Mediation can play a large part in even the most minor day-to-day tasks. Understanding what meditation is and how it works will help you work through whatever mental, physical, and even emotional wall you have arrived at.
What is Meditation?
Meditation has been practiced in cultures all over the world for thousands of years. It is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to obtain awareness, and achieve mental clarity and emotional calmness. The more familiar our mind is with purity, the more relaxed it becomes. If we equip our minds to become more peaceful, we can reach a place of joy, even in the most adverse conditions. But if our minds are in a constant chaotic state, even if we have the most pleasant external conditions, it will be difficult to calm the stress. Therefore, it is essential to equip our minds with different well-being concepts such as meditation. It is also important to note that you should not try and suppress your feelings. Your mind is bound to wander as you meditate—and sometimes, this can lead to thoughts and feelings that are uncomfortable or even distressing. The goal isn't to clear your mind of such thoughts. Instead, acknowledge these thoughts without judging them, and then gently guide your focus back toward your breathing.
Why You Should Meditate
Now that you see how meditation works and a few of the reasons why you should incorporate mediation into your everyday routine, you will be able to figure out the ways that work best for you to channel your inner peace. Here is one breathing meditation that most of my workplace wellness clients like to do during the day at their desks in between meetings and presentations.
The technique is sitting straight up when you are sitting on a chair; you should ensure that your back is off the chair. This is so that you can have a straight line on your back. Your feet are also should be firm on the ground, that is, if it is possible. Your palms and arms are facing you and upwards. They should rest at the joint of your thighs near your stomach. Next, close your eyes, and try to relax your body. This can be achieved by breathing through your nose and not your mouth. It is advisable that you start with a quick inhalation. For about four seconds, you should hold your breath and then exhale to release your body's tension.
When it comes to breathing out, breathe out through your mouth. When you do this, the tension in your body is released outside your body. After completing this breathing exercise, you should start to inhale and count from four to one slowly. Hold for an four seconds and then breathe out while counting from four to one again. This exercise is best known as box breathing. It is most beneficial if you repeat this exercise three to six times.
Move Your Body
Your body is designed to move and be active. You’re meant to walk, run, bend, twist, extend, reach, jump, and squat. It’s only been in recent history that people have become more and more sedentary. Spending large portions of the day sitting contributes to severe health conditions and robs you of energy.
One of the surest and fastest ways to increase your energy is to get up and move. No matter what activity you choose—walking, light mobility or calisthenics, dancing, bodyweight exercises, a light jog, or moving your body through a yoga sequence—your energy levels will increase from even the slightest amount of physical activity. As you get up and move, your heart pumps harder and faster, recirculating the blood that was pooling in your lower extremities. Movement helps to carry more oxygen through your system and to your brain, helping you feel an increase in awareness and energy. The movement of your arms and legs also increases the circulation of lymph, hormones, and neurotransmitters throughout your body, regulating and balancing your mind-body system and further enhancing your energetic output.
The next time it feels like you’re running on empty, notice your breathing. Chances are your breathing will be slow and shallow. This is because you consume less oxygen as your mind and body become tired and dull. But just as the state of your mind and body can influence your breathing, your breathing can conversely influence the shape of your body and mind. Therefore, if slow and shallow breathing is a byproduct of low mind-body energy, rapid and deep breathing can swing your energy gauge in the opposite direction. You don’t have to be a trained yogi to benefit from this. Take full, deep breaths whenever you feel low on energy and notice how even just a few minutes of practice will help you to feel more awake.
Commit to your health. Try doing some type of meditation, movement activity or deep breathing exercise this week. Tell me in the comment section which one works best for you!
Until Next Time,
Coach Jenny 💋
One of the most difficult things I’ve found when trying to follow a healthy lifestyle that fits my health needs is dining out at restaurants. During Covid, you may be eating out less, but ordering food to enjoy at home is still an option. When you work so hard in your kitchen to follow a healthy diet that fits your lifestyle, ordering food can feel like a step backward. When placing an order for food, you can say goodbye to knowing everything that goes into your meal and, most likely, the amounts of ingredients, such as butter, salt, and saturated fats.
You could say, “Well, I just won't order food, then.” But, realistically, that’s just not gonna happen.
The good news is that it’s still totally possible to eat restaurant food AND be healthy – you just need a few tricks up your sleeve so you can be prepared to make good, healthy choices.
Tips For Healthy Eating At Restaurants
1. Scan the menu
Look for keywords on the menu that are giveaways for what to avoid. Here are some examples of the most common culprits:
2. If you eat Meat
Meat has a ton of protein and, when lean, is a great idea to order. When ordering meat, pick leaner cuts of beef (great options include flank steak, skirt steak, tenderloin, sirloin, or filet mignon). When in doubt, chicken is another great high protein, low-fat option, particularly chicken breast.
3. Order fish.
Fish is a great option, as long as it’s not fried. You can order seafood in tons of different ways—steamed, blackened, baked, broiled, sautéed, or grilled. My favorite is grilled. Just like with meat, fish allows you to enjoy protein. While it may be a bit pricier, it’s often a great option on the menu, especially if it’s fresh fish.
