we are quick to slander ourselves. Is this a healthy pattern that uplifts both women? I would argue, emphatically, NO.

80% of American women, obese and non-obese, are dissatisfied with their bodies. That’s a significant percentage. Do you fall into this category?

Perhaps one of the reasons so many women are unhappy with their physiques is because American society emphasizes models that are 23% thinner than the average woman. If we see this as the prototype for beauty then we will put unnatural pressure on ourselves to conform to it. This saddens me because I see more and more women feeling like failures unless they get down to a model-thin dress size. Do you still use your athletic prowess from high school as your benchmark for fitness? Do you think of your wedding weight, that you spent months working hard to achieve, as your ideal weight? Do you compare your thighs, arms, or abs to women featured by Sports Illustrated, Vogue or Victoria’s Secret? While it’s always important to have goals to aspire to, we must be careful not to sacrifice our mental health in the process.

Self Magazine partnered with UNC at Chapel Hill and found that 65% of women between the ages of 25-45 have disordered eating behaviors and 10% have a diagnosable eating disorder. The staggering 75% of women, who mentally struggle with food, are not differentiated by racial or ethnic lines.

Glamour Magazine conducted a study to assess women’s mental health and found that their readers had, on average, 13 negative body thoughts a day. This means that women are thinking negatively about their body once almost every waking hour of the day! Whoa! Scary stuff? It certainly scares me.

Please don’t start thinking that you’re a bad person or a failure because you have negative thoughts. They are natural to have sometimes, just like occasional emotional eating is a part of a healthy, normal eating pattern (yes, it’s true!). The problem comes when we begin to fixate on these negative patterns. Thoughts can become habitual just like biting your nails, overeating, cigarette smoking, and procrastination. I like to explain positive versus negative thinking to clients by talking about hiking trails. Odd, I know, but just wait…

WW Image, Two Hiking Trails

Pretend you’re hiking in the woods and the path splits into two new routes. One route has a wide dirt path that is free of branches and overhanging foliage. The other path is barely visible underneath weeds, fallen branches and rocks. The choice of which path to take is obvious, right? Well, this is kind of how your brain looks at positive versus negative thinking. If you think negatively all the time, negative thinking actually gets reinforced and easier. It becomes the wide open, friendly path that your brain prefers to take. The same is true for positive thinking. The old phrase “smile until you mean it” has some merit because you are reinforcing your brain to comply with the way you want to feel. To summarize, if you constantly remind yourself of the things you don’t like about your body, you will feel worse and worse with one negative thought followed by the next.

So, how do we change?

Positive thinking starts with knowing that positivity is not a state of mind that just happens, it’s a choice. Henry Ford’s famous quote; “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,” is on point. This is exactly why Wellnesswinz’s tagline is “Start believing you can.” This lesson was drilled into me when I was en route to an ashram in India for yoga teacher training. The cab driver was asking me whether or not I was going to become an excellent yoga instructor and I responded “I hope so.” He scolded me like a young schoolgirl: “No. You know so.” I was humbled.

A positive and vibrant life, full of self-confidence, is what you deserve. Whether you’re trying to accomplish a healthy fitness goal, take the mental burden of negative body thoughts off your shoulders, or tackle the impossible, start believing you can and then suddenly, you will.

Yours in health & wellness,

Maggie

 

References:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/01/most-models-meet-criteria-for-anorexia-size-6-is-plus-size-magazine/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-c-jameson/be-careful-of-your-though_b_5214689.html

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/06/02/why-do-women-hate-their-bodies/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422202514.htm

http://www.today.com/id/41669051/ns/today-today_health/t/hate-your-body-most-do-least-once-day/#.VFPOfvnF_w8