what you focus on you create more of
When I began learning about nutrition and wellness, I used to love to peek into the lives of others and see what they ate on a daily basis. "What I Ate Wednesday" used to be a thing, and I am going to try to bring it back in case you are curious as well. 😁 So, here are my eats from last Wednesday. I didn't take pictures of my water, but I usually aim for half my body weight in ounces. Let me know if you have any questions!
Do you remember when avocado pudding was all over the interwebs? I think avocados are still enjoying their time in the limelight, and with good reason. They are full of vitamins-- K, C, B6, E, and folate in particular. They are a good source of fiber, and really high in monounsaturated fat, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.
I found a recipe from The Pretty Bee, and I tweaked it to suit my taste. (I always try to use the least amount of sweetener possible, even when it is from fruit, honey, or maple syrup.)
Here are the ingredients:
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T pure maple syrup (You may want to add a bit more if you want it sweeter.)
1/4 C plus 1 Tablespoon milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)
Throw ingredients in the blender and mix until creamy. You may need to play with the consistency-- add a little almond milk if it's too thick, or a little cocoa if it's too thin. Refrigerate it and serve chilled!
*Keep your servings small-- this little ramekin is probably two servings, and it is so rich I may spread it out even more. Fat is calorically dense, even if it is the healthy kind! You could even use it as a little chocolate dip for strawberries-- you could probably get 4 or 5 servings that way.
There is something to be said about "intermittent exercising," which just means that you spread your workout across a whole day instead of doing it all in one chunk.
Here is a quick video that you can turn on if you find yourself with an extra couple of minutes during the day-- maybe you are waiting for the rice or pasta to cook, or you have 5 minutes until you have to leave for work. You can squeeze something like this in multiple times a day! Have fun with it, and if you don't have a band, that's okay, just stay low and follow along. If it hurts your knees at all, take the band off! If you are doing this in the middle of a busy day, chances are you are warm already, but if you have been sitting for a long time, or if it's first thing in the morning, warm up first.
I love words. I always have. I love reading them, and sometimes I love writing them. (That part is much more of a struggle!)
Words are powerful. They can lift us up, or they can tear us down. They can makes us laugh or they can stun us into silence with their beauty. Words can hurt or heal.
I was well into adulthood before I realized that I had words playing in a loop in my brain in the background of my life 24/7. We all do. Perfectly normal. When I began to notice my inner dialogue, however, I realized it wasn't always helpful or kind. In fact, most of the time I was saying things to myself that I would never say to anyone else. Can you relate? Most women I have spoken with share that they have the same "inner mean girl" wreaking havoc in their minds as well.
There is such good news about this! Once we realize we have these thoughts that aren't serving us, we can change them! It's not easy, but it's possible. The first step is to notice the inner dialogue, or conversation you are having with yourself. Most of the time it's coming from a place of fear. It comes from the part of the brain that is responsible for keeping you safe. When you notice a negative thought pattern, ask yourself "Is this absolutely true?" Chances are it's not. Then you can change the thought to something that still feels real and authentic to you, but is better for you. You get to change the words, which changes the feeling.
For example, "I can't do it," becomes "I can't do it yet, but give me time to practice." OR "I am not good enough" becomes "I am just as capable as anyone else, given the right tools and resources." OR "What if I fail?" becomes "What if I succeed?"
I know I am oversimplifying it, but I challenge you to notice the words you use when you talk to yourself. If they are not serving you, examine them for validity. You will most likely find a loophole. Then find a way to reword the thought so that it lifts you up instead of tearing you down. See how that changes your mindset.
It's all about the words. Use their power for good. ❤
Two very powerful words. One mighty question.
When you ask yourself What if? what immediately comes to mind? Do you think of all the things that could go right? Or all the things that could go wrong? Your answer lets you know if you lean towards a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
This "What if" holds us back in so many areas of our lives if we let it. In parenting, in business, in relationships, in all aspects.
What if I fail?
What if they don't like it?
What if they think it's silly?
What if I lose money?
What if it doesn't turn out the way I planned?
What if I fall down?
What if I am embarrassed?
What if we ask different questions? How would that change our lives? These What If questions could serve us in a much healthier, productive way:
What if it works?
