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Finding out that your wife or girlfriend is pregnant is a big deal. Whether you were hoping to get pregnant or not, you are going to become a parent. In addition to being one of life’s stepping stones, this exciting stage will also change your life as you knew it. This article will discuss what you should know about pregnancy, including what will change, how you can help, and what is happening to your partner that is causing her hormones to ebb and flow. What will change? Pregnancy can be one of the most joyful and one of the most difficult physical challenges that one can face. After getting a positive test result, many future parents feel overwhelmed, excited, terrified, etc. During the first few weeks of pregnancy, be advised that a number of things will soon change in your life, with or without your consent. Steve Hoyles, a British weightlifting coach and fitness blogger with Fitness Savvy, says, “Your partner is about to become the victim of changes she didn’t expect. She will be hormonally stressed, physically tired, and sick.” Though no two pregnancies are the same, the American Pregnancy Association claims that up to 70 percent of expectant mothers will get sick and experience nausea at some point during pregnancy. The reality of this data point is felt by women around the world every day who find themselves rushing to a toilet, garbage can, or even the side of the road when they are overcome by sickness. As your partner may be struggling physically, mentally, or emotionally during this pregnancy, it is important to understand the role that you play. Liz Brown, Certified Sleep Coach and founder of SleepingLucid, suggests, “Partners are expected to help soothe and make the pregnancy easier for women, whether it’s by helping them move from time to time, assisting with their diet, or simply being their shoulder to cry on.” Though it may not sound appealing, logical, or fair to you, your ability to successfully help your partner through this pregnancy is directly related to your willingness to continually adjust, being hard to offend, and never giving up. Michael Smit, Senior SEO Analyst and Owner of Blue Cabin SEO, suggests that the majority of your personal needs will be put on the back burner, though this can be frustrating, Smit feels that is something that you need to accept and celebrate as your partner will soon be devoting much of her “you” time to your child. What should I know about pregnancy? First and foremost, you need to realize that you simply don’t know what being pregnant is like. “This is not like being sick, overweight, exhausted,” says Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C and Director of the Baltimore Therapy Center. Though it has a little bit of all of those rolled in, you have never experienced another human growing inside of you. Dr. Sashini, General Practitioner of medicine at DoctorOnCall, urges that you remember that pregnancy is hard. She says “Women sacrifice a lot during this period. Their bodies undergo a number of changes including weight gain/loss, skin health and appearance, and hair health. It is important to know these and appreciate them more.” The more that you know about pregnancy before it begins, the better you will be able to understand your partner and appreciate the mental, emotional, and physical struggles that she is experiencing. What about pregnancy hormones? If you have never been around a pregnant woman, you may have heard stories of the emotions that come with pregnancy. Though it may seem a bit dramatic at first, as you become more educated on what is happening in a woman’s body during pregnancy, these emotions will begin to make more sense. If you find that you are struggling to understand some of her emotions, Hoyles recommends that you read as much as you can about hormones during pregnancy. The more you read and listen to her, the better you will be able to understand her. “During pregnancy, women experience rapid and sudden increases in the hormones estrogen and progesterone,” says Dr. Don Grant, MB, ChB, DRCOG, MRCGP, of The Independent Pharmacy. These changes are necessary as they help with the development of the fetus, formation of blood vessels, and circulation of vital nutrients around the body. If a woman is already tired, stressed, experiencing changes in metabolism, etc., her mood swings may be exacerbated. The best thing that you can do to help her through this is to be patient with her and help to ease her stress whenever possible. Heads up: Though it is common for women to experience mood swings during pregnancy, it is not uncommon for these to continue postpartum and/or while breastfeeding. Jessica Small, Marriage and Family Therapist with Growing Self, warns that you be thoughtful in how you talk about these hormone changes and that whatever you do, you don’t blame any of her feelings on hormones. What should I be doing for my partner? Knowing what you can and should be doing to help and support your partner during pregnancy can be difficult. As you prepare to welcome the newest member of your family, Charlotte Edun, a Positive Birth Movement facilitator with The Good Birth Practice, urges you to consider the following: “Your job is to protect and serve. Right now, she is going to lead and she needs you to follow.” Brown reminds fathers and partners that the simplest things become very hard to do for women that are pregnant. This could include sleeping, moving around, or controlling emotions. Remembering this as you look for ways to serve your partner will make your service much more meaningful and appreciated. We've outlined some ways that you can serve your partner below: Listening intently and acknowledge If you find that you are driven by a “logic” mind, Smit suggests that you set it aside for the time being. When your partner wants to talk to you, listen. Though all of what she says may not be pertinent to your specific circumstance, it is very relevant to hers. You may notice over time that some things will continue to come up over and over again. These are likely challenges, topics, or issues that are important to her. Identifying these topics will help you to know how you can best help her feel heard. Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself. Your partner may seek answers to the same question or acknowledgement about the same things a number of times. Don’t remind her that you have already responded to this before; just respond again in the most loving way you can. Get your hands dirty Even if you work full time, go to the gym every day, and have other obligations, you need to remember that your partner is feeling hormonal and sick. If she feels unable to do much around the house, it is not an excuse to get you to help out. It simply means that she does not feel well and is in need of your help. During pregnancy, you should plan to take on more of the household chores. It may feel burdensome, but don’t let it feel that way. Marcus Anwar, cofounder of OhMy, recommends being willing to be flexible with your gym time or other activities to make sure that you don’t leave the household chores for her. It may feel like you are sacrificing a lot, but remember, your partner is the one carrying your child. You can at least do this in return. Bonus tip: Dr. Grant suggests that you keep things extra clean. Many women are extra sensitive to smells while pregnant. Air out rooms often and shower daily. Take the garbage out regularly. The cleaner your home is, the less likely the smells in it will add to her morning or evening sickness. Assume nothing If you are unsure about what your partner needs, just ask her, suggests Small. Though it may seem easier to just assume what she may need from you, there is a lot to be said for being willing to ask her what she needs and then following through with her request. Bonus tip: Say things like "How can I help?” says Mara Watts, M.S., M, Ed, and Therapist with Postpartum Support Virginia. Even though you may not know exactly what she is going through, you can still acknowledge and appreciate all that she is doing. Have her back Pregnancy can feel burdensome, and women may feel lonely and helpless. Shannon Serpette, Chief Editor of Mom Loves Best, counsels you to remind your partner from time to time that you are on her side and that you have her back. The more of your support that she feels, the more loved and cherished she will feel. Bonus tip: One of the ways that you can show her that you are there for her is going to doctor visits with her. Jack Burke, Community Outreach Coordinator for Hims, suggests that this shows your commitment while solidifying your new relationship as parents. As a perk, you will also be able to see and hear your baby’s heart beating for the first time during an ultrasound/sonogram. Be involved There is so much that will be going on around your home during pregnancy. Rick Musson, father of four with a fifth on the way and a consultant for LifeInsuranceTypes.com, recommends that you participate in as much of it as possible. Whether you are helping to clean out, paint, furnish, and decorate the nursery, or shopping for some of the “must-haves,” your partner will be grateful for your participation. Bonus tip: Embrace change. During this entire process it is likely that your spouse or partner will change her mind many times. If you have painted the nursery green and she decides that it needs to be gray or blue, paint it again. What happens after pregnancy? Once you have made it through delivery and you are the proud parents of a brand new baby, you will begin to experience a number of additional changes in your life. Musson offers the following suggestions to help you in your preparation for this new life. Expect your one-on-one time with your spouse to decrease. Know that your ability to do things spontaneously will be more difficult. When traveling, plan to stop often for food, bathroom breaks, etc. Plan on traveling taking longer than you anticipate, ALWAYS. Either you, your partner, or a paid caregiver needs to care for you child, so budget accordingly. Normal activities may be replaced with new interests that are more kid-friendly. Be prepared for your life to be filled with an immense amount of joy.
