Tag Archives: weight loss

The Pros/Cons of Meal Prep

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If you’ve ever been on Pinterest then you know that it’s pretty much impossible not to have stumbled across people’s personal pins displaying a dozen or so lovely, similar meals packed away into individual Tupperware containers for the week. If you’re not into social media, then maybe you’ve heard of someone who does this; cooks all their week’s meals on Sunday afternoon or evening so they don’t have to worry about what to eat during the work week. Sounds ideal, easy and cost-effective – and it is! But there are some things to consider about planning your meals for the week, whether you’re portioning them out into grab-and-go containers or not.

I will start with the pros of meal planning and prep, and then I will get into some of the downsides. To end, I will offer a couple of simple suggestions to help you make informed choices about your food.

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PROS OF MEAL PLANNING

Weekend meal prep is a useful strategy for people wanting to lose weight via portion control and people who track their macronutrients (think bodybuilders trying to ensure maximal protein and minimal carbohydrate consumption). It also makes things easier for time-pressed working professionals and even busy parents!   

It’s Cost-Effective

Planning and cooking your meals for the whole week at once means you’re armed and ready with a set grocery list when you hit the store, allowing you more time to scrutinize prices while you shop. You’re also more likely to buy bulk or cheaper high-volume, low-cost items since you know that no ingredients will go to waste. More money left over to treat yourself!

 

Takes Away Last-Minute Planning

With a plan in place, you’re never going to be the person scrambling to find their way to the office vending machine at lunch time. You don’t settle for less than your well thought-out meals. No last-minute pizza or overpriced takeout for you!

 

Portion and Calorie Control

It goes without saying that you’re in charge of portions and calories when you put effort into measuring out food for each meal. Casseroles, soups and lasagnas might be tricky to figure out calories for, but you can at least put reasonably size portions into containers and not be tempted to overeat come lunch. Meals that are easier to calorie count (if that’s your thing) include salads, sandwiches and proteins with veggies, rice, quinoa, beans or fruit on the side.

 

Reduces Time in the Kitchen

Although you’re going to be clocking in some major hours in the kitchen one day of the week, you’re ultimately saving a lot of time – a bonus if you work late hours leading up to dinner or often have to take lunch at your desk.

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CONS OF MEAL PLANNING 

My mom’s opinion on Sunday meal planning: “Here I’ve worked hard all week and Sunday is finally my day of rest, and you’re telling me I’ve got to spend the whole time in the kitchen?!? Forget it!!!” If you share this sentiment, then maybe you’ll be happy to hear some of the drawbacks of meal planning. But, even if you don’t meal prep on the weekend, you still need a plan in place for healthy foods and cooking during the week.

 

Calories Don’t Change

Meal planning allows for calorie control, presumably a great thing for those of us looking to trim our waist lines. But wait…is eating the same number of calories every day a good thing? Not necessarily, according to science. “Calorie shifting” is an approach to eating that aims for a total caloric amount every week (aimed at weight loss or management, depending on one’s goals), but with varying calories consumed every day. This helps keep the metabolism “sharp” and from adapting to a set daily intake. The good news is that this approach allows you to consume more on days you need it! Our metabolisms are not static and our activity levels change day-to-day, so don’t be surprised, if you’re a meal planner, if some days the meals are too much or too little.

 

Potential Lack of Nutritional Variety

If your meal plan is a PB&J with an apple for every lunch and a chicken breast with broccoli for every dinner, you’re probably saving some money and controlling your calories, but you’re majorly missing the mark on nutritional variety. Where are the dark, leafy greens? What about some foods with heart-healthy omega fatty-acids (like salmon)? Variety in all food categories (veggies, fruits, proteins, grains, etc.) is going to be best for packing in the nutrients your body needs. One idea: Change up the protein and/or veggie with your dinner for half the week. Another: Trade your apple for an orange or mango. Better yet, try a healthier alternative to the PB&J like avocado toast or smoked salmon and capers on multigrain!

 

Susceptible to Stress or Overeating on “Off” Weeks

If you’re the type of person who flails and flounders without a set plan then you may be prone to overeating or stressing out when you don’t have time for meal planning. Ultimately, meal planning is a tool to help you with your work week, but thoughtful eating and confidence approaching on-the-fly food selections is a skill.

