Should You Eat More or Less Fat?

Are fats good or bad in your diet? Well, it depends. There are some fats you should make a big effort to avoid, and others you should consider eating more often!

Heavily processed, hydrogenated “trans” fats used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. They can compromise the cardiovascular system, immune system, and contribute to behavior problems. They can also lead to weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, and liver strain. You should limit these fats in your diet. 

That said, our bodies need fat for insulation, vitamin and mineral absorption, and to protect our organs. High-quality fats can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair, and nails, and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly. I personally don't shy away from fats, as long as they are the healthier, high-quality kind.

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Where to Find Healthy Fats

  • Avocados, olives, and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with wild salmon and omega-3 rich organic eggs.
  • Whole nuts and seeds, and their butters like almond butter or tahini
  • Look for the highest-quality organic oils when shopping. Words to look for: organic, first-pressed, cold- pressed, extra-virgin, and unrefined. Avoid expeller-pressed, refined, and solvent extracted.

Use Healthy Fats:

For cooking at high temperatures (stir frying and baking), try butter, ghee (clarified butter), or coconut oil When sautéing foods, try organic extra virgin olive oil.
Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut, and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings.

For most of my clients trying to lose weight, I suggest considering adding MORE healthy fats to their diet. It seems counter-inuitive, but actually it helps you stay full and satiated. Which means you will be less likely to reach for another, less healthy, food option when you're hungry.

Are you dealing with cravings? Sign up for my FREE Conquer Cravings Strategy Session. I have openings next week!
 

When You've Tried Everything Else

If you’re like many of the women I work with who are struggling with high stress, low energy, and big cravings, you’ve probably already tried a few things... "relaxing" and watching Netflix, relying on coffee in the morning, or cutting foods out.

Each time you try something new you get excited and think “this is it... this time it’s going to work!”

But then when each new approach didn’t work, you’d beat yourself up and end up feeling like there was something “wrong” with you.

It is not your fault! The simple truth is that by nature, quick fixes don’t work. Deprivation doesn’t work. 

In your heart of hearts, I’m guessing you know this already.

Here’s what I want you to know. You can conquer cravings, have more energy, and manage your stress. 

This is what I teach my amazing clients...I show them how simple and EASY it is to feel more like yourself - energetic, present, and light. 

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And this is exactly what I’d love to show you.

That’s why I’d like to offer you a FREE Beat Stress Strategy Session. I’ve opened up 5 slots on my calendar for over the next 2 weeks, and I’d love to speak with you during one of them.

Click here to book your free session>>

During this call, I’ll help you determine how best to achieve the results you want, WITHOUT feeling like you’re sabotaging yourself anymore. You’ll get an action plan to help you reach your unique goals.

If you’re tired of feeling like you’ve tried everything and you’re ready for a different (and more effective) approach — then I know I can help and I look forward to connecting with you.

Warmly,

Sara

P.S. Spots for these FREE calls will fill up fast, so if you know you want help with your stress, cravings and energy, I encourage you to grab one of these spots! Click here to schedule now.

Are Your Symptoms Signs of Estrogen Dominance?

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Our hormones are designed to work together in perfect balance, and believe it or not - it is NOT normal to have a lot of “symptoms” related to your cycle. One common hormone imbalance is estrogen dominance. This can occur when your body has too much estrogen, OR when your body has a higher proportion of estrogen compared to progesterone. 

Common symptoms include: 

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Breast tenderness or cysts
  • PMS
  • Fibroids 
  • Endometriosis
  • Menstrual migraines 
  • Moodiness and frequent meltdowns
  • Depression or weepiness
  • Mid-cycle or ovulatory pain
  • Brain fog

Surprising list, right? Most women have experienced some, if not many of the symptoms on that list throughout their reproductive years. The good news is that there are ways to get your hormones back into balance so that your symptoms can be lessened, if not disappear altogether. I’ll reiterate that these symptoms are NOT a normal part of being a woman.

So, what can you do? Eating a clean diet rich in nutrients with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, adequate protein, and healthy fats can help. Staying physically active also is important. Stress may be one of the bigger factors in estrogen dominance. Learning how to reduce stress and become more resilient to stressful situations can go a long way to balancing your hormones.