Guest Post by Dan Chojnacki The health and wellness industry continues to have a significant impact on society. Figuring out how and what we should eat is the subject of endless debate. You've probably heard of the keto diet, the macro diet, the Mediterranean diet, or the South Beach diet — they all promise better health. How does a person decide what diet will work for them? Is it the best diet for them, or would another one be better? Will it give them the results they’re looking for? Breaking news: You don’t have to diet to be healthy or reach your goals! People dealing with a medical condition may need to follow a specific diet to maintain their health. For those of us not under a doctor’s care, however, our best bet is to try healthy eating. “Healthy” is a term that can mean different things for different people. Our bodies are all unique in their exact needs, so what is healthy for one person might not be healthy for another. Despite this, we all share many common needs when it comes to nutrition. So let’s take a look at some of the obvious (and not so obvious) choices we can make to eat well, sans diet. Cut out the junk No one’s going to be shocked to learn that pizza, burgers, and fried foods won’t make the list of today’s best diets. For those trying to improve their health without a specific diet, there’s no excuse for junk food. Whether you’re following a plan or not, the first step toward eating well is to remove or cut back on the foods we know are unhealthy. Of course you can indulge in your favorite foods on occasion. Don’t be that guy who gets bummed when there’s no cauliflower pizza at the kid’s birthday party. At the same time, don’t be the guy making junk food a part of your daily menu. That will lead to many problems. Most people know which foods they should avoid when trying to eat well. For those with questions, there are plenty of resources available to help you make the decision. When in doubt, ask yourself if this food will benefit your body, or just satisfy a craving. Figure out your daily needs It’s not a universal rule that everyone needs to count calories. However, knowing the number of calories your body requires will help you be mindful of what you’re eating. You don’t have to keep an exact log all day, every day. But it’s important to be aware of whether you are overeating or undereating to stay healthy. Calorie counting can also help you decide what types of foods you want to eat. For example, if you know that three slices of pizza will take up 800 of the 1,800 calories your body needs in a day, you might rethink your decision and opt for something healthier. People’s specific calorie needs vary due to several factors. You can find dozens of calorie calculators online to give you a rough estimate of what you need in a day. If you’re looking for something more exact, consider seeing a dietician. Keep your portions under control Portion control is one area of eating well that can’t be stressed enough. Even healthy food can be unhealthy for our bodies if we eat too much of it. Let’s use almonds, for example. They contain healthy fats that are good for our hearts. However, a handful of almonds can contain around 200 calories. It’s easy to overindulge quickly when you don’t know things like that. Here are two tips I like to give my clients when thinking about portion control and healthy eating: Use a smaller plate when eating meals. Most of us fill our plates to the max when we see delicious food. If there is less room on the plate, then our portion size is automatically smaller (as long as you don’t go back for seconds or thirds). Try to stick to one helping of a meal. There is a delay between our brain and our stomach when it comes to feeling full. We might be full after our first helping, but our brain hasn’t received that signal yet. Try waiting 10–15 minutes after your first helping before deciding if you need to go for seconds. Plan your meals in advance Now before you start to think this is beginning to sound like a diet, I promise you it’s not. Many diets do ask you to plan or prepare your meals in advance. But these diets usually have specific meals for you to follow. Knowing what you’re going to eat in advance helps you avoid giving into cravings or taking an easy way out when it comes to cooking a meal. This is not a specific diet. It’s simply a plan for your meals to contain the foods of your choice. This is also a great way to save time. Many of our poor eating choices happen when we’re in a hurry. We feel like we don’t have time to even think of what we should make to eat, let alone cook it. So mapping out your meals and having them ready eliminates your excuse to make an unhealthy choice because of time. Yes, you can eat healthy without dieting The word “diet” has a bad reputation, and often leaves a bad taste in our mouths. It conjures up thoughts of carb-cutting, kale salads, and day after day of boneless, skinless chicken breast. Newsflash: the word “diet” can simply refer to what you’re eating. Everything you eat is part of your diet. For that reason, you can eat nutritiously without giving your diet a specific name. By focusing on healthy foods, calorie needs, and portion sizes, you’ll be well on your way to cleaning up your diet without being on one. Dan Chojnacki writes for QuickQuote.com and has been a certified personal trainer (NETA) for nearly a decade. He currently trains in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he is also a group fitness director. In his free time, he enjoys running, swimming, playing tennis, and coaching youth softball.