What if they like it?
What if they think it's interesting?
What if it makes money?
What if it turns out just the way it's supposed to turn out?
What if it's a success?
It's up to us. We get to choose which questions we ask and how we react to the answers. We get to choose to shy away from challenges or embrace them. We are free to choose our reaction to failure. We get to choose to give up easily or to persevere. How cool is that?! We get to choose!
It may seem like a small shift in mindset, but it is enough to change your life. 💗
I don't know about you all, but as soon as it gets warm again, I crave a good smoothie. Smoothies are tricky, though. Just because a smoothie can be a healthy treat, it doesn't mean it always is. If you buy a kit or purchase one from a store like Smoothie King, you have to check out the nutritional information. They are often loaded with added sugar and fat. I find the best (and cheapest way) to get my smoothie on is to make it myself at home.
I am a creature of habit, so I basically make the same on every time, but I change out the fruit. I like berries the best for sweetness, because the are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. They don't spike blood sugar as much as other fruit. I use only one fruit at a time, and I keep it at about 1/3 of a cup. I find that is plenty sweet for me.
My basic recipe:
1/3 C of fruit
1 scoop protein powder (This is what I use.)
1/2 C almond milk (may need to add more depending on your desired consistency)
an ice cube or two...
...and my secret ingredient: frozen zucchini! I chop zucchini, bag it in snack bags (about 1/4 C), and freeze it to throw in my smoothies. It adds another 1/2 serving of vegetables to my daily intake and I can't even taste it! Another cool idea is to add 1/4 C frozen spinach and then you would have a full extra serving of vegetables.
Sometimes, depending on how much healthy fat I have had already (or how much I plan to have), I add some avocado or peanut butter. This makes it more filling. You can also add chia or flax seed to bump up the fat and keep you fuller longer.
I usually use my smoothies as a snack, not a meal. Psychologically, I feel fuller longer when I chew my food. In a pinch, though, I will have a smoothie for a quick breakfast, but I load it up a bit more with the fat and sometimes even some oats to make it more satiating.
What do you put in your smoothies?
I was talking with a friend the other day and she asked, "How are you holding up?" I was surprised by my answer. I said I was fine, and I realized I actually am fine. I think I am now used to this quarantine thing, which seems to be just in time to begin to get back to a closer-to-normal routine.
As I take mini-steps to go back into the world, donning my mask and keeping my social distance, I go back out as a changed person. I have a feeling we have all changed in one way or the other-- mentally, physically, and/or spiritually. I don't know how we can go through something like this without changing.
I have gone through phases. At first it was disconcerting, staying home all the time and not running here, there and everywhere. My husband did the weekly grocery shopping, and he continued to go to work. I worked from home, getting my website up and running, creating content for an online coaching group I was running, and training clients via FaceTime. I was staying fairly busy during the day, but it was still different. I made time every day to connect with a family member or a friend every day, and I committed to filling my exercise ring on my Apple watch each day. I felt good and strong.
Gradually, though, I began to regress a bit in some of my healthy habits. After going 6 months with no alcohol, I began having 2 glasses of wine nightly. It was amazing how easily I fell right back into the habit. I am no brain expert, but I do know that habits are well-worn pathways in the brain and that they never disappear. You can create new pathways, but it is only with consistent effort that you stay on that path. If you jump off, your brain automatically goes back to that well-worn path.
Two glasses doesn't really sound like a lot, but I could feel the difference in my energy level and mood the next day. My sleep was affected, and my hot flashes returned with a vengeance. (I know there is a correlation between hot flashes and alcohol, but I don't know about causation.) Overall, I just felt less vibrant.
It took a while, and I am not beating myself up for how I handled this time. I just turned a corner and realized that I am happier when I save alcohol for special occasions.
In addition to thinking a lot about alcohol, I have thought a lot about small joys, happiness, and simplicity. I have always preached gratitude and joy hunting, but I got the chance to really live it during these last couple of months. I started taking walks for no other reason than to get outside and think. I created a space in my home to sit as I type and watch out over the neighborhood, noticing and appreciating the dogs and the kids playing. I baked bread weekly. (This recipe is seemingly fail-proof if you are interested, by the way.) I took naps. I connected with friends. I daydreamed, and I watched some good old Netflix. Little Fires Everywhere and Ozark were my secret pleasures. I read in the middle of the day, and cleaned/organized when I felt the need or desire. In general, I allowed myself to slow down. What a revelation!
