7 steps to a better you in 2017

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

I am not one to make New Years resolutions!

I doubt anyone will debate that the holiday season can be stressful. Of course it’s a wonderful time, and I’m truly sad when it’s over, but there can be so much to do in so little time!

The work hustle and bustle tends to slow down a bit for me during the holidays {lets just say not too many people want to come in and meet with a dietitian…}. Nevertheless, I tend to overwrite my personal to do list. Add that with packing for vacation while gathering presents for everyone and trying to attend holiday festivities – it can be downright mentally {& physically} draining!

So when New Years comes around I tend to give myself a break and not add one more thing to my to do list.

And who says you have to wait ’til New Years to make changes for yourself anyways? You have all year to keep improving on whatever it is your goals might be. And shouldn’t we always be striving to better our selves?

So I say decrease the stress on yourself this year to make one big resolution and resolve to make small gradual changes throughout the year. Of course this doesn’t have to be nutrition or food-related, but that is my specialty after all.

If you’ve always wanted to improve your habits and behaviors, especially around food, here are my 7 recommendations for small steps to a better you in 2017:

  1. start with a good nights sleep
  2. eat a light, but protein-rich breakfast
  3. space snacks in between meals
  4. think protein and veggies for meals
  5. keep it simple
  6. make exercise enjoyable
  7.  give yourself something to look forward to each week

Sleep:

It may not sound nutrition-related, but if you do not get enough sleep each night to allow your body to perform essential functions (like regulate hormones, including ones that affect energy & appetite) it will make it hard to 1. make smart food choices, 2. have energy to exercise 3. have energy to prepare healthful home-cooked meals 4. pack snacks, workout clothes, etc for the next day.  Your individual sleep needs may vary, I prefer 9 hours. My hubby can function well (so he says) off of 7 hours. The recommendation is between 7-9 hours each night.

This sounds pretty basic, but if you work shift work or nights, you need to treat sleep schedule like everyone else, it’s just in reverse. Sorry, no 3 or 4 hour naps during the day and playing catch up on your off days will do.

If you have interrupted sleep because of babies or young tots, just cut your losses and do the best you can. *speaking from personal experience here*

Breakfast: 

Breakfast doesn’t have to be a big heavy rich breakfast. However, you should have something to start your day, kickstart your energy and metabolism, and get your blood sugars regulated. Keep it focused on protein as this will last you longer in terms of energy and satiety.

My favorites for fast mornings:

Kashi 7 Grain Waffle + Whole Foods 365 unsweetened unsalted peanut butter + Polaner all fruit spread

Old fashioned oats + 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar + cinnamon

100% whole wheat English muffin + smear of Land O’Lakes Whipped Butter + Polaner spread with 1 egg mixed with 1/2 cup egg whites nuked in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

snacks: 

Healthful snack choices and timing are key to energy maintenance, appetite control, lean muscle maintenance. This doesn’t mean you need to eat every hour or even every two hours.

My rule of thumb: ff meals are 5 or more hours apart, cut that time in half with a snack. This would leave with you 3 meals per day with 1-2 snacks depending on what your day looks like.

My favorite snack is some sort of fresh fruit with either a small amount of nuts, a low fat string cheese, plain Greek yogurt, or a spoon of nut butter.

meals:

Focus meals around lean protein options paired with non-starchy vegetables. If you skip the pasta, rice, bread, you’ll rid the chance of not choosing a 100% whole grain option and  you’ll also save on sodium intake from some of these processed foods that albeit can still be healthy options. Instead stay full and satisfied with a healthy 6 ounce protein of lean meat and lots of veggies. Save yourself time and energy and prepare enough portions to eat leftovers for lunch. Then when you clean up dinner you can just pack up your lunch at the same time. If you’re a vegetarian focus on beans, tofu, eggs, as your protein options and we all should strive for a vegetarian meal at least once per week.

some of my favorite simple go-to dinners include:

lemon seared chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts

lettuce wrap grilled fish tacos with a zesty citrus coleslaw

meatballs & salad (the hubby can easily boil pasta for himself)

baked salmon with steamed snap beans

keep it simple:

Meal planning is key to having healthy options available at home. Pick a time once a week to plan out the whole week’s menu. Friday afternoon right before you head home, or Saturday morning while your relaxing and enjoying a cup of coffee can be good times as you’re likely to head to the grocery store sometime over the weekend.

Using some of the snack & meal ideas shared above means you can skip the aisles full of processed foods (and while I do have an arsenal of healthier more convenient foods I often recommend, keeping a plan full of whole foods of fruits, veggies, lean protein, is always best and will likely you help reach your goals more easily.  If you’re watching your sodium intake chips, crackers, breads, rice mixes, etc can all be full of hidden, but added sodium. Not to mention they can be marketed pretty deceivingly to look like fiberous 100% whole grains, but in reality they are a mix of some whole grains blended with wheat flours which are still enriched, processed flours

exercise:

Daily exercise for 45-60 minutes is key to not only keeping your weight down, but also keeping your mood and energy up. It may be hard to find the time and energy some days to fit it in, but you’ll feel better afterwards. Guaranteed.

Find things you enjoy and stick with it. A variety of activity is always best, but just get moving. There’s loads of pinterest graphics, online videos, apps, gym classes, in-home equipment, etc.

treat:

Give yourself something to look forward to each week whether that’s a reward for sticking to your meal plan goals or it’s just a healthy event you plan on doing with friends or maybe it’s getting the night off from cooking.

Once a week, usually on a night I know I’m coming home later or that I’ll be tired, we get take out. And while, I usually don’t like food to be used as a reward, let’s face it- food is so much a part of our lives.

Other favorites of mine include:

getting a mani/pedi

walking with friends in the park (followed by beignets anyone?)

buying a new piece of workout gear

movie date night

So there you have it: my 7 keys to a well balanced life that you can start making small steps towards this year!

I truly hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! We sure did!

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xo,

Becca

 

 

 

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