4. Ask to double or triple the vegetables.
Let’s be real. Often, a side of vegetables in a restaurant is more of a garnish, not a real serving. When ordering, ask for double or triple the normal serving of veggies, and offer to pay extra (more often than not, you won’t even be charged). You could also look to the sides portion of the menu to see what options the restaurant has available. A big problem with veggies is that they get cooked in a ton of butter so make sure to ask that the vegetables NOT be cooked in butter when you order them.
5. Ask about preparation.
Truth: Chefs are trained to use lots of butter and salt to heighten flavors. Duh, right? It tastes good. They do this because, if you add butter or salt on most anything, it tastes better which makes the customer happy meaning more business in the future. They’re not there for your health. They’re there to feed you tasty food. If you’re concerned about the butter or salt in your food, don’t be afraid to ask your server how the food is prepared. If you find out what you want is loaded with oil or butter, either ask for it to be prepared differently or choose something else.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Along the same lines as the previous tip, I highly recommend that you ask the waiter/waitress questions about how the food is prepared if you’re not clear. You’ll only know for sure what’s in your food if you ask. This can mean a difference of hundreds of calories and tons of unnecessary saturated fats, and high levels of sodium.
Is it uncomfortable? A little at first, but it’s your responsibility to know what you’re putting into your body and your waiter’s responsibility to know what goes into the food they’re serving. The more you ask, the easier it gets, I promise!
7. Look for these desserts.
Let's be honest, this is the one you were waiting for! Desserts are a fun part of eating out at restaurants. If you want to enjoy a dessert, you do have some options. My favorite thing to do is to order one dessert for the table. That way, you don’t eat the entire dessert yourself. Instead, you enjoy a few bites and satisfy your sweet tooth. If you’d rather not share, another great idea is to ask your waiter for a simple dish of berries or a fruit sorbet. Just remember, it is okay to eat dessert- follow the 80/20 rule.
8. Box it early.
Did you know restaurants often serve two to three times what you need for a normal serving? Next time, ask to box half your entrée BEFORE it ever even gets to the table. This will save you money and calories. It may sound weird, but it makes tons of sense. You can also split an entrée with another person if you’d prefer.
9. Skip the fancy drinks.
If you must order an alcoholic drink, try to avoid margaritas, piña coladas, and other exotic mixed drinks. They include sugary add-ins that add tons of calories, sugars and flavors. Instead, order a glass of wine, a light beer, vodka and tonic, or a simple martini. These options will be better for your healthy eating goals, especially if you choose not to drink that often.
10. Drink water throughout the meal.
Try your best to get used to drinking water as your main beverage. Drinking water will slow you down from eating your food too fast, which will help you enjoy the food more, and it will allow your brain to get the message from your stomach that you’re full so you don’t overeat before your plate is already empty.
You can ask for a slice of lemon if plain water is too boring. To ease into just having water, you can also wait to order a different beverage until after you’ve finished your first glass of water.
Now, all you need to do is use these tips the next time you go out to eat. The more you use them, the better you’ll get at spotting healthy versus unhealthy options and it will feel more and more natural. The bottom line is it’s possible to make good choices and have control over your food – even at restaurants.
Did I miss anything? What’s your best tip for how to eat healthy at restaurants? Share in the comments below!
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A common question I receive is... “How can I eat healthy from home and still have a tasty variety of food?”
Here are a few simple tips I put together to share with you...
Buy Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
Frozen foods usually have a longer shelf life and this makes them cheaper than their fresh counterparts and they last so much longer. Extra bonus- they are already clean, prepped and chopped, so that's a huge time saver! Since good vendors pack their frozen fruits and vegetables right from the farms, many of the nutrients are locked in, thus ensuring that the frozen produce retains all its nutritional value.
Freeze Your Leftovers
Studies have shown that the average family of four in the US throws away about 40% of the food that they purchase every year. However, these leftovers can easily be frozen and reheated. By doing this, you’ll avoid wasting such large quantities of food that would otherwise end up in the garbage bin and therefore spend much less at the grocery store. Defrosting and reheating frozen meals are a huge time and stress saver on those crazy days or nights when cooking just isn't going to happen.
Take Full Advantage of Fruits
Fruits can be just as filling as chocolate or crisps, provide much more nutritional value and contain a lot less calories. They are just as quick and easy to eat so even if you are super busy, fruits are the perfect snack food.
Go Nuts for Nuts
Nuts are another fantastic, healthy food that you can use as a substitute for crackers or chips. They provide your body with a selection of health boosting vitamins and minerals along with good amounts of protein and fat.
Incorporate Vegetables into Every Meal
This may sound like too much of an effort when your time is limited. However, if you choose the right vegetables it hardly takes up any of your time at all. Salads, sun dried tomatoes, chopped veggies can now all be purchased from supermarkets in a ready to eat form. Chopped tomatoes can be heated up and used as a sauce in under five minutes.
Buy Lean Fish & Meats
When you are busy and have forgotten to bring your healthy packed lunch, grabbing a quick burger or hot dog might seem like the best option. However, there are plenty of healthier meat choices out there. Most hot deli counters allow you to buy roasted chicken which is both tasty and nutritious. Most supermarkets also sell cooked chicken breast slices. Lean meats are just as quick to eat as burgers and hot dogs but provide your body with higher quality protein and no "nasty" added ingredients.
Try Homemade Sauces
Making and canning your own homemade sauce can save you money. You can use many locally sourced fruits and vegetables for the ingredients and these will cost a fraction of what you’ll end up spending on one bottle of ketchup. The best part about making your own sauce is that they taste so much better than the processed sauces you’ll find in stores. Plus, there are many free recipes on the internet that can help you get started making your own sauces instantly.
