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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

The Beauty of Community

Recently I attended a business retreat in San Francisco with over one hundred entrepreneurs from around the globe. We all have different passions, backgrounds, interests and personal beliefs. What we all have in common is our desire to have a positive impact in the world. Our mentor and his team have the same dream.

I bring this up because what was so significant was the spirit of community. The energy of knowing that there are so many others with a similar dream inspires and catapults us to another realm. We are cheerleaders for one another and the geographical miles matter not. We connect through our Facebook community and group phone sessions.

As you practice healthier habits—from fitness to food to taking care of YOU—it helps to know there are others “out there” doing the same. It helps to know that you are not in this challenge alone.

Another aspect of this is the concept of social networks and how they affect us physically, emotionally, and impact who we become. If you would like to become a more positive person, it is best to surround yourself with positive people. Weight gain, as well as weight loss, is contagious. And this is the case not only with our friends, but also with our friends’ friends’ friends!

In this TED talk by Nicholas Christakis, he addresses the influence of our social networks, not only when it comes to health, but our happiness, and more. Check it out and be prepared to be enlightened! You will learn how far-reaching and powerful the social network effect really is.

He concludes, “It is the ties between people that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.” And, “I think we form social networks because the benefits of a connected life outweigh the costs.” Oh, yes, I certainly agree.

If you are struggling with any aspect of your life, find those people who are looking to achieve the same goals and have a similar attitude, to support you. This is the reason I must leave my home and go to a fitness center to workout with a group. The mindset of those I spend my time with support who I am trying to become. I would not do as well by myself!

There are a variety of groups that support a healthy lifestyle, so find those that work for you. You may also choose to “Like” my Inkwell Healthy Lifestyles Facebook page. It is a public group and those who follow it are looking for ways to make small changes that add up over time. We are community, we support one another and we are better because we are not alone.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  –Mother Teresa

For the Love of Sugar

Sugar tastes good and most of us enjoy it. My Mr. Non-Compliant and I are included in this category, especially when it comes to ice cream. Oh, he likes donuts too. As I contemplated what you might like to know, here is in an extremely simplified version of lots of detail I read through to write this!

I checked a variety of sources and got similar numbers. We eat too much sugar! The average American consumes approximately 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, or roughly 130 pounds per year. The American Heart Association states that the maximum amount of ADDED sugar in your day be:

Men: 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons
Women: 25 grams or 6 teaspoons

Again, these numbers indicate added sugars. What does that mean? Food that comes packaged and you see sugar on the nutrition facts label with the number of grams per serving. You will see these labels on cereals, ice cream, candy, soft drinks, spaghetti sauce, yogurt, nutrition bars, protein supplements, etc. Sugar is added to many foods so that you become addicted to them, since sugar has the same addictive properties as cocaine! Now, that is a bit scary.

Beware of beverages like fruit juice! These sometimes contain more sugar than soda. Some alcoholic drinks contain sugar as well. Those sugar grams add up over the course of a day.

As an experiment, go about your typical day and track how many sugar grams you are consuming that you may not have been aware of. Do this for several days and get YOUR average. If you are struggling with your weight, type II diabetes or pre-diabetes, even high blood triglycerides or cardiovascular disease, could a high sugar intake be contributing to the problem? Sugar also suppresses the immune system, causes tooth decay, may contribute to deficiencies in essential nutrients, increases stress, and more. Yikes!

Some of the most troublesome foods include:

  • baked goods
  • soft drinks
  • fruit juices
  • candy and other treats
  • dried fruits
  • canned fruits in syrup
  • low-fat or diet foods

What about fresh fruit and other real foods? Eat them. Yes, there are natural sugars in fruits and even some vegetables. These are better options than eating foods with added sugars. Some fruits and vegetables are higher in sugar content than others; however, I doubt that this is THE reason you are overweight, if you are. Play detective and scrutinize your other food choices before you start blaming the fruits and vegetables!

What are some choices you can make instead?

  • Water with lemon or lime or fruit infused is sugar free, naturally
  • Fresh fruit instead of juices, dried or canned in syrup
  • Add fresh fruit to oatmeal, yogurt or other foods that benefit with some added sweetness
  • Try cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg and other natural ways to add flavor
  • Eat REAL food–it is not processed and does not have added sugar or chemicals
  • Choose ONE thing you can do in the course of your day to decrease the amount of sugar you are consuming.

Do not switch to artificial sweeteners to replace your sugar habit! This is my material for another upcoming BLOG POST. Please just trust me on this for now. Sometimes I add a bit of sweetener to a recipe and I use pure maple syrup, organic sugar or honey. They are all added sugar, of no health benefit, and I keep them to a minimum. (The topic of the differences in all types of sweeteners can get pretty scientific and I wouldn’t want any of you to start snoring while you are reading my BLOG.)

By doing just a LITTLE BIT better daily, weekly, monthly, you will notice improvements in your health, and your life!

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” ~ Julia Child

Food Survival Strategies When Your Spouse is Non-Compliant

My husband loves hot dogs. He also loves pasta, chocolate peanut butter cups, and ice cream—with chocolate syrup and bananas.

Now for years I knew about the peanut butter cups and ice cream, but the hot dog thing really caught me off guard.

A typical Saturday for him would include a trip to the local hardware store. I found it interesting, once I noticed the pattern, that this little trip would often occur around lunchtime. My suspicious radar went up. Hmmmm.

I stared him right in the face one day upon his return and said, “You can’t possibly need more tools or gadgets, since you have a fully equipped toolkit. Our house isn’t that broken. Are you eating those hot dogs they sell on the way out?”

BUSTED.

He had been sneaking out to eat hot dogs right under my nose. Imagine! Actually, I bet some of you reading this probably can, because you too, have a NON-COMPLIANT spouse!

