6 holiday strategies to avoid sabotage of your fitness goals

Here are six strategies to help you stay on track with your fitness goals during the holiday season.



pic blog xmas cookies

Yup, it’s that time of year again!  The holidays are upon us and there is a paaartay at almost every turn!  We had our office party, a staff departmental party, volunteer party, neighborhood party, friend party, and spouse’s work parties to boot.  You get the idea!

And while it’s hard enough to navigate all the parties, there’s also the “goodies” that are being thrown at us as gifts and celebrations.  I walked into the break room at work and there was a box FULL of sweet treats.  Peanut butter and chocolate no less.  GASP!  And these evil temptations were in the break room for days!

So here are six strategies to put into effect to counteract any sabotage to your will power and fitness goals.


We tend to hate being accountable to someone as it creates a responsibility.  Dare we say, transparency?!  But this is probably your strongest strategy during the holiday season!  Contact your “safe” friend or family member (the one who won’t say, “It’s ok, it’s that time of year, just have fun!”) and enlist their support.  Prior to going to an event, tell them what’s up, and ask if they’re available for you to text during the event if you get weak.  Tell them to encourage you to stay strong and be your cheerleader.  And trust me, they’ll take it seriously when you entreat them for help!  USE THEM when needed.  You just may end up reciprocating the support as well.


  • If headed to the office and you know people are bringing desserts, snacks, and other delectable, tempting goodies?
    • Bring an insulated lunch bag that doesn’t need the break room’s refrigerator and don’t venture near the break room.  Choose to eat in the lobby, or anywhere else with your box lunch, away from the desserts and tasty snacks that well-meaning colleagues brought in to work!
    • Drink water or tea.  When the temptation first knocks, start there.  And use the distraction of a challenging project or work to give time for the temptation to wane.
  • If headed to a party?
    • Fill up on your allowed foods prior to the event.
    • Bring a dish to pass to the party.  Something that YOU can eat, without cheating.  Veggie tray.  Fruit bowl.  Lean slices of cut meat.
    • My husband works in the alcohol industry and learned early on to have flavored seltzer water and a lemon in a glass instead of alcoholic drinks all night at events.  It looks festive, but you don’t load up on sugar, calories, nor risk the embarrassment of looking like an idiot in front of your boss from a wee too much rum!  Win-win


You know this already…   The busyness of the holidays can make it very difficult to fit time for exercise.  If that’s the case for you, try to avoid the all-or-nothing mentality.  Instead of,  “I can’t make it to the gym today so I’m going to blow off the week”, try getting in something – it’s better than nothing.  Not only does your body need it, but your emotional and mental well-being needs this stability during the holidays, too!


For me, I’m a sugar addict.  Actually, I think this must be similar to what an alcoholic feels!  If I eat sugar, then I must have more.  I don’t want to stop and it feels like it’s controlling me instead of me controlling it.  It’s the one place in my life where I struggle with moderation … I have to have it all!  Most of us striving for improved fitness have to identify and deal with a weakness of some sort.  Is it breads?  Salty foods?  Volume of food?  Sugar?  Soda?   You wouldn’t tell an alcoholic that it’s the holidays, so drink up and be merry!  Maybe that’s the same for us in our individual weaknesses.  Identify what it is that sends you into cravings to the point of insanity.  And GET RID OF IT.  Don’t have it in your house, and don’t go near it at work or at parties.  Be that serious about it.


Being a human means being imperfect.  So don’t let an imperfect food choice spiral you out of control for a day, a week, a month.  Or to use it as an excuse to allow yourself a free-for-all 24-hour binge because “well, I already blew it so I might as well continue!”  (Yes, I’ve done that.)  Dust yourself off.  Have some self-compassion and hit reset.  Okay, so you blew it.  Past tense.  Get over it.  The past NEVER has to dictate the future.  So call your accountability friend, fess up, and ask for encouragement going forward.  And do something positive to counteract the negative feeling about falling off … go for a walk, help someone in need, get out of your environment, just get moving.