Prepare Your Healthy Meals In Advance
Plan your healthy meals in advance and write a shopping list for the week ahead. This will allow you to control how much you spend on groceries and minimizes the last minute scramble of 'what's for dinner.'
I hope you find these tips helpful. For more healthy hacks, kitchen tips, and recipes follow me on the following links:
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Lasting changes don't happen overnight. These new habits take time to establish, time to adjust what's not working into something that does work, and guidance from within on what will work best for you. I've found that these pillars of health are the perfect foundation for lasting change, so if you need some encouragement for those new habits, here is the foundation I build mine upon and help my clients do the same.
Start small to go BIG
When you look at a huge ladder or steep staircase, it can feel insurmountable. But if you take it step by step, it can feel a lot easier to manage. The same is true for building your pillars of health. Each little step you take to incorporate exercise, nutrition, stress management, sleep, and hydration will get you to where you need to be. Please don't put the pressure on yourself to do it all at once. Go about it by making small changes each week and building upon that foundation. This is much more likely to last than doing it all at once.
Commit to physical activity more often
If you've never really found an exercise you love and stick with, take a moment to sit down and think about what activities you enjoy. Some people love going to the gym, while others prefer jogging in the park surrounded by nature. Plenty of people dance rather than lift weights, and just as many of them like swimming in the pool. Make a list of the things you enjoy doing, then devote 20 minutes per day to one of these physical activities.
Just say "no" to fad diets
Fad diets come and go for a reason -- they don't work. Your health will improve drastically when you focus on eating a rainbow of fresh foods, keep portions reasonable, and give your body what it needs. Focusing on whole foods will have you feeling full of energy within no time.
Take water with you everywhere
The best part of this pillar is you can shop for a new water bottle to take along. If you aren't a fan of water, get a bottle with a fruit-infusing aspect. That way, you can insert fruits and herbs to infuse your water with some flavor. You can also purchase water bottles with printed time slots on the bottle to remind you to drink throughout the day.
Turn out the lights
Sleep often falls last on our list. You can go through all those motions with exercise and eating right, and it won't make a difference until you let your body get the restorative rest it needs. Your body's cells are like the cleaning crew that comes out at night to get everything ready for the morning. Focus your intention on getting the 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to get the rest you need.
Additionally, focus on proper stress management. Try meditating, yoga, journaling, or simply breathing with intention. Finding your unique sweet spot in each of these pillars can be just what you need to feel your best every day.
Interested in working 1:1 with a health coach- Contact me today to get started! You can also find me on Social Media for recipes tips & healthy hacks.
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Do you struggle with setting goals? Whether it be in your career or personal life, setting goals can sometimes feel overwhelming. Though many people feel that they can set goals easily, they may not always set attainable and realistic goals, which leads to a constant struggle to complete them. Though setting achievable goals may take some practice, the benefits of setting goals and conquering them can have monumental impacts on your confidence and your success. In this post, I will outline WHY you should set goals to take control of your success. I will give you my best tips on goal setting to help you set goals that truly empower you and help you understand why goal setting is important. If you feel you could use support in setting goals or finding clarity in what you should be working towards, consider signing up for a goal session with me-Coach Jenny! I can help you push past your excuses to achieve your goals while living a successful life.
Why Should You Set Goals?
Setting goals is important. When you set goals, you allow yourself to focus and build a vision of what you wish to accomplish. Not setting specific goals, you may feel unsure of how to move towards your vision of success. When you set realistic and attainable goals, not only do you allow yourself to celebrate your own success, but you also guarantee that you are constantly taking action towards your goals. You should always evaluate your goals using the SMART system to help you set goals that you can achieve.
What Does SMART Goals Stand For?
Setting SMART goals just makes sense. Always ensure that your goals follow this template to maximize your ability to set powerful goals and achieve them. Smart goals stand for:
What Type of Goals Should You Set?
As the framework for SMART goals suggests, you should set specific goals. When you sit down to plan your goals, be mindful of what you are looking to achieve. It is a good idea to have goals that will take time to complete. However, consider breaking your goal down into more manageable goals along the way. If your goals are related to income, and you have a yearly gross income number in mind, don’t set your goal as that number alone. Instead, break it down into specific quarterly, monthly, or even bi-weekly goals that you can achieve while continuously working towards your larger goal. Attainable goals are critical in boosting your success as it provides you confidence and allows you to celebrate the smaller accomplishments you achieve frequently. The category of goal you set does not matter. From running a 5K to meeting a commission target at work, you can apply this strategy to any goal. Always set your goals in a way that allows you to celebrate your progress along the way.
What Type of Goals Should You Avoid?
Sometimes we have dreams and goals that we may not have full control over. For example, you may want to win the lottery, but it is an unhealthy goal to buy as many lottery tickets as possible to attain your goal. No matter how many tickets you buy, your goal may very well be impossible as the outcome is entirely out of your control. You may have a specific promotion or job in mind. It is a good idea to have specific goals, but when you cannot control the outcome, you set yourself up for failure from the start. Sometimes for no- fault of your own, you will not get that corporate promotion, or your dream workplace will not hire you. Instead of setting goals that depend on others, frame the goal in a manner that leaves you in control. If your goal is to achieve a certain role in your company, set goals centered around boosting your performance as an employee, or set goals to qualify for additional training. The smaller goals will help you get to the bigger goal.