I am completely blessed that I had shelter, food, and a support system during this time. I have felt guilty, actually, for growing and embracing this time when there are so many people who have lost their lives, or have lost a loved one, or who are risking their lives to help us get this under control. I have laid low on social media during this time, because anything I thought of seemed trite and silly and inconsequential compared to what was going on in the world.
I have come to understand, though, that we can hold joy and sorrow at the same time. Khalil Gibran wrote a beautiful poem about that very thing. My favorite line: The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Interesting to think about. Joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin, which feels like permission to look for joy even in the midst of this mess. I'll take it.
So I head into a new normal, at a slower pace and with a cute mask, changed in a myriad of tiny ways. In what ways have you changed throughout the last few months?
Here are four more moves for your exercising pleasure-- curtsy lunge, "jump rope," lateral raises, and bent-over rows. We hit it hard for 30 seconds at a time, with a 10 second break in between. We do this for 8 cycles, with a 20 second break in between each cycle. In this video, I go through 2 rounds, or 16 cycles. It takes about 11 minutes. If you would like more, just watch it again and do 3 or 4 rounds! Make sure to warm up before and cool down after.
I have noticed something about myself during these last couple of months of quarantine. At the end of the day, I find that I am the happiest if I have created something.
I am not an artist, by any means, but creativity doesn't have to be that formal. Creativity is whatever you want it to be-- cooking, baking, making your yard pretty, rearranging a room, organizing, redecorating, flower arranging, coloring, making a digital book on a site like Shutterfly, creating and sending things like Jib Jabs, building, hand lettering your favorite quotes, or making videos on TikTok. It is anything that puts you into a state of "flow."
I am sure you have been in this state before. It is that feeling you get when you are so completely engrossed in your work that hours go by and you don't even realize it. You know the feeling, your stomach is empty and your bladder is full because you have ignored your basic needs in favor of the feeling you get from whatever project you are working on.
It turns our there is research that supports that doing creative things does, in fact, make you happier and healthier. Being in the state of flow lowers your heart rate, decreases anxiety, and boosts your mood. It can even pump up your immunity and help with dementia. What? No wonder I have been feeling better on the days I do something creative!
If you don't consider yourself an artist with a capital A, but would like to try to make creativity a habit, check this article from NPR out. And then go create something! 😊
Remember this little phrase? It used to be on magnets, buttons, and bumper stickers when I was a kid.
It popped into my mind because I was pondering people say things like, "I've been bad today" when they talk about what they have been eating. Or "I was really good all day, but then I ruined it after dinner by eating 3 cookies." This constant struggle for perfection is one of the reasons people don't stick with a healthy diet.
Food is information. Food is fuel. Food is not good or bad, just like we are not good or bad because of what we eat or what we don't eat. If we can move away from thinking like that, then we are on our way to a healthier mindset and healthier habits.
What if we simply concentrated on nourishing food 80% of the time and allowed for less healthy food (in modest portions) the other 20% of the time? What if we ate real, whole, less-processed foods most of the time and allowed ourselves a treat every once in a while? I guarantee you would feel better, have more energy, and enjoy life more because of the quality of the food you were eating. In addition, your mind wouldn't be bogged down with good vs bad and the herculean effort of chasing perfection.
Perfect is unobtainable. Perfect compared to what? There is no such thing as perfect. Instead of trying to be perfect, concentrate instead on progress. Progress is eating the vegetables at each meal even when you'd rather have something else. Progress is doing so each day, with consistency. The more progress you make, the better you will feel, and the less you will be worried about being perfect.
About the Author
Kim is a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and group fitness instructor. She is a mom of two grown kiddos, and a former elementary school teacher. Most days, she can be found training clients, prepping food, thinking about food, or writing about food. She is also obsessed with mindset and habits. She is a 9w1 on the enneagram.