Want to learn more? Let’s talk about your specific situation in a free sample coaching session! Reach out and schedule a session with me today. 

Four Signs You May Need a Health Coach

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How do you know if now is the right time to hire a health coach? The main thing is that you have to be at a point in your life where you want to make a change, and are willing to work at it. But other than that, there are four common themes that bring people to a health coach. 

1) You just got diagnosed with something. For example, if you have been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, you would greatly benefit from reducing inflammation in your body. There are a lot of ways to do that, and a health coach is trained in working with clients on this topic. If you have been told you need to lose weight, may need blood pressure medicine, or are pre-diabetic, this is a great time to consider recruiting the support of a health coach. One note: Health coaches do not replace doctors. But, we can support you as you work through the treatment plan your medical team has outlined for you. Depending on what you’ve been diagnosed with, it may be best to get a handle on things with your medical team first. Then, reach out to a health coach for support with any recommended diet or lifestyle changes you may need to implement. Health coaches don’t diagnose or prescribe, but can certainly support you through many health conditions.

2) You know something needs to change. Things like stress, sleep issues, overeating, coffee or sugar addition, and serious cravings all fit in this category. You may have an “aha” moment when you finish off that potato chip bag (or package of Oreos), or when you can’t zip your pants any more. You realize you cannot keep treating your body this way and stay healthy. These are all things that you may benefit from additional support. You have tried to curb your habits, but nothing has stuck. Or you don’t know where to start. A health coach can provide the accountability and tools needed to break through your habits, while helping you create new and healthy habits.

 

A chronic health issue could also be a motivator. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with the same health problems forever, and you feel motivated to try something different so you can get your life back. It could be a thyroid problem, or hormone imbalances (hello monster cramps each month!) Health coaches are also great at supporting you and helping you conquer certain symptoms you thought you’d always have to live with.

3) You keep losing the same 5 pounds. Putting it on is easy, and sometimes taking it off isn’t too hard. But repeated cycles of weight gain and loss are tough on your body. Chances are you are cycling through healthy habits and then falling back into less than healthy choices. Working with a health coach, you can lose that 5 pounds, and then keep them off (and lose more if you need to).

4) You have no energy. Our bodies have a funny way of saying when enough is enough. Sleep becomes the one and only priority, brain fog prevents us from being effective in our work or relationships, and it can be hard to turn the tide back in the other direction. A health coach can support you with both diet and lifestyle shifts to boost your energy and get you on the right track.

If you have one or more of these “reasons,” it may be worth checking into health coaching. I offer an absolutely FREE sample session to anyone who is interested in exploring health coaching. Reach out to me to schedule a session today!

Letting Go to Let More In.

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I was about to go off to college for my final semester, and I needed a coffee table for my first-ever apartment. So, that summer I went with my grandpa to garage sales in search of the perfect one. When we were out, I saw a cool glass coffee table for sale that looked a little dated, but it had good bones. A sleek glass top and metal legs. It was just the style I wanted to bring to my new place. I got the table for a whopping $15, used some black spray paint on the ugly gold legs, and took it off to college. 

Since then, I’ve moved a lot. That trusty table has come with me each time. In some ways, it was an ideal piece of furniture to move because the legs could unscrew from the glass. Each time it moved, I would hold my breath a bit whenever a mover, family member, friend, or myself, would carry the glass tops into the new apartment.

Then the real adventure would begin - putting it back together. There were a few times where it took me a very long time to put together. The table only goes together one way, and even just flipping the glass over will set you up for frustration. It was a really heavy, really complicated puzzle at times. After a few moves, I learned to make it easier. I drew diagrams. I taped labels on the legs and the tops to remind me which direction everything was supposed to face. Once I had a smartphone, I started snapping pictures as reminders. 

This last move was tough. I was in a hurry to take it apart at our old place, so I just through a post-it note on the tops of the glass and figured I would be able to get it back together. In transit the note fell off, so that meant I had no idea which was the right side up. It took a long time and multiple hands to put the table back together. Once it was, I realized I wanted something different. I still like the table, but everything else around it had changed. It was time to move on. All of my other “college” and second hand furniture has been sold off or donated. I wanted something different. Something simpler. 