How Often Should You Check in On Your Goals
Always remember to check in on your goals frequently. This may mean daily, weekly, or monthly depending on your goal, but you should constantly monitor your progression. If you see that you are not completely on track to hit your goal or are about to storm past it, consider adjusting.
You are also allowed to cancel a goal if it no longer feels authentic. Always remember that part of checking in with your goals confirms that you still feel aligned with them. There is no shame in moving in a different direction if it no longer suits you. In fact, always staying in sync will help you achieve your goals.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Setting goals sounds easy but is actually something that takes focus and energy. If you feel overwhelmed by your goals, and don’t know how to move forward, consider asking for help. Lean into your support network. Sometimes asking for guidance will help you find clarity to start achieving them. If you feel that you could use some extra help with your goals, consider reaching out to a professional coach. We have the tools and experience to help you make goals that will amplify your success and boost your confidence.
Well, 2020 is almost over! This is such a great time to create a vision board for 2021!
No, a vision board is NOT like making a bunch of New Year resolutions that you will "forget" about within the first few days of January. It is also something fun to do with your kids, of almost any age. It provides them an opportunity to be creative and productive by thinking about things that are important to them and that they would like to work on or achieve, over the next twelve months.
Vision boards are a great way to keep yourself focused and directed towards a purpose while satisfying your creative bug. Here is an easy way to make a simple vision board and start working toward your goals, today.
Make your intentions clear
It is important to identify what your goal and intention are first; that is, what do you want to achieve and how do you see yourself getting there? What kind of feelings do you expect to encounter along the way, and how will you feel when you have accomplished it? Be sure of what you want and write it down.
Collect the required supplies
Many of the supplies you need for your vision board you may have just lying around the house.
Create space and an ambient environment
It is important to create a comfortable and open space to make your board. You want to be able to spread out and see everything that you have, like on the floor or a big table. You can also create an ambient environment by playing some of your favorite music and lighting some candles to relax and tap into your positive energies.
Choose your images and words wisely
Use words and images to which you can easily relate and that will help motivate you toward your goal. You can cut out the images from magazines and newspapers or use some of your own photos. All of them should be appealing and attractive to you in one way or the other.
Go through the images and words you chose, select your favorites, and paste them on the board or sheet in a way that reflects your feelings and intentions. Before pasting them try to arrange them in the way that you want, and then attach them. Never choose images or words that may have a negative impact on your feelings or make you feel unmotivated about your goals.
Place your vision board where you can see it often
Your vision board should serve as a reminder for you, so you should place or hang it somewhere visible where you can easily connect to it. Your bedroom or bathroom mirror is a great place, or in your kitchen.
Notice and heal
Note your feelings when you look at your board when you think about working toward and reaching your goal. Note any resistance or negative feelings; work to find the underlying reasons and resolve them as you journey toward your goal.
Vision boards do not have to be big or time-intensive. Make one today for a goal you have been aiming for and see how it can help you get where you want to be in life. Have fun and try this activity with a group, co-workers, or part of a workplace wellness program. You can also create a virtual vision board party with family & friends. If you would like more ideas or would like a goal-setting session with me, Click here to schedule a session to get started today.
Since becoming a health coach, I have come into many instances where people assume that I am very strict on my eating habits. They ask if I ever indulge in something that isn’t nutritional. They assume as a professional, I never eat the slice of cake, piece of chocolate or bag of potato chips. So, I want to set the record straight....
When it comes to my personal choices, I most certainly enjoy foods! I do my best to stick to a 90:10 ratio of whole foods such as fruits, veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats vs the opposite. This means that I do my absolute best to eat the healthiest foods daily and on occasion enjoy some of my old favorites. So here is my confession about the foods I enjoy.
My Favorite Treats
The reason I share all of this with you is to let you know you aren’t alone. I find myself wanting a chip and you know what? Sometimes, I have one or two or three...
The truth about pursuing a healthy lifestyle is to do what is best for YOU. It doesn’t mean you never eat your favorite foods at Thanksgiving again. It just means, you enjoy it without guilt on occasion. There is no such thing as perfection. We’ve all been there when we haven’t gotten to the store, we didn’t prep the food, we’re at a party or go out with friends. Giving yourself some grace is vital. But it is also important to not let that occasional indulgence turn into a nightly occurrence.
My hope is that you will know that choosing to live healthy is the best thing you could do for yourself. But that also means giving yourself the chance to indulge. It’s one day at a time as you work up to crowding out processed food and replacing them with new healthier favorites!
Before you know it, your body won’t crave that chocolate bar like it used to. You’ll take a bite of that chip and notice that it didn’t taste the same. These are all good things!
And you’ll wake up one day and realize that you love other things and crave them more. This is how I live my life as a health coach and what I encourage others to do for themselves. We are all bio-individual. Yes, strive for health and fuel your body with the best food you can.
But… it’s not a crime to enjoy one piece of pie.
Does crazy in love = crazy weight gain?