It is the season for kindness and gratefulness after all!  In the days before Christmas, keep a notebook by your bed and write down just one thing you are grateful for each day (and if you’re like me, you won’t be able to stop at just one thing!).  For me, I’m a woman of faith and this anchors me.  You may just find yourself carrying this habit into the new year!  It’s the best antidote when feeling overwhelmed, under-equipped, and out of your comfort zone.  Being grateful re-centers you about what’s important and turns off the negative chatter in your mind.  Be kind to yourself, too.

So put your on your armor this holiday season and gird yourself with these strategies.  Be proactive instead of reactive so you’re not caught off guard.

May you find much grace and peace this season.



Broccoli can make cells younger?

broccoli-mdWell, it’s been well-known that broccoli is good for your health in general.

But whoa, Time.com recently reported the results of a study published in Cell Metabolism where an international team of researchers headed by the Washington University School of Medicine discovered an agent “that can balance out what happens in aging cells to essentially make them behave as they would in a younger mouse. That substance, as it turns out, is also found in a number of natural foods, including broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and edamame.”

Wow.  Even more incentive to nibble those greens!

But keep in mind, this study was on mice.  Not humans.  Not yet.

But still, this is definitely intriguing.  The article states that, “the compound, called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), is involved in producing another compound that is critical for energy metabolism. When they gave normal aging mice infusions of NMN, they made more of that energy-fueling compound and some of the biological problems associated with aging went away. The NMN-treated animals did not gain as much weight, they were able to convert food into energy more efficiently, their blood sugar was better—even their eyesight improved. The mice receiving NMN were also able to prevent some of the genetic changes associated with aging.”

That’s my food for thought today.  Smile.



The research of willpower


When I introduced running into my exercise regime, I quickly realized that running was more a battle of the mind (will) than a battle of the body.  There’s a LOT of self-talk that goes on  … tuning in to the voice on the right shoulder saying “You can do it, just keep putting one foot in front of the other” and rejecting the voice on the left shoulder that’s saying, “Go ahead and stop short of your intended mileage.  What does quitting halfway through your goal matter?”

The same can be said for making lifestyle changes, such as eating or exercise habits.   There is a definite need to tap into willpower at points along the journey of change.  

Stanford Medicine published a Q&A session in 2011 with Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD, who studied the research on the science of willpower.  According to the article, willpower is “a complex mind-body response that can be compromised by stress, sleep deprivation and nutrition and that can be strengthened through certain practices (italics mine).”


According to McGonigal, research shows the following:

  1.  When you exert self-control, it results in a “pause-and-plan response”.  These are changes in the brain and body that help guard against temptation and urges.  When the body and brain experience these changes, it actually sends additional energy to the area of the brain (prefrontal cortex) that is responsible for goal tracking and overriding impulses/cravings.  “The result is you have the mindset and motivation to do what matters most.” 
  2.  “Learning how to better manage your stress – or even just remembering to take a few deep breaths when you’re feeling overwhelmed or tempted — is one of the most important things you can do to improve your willpower.”  
  3. Improve how much quality rest and sleep you get and you’ll increase your ability at self-control.
  4. “Something as simple as eating a more plant-based, less-processed diet makes energy more available to brain and can improve every aspect of willpower from overcoming procrastination to sticking to a New Year’s resolution.”
  5. Any muscle in your body can be made stronger through exercise. If willpower is a muscle, even a metaphorical muscle, it should be possible to train it. That’s what the research shows.”  McGonigal states that practicing self-control increases the strength and stamina of your self-control, thereby making it easier as time goes on.   “New behaviors become habits, temptations become less overwhelming and willpower challenges can even become fun.”
  6. Meditation and physical exercise strengthen the brain’s willpower.  “Regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. And it doesn’t take a lifetime of practice — brain changes have been observed after eight weeks of brief daily meditation training.”  And physical exercise is similar.  Regular exercise “also makes the body and brain more resilient to stress, which is a great boost to willpower.”
  7. McGonigal’s advice for meeting goals or resolutions?  Think big:  “Research shows that when you scale up to the big want, the biggest why, you automatically have more willpower. You’ll look for opportunities to make progress on your goal and be more likely to see how small choices can help you realize your goal. ”   Think small:Allow yourself small steps toward your goals.   “Sometimes we get frustrated when we don’t know exactly how we’ll reach our goals. We can’t imagine how what we’re doing now will ever get us where we want. Or we try to take huge steps all at once and end up exhausted and overwhelmed. Choose small steps you can take that are consistent with that goal. When those steps are easy, or have become a habit, look for next steps and keep going.”

