Category Archives: Health and Wellness

The catch-all category for all things health and wellness

What We Ate Last Week!

Good nutrition plays such a huge role in a healthy body and mind. And my job revolves largely around helping my clients promote good health in their lives through things like meal planning, learning to read nutritional labels, choosing healthy foods at the grocery store, making healthy choices at restaurants, knowing which ingredients to avoid, the list goes on and on.

During sessions with my clients, I’m frequently asked, “So, what do YOU eat? What kinds of meals do you cook at home?” I love giving my clients ideas for simple, healthy meals that can be prepped in 30 minutes or less. Even though I love to cook and relish the idea of having hours in the kitchen to make everything from scratch and present a 4-course meal to my husband every night, the reality is that I don’t have time for that. And neither do most of my clients and friends. We need meals that are easily prepped, quickly prepared, and ready to be served ASAP. Most of us have busy, hectic schedules and dinner needs to be simple and easy.

healthy-eating-ecardAlthough the ideal is that everything would be homemade, with no prepackaged foods, and only organic, locally grown produce, the reality is that most people don’t have the time – or the money – for that. Sometimes heating up a bag of frozen green beans is the only way we’ll get our veggies in at dinner. I’ve learned over several years of being a Holistic Health Coach that if I give my clients complicated recipes that call for weird ingredients and take an hour to pull together, they’ll just end up driving through McDonald’s instead.  😛

For most people to invest in cooking healthy meals, they need to be as healthy as possible while still being as SIMPLE as possible, which is where I come in. 🙂 My goal is to provide my clients with recipes that are as healthy as possible, while also ensuring that they (and their kids, which is often the real challenge) will be willing to eat the foods involved.

I thought it’d be fun to do a weekly post on here about the meals that my hubby and I are eating each week! Hopefully it’ll provide some inspiration for those who are looking for healthy meal ideas.

I haven’t done my meal plan for this week yet, so here’s a look at what we ate last week, instead:

WHAT WE ATE LAST WEEK:

Monday: leftovers from the weekend!
chicken-wings1.jpg
Tuesday:
Crock Pot Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings
– this is one of Rob’s favorite recipes that I make, so we eat this pretty often! 🙂 I always use drumsticks instead of wings, though (our personal preference).
– I made a pot of rice with this and some sauteed green beans for our veggie!

Wednesday: Trader Joe’s Shitake Mushroom Chicken
– about once a week we have a night where we need a super quick meal and I don’t have time to cook much of anything. Our go-to for those nights is Trader Joe’s frozen section! This was our first time trying this particular entree and it was delicious! We had leftover rice from the night before and ate that with the stir-fry.

Thursday: leftovers!lemon-chicken-veggies-1

Friday: Lemon Chicken with Veggies
– first time trying this recipe too, and it was delicious!
– I didn’t have room in my pan for everything, so I roasted the potatoes in a separate pan with just some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (our favorite way to eat potatoes!)

Saturday: out for dinner (at a friend’s adorable gender-reveal party with a Pasta House buffet!)

I’ll be back soon with a post sharing my favorite resources for healthy, easy recipes!
Time to get a meal plan going for this new week! Enjoy your Sunday, friends! 🙂

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Married Life and Meal Planning

Hi there!!

Can’t believe it’s already almost August! This summer has FLOWN by for me, with most of May and June focused on getting married and all the planning that came with it. We’re back from our honeymoon now, and settling in to married life. I love it!

As unbelievable as it may sound, I actually enjoy cleaning and organizing, so having our own little place has been a lot of fun. I’m sure there will be days that I don’t feel like cleaning the toilets or vacuuming the carpets, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying these little chores. I haven’t had my own place since 2010 when I lived down in Dallas, so it’s fun to jump back into that – and this time, with my hubby.