When we are in love we do crazy things – like finish off a large pizza, french fries, and lava molten cake with our love. Studies show more than 50% of couples in comfortable relationships put on weight. What starts out as throwing caution to the wind and eating anything and everything while falling in love can become a pattern that is hard to break once you’ve become a couple. Let’s consider why this occurs + how to keep it from happening ↓
3 REASONS YOU’RE GAINING RELATIONSHIP WEIGHT
① You’ve Lost Motivation
You feel secure in your relationship, so motivation to look your best wanes. Your partner loves you inside and out so appearance is not as important. Resist the temptation to live in your comfy sweats which can hide those extra pounds, and continue to make that "single-person" effort. Maintaining your weight and physical appearance is a simple way to make you feel good and much easier than the extra effort you’ll have to put forth to undo the damage.
② You’ve Skipped Too Many Workouts
With a busy schedule, you may have sacrificed your exercise routine to spend more time with your partner. Now it’s difficult to get back into your workout regime. Be intentional about getting a workout scheduled in. Write it in on your planner and refuse to change it. If you get your partner onboard, go to the gym together. Take a walk after dinner; you’ll be exercising and spending time together.
③ You’ve Eased Into Unhealthy Eating Habits
It’s easy to slip into your partner’s unhealthy eating habits during the early stage of the relationship. As time goes on, you may find you’re craving more salt and sugar from "junk" food and losing sight of your former healthy choices. Don’t give up healthy eating intentions due to this relationship. Share with your other half your desire to eat healthy and why it’s important to you. You might be surprised to find your partner eventually joins you on the healthy side. Eat healthy together while also finding time to enjoy sweet treats or savory foods in moderation. You might also find that a lot of healthy recipes can be nutritious and delicious too.
Don’t let being in a comfortable relationship override your desire to be fit and healthy.
Beware of these pitfalls and get back to the routine you had before as quickly as possible. Ideally, working with your partner to create a healthy lifestyle together would be best.
If you’re struggling to find the right balance to reach your goals, you may want to reach out for support. I help couples to define their goals and create a healthy routine to help them feel their absolute best.
For more information, schedule an initial couple’s health consult with me.
When you start looking at ways to reduce your stress levels, you probably focus on how much work you are doing, what your daily responsibilities are, and whether or not you practice good self-care. These are all very important, but don’t forget about the simplest choices you make every day that could be impacting your stress.
A common one has to do with your diet, where some foods can increase stress, while others help to reduce it. In fact, your diet has a much larger impact on your stress levels than you might expect, and your stress can determine what your food choices end up being. This is a vicious cycle that starts with focusing on proper nutrition to fuel your body.
The first thing that can happen if you have a poor diet is that you have nutritional deficiencies. These deficiencies can affect not just your physical health, but your emotional health as well.
DID YOU KNOW?
For example, did you know that low folate can affect your mood and lead to feelings of depression? You get folate from foods like eggs, asparagus, spinach, and avocado.
Some other nutrients you need to help balance your mood and fight stress naturally are:
Omega 3 fatty acids – Healthy fats are important! You can get your fatty acids from healthy sources of fats like salmon, tuna, walnuts, and olive oil.
Vitamin D – Do you know why you feel more energized and happier during sunny days? It is the vitamin D from the sun’s UV rays. If you live somewhere that is cloudy and rainy a lot, or it is the winter where there isn’t much sun, you will need to supplement vitamin D through your food. You can get it from foods like fatty fish, eggs, dairy, and fortified cereal.
Fiber – For more fiber, eating more fruit, avocados, and whole grains is usually a good place to start.
Calcium – While many people get their calcium from dairy and yogurt, you might not be someone who eats dairy. In this case, you can get it from foods like almonds, sesame seeds, tofu, and kale.
Iron – You also want to make sure you have enough iron. Iron can help with your mental health, as well as balancing your energy levels. You can get iron from red meat and turkey or vegetarian options such as lentils, chick peas, beans, cashew nuts, tofu, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots, figs, raisins and quinoa. My favorite option- Dark Chocolate! :)
Protein – You get protein from many of these same foods, including meat, poultry and fish, dairy, cheese, eggs, and nuts. You can also get your fill of protein from a lot of plant-based options including lentils, chia seeds, broccoli, nutritional yeast, quinoa, and tofu.
Feeding Emotions with Unhealthy Foods
Another link between stress and nutrition is that you can often “help” the stress and emotions with food. The problem here is that you probably go for the more unhealthy foods. Emotional eating isn’t really bad for you if it is only occasionally, after all, you should find something that helps you to deal with stressful situations. However, if you deal with chronic stress or you get into the habit of only using food as a way to comfort yourself, it can become a problem. You might overeat, have too much unhealthy foods, and even be malnourished because you aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Unhealthy Habits from Stress
Having too much stress in your life can further encourage you to have other unhealthy habits. Not just having vitamin deficiencies and emotional eating, but generally overeating the wrong foods, not getting enough exercise and sleeping too much, drinking alcohol, smoking, or doing drugs. These can all turn on you and not only not help with your stress, but actually make it worse.
The Cycle Continues
This is a vicious cycle that is very heard to get out of. Once you start going to unhealthy habits to deal with your stress, you feel that temporarily it is helping, but it is hurting your mental health in the long-term. The best thing you can do is stop this cycle now, start eating right, and look for healthier ways to manage your stress.
Don’t feel like you can never emotionally eat, just don’t rely only on that. Try to find healthier habits, such as visiting with friends, playing with your dog, or getting in a little more exercise. If you would like to discuss further- Let's Chat!
