Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” to Make Healthy Changes: Part 1

When I ask people what prevents them from exercising and practicing healthy eating, one of the most common responses is, “I just don’t feel motivated.”

I’m here to tell you that you will never see the results you want to see if you wait to “feel” motivation.

I’m not saying this to be cruel or insensitive. I’m saying this because—in my experience—this is the reality of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and exercising on a regular basis is HARD. It’s even harder when you factor in how much time and energy you already dedicate to your family, work, and other personal pursuits (like educational or volunteer efforts). If you wait to feel motivated to make these healthy changes, you’ll be waiting for a long, long time.

Are there people out there who naturally feel motivated to eat healthily and exercise? Of course, but I’d be willing to bet that most of them had to learn to motivate themselves. How do you teach yourself to feel motivated? In this blog series, I share my thoughts about the links between motivation and healthy lifestyle choices. I also share a few tips and tricks on how to teach yourself to feel more motivated. Here is my first tip:

TIP: Give Yourself Permission to Feel Unmotivated

ThinkstockPhotos-829414944.jpgThat’s right, it’s okay to feel unmotivated! After all, it’s a natural feeling that extends to many aspects of our lives. How many of us really feel motivated to fold that last load of laundry? Or make our beds in the morning? Or write that last report of the month? At some point, we all struggle with motivation.

Many of my clients have expressed guilt or shame because they don’t feel motivated to exercise or eat healthy. I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t berate yourself for feeling this way. Most of us aren’t skipping gleefully up to the front doors of the gym, bursting with excitement at the opportunity to sweat and push ourselves to our physical limits for a 60-minute spin class. Most of us are thinking about how tired we are, how we’re going to get our kids to finish their homework without a fight, how the house is a mess, or any of the five million other things that need to be done in any given day.

The same can be said for eating healthy: Most of us aren’t drooling in anticipation when we order plain grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli, especially when there are other savory options like hamburgers and pizza and French fries.

The Bottom Line

It’s natural to feel unmotivated, but you are not “lazy” or “bad” for feeling that way. What matters is how you address that unmotivated feeling. Watch for part 2 for more tips on how a schedule can help you feel more motivated.

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Topics: motivation goal setting healthy choices healthy eating exercising

Best Snacks for Healthy Eating

ThinkstockPhotos-88749380.jpgSome people think that snacking can sabotage your healthy eating plan. However, snacking keeps your energy levels up and prevents you from becoming overly hungry, which can lead to poor food choices. Eating every three to four hours can also help regulate your metabolism, which ensures that you burn calories throughout the day. Strive for at least two small snacks per day, but try to limit yourself to 100 to 150 calories or less per snack.

Also, be sure your snack is balanced—that it offers complex carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle building and repair, and a small amount of fat for satiety. You can ensure nutritional balance and prevent snack boredom by varying your daily choices.

Best Snacks for Great Nutrition

Here are some great snack choices:

  • 6 oz Greek yogurt topped with ½ cup of berries
  • ¾ cup of whole-grain cereal, nut, and dried fruit trail mix
  • 1 apple and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup yogurt smoothie made with real fruit
  • 1 oz. baked tortilla chips with ¼ cup bean dip
  • 2 oz. low-fat cheese on five whole-grain crackers
  • 1 whole-wheat tortilla with 1 oz. melted cheese and ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 cup raw vegetables and 2 Tbsp. low-fat dip or hummus
  • 1 Tbsp. nut butter on a banana
  • 1 cup berries topped with ¼ cup low-fat granola cereal
  • ¼ cup whole-grain cereal and ¼ cup raisins with ¼ cup skim milk
  • ¾ cup pasta salad made with raw veggies, cheese, and low-fat dressing
  • ½ pita pocket stuffed with raw vegetables and 1 slice low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat vegetable-bean soup
  • ½ turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • 1 handful almonds and ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cottage cheese and ½ cup pineapple
  • ½ peanut butter/banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • ½ whole-wheat English muffin toasted and topped with a slice of tomato and low-fat cheese

The Benefits of Snacks

You might feel guilty about snacking, but snacks aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, mini meals several times a day can be beneficial. Here’s how:

  • Binge control. If eating several low-fat, whole-grain crackers, a few pretzels, a piece of fruit, or some raw vegetables keeps you from taking second or third helpings at your next meal, you may actually consume fewer total calories for the day.
  • Extra energy and nutrients. Traditional, made-at-home meals often lose out to busy schedules. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and none at all.
  • Satisfaction for small appetites. Young children’s tiny stomachs can hold only small portionsof food at a time. Older adults who are less active and who burn fewer calories also may feel comfortable eating smaller meals more frequently.