I only summarized how you can improve your willpower, but I encourage you to read the entire article because it also detailed how willpower can be sabotaged.  If willpower is as much about the mind as it is the body, then you need this information!



Let it go – stress release

Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” had it right … let it go, let it go…

Many people struggling with weight and poor health cite stress as the beginning of their health woes.  They turned to food for emotional comfort during stressful situations, and oftentimes experienced depression which led to a sedentary lifestyle, further compromising their health.

According to WebMD, stress has also been known to drive people to alcohol, tobacco, and drug use in efforts to reduce the feelings of stress, but obviously, it increases it on the body instead.

WebMD published the following list titled, “The Effects of Stress on Your Body“:

  • “Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.”

There are a myriad of articles about reducing stress in order to improve health.  But the best advice I’ve ever heard is … let it go.

In fact, it’s such a great piece of advice that even Serenity Prayer addresses it:

Serenity prayer

“… And the wisdom to know the difference. ” Bingo.  That is the letting go.

We can get our minds wrapped around the axle about all kinds of things.  But in the big scheme of life, over all the things that could possibly be important, what are the chances that what we’re fretting about doesn’t really rank up there with life-altering issues?!

Freedom from worry occurs when you finally let go of the outcomes, let go of anger, let go of owning someone else’s emotions.  Own what is yours and what you have control over, and stop right there.



Start with 2 nutritional changes

I recently had someone ask, “What would be the MOST IMPORTANT few steps to take when looking at improving nutrition/health?”  They knew they had a journey ahead, and they felt a little overwhelmed.  So to simplify initial steps to take, I narrowed it down to two nutritional changes to make ASAP.  You’ll be amazed at how these simple changes will make big improvements in how you feel!

  • ELIMINATE REFINED SUGAR.  Just do it.  Don’t argue about it or justify why you think you need it.  You don’t!  Your body just craves it because it’s like a drug!   Use maple sugar for baking if you must.  Consider stevia or honey in your tea.  But again, these are substitutes.  Do you even need these??  How much can you do without?  Lifechanging equation:   Sugar = “poison”.

           NOTE:  Per other posts, do NOT use artificial sweeteners.  “Poison” as well!

  • INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES YOU EAT.  Okay, you don’t hagreen veggiesve to go overboard at first.  But begin to introduce an extra serving of a non-starchy vegetable to your meal.  Preferably GREEN ones at that!  After some time, introduce another serving to your meal.  The goal is that over time, you would be filling your plate with more of these delicious, lifesaving macronutrients, and less of junk.   For now, just know that “macro” means large-scale and “nutrient” means  a substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life.  I’ll cover macronutrients in another post.
      • Amaranth or Chinese spinach
      • Artichoke
      • Artichoke hearts
      • Asparagus
      • Baby corn
      • Bamboo shoots
      • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
      • Bean sprouts
      • Beets
      • Brussels sprouts
      • Broccoli
      • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
      • Carrots
      • Cauliflower
      • Celery
      • Chayote
      • Coleslaw (packaged, no dressing)
      • Cucumber
      • Daikon
      • Eggplant
      • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
      • Hearts of palm
      • Jicama
      • Kohlrabi
      • Leeks
      • Mushrooms
      • Okra
      • Onions
      • Pea pods
      • Peppers
      • Radishes
      • Rutabaga
      • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
      • Sprouts
      • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
      • Sugar snap peas
      • Swiss chard
      • Tomato
      • Turnips
      • Water chestnuts
      • Yard-long beans

Bam!  That’s it for a very basic start to better nutrition.