I decided this would be the last time I would move that table, and listed it for sale. Multiple people expressed interest and in just two days it had sold. I helped the table’s new owner take it apart, labeled the pieces and warned her that the labels should stay intact until it was back together. I held my breath one final time as we carried the pieces out to her car.

Returning back to our new apartment, I looked around and felt a little bit of sadness. After all, that table outlasted a lot of things. It weathered nearly a dozen moves and was a part of daily life for 18 years. But ultimately, the twinge of sadness was replaced with excitement. Now I could find something else that would be a better fit, both in terms of style and function. 

Sometimes letting go can be hard, but remembering what letting go is offering you can help ease the transition. Most times, when you let something go it opens up room for something better to take it’s place. That goes for jobs, homes, and relationships too - not just stuff! What is something you are holding onto that isn’t serving you as well any more? How would it feel to set yourself free? 

Are you looking for more help implementing healthy food and lifestyle changes? It's hard to do on your own. The accountability and expertise you receive with a health coach can help you reach your goals much faster, and help good habits stick. Set up a free 1:1 sample session with me to learn more!

You Want Something? Here's How to Make it Happen!

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Two friends are chatting about their diets. The first one says, “I want to be healthy and feel great.” The second one says, “I intend to be healthy and feel great.”

Which one do you think is going to get healthy and feel great? Yep—the one who intends it.

Wanting is simply wishing you can have or do a particular thing it. Intending means you’re committed to achieving something by making a plan for success—and sticking to it!

The key to intention is action. Try this to build your intention muscle:

  • Get clear on what you want. Create a vision board by gathering images and words that pertain to your goal, and gluing them onto a large piece of construction paper. Hang the collage in a spot where you’ll see it often. (Or, you can use an online service like Pinterest to create a digital vision board.)
  • Do something to make your desire happen. Let’s say you want to eat four servings of vegetables a day. Your first action may be to go to a farmers’ market and purchase a few veggies you can cook for dinner.
  • Celebrate your achievement! Don’t forget to congratulate yourself for meeting your goal. How to Have a Great Day... Every Day!

Did you know that you can even set an intention to have a great day? Rather than diving into your morning and hoping you’ll achieve your day’s big goal, why not take a moment and set yourself up for success?

Try this “Setting An Intention to Succeed” exercise used by professional athletes, speakers, politicians, and performers:

  • Upon waking, lie in bed and think about what you have planned for your day (or, find a quiet spot to sit and contemplate).

  • Think about your desired outcome. Take a deep breath and visualize yourself succeeding.

  • Replay your success several times in your mind.

  • Next, add other senses, including sounds, smells, and touch. For instance, as you replay your success, you now also hear the director offering you the gig, or you feel the physical sensation of your finger hitting the “send” button on your latest assignment.

  • Lastly, replay the scene again, adding emotions. Feel your elation at getting the part, or your pride at finally finishing your work. 

  • Reflect on your intention throughout the day.

Are you looking for more help implementing healthy food and lifestyle changes? It's hard to do on your own. The accountability and expertise you receive with a health coach can help you reach your goals much faster, and help good habits stick. Set up a free 1:1 sample session with me to learn more!

A Health Coach's Case for Chocolate

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I never judge a client's need for chocolate. Chocolate is the only ingredient that is its very own food group.

Okay, not really—but it seems as if it should be. Powerfully comforting, creamy, delicious—many people eat chocolate at least several times a week.

Chocolate has been used for centuries to treat bronchitis, fatigue, hangovers, anemia, depression, memory loss, high blood pressure, poor eyesight, and more. It also helps release that feel-good neurotransmitter— serotonin—in the brain. It can also be a good source of magnesium. If you have over the top chocolate cravings, you could be deficient in the key nutrient.

But, eat the wrong kind, and you’ll get loads of sugar, calories, and junky ingredients.

How to Eat Chocolate Responsibly

Chocolate begins life as raw cacao beans. Loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and plant phenols, cacao is a powerful superfood. The more processed cacao becomes, however—think commercially produced candy bars—the fewer healthy components remain.

So how to get the most out of your chocolate fix?

  • Choose dark. The darker the chocolate, the more beneficial cacao it contains.
  • Know your percentages: the number on dark chocolate packaging refers to the percentage of cacao bean in chocolate. For maximum health benefit, look for dark chocolate that has 75% to 85% cacao.
  • Go raw—or as unprocessed as possible.
  • Watch your portions. It is easy to overdo it. One trick to try, keep chocolate out of sight to avoid temptation.