 

Boredom

Meal planning is generally not as suitable for those with adventurous and varied palates. If you cook a lot of one thing in bulk and plan to eat it day after day, you may quickly tire of the taste and opt for something else. This means you’ve wasted time, money and food! “There are starving children in Africa!” Eat your leftovers!

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IMPROVEMENTS FOR MEAL PREP & PLANNING

A happy medium can be found if you’re a meal planner. Here are a few ideas to help ensure you’re able to have the best of all words – cost-efficient foods, nutrient density, variety and appropriate quantity!

 

Back-up Plan

It’s important to have a back-up plan for weeks when meal prep just isn’t feasible. There will be times when you’re too tired to do it, when you haven’t hit the grocery store in time, when special events or travel conflict with cooking, etc. Here are a few back-up plans to consider:

  • Create a budget for a week of every month to buy meals from a healthy, affordable restaurant for lunch or dinner. For example, once a month you could plan to buy salads for lunch from your favorite local café.
  • When you miss your weekend meal-prep, plan another day and time early in the week to tackle your shopping and cooking.
  • Try your hand at cooking every other night of the week and make enough for leftovers at lunch the next day.

 

Stash Meals in Freezer

When you meal prep, try making several large-volume dishes at once. Use your slow cooker, oven and stove top to prepare three separate meals so that you can both use and store some of each meal for optimal present and future variety!

 

Supplement with Snacks

If you’re lacking variety in your planned meals, try supplementing them with nutritious snacks. Snacks are also a way to implement “calorie shifting” into your week (see “Calories Don’t Change” above). A few ideas you can easily prep: Kale chips, sliced fruit, carrots and humus, cottage cheese or greek yogurt and fruit, ¼ cup nuts, a healthy nut or protein bar, apple or banana and a TBS of nut butter.

 

Meal Plan for 1-2 Meals Only

One way you can ensure that you don’t get bored with your food is to meal plan and prep for just lunches or dinners. This will allow you to take the most time-pressed, stressful or expensive meal of the day and make it easier. By sticking to just one or two meals, you still have room in your daily diet for nutritional variety and flexibility.

 

Hope this is helpful info as you kick-off 2017! Cheers to health and happiness!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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

Slow Results

In today’s world where everything is a swipe, tap or click away, it can be excruciatingly difficult when results are slow to come. I’m not just talking about fitness results either. Delays and setbacks in successful romance, job promotions, having children, saving for retirement, and many other areas of our lives challenge us to the core. The waiting game is not easy. But, I’ve noticed through my time as fitness professional that there is much to gain from slow results. In fact, you should delight in the delay! Let’s talk about what you gain through overdue gratification and feeling like you’re in a place far from your goals.

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Endurance

People who exercise realize that reaching your goals can take a lot of time. There are long sweat sessions after which you feel like a champion. There are also days and weeks when you feel like a failure because you sit at your desk thinking about how you should hit the gym but instead waste time procrastinating on social media. Ringing any bells? The ups and downs are all a part of building up endurance and grit as you push onwards through both the accomplishments and setbacks, driving incrementally harder towards your goals.

Anyone who has tried to shed pounds can tell you that there are usually times in the process when a little bit of weight is actually gained. It’s during those times of gain that a person has to reevaluate how they are moving forward in the weight-loss journey. Are they fully committed? What can they learn from the weight gain? If a person can recommit themselves to exercise, healthy eating and self-care during this time, they haven’t lost anything from their weight making a small rebound. In fact, I will argue that they have gained endurance by understanding that losing weight, or any goal for that matter, isn’t just a one-time decision. It’s a recurring decision to get up and work towards it every day in spite of challenges. For example, sticking to the goal even through a messy breakup, the holiday season or an injury. The definition of endurance is “enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.”

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Character

One of my favorite things about personal training is that I can see individuals’ personalities and perspectives slowly transform as they undergo the process. For example, one woman I trained used to think that she should push herself really hard all the time in workouts or there was no point in showing up to the gym. If she missed the first 10 minutes of a training session she felt like she should give up and not come at all. Any time she was tired or needed to take a break from exercise she felt like it was a free pass to overeat, feel guilty and wallow in despair about her body, love life and work. Over time, I helped her to see that you can lose pace with your goal for results without completely falling off the wagon. She could let herself have a couple days of feeling a little blue and taking care of her emotional health without sabotaging herself through junk food or drinking too much.