Guest Post by Dan Chojnacki New year, new you. It’s an annual phrase used by many to signal a change. The new year is a time when many people want to either hit the reset button and return to previous goals or decide to turn a part of their life in a different direction. Goals motivate us to keep moving forward, but what happens when they seem so far out of reach that we want to give up? Making a lasting change, especially changes to your health, takes more than a few days to accomplish, which makes the first couple of months of the year vital. The key to achieving your resolutions is staying consistent during the beginning portion of the year. This way, you stick to your plan long enough to form a habit. Once you develop these habits as part of a routine, you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing your goals. Write out your plan Success and motivation go together like peanut butter and jelly. Motivation leads to success, success leads to more motivation to continue forward, and so on. If you have small successes along the way, you’ll continue to be motivated to reach your long-term goals. So many people get caught up focusing on the destination that they forget to take notice of what’s happening along the journey. But if you set smaller goals for yourself as steps to lead to your ultimate goal, every time you reach one of your smaller milestones, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that will drive you forward to the next one. This could be something like losing one or two pounds per week on the way to a larger weight loss goal. Each time you lose even a small amount of weight, you’ll be motivated to continue toward your end goal. Write down your health resolution and then write down the small steps or milestones it will take to get there. Writing down your resolution serves two purposes. First, it makes it tangible. It is no longer just a thought in your head. You have taken the time to put it out there to be seen. Being able to see your goal visually makes it more concrete and more likely that you will follow through. Second, it serves as a reminder whenever motivation lags. Rather than trying to remember why you want this goal or what steps you decided to take to reach it, you have a place where you can look to restore your drive. Find a friend to hold you accountable Many of us are built with a desire to not let other people down. There are certainly times in which this can be a negative trait, but when it comes to resolutions, it can be a useful tool to keep you on track. Of course, we first and foremost want to accomplish our goals because they are important to us. However, if you take the time to share your resolution with someone important in your life, there is a good chance they will help you stick to it. Friends who know what you’re trying to accomplish can motivate you and lift your spirits when you feel like you should give up. They may even join you in your goals. You could start running together, shopping for healthy foods together, or preparing meals for the week together. It also provides motivation for you, knowing that if you decide to stop pursuing your resolution, you will have to face your friend. With any luck, your friend may be able to persuade you to reconsider. Put your goals in your schedule There are so many possible excuses, especially with health goals, that can hold you back. The excuse used most often centers on time. “I don’t have time to work out.” “I don’t have time to meal prep.” We all have 24 hours in a day and we need to make the most of them. You can make the best use of your time by scheduling the tasks that will help you accomplish your goals. If it’s a fitness resolution, scheduling your workout times in advance can help keep your week organized. And scheduling time on Sundays to prepare your snacks and meals for the week will actually save you time during the week. Whatever your goal is, planning it out to make it a part of your daily and weekly calendar will help you develop a routine. When this routine becomes a habit, the habit will lead to success. The next step You’ve made your resolution. It’s all mapped out. You have your end goal written down and you’ve made note of the smaller steps along the way that will help you feel successful and motivated. You found a friend to share your health resolution with. That friend is providing you with motivation and has even decided to join you because of the drive you showed. Now you are working together for the same goal. Every workout is written on your calendar. Your meals are planned and prepared in advance. Just like that, you’ve reached your goal. You’ve utilized these tips to stay consistent, form habits, and meet your resolution. Now what? New year, new you. Time to start again. Dan Chojnacki writes for EffortlessInsurance.com and has been a certified personal trainer (NETA) for nearly a decade. He currently trains in Green Bay, Wisconsin where he is also a group fitness director. In his free time, he enjoys running, swimming, playing tennis, and coaching youth softball.
Guest Post by Billy Ferguson How can you stay motivated while training during the winter? With miserable weather day after day, maintaining motivation to stay fit can be a real challenge. Short days and long nights are filled with pitfalls that test your resolve and pull you back to the sofa. Most of us in the United States experience cold winters and miss the warm training weather. It may seem hard to justify why you continue your training, but maintaining and building your fitness throughout the winter and spring is important as you look to the summer. 1. Mix it up Trying to stick to a fixed routine can be a killer for your motivation. To avoid this, mix up your training with different types of exercise. Get out there and smash a 5K Saturday morning park run, go climbing, or try a spinning class. Find some activities that usually are not part of your fitness regimen and give them a go. 2. Make investments If you don't own a turbo trainer, now may be the right time to invest in one. A turbo trainer allows you to train indoors using your existing bike. Adding this to your training will allow you to have easy access to equipment to help get your heart rate into the training zone. 3. Set a plan With advice by Don Fink (an internationally known triathlon and running coach) on nearly every bookshelf of wannabe triathletes, it is no surprise that we are learning why it is so important to establish a plan. Whether you are training for a 5K or a marathon, a plan will help you succeed. Set out a plan that you can maintain. Use this plan as motivation to help you get out and accomplish your goal. 4. Set a specific goal Having a goal can always help you resist the temptation to hit that snooze button on a Sunday. When you set a goal, make sure that it is specific. A targeted goal will help you refine your training with the end in mind. Note: If you are planning to participate in an event, whether it be a simple community run or a competitive race, don’t delay your registration until you feel "ready." Signing up and committing will help you push harder get ready and achieve your goal. 5. Build a support group Allow your loved one to help keep you going. If you let them in on your goal, they will be able to help push you to achieve it. As you bring them into your plan and invite them to feel a part of what you are doing, they will be more likely to help you get up on those cold mornings and stick to your plan. For more tips on how to include others in your fitness goals, click here. 6. Find a training buddy Training is not only beneficial to your fitness, but it can be a great social outlet. You will find that your training becomes easier as you and your training partner push each other to do more and follow through with your commitments. If you can find a partner who is slightly better than you, you will be pushed to limits that you would not have achieved on your own. 7. Adopt a mantra Find a training mantra that is personal to you. For example, "No pain, no gain" might be a bit too corny for you, but you will find one that works for you. Once you have found the mantra that you would like to use, repeat it in your head while you are training. Let it become an empowering phrase that helps you to go a bit longer and a bit harder than you did the previous training session. Bonus tip: If you struggle remembering to use this phrase as you train, print it out and take it with you to the gym, put it on your bike, tape it to your water bottle. The more that you see it, the more effective it will become. 8. Reward yourself We all love new things. Don’t be afraid to sneak in the odd purchase every so often. Whether it be a pair of socks, some shoes, or a shirt, something new may help you to get excited about getting up off the couch and going for a run. 9. Make it personal If every event that you decide to participate in is for charity, you will burn out sooner than later. If you are working hard towards a goal to become more fit or stay active during the winter, make sure that the events that you participate in help you to achieve this goal. If you do participate in charity events, evaluate your reasoning and make your ability to participate personal and meaningful. As you do this, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment as you achieve your goals. Billy Ferguson is the Founder and CEO behind Trivelo and a triathlete for the past 10 years. Never a podium finisher, he still struggles to find the right mix of ingredients to ensure a successful winter base training regimen.