Some of our kitchen creations so far: Roasted Broccoli, Pesto Pasta, & BBQ Chicken and Gouda Cheese Pizza

Some of our kitchen creations so far: Roasted Broccoli, Pesto Pasta, & BBQ Chicken and Gouda Cheese Pizza

This first month and a half of marriage has been full of discoveries regarding grocery shopping, meal planning, and budgeting. My inner nerd has come out in full force, as I pore over budgeting blogs and scour the weekly ads for the best deals at each grocery store.  One week Dierbergs thought they could get me to pay $2.99 for strawberries. Little did they know, this girl reads her Aldis ad every week and got strawberries for $1.89 on sale. Aldis, 1. Dierbergs, 0.

I quickly realized about a week into married life that meal planning is a life-saver. I’ve always coached my clients to meal plan as much as possible, because it helps you avoid impulse trips to Five Guys or eating chicken pot pie every night of the week. And now I’m seeing just how much meal planning helps with budgeting, too! When I don’t have a meal plan for the week, I find myself wandering around up and down the aisles, with no idea what I’m doing. Every few steps, I take something off the shelf, look it over, try to think of a meal I could use it for, and then inevitably decide I have no use for it at all. Or, I panic because I don’t have any kind of plan and just start grabbing random things that sound good to me at the time and stuffing them in my cart. By the time I get home and start putting groceries away, I realize that nothing I bought will go together for a complete recipe. It’s not easy to make dinner with a can of kidney beans, California raisins, and macaroni noodles. Believe me.

So, the discipline of meal planning has become my friend in the kitchen. It takes a few minutes at the beginning of the week, but it’s so worth it in the end.

The way I see it, these are the top 5 benefits of meal planning:

  1. Save money by only buying the things you need for the week

    picking up milk

  2. Avoid ending up with random foods in your fridge that don’t go together. (see example above with raisins and kidney beans)
  3. Enjoy a variety of foods throughout the week and avoid getting bored with your meals.
  4. Eat healthier! By actually cooking a meal instead of scrounging around in the pantry for junk food, you can ensure that you get at least SOME veggies in your stomach every night!
  5. You won’t have to eat PB&J every night til the cows come home. (Although my husband insists that he doesn’t mind if we eat PB&J all the time, I’m pretty sure he’s just being kind. There may or may not have been one night last week where I started crying because I was so exhausted and didn’t want to cook anything for dinner…that might have prompted his PB&J comment. Maybe.)

As you can see, meal planning definitely has its benefits. However, there can be some pitfalls to this process, if you don’t know what you’re doing. (i.e. the first 3 weeks of my married life) Even though I’m rather a newbie to this whole process myself, I thought I’d share with you my tips for streamlining the meal-planning process. (that was a mouthful)

Tips for Awesome Meal-Planning:

1) Figure out which day you are going to grocery shop each week. Then, work on your meal plan a day or two beforehand. I like to meal plan on Sundays because I can look at our calendar for the week and figure out which nights I will be cooking vs. which nights we will be eating out, eating on the run, or be at a party with food.

2) Plan ahead for which nights you will have time to cook vs. which nights you will be rushed for time. If I have evening clients around dinner time, I like to do a crock-pot meal or a casserole that I can make ahead of time. This keeps us from eating at 8pm, which is what happened the first week of our marriage… oops.

3) Try to mix up your flavors and foods. This is pretty simple: don’t make chicken every night or green beans with every meal. Try a variety of meats, veggies, and flavors. As a general rule, I like to do a pasta one night, fish one night, and then fill in with chicken and pork meals.

4) Don’t make it too complicated. As much as it would be fun to mysteriously conclude, “There’s a fine art to meal planning,” …there really isn’t. It’s simple. Which is good. Pull out your cookbooks, search “dinner recipes” on Pinterest, or find a few cooking blogs you love. Ask your friends for their favorite go-to meals, and put together a binder full of your best creations. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If it’s awful, at least you can say you tried something new. If it’s amazing, then you’ve got a new favorite recipe to add to your repertoire. Can’t go wrong with that!

In closing, here are a few of my favorite resources for meal-planning inspiration:

My Pinterest Recipe Board
Real Simple Recipes
Cooking Light Recipes
A great selection of dinner recipe boards on Pinterest

Happy Meal Planning!!

pick up pizza

3 Ways to Ward off Sickness This Winter!

It’s that time of year…Christmas is in the air, but so are lots of cold and flu germs!