Over the years (yes, years), I saw this woman go from self-loathing during times of slow results to confidence and composure. She knew that she would achieve her goals even through the setbacks. This wisdom helped her mentally and emotionally. Suddenly, long hours at the office didn’t stress or burn her out so quickly. Her dreams of marriage in spite of lacking a romantic relationship didn’t feel quite so pressing. Her small ebbs and flows in her fitness and weight didn’t drown her in guilt. She became a more empathetic and self-loving individual. In my book, not even running the world’s fastest marathon can compare to achieving that.

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Faith

This blog post was inspired through my own experiences as a personal trainer and also as a woman of faith. The theme “delight in the delay” was inspired by a sermon I listened to which encouraged people to see the positive aspects of waiting for their dreams to come alive. The biggest thing that I took away from this spiritual message was that dreams WILL come true. As hokey as that sounds. When you have a confident hope that you will see your dreams come to fruition, you will continue to put yourself in a position of passionate pursuit, no matter how long it takes. Very few dreams worth achieving come easily.

Hang on tight whether you’re chasing after better fitness or a bigger paycheck, and don’t turn away from the lessons available to you during the wait. Life happens in them. They are the foundation for hope.

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz-blue-sea

When You Are Tired (of being tired)

Our bodies respond to various types of stress in the same way. Relationship tension, work overload, screaming babies (experiencing this one myself, at the moment), physical injury and illness, spiritual disillusion, chemical exposure, improper nutrition, and more, all take a toll and deplete our hormones. Chronic stress can result in adrenal fatigue, a place no one wants to be and where being tired is the status quo. It’s not surprising that millions of people suffer from this every year, to include exercise professionals like me seven years ago.

Here’s what you need to know to help yourself get unstuck from the spiral of exhaustion and how to get back on track with your wellness.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a state of constant tiredness due to chronic stress overtaxing the adrenal glands. These glands impact hormones such as DHEA, epinephrine and cortisol, to name a few. Even sleep doesn’t seem to fully help people suffering from this type of fatigue. These people also have a hard time getting out of the bed in the morning (different from hitting the snooze button because it feels good), are tired all day, crave salty foods, have weakened immune systems, and have a difficult time managing stress in general.  For more information about the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue: Adrenal Fatigue Solution.

tired 2Should I Get Help from a Doctor?

If you feel that you’re suffering from a state of constant fatigue, you should do everything possible to set yourself back on the path of wellness. I know from experience that it isn’t always easy and that it takes a lot of dedication. Trust me though, it’s worth the effort. The tricky thing about adrenal fatigue is that it isn’t easy to diagnose, so much of the medical community will not readily recognize it as a condition, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult your doctor about it.

Addison’s Disease is a form of severe adrenal insufficiency (cortisol levels are extremely, dangerously low) that has been recognized for a long time by both doctors and insurance companies. Adrenal fatigue is a lesser form of this serious disease, where hormone levels may very well fall into a “normal range” during a diagnostic test, but may not be in an “optimal range.” For this reason, adrenal fatigue isn’t easy to pinpoint and insurance typically won’t cover treatment. Additionally, antidepressants and other medicines that a doctor might prescribe to treat some of the symptoms aren’t fixing the underlying causes of fatigue, which are generally related to lifestyle.

I’m no doctor, but I’m a health professional who can say with certainty that just because someone doesn’t have a full-blown disease, doesn’t mean they don’t need a little help. Even if your doctor says you’re perfectly healthy, if you don’t FEEL that way, you need to take responsibility and action. For example, if a person has been through a traumatic accident but isn’t clinically suffering from PTSD, she can still endure quite a bit of subsequent stress and anxiety that can add up over time, especially if there are other areas in her life about which she is chronically stressed or overwhelmed. Similarly, if a woman is overweight but does not meet BMI standards for being obese, it doesn’t mean she should sit back and suffer from less-than-optimal health. Taking control of your life is possible and beating chronic fatigue is too. With or without doctor’s orders!

tired 1How to Feel Energized Again

Treating chronic exhaustion follows much of the same protocol as naturally balancing our hormones. Here are some things to try…

Quality Sleep

Getting at least 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep every night is essential for your wellbeing. A consistent bedtime routine and regular sleep/wake times help your overall “sleep hygiene.” To promote a relaxing transition into sleep, limit screen time for 30 minutes before bed (and DON’T check your phone or other screens during the middle of the night!), do something relaxing for an hour before sleep, adjust the bedroom temperature to your liking, and avoid sleep-reducing foods like alcohol, caffeine, spicy stuff, and dark chocolate.