Are you a chocoholic? No judgement here! But don't forget it is just part of a diet, not the whole thing ;-)

 

Optimize Your Breakfast for More Energy All Day

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The report is due in two hours. Or perhaps you’re in the middle of a mid-term exam. Or you’re making sales calls. Suddenly, bam! Around 10:30 a.m. you hit a wall. All you want to do is look out the window.

Hmmm...what did you eat for breakfast?

I hate to say, “I told you so,” so I’ll turn to Mom, who has said it countless times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s the meal that’s designed to supply a third of the macro and micro nutrients your body needs to run without a hitch.

So what are you eating each morning to do all these things? A cup of coffee gulped down on the go? A cup of sugary yogurt and a muffin eaten at your desk? Nothing at all?

Your body deserves so much better than that. And so do you!

When you eat a good breakfast, your day goes smoothly. No growling stomachs, low blood sugar shakiness, or wandering attention to keep you from nailing those big goals you’ve made for yourself.

What Breakfast is Right for You?

One of the best—and most fun—ways to find out which foods serve YOU most powerfully is something called the Breakfast Experiment. For one week, eat a different breakfast each day. Record in a notebook what you ate, how you felt immediately after the meal, and how you felt again two hours later.

  • Day one: Scrambled eggs or tofu

  • Day two: Bean soup or a bean salad

  • Day three: Oatmeal

  • Day four: Boxed breakfast cereal

  • Day five: Muffin and coffee

  • Day six: Fresh fruit

  • Day seven: Fresh vegetables

    Feel free to repeat the experiment for another seven days with different foods each morning. Which breakfasts made you feel energized? Which ones didn’t? After the experiment, try adding in more of the foods that made you feel great!

Are you looking for more help implementing healthy food and lifestyle changes? It's hard to do on your own. The accountability and expertise you receive with a health coach can help you reach your goals much faster, and help good habits stick. Set up a free 1:1 sample session with me to learn more!

Brain Fog and Exhaustion, What's Going On?

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A common complaint I hear as a Health Coach is lack of energy. The source of this problem can be complex. It could be purely physical, you could be sick or sleeping poorly. But a lot of times, people are burning the candle from both ends, and expecting top performance at all times. And then it happens - our bodies let us down. 

I used to struggle to stay awake past 8:30pm. It drove me crazy! I would bust my butt all day at work, come home and cook dinner, and then be too tired to do anything else. By the time the weekend rolled around, I would still be catching up on rest. I’d be too exhausted to go out and have fun. 

I was frustrated. After all, I was young and seemingly healthy. So why did I have so much brain fog and exhaustion all of the time? I brought it up to my doctor at my annual check-up. She said, “well you are probably just doing too much. I’m always amazed at how much women expect of themselves.” It struck a chord for me. Maybe I was expecting too much? But it still seemed like something else was going on.

Nowadays, I don’t really struggle with having enough energy, provided that I am getting a good night’s sleep. But former me would be relieved to know that there probably WAS something else going on. Chronic high levels of stress is not something our bodies are meant to deal with. After periods of long-term stress, the brain becomes hyper-reactive and is always ready for danger. As a result, higher brain functions like the ability to concentrate or focus begin to suffer. Brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, depression, and severe fatigue are all symptoms of ongoing chronic stress. When you’re in this mode, your energy level tends to be way down.

I understand how hard it can be, so I’ve created a FREE video training called 5 days to More Energy. Sign up and I'll send you videos straight to your inbox for the next 5 days with things you can do right away to improve your energy. These were the very things I did to build my energy back up, and I am sharing the strategies with you for free!

Are you looking for more? I work with clients to help them improve their adrenal health through nutrition and lifestyle changes. These are incremental changes that, when put into action, can have you feeling more like yourself in no time. Join me for a free 1:1 session.

The Trick to Staying Sane When You Can't Predict The Future

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Wouldn’t it be great if you had a crystal ball? You would know the pros and cons of every decision before you had to make it, and could have more certainty in that decision. You wouldn’t worry about wasting your time, making the wrong decision, or hurting someone you care about. Why? Because you would be able to see your way around any and all pitfalls and avoid them completely. Right? 