It’s a fact that most people don’t eat as many servings of fruits and vegetables as they should. While you try to keep your fridge and fruit bowl brimming with fresh produce options, don’t forget about your freezer. It’s one of the best places to stash frozen fruits and vegetables, which can have bountiful nutritional value, like their fresh counterparts. Whether you can’t find your favorites fresh because they’re out of season or they’re too expensive, try looking for these seven frozen fruits and veggies to stock in your freezer instead.
When broccoli is on your shopping list, but a fresh crown is $3, head to the freezer section. Broccoli when frozen retains its nutrients, losing less ascorbic acid in your freezer than it does when waiting for you in your fridge. Steam it for a quick side dish, make stir-fry, or top it on a fresh-made pizza. Soups, frittatas, and pasta dishes are other great ways to use frozen broccoli.
2. Bell Peppers
There are more vitamin C and antioxidants in frozen bell peppers. Plus, they can be used to make a stir-fry or fajitas in a pinch, no slicing and dicing required.
They’re not just a handy ice pack when you have a bruise or sprain. Frozen peas are a fantastic addition to your meals and far easier to work with than fresh peas. They still retain their initial nutrients, too, hosting more beta-carotene than fresh or canned versions. Steam or thaw them first before you add them to your dishes. They go great in a brown rice bowl, are perfect for salads and pasta, and make a great soup with peas thrown in.
Peaches still retain phenolic compounds when frozen, and they still taste just as amazing. Thaw them out to put on your coconut yogurt, puree into a healthy pudding, or add to salads with walnuts and goat cheese.
Fresh spinach takes time to wash. In the freezer, it’s ready to go and even has more beta-carotene than raw spinach. It’s an easy side dish for a busy night all on its own, but feel free to get creative with soups, pasta, curries, dips, or even on top of white pizza.
6. Organic Berries
Berries are marvelous super-fruits, but they are always ranked as the dirtiest by the EWG. Organic is best, but buying them fresh can really add up. When you purchase organic berries frozen, though, you can have the best of both worlds. Buy a mix or buy one type of organic berry, and you can make wonderful smoothies, top off your coconut yogurt, or use them in healthy desserts.
Although carrots are usually plentiful and inexpensive, they are more nutritious than fresh carrots. They store so well, too, that if you have a crazy week and have no veggies on hand, you’ll have carrots ready for a side dish.
With these frozen produce items on hand, you’ll always have access to making healthy and nutritious meals, even when your fridge and cabinets are going bare.
If you feel like you are drowning underneath your responsibilities, worries, and stress, you might be dealing with a bad case of overwhelm. This can seem like something everyone deals with, but it does affect your mental and physical health, which means you don’t have to just deal with it. There are ways to reduce your overwhelm, starting with mindfulness.
MINDFULNESS- It can sound intimidating, but is nothing more than living and thinking in the present and helping your mindset to reflect that. There are many benefits of mindfulness, including helping to reduce stress and overwhelm.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a hot topic lately, especially when talking about personal development, mental health, and reducing stress in your life. Mindfulness is wonderful for so many areas of stress, including overwhelm and burnout.
So, what is mindfulness? It is a state of being more aware of your thoughts and intentions, finding a place of acceptance, and living in the presence. There is a lot to mindfulness, but this is the basic definition of what being mindful means. You are aware of what is happening right now, whether it is experiencing your stress, then rationalizing it, eating a meal, or focusing on a craft project. No matter what you are doing, you can benefit by being more mindful.
Living in the Present
The first part of mindfulness is living in the present, which can help a lot if you have been overwhelmed lately from stress in your life. When you get overwhelmed, it can be hard to focus on what is most important. You tend to have so much going on in your brain at all times, that it feels hopeless and like you will never be able to manage it all.
This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness allows you to live in the present, where you are only focused on this very moment. What is important right now? Not in a week or a month or a year. Not worrying about what already has happened. JUST focus on RIGHT NOW. This can help you to organize your thoughts and find what your priorities are.
Mindful Exercises and Techniques
Mindfulness can be a very simple process, depending on what you need it for and the situation where you are trying to be mindful. The basic technique just involves being present, sometimes writing down what you are doing, thinking, and feeling in that moment. For example, if you are trying to be more mindful during your meals, you can get out your journal and really be detailed with how you feel eating these foods. Are they nourishing you? Do you enjoy them? Are you happy with your choices? This can be a great tool for intuitive eating as well.
There are also some different exercises that can help you with mindfulness if you are new to it, or struggling staying in that present state. Here are some good exercises to start with:
Body scan – The first technique is not only used for mindfulness, but for meditation as well. This is a body scan exercise, where you are going to mentally scan each part of your body, one section at a time. This allows you to be more mindful by focusing on how each part of your body feels in that moment, but can also get you into a relaxed, meditative state.
Instead of thinking about what is worrying you at the moment, you instead think about parts of your body, like your scalp, ears, chest, stomach, arms, legs, hands, or feet. Go through each body part one at a time, really focusing on it.
Breathing – You can also try a breathing exercise with mindfulness. For this, just the action of practicing your breathing gets you into a meditative, mindful state. You will be thinking about your breathing right in this moment, and not worrying too much about the past or the future. Breathing exercises are simple – just sit in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Inhale deeply, then exhale. Each time you inhale and exhale, try to hold it for several seconds, and relax your mind and body as you do this.