If sleep is evading you, try distracting your mind with 20 minutes of enjoyable reading, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, a little stretching or a sleep-inducing snack like milk, bananas or turkey.

Specific Kinds of Regular Exercise

Regular exercise that isn’t too late in the day can help you sleep at night and get back into a place of feeling energized. I advise people suffering from chronic fatigue to avoid the following when it comes to exercise (at least until good, consistent energy has been reestablished for a while): HIIT workouts or anything that revs the heart rate up and down from near-maximal range, endurance performance training (marathon running or anything with extreme distances and hours upon hours of training involved), and aggressive weight loss programs.

Losing weight and exercising will certainly help you reduce exhaustion and balance hormones, but if you are already worn out, aggressive workouts and exercise goals can do more harm than good. Stick to a balanced routine of moderate cardio and resistance workouts for a while. It’s probably a good idea to cap your workouts between 30-60 minutes and to give yourself a couple days of light movement (i.e. walking, stretching, gentle swimming or biking) or full recovery every week to aid in overall energy restoration.

Healing via Nutrients and Nutrient Timing

Reducing the amount of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy and processed foods in your diet and replacing them with whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods is one of the best ways to fuel your body for adrenal recovery and hormonal balance. If you find that you are sensitive to any specific foods then avoiding them is also advised as this will help you reduce overall inflammation and stress on your body. Most people are aware that healthy fruits, veggies, fats, whole grains, and lean proteins are going to help their wellness; however, a lot of these healthy-eating people may accidentally mess up good nutrient timing.

Most of our daily energy and activity happens earlier in the day and gradually reduces towards nightfall. In American culture, a large dinner is a staple for the end of the day, but we need this energy from food earlier than we get it. “Front-loading” or eating more calories towards the beginning of the day and gradually tapering towards dinner and bedtime is a great way to get the energy from food when you need it most. This will help you stay fueled at the appropriate times of day and will keep your metabolism “awake.”

Other Lifestyle & Wellness Factors

It would be remiss of me to avoid mentioning that the social, emotional, spiritual, occupational, and intellectual components of your life that play into fatigue are important too. Unfortunately, there are too many factors to touch on in just one article, so suffice to say that if you’re overwhelmed or depleted in a certain area of your life, it’s important to be forthright and address it. It’s not always easy to get out of bad relationships or jobs, and it’s intimidating to confess spiritual emptiness and social isolation, but if we don’t meet these challenges head on, even proper sleep, exercise and diet may not be enough to help us feel great. We are WHOLE beings who need health, joy, love, faith and hope.

I hope you can feel energized and well for your entire life. It’s possible if you put in the effort, so never accept feeling less than you deserve to be! 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

Are Juice Cleanses Worth It?

Juice cleanses, exercise programs and new fitness trackers are all hot topics after the holidays. Fast results are tempting and can influence us to heavily invest in the latest solution for weight loss success. Juice cleanses seem like a great option since they don’t require much effort (unlike exercising to lose weight), but with prices ranging from $75-300 for a package of juices, it’s worth pausing to ask, “Are juice cleanses worth it?”

Juice Cleanses

Benefits of Juicing: 

  • Fresh juices are a delicious and relatively easy way to cram lots of vitamins and minerals into your diet.
  • Juicing may help you jumpstart a healthy eating lifestyle and develop a palette for natural, chemical-free foods.
  • For people who have gastric upset on a regular basis, juices may allow a bit of relief as they require less acid to digest.
  • Energy improvements may be seen for people who have an otherwise unhealthy diet and/or who regularly consume coffee and alcohol (both of which can dehydrate you and thereby drag down energy levels).
  • Juicing may help you lose a little bit of weight (assuming you’re juicing for at least a few days). Most of this will be water weight and maybe a little bit of fat. But hey, if you’re bloated, the water weight loss may be enough to satisfy you!

For more benefits, the Chairman of the Department of Integrative Medicine weighs in on “The Real Reasons Juice Cleanses Can Get Your Health Back on Track.”