So here’s the deal with change and uncertainty. You just have to embrace it. 

I get excited about trying new things and being spontaneous. But admittedly, there are other uncertainties that I find harder to deal with. The big stuff, like whether to take a new job or where to move tend to make my mind twist and turn every possibility forward and backward again. I have spent endless hours over the years making pros and cons lists, talking about my options with anyone who would listen, and even spending time in my dreams working out the options in my head. You could call it analysis paralysis - the inability to move forward because you’re too busy analyzing every potential outcome! 

Truthfully, the lines on that pros and cons list don’t always capture the full picture. Even if it seems clear on paper which way you should go, something could still be holding you back from making the decision. 

What I began to notice in these moments, was that I didn’t need all the answers. I just needed to know everything was going to be okay. 

That’s not to say talking it out with friends or writing lists isn’t helpful. I think it is definitely part of the process. Sometimes during that analysis you’ll get a different perspective. But eventually, you have to get out of your head and trust your gut. Trust that you will be okay however it turns out, and make the decision with confidence. Sometimes really getting to the heart of the reason why you are feeling wishy washy can quiet your mind and help you find that trust. For me, that clarity happens when I’m taking a dog for a walk. Or driving across town. Or taking a long shower.

Take a breath, and ask yourself why you can’t decide. Then listen to your body. What emotions wash over you in those moments? How do you physically feel? What do you keep coming back to?

We live in a very analytical world and sometimes we forget that our own intuition, or gut feelings, can be a great indication of how to move forward. 

How often do you find yourself trusting your intuition? Is this something you struggle with? I can help you tune into your gut when it comes to tough decisions with a few simple tools. Send me a note and we can talk through it!

How to Have More Time in a "Busy" Obsessed World

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In the last couple of weeks, have you wondered where the time went? Have you felt frustrated with the lack of time to get things done? Have you had to put things off that you really wanted to do? Did you dwell on the lack of time available to you in a day? Do you respond to everything with "I'm too busy!" You may have a love/hate relationship with time! 

Years ago when I was working a high pressure job, I often felt stretched for time. Some days it seemed like I was on a super frustrating roller coaster ride. I would get up and go to work, be busy all day at the office, come home, eat dinner, and then crash on the couch before going to bed. While at the office, I had so much on my plate I often felt like I was in an actual race. I was nearly out of breath from all of the proverbial balls I was trying to keep juggling in the air. This roller coaster ride was on repeat, and I felt so frustrated about never having time for things I wanted to do. Whether it be painting, spending time with my friends, working out, or even cooking a healthy meal. I could actually feel a weight on my shoulders that represented my total lack of time.

So what was the trick to getting off of that roller coaster ride? 

Someone once told me that we all have the same 24 hours in every day. I hated that statement, because suddenly it meant that my lack of time to do anything was actually a situation I had created for myself. I began to realize that my constant feelings about my lack of time weren’t doing me any favors. I wondered if changed my mindset, whether that would translate to feelings of more control over my time. After all, thinking about anything from a glass half empty mindset tends to put you on the defensive. I began to consider the word abundance. If I felt like I had all the time in the world, maybe I actually would find more time! 

So, when I would catch myself thinking negatively about time, I would tell myself, “you have all the time you need right now.” At first, I could feel my body almost revolt against that statement, but after awhile it became an almost calming response. Thinking from a place of abundance became sort of a lifeboat for me. Suddenly I was reframing all of my feelings of scarcity into feelings of abundance. I even bought a necklace with the word “abundance” engraved on it. I wore that necklace for years to serve as a daily reminder that I had everything I needed to be happy and satisfied in the present moment.

Once you have a different relationship with time, you may realize that you want to make some changes. That definitely happened for me. I started to make small changes by prioritizing different things. For example, I stopped caring what others thought if my lawn got a little too long. At one point I even hired someone to take care of the yard work for me, because I realized that hours spent fussing over cutting the grass was not at all a priority for me, and was taking time away from other things that would bring me more joy. Also, I began to notice that the 20 minutes it took for me to wait for my take-out order was all the time I needed to make a healthy dinner at home. It could be done with no extra time investment after all.