Can this marriage be saved? Relax, it can.

Here are some tips to help those of you who have walked, and are still staying on the same path, in these shoes.

  • Don’t lie. I tried it and it isn’t ever good. When he asked me if I could pick up some hot dogs at the grocery store so he wouldn’t have to sneak out of the house anymore, I told him that they don’t carry them. Not true. Even Whole Foods has “healthier” hot dogs. I have seen them in other grocery stores too. I buy organic hot dogs, thinking that if he is going to eat them anyway, I may as well provide something that is a bit better. I dress them up Chicago style, with the onions, tomatoes, pickles, relish, mustard and celery salt. I figure it’s a serving of vegetables.
  • Slow and steady a healthy lifestyle makes. As you switch out organic hot dogs for regular (and don’t worry, they are delicious), chocolate syrup that is free of high fructose corn syrup, increase the vegetables, eat extra salads, choose brown rice or whole grain pasta over regular, do not do them all at once. Small changes over time will give you good health benefits that really do add up!
  • Have your own space. If your spouse likes snacks and cold foods that you are trying to stay away from, designate a shelf in the cupboard and refrigerator that is your own. If you notice one day that your quinoa salad has disappeared and you weren’t the one who ate it, are you really going to get mad? Both events– that he or she ate the quinoa AND that you didn’t get mad is what I refer to as Divine Intervention and is indeed, a victory.
  • When questioned about why you are going to such great lengths to eat healthier, be honest. This kind of goes back to tip #1, but it’s important that you and your loved ones understand why this matters. Let your spouse know your BIG WHY. By the way, if you are struggling with the answer, please reach out to me and we will figure it out together.
  • Keep moving. Make dates to walk together if possible. If you have a dog (a canine), you have a supportive buddy who will love your enthusiasm for better health and more walks or runs. Remember that house cleaning and yard work, parking further from the store, and taking the stairs all count.
  • Reach out to those who support your healthy lifestyle endeavors, which may or may not include family. Community is important in life. We become who we surround ourselves with and what we read. My family teased me for years about organic, reading labels, lots of vegetables, etc. For the most part, they have come around. There is hope. 
  • Have a plan. When you plan your grocery shopping, food prep, workouts, date night, and feel a little less like you are flying out of control, you will experience more balance and peace in your day. (By the way, when you let your spouse know that date night is part of your healthy lifestyle plan, you may get less resistance.)
  • Share the health. The reality is that if your spouse isn’t concerned about eating whole foods and avoiding excess sugar and chemicals, there could be health issues at some point in the future. We may choose to invest in our health now, or pay for our sickness later. Once health deteriorates, it is not always possible to reclaim it.

I hope some of these tips help you with your Non-Compliant spouse. If you’re the Non-Compliant one reading this, know that your health is important to your partner. If you weren’t so loved, it wouldn’t matter, now would it?

P.S. Sometimes I eat the hot dog too, and we laugh over our serving of vegetables.

“Let us remember to always rediscover one another because we are forever changing.”  –Kamand Kojouri

3 Tips for Meal Planning

I would say the Number One challenge when it comes to eating healthy foods is planning. Most people I have interviewed and worked with have a general idea of what they ought to eat. The trick is making it happen!

Today, I am happy to share 3 tips that will help make this magic trick a reality!

Number One: Find a day during the week or weekend when you have a couple hours to look at the week ahead and figure out what you need to do to eat well. Determine:

*When you need a crock pot meal or leftovers, and when you may have 30-45 minutes to prepare a meal
*What you will be making
*What you need from the grocery store
*When you will enjoy your shopping spree –remember, this is supposed to be fun

Number Two: Plan and schedule the times you will be in the kitchen cooking, chopping, prepping, dividing, and whatever you need to do so you remain calm. Things to consider:

*When you make a meal, double it so you have plenty for another meal or lunches. It is just as easy to make two meatloaves as it is one, and you can freeze it.
*Wash and chop produce to last about 3 days (any more than that may get soggy or wilted) so you can grab for snacks, lunches, or stir-fry with chicken or beef. Store in airtight containers and you are good to go.
*If you would like to have a crock pot meal waiting for you one evening, when will you put the ingredients together? Schedule it in your calendar. 
*Think about cooking protein you use often in bulk to freeze. For example, I like to make soups with browned ground beef. Instead of cooking up only one pound for my recipe, I will cook extra and freeze in one-pound packages. By doing this, I am already one step ahead of the game next time. Oh, and one less dirty pot, which is a bonus.

Number Three: Have back up plans for those times when numbers one and two don’t happen. Ideas:

*Keep emergency items in your pantry, fridge and freezer that will feed you in less than 30 minutes. An array of frozen vegetables, canned chicken/tuna, marinara sauce, whole wheat or brown rice pasta (for gluten-free folks), eggs—you get the idea.
*Have a list of 5 go-to meals that are acceptable for your family and are quick. It may not be your ideal healthy meal—so add a salad. Whatever you make will be a better choice than fast food that is fried.
*Take advantage of the many grocery stores that have hot/cold food bars with meals you can take home. Yes, you pay for the convenience, but isn’t peace and calm priceless? Rotisserie chicken is usually very economical and when you add a salad, it’s awesome!
*One of my favorite speedy go-to meals is fresh fish. Sauté or broil just until it flakes apart. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh squeezed lemon– add a vegetable and salad. If you are nervous about what fish to choose and how to prepare it, I have found that the person behind the counter is extremely helpful. 

If these tips are still a bit much for you, then choose ONE idea from them that will simplify your life and help you feel better about your choices. Practice that one thing until you consistently do it well. THEN add another idea into your routine. Rinse and repeat.

Do what works for you and your life. When we do a little bit better on even one thing consistently, we advance on our journey of living well.

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” ―Anthony Robbins