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Drawbacks of Juicing:

  • Juices are pretty expensive, usually ranging from $7-12/bottle. If you want to do an official “cleanse” you may pay hundreds of dollars for only 3-7 days’ worth of juices.
  • Although good juice brands will add pulp from the fruits and vegetables back into the beverage, many leave the chunky stuff out (because a lot of people don’t like the gritty consistency). If the pulp isn’t included then many of the nutrients and fiber get stripped from the beverage. Bye-bye optimal health benefits!
  • Juices typically don’t include healthy fats and proteins so they are lacking in essential nutrition. In short, when you juice, you’re having an all carbohydrate diet…albeit a colorful and tasty one. 
  • Although juicing may help you behave in a healthful manner for a few days, it’s no long-term guarantee or strategy for how to eat a balanced diet. Yup, you still have to figure that one out…
  • Juices are high in sugar. While it’s natural sugar versus processed, it’s still sugar. Sugar is sugar is sugar. Too much of this sweet stuff can be harmful to the good bacteria in your gut (which is essential for your overall health, energy and immune system).
  • There are professionals who claim that detoxing the body is entirely unnecessary because it’s a process that the body is already capable of doing for itself.
  • If you feel the need to juice in order to reset your health, you may also want to ask yourself why you’ve been in an unhealthy pattern or lifestyle. Juicing originates from detoxing, and detoxes are historically based in spiritual discoveries, fasts and devotions. It’s worth asking yourself if just losing a few pounds will really fulfill you, or if something else more profound needs to change in your life.

For more information, check out the 4 Myths About Juice Cleansing.


Still Feeling Torn About Juicing? 

Try This Alternative:

Use a juice drink (full of pulp and organic produce, if possible) as a substitute for one meal or snack every day for 3-7 days. Make sure that you’re being intentional about healthy eating during your other meals too (don’t forget that healthy fats and proteins are your friends). This option is cheaper than replacing every meal with juices and is more practical and sustainable. You can stay intentional about your health AND have energy to exercise (usually not possible on other juice cleanses due to how low calorie they are).

Best of luck deciding what is best for YOUR health! Don’t hesitate to ask questions or chat it out. I’m here to help you feel amazing and make choices that are sensible for the lifestyle you want. 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

#1 New Year’s Resolution and Why People Fail to Achieve It

Time and time again, we see that “getting fit” or “losing weight” makes it to the top of New Year’s resolution lists. Sure, getting out of debt, spending more time with family and staying more organized also make the list, but exercise seems to appear and reappear as a resolution. This redundant theme suggests that we’re not on the mark. We’re not successfully integrating exercise into our lives. Why?

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Fitness industry attrition rates are pretty darn stinkin’ high. As many as 30-40% of gym-goers cancel their memberships every year. As a fitness professional, I can testify that a lot of these cancellations are because of inappropriate goal setting and expectations.

To kick-start 2016, let’s jump over the hurdles that cause us to fail. Let’s learn some lessons, once and for all, so that maybe…just maybe…next year all you have to be concerned about is organizing your closet and squeezing in an extra weekend visit with your favorite aunt. Maybe she will help you monogram that tote bag you found stuffed behind a pile of old boots?


EXERCISE GOAL SETTING MISTAKES

Mistake #1: Too High in the Sky

You’ve been a self-proclaimed couch potato for the majority of your life. You like to rotate between work, happy hour and your comfy sofa, in that order, most days of the week. After noticing that your tummy has recently begun to spill out and over the waist of your jeans, you’ve decided that a new gym routine is a must. You resolve to workout a solid 5x/week and envision that by early spring you will be sitting on a beach somewhere south of the equator, donning a string bikini to show off your taut stomach. Of course, you will also be sipping a well-deserved margarita by then too.

You’ve seen clips from workout videos and gym advertisements. The people in them look sweaty but they’re also smiling and kicking butt! How hard can it be, right? You just know that you will be one of them in a matter of weeks.

And then…oh dear, then you face the music. After kicking off your new routine with boot camp on Monday morning, Pilates on Tuesday evening, and an early and exhausting cycle class on Wednesday, you can hardly believe you still have two workouts to go (and you’d prefer to fit them in before the weekend). Your legs are so tired that you’re breathless walking up the stairs when you get home. In short, this bites. Why did you ever venture away from your satisfying remote control, TV and iPad combination?

This is the old, “overcommit then quit” scenario. Your ideals were just a tad too high in the sky from the start. When you begin a new routine, it has to be manageable for what your body and lifestyle can handle. Most people can’t go from zero to 100 on week one. Even if you can manage to find the time and motivation to workout 5x/week at the outset, the workouts will need to be gentle or involve recovery days in order to build up your stamina and tolerance. Sadly, even though a lot of clever advertisers would like you to think differently, you can’t hit the ground running with a boot camp style workout every day. Anyone who says that you can have the body of your dreams in 21 days is just trying to get you to open your wallet. No joke. 