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Topics: nutrition weight control fiber snacks protein healthy eating

Why should you shop at your farmer's market?

ThinkstockPhotos-526124862.jpgOne of my favorite things to do during summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

Why Should You Shop at Your Farmer's Market?

Here are my top 5 reasons why visiting your town's farmer’s market is a must.

  1. Support the local community. Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store.
  2. Eat foods that are in season. Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful and the nutrients are better retained. This handout for Indiana allows you to see which produce is in season so you can plan ahead for meals and shopping on your next outing. If you don’t live in Indiana, check with your local government websites to see if they have a similar calendar.
  3. It’s good for you. The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The current recommendations are 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral nutrition requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants. Locally grown produce is also lower in pesticides and chemicals.
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat. You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule. I love being able to go to the local farmers’ market close to work on my lunch break mid-week to grab items to get me through the rest of the week. Saturday mornings it’s off to the farmers’ market closer to my house to purchase goodies for the weekend and first part of the next week. To find out farmers’ markets close to you, check out the Farmers Market Directory on the USDA website.

An Inexpensive Path to Healthy Eating

Whether you are picking up items for tonight’s dinner or for the whole week, the farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store that enables you to participate in eating local. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

Not sure where to start on your path to a healthier diet?  Check out this quick read for how you could benefit from meeting with a nutrition coach!  Click below.

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Topics: nutrition healthy eating eating local summer vegetables

Surviving Grocery Shopping with Kids (and Instill Healthy Habits)

ThinkstockPhotos-57568291.jpgGrocery shopping takes time, preparation, patience, and organization. But throw kids in the buggy (or cart) with you, and usually you end up with a big old, stressful mess. Take it from a mom with three kids under the age of 5; I know firsthand that it can be done happily and without tantrums (well, for the most part). But it’s taken some practice.

Three Essential Grocery Shopping Rules

Our family’s weekly shopping trip is usually done all together on Sunday mornings, straight from church to the store. So as we stroll down the aisles with our two separate carts (because how else will we fit the kids and the food?), my husband and I are ready to take on the dreaded shopping trip by following these three essential rules for surviving grocery shopping with kids.

  1. Never shop hungry. If I even think about letting my kids go into that store on an empty stomach, I might as well throw up my white flag right then and there. It’s not a good idea! In fact, it’s not good for adults to go food shopping hungry, either! Research (and, well, common sense) shows you will end up with way more food than you intended, just because your judgment is impaired by hunger pangs.
  2. Be prepared. The night before or morning of, I make my meal plan for the week ahead. I decide what we are eating for every meal, taking into consideration items I have in my fridge, freezer, or pantry that need to be used up. Once the meal planning is done, my list is constructed from there. I separate my list in order of how I go through the store (my game plan, so to speak): first the produce, then the bakery, then to the deli and meats, and so on. This is obviously individual to you and your store, but if you frequent the same place each week, you catch my drift. That way each section has the items listed there I need. And it prevents me from getting to the opposite side of the store and running around like a madwoman looking for that dang ketchup I forgot!
  3. Decide how your kids can help. If you have them with you, they need to feel included (suggested mostly for ages 5 and up). This is scientifically proven to prevent the dreaded boredom that can happen halfway through your trip. Think: how can they be involved? Maybe they can count the bananas. Maybe they can find the cheapest cereal. Maybe they can find the bread with the highest fiber. Of course, this kind of thing will require some patience from you, my dear, so be patient and let them have fun with this! Maybe your child could even have a shopping list, too, that is picture based. (You surely can find this on Pinterest!)

Grocery Shopping with Children Leads to Healthy Eating and Better Nutrition

Instead of hiring your standby babysitter for the weekly food trip, I say get your whole family involved in your shopping and meal preparation. If children learn from you how to shop, prepare, and enjoy healthy foods at a young age, you are instilling healthy habits that will hopefully last their lifetime. Happy shopping!

Looking to better track your dietary habits?  Check out NIFS Dietitian, Angie Mitchell's top 4 apps for better eating!  Download by clicking below! 

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Topics: nutrition healthy habits kids healthy eating meal planning grocery shopping

SMART and Healthy Eating During the Holidays

ThinkstockPhotos-125557141.jpgThe holidays are right around the corner, and the first thing that comes to mind is all that food! You don’t want to look like a Santa at the start of the New Year! Well, don’t feel guilty about consuming the goodies; just get smart! If you have an understanding of what it takes to properly fuel your body, specifically as you age, the healthy eating process doesn’t seem so daunting. Older adults have different needs, and there are some key nutrients that are really important to maintain.