5 steps to intentional health

woman-writingIntentional health.  I came up with this phrase because the word “intentional” drives me.

When I was raising my kids, I latched on to the idea of intentional parenting.  What was my goal for my kids?  What was the end goal of my parenting?  I had decided that my end goal in parenting was to raise children that were respectful, compassionate, productive citizens of our country, thoughtful, leave the world a better place because they lived in it, and finally, children who would have a strong grasp of faith and carry it into their culture and the next generation.

If you look at my list, it’s obvious these traits weren’t something that would just spontaneously occur!  Wishful thinking wasn’t going to make it so.  Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.   And so I began to parent in a way that targeted these traits.  I took measured steps to train them with these results in mind.

Health is no different!  What are your health goals?  What are your challenges?  What measured steps can you take to reach your goals?

Here are five steps for intentional living…intentional health.

  1. Write down your health goals!  Be as specific as possible!  How many inches around your arms, waist, hips, or thighs would you like to lose?  By what date?  What will be your reward?  Is there a clothing size you’ve wanted to wear?  What would you like your BMI to be?   Do you desire to run your first 5K?  When?  In how much time?  What would you like to see your blood sugar levels at?  Lower cholesterol?  Lower blood pressure?  Develop a stronger immune system?
  2. List measured steps to reach your goals.  Examples:  I will reduce my sugar intake to ___.   I will walk 30 minutes four days per week.  I will follow a 5K training program.  I will take conscious steps to eliminate processed foods from my diet.  I will drink a protein shake daily.  I will take high-quality supplements to support my overall health.  I will keep a food journal.  I will do weight training to boost metabolism three days a week.  I will participate in two classes at my gym on a weekly basis.
  3. Be vocal about your goals.  When you verbalize your intentions, you create accountability to what you’ve stated.  Skin in the game.  Some may try to sabotage you, but those who love you will cheer you on.
  4. Plan out each day.   Those who are most successful in their careers have strong calendar/time management skills.  Health is no different.  Some people like to map out a week, others like to map out each day.  Find what works for you…but planning needs to occur.  When will you fit in a workout?  Do you need to have your clothes by your bed to eliminate excuses to avoid a 6:00 a.m. workout?  Or pack them for work for an after-work exercise?  What will you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks?  How will you get enough water throughout the day?  How far do you have to run today in your 5K, 10K, or marathon training plan?
  5. Make this your life…commit. Your goals come from YOU.  They are what burn within you and drive you.  That makes them pretty important!  So make those measured steps you outlined for success in #2 as important as your other commitments... make them as important as showing up to work, meeting with your friends, taking Johnny to the doctor, or paying your bills.  Wishful thinking doesn’t accomplish goals and no one can reach goals for you.  Commit daily to your goals.

Be intentional today and every day.  It’s the only way to a guaranteed outcome and a life of no regrets!






Alternatives to honey


So, my youngest daughter has decided she wants to try vegetarianism…and possibly become a vegan.

And being the type of mom who loves education and believes that you must know about that which you proclaim, I sent her on a mission to learn HOW to do this in a nutritious and healthy way as well as be able to answer WHY she would prefer this type of diet.

This particular daughter loves sugar.  Um, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!  And I recently came across an article that I shared with her … discussing alternatives to honey for vegans.

I thought I would share it with my readers as well for those of you pursuing the vegan lifestyle.  Click here to discover the 5 best alternatives to honey.

