Healthy Holiday Habits

IMG_9628.pngThe Holidays are upon us, and with them comes parties, dinners, baking, busy schedules, and all the general “cheery” chaos that can knock our fitness and nutrition plans right out of whack. This year, instead of giving up, or giving in, and thinking, “Hey, I’ll start back after New Years…” Let’s make a solid plan for success!  After all, different studies have shown that the average person can gain 5-10 pounds during this festive season-and who want’s that???

*SCHEDULE and PLAN! Holidays get our routines out of whack, so your current routine may be completely impossible right now. Take a few minutes-right now-to look at how your schedule is going, and how you can better plan your exercise, water, and meals. Schedule those needed changes! Put it on your calendar or reminders!

*Be prepared for those big dinners and social events.

**Here’s a crazy fact:
The Calorie Control Council says you may consume up to 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat in total during any one of your holiday gatherings. While the majority of this comes from the meal itself, you can expect to eat nearly 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks! Don’t find yourself in a situation where the food and environment send you into a nutritional spiral-have a plan of action!

*Don’t skip meals thinking it will help in your calorie intake; this can easily backfire and leave you starving and unable to control your appetite. Instead, focus on small meals and snacks of lean protein and fruits and veggies. Eating a small, healthy snack before your event can help you avoid overindulging.

*Many people ask their guests to “bring something” to a holiday event. Instead of baking a huge tray of grandmas famous butter cookies, or dumping some marshmallows into those healthy sweet potatoes and delivering it to the table, take something you can add that you KNOW can fill your belly without, well, “adding to your belly”
For me, this is a beautifully done platter of fresh cut veggies and fruit. I like to fill my belly with THAT, and then sample small amounts of the other foods-while making my protein the base of the meal. And a big glass of water before joining the table!

*Choose you splurges carefully. Look over the offered foods and plan your plate. Sample small amounts of your holiday favorites instead of filling up on foods you eat year round. Enjoy your splurge foods, eat slowly and taste them. Prepare yourself for “food pushers”! Food pushers are thse loving friends and family member that don’t take “No” for an answer. It may be your grandmother with her famous pie, or your best friend with a bottle or two of wine. I’ve seen lots of ways to “explain” the WHY behind saying “No thank you!” to the food pushers…cute ways to inform people that you are dieting-“no thank you, I’m allergic, if I eat that my thighs will break out…” or putting the responsibility on your doctor or nutritionist-“My doctor says I can’t have….” Personally, I find that just saying, “That looks truly delicious, but no thank you” works nicely Stand firm, and don’t feel the need to explain yourself. The last thing anyone wants to do at a gathering is spend time explaining your food choices, whether it be for diet reasons, allergies, or otherwise; not to mention, all of the opinions that will surely follow. *As always-enjoy the people and social aspect of your event. Have a few great conversation starters to keep your socializing active, and try to be social away from buffet and snack tables. And hav

* Exercise during the holidays can be super difficult. For some, the weather is nasty, there’s lots of travel, busy schedules, and guests. This can make sticking to an exercise schedule HARD!
Again, it’s all in the planning. Think “family fun” and schedule in some family activity: Ice skating, skiing, hikes, walks. Enjoy some social time while getting some movement. Consider wearing your exercise footwear while cleaning, cooking, shopping-and take small breaks to march-or even dance-for short bursts of calorie burn. If doing some crazy Black Friday shopping, take a few laps around the mall. If you find yourself traveling, walk the airport while waiting for flights. If driving, stop for small breaks and take a few laps around a gas station or convenience store parking lot.
 If you are staying in a hotel or with friends, ask about exercise equipment that might be available. Or, pack some resistance bands or your yoga mat to get a short workout in.

*Set up your current environment for success! If you are visiting family, or traveling, or just running around getting things done-make your surroundings successful. Keep a cooler of water and healthy snacks in your car, or in the room where you might be visiting. Throw your sneakers in the car and get some extra steps in the parking lot of the mall. Take a break from decorating, wrapping, or cooking, and march for 10 minutes.

*Practice SELF CARE! (So hard this time of year!) take a minute before meals to breathe and set yourself up for mindful eating, get the rest that you need, take some times for yourself each day to look around, breathe, look at the beauty of your family and friends, and take in the lights, decorations and music of the season. All of this will help avoid stress.

*FIND SUPPORT! Find an accountability partner; ask a friend or family member to join you on your journey

*If you do succumb to a bad day, or even week, pull your self together! Do not feel guilty! We are all human, and this happens! Feeling guilty can lead to even worse behavior-so pick your self up and brush yourself off! Plan to make your next meals balanced! Check your portion sizes, focus on lean proteins, and lots of fiber filled veggies. Avoid those processed foods, drink that water, and get up and get some movement in.

Ultimate Reset!

I’m a hardcore supporter of Beachbody, and I’ve spent the last two years enjoying the nutritious shakes and working my way through many of the workout programs with great success. I love Shaun T’s T25 and Cize, and 21 Day Fix is always great go-to for getting whipped into shape quickly. I always research the programs closely before I start them, and keep detailed records of my achievements as I follow through. During my many hours of research, I always came across a program that seemed quite daunting and a little bit “too much”-Ultimate Reset.

What is Ultimate Reset???

Ultimate Reset is a 21 Day cleanse and detox program that takes one on a three phased journey of supplements, tons of mineralized water, and carefully timed meals of super-foods. There are many online before and after pics and claims of dropping as much as 22 pounds on this plan, as well as many blogs about the somewhat harrowing journey to reach day 22. There are many “new” foods, the program cuts out all animal proteins after week one, and you are eating completely vegan by the end of the plan. This, along with the fact that I am allergic to many foods, as well as an extremely picky eater, left me feeling like this would be a miserable and impossible feat to accomplish! I always went back to my 21 Day Fix container diet, and left the Ultimate Reset linger in the back of my mind.

Until NOW! WOW! I sit, writing this, on the afternoon of day 21, with a few supplements sitting on my desk, waiting to be taken as I complete this last day. To date, I have dropped 12.4 pounds, 6.5% body fat, and a total of 10 inches! I have tried new foods, gained new energy, and have such an amazing feeling of accomplishment! I will finish this day strong, and start to add some healthy proteins back into my diet tomorrow-which is when I will be switching back to my 21 Day Fix eating plan. I’ve been told that going OFF the Reset can be as daunting as completing it, but I am not worried-I eat rather clean as it is. I can’t wait to eat some chicken breast and gluten free toast! I have no plans of running to grab a cheeseburger or fries, because that’s not my normal eating anyway.

There’s tons of info online about the breakdown of this program, with menus ideas and recipes, so I won’t go into the intricate details of the program here. I will  however go into some of the thoughts and issues that I had while doing it….

First-the WHY

My “why” is rather typical-I needed to drop some added pounds and bloating, gain my energy back, and put an end to this crappy, sluggish, feeling. After spending 15 weeks on T25 last spring/summer, I was back in a bikini (at 51, mind you) and feeling quite fabulous. I went down with a pinched nerve in the fall, and due to pain, was unable to exercise for months. No exercise+50 year old metabolism+holiday food and drink=one unhealthy person! I started the new year in sweatpants, exhausted most of the the day, dragging myself to physical therapy appointments and waiting for bedtime. Once cleared by my PT guy, I said ENOUGH, and tried on my size 4 jeans……well….I attempted to try them on….Nope. So, in a fit of very calculated disgust, I loaded up the Ultimate Reset sales page, and took the plunge. I received my package-book, supplements, and a bracelet that reminded me of my beach hippy days-a few days later, loaded up my fridge and pantry with healthy foods, and got my butt on the scale. The scale said “YOU’RE READY!”

How Did it Go?

Week One-RECLAIM

Phase One is focused on removing refined foods and animal products from the diet, while adding tons of veggies. There are healthy grains added like quinoa and oatmeal, and sugars are replaced with pure maple syrup and raw honey in very small amounts.

Day 1 was hard. I felt deprived, looked at the calendar date 3 weeks away, choked down the Power Green Supplement at 4:15, almost threw up, looked at the box in front of me and thought, “What am I doing?” But I continued on…

Days 2-4 were terrible. This seems to be a common issue for most on the program. Online blogs and Facebook support groups are full of posts about headaches, chills, achy bodies, nausea, and exhaustion. I experienced all of this as my body began to detox. I was miserable, and to add to my misery, I came down with a terrible head cold. I spent the first weekend in bed, sipping my minaralized water, feeling as though my head might explode. I wasn’t hungry though, so that was a positive point.

By Day 5, I was feeling much better. My energy level was rising, my cold was gone, and I was enjoying the foods. My favorite, by far, was oatmeal with fresh fruit. I set alarms on my phone to remind me to take my supplements, drink my water, and eat my meals, and the next few days just flowed right on by.

Week Two-RELEASE

Phase Two focuses on releasing toxins from the body, including a gentle but thorough colon cleanse. This cleanse is very gentle, so there was no cramping or running to the bathroom, thankfully. This weeks food is completely plant based-fruits, veggies, and grains. I had a busy week planned, so I opted for the “Crunch Menu” plan ( a basic phase by phase daily menu plan), and ate pretty much the same yummy foods almost every day-fruits for breakfast, veggies and broth for lunch, and beans, brown rice, and veggies for dinner. My energy level was very high, my sleep was improved, and my skin was looking more vibrant. I had no headaches or body aches, and I remained very focused. At this point, I weight myself, and had dropped 6 pounds in 9 days! At this point, I was looking forward to my phone alarms going off so that I could take my supplements and feel one step closer to my goals.

Week Three-RESTORE

Phase Three is the last week of Ultimate Reset, and the phase in which it all seems to really come together. In this phase, the only foods allowed are veggies and fruits, with a sweet potato option at dinner for some bulk. The week flew by, and my schedule was busy, but my phone reminders kept me on target with meals and supplements, and my handy insulated lunch bag kept my prepped food fresh while I ran my errands. My energy level has been off the charts, I’m waking earlier each day, and my mind seems clearer than before I started this program. I see the finish line, and beyond! Im currently down 12.4 pounds, and dropped 6.5% body fat. SCORE!

In the End…

I have to admit, when I started this program, I was very honest with my doubts in completing it. Our lives are very busy, we tend to dine out often, and I have many food allergies-as well as being a picky eater. When I try a new food-well, it’s usually not quinoa or lentils, but some chef inspired delicacy. But, I committed myself to doing this…And I told so many people-I had to be held accountable!!!

So, the big question-to sum it all up-is, would I do it again??? With that, I have to weigh the pros and cons…..

Pros:

The weight came off quickly, as did the nasty bloated feeling. That kept me inspired and pushed me through another day-every day.

The support I found on my Facebook Ultimate Reset groups was inspiring, full of information, and really held me accountable with daily check ins.

The foods were good-some will say awesome. I discovered a love for mangos and oatmeal that I had previously just not cared to focus on.

The ability to substitute certain foods made this easy to manage and plan around my tastes.

My husband seemed to enjoy my foods, and started eating much healthier-he even tried to eat some of my pre-measured fruit plate…I almost bit him.!

My clothes fit for the first time in months, and my energy level and brain clarity is is high!

Cons:

The cost of the program, complete with supplements is a bit pricey.

The scheduling of the supplements, water, and meals is a bit daunting for busy lifestyles.

Family meal time was a whole new ball game in dieting; I was eating foods I wasn’t so stoked about, while watching my teens eat pizza and fries.

My fridge was jam packed with bags of produce, my counters were covered in fruit, and I had to find an entire new shelf for the aminos, oils, vinegars, lentils, quinoa….so much food!

I had to run to the grocery store every 2 days  for fresh produce, and my dishwasher was constantly full of tupperware, pans, and measuring utensils,

But, in the end-I have to say….I would do it again. Now that I know all the ins and outs, the tricks and the shortcuts, and what to expect, I would definitely do it again.

Tips, shortcuts, time/money savers:

Don’t run out and buy an entire week’s worth of produce! This seems to be a common mistake. Your produce will start to go bad after a few days, so only buy what you need for 3 days max.

Buy your dry goods in bulk-lentils, oatmeal, quinoa, rice, beans, etc. You will use lots of them over the three weeks, and hopefully, you will enjoy the recipes and want to make them again.

Many recipes call for aminos. These are not incredibly easy to find-I had to go to 3 stores. I ended up finding them at Whole Foods, but they are also available on Amazon. Don’t be concerned about trying them! The Braggs Aminos taste like soy sauce, only better, and are wheat free. You will find them where oils are found. (hardest thing to locate on the menu!)

Use “Reset in a Crunch” if the daily menus seem daunting. You can repeat meals in each cycle as much as you wish. If you don’t like a menu, replace it with another menu item for that week for the same meal of that day.

Join the Facebook groups for awesome support and accountability! Check in daily and learn more as you go. Search on Facebook for Beachbody Ultimate Reset groups-there is one for each phase, including pre and post.

DRINK THE WATER!!!!! Just DRINK IT!!! It made ALL the difference!

For more info about this program, or to purchase it, contact me