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Top Five Things to Start Getting Healthier (Your Family Included!) and the Fabulous Five Healthy Challenge 2014

on January 6, 2014

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

top 5I’m really excited to write this article, for with 2014 under full swing, some of you may or may not have established some goals or resolutions for the New Year.  With that said, I wanted to think of an opportunity and fun way to encourage people to become engaged in something that was low-key, offered support and motivation, was FREE, and allowed you connect to others while learning some cool, new things.  So in addition to the tips I will cover here in this article, I invite/challenge/motivate you to become part of a special group I created on Facebook that accompanies these healthy suggestions.  Feel free to ask whomever you’d like to join as well, for the more, the merrier when it comes to motivating each other.  Click on this link to join the Fabulous Five Healthy Challenge 2014 group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/589089991171942/

Whether you have or have not established any goals or resolutions for 2014 is completely fine, because if you’re reading this article in the first place, you’re probably thinking of the easiest ways to kick-off some healthy habits.  I know many of my articles contain lots of information that run the gamut from easy suggestions to what may seem like far-out-there suggestions or things you should/should not be doing to be as healthy as possible.  While I could write a thousand articles about things to do, eat, rituals to perform, etc. to be healthy, most individuals may not be at that point in life or have the time to pore over such details and make huge changes.  That’s what’s so great and unique about health coaching (and why I love my job and working with clients from all ends of the spectrum) – you have to do what’s right for you and start with changes and expectations that meet YOU where YOU are at in YOUR point in life.  If that means making one change for the entire year, then so be it – that’s one change for the better that you weren’t already doing; this one change will help propel you in a better direction regardless, and the positive impact compounded over time will be great.  There may be some individuals out there ready to take on the world and make radical changes left and right to improve their health.  While notable and noble, this approach obviously does not fit everyone, especially families where there are many different personalities, styles, and preferences.  So, this is why I created as simple of a list as possible to offer the best suggestions you could start implementing (if not already) to inch towards a more healthy life style.  Remember that change takes time and goals and expectations need to be realistic and have meaning attached to them in order to be successful and lasting.  Each suggestion can be adapted to varying degrees of “intensity” (i.e. how much you implement each one or like a “good”, “better”, “best” mode).  As I just mentioned, just taking ONE step towards a healthier lifestyle is a step in the right direction that should be applauded.  We beat ourselves up too much and too often about things that we feel we are NOT doing when we really should be celebrating the things we ARE doing right.  So, let’s start by seeing if we can take on the challenge by adopting any of the suggestions below (I added two suggestions to my initial list of three healthy suggestions J):