No one wants to miss out on the holiday parties, cookie baking, and gift exchanges, so I’m here to give you my 3 top tips for warding off the germs this season!

 TIPS FOR STAYING HEALTHY:

1)      Build your immune system up so you’re better able to fight off the germs. This means eating lots of nutrient-rich veggies, drinking lots of water, and taking your vitamins. Regular exercise also helps equip your body to fight infection.

2)      Keep the sweets to a minimum. There’s no reason to deprive yourself of Christmas cookies altogether, but try not to go overboard. Large amounts of sugar temporarily weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick. Enjoy your candy, cookies, and chocolates in moderation – this means eating one or two, not the whole bag or plate!

3)      Get your zzzz’s. It’s a hectic time of year, but make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. When you don’t get enough sleep….you guessed it, your immune system is weaker! Beginning to see a common theme to these preventive tips? A lot has to do with keeping your immune system strong – i.e., giving yourself a fighting chance in the battle to stay healthy!

Ok….well, what happens when I do get sick??

As much as I’d like to say the 3 tips above will completely prevent a single sick day this winter, it’s just not realistic. Life gets the best of us sometimes, and even the healthiest person will find themselves nursing a scratchy throat and sniffling at a Christmas party sooner or later. It happens. And it happened to me this past week. (Which is largely what inspired me to write this post!)  head cold

 

Wednesday afternoon, my throat started getting sore and I began to feel that dread that comes the night before a cold really sets in. You know that feeling when you just know you’re about to get sick? It’s not fun. And before learning about holistic health, I would usually raise the white flag of surrender at this point, and resign myself to 5-7 days of a horrible head cold. Time to start stocking every room of the house with a box of Kleenex.

However, this time around, I decided I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The battle was on. It sounds dramatic, I know, but if you understood how much I DID NOT want to get sick this week, you’d be in battle mode too.

So, here’s what I did:

1)      Pumped myself full of immune-system-boosting vitamins! My favorite is Congaplex from Standard Process.    Since this is made of completely natural, whole-foods products, you can take them as often as possible. Whenever I start feeling sick, I pop 2 or 3 of these every hour!

apple cider vinegar2)      Gargled. With apple cider vinegar. It’s not fun, and it’s not tasty, but it gets the job done. Apple cider vinegar is amazing for many reasons (see the graphic on the right), one of which is clearing out the “gunk” in your throat and sinuses! However, not all apple cider vinegar is created equal; it’s important to get it raw and un-pasteurized, so that it still has the “mother” in it . My favorite brand is Bragg’s, which is available at Whole Foods and several other health foods stores.

3)      Drank lots of Throat Coat tea! My chiropractor was the one who first told me about this amazing remedy, and I’ve had a box in my pantry ever since. It’s available at your local grocery store, as well as CVS and Walgreens. I drink Throat Coat tea whenever my voice is feeling a little sore or hoarse, even if I’m not technically sick. It’s great stuff! throat coat tea

4)      SLEPT. I realized as I thought back on the past week that I hadn’t been getting nearly enough sleep, which is probably one of the reasons my body finally succumbed to the head cold boogie monster. Thankfully, I only had one client on Thursday morning and was able to reschedule with her so I could get some more sleep. I slept until noon and woke up feeling slightly better. Even though I didn’t notice a huge difference immediately after my nap, I really think the extra sleep helped me come out on the winning side with this cold. As I said earlier, when your body is sleep-deprived and exhausted, you are much more susceptible to the germs and viruses around you.

Thankfully, my story has a happy ending. By Thursday evening, I was feeling much better and the cold never actually went to my head or chest. The sore throat was annoying for those 24 hours, but I’ll take that over a week-long head cold any day!

I know there will still be times that the cold, flu, or other nasty virus gets the victory over you and me, but why not do everything possible to nip it in the bud and get healthy again as soon as possible? Your body (and your friends and family) will thank you!

Here’s to a healthy Christmas season!

head cold

4 Things That Made a Huge Difference in My Recovery

First of all, thank you all so much for your responses to my story. I was blown away by all of the encouraging emails, texts and messages that I received! I heard from some who have been recovered for years, and many who are still trying to figure out how to get started on that path. Wherever you’re at in your journey, I want to encourage you that you’re not alone. body image

I believe it’s safe to say that almost every woman wrestles in some way – big or small – with her body image and self-worth. Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be blogging more about my thoughts on these topics and sharing things that have helped me along the way. I’m still a work in progress, but my body image has come a LONG way in the past 2 years (thanks to counseling and lots of hard work) and I’m excited to encourage others to move in the same direction!

Today, I just wanted to pop in and share a piece I wrote for a blog of a fellow Health Coach and friend. It’s over on her blog today, and you can check it out here.

In the post, I share 4 things that helped me make huge progress when I had reached a plateau in my recovery. Even after months of counseling, I was still finding myself engaging in old habits of over-exercising and severe restrictions in my diet. These 4 very practical tips pushed me in the right direction and I hope will be helpful to you as well!

Enjoy your day! 🙂

My Personal Battle with an Eating Disorder

Hi friends, 

I’m taking a break from the usual recipes, workouts and random musings on this blog today to share with you something much more personal and raw. I’ve been working on this story – my story – for quite a while, and I finally – nervously – pushed the “publish” button today. 1097965_392214087544816_872314355_n

Writing out my story was therapeutic in a way. It’s encouraging for me to look back a few years and see how far I’ve come – especially since there were times I thought recovery was impossible.

I’m not by any means finished in this journey and I don’t claim to have it all figured out (far from it!), but I’ve learned a lot along the way that might be helpful to others who are where I was a few years ago – desperately wishing for a way out, but struggling to believe I could break free from these obsessions and compulsions.

I’ve tasted both ends of the spectrum – the starvation and obsessive exercise, as well as the bingeing and complete loss of control.

Today, because of what I’ve learned in my own recovery and my education as a Holistic Health Coach, I help other women develop a healthy relationship with food and fitness. I support my clients by helping them discover the underlying issues that are behind their eating habits, and develop balance and self-care in their lives. If you or someone you know is dealing with any of these things, please contact me at healthwithhope@gmail.com. I’d love to sit down with you for a (free) consultation and help you get started on the road to health.

Click here to read my story!

– Hope

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too (without guilt!)

Since we just came off of a holiday weekend, I should probably be posting some delicious recipe I made for the 4th but instead I want to address something that’s troubled me for awhile now about holiday festivities.

No, I’m not a Scrooge and my annoyance has nothing to do with the holidays themselves. But often around the time of a holiday, I hear a lot of food and body talk that is filled with GUILT and SHAME. You’ve probably heard it too:

Pre-holiday talk:
“Oh, there’s going to be so much bad food at the BBQ tonight…I need to really work hard at the gym this morning!!!”
“I want to be able to stuff my face without guilt on Thanksgiving so I have been really good all week!”
“I lost 3 pounds last month! I’ve earned a splurge at this family dinner!”

Post-holiday talk:
“Wow, I ate so badly last weekend!! I need to get back on track first thing tomorrow morning!”
“I am so mad at myself for eating so much dessert last night!! I’ll be working out every day this week to keep off any extra pounds!”
“I was really good at the BBQ on Saturday. I stuck to the salad and veggies and passed on dessert!”

I hear these kinds of comments quite frequently and I’m guessing you have as well.

It bothers me for (primarily) these 3 reasons:

1) I used to think and talk like this and it made my relationship with food incredibly stressful!
2) The words used in these comments are associating food with being either GOOD or BAD – when really, food is just that: food. It’s not evil to enjoy a piece of dessert; and it’s not righteous to fill yourself with veggies.
3) I believe food is for our nourishment and enjoyment, and it shouldn’t be about guilt and shame. Period.

Allow me to rant for a little bit, because this is an issue that is very close to my heart…

I understand that most people these days are intent on “looking good” (however that is defined), losing weight, and being “toned.” And I think it’s very acceptable to have goals and work toward achieving them. But I have to be honest, I’m not a fan of placing all this moral value on a piece of pie or a bowl of popcorn. It’s food. Eaten in moderation, I believe even dessert and french fries have a place in our lives!