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Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Envision your ultimate goal. For example, working out 5x/week to help with weight loss and toning. Now, think about what a realistic starting point is.
  • Don’t assume you will start at your end game. In other words, set the bar low in the beginning so that you can achieve success early on. For example, aim to get into the gym 2x/week for two weeks. On week three, bump it up to 3x/week for three weeks. Keep progressing until you’re in a full routine and are feeling physically capable of handling it all.
  • If you can’t always hit your goal week after week, don’t give up or consider yourself a failure. If springtime rolls around and you aren’t where you’d like to be, think critically about how you can motivate to get started on your goals or can modify them to be more realistic. It’s better than waiting until next January, that’s for sure! And it’s WAY better than quitting altogether. Do you really want to feel the guilt of discarding your goals and progress, only to pick up the same mind-numbing and frustrating cycle down the line? Didn’t think so…

 

Mistake #2: Vague Goals Yield Uncertain Results

“I want to lose weight in 2016.”

Oh, you do?! Welcome to club. So does everyone. Sadly, proclaiming this doesn’t mean peanuts.

The problem with vague goals is that they don’t have any oomph or substance to back them up. It’s like a high school senior saying “I want to go to college.” Great! Now what?! Has she taken the SATs? Has she looked at school options? Does she know whether or not her parents are prepared to help her financially or if she will have to take out loans? Saying she wants to go is only a very small part of the process.

Of course, there is power in knowing what you want. Vocalizing your intentions to supportive friends and family can even help put you on the path towards success; however, you have to have skin in the game. You need some kind of tangible details and actions to accompany your grand plan or else you’re just saying that for the umpteenth time, you will lose weight…and then, you don’t. Bah, that’s the worst feeling. 

goal setting

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Put tangible figures and timeframes to your goal. How much weight do you want to lose? When will you lose weight it by? Write these details down.
  • Next, write down how you plan to manage nutrition, your workout schedule, stress, social events and more. This will help you guarantee specific, measurable progress.
  • Consider how much you are willing to pay to achieve these results. Should you sign-up for a 24-hour access, low-cost convenience gym that will fit well within your budget or should you stretch yourself to pay for a few boutique workouts at a studio every week? Which environment will be the most motivating and the least stressful? If you commit to something that adds stress, chances are that it will become more of a negative versus positive addition to your life…increasing the chances that you’ll quit.
  • Ask yourself the toughest question before you begin: “Am I being realistic?” Are you really willing to pay top dollar for an amazing personal trainer? What if it takes twice as long to achieve your results? How will you handle it or, better yet, pay for it? Also, do you have enough time for the workout program you planned? Do you need to reduce some days to 30 minute workouts instead of 60 minute ones, in order to fit them in? Can you expect to see results without changing your diet or do you need to more carefully consider cutting back in a few areas?

 

Mistake #3: No Back-up Plan

So you’ve hit your stride and then suddenly you come down with the flu or another illness. Your workout regimen is derailed right when you were feeling at your best and in a rhythm. This happens to people more often than I can count. You’re not alone. Right when you’re feeling better and plan to hop back into Barre or Zumba class, you’re given the mega-deadline of all deadlines at work. It’s nose to the grindstone for about two weeks. You’re exhausted and spent when you finally come up for air. Things are slowing down and you even have a personal day built in for some recovery (mostly because you need to catch up on errands). You’re packing your tennis shoes into your gym bag for your first workout and realize with a gasp; it’s been almost a full month since your last workout! What do you do?

It’s always important to have a back-up plan for exercise. We all get sick, busy or distracted at some point. Generally speaking, it’s not going to be the end of the world if you don’t exercise for a few weeks, but, more often than not, this kind of inconsistency really throws people. They either can’t seem to get back on track once their schedules and health allow them to or they try to jump back too quickly and suffer negative consequences.

travel back-up plan

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Write down “contingency plans” for the following scenarios: 1) You get sick, 2) Your work or life gets overly busy, 3) You go on vacation, 4) You have a series of special events that threaten to derail you (think open bar, delicious multi-course meals, a birthday bash, etc.), and 5) You just plain lose motivation.
  • Acknowledge that having a “Plan B” is better than giving up or trying to figure out how to reach towards your goals in the wake of such stress. If you have a plan in place ahead of time, you can take a deep breath and rely on it.
  • Keep in mind that if you’re injured, low on sleep or sick, it’s an excellent time to focus on healthy eating. You may even find that you become better about your food choices in the short term and that this accelerates your results once you’re back lifting weights too.