Let’s get back to the word SMART. Here’s a simple way to eat healthy using this acronym for healthy eating during the holidays.

Servings

When you put food on your plate, divide that plate into four serving sections:

  • The first section is whole grains (wheat bread, brown rice, fortified whole-grain cereals).
  • The second section is protein (lean meats, eggs, fish, beans, cheese, tofu, peanut butter).
  • The third section is vegetables (fresh, frozen, dried, low-sugar canned).
  • The fourth section is fruits (fresh, frozen, dried, low-sugar canned).

This is true for every plate at every meal. Eliminate processed foods as much as possible. If you must open a package or can, be sure to check the ingredients. Examples of things to look for are words such as “whole” for grains and “low sugar” for canned fruits. Remember to also control salt intake and instead flavor your food with herbs and spices. Think of the holiday lights and create a colorful plate! The more color found in veggies and fruits, the more nutrients to fuel the body!

Maintain Important Nutrition 

Here is a list of the key nutrients (and examples of foods that provide them) an older adult needs:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D (leafy greens, cheese, milk, yogurt, seafood)
  • Vitamin B12 (lean meats, eggs ,fish)
  • Fiber (beans, cereals, fruits and vegetables)
  • Potassium (bananas, prune juice, mangos, pears)

The majority of these nutrients are found in the above foods. Supplements are also important to ensure that we obtain them, but the word is supplement, meaning “in addition to”; therefore, take supplements in addition to getting these nutrients through food.

Allow Some Fun Food

It’s fine to eat a slice of cake or have a cookie, but be mindful of how many. Remember to lower your intake of saturated fat and sugary treats that can lead to heart disease and unwanted pounds (and here are some healthful baking substitution tips). When you think of your plate, consider that 90% is the food that will provide your nutrients and 10% can be that “occasional” brownie or piece of pumpkin pie.

Reach for Water

Drink plenty of fluids! No, the holiday punch doesn’t count, so limit your alcohol intake. Drink water and realize that you can also obtain your fluids from juice, low-fat milk, and even soups.

Take the Time to Exercise

Physical activity is also important in maintaining a good digestive system, and the good fuel from food will be used to restore muscle and burn fat for weight loss.  Get your body moving after those holiday meals.

Be SMART this holiday season! Happy holiday eating!

Need help getting your eating habits on track?  Use NIFS Dietitian, Angie Mitchell to get your habit in line with personal nutrition coaching.  Click below for more information.

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Topics: exercise nutrition weight loss water fiber protein healthy eating holidays

Portion Distortion: Healthy Eating Means Eating Less

ThinkstockPhotos-164458496.jpgWe see it, we eat it. Usually that’s how it goes, right? Of course we eat too much, but is it really our faults? Well, unfortunately for Americans, the portion distortion mania has gotten out of hand—and so has obesity. Over time, we’ve gotten so used to the larger portions being served at restaurants, we’ve come to think this is normal. Then of course that thinking spills over into a food addiction at home, too. More food, more food, more food. The craziness needs to stop now! (Here are some tips for portion control at home.)

Today’s Meal Portions Are Too Big

Just because it is served to you, does not mean you need to eat it all. And once and for all, there is no “clean plate club” (anymore)! We certainly should be able to enjoy our meals without guilt, but my motto is “everything in moderation.” So while I indulge in the never-ending bowl of pasta and bottomless nachos from time to time, I focus on the food and enjoy it, that’s for sure (and here are some other tips for mindful eating). But one thing I’ve mastered over time, and invite you to practice as well, is listening to my body’s cues.

Stop Eating Before You’re Stuffed

When I first do that “sigh,” that’s my sign that it is time to stop. It usually comes when the food is about halfway gone, about 15 minutes into the meal. It’s that “ahh” moment. I sit back, put the fork down, stop, and think to myself, “I’m satisfied; I will stop now.” No, I will not continue until I’m stuffed; I’ll stop when satisfied—move away from the table and move on.

Over time, I’ve learned that our bodies are pretty amazing things. They give you these signs all the time if you take the time to listen and respect it. I love healthy foods, and I love unhealthy foods, too. I eat it all, but with balance. My portions end up smaller than those of the people sitting across from me, but that’s okay. It’s not a race, after all. And I certainly don’t feel like I’m missing out.

