journey

First Steps to Health: Shrink the Change

First steps can be tough. 

My boy starts Kindergarten in a few days, my baby boy has his first steps completely behind him and I am learning how to balance a completely different life than the one I thought I would have.  First steps can be scary, will test your limits, but can be completely exciting because change is happening and change = growth.

When we tackle resolutions or changes aimed at making ourselves better, many times it can be extremely overwhelming.  Have you ever tried to start a meditation practice, exercise regiment, clean eating schedule, etc., just to find out that you can't stick with it?  

I want to give you a simple strategy that will increase your success.  It's called "Shrinking the Change".

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We now know that about 85% of chronic diseases don't stem from genetics or environmental impacts but from behavior.  And behavior, like willpower, works like the rest of your body.  You wake up feeling rested and refreshed (hopefully) and over the course of the day, you get tired and need more rest at night to keep going.  Willpower is the same way.  It can diminish and be harder to use the more you have to use it.  It's a limited resource.  Building habits instead of relying solely on willpower will help you become more successful in behavioral change.  And the best way to do this is by shrinking the change.  It's like climbing a mountain.  If you want to get to the top, you don't stare at the peak the entire time, you focus on the next step in front of you and over time, the compounded effect allows you to reach your goal.  

So when you want to make a change, start out so ridiculously small that willpower isn't even an issue.  

The action also has to be measurable and doable for it to be attainable.  Here are some options using the example we used earlier:

If you want to start a meditation practice, download the Headspace app and try it out at least twice over the next week.  
If you want to exercise more, make it a point to take a 30-minute walk with a friend at least one time over the next three days.
If you want to improve your eating habits, try just one new recipe per week.  Use Pinterest boards (or a folder for printed recipes) to keep your favorites organized.  

So what is the behavior you'd like to change?  

What is the first small, doable step that you can do to shrink the change and make this goal very attainable?

Comment below and share your plan with me and I can help you brainstorm additional steps moving forward.  

Cheers to first steps!

Health Coaching Kick-Off - Free Wellness Consultations!

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So if you’ve been following either my blog/Facebook page/Instagram page you know I’ve been going to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to get certified as a holistic health coach in order to help people approach health in a whole new way.  I’m happy to say that I am now offering free wellness consultations to anyone, anywhere in the United States.  Before you jump on board, let me answer some of your questions… So what is a health coach anyway?

In a nutshell, health coaches are knowledgeable advisors who provide ongoing support and guidance as we set goals to make long-lasting sustainable changes to improve your health and happiness.  I will guide you to make sense of the overwhelming nutritional advice out there and provide you with information to determine what dietary and lifestyle changes are necessary for you.  You get a very individualized program based on your needs and goals so that you can make powerful changes to become a more balanced you.

What is a free wellness consultation?

I’m offering a free wellness consultation to anyone who is serious about getting their health and life back on track.  We will review your past and current health situations, your lifestyle, primary areas of concern and goals specifically related to your needs.  I have a series of questions that we will address together either in person, through Skype or over the phone regarding your health and then you will have the opportunity to share with me any other information you feel is relevant.  Wellness consultations are typically 45-50 minutes long.

What’s in it for me?

You’ll have the opportunity to talk about your life, your health and what you’d like to accomplish.  It’s an opportunity to be heard and to get a sense of what it feels like to have more support in your life - for YOU.  You’ll also learn how to reach those goals by working with me in my health coaching program.

What type of people use health coaches?

More and more people are using health coaches to reach optimal health.  According to Dr. Andrew Weil in his magazine titled Self-Healing:  “When athletes want a competitive edge, they hire a private coach to monitor their

progress. When it comes to your health, using this mindset could also be beneficial.

Health coaches are increasingly being hired by corporations to help employees stay

healthy and by individuals seeking to improve well-being. For some, these coaches

offer assistance in managing dietary constraints (due to conditions such as celiac

disease or diabetes), and for others, they might focus on teaching stress-reduction

methods. In some ways, the health coach picks up where your physician left off,

helping you implement wellness strategies suggested after a check-up or diagnosis.”

Basically, I’m here to fill the gap for you and to provide you with support and information to reach bigger and better.  Whether you’re looking to balance out your life, stop sugar cravings, find guidance to achieve your doctor’s recommendations, fight migraines, raise healthier kids, learn more about preventative medicine or anything else in between, a health coach is for you.  I’m for you!

I invite you to schedule your first initial wellness consultation by emailing me, Stephanie, at thewellsideoflife@gmail.com.  You could also head on over to my facebook page and message me there, too.  Either way, I can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time, Be Well.

Healthy Road Trip Fuel

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  Ok, tell me if this sounds familiar…

 

You’re driving along peacefully when one (or all) of the following things happen:

 

1) You realize you have 8 miles of gas left in your tank and need to stop ASAP.  You find a Sheetz and while you fill up on gas, you also fill up on Doritos and soda.  You’ve been driving hard and you deserve it, right?

 

2) You’re feeling a little like a zombie so you stop at the next service plaza to refresh yourself.  You pick up a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut and a tall caramel macchiato from Starbucks.  You’re feeling great again and ready to go!

 

3) Your toddler just informed you that if you don’t pull over NOW he’s going to pee in his car seat.  You take the next exit to take care of business and get him some oreos and fruit punch to reward him for not turning your car into a Seinfeld episode.

 

4) You start to crave something sweet & salty and start praying for a 7-11 to reveal itself.

 

5) You see a McDonald’s and totally justify your stop because you never eat there regularly anyway.  That Big Mac tastes sooo good going down and the fries and milkshake are just icing on the cake.  You start to think once in a while isn’t so bad afterall!

 

Sound about right?  Five to eight years ago this was totally me (except for the oreos and fruit punch part).  I’ve never been one to drink soda, but I would have never considered passing up a syrupy cream-topped starbucks special on the road.  For some reason I felt like I was allowed to let myself break the rules a bit when I was driving long distances because I had convinced myself I didn’t have any other option (boy, was I wrong!).  Thirty minutes post Starbucks/Pizza Hut/fries or whatever other nasty binge I would consume, I would always end up with stomach pains, cramps, and feelings of nausea.  Not a great combination when driving!  And a huge signal that my body was rejecting what I had just put in it!   In general, I have always tried to maintain some sort of healthy eating regimen, but I made poor eating decisions on the road because I wasn’t prepared properly and these excuses would then transfer into the entire trip being sabotaged by weak, impulse decisions.  I would return home feeling gross and in major need of a detox.  Things have changed a lot in my world and I would never go back to this type of bad road trip behavior!

So recently, we packed up our little family of three and headed east to one of our favorite beach towns for the week.  We had a long drive ahead of us and a full week of relaxing and snacking in store.  I went prepared with an arsenal of healthy snack alternatives so that we were not tempted by the flashy packaging of the processed foods at service plazas and gas stations (however, if you’re in a desperate situation, grab a banana, a bag of nuts, coconut water and/or bottled water and get OUT).  I also went prepared with a list of health conscious restaurants and directions to my favorite organic market (for morning juices or smoothies) to use once we got there so that we weren’t stuck eating hours old MSG filled excuses for pizza on the boardwalk.

My list of snack foods contain foods found at Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market and my local natural foods store.  These stores are really easy for me to get to, which was something I really needed the few days leading up to vacay departure.  I’ve read a few blogs that list some amazing road trip fuel, but I wasn’t impressed with the fact that I would have needed to order everything online and I just wasn’t prepared for that.  SO I stayed simple and local.  I really hope my list is able to give you some great, practical ideas for your next road trip adventure!

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1) Electrolyte Enhanced Water - Great for the hot beach when you need to replenish electrolytes quickly from sweating.  This is a much healthier alternative than drinking a sports drink filled with sugar!

2) Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water - They use a high-pressured manufacturing system to rid the water of bacteria before bottling, not heat, so there are more beneficial nutrients staying in the drink.  Great source of antioxidants, loaded with minerals, and naturally uplifting.  I won’t travel without it!

3) 100% Pineapple Juice - Made from whole fresh fruit, not from concentrate.  I found this in a small sized 4-pack in Trader Joe’s which is the perfect travelling size.  My son would drink this all day long if I let him.  There is a crazy amount of Vitamin C in this drink, helps aid digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties.  I also love it in smoothies!

4) Lemon & Mint - I took these to put in my water every day for their detoxing power and because they are an amazing pick me up for that afternoon dip.

5) Sliced veggies, apples, bananas, avocados, grapes - All things that are delicious, easy to transport and good for you!  Numerous times on our vacation we were the ones having an apple or banana while everyone else around us was eating a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone.  Choosing to eat this way gave us the sugar everyone craves while on vacation in a naturally occurring way, but it also gave us high amounts of fiber and complex carbs so that we had energy that lasted for hours!

6) Bob’s Red Mill Muesli - I would mix this with yogurt or milk for a mid-morning snack or lunch.  Loads of good stuff in here - whole grain rolled oats, wheat, rye, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), barley, dates, raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts.  Another great source of food for high energy!

7) Chia Seeds - Fiber, Omega 3, Protein.  I put these on almost everything I eat.

8) Veggie & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips along with my homemade canned salsa from last tomato season - Yes, I transported a glass mason jar, but it was worth it!  My husband is seriously addicted to this stuff and it makes an awesome lunch when heading to a restaurant is just not appealing anymore.

9) Pink Himalayan Salt - I may start carrying this stuff around with me in my purse.  First of all, it’s pretty.  Second, it contains 84 trace elements and iron from the Himalayan Mts. in Pakistan and is touted as the purest form of salt in the world.  That white table salt?  All minerals are stripped, it’s treated with chemicals, it throws off your body’s pH making it extremely acidic, it has been heated and then treated with bleach.  What’s the point in using white table salt when there is such a better option available?  Oh, it’s sooo delicious, too.

10) MaraNatha’s Organic NO STIR Peanut Butter - We traveled with one jar creamy and one jar crunchy : )  This is by far the best organic p.b. I have ever had! Nice source of wholesome protein and fiber and my son devours it.  Bonus.

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11) Pamela’s Figgies and Jammies Gluten-Free Cookies - Made with real figs and contains nothing artificial.  I love these and they put traditional fig newton’s to shame with their taste and quality of ingredients - and they’re gluten-free!

12) Trader Joe’s Apple and Mango Fruit Bar - Vegan and RAW and only two ingredients : )

13) L‘A’RABARS - These energy bars are my favorite.  They are gluten-free and only contain a few tasty ingredients.  They are also grain-free, non-GMO, soy-free, dairy-free & kosher!

14) Travel size pouches of RAW Organic Green Superfood - When I can’t get a fresh juice or smoothie I mix these pouches with water as a great alternative.  They contain organically grown greens and sprouts, which pumps your body full of that liquid gold chlorophyll.  I will also have these on hand at home for busy mornings when I need to be out the door quickly.

15) Nick’s Grass-Fed Beef and Turkey Snack Sticks - No nitrites added, no added antibiotics or MSG.  This is surprising, but I’d have to say I like the beef better than the turkey!  This is from their website: Grass-fed beef kicks corn-fed cows… in the COB!

  • Low saturated fat — like snacking on chicken or fish
  • High levels of “good fat” omega-3’s — hey, if you’re gonna eat fat… make it the good stuff!
  • High doses of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) — really hard to say and spell, but it kicks cancer where the sun don’t shine
  • 100% free-range bliss — our cows enjoy “outdoor recess” all day… everyday!
  • Eco-friendly? — Sure, our cows produce a bit of natural methane… but our tractors stay in the barn!

Love. It.

16) Nuts! - Walnuts, Pistachios & Almonds - Absolutely love getting in good fats, even if it’s just one handful at a time.  Walnuts have the highest amounts of omega-3 fats than any other nut and they help with brain growth and functioning (they kinda even look like a brain).  Pistachios are a family favorite and are awesome immune system boosters.  Almonds are so good for the heart and versatile - love almond milk and almond butter, too!

17) Raisins, Prunes, Dates & Figs - Seriously these dried fruits are like candy in our house.  They are so easy to pack and transport and they have countless health benefits.  However, I don’t ever buy these conventional because grapes, plums, dates and figs are sprayed heavily with pesticides and once the drying process has occurred, the chemicals become even more concentrated within the fruit.  I always buy these organic.  Also, some people will veer away from these foods (and if you have blood sugar issues then you probably should) because they are nature’s little sugar packets, but that’s honestly why I love them.  If I’m going to eat sweets, it might as well have a nutritional benefit to it and these dried fruits are a.ma.zing (did I say that already?)!  I also use dates as a sweetener in baking or when making raw desserts because refined sugar does not have a place in my kitchen!

18) My little tin of Matcha Tea from Teavana - If you’ve not tried Matcha Tea yet, you need to.  This tea has been used as a part of Japanese culture since the 12th century and we’re just now catching on to its amazing taste and health benefits.  Instead of drinking the tea where the leaves have been strained, matcha involves drinking the entire leaf that has been ground into an extremely fine, green powder.  This drink is loaded with Vitamin C, potassium, iron and fiber and is wonderfully relaxing.

19) Suzie’s Organic Saltines and Whole Grain THIN Cakes (made of corn, quinoa and sesame) - Ok, Suzie’s line is generally awesome all around, but I chose to pack things that we could spread p.b or mashed avocado on.  My favorite thing about the saltines is that they make them with extra virgin olive oil.  If this doesn’t excite you, it should!  Check out the list of ingredients from the popular Nabisco saltine cracker box:

Ingredients. Enriched Flour (WheatFlour,Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid),Soybean Oil, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Malted Barley Flour, Baking Soda, Vegetable Monoglycerides (Emulsifier). Nutrition Facts.

Hmmm… see anything you don’t like?  How about that high fructose corn syrup?  Don’t be fooled by the “enriched” flour part, either.  Basically the company has taken all the vitamins, minerals and fiber that the plant originally contained and processed it and then tried to put some of it back in again at the end.  This is a very common practice that fools consumers into believing that they just got a nutritional bargain.  Hardly.  If I’m going to eat a cracker, I’d much rather the ingredients go something like this:

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC WHEAT FLOUR, ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, SALT, ORGANIC BARLEY MALT SYRUP, SODIUM BICARBONATE, YEAST.

If you can’t find these in a store near you, check out the website that carries them.  It’s an education in itself! http://www.goodgroceries.com

20) Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts - Hemp hearts are raw shelled hemp seeds.  They provide you with omegas, protein and fiber and have a great flavor.  I sprinkle these babies on everything, right along with my chia seeds!

21) Tiny But Mighty popcorn - This ancient heirloom popcorn was originally shared by the Native Americans with a pioneer family who kept it for generations and it has finally come to market through a very conscious company.  Unlike other popcorn (or corn in general), this brand is verified NON-GMO and the kernels are much smaller than the traditional popcorn we are used to.  I also LOVE it because it’s virtually hull-less, which means it doesn’t get stuck in your teeth, it’s easier to digest and it tastes much better.  I popped the kernels in my air-popper, added some melted vegan organic Earth Balance and some Himalayan Salt and put them in some of our reuseable gallon sized bags.  Awesome road trip food.

22) Panda All Natural Licorice - Licorice is a weakness for me and I love that Panda has four delicious flavors to choose from!  One reason I love this brand is because they don’t used refined sugar.  They sweeten their chews with brown molasses syrup, which provides its own little banquet of nutrients.  YUM!

23)*Splurge!* Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels - ouch.  I’m not perfect!  These aren’t horrible, BUT they do contain sugar that I probably could have gone without.  Next time I will have to be sure to take them out of my cart after they so intentionally jumped in!

I know.  I took a TON of snacks with us, but I’m happy I did because we were never lacking and feeling like we needed to compromise our health when we were hungry.  I also want to mention that many of these foods are staples in our home, but many of them are not.  I usually don’t stock the figgies, the Tahitian Vanilla Caramels or the licorice because they aren’t necessary.  However, I have found that if we allow ourselves a little cheat once in a while it actually keeps our daily healthy lifestyle on track and that’s what really matters.  Look into some of these amazing products and let me know if you have any suggestions for my next road trip (which is coming up in two weeks!)

Until next time, Be Well.

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Walk with me.

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For years, close friends and family have been urging me to start a blog on my musings of wellness, from what it looks like, tastes like and sounds like to what it feels like.  And I'm telling you, it feels good!  So here I will be giving my opinion on clean eating, non-toxic products, sustainable organizations, nutrition and supplements, healthy alternatives for kiddos in play and food, gardening, canning, homemade items...the list goes on.  My brain seriously never stops thinking about living a cleaner, healthier lifestyle.  So my hope is that through my research and dedication to this lifestyle it may in some small way benefit you, too.  So take my hand and walk with me on this fun little journey called "Be Well".