 

Mistake #4: Do you know why you’re REALLY doing this?

I hear all the time that people want to get into a regular exercise routine. Fabulous!! But now, I must ask, “Why?” Why does it matter to you?

It may sound trite, but it’s important to dig deep into the real reason that weight loss, getting fit or running your first road race matters. Is it because you need something to focus on and control while the rest of your life feels chaotic and messy? Are you trying to funnel negative stress into a positive outlet instead of an unhealthy one? Perhaps you know that if you can get over the intimidation of the gym, that you will exude confidence in other areas of your life?

Whatever the case, working out is rarely just about the calories we expend. There is an emotional reason behind it. If you can hone in on what that reason is for you, there’s a greater chance you will commit and recommit to movement. Whether it’s for your confidence, to grow old and play with grandkids, to prevent disease or to fit into better jeans, there’s a deeper layer under every spandex-clad, gym-goers’ facade. Find yours. 

motivation for goals


 

My 2015 Goal & How I Succeeded All Year

In 2015, my goal was to keep up with this blog every week. By no means has it been easy to fit blog writing in with completing my Master’s degree (and oh man…allllll the writing that came with my thesis), work and being pregnant for the first time, but I planned carefully for how to succeed at it. Here is how I avoided the aforementioned mistakes:

Mistake #1: Too High in the Sky

I knew that if I expected to write more than one blog post every week that the task of maintaining WellnessWinz would be overwhelming. I decided to keep my goal realistic by proclaiming in my post “A Message from Paris” that I would publish at least one article a week. It was rare that I got to two, but I’m proud that I didn’t miss a single week. In 2015, WellnessWinz went from reaching women in 36 countries to 117, all from just one post a week! Even I’m blown away by that.

Mistake #2: Vague Goals Yield Uncertain Results

I tried to be specific about my goal: Write one post a week for a full year. I had timelines and specific, measurable values for what I needed and wanted to accomplish.

Mistake #3: No Back-up Plan

Of course, there were weeks when I was too busy to write. How did I deal with them? Sometimes it would work out that a guest blogger or fitness professional was interested and willing to write a post for the week. Bless you all! I would still help them edit and prep the article but their contributions significantly cut down on the amount of effort on my end.

Other times, I would plan in advance to frontload my writing, tackling a few articles in a single week before my schedule got busy or I left town. I would set them up for publication and voila! A few weeks “off” from writing and time to focus on other important things (like making sure my investment in grad school wasn’t in vein, haha).

Mistake #4: Do you know why you’re REALLY doing this?

If I ever felt a total lack of motivation, I would remind myself that my weekly post only needed to positively impact ONE person for me to feel like it had been worthwhile. I found that posts written on those weeks when I had to dig deep for inspiration were perhaps a little more heartfelt. Ironically, it was usually following these posts that a reader would reach out to me directly and thank me for some aspect of what she had read. Those reassurances made the process well worth it! Talk about karma!


I challenge you to commit or recommit to your goals this season. But don’t just write them down or fantasize about achieving them…plan for them. Avoid failure by being prepared and determined.

I know you can do it and so do you. 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

Your Healthy Holiday Reading Guide

A good book can make things a whole lot cozier while you’re relaxing by the fire with a warm cup of cocoa. Enjoyable reading can also help pass the time as you travel back and forth between family and friends over the holidays. The 12 books on this list cover a range of health and wellness topics (Healing, Lifestyle Choices, Spiritual Reflection, Relationships, Attitude, and Workplace Satisfaction), and they have all been vetted by yours truly. Each of these books has impacted my life in a profound way. I believe that whichever one speaks to you is worth investing a little time in. Give yourself the gift of some soul-searching and/or nuturing this season. These books are sure to do the trick. Healthy Holiday Reading

 


*Healing*

Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can

“Both visionary and practical, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can presents a bold new account of the development of human consciousness and spirituality over the ages, and examines the dynamic global transformation of attitudes about healing. To help you get and stay on the path to wellness, Dr. Myss provides rituals and prayers for gaining a symbolic perspective on your life issues; for bolstering your personal power; and for connecting with a universal divine energy. Dr. Myss’s breakthrough views on energy medicine and her active approach to healing life issues and physical illness will help you overcome the mental blocks that keep you from becoming well.”