Listen to your body! The key to weight control and healthy eating is to eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full, and enjoy all things with balance—which will mean smaller portions every time!  Healthy eating means eating less!

Have you ever wondered how you could benefit from meeting with a nutrition coach?  Click below to check out our quick read to better understand how you can benefit from a one on one session.  

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Topics: weight control obesity portion control healthy eating mindful eating

Healthy Eating on a Budget

ThinkstockPhotos-494543333_1.jpgOne of the biggest reasons people give as to why they aren’t eating healthy is the cost of foods,
specifically fruits and vegetables. However, a study found that adults could eat the recommended servings of produce for $2 per day. Here are some ways that you can save money on your next visit to the grocery store while still getting good nutrition and practicing healthy eating on a budget.

  • Don’t shop when you are hungry. A study from Cornell University found that shoppers purchased 19% more food and bought 45% more high-calorie snacks than those who had a snack prior to going shopping. This is an easy way to save 19% off your bill: have a handful of almonds, a piece of fresh fruit, or a string cheese before your next trip to the store.
  • Buy in season. Your produce will be cheaper if you are purchasing it during the time of year that it is most plentiful. The Indiana Fruits and Vegetables Harvest Guide shows what produce is most abundant at which time of year in Indiana. Also, take advantage of local farmers’ markets to get the best deals on locally grown produce. The National Farmers Market Directory shows when and where the closest farmer’s market to you is and makes eating local easier. During the winter months, you can purchase frozen fruits and vegetables, and they are just as nutritious and cost less than fresh.
  • Buy in bulk. It makes sense that when you buy more of something, the individual unit price will be less per product; and this is true with food, too. So instead of buying single apples or oranges, purchase bags of them. Or, instead of the single-serving packets of oatmeal, grab a container of oats. Over time the savings will add up. The other option is to join a warehouse club like Sam’s or Costco that offers savings due to buying in bulk.

There are lots of other ways for saving money while eating a healthy and balanced diet—like shopping at discount stores such as Aldi, clipping coupons, and buying plain items and flavoring them yourself. The goal is to try as many of these options as you can so that you see the benefits to your health and your bank account.

If you have any questions about eating healthy on a budget, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext 239.  Need help with getting started in your healthy eating journey?  Download our quickread for my top four choices for healthy eating apps to get started!

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Topics: nutrition healthy eating saving money eating local

NIFS Health Coach Gets “Shamed” over Her Nutrition Choices

ThinkstockPhotos-147092372.jpgThe other day I went out to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s recent work promotion. Being a health-conscious person, I ordered grilled chicken and a salad with a small glass of wine. As I handed my menu to the waiter, my friends commented about how I didn’t “need a salad” and that I should “eat what I want” because I exercise enough.

I laughed off the comments and said I was trying real hard to practice what I preached (they all know I am a health coach, after all). Plus, if I wanted a cheeseburger and fries, I would order them. Everything in moderation, right?

Dessert: A Food-Choice Hot Button

When it came time for dessert, the conversation quickly turned to questions about who was going to order what. Maybe I was feeling a little sensitive because of the comments about my earlier food choices, but it seemed like my friends were looking for validation rather than simply wanting to know what my dessert of choice would be. I ordered a small sundae, not because I wanted something sweet, but because I didn’t want to seem like the odd one out.

Toward the end of the meal, one of them pointed out that I had only a few bites of my sundae and declared I was “making her feel terrible” for eating cheesecake. This seemed to open the floodgates for the rest of my friends, who were apparently thinking along the same lines:

“A piece of cake won’t kill you!” 

“Look at you being all healthy and stuff.”

“Are you trying to show us up?”

“Don’t you want to have a good time with us?”

“You’re making us all look fat!”

“You used to be way more fun!”

The comments persisted. Other dessert plates were pushed toward me. More wine poured in my glass to help me “relax” and “enjoy myself for once.” I stood my ground, saying I felt full; but looking back, it’s hard to tell if I was really full or if the conversation had caused me to lose my appetite.

Health Shaming Is Real…and Impacts Motivation

My clients have told me how difficult it can be to make healthy choices when your family and loved ones don’t have similar nutrition and fitness goals, but I had never experienced that type of peer pressure or “health shaming” until this night.

Skinny shaming…fat shaminghealth shaming…how many of you have experienced something like this? How have you responded? How do you make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by people who don’t share your goals?

Related:

NIFS Registered Dietitian shares the top four app for healthier eating, download the quick read below to help you stay on track with your desired choices.  Be proud of your decision to make healthy choices!

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Topics: nutrition motivation NIFS restaurant healthy eating