Guest Post by Sahara Rose De Vore When you think of self-care you probably think about going to the gym, joining a yoga class, spending an hour a day meditating, drinking a green juice, getting a massage, or trying out the newest health trend like testing out your Eskimo skills with cryotherapy or floating in a sensory deprivation tank. These are the typical self-care rituals that we commonly talk about. Something that we turn to at different points in our life is travel. When we are feeling stressed out from work, we are dealing with a terrible breakup, there was a death in our life, when we need to shake up a relationship or strengthen the bond with a loved one, or we need to break out of our daily routine and feel something new, we turn to travel. We often do this without recognizing our deeper intent or reasoning. Travel is healing. It fulfills us in a way unlike any other. Vacationing is a restorative behavior with an independent positive effect on health where the benefits can take effect before, during, and after a trip. Decades of research show the positive effects of travel on people’s overall health. Travel activities reinforce physical and mental activity, provide opportunities for human interaction, deepens relationships, aids in combating burnout, enables you to disconnect, and improves your self-awareness. Improves your mental health Resting the body and relaxing the mind are just two ways that travel helps improve your mental well-being. Being in new environments, having exciting new experiences, meeting interesting people, exercising your senses, increasing mindfulness, learning about yourself and what you want out of life, and being part of something bigger than yourself are a few ways that travel can positively change your mental state of mind. Research by psychologists and neuroscientists has found that travel can affect mental change. According to a five-year study by the Wisconsin Medical Journal, “the odds of depression and tension were higher among women who took vacations only once in two years or once in six years compared to women who traveled two times or more each year” and “women who take vacations frequently are less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired.” Traveling can help you take a breather to focus on yourself, explore your emotions, and realign with your inner self. The Wisconsin Medical Journal also states that “women who took vacations were much less likely to suffer from depression and other mental health issues, so they subsequently enjoyed a higher quality of life.” Traveling to warm climates, exposure to sunlight, and getting Vitamin D all have a positive effect on depression. Travel increases our happiness hormones and keeps them flowing. "One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University. Travel is the opposite of adaptation. Your environment is constantly changing, you hear different languages, you are faced with new decisions and problems to solve, and you are exposed to new foods, people, cultures, and ways of life. Like Matador Network says, “new experiences increase your cognitive flexibility and keeps your mind sharp”. Decreases burnout There continues to be a rising burnout epidemic in today’s workforce but studies show that the majority of companies are not prioritizing travel in their wellness programs. Research proves that travel is a key ingredient to combating burnout. Taking time for yourself, doing something that makes you happy, checking things off of your bucketlist, being in nature, fulfilling your needs, and exercising the mind and body aids in lowering work-related fatigue and stress. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “a four-day ‘long weekend’ vacation had positive effects on well-being, recovery, strain, and perceived stress for as long as 45 days.” Benefits of travel are almost immediate. After only one or two days of vacation, 89 percent of respondents saw significant drops in stress according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the United States Travel Association. Although traveling can put your anxiety to the test, it can also teach you new ways to cope and learn about your limits. Keeps you physically fit Travel can keep you physically fit both inside and out. Although some vacations may entail plenty of laying on the beach, many also involve plenty of walking and physical activities. Walking to explore new cities, going on hikes, dancing the night away, and snorkeling in the sea are some common physical activities during traveling that keep your body active and your heart strong. Being fit also means your internal well-being. Exposure to the salty sea air and eating local seafood and marine plants can increase your iodine levels which aids in boosting the immune system. The more that you travel to new environments with different foods, climates, flora, and fauna, the more you build antibodies, ultimately boosting your immune system. If you suffer from sore muscles, achy joints, or arthritis, soaking in the salty sea or mineral-rich hot springs can help alleviate pain and stiffness. Places like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, Turkish hot springs, and the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan are prime destinations for this. According to a study by The Framingham Heart, “men and women who traveled annually were less likely to suffer a heart attack or develop heart disease.” There is an association between infrequent vacationing and increased incidence of heart problems or death due to coronary causes during a 20-year follow up of women participants. Traveling can increase your chance of living longer and having more fun doing it. It is a healthy way to keep your spirit youthful as you age. Multigenerational travel benefits both grandparents and grandchildren. According to the U.S Travel Association, grandparents “cite valuing the opportunity to travel with their grandchildren to help them feel and stay more youthful.” New destinations can also make eating healthier easier. Asia and South America are saturated with local markets where you can buy vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. You can try exotic new produce that would otherwise be expensive or non-existent where you live. Various fruits like sour sop, papaya, and persimmons are popular fruits known to have healing properties. Eastern healing practices like massages and yoga, homeopathic remedies, Chinese medicines, ancient herbals and teas, and meditation are more accessible and affordable when traveling to that region of the world. Traveling gives you the opportunity to align with your inner self and prioritize your self-care from the inside out. Ignites your self-esteem Traveling also makes you an interesting storyteller. It can boost your confidence levels and self-awareness. Being challenged, trying new things, solving problems on your own, and navigating a foreign place ignites your self-esteem. Vacation offers the opportunity for freedom, intrinsic motivation, creativity, and self-determining factors, which ultimately results in psychological benefits. Studies have shown a connection between travel and creativity, a deeper sense of cultural awareness, and personal growth. When traveling, you expand your mind, adapt to new situations, learn new skills, exercise your thinking process, and become more globally and culturally aware. Travel sends you home with life-long memories to keep and stories to share. Are you putting travel in the forefront of your self-care regime? Ask yourself what truly drives you to get away and what kind of experience you need to have the wellness outcomes that you desire. Sahara Rose De Vore is an Intuitive Wellness Travel Coach who has traveled solo to 84 countries. Founder of The Travel Coach Network, she is on a mission to bring travel to the forefront of well-being both in and out of the workplace.