Have a sweet day!  🙂



7 requirements in protein powders

proteinMy last post focused on 8 ingredients in protein powders to AVOID.  Today, I want to talk about what I look FOR in choosing protein powders.

Let’s first discuss the nuts (pun intended) and bolts of protein.

  • Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  There are 22 amino acids, including 9 essential amino acids.  Essential amino acids can NOT be made by the body and therefore must come from food sources.
  • Protein doesn’t store in your system and since your body doesn’t make essential amino acids, you must get an intake daily to meet protein requirements.  It’s a nonnegotiable to health.
  • Protein is essential to health … nails and hair are made mostly of protein, protein is used to make body chemicals such as enzymes or hormones, and is the actual foundational building block of muscle, skin, cartilage, blood, and bones. Pretty vital, right?

Okay, so what do I look for in choosing my protein powder?

  1. Plant Protein – Pea Protein:  

Pea protein is manufactured from yellow peas and is allergen free.   It’s superior because it has a high digestion rate (easier to digest than meat protein) and easily absorbable by the body.  It can be used by people who struggle with lactose intolerance (no bloating or gassiness) and is an alternative to animal protein.  It’s low in calories and carbs.  Compared to whey protein, it contains about 5 grams more of protein per serving, which makes it great for burning fat, heart health, and building muscle. And to top it off, it tastes good so there’s no need to add vanilla or chocolate flavoring to mask tastes

2. Plant Protein – Cranberry Protein:

Different protein supplements provide different benefits, so I like to combine different proteins in my powder for fuller benefits.  Cranberry protein is actually derived from cranberry seeds.  While it’s only comprised of 25% protein, the reason it’s so desirable is that its the only plant protein that consists all 22 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids!  It’s packed with antioxidants and flavonoids (these help fight aging and disease) and includes omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.  It possesses a neutral flavor so again, there’s no need for vanilla or chocolate flavoring to mask taste.

3. Natural flavor:

If I have the option between a natural flavor or vanilla or chocolate, I’ll go for the natural every time.

4.  Must be free of all gluten, dairy, GMO’s, soy, and artificial flavors or colors…and no added sugars.   This is a non-negotiable for me!  Nuff said…

5. Probiotics and Prebiotics

BOTH of these have such great health benefits that I won’t choose a powder without them.



PREBIOTICS are a special form of dietary fiber that acts as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut. PROBIOTICS are live bacteria in yogurt, dairy products and pills. There are hundreds of probiotic species available. Which of the hundreds of available probiotics is best for the average healthy person is still unknown.
PREBIOTIC powders are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time. PROBIOTIC bacteria must be kept alive. They may be killed by heat, stomach acid or simply die with time.
PREBIOTICS provide a wide range of health benefits to the otherwise healthy person. Most of these have been medically proven. PROBIOTICS are still not clearly known to provide health benefits to the otherwise healthy. Some are suspected but still not proven.
PREBIOTICS nourish the good bacteria that everyone already has in their gut. PROBIOTICS must compete with the over 1000 bacteria species already in the gut.
PREBIOTICS may be helpful for several chronic digestive disorders or inflammatory bowel disease. Certain PROBIOTIC species have been shown to be helpful for childhood diarrhea, irritable bowel disease and for recurrence of certain bowel infections such as C. difficile.
Chart from https://www.prebiotin.com/prebiotics/prebiotics-vs-probiotics/

6.  Enzymes

Another non-negotiable!  I will only choose a protein powder that includes enzymes in the mix.  Cooking destroys enzymes found in raw food, and yet enzymes are the very thing that help us digest our food!  Enzymes work to break down (help you digest) your food, thereby helping with digestive discomforts (bloating, gas, and heartburn).  They also deliver nutrients from the food to your body.   Since they also help to strengthen the immune system, the less deficient you are in enzymes, the stronger your immune system will be.