My relationship with time did not change overnight. It took a long time, with plenty of slip-ups along the way. But, it is possible to feel better about time. And it could be a key way to get time back on your side so you can do the things that bring you most joy in the world. 

What is your relationship with time? Could you use some help in this area? I can guide you through a step-by-step process to help you experience a similar shift. Set up a free 1:1 sample session to see what coaching can do for you!

Life Hack: Experience More Joy Each Day

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What do you enjoy doing? What makes you smile or laugh? Are those things on your to-do list today? A lot of times the daily grind can edge out the things that bring us joy. There are lots of things to do, the day doesn’t seem long enough, etc. But keep in mind, happiness lowers stress levels, increases your immune system’s function, and lowers your risk of disease. It also makes life more enjoyable than if you’re just slogging along.

Even doing just one thing that brings you joy each day, and taking a moment to notice it, is a powerful antidote to even the most frustrating of days. Try this:

  • Make a Joy List. This is a list of all the things you enjoy. Nothing is too small. Perhaps you love biting into an apple, smelling a flower, or getting into a bed with freshly clean sheets. If it gives you that feeling of joy, add it to your list. Stuck? Consider your senses. What smells, tastes, or textures make you feel especially good? Or, think back to things you enjoyed as a kid. There are often some good clues there!
  • Take a look at how you spend your day. Where could you fit in a little pleasure? Fitting in a break where you can do one of your Joy List items can give you the boost you need on any particular day.
  • Repeat daily. Train yourself to treat yourself to the things you enjoy often.

 

 

6 Ways to Reduce Stress Today

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I have been told A LOT of times earlier in life to reduce my stress level. Family, friends, doctors, teachers, and coworkers have all made the comment in passing. Oddly enough, being told to “just relax” didn’t do the trick. In fact, sometimes it would be more stressful trying to find ways to be less stressed! Can you relate? I’ve compiled my favorite things you can try immediately to lower your stress:

1) Take a huge breath. Belly breathing is one of the best things you can do for your stress level in the moment. It has an immediate effect on your stress levels because you are oxygenating your blood, which causes your brain to release endorphins. For the greatest feel-good effect, fill your lungs all the way up with air over 5-10 counts. Hold it in for a moment, and then slowly release the breath over 5-10 counts. If you do this four or five times in a row, you will likely be able to feel the difference!

2) Take a silly break. What gets you laughing? Hearing your loved one attempt (and fail) at speaking with an accent? Watching a comedy show on Netflix? Playing racquetball with friends? Playing a game with your kids? Immediately add that activity to your calendar. 

3) Take a nap. Sleep works wonders. I went through a particularly stressful time a few years back where I felt as though I could have slept for days. I gave in, and allowed myself to rest. After that, I was able to move forward with a clearer head. While you may not have the luxury of a few days of total R&R, you can likely squeeze in a 20 minute nap!

4) Go outside. The weather may or may not be cooperative, but that doesn’t matter. Get outside for as long as you can manage, and soak up some vitamin D and fresh air. Take a walk, go skating, or even just sit on a park bench in a beautiful setting. 

5) Call up a long lost friend or family member. Is there someone you find yourself missing a lot these days? Give them a call, and keep it light. Now is not the time to share your woes. Instead, focus on reminiscing about fun times. Reconnecting with old friends can be a good way to gain some perspective. 

6) Take a positivity challenge. For 1 hour, don't complain about anything. If you find yourself thinking negatively or complaining outwardly, start the timer over. It can be tough, but forcing your brain to shut out negativity and focus on positivity can sharply change your outlook and lower your stress.

Huge caveat, while these things may make you feel better in the short term they are often not enough for the long haul. There are often bigger shifts needed to address chronic stress in a sustainable way. If you’re ready to make some changes when it comes to stress in your life, reach out. I coach clients 1:1 on this process so that they are better able to manage their stress. The first session is FREE and I have openings starting next week!

-Sara


Do you need 1:1 support around food or stress? Set up a free one-on-one phone session with me and let’s talk about it! 

Take the Self Care Holiday Challenge

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The holidays are in full swing! You might be traveling, going to more social events, and faced with many chances for overindulgence. All of these interruptions can make it easy to lose sight of your goals. Personally, I’m going to be doing a little challenge over the next two weeks to help stay on track, and I hope you’ll join me!