“The best resolution is one that you will keep!” — Dr. Barbara Bushman of Missouri State University In 2018, only 4 percent of people actually stuck to their New Year’s resolutions. You don’t need to be a mathematician to know how bad of a percentage that is. Let’s face it, both you and I have set resolutions that we have been unable or unwilling to keep. Do you want to change that this year? You likely set some resolutions at the end of 2020. Are you still keeping them? Whether you are or aren’t, the following tips and tricks from a wide panel of over 25 experts will help you stay on track. Why you aren’t being successful “No matter our goals, sometimes we end up making choices or acting in a way that undermines what we really want. Even with the best of conscious intentions, we often allow this self-sabotage to creep in and prevent us from reaching our goals,” said Dr. Bradley Nelson, veteran holistic physician, lecturer, and author from Discover Healing. Setting goals is easy enough, but actually acting on our goals is much harder. Dr. Nelson points out some of the ways that we might sabotage our success: Focusing on failure — We often forget that some of the most successful people are only where they are because they have previously failed a number of times and learned from those experiences. Focus on learning from mistakes, not on beating yourself up when you come short. Not celebrating small victories — You don’t have to wait to celebrate your success until the end of your goal. Enjoy the journey and celebrate the baby steps. Procrastinating — If you allow fear, dread, or insecurity to control you, you will continue to put off accomplishing your goals. Get rid of these thoughts and you will accomplish much more. Faking it — Don’t be afraid of letting people know exactly where you are. The more honest you are, the better people know how to help you. Suffering from Imposter Syndrome — This means that you feel that you are not worthy of happiness or success. Write down all that you accomplish; you will soon see that you have done more than you expected and are worth more than you could ever know. Erika Lee Sperl, a (PES) performace consultant based in Los Angeles adds, "I believe that our inability to stick with the majority of our New Year's resolutions comes down to three things: No one is holding you accountable but yourself, the approach needs changing, but you don't know how, and the goal becomes irrelevant as life situations change." How to choose a resolution To start, you should not make a long list of resolutions. If you did that, look over them and pick one that you would like to focus on. Dr. Susan Besser, MD, MBA, FAAFP, and CIME at Mercy Medical Center suggests that making multiple resolutions will set you up for failure. She also suggests that you treat any resolution you make as a goal. She said, “Decide what one thing (that you can change) is upsetting you the most, then make small changes to improve yourself in that area.” If you do end up slacking off a bit, be kind to yourself. If you find yourself getting stuck, Dr. Besser recommends evaluating what has happened and looking for positive changes to make to your current situation. If you can do this, you will be able to maintain a happy and healthy outlook during your journey to change. Fitness resolutions A recent study by Finder found that over 39 percent of Americans set resolutions to improve their health. These resolutions are often to lose a certain amount of weight or increase physical activity. To prevent burn out, here are some suggestions to make this goal more attainable: Start small — If you hope to run a 5k in the near future, Bushman recommends that you start with a walking program. Work your way into things so that you don't get burned out. Take a walk — Joyce Shulman, Founder of 99Walks said that walking has incredible benefits for your mind, your mood, and your body. It offers time and space free of distractions, fuels your creativity, and is the easiest way to effectively improve your fitness. Facilitate more movement — Teri Dreher, Founder, RN, CCM, and BCPA with NShore Patient Advocates suggests that you park at the further end of the store lot or consider getting a fitness tracker and start counting steps. “Improving posture provides a plethora of health improvements, from reducing torso pain, arthritis pain, knee pain, and of course back pains. Gastrointestinal issues are reduced or corrected by improving posture, and mental acuity is improved. It involves correcting a lifetime of living in bad habits, and that’s not an easy pattern to change.” — Bill Schultz, Founder of Alignmed Have you ever considered working to improve your posture as a New Year’s resolution? Shultz suggests that improving your posture is one of the most important resolutions that we could make for ourselves. If you have recently experienced unexplained back or neck pain, it is possible that your posture is poor. Shultz has found that this pain begins with soreness, turns into inflammation, and then becomes pain and discomfort. Common symptoms for poor posture include: A forward lean when standing straight Fatigue throughout the day A slow metabolism Alignmed has created clothing that acts as a posture corrector. It can be worn while working in the office, when you are out and about, or when you are participating in physical activities. Some professional athletes use it during training to improve performance. If you are looking for help with your posture, it may be worth looking into. Get more sleep Do you get eight hours of good sleep each night? The reality is that most of us don’t. We should, but we get side tracked with friends, family, TV, video games, or other activities. Imagine how good it would feel to get a solid eight hours of sleep each night. Here is what the experts have to say about sleeping habits: Routine — Bill Fish, Founder of Tuck.com, feels that the quantity of sleep is not as important as the quality of sleep that you are getting. He said, “Our bodies are equipped with an internal 24-hour clock known as our circadian rhythm. It tells our body when to rest and when to be alert, and craves consistency. Thus, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will help your body immensely.” Time — It is not uncommon for us to plan so many things in our day that we end up staying out later than we would like. If this is a habit of yours, Jocelyn Nadua, Registered Practical Nurse and Care Coordinator for C-Care Health Services, suggests that you start trying to go to bed a bit earlier. She said, “It's okay to go to bed late on some occasions, but those few extra hours of sleep you get when you go to be early will go a long way in keeping your body healthy.” Sleep apps — Dr. Tanya Altmann, Pediatrician and Author, recommends trying out a sleep app to better your sleeping patterns. She points out that “smart apps for sleep can track sleep cycles, aid in falling asleep, or potentially guide your dreams.” Get more exercise Who doesn’t want to take better care of their body at the beginning of a new year? There are so many ways that you can tackle physical health. To start, here are five tips from Billy Ferguson, CEO and Founder of Trivelo. Keep variety in your exercise regime. Mix things up and have some fun. Resist routine. Keep your body guessing and prevent muscle memory from reducing the effectiveness of your training. Combine cardio, strength training, and low resistance stretching based exercises to create all round fitness and maximize the time invested. Vary times of training and type. Don’t feel the need to workout for exactly an hour every day. Reward all efforts from 50-mile bike rides all the way down to getting 10,000 steps of walking in a day. Sometimes improving physical health can be intimidating. That being said, there are ways to make it more palatable. If you are not the best at going to the gym or working out, it is important to start with baby steps. Renata Trebing, Founder of Nourish With Renata suggests that you get out and move your body for 30 minutes each day. To help you create a habit, she offers these three suggestions: Select a time of day that works for you (during a lunch break, nap time, or before dinner, etc.) Hold yourself accountable (write your goal down) Invite people that you are close to to help you (build a support group) “You should exercise (moderate physical activity) 150 minutes per week: 5 days of 30 minutes each session.” — American Heart Association Jocelyn Henning, MS, PA-C, Stroke Program Director, and Director of Patient Safety at Mercy Medical Center, suggests pairing fitness with nutrition by setting regular eating and exercise patterns six out of seven days per week. The seventh day is a day for you to enjoy your favorite meal or some treats. If, like the majority of us, you have a couple of bad days and are unable to meet your daily goals, just jump right back into it. Henning said, “One