7.  Vitamins and Minerals

I look at my protein shake as another supplement.  Think of the word supplement… Merriam Webster says it means “something that is added to something else in order to make it complete”. “  So if I’m drinking a protein shake, I want to use it as a supplement to my nutritional needs while I’m at it … I look for vitamins and minerals to be included in order to round out the powder.

So…I’ve been asked that if these are my 7 “requirements” in a protein powder, which one do I use?  I use Slenderiiz PureNourish from Ariix.  For full disclosure, I sell this product.  But please know I sell it BECAUSE I love it and believe in it so much!







8 Protein Powder Ingredients to Avoid

spinach-shakeProtein powders are awesome.  I swear by mine and suck down a green protein drink every day!

People use protein powders for a variety of reasons, including improved athletic performance, healthy meal replacement options, meet necessary daily protein intake levels, and even improved digestion based on what’s in the powder.

Protein is a macronutrient, meaning the body needs large amounts of it (hence, “macro”). Protein helps to balance hormones; supports digestive health; is an extremely important component for building bones, muscles, skin, blood, and cartilage; boosts the immune system; curbs appetite; assists weight loss; and supports injury and illness recovery.

A quality protein drink should be made from whole food ingredients.  By including a quality protein drink in your daily regimen, you thereby help your body to achieve the optimal protein intake necessary for the aforementioned benefits.

Not all protein powders are created equal, so please read the label!  This can’t be overstated.    Here’s what you don’t want to find on the label:

1.  Gluten

Gluten has been a hot topic in recent years.  To people with sensitivities to it, it can  cause inflammation, hormonal imbalances, head aches, fatigue, skin conditions, and even mood swings.

2.  Dextrose

This is derived from starches.  It is used as an added sugar in many packaged and processed foods sweetened by the manufacturer.  The glycemic index is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100.   It is based on how quickly and how much the carb raises blood sugar levels after eating.  Dextrose can increase glycemic load and can contribute to fat storage.

3.  Glucose

You might also know this by the name of “sugar”.  It is a simple sugar and a component of carbohydrates.  Again, it can raise glycemic load and contribute to fat storage.

4.  Artificial Sweeteners

While we’re talking about sugar, let’s add artificial sweeteners to the conversation!  My kids have heard me say this is “poison” over and over.  You might see the sweeteners under the following names in the chart below.  Several negative side effects can include headaches, migraines, gastric distress, depression, and weight gain.

Artificial sweeteners Sugar alcohols Novel sweeteners Natural sweeteners
Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One) Erythritol Stevia extracts (Pure Via, Truvia) Agave nectar
Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate Tagatose (Naturlose) Date sugar
Neotame Isomalt Trehalose Fruit juice concentrate
Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low) Lactitol Honey
Sucralose (Splenda) Maltitol Maple syrup
Mannitol Molasses


Chart reference:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-20046936

5.  Soy

Soy protein contains phyto-estrogen, which is known to cause hormonal disturbances.  With high breast cancer risk in my family, I just steer clear of it!  Also, most soy proteins are derived from GMO sources (genetically modified organisms) with high pesticide use.  All around, it’s best to go soy-free.

6.  Casein

There are many powders on the market with casein or WPC (whey protein concentrate).  As discussed before, casein is high in lactose.  Many people who are lactose intolerant know to look for this, but for the average person, you should be aware that it can cause bloating, gas, and general gastrointestinal distress.

7.  Milk Powders or Milk Solids

In lesser quality protein powders, these skim milk powders and milk solids are added as a cheap bulking agent.  Again, they are high in lactose sugars as mentioned in casein above (with all the same potential side effects). The protein is not absorbed well by the body, so your body does not get the full protein capabilities.

8.  Vegetable Oils

Some protein powders have these oils added because they add richness to the mix.  These are high in trans fats, which are the fats that raise bad cholesterol levels.  Say no to vegetable oils!


Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll tell you what I LOOK FOR in a protein powder, and the one that I use…