The Self Care Holiday Challenge: Take at least an hour, a few days per week for the rest of the year, to do some act of self care. 

Sounds easy enough, right? Taking a few moments for yourself out of the next couple of weeks can help you stay on track, reduce stress, and set you up for a healthy start to 2018. Some things to consider for those “self care” hours include getting a massage, taking a walk with your favorite people, meditating, reading a book, taking a tea break with family, or getting some sleep. 

I plan to try a few of those self care options, but the one I’m most looking forward to is sleep! I have a hard time sleeping too late into the morning, so my goal will be to start my bedtime ritual earlier in the evening a few days over the next couple of weeks so that I can get a bit more sleep. High quality sleep (7-8 hours for most adults), can make all the difference in your mood, your ability to solve problems, and your ability to make healthy eating choices. 

In my opinion, you never need an excuse to take time for yourself. But, if you need some encouragement, I’m here! What self care activities will you add in over the next two weeks? Send me an email at sara@gosimplewellness.com.

 

 

How to Manage Holiday Stress with Gratitude

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Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving, and a lot of times we are reminded to use that day to think about what we’re thankful for. But then, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and the general kick-off of the peak retail season all swoop in. We go from giving thanks to rushing off to prepare for the next holiday in a matter of hours! And here comes the typical stressors we have every year - did we buy our partner the right gift? Will the toy we ordered for our niece arrive in time? Will our kids behave at our family get-together? Did we miss the window for securing a reasonable plane ticket? And so on…

As a coach that specializes in health and wellness - especially stress management, I know all about the way stress affects our health. You might think that it's no big deal to have holiday stress. It only happens once per year, and then in January things can get back to normal. But say you have holiday stress every year for the month of December from age 20-70. That adds up to a total of 50 months of being stressed out, or over 4 years of your life spent worrying about the holidays! Yikes!

One great way of managing stress, especially this time of year, is to focus on the good things in your life. Gratitude is not just for Thanksgiving! This month, I challenge you to consider adding a daily gratitude practice into your routine all the way until January 1st. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You could write down one or two things on a post-it note each day that you’re thankful for. Or you could challenge yourself to go complaint-free for an hour each day, longer if you can (harder than it sounds!) You could take a moment on your daily commute to notice what is beautiful around you. The main point is to focus on the the things you want MORE of instead of focusing on the things that are bringing you worry or taking you down a notch.

Maintaining a positive outlook and staying focused on what makes you happy goes a long way to a happier and healthier life. Is this an area you could use some support with? Schedule a free session with me and let's talk about how my coaching methods could help you.

Have a Mindful Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is here already! As a health coach, I get the question a lot on how to not go completely off the rails in terms of health over the holidays. Weight gain, stressful situations, and overindulgence can put a damper on the fun the holidays can bring. My main take-away tip is to not deprive yourself, but also be mindful.

If you L-O-V-E pumpkin pie, have one slice. Don't stress about the calories or potential weight gain. Enjoy that slice of pie and savor every bite. Feel the texture as you chew. Consider the taste as it hits different areas of your tongue. Think about why you like pumpkin pie (or whatever your favorite is). Does it remind you of old family gatherings? Did you used to bake it with a favorite relative? Is it the way the food feels in your mouth? Is it the taste?

Then, skip the second slice and instead take a moment to appreciate how it was to really experience your favorite food. A lot of times, you'll find that your feelings toward a food have little to do with the food itself. Eating can be an emotional experience as much as a nourishing one.

So this Thanksgiving, watch your portions and stay present. And aside from the food, be sure to take a moment to show gratitude for yourself, your health, and your loved ones. Write down three things you are especially grateful for before or after your holiday gathering and put it somewhere you can reflect on it later. Gratitude is a beautiful practice that helps us stay present. It also helps reduce stress. Start tomorrow (or today) and keep that gratitude going all holiday season long.


Recently I was asked to provide some tips to the readers of the Mad City Dream Homes Blog on how to stay healthy over the holiday season. I loved putting this post together! Read my guest post for the top 4 tips for staying healthy over the holidays, and let me know what you think!