or two not so good days aren’t an excuse to ruin the rest of the week.” Improve your nutrition Making changes to your eating habits is easier said than done. One of the best ways to improve your health is eating a nutrient-rich diet. Dr. Stacey Bell, DSc and RDN with Drink Nutrient, offers a few suggestions to help you get started: Stay hydrated Don’t count calories, count nutrients Avoid the “Naughty Nine” preservatives gluten GMOs excess sugar excess sodium acrylamide artificial flavors/sweeteners/dyes binders/emulsifiers Whole Foods-banned ingredients. Expert parenting tip: Pack a lunch for your kids. There are many resources to help you get some inspiration. Jessica Gury, Cofounder and CEO of Teuko, a company that helps parents know how to pack good lunches for their kids, suggests that parents pack lunches for their kids to help them develop healthier eating habits. Making changes to your diet usually will require you to replace the bad foods that you are eating with healthier options. Amy Van Sydow Green, MD, MS, and RD with Honey Brains, adds her recommendations on eating better foods: Increase veggies and fruit in your daily diet. Aim to make half of your plate vegetables at lunch and dinner. Add a fruit and veggie smoothie with your breakfast egg. Slice up an apple to eat with nuts for a nourishing evening snack. Get in the habit of having a side salad with dinner. Eat more whole foods and less processed foods. For example, fish, chicken, nuts, eggs, fruits, and vegetables are more filling and can help you manage a healthy weight. Stay hydrated “Proper hydration is not only essential to health, it regulates body temperature, it helps your kidneys function, helps your digestive tract move things along, and helps your body send essential nutrients/electrolytes to their proper destinations in your body.” — Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD and LDN with Smart Healthy Living It's important to stay hydrated throughout the day, every day. But that doesn't have to mean just drinking more water. Though this would be ideal, it is certainly only one of many sources of hydration. Miller suggests that you can help keep your body hydrated by consuming the following: water, broths, juices, teas, fruits, and veggies. All of these sources can be used to increase your fluid intake during the day. Proper hydration for you can be determined by a registered dietitian (there may be certain health conditions that have specific fluid recommendations). For more suggestions, see what Medical News Today has to say. So how can you tell if you are dehydrated? It's actully pretty simple. According to Miller, unless you have any conditions that may cause your body to act differently (kidney disease, diuretic medications, etc.), you will be able to judge your hydration based on the color of your urine. If it is dark yellow or amber, it is likely that you need to increase your hydration. Ideally, urine should be clear or very pale yellow. Breathe better Have you ever thought about making a goal to improve your lung capacity? It may sound silly, but some of the things we do every day really do affect our ability to breathe. Bob Prichard, President of Somax Performance Institute, shares some of his findings below: Stop smoking — Anything (vaping, marijuana) that you inhale that is not clean air will irritate the sensitive lung tissues. The result is that you gradually, imperceptibly lose chest expansion, lung capacity and brain oxygen. Wash your hands — Colds and the flu can cause similar effects on your lungs as smoking. Avoid corset undergarments — Want a wasp waist? Say goodbye to your brain oxygen. Travel more Did you know that traveling can help reduce stress levels and boost self esteem? In a recent article by Lonely Planet, travel was identified as an act of self care. It is not uncommon for people to want to travel more, but the number of those who actually do is fairly low. While traveling requires time, energy, and money, in exhange you get experience, memories, and a richer life. “Travel is a key component to maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle,” said Sahara Rose De Vore, Founder of The Travel Coach Network. She continues, “People are drawn to travel for reasons including healing, connecting, exploring, adventure, soul searching, and other fulfilling purposes. Therefore, travel is a health resolution that people should keep up with all year.” If you would like to travel more, but always run into roadblocks, here are some tips from De Vore to help you change that: Treat travel as self-care Be involved in the planning process (don’t just leave it to a travel agency) Set a specific budget and plan accordingly Put money aside each month into a travel fund Create a travel vision board Explore the hidden gems of your hometown, state, or country on a stay-cation See if your employer offers any travel perks (remote work or volunteering abroad) The better you are at caring for yourself, the more effective you will be in all that you do. Improve your mental health Have you ever set a goal but felt that you would never be able to achieve it? When we set lofty goals but are not in the mental space to take them on, we can easily become discouraged. Strive to look at your goals through a positive lens. McKenzie Caldwell, MPH and RDN with Feed Your Zest, feels that the best type of diet is no diet at all. Thinking that you are on a diet can be restrictive and mentally taxing. She recommends sticking to a couple of guidelines (rules) to improve your physical and mental state. This is called intuitive eating. She said, “Intuitive eating is all about tuning into your inner signals of hunger, fullness and cravings. In this way, you can pursue a healthier lifestyle, and have better body image and mental health in the process.” If you start getting anxious or upset about your eating and fitness goals, take inventory of your social media feeds. If you are following people or companies that discuss dieting or exercise, unfollow them. There is no point focusing on others successes when you should be enjoying your own journey through conscious decision making. Do you expect to be perfect immediately when you start a new goal? Let’s face it, you won’t be. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody falls short in some capacity and needs to start over. To help you navigate this in your life, Cynthia Thurlow, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Nutrition Expert, and Wellness Entrepreneur, shares four key tips: Be honest with yourself — Analyze what is working and what is not without making excuses. Consistently assess — No matter your goal, take the time to assess your progress and identify places where you are doing well and places that you think you could improve. Take time — Give yourself at least 30–60 days to transition into a new habit. Change requires time. Turn around — Take some time every so often to look back and see how far you have come. You will be surprised to see how big a difference each small change can make.
Guest Post by Lisa Richards Nobody enjoys being bloated or gassy. And yet we often think that it’s just something to put up with. Well, good news — you don’t have to put up with it. All you need to do is make a few lifestyle changes. Good digestion is not only about what you eat, but how you eat it, and how well you look after your body in general. After all, you are what you eat! Here are eight lifestyle changes to help maintain great digestion: 1. Eat the right foods Unsurprisingly, the foods that upset your digestive system the most are those that are high in fat, sugar, and artificial additives. That’s because your body was never designed to break down these highly processed foods. Chips, cookies, crackers and soft drinks aren’t really food at all, but rather a mixture of chemicals and synthetic ingredients. Your digestive system is built for plant foods, lean proteins, fruits, and nuts. These are the foods that provide the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to function properly — so it makes sense to eat them! By including more real food in your diet and less man-made food, you’ll be feeding your digestive system the foods it recognizes and providing yourself with real nutrition. It’s a no-brainer, really! 