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.


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 Sleeping?

How much sleep do you need? I know that 8 hours works the best for me. Besides the time asleep, there is the quality of sleep. When I have settled the day and have put aside my mental projects for the night, I sleep through the night and wake up refreshed.  If I have too many unfinished projects or small undone things hanging around in my brain, they tend to float up at 2 am and start making a lot of noise in my head. This means I start losing my sleep time because my brain is keeping my body from what it needs for full power energy. So here are a few ideas for getting rid of pesky middle of the night brain drains.

My strategies for getting a good night sleep.

Plan on going to sleep 8 hours before the alarm goes off.

Stop doing any project or mental brainstorming two hours before bedtime.

I think of my projects as steps. Every day I only need to complete one or more step of a project, so my brain can relax about the things that are scheduled for another time.

Leave yourself notes or a text for something you need to see the next day

Spend a few minutes at the end of each day recognizing what I have accomplished for the day

Create a routine before going to sleep that your body recognizes as the slowing down and getting ready to end the day.

I like to do a few stretches, set out projects for the next day and practice gratitude for all the things in the day that I am grateful for

This year I have found a meditation tape that I am listening to as I lay in bed. It is only 10 minutes long. What I love is hearing the sound of someone telling me it is time to put the day to rest. My favorite phrase is,” Where ever you are, whatever you are doing, remember there is nothing you need to do and no place you need to go right now. Just that concept gives my body and brain the signal to let the day go and settle into a restful calm place of relaxation.

So what are your strategies that support a full night’s sleep?

Do you need a structure that helps you get full rest?  That is a lot of what I do as a coach, help people identify actions that will support what they know they need to do for health and full energy.

Gwen is a life coach that helps people find balance in health, work and play

Contact her at for information about the next healthy habits for busy people class

What do you believe about your fitness level?

Are you a fit person? Are you a person who thinks you are awkward and physically challenged?

What internal messages to you give yourself every time you try something new that is physical?  What messages can you give yourself to support the pattern of being a physically fit person?

For any physical activity or skill, your mind is in charge of your body. It makes sense. First if you start a walking program, your mind has to make the decision to start the activity. Then it is your mind that places that activity on your schedule and reminds you to get moving.

When something is very important your mind will focus on it and give you positive reinforcements that this is what I want and need to be doing.

To be successful with any fitness activity you have to believe that you have the ability and resources to accomplish the activity. If you first believe you can be an active fit person you will be successful in getting there.

Now your actions need to follow that belief by setting up a realistic schedule for starting and staying on a fitness program.

For starting a walking program you need to commit to walking everyday for a specific amount of time. The biggest mistake I think people make is setting up impossible goals for the first week, then quitting because they didn’t make those goals.

For your success, take one action every day. Be consistent with that action. Pay attention to the small results and how you feel about accomplishing that one thing every day.

Give your self credit every day for the one thing you did to more you towards better health. Then repeat that action again tomorrow and build on it.

Become the fit person you want to be, one day at a time.

Keep moving and have fun with it.

1 2 3