Mindfulness and Your Biggest Food Cravings

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Let’s talk about one of my former weaknesses from before my Health Coaching days - brownies. I have always had a bit of a sweet tooth, and loved to bake. After a long day, I would find solace in whipping up a batch of warm, flavorful brownies. There was something about the process that gave me peace, but ultimately the timer would go off and I would be overwhelmed with the desire to have a taste. And then another taste. And another. You get the idea. Once I got started, it was hard to stop. Sometimes I would go to bed with a stomach ache because I overdid it so much. After awhile, I knew I needed to do something different.

It’s easy to overdo it when we are faced with our favorite foods. They bring us happy memories from our childhood when we would stir together a batch of cookie dough with our family. Or remind us of celebrations. Many times it has very little to do with the food itself! For me, the warm and chewy brownie was the ultimate treat. The smell, taste, and texture gave me all kinds of good feelings.

So, what did I do? I started eating more mindfully. If I asked myself why I was craving that brownie, I would struggle to come up with a reason that had anything to do with the brownie. A lot of times, I was stressed out. Or tired. Or just looking for an outlet. Also, I realized that if the brownies were in the house, I would eat them regardless of whether I was hungry. So I stopped having the ingredients on hand and instead, took a walk. Or made a cup of tea with a drizzle of honey to satisfy my craving for sweets. 

If I was really wanting a brownie, I took on a new approach. I made a new personal rule that I could only eat brownies from a bakery. I’m talking super delicious, super decadent brownies that cost way too much to justify on a regular basis! As a health coach, I’m all about sustainable change. If you tell yourself you can never have a brownie - or whatever your weakness is - ever again. You will certainly fail at some point. If you give yourself permission to indulge once in awhile and have some parameters around it, you may find you don’t even want it.

What’s your biggest food craving? Next time you are craving it, consider asking yourself the following question: "why do I really want _____?” Consider that answer, and dig deeper. Ask yourself again, “why?” Think about what might be a good alternative. If you are craving something for an emotional reason, you will never fulfill that need with that food. You need to address what’s underneath the surface. Staying mindful of your food choices can be a good start and help you stay on track with your health goals as well!

Need help with your cravings? Set up a free one-on-one phone session with me and let’s talk about it! 

How to Survive Daylight Savings Time When it is "Always" Dark Outside

Daylight Savings Time has come and gone, and unfortunately for a lot of people, that means getting home after work in the dark. It can be hard to stay motivated when all of your free time, except for the weekends, is after sunset. Full disclosure - I used to really struggle with this! I would get home from the office feeling exhausted. I would change into some comfy clothes and make dinner, and then most of the night was spent being sedentary. If it weren’t for the fact that my dog needed a walk in the evening, I probably would have holed up on the couch every night until bedtime. It took serious effort for me to stay motivated. Maybe you’re experiencing that now. If so, there are a few things you can do to stay focused on your goals, and improve your health, during this transitional time of year:

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  1. Get outside during the daylight hours if you can. Soaking up sunlight, even if it is just filtered, can do wonders for your mood and health. Plus, the fresh air can give you a fresh perspective. Even if the weather is less than stellar, a little bit of time outside can give you a bit of a boost.

  2. Keep up your workouts. Not feeling it? Make a pact with yourself to do at least 5 minutes of exercise. Nine times out of ten, once you get started you’ll feel good enough to get your full workout in. Still struggling? Grab a buddy. The peer pressure can be helpful when it comes to sticking to your goals.

  3. Go for a walk after dinner. It may be tempting to fire up the TV for a Netflix marathon after dinner, but don’t underestimate the power of a post-meal walk. If you can bring family members or friends along, even better!  

  4. Keep up your social calendar. Make a point to meet up with people who bring you joy. The power of social connections is strong, so don’t let these meetings slip off your calendar. Just don’t overbook yourself! 

Just because it is darker outside, doesn’t mean you have to settle in for a long winter of hibernation! Do you struggle with energy this time of year? Set up a free sample phone session with me and let’s talk about it.

Craving Something? Make This Swap

When you are craving a specific type of food, did you know it could be your body's way of telling you that it needs something? Check out the below chart to see if there is a food swap you can make to address your cravings.

After you've made a swap, consider how you feel. Are you still craving the original food? If so, your craving may be related to something completely unrelated to nutrition. Stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, and habit are very common culprits! 

Need help managing your cravings? Let's do a 1:1 free consultation next week to talk it over! Sign up here.

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