2. Boost your good gut bacteria Your gut is home to trillions of microbes that play a major role in healthy digestion. But if you’re suffering from dysbiosis or an overgrowth of bad bacteria (or yeast such as Candida albicans), your digestive function will be considerably weakened. The best way to beat the bad bacteria is to add more good. Studies have shown that supplementing with probiotics is an effective way to reduce levels of bad bacteria and yeast in the gut and also restore good digestive function. You can improve your levels of beneficial bacteria by taking a quality probiotic supplement every day or by adding fermented foods to your diet. These include products such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and natural yoghurt. When buying a probiotic, look for one that contains lots of strains and at least 10 billion CFUs of bacteria. Also consider the delivery system to your gut, as most probiotics in vegetable capsules are destroyed by stomach acid. The probiotic that I use myself uses time-release tablets to deliver its bacteria safely past stomach acid. 3. Add more fiber to your diet Another one of the reasons for poor digestive function is slow bowel transit time. When your diet is lacking in fiber, food moves more slowly through the intestines, causing it to release nasty gases. Fiber also only helps to maintain the health of your gut and bulk out your stools, helping them to move through your digestive system more regularly. Even better, fiber provides fuel that supports the good bacteria in your gut. The best fiber-rich foods include nuts, seeds, kiwifruit, berries, avocados, pears, bran, and oatmeal. 4. Minimize stress You may have noticed a kind of butterflies feeling in your tummy when you’re nervous or stressed. This is the effect that anxiety and worry can have on your digestion. In some cases, stress slows down digestion and causes bloating, pain, and constipation. Other times, it can speed everything up, causing diarrhea or destroying your appetite completely. Stress can also worsen conditions such as stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also change the balance of your gut bacteria. It’s a good idea to avoid eating if you’re feeling very anxious, stressed, or upset. Try to avoid stressful situations during meal times or eating on the run. Practice meditation for 15–30 minutes a day to reduce your stress levels and induce a sense of calm. 5. Quit smoking Smoking can really mess with your natural digestive function, causing all sorts of nasty symptoms. Cigarette smoking tends to weaken the muscle that controls the lower end of your esophagus, known as the gullet. When this happens, acid from your stomach can splash up into your esophagus, causing the unpleasant sensation known as acid reflux. Reflux is often described as heartburn — a burning sensation in the chest. Over time, excess stomach acid caused by smoking can also increase your risk of stomach ulcers and inflammatory conditions of the bowel. Smoking is also a major risk factor for stomach cancer. The best way to restore the health of your gut is to quit! 6. Practice mindful eating Taking the time to really focus on your food can make a huge difference to your digestion. Don't rush your meals. Take time to chew slowly. Try putting your fork down between bites and chewing each mouthful properly. This method can also help prevent you from overeating. If you find it takes you too long to eat a full meal, try eating five to six small meals a day instead of three large ones. It’s also important to avoid eating a big meal just before you go to bed, as your body will find it difficult to digest a meal while lying down. 7. Hydrate Make sure you have plenty of water to drink each day — at least two liters. Water helps to flush food through your digestive system, keeping everything flowing smoothly down through your digestive tract. When you don’t drink enough, your stools can become dry and hard to pass, causing constipation and intestinal discomfort. Try carrying a water bottle with you at all times and remember to keep sipping it throughout the day. This is easier than drinking those eight glasses! Do try to avoid drinking large amounts of water 30 minutes either side of meals, as this can dilute your digestive enzymes. 8. Exercise Exercise naturally stimulates peristalsis, the movement of food through your intestines. Being sedentary, however, has the opposite effect: it causes your digestion to slow down, which in turn can lead to tummy trouble. Being overweight can also cause digestive problems because excess abdominal fat puts pressure on your stomach, causing heartburn. Regular exercise will not only help speed your bowel transit time but will also keep your weight at a healthy range. Losing a few pounds can help to relieve digestive symptoms and also reduce your risk of inflammatory bowel conditions. Try exercising for at least 30 minutes a day through walking, jogging, running, or cycling. Lisa Richards is a Nutritionist for The Candida Diet.
Why eat healthy? Your health is your lifeline. Literally. Your ability to function is directly related to your physical health. Though there are many ways to improve your health, one of the most important is eating healthy foods. This may not be appealing to some, but the results of healthy eating habits make it well worth it. According to Healthline, if you are willing to commit to eating healthier foods, you will see a number of improvements in your life. You will be better able to maintain a healthy weight, your mood will likely improve, your body will be better equipped to combat disease, you will have more energy, and your overall longevity will be increased. Now, eating healthy, though a challenging goal, is doable during the majority of the year. What about during the holidays? Thanksgiving and Christmas come with a number of fun traditions, but most people would agree that some of the most significant traditions during the holiday season center on food. In this article, we will be providing you with some expert tips on healthy eating during the holidays, what foods you should be avoiding, and what healthy foods you should be adding to your diet. Though eating healthy during the holidays seems difficult, we hope to make it a bit easier for you. Healthy eating tips Hard things require effort. Eating healthy foods can certainly be one of those hard things. To take some of that burden off of your shoulders, we have turned to a number of experts to compile a list of ways that you can maintain a healthy and balanced diet during the holiday season. Avoid the holiday think Dr. Candice Seti, a clinical psychologist, personal trainer, and nutrition coach with The Weight Loss Therapist, feels that there an all-or-nothing attitude that has become common during the holiday season. In essence, it is like considering the last three weeks of December as "the holidays" and deciding you will get back on track starting January 1st. Realistically, two or three large and/or unhealthy meals will have almost no impact in the long-term, but 15 or 20 meals is where things get scary. Seti suggests avoiding holiday weight gain by "reminding yourself that you have control over ALL of the other non-event meals during the holiday season. Making healthy choices during those meals will ensure that the impact of the big meals is much more minimal." Make the “best” choices "It's simple, don't aim for perfection, but aim for the best choice," says Bart Wolbers, Chief Science Writer and Researcher with Alexfergus.com. Wolbers talking about how eating an imbalanced meal during thanksgiving and a couple of them during Christmas is not going to ruin a year's worth of efforts. If people tell you otherwise, they need to get their facts straight. That being said, don't be worried about stuffing yourself with turkey during your thanksgiving dinner. The key to your success will be opting for a smaller dessert when the time comes. As you plan for Christmas and New Year's, Wolbers suggests, "Eat that wonderful meal with your family, but make healthy choices during your other meals of the day. Don't be afraid of having a few glasses of champagne, but make sure to eat and drink healthy again the next day." Moderation Maintaining moderation in your diet requires discipline. Kristian Morey, RD, LDN, and Clinical Dietitian at Mercy Medical Center, recommends, "Don’t keep candy, cookies, or pies around the house. Enjoy it in moderation here and there, but keeping it always available in your home during the holidays can make that very difficult to do." Morey knows that many people have holiday traditions of making and giving away sweets to friends and family. To make sure that you don't end up with excess sweets in your home, she suggests only making as much as you are going to give away. If you don't know that you will be able to practice self-control if you do end up with some leftover sweets at home, she suggests choosing a different way to give to those you love and focusing on special experiences with them. She says, "the memories will last longer than the sweets do!" If you find yourself struggling to maintain balance through eating in moderation, it may be helpful to measure out your portion sizes. To help you figure out appropriate portions for you, this infographic from a recent study conducted by Precision Nutrition should help you visualize what this looks like. Infographic provided by Precision Nutrition “All foods can be eaten in moderation. Try to limit saucy, fried foods. Also, limit drinks with calories; they can add up quickly." — RD Natalie Allen, Instructor of Biomedical Sciences at Missouri State University Consistency "The best way to eat healthy during the holidays is to stick with your normal eating routine (as best you can)!" This advice from Kimberly Snyder, Celebrity Certified Nutritionist, is one of the keys to your success. Instead of depriving yourself so you can later binge on a huge holiday meal, she recommends starting your day with a nourishing smoothie. This will keep you hydrated, provide your body with nutrients you may not be getting from other meals, and prevent you from overeating indulgent foods later in the day. When it comes to mealtime during the holidays, it’s understandable to overload your plate with mounds of sweet and savory dishes. We all face the temptation of reaching for multiple helpings. If you find yourself going back to the buffet, Snyder suggests keeping your portion of seconds small and avoiding a third helping, so that you can enjoy the desserts without regret. Foods to avoid One of the key success factors when eating healthy is not eating unhealthy foods. During the holidays, we are presented with so many options at celebratory meals. That being said, there are some foods that we would recommend avoiding in order to best care for your health without missing out on the celebrations and fun. Beverages Most of our favorite holidays are often accompanied by a number of beverages. Though drinks seem innocent, be careful how much you drink. Many seasonal drinks are high in calories. According to Caleb Backe, Personal Trainer and Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, you should watch out for the following: Beer Wine Eggnog Mimosas It's easy to keep going back for "just one more glass," but Backe adds, "not only are they unnecessary calories, but too much will make you lose your inhibitions and head back to the buffet for second and third helpings." Be smart with your drink selection! Leftovers Another super important tip is to avoid leftovers as best you can. "Holiday meals often come with days worth of heavy leftovers that just continue the cycle of overindulging," says Snyder. If you don't think you will be able to avoid eating them, give your leftovers to others so you can get right back on track with healthy eating and a normal routine. Obligatory foods Avoid foods you don’t actually like, but you feel obligated to eat, like Aunt Sally’s fruit cake. (And we ALL have that "Aunt Sally"). Kristian Morey, RD, LDN, and Clinical Dietitian at Mercy Medical Center, adds, "You do not have to try everyone’s dish at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, especially if they don’t align with your health goals or tastes." Don't be afraid to say no; just get the food that you actually want to eat. Energy-dense foods Energy-dense foods are those that are deficient in nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Kaitlin Cushman, a nutritionist focusing on children's health from Healthy Height knows that convincing your kids to eat non-energy-dense foods is no simple task, as these include the classic turkey, assorted vegetables, and other healthy side dishes. She suggests that portion control for the following foods will become crucial in order to maintain somewhat of a balanced meal: Deep-fried turkey or other fried foods Bread-heavy stuffing Baked goods (i.e. cookies, pie, cake) Heavily sauced items like casseroles, creamed corn, and mashed potatoes with gravy Canned cranberry sauce White bread, dinner rolls, etc. Filler foods One of the most common mistakes that people make is filling up on filler foods. Most casseroles, baked goods, and even vegetables are loaded with fats, sugar, and refined carbs. These are considered filler foods as they accompany the key elements of the meal. Lisa Richards, an author and nutritionist from The Candida Diet, has said, "Avoid 'healthy' foods that have been cooked in sugar and fat. There are many filler foods, mostly side dishes, that only add excess empty calories. Rather than filling up with these foods choose the more nutrient dense options." Healthy foods to eat The key to eating healthy is providing your body with the nutrients that it needs in the right proportions. That means that you should be eating healthy foods every day. Did you know that there are many people who are eating little to no fruits and vegetables on a daily basis? Precision Nutrition found that over the past five years, people have started eating fewer fruits and vegetables each day. Image provided by Precision Nutrition We know that it can be hard to know what foods will help your body the most. We have done the homework for you! We asked health and wellness experts about their top five fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains that will help our bodies stay well nourished. Here is what we found: Fruits “Whether it’s a large group brunch event or a traditional family dinner, opt to fill up with fruit or veggies before tackling the rest of the meal. For breakfast, this may mean a small fruit bowl first and dinner could be starting with a small salad or some roasted veggies. Either way, you will fill up some space in your stomach to help curb your hunger sooner. And you’ll also get a bunch of good nutrients in your system – something that’s often missing from our holiday favorites!” — Seti Top five fruits Blueberries Avocados Coconut Apples Raspberries Expert tip from Trebing How to eat more apples: "Apples are incredibly versatile. From apple slices to stewed apples and of course traditional apple pie or baked apples, there’s a multitude of recipes for apples." — Renata Trebing, Health and Wellness Expert from nourishwithrenata.com Veggies “There’s a reason why Popeye loved his spinach, and I’m with him – I can’t get enough of this stuff. I put it in smoothies as it resembles the taste of a banana alongside other fruit like mangos. Anywhere I order a salad or when I make one at home, I ask for the base to be spinach as opposed to iceberg. You can toss spinach into pasta and also layer it in a sandwich. I recommend upping spinach intake to all my athletes as its calcium content is great for injury prevention.” — Matt Kite, Director of Education and Personal Training Coach for D1 Training Top five veggies Kale Spinach Tomatoes Carrots Broccoli Expert tip from Trebing "Carrots are high in beta carotene, which not only gives it the orange hue, but is also a powerful antioxidant. Some studies show that beta carotene may help fight cancer cells too. Carrots sticks are great raw snacks but you can also make carrot cake, roast or braise carrots too." — Trebing Proteins “Just like avocados, Salmon is packed with healthy fast – omega 3 fatty acids – and super delicious. It also has plenty of protein to keep you full and help with muscle growth. I bake salmon in the oven and will eat it with a squeeze of lemon or some tzatziki sauce – a healthy condiment that’s made with yogurt, giving you even more protein and health benefits. But, you can also break it up and toss it in a salad." — Kite Top five proteins Salmon Chicken Lean red meat Beans and lentils Protein powders Expert tip from Trebing "Chicken is a great source of protein and is one of the most versatile protein sources too. You can literally use chicken as a meat to grill, roast it in the oven, simmer it in stock, use ground chicken for chili, or have canned chicken on salads." — Trebing Grains “Quinoa has become a popular gluten free grain option, but most people do not know it is actually a seed. It is thought of as a grain because it is often prepared and consumed similarly to other whole grains. Quinoa has the highest protein content in this category containing 8-10g grams of protein per cup compared to white rice at about 4-5 grams per cup. Quinoa is also unique plant protein in this category because the protein is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids." — Randy Evans, MS, RD, LD, Consultant for Fresh n' Lean Top five whole grains Quinoa Lentils Whole-Wheat Bread Oats Brown Rice Expert tip from Trebing "Brown rice is actually really nutritious. It contains high amounts of manganese, selenium, and phosphorous, as well as being higher in fiber than white rice. Brown rice is a great accompaniment for any Asian meal or even to make paella, rice cakes, or as an addition to soup." — Trebing Bonus tip That's right, even a blog post like this has a bonus round! Here is one more expert tip to help you stay healthy all year. Buddy system "We all do better with a little support and accountability, and the holiday time is no different," says Seti. She also recommends finding a friend or family member with similar health goals and making a plan together. Share your goals for each meal, agree to remind each other, or simply choose to check in with each other each day and give a daily report. Whatever you plan, having someone committed to the same goals will help with motivation and commitment.