The Language of Letting Go

“Melody Beattie integrates her own life experiences and fundamental recovery reflections in this unique daily meditation book written especially for those of us who struggle with the issue of codependency.

Problems are made to be solved, Melody reminds us, and the best thing we can do is take responsibility for our own pain and self-care. In this daily inspirational book, Melody provides us with a thought to guide us through the day and she encourages us to remember that each day is an opportunity for growth and renewal.”

 


*Lifestyle Choices*

The Power of Habit

“In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.”

Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss

“For many, losing weight is a never-ending struggle, especially since our bodies are designed to keep weight on at all costs; it’s a matter of survival. But a medical revolution is under way, showing us how to work with our bodies instead of against them to improve nutrition and ignite the natural fat-burning furnaces that lie dormant within us.

Drawing on cutting-edge research about nutrigenomics—the science of how food talks to our genes—Dr. Hyman, author of bestsellers including The Blood Sugar Solution, The Ultra-Mind Solution, UltraPrevention, and The UltraSimple Diet has created a method for losing weight by eating the right foods to detox and manage food allergies.”

 


*Spiritual Reflection*

Proof of Heaven

“Dr. Alexander’s brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back. Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle.

Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.”

The God-First Life; Uncomplicate Your Life, God’s Way

“There are thousands of how-to books for improving various areas of life―self, relationships, finances, fitness, business, marriage, family. And there are nearly as many books written for believers offering a framework for the “right” approach to a new life in God.

In The God-First Life, Weems shows that true success in our walk with God and in life in general is not an issue of need, but an issue of order. Brilliantly unpacking the simple Scripture in Matthew 6:33, Weems gives a fresh and practical perspective on what Christian “discipleship” is about. Bringing clarity, depth, and simplicity, Pastor Weems makes clear core truths that have been misunderstood by many Christians and non-Christians alike.”

 


*Relationships*

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

“Falling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge! How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life?

In the #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.”

The 4 Seasons of Marriage

“Spring, summer, winter, fall. Marriages are perpetually in a state of transition, continually moving from one season to another―perhaps not annually, as in nature, but just as certainly and consistently. Sometimes we find ourselves in winter―discouraged, detached, and dissatisfied; other times, we experience springtime with its openness, hope, and anticipation. On other occasions, we bask in the warmth of summer―comfortable, relaxed, enjoying life. And then comes fall with its uncertainty, negligence, and apprehension. The cycle repeats itself many times throughout the life of a marriage, just as the seasons repeat themselves in nature.
The seasons of marriage come and go. Each one holds the potential for emotional health and happiness, and each one has its challenges. The purpose of this book is to describe these recurring seasons of marriage, help you and your spouse identify which season your marriage is in, and show you how to enhance your marriage in all four seasons.”

 


*Attitude*

Choose Your Attitude, Change Your Life

“You’ve heard the expression, “Attitude is everything.” But can a positive mental attitude make all that much difference in your personal and professional life? Deborah Smith Pegues, author of the bestselling 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, believes strongly that it can.

In Choose Your Attitude, Change Your Life, Deborah explores the root causes of 30 negative attitudes, their impact on your life and relationships, and how you can learn to think positively instead. As a result, she helps you recognize and conquer counterproductive behaviors, such as criticizing the choices others make, being inflexible, and being indifferent to the needs of others.”

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change

“Is it possible to live well when the very ground we stand on is shaky? Yes, says everyone’s favorite Buddhist nun, it’s even possible to live beautifully, compassionately, and happily on shaky ground–the secret being that the ground is always shaky beneath us, and everyone who has ever learned to be happy has done so with that understanding. Pema Chödrön presents a simple Buddhist practice that we can use to commit ourselves to a life of profound sanity, even when it seems like there’s only nonsanity all around us. Using this practice, called the Three Commitments, can really change things.”

 


*Workplace Inspiration*

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

“Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.”

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

“Mark Twain once observed, ‘A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.’ His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others– struggle to make their ideas ‘stick.’

Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)– the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of ‘the Mother Teresa Effect’; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.”


Wishing you a physically, mentally and spirutually healthy season! Happy reading!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea