Healthy Food Habits for Busy People

Healthy habits are small choices that you make each day that support your larger goals and vision of living well. This list will give you some ideas on how to turn your ideas into action steps that move towards a higher quality of life. Keep it simple when it comes to food choices. That is what works when you balance a busy life with healthy eating habits.

 

  1. Plan meals ahead. You know that if you have a plan for the week you make better choices. Set up a time each week to plan out your meals, snacks and needs so that you have healthy choices on hand when you need to eat.
  2. Use a list at the grocery store. This will save you time, money and avoid impulse decisions at the store.
  3. Buy the bulk of your food on the outer isles of the grocery store in produce and protein. Avoid the center isles where the processed food lives.
  4. Read labels. Start looking for added sugar with words that end in –ose: Frutose, dextrose, glactose, or syrup, barley malt, fruit juice concentrate.
  5. Stop drinking soda. This is the one thing that could make the biggest difference to your health. Diet soda with artificial sweetener is no better when it comes to keeping you in a cycle of craving sugar.
  6. Drink more water. Have a water bottle or glass of water close to you. Just the habit of having water in front of you will increase your intake. Ideal is 8 cups/ day.
  7. Cook ahead or cook double portions so that on hectic days you have food ready when you get home or leftovers to pull out of the freezer.
  8. Eat out less at restaurants. You can both save money and calories by cooking your own food. When you do eat out- choose foods that are baked, grilled and not fried. Ask for salad dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
  9. Make a large pot of brown rice on the weekend when you have more time. That rice will last all week to add to your protein and vegetable dinners. Try quinoa as a grain that is healthy and easy to cook as your side for meals.
  10. Make open face sandwiches that only use one slice of bread- you can have lettuce on top to hold everything in. Pack your sandwich with protein and veggies. Try mustard instead of mayonnaise to flavor it.
  11. Avoid late night snacks. Put up a closed sign in your kitchen as a reminder

 

Here are some ideas of healthy snacks that you can grab and go with.

  • Fruit- it is a fast food
  • Vegetables with hummus
  • Cheese- like mozzarella sticks
  • Almonds or nuts that are raw and unsalted
  • Protein shake
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Yogurt- Greek – plain- you can add your own vanilla or nuts

The bottom line is to make your food choices ahead of time so your system makes it easy to eat healthy at the end of the day when you are tired or low on energy.

Keep it simple and start with small changes that fit your needs. If you need more ideas on how to simplify your life: take action and Contact Gwen for a complimentary coaching session

 

 

Lessons from the Colorado Trail

Lessons from the trail

I am fortunate enough to live in Colorado and spend time outside in the wilderness. What I love about back packing is my physical body gets challenged and my brain has to stay focused on the current situation.  A day on the trail is an experience in gratitude where I can embrace the sounds, smells and beauty of nature. This practice of being mentally in the moment is not that easy to accomplish in a busy hectic world of multi- tasking and ongoing interruptions.

Here are some lessons from my exploration of a passion that took me  step by step over parts of the Continental Divide Trail last month.

  • Self care is critical to your overall enjoyment  of the day
  • Self awareness  and immediate action  based on your needs will prevent exhaustion
  • You could miss the whole experience if you are too focused on the end result
  • You need food, sleep and good energy to tackle the tough challenges ahead
  • There is a mental freedom in doing the thing you most want to do for yourself
  • Preparation and planning are part of the process
  • You are the expert in taking care of your own needs- don’t let others tell you differently
  • Confidence comes from small steps of daily accomplishments
  • Ask for help and support when you have big projects
  • Be flexible in your goals
  • Celebrate what you achieve every day

My biggest lesson was in the power of monitoring my emotional, physical needs on a regular basis over many days. When you walk into the wilderness your safety depends on your physical ability to travel the distance and be mentally able to make smart decisions based on your environment. How does that translate into self care in a busy hectic world? Try asking yourself these questions every hour for one full day.

How am I feeling? What do I need? Then what actions can you take to get what you need for self care today? When you hit a big challenge- slow down and breath. It only takes a moment – yet that breathing exercise will allow you to keep focused on your path.

If you get exhausted by the end of a day-what do you need to do differently to end the day feeling satisfied and accomplished? I would invite you to spend time doing what you are passionate about. Allow yourself to fully embrace that activity. Enjoy the feelings that you experience in your own daily adventure. If you are struggling with your current path: ask me about coaching and how that could make your travels easier. Contact me for a strategy session on how to make your path simpler.

Why I flunked Meditation

I know the value of slowing down, deep breathing and allowing yourself to focus inward with meditation. It gives your brain a rest.  Meditation has physiological benefits of lowering your heart rate and improving your blood pressure. Meditation can be a powerful tool to reduce stress. So ,why do I have trouble meditating? I can only answer that sitting still for periods of time without doing something is difficult for me. I can sit and read, I can sit and make out lists or review my projects for the week. I can sit and have conversations or interact with friends. I can even sit and watch birds or the weather outside- for a little while.

I do have one visualization play list that I use at night. This is a short meditation that I listen to laying down just before going to sleep. This sequence seems to be very effective in signaling my brain that the day is done now I  drift off to sleep. Many times I don’t hear the end of the program.

I firmly believe that finding quiet time to allow your mind to be calm is necessary for refreshing your brain and restoring calm to your overall well being. Sitting still is just not calming for me. I have decided that meditation for me needs to be movement focused.

When my mind is working overtime- I need to move. I walk, I swim, I bike, I stretch, I move. To give my brain a rest, I use physical movement that allows me time to focus on the pure joy of  some type of activity.  I have had great bursts of creativity while swimming. I can let ideas flow while I am physically focused on breathing in the water. I refresh and soak up the energy of nature while hiking in the woods. Even just 10 minutes of gentle stretching or yoga help me end the day with a calm peaceful feeling.

I hope that I have given you some ideas to use when get  stuck or feel like you failed at something. Instead of giving up, turn it around.  Coaching is all about you finding the unique path that works for you. Just like meditation- there is no one coaching program that fits all- each coaching session is based on what works best for you.

What do I Believe

What do I believe?

This is a question that many of us don’t slow down long enough to think about. We get busy doing things and moving forward reacting to events and situations as they occur. Let me explain the value of having clarity on your core values and what you believe.

Our internal beliefs guide our daily decisions, even when we don’t think about them.  If I have a core belief that working harder is the best way to get ahead- than I work long hours without thinking about it. That belief in hard work may override any concerns about having a balanced life outside of work.

Where do beliefs come from? Our beliefs are built on experience and information gathered from other people and situations.  Our beliefs can be based on the past and no longer relevant or helpful in the present. Some beliefs come from hearing repeated information that is not accurate. Can you think of some beliefs from childhood that are not useful to you today? How do you start to pay attention to your current belief system? My favorite method is to use an journal. A journal that asks you to pay attention to what is working or not working in your life, will give you some ideas on where to make positive changes.

creative-writing-reflective-journaling

Keeping a journal is a proven way to help you increase your awareness on how beliefs impact your actions on a regular basis.

What helps you sort and redefine  beliefs is the ability to open your mind to different perspectives. Learn from other view points. Be curious. Ask questions. Understand that there are a variety of perspectives on any given subject. Gather all the knowledge that you can. Then make decisions based on your own conclusions.  Ask yourself how your beliefs serve you? Where do they hinder or create obstacles for you?  When you have a basic set of operating beliefs they can make decisions easier.  Your actions and decisions feel right to you when you are operating based on your beliefs. If you are uncomfortable about a decision, explore what is really  bothering you. Here are a few of my basic beliefs.

  • I believe that I am responsible for my own happiness
  • I believe that it is my responsibility to speak up for my own needs and concerns
  • I believe in treating other people with kindness and respect
  • I believe that self care is critical to personal development and professional growth

I challenge you to create your own list of beliefs – then reflect on how they guide your actions.

Keep the beliefs that help you and toss out the old ones that just get in your way. Try an online journal for free with Spiral Coaching.  What you get is a private space for your own self development or an innovative way to interact with  Coach Gwen.

Sign up for a Free Journal

Are you a critic or a coach?

I have had clients who feel or believe that pushing themselves harder is the best way to get good results. They strive for perfection and are overly critical of the outcomes even when it appears that they are successful. I recently read a good description of this pattern in Leaders Playbook* by Reldan Nadler. Nadler asks if you are on your side or on your case?

Here are the consequences of being your own worst critic

  • You are never satisfied with your performance-which leads to low self confidence
  • You are disappointed in the outcomes which leads to feeling unhappy and miserable
  • You unconsciously –  treat others the same way you treat yourself- being very picky, negative and never satisfied

All of those results lead to a frustrating cycle with no end in sight. Consider how you could instead focus on learning and ongoing improvement acting as you own coach.

What are the indications that you are acting as your own coach instead of a critic?

A coach would focus on what you learned from the day along with your results. How could you improve is important but not the only factor. A coach is encouraging and challenging expecting your best effort to be something to be celebrated.  A coach expects you to reflect monitor and adjust your actions to keep moving towards your expected goal. As  a coach here are some questions to ask yourself that will develop the habit of ongoing learning.

  • What did I learn today?
  • What did I accomplish today?
  • Where could I improve ?
  • What to I want to focus my efforts on next?

Start by just being aware of how you talk to yourself through the day. Are you realistic or overly critical about your actions?

Check that your expectations and goals are realistic.  Be your own coach instead of a critic.  See how that impacts your feelings and ability to recover and move forward.

 

Inner-Critic

* Nadler, R. (2007). Leaders Playbook- how to apply emotional intelligence keys to great leadership. Santa Barbara: Psyccess Press

Just Hang on

Have you ever had a week or a series of weeks where your schedule was so packed full that you had to keep moving between events without thinking or pausing to wonder how it got this way?

I am in the second week of such a schedule with 4 days left of jam packed commitments.  I have stopped long enough to figure out who did this to me?  Me. Why did I think it was a good idea to have only one day off a week for two weeks in a row and then schedule that day with activities that had to be done. How did this happen? You might understand, another clinic was shorthanded so I offered to pick up a few extra days.  Who hasn’t offered to fill in when needed to help out another person who needed to be off? So how do you survive a schedule that gives little or no time for rest or recovery? How do you get through it? I had time to prepare. I cooked ahead and froze healthy meals. I still make time for exercise even if it is a 15 minute walk. I hold myself to shutting down by brain and computer by a set time at night. I find I need some decompression time before going to sleep, so my brain can wind down from a busy schedule. The good things that come from a busy schedule:

  • I get absolutely clear on what is important or critical to get done
  • It becomes easy to say no to anything extra
  • I have asked for help more often
  • I hold my sleep time as essential
  • I resolve to not allow this packed schedule to happen again

What have you done to hang on when your schedule gets crazy? Do you recognize when you have too much going? How much time to you have to just to nothing? If you have something scheduled for every minute of the day- it might be time to step back and readjust. Just hang on- is a good motto for survival weeks. I prefer to have a daily motto reflects a healthy balance of work, fun and play. What can you do to hold your schedule to reflect what you need in life?

Try blocking out times for you. Amazing things happen when you hold open space for your own life to unfold.

Personal Accountability

One of the greatest myths around is that we are entitled to a meaningful, happy life filled with a successful career, supportive relationships and financial security. There is a great disappointment when we expect all of this to just happen to us. Is there any chance of living a fully integrated satisfying life in this age of chaos, uncertainty and ongoing change?
Yes, if you are willing to be 100% accountable for your actions, responses and outcomes.
No, if you blame outcomes on outside events, other people and wait for the good things to just happen to you.
No, if you keep blaming yourself for poor outcomes without making any change in your behavior or attitude.
There is a simple formula to explain accountability. Outcomes are a result of your actions and your attitudes.
Are you willing to change and take action to change your outcomes?
Start by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply being fully present in your life from moment to moment. It sounds easy, not so easy with a busy life and hectic schedule. I challenge you this week to slow down and pay attention to how you feel, what your choices are and how your actions effect your outcomes. Start small in making changes that fit your desires. Think big for getting what you want out of life.

Ideas -listen, learn and grow

If you want your life to change- consider ideas plus inspiration. That concept comes from Jim Rohn. He was a motivation speaker who used stories to create ideas and inspire other people to take action. So where do good ideas come from? First you have to listen. Listen to yourself, listen to others and be open to new information. Good ideas are everywhere if you are looking and listening. Slow down to give yourself time to think. My favorite time of day is early morning before any activity – just sitting with a cup of tea and thinking about what is planned for the day. Set your goal to learn one thing every day. Challenge your brain every day. Absorb what you learn and than apply it to your unique situation. What you focus on grows. I want to keep my brain active and growing- what about you?

Just Hang On

Have you ever had a week or a series of weeks where your schedule was so packed full that you had to keep moving between events without thinking or pausing to wonder how it got this way?
I am in the second week of such a schedule with 4 days left of jam packed commitments. I have stopped long enough to figure out who did this to me? Me. Why did I think it was a good idea to have only one day off a week for two weeks in a row and then schedule that day with activities that had to be done. How did this happen? You might understand, another clinic was shorthanded so I offered to pick up a few extra days. Who hasn’t offered to fill in when needed to help out another person who needed to be off? So how do you survive a schedule that gives little or no time for rest or recovery? How do you get through it? I had time to prepare. I cooked ahead and froze healthy meals. I still make time for exercise even if it is a 15 minute walk. I hold myself to shutting down by brain and computer by a set time at night. I find I need some decompression time before going to sleep, so my brain can wind down from a busy schedule. The good things that come from a busy schedule:
• I get absolutely clear on what is important or critical to get done
• It becomes easy to say no to anything extra
• I have asked for help more often
• I hold my sleep time as essential
• I resolve to not allow this packed schedule to happen again
What have you done to hang on when your schedule gets crazy? Do you recognize when you have too much going? How much time to you have to just to nothing? If you have something scheduled for every minute of the day- it might be time to step back and readjust. Just hang on- is a good motto for survival weeks. I prefer to have a daily motto reflects a healthy balance of work, fun and play. What can you do to hold your schedule to reflect what you need in life?
Try blocking out times for you. Amazing things happen when you hold open space for your own life to unfold.

De-clutter your brain

De-Clutter your Brain
Do you ever wonder how you will know when your brain is too full to store any more information? For me, it happens when I get stuck with so many small tasks and details swirling around that I cannot decide what to work on where to even begin. We have so much information coming at us on a daily or hourly basis-too much to gather up and keep. If your brain was great at tracking and storing information- you would always remember things when you needed to and not an hour or a day later. Have you ever come home from doing errands and then remembered the one item you forgot to pick up? Of course you have.
Your brain is not a good storage unit; too many good ideas get lost or come up as a distraction when you are in the middle of something else. Your brain is being wasted as a storage unit. It is much better at problem solving and generating ideas than just holding all your thoughts in place until you need them. So here is an idea to de-clutter your brain. Get all that information out of your brain and into the next steps of doing something with it. You can call this a mind dump, a brain clearing activity or just a way to get clarity on all the stuff you think you need to do.
Take the time to sit down and write down every single thing or task that is taking up space in your mind. Keep writing out any idea, thought or action that comes to mind without trying to sort or go into details. The best practice I have found is to write each thing on a separate piece of paper. This allows me to sort them into categories easily as the next step.
Now I sort the list into areas that make sense to me. All time related items go on my schedule as an action or a reminder of an upcoming time related deadline. I have a great idea folder or pile- things that are interesting that I don’t have time to dive into right now. I have a someday maybe pile of things that would be nice to do but are not really important or a priority. Once they go into that pile, I don’t have to keep thinking about them anymore.
My biggest value from this exercise is pulling out projects- any collection of things I am working on which require more than one step- are considered projects. They each get a page or note on my computer- so I can track them and move them along with actions one step at a time.
Once I have a good list of all the projects I have going- it is much easier for me to manage them and I get much better at saying no to new things. This alone saves me from getting overwhelmed.
I give credit to the mind dump idea and many of my organizational systems to David Allen, author of Getting Things Done Fast. I think you need to make any system one that works for you and that you use on a regular basis. I do a mind clearing exercise at least once a week to keep me on track.

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