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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

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October 17, 2019

A Story with Heart

When considering our health, so many times we think about starting better habits on Monday, or after a big celebration, or at the beginning of a new y

October 10, 2019

Ever Get Mad at…You?

I recently saw a post from a wonderful lady we’ll call Ann. (This is not her real name, so you can insert any name you prefer to use here. Maybe you

October 2, 2019

Managing Inherited Behaviors

Ice cream is still my favorite food. It has been my favorite food my entire life, as far back as I can recall. I firmly believe that my fondness for i

September 29, 2019

Fresh fruits and veggies, fish, good fats make healthy eating delicious

(The following article first appeared in the February 14, 2018 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. Online version) T

September 26, 2019

Applause for Your Consistency

Today, I acknowledge and applaud you for your commitment to consistency. Whether you consistently make a conscious effort to consume more vegetables f

September 19, 2019

No Time? Quick Meal Ideas

No time. Can you relate? I’ve been feeling the crunch of more scheduled evening events—and I no longer have kids going back to school! As I sat lo

September 12, 2019

The Biggest Nutritional Challenge

When it comes to losing weight and improving nutrition, what is the #1 challenge? Go ahead, take a guess. If your answer is, “I don’t know what I

September 5, 2019

Mr. Non-Compliant Ate Gross Greens

Miracles do happen and life is full of surprises. If your loved one is not keen on eating as healthy as you’d like, keep the faith. I offer you a st

August 28, 2019

The Other 84% of Health

In last week’s blog, I mentioned water intake, slower eating, and increased movement. Did you pick up on the fact that I never suggested WHAT to eat

August 21, 2019

Back to School, Back to Basics

When we break it down, practicing healthy habits is rather elementary. It can also seem rather complicated. Since school is back in session, I figured

Stress and Weight Retention

I’ve heard this frustration more than once: I eat pretty well, I am faithful with my workouts and I still am not able to lose weight. What is the problem?

Are you stressed? What is your stress level on a scale of 1-10 in any area of your life? Chances are if you are at a “10,” or close to it, the stress could be part of the problem.

So, now what? Quit your job, leave your family, and disappear to a tropical island? Not realistic and you would then be concerned about money, your family, or if you could get blown away by a hurricane.

There are much better options.

First of all, if you are feeling stress from every direction and doing killer workouts besides, you may not be doing yourself any favors. Try implementing some form of movement that is a bit more calming, restorative, and meditative. Some examples: walking, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, dance, and any combination of them. By slowing down a bit, you are better able to focus on your breath. Practicing deep, belly breaths as opposed to taking rapid, shallow breaths, is extremely beneficial in restoring balance. These types of exercises also have the potential to keep you in the present moment, which is the best moment of your day, since it’s the only one you’ve got.

This is not to say that you still can’t “kill it” at the gym. What I’m suggesting is finding the balance. Assess how you feel on a particular day and choose accordingly. What is it you need today? Let’s face it, some days we are Energizer bunnies, then there are… others.

What are you incorporating into your life that brings you joy? This idea is about YOU—not your kids, your spouse, your friends or colleagues—but YOU. When was the last time you went out and did something for fun because you could? Or perhaps there is a hobby that you’ve neglected because you feel you don’t have time. Think about something you could do that would make you smile and feel happy. Put it in your calendar for the coming week and treat it as your most important commitment. This could be something as simple as sitting at the park on a sunny day and doing nothing for 10 minutes. Bask in the warmth of summer and breathe. 

Sometimes you simply need to BE. Park yourself somewhere and daydream. Setting time aside to do nothing is not wasted time. Give it a try. Kick it back a notch and see if you notice a shift—not only in your weight, but also in your life.

“To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.” –Milan Kundera

5 Festival Food Tips

Summer Solstice and Festival Fun! These are the days we long for in winter. The trick for many is sticking with a reasonable food and fitness routine through ninety-degree days, corn dogs and elephant ears.

Here’s one idea: You could put it all off until August when the kids go back to school and chalk it up to summer vacation fun. The catch with this plan is that once school begins, life gets fairly hectic and the pressure is on with scheduled activities. Once that rush is over, we’re almost to the holiday season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, and we know what happens then. Next thing we know…oops, time for those resolutions. Sorry to be “Johnny Rain Cloud,” –it’s the pattern I see repeated over and over on a regular basis.

Time to break the cycle and try something new! There truly IS a way to balance life and health, while maintaining sanity and having fun.

To get you going, here are my 5 simple tips to help you negotiate festivals, celebrations and summer vacations! By choosing even ONE, you will feel more positive about your health.

  1. Drink plenty of water every day. I could write a lengthy essay about the reasons this is important, and actually, I did. I covered this in my blog in January 2016 (link: Water Habit Blog just in case you need a refresher). Besides lots of health benefits and combatting dehydration during these extremely hot days, there are zero calories, zero artificial colors and zero sweeteners to contend with. You will feel full on less food and also “save” those calories for something really decadent.
  2. Find and eat a vegetable. I’ve scoped out lots of food establishments, festivals, county fairs, etc. and it IS possible to find some type of vegetable that’s not battered and fried. So, if you are away from home for an extended period of time, eat something in this category that is redemptive at some point. Recently I spotted a fair vendor with beef tips who also offered sautéed vegetables. When on the road, most fast food places offer a salad—which is a good option instead of the fries. I recently had a very good salad with grilled chicken from Culver’s. It’s rare to go to any party and not see something green—besides the M&M’s. I know there is a bit of resistance to eating vegetables at celebrations. Do the best you can and just give it a try.
  3. Check out all the food options, whether you’re at a picnic, festival, or party, before you begin filling your plate. By doing this, you can pace yourself and determine which fun food you want to be sure to enjoy so you feel balanced. Or, sometimes you know what your fun splurge is going to be before you even reach your destination. Make your plan, then stick to it.
  4. When you know in advance that something you are planning to eat will not agree with you, consider passing on it. Do you really want to feel lousy for the next few hours after you eat the elephant ear or fried Twinkie? If there is something you really want to try for novelty, consider sharing it with friends. And for the record, sometimes we need to eat something and then feel bad as a reminder as to why we only do it on occasion. (Depending on your age, you may not understand this theory. Trust me, one day you will.)
  5. If there is a food you absolutely love and it is AMAZING, enjoy it fully. No guilt. No justification. No stories. I ate the Dairy Belle ice cream because I love it. These days, I can skip the elephant ears and corn dogs because skipping the indigestion does not make me feel deprived.