  1. Incorporate more vegetables and fruits in your diet DAILY.  Ok, this may seem like a no-brainer and a suggestion you have heard time and time again, but when we add in more vegetables and fruits into our diets, not only are we packing in tons of whole-food vitamins, minerals, and nutrients like cancer-fighting anti-oxidants, but we are adding fiber, which helps to balance cravings, metabolism, and blood-sugar levels (which all have a positive effect on our health).  Try to aim for more vegetables than fruit (due to the naturally-occurring sugars in fruit), with lots of green vegetables (now’s the time to start trying new things like kale!) and try to eat organic as much as possible.  Refer to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 to see which fruits and veggies you can pick and choose going organic with.  Not a fan of eating your fruits and veggies?  Try some delicious smoothies or recipes found on the MySuperFoods website or within the Fabulous Five Healthy Challenge 2014 group!
  2. Read labels and weed out ingredients. This suggestion is one of my mantras.  I say it in almost all of the articles I write, and I do so with passion and a genuine reason – when you read labels, you become more aware of what is in your food.  I never used to read labels until I became educated that I could not take for granted what was in the food I was eating anymore (and we’re talking like seven years ago).  Food labels and marketing is so deceptive – it’s sad how a food company with a big budget and little concern for your overall health can get most people to eat just about anything.  Take a good look at the ingredients and if you see anything you cannot pronounce, sugar is one of the first listed ingredients (and it is labelled in many different ways…see here), artificial (coloring, flavoring, sweetener, preservative), put it down and move on (check out this list for a more comprehensive run-down).  It’s not worth eating, because the more we eat things with these ingredients, the more our bodies will become addicted to them and we’ll crave them = makes us tied to these habits for longer periods of time.
  3. Hydrate (preferably with clean, filtered water).  Our bodies are more than 70% water and a majority of human beings are currently walking around DEHYDRATED.  Hydration is essential for our cellular function (yes, that means pretty much EVERY cell in our body relies on proper water balance to function), metabolism, nutrient transport, temperature regulation, detoxification and elimination of wastes, etc.  Additionally, many people do not realize either that when they have a headache, muscle ache, food craving (especially for something sweet or salty), or feeling of hunger, it’s just their body’s way of telling them that they are dehydrated.  The first thing I tell clients to do is drink a glass of water at the onset of any of the aforementioned symptoms; 95% of the time, this does the trick.  It’s very important that we engrain proper hydration in children at a young age, too, for hydration is so imperative for their growing bodies that go through so much more cellular activity than adults.  Aim for drinking at least 64-80 ounces of clean, filtered water each day (and more in the heat, if you are pregnant or nursing, and/or if you are exercising).  Here are some back articles about water and hydration that you can reference:
  1. 4.       Prepare yourself as much of your food as you can.  While we may love to be able to swipe a meal already prepared for us off of the shelf of the grocery store or in a restaurant, the bottom line is, we did not prepare the food ourselves, and well, are relying on a food label (if available) to let us know what’s in our food.  Studies have shown when people prepare their own food, not only does it help save costs over time, but it makes you more aware and savvy of the choices you are making.  The top concerns for prepared foods today (even the advertised “healthy” types that we now see popping up left and right) are the source of ingredients (GMO, additives, who actually handled the food…how many places did it go through before winding up on your plate?!?), the nutritional value of the food (namely too many added sugars, fats, and sodium), and the creation of a less-mindful approach to our eating (which may sound silly, but when we are not part of the process of what we eat, we are more apt to settle for unhealthier choices that cater to convenience, cravings [unhealthy], and an overall unawareness of how balanced our intake is of nutrients during the day).  Besides, it’s a great activity to get the kids and/or other loved ones involved in meal preparation – even if you’re able to prepare just one meal a week.  Sitting down together and enjoying a home-prepared meal can’t be beat!  Preparing your own meals also allows you to experiment with new foods and have a greater appreciation for where your food comes from.  Aim for adding one extra prepared meal a week to what you are already doing; while this may be hard for families with tight schedules, see if you can re-arrange some schedules to make even just a half hour to cook or to prepare meals ahead of time for the week to have handy in the fridge or freezer.
  2. 5.       Get moving. Now I’m not telling you to sign up for a marathon or anything (but if you want to, awesome!).  With our culture shifting to a more sedentary lifestyle situated behind desks, computers, and the like, our lives and schedules are affording less and less time for us to get up and get some exercise.  This becomes even harder when you have a busy family at home with lots of demands on the schedule and everyone’s time.  Even if you get up and move around for 5 extra minutes a day, that’s 35 minutes a week of added movement you were not doing before.  This sounds nutty, but in 5 minutes and without any equipment, you can actually do a round of pushups, squats, lunges, and jumping jacks – all heart and muscle-building exercises that kids can join in doing, too.  Added movement allows our circulation to improve, which helps getting endorphins going, our metabolisms cranking higher, oxygen flowing, and our muscles working to build leaner and burn fat.  Besides, we get a mood boost and feeling of rejuvenation after we move our bodies.  For the family, try incorporating movement-oriented games, going for walks after meals, or even checking out the gym together (many places like the YMCA now allow and encourage kids to work out alongside their parents or guardians).  Take a look at your schedule and see where you can pencil in at least 5 minutes each day to add some movement.  Being active boosts energy levels and helps us sleep better, too!  Here are some ideas:

 

Which healthy habit(s) tip(s) are you going to try and adapt?  Don’t forget about the Fabulous Five Healthy Challenge 2014; even if you just want to join to check it out and see what things are posted, by all means, it’s your journey and choice, so all are welcome and I look forward to connecting with as many of you as possible!

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: megan@empowerhealthcoach.com.

 

 

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