Use Your Senses – The last mindful exercise you can try out is where you try to use all of your senses in this moment. For example, what do you smell? Do you feel anything near you? If you’re eating or drinking, what do you taste? Use all 5 of your senses for this practice.
If you want to connect to discuss more mindfulness techniques- Contact Coach Jenny Today!
On a Scale from 1-10, How Stressed Out Do YOU Feel Right Now?
With everything going on around us, stress levels are understandably HIGH. And all of this added stress could be sabotaging your results if you’re not careful. I’m going to dive in and show you why, but I’m also going to give you a few of my favorite strategies to help you manage during these difficult times.
Some stress can be good for you. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable and can IMPROVE when under stress. For instance, during your workouts, you place stress on your body, and it gets stronger in response. Or when you work hard on mastering a new skill, which is another form of stress, your body and brain respond by getting better at it.
Here’s a quick review of what happens when you get stressed.
Let’s say you’re at work and your boss drops a huge last-minute project on your desk, and you only have a day to get it done. First – Awesome! They trust you! But second – Wow. How are you going to get it all done? Stress to the rescue! Your body immediately releases a bunch of hormones to help heighten your senses to either attack the problem or run away. This is fine once in a while, but if it becomes a constant issue (current pandemic), can lead to real problems.
Here’s why it matters. All those stress hormones – like cortisol and adrenaline – can cause a long list of issues in your body, including lowering your metabolism, if you have a lot of exposure to them.
First, thanks to the cortisol you can start to crave high fat, high sugar comfort foods. These fire up your brain’s “reward centers” giving you temporary relief from your stress and making it easy to slide into a pattern of overeating sugar and salty treats.
But get this! A study done a few years ago found that women who ate a high-fat meal after feeling stressed out the day before burned about 100 fewer calories the next day. Plus, they had higher insulin levels, which promotes fat storage, especially in areas that are the worst for your health, like your belly.
So … what can you do?
The most important thing you can do is to BE MINDFUL and listen to your body.
Have you ever noticed how sometimes you’ll just be living your life, working or going about your regular business, and all of a sudden you realize your shoulders are incredibly tight, and you wonder how long you’ve been walking around like that? Or that you’re breathing shallowly, which is another sign of stress?
Stress can sneak up on you over time, which is why it’s important to work STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES into your regular lifestyle! The amazing thing is that these techniques FEEL GOOD and leave you feeling recharged! Plus, they can help undo the negative effects stress can have on your metabolism.
This can be as simple as finding ways to work “alone” time into your day to recharge. This can even be listening to music you enjoy while you do the laundry or other household chores.
The key is to BE INTENTIONAL with this time and allow yourself to relax.
You also can experiment with breathing exercises or meditation. There are a ton of Smartphone apps for this and some fitness trackers also have a breathing feature. They do make a difference!
Another idea is cutting back on anything that causes you a lot of stress. For example, if you find that scrolling social media makes you feel uncomfortable, unfollow accounts that make you feel that way! The same thing goes with the news. If it makes you feel tense, stay informed, but don’t let yourself get swallowed up by the daily ups and downs in the media!
Finally, Let's get to the most important.... exercise, which can be a major stress buster. Exercising works in several different ways to help you feel better and rev your metabolism! When you’re physically active, your body releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that act as natural painkillers. Not only do these endorphins help cut stress, but they also help you sleep, which is another big stress buster. Plus, working out is GREAT for your metabolism, because all that physical activity helps you burn more calories.
That’s a quick rundown of how stress can impact your metabolism. Definitely worth the effort to work some stress management into your routine!
If you’d like to talk about your goals, send me a message and we will set up a time to chat!
Appropriate portion size is one of the main ingredients in having a balanced relationship with food. Over time, our portion sizes have grown exponentially, and so have our health issues as a nation. What used to be a typical portion size when eating out is now considered a kids meal -but with some practice, getting your portion sizes in check is simple and rewarding.
These tips don't restrict what you eat but help you stay mindful about how you're eating.
Serve yourself on smaller plates
One of the quickest ways to cut your portions down is to change your plating. I regularly use a salad plate as my main plate for meals -- and filling a salad plate is more along the lines of a healthy portion. This also tricks your eyes, since you're filling the whole smaller plate instead of using a large dinner plate and leaving an empty space.
Know which foods get more real estate on your plate
In addition to eating larger portions than we should in general, we're often allocating more space for the wrong things. Your vegetables or salad ideally will take up half your plate. Your protein of choice can allocate for a quarter of your plate, and any complex carbs can fill the other quarter.
While eating whole, fresh foods is always best, there are times when we use sauces, dressings, and pantry staples to prepare our meals. If you make a habit of reading the labels, you'll know how much is in each serving to avoid those serving-size traps. I like to stay mindful of this when using packaged items to supplement my meals.
Don't forget to stay mindful when you dine out
It's nice to get takeout sometimes or go out to dinner with people you adore. However, the meals you get in restaurants tend to be double the size or even more than a reasonable portion. You have a few options here. If you're ordering takeout for yourself, ask the restaurant to split the portion and enjoy the rest the next day. You can also split an entrée with someone else or order an appetizer and small salad as your meal. For me personally, I find that picking a delicious appetizer with a small side salad does the trick perfectly.