Enjoy your summer and all the delightful celebrations that come with it. Make YOUR plan, then stick with it. Living a healthier lifestyle is about making small changes that add up over time.

For some light-hearted entertainment, check out my Food, Festivals and Fun video by clicking HERE

“The beach is not a place to work; to read, write or to think.” —Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

My Hot Dog Confession and Easy Grilled Vegetables

It was Friday afternoon and someone (my dear husband, “Mr. Non-Compliant”) got hungry and wanted a hot dog. We were about to get on a highway with bumper-to-bumper traffic and Madvek’s Dog House was nearby, so we caved. Yes, I caved. I ate a Chicago style hot dog. Check it out. It was covered with lots of vegetables and CELERY salt. I truly enjoyed it–AMAZING. Once in a while… However, for the record, I DID NOT EAT THE FRIES. Now, moving on to a more redemptive topic: Grilled Vegetables.

One of the best things about summer is the grill. Less cleanup for me, since my dear husband is also a Grill Master. It’s easier to feed a crowd and enjoy entertaining when the cooking is done outdoors.

Here’s an idea for grilling vegetables:

Cut an assortment of fresh vegetables such as yellow zucchini, red bell peppers, Vidalia onions, green beans–whatever you like best or have on hand—into fairly equal pieces. Don’t be concerned about making too many because leftovers are perfect for a snack or with your morning eggs.

Take a large piece of foil and pour a couple tablespoonfuls of olive oil on it to coat. Add the chopped vegetables. Season with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, garlic powder, onion powder or simply salt and pepper. Drizzle with another couple tablespoonfuls of olive oil and seal the foil. Double wrap with another piece of foil. This ensures that you don’t loose your contents. Keep in mind that the more vegetables you have in a packet, the longer the cooking time. I often make two packets and make the packet more flat than round, so the vegetables cook evenly.

Place on the grill and turn halfway through cooking. As far as timing, if your heat is at 300 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes is a good range. Of course, this is only a suggestion to gauge from, since it depends on how you like them cooked and how direct your heat is.

Potatoes are great like this too. Slice them thin or cube them and follow the same instructions. These take about an hour to cook and they are really tasty when some of them get crispy. I like to mix sweet potatoes with the Yukon Gold variety. This works well when there are people who aren’t as fond of the sweet potatoes. Yep, you guessed it–Mr. Non-Compliant.

With such an abundance of summer vegetables to choose from, you can mix, match and try new combinations, which adds great variety to your meals. Happy grilling!

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” –Ann Wigmore

It’s Berry Time

Indiana plus June equals strawberries. ‘Tis the season to enjoy the best of the best.

When my boys were little, we would make the trip to Johnson’s Farm in Hobart on Ridge Road and ride the school bus out to the fields to pick the tastiest strawberries. I still remember the dust that would float through the open bus windows and settle over the old green seats. One of our favorite things, besides eating as many as we could while we were busy finding the most perfect ones, was to put our faces down into the buckets as we filled them, and simply inhale. The aroma was so intoxicating that it made us giggle aloud!

Another equation for strawberry picking goes like this: Two little boys + plants low to the ground + intense sun as it approaches noon + heat = COMPLAINING. Fun memories, and I recommend giving it a try. Hint: Go early in the day.

Whether you are into picking your own or paying a bit more for someone else to do the labor, local strawberries are typically available through June. Berries of all kind are a great fruit to enjoy–low glycemic index (so it will not cause a spike in your blood sugar) and lots of antioxidants. How about it—they are delicious AND healthy!

Ideas for AMAZING ways to eat them, besides straight up: (it’s all about the balance!)

  • Homemade shortcake, muffins, pancakes or bread
  • Sprinkled with regular, chocolate, or other flavored balsamic vinegar
  • Topped with CoCoWhip (a whipped coconut oil instead of Cool Whip)
  • Pie (plain strawberry or with rhubarb)
  • Jelly or jam, which is what I used to make back in our picking days
  • Mixed with Greek yogurt
  • Protein smoothies
  • In oatmeal
  • With chocolate coconut mousse

I’m sure there are many more, but at least this will get you started. Of course, if you are trying to cut back on gluten, carbs, sugar, etc., then plain is perfect. When they are this fresh, “just the strawberries, please” is perfect.

I have six plants in my garden; however, they are not quite producing a bumper crop. Here’s the good news:  Johnson’s Farm in Hobart still lets you pick your own if you wish. It is a good idea to call before you go to make sure they have plenty of berries available. Picking the berries could be your exercise for the day. Oh, and remember to wear your sunscreen and drink plenty of water.

Enjoy~

“Strawberry Fields is anywhere you want to go.” –John Lennon