If you still feel hungry, make sure you're keeping your hydration in check. That's another reason why we tend to overeat. When you look for ways to keep portions to their true sizes and eat the right kinds of foods, you will start seeing the results you've been working towards.
Have you ever noticed how much harder it is to have willpower when you’re stressed or have had a long day at work or with the kids? It doesn’t have to be “bad” stress, either – your willpower can lag after an awesome day spent sightseeing, shopping, or doing something else that you love. The reason this happens is because of something called “decision fatigue.” Studies show that the more decisions you make over a day, the harder it is to use your willpower or self-control.
For instance, after a long day, you might not feel very energetic and feel like skipping your workout. Saying “no” to junk food can also become harder. You might procrastinate on chores, and if you go shopping, you could end up spending a lot more than you planned.
Here’s a weird fact: even your ability to do basic math equations can be affected!
This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when decision fatigue kicks in. Instead, now that you know it’s a real “thing,” you can head it off at the pass. Here are some things you can do to avoid decision fatigue in the first place:
You can burn off the stress with a workout (you’ll feel better once you get going!) or eat a healthy spicy meal (studies show hot foods boost endorphins, the feel-good hormones).
If that seems like too much work, how about brewing a cup of tea and finding a quiet spot to relax with a good book?
Another great way to combat decision fatigue is by having a support network. Having a strong team around you is a HUGE part of being successful. Your team can keep you on track and focused.
A lot of people who experience decision fatigue think that there is something wrong with their willpower. They blame themselves and then get insanely jealous of others who seem to be able to stay on track no matter the challenges. The difference between you and them isn’t willpower – it’s that they have created (and follow) healthy habits that help them plan for decision fatigue moments because they happen to everyone. So if you struggle with willpower issues, then this is just an indication that you need to cultivate habits and create systems that will help you manage the stressful parts of your day when you’re not up to making healthy choices for yourself.
Cheers to Creating Healthy Habits! 🥂
Do you ever feel like creating healthier habits like exercise and eating nutritious foods is a lot harder than it should be? I get it! The IDEA of changing habits or adopting new ones can seem overwhelming. I have fantastic news for you that will make you feel better about creating healthy habits.
I am going to do a series of blog posts on building habits to help you get over the overwhelm, so you can start making healthy, positive changes. But first, it is important to understand habit-building itself, and WHY we think it’s so hard to change. In a nutshell, it all comes down to one thing, Your MINDSET. Once you get your mindset right, everything else begins to fall into place.
Fun fact: Did you know that having a positive mindset can help you make healthier choices and live longer? Even better fact: You don’t have to be born with a positive mindset. It is something you can create and strengthen over time.
I think we have all struggled with mastering new habits – things like meal prep (and then actually eating the meals we prepped), sticking with a new exercise plan, getting up earlier, reading more, etc. I know that when I used to try to get back into my habit of using a food journal, I would do great for a few days (or even a few weeks) and then boom, all of a sudden I forget or (confession) blew it off. And then I started to feel a little guilty, later I would get upset with myself … and then I would catch myself saying “I’ll just start again tomorrow” or “I’ll start next week.” (Cue the endless loop of frustration!).
Creating a new habit can be hard, and you can end up with unrealistic expectations – like having it mastered in just a few weeks. Or being perfect at it one or two days. Let’s just put it on the table and say that’s completely unrealistic.
Be prepared to slip up now and then, and when you do, get yourself back on track as soon as possible. Eventually, it WILL become easier, especially when you start to see the results of all your effort!
Lasting changes take time – so whenever possible, make sure you pick a habit that you are between 80 – 90% sure you are ready to create. If the habit seems like you won’t be able to do it on your most hectic or crazy days then dial it back, see how you can lower the difficulty level until you feel it is doable. It will increase the likelihood you will own that new habit.
The other thing to remember is that you CAN build healthy habits, even during holidays, celebrations, etc. It just takes choosing the best habit, making it doable, and having the mindset for your new habits. Maybe that is meal prepping some healthy lunches to offset indulgent dinners or parties. It could be swapping your calorie-laden latte for a "lightener" version that you make at home. Possibly you decide to go for a walk for 30 minutes a day on your lunch break instead of sitting in front of your computer.
Do you need a little strategy session to come up with troubleshooting advice for making those habits a reality? If so, be sure to get in touch with me, and let’s see if we can’t get you feeling confident about your new healthy habits this month! Click Here to Book a Strategy Session!
Jennifer Castro is the owner of JAC Wellness Solutions. She is a Health Educator, Nutritionist, and Patient Advocate specializing in Women's Health & Vestibular Disorders. When she was diagnosed with an inner ear imbalance called Meniere's Disease, she knew she had no choice but to step up her game and become a detective for her own health. Coach Jenny is studying to become a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach while creating course content for health coaches and educators. She created an educational program for preschool teachers called Jump & Roll Fitness. The program provides lesson plans on how to create healthy habits for preschoolers. She also works as an Insurance Broker providing insurance solutions for small businesses, wellness, and medical practitioners. This blog is ALL about health, well-being, nutrition, lifestyle and kitchen hacks. She also tells stories of her own personal health journey. Coach Jenny loves to garden, spend time with her hubby, and loves to bake new recipes. She likes to put her own "healthy" spin on her and her hubby's favorite sweet treats.
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