I used to be so entrenched in all of the guilt and shame myself, but it’s sure not an enjoyable way to go through life. I know this is a fine line to walk because I understand that some people have definite weight to lose in order to be healthy, and maybe others just want to lose another few pounds to feel fit and toned. And that’s okay. But please don’t beat yourself up about what you eat and feel guilty for enjoying a delicious meal or special dessert.

I think women especially have a problem with this – it’s almost a game between us sometimes to share how “bad” or “good” we were at a holiday event and encourage each other in our guilt, shame, or perhaps pride (if we were “good”).

I’m not trying to judge anyone for talking like this; I’m just suggesting that maybe we should let go of the guilt and shame and instead learn to enjoy the food we eat – whether it’s a big salad or a big piece of cake.

As cheesy as it sounds, I truly feel like life is too short to miss out on cake and ice cream.

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with feeling guilty for eating foods that are “bad”?
Do you have trouble enjoying indulgences without beating yourself up about it?
Can you start today to enjoy the treats you eat and stop buying into the guilt and shame?

The Happiest 5K on the Planet!

the_color_run_logoRoll

Generally speaking, I go into most 5K races with few expectations, simply looking to have fun and perhaps hit a new personal record. I don’t expect the race itself to “give” much to me…except the opportunity to run a few miles with a bunch of strangers other runners and get a t-shirt out of the experience. Free coffee at the finish line is a plus, too.

However, when I headed downtown for the St Louis Color Run 5K last Saturday, I will admit that I had some expectations. This race is marketed as “the happiest 5K on the planet” so I felt justified in expecting it to be…well, HAPPY!

You’ve probably seen some of the posters and pictures from this nationwide 5K race series…people covered in rainbows of color splatters, huge smiles on their faces, waving their arms in the air or riding triumphantly on the shoulders of a friend. It’s hard not to feel happy when you see the glossy displays of color and the sheer pleasure and triumph on every face.

On Saturday morning, I headed downtown with my boyfriend to see what this gloriously happy 5K was all about. The day didn’t start out on a particularly happy note as we drove down Highway 40 with a steady drizzle of rain falling on the windshield. I don’t have a problem running in the rain (I enjoy it, usually!) but when I think of a HAPPY race, I think of sunshine and butterflies…not puddles and ponchos.

It was pointless to worry about the rain, though – rain or shine, I was going to be a mess by the time I reached the finish line – what’s a little extra water? After several minutes of navigating the one-way streets downtown, we found an open parking garage and quickly made our way to the start line. It took about 15 minutes before I was able to start, as they were sending out waves of people in 5 minute intervals. I wasn’t able to connect with any of my friends before the race (it’s hard to find people in a sea of 1,000 white t-shirts) but I just told myself to enjoy it and have fun regardless.

After about a quarter mile of running past tutus and tiaras (apparently it’s popular to dress up for this race) I heard someone calling my name and turned around to see two of my good friends. I stuck with them the rest of the way and we talked the entire time, which was so much fun!

color run collage

The color stations weren’t exactly what I was expecting… I didn’t realize we would have to go up to a volunteer and specifically ask them to spray us with color. For some reason, after ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the awesome posters on the Color Run website, I pictured “color machines” showering color all over us as we ran by – or a similarly innovative method. But nope, volunteers with plastic bottles of colored powder! It was still a lot of fun, though!

Three miles have never flown by so quickly for me. Because of the color stations and the distraction of good conversation with friends, I was shocked when the finish line came into view. We coasted in at a nice, easy pace and then evaluated the damage. 🙂 I was pretty covered with color on my face, arms, and t-shirt, but thankfully I didn’t get too much in my hair. I’ve seen some horror stories posted on the Facebook page…people that have been showering up to 3 times every day since the race, in an attempt to get the blue and green highlights out of their hair. Yikes. The color came off of my skin with some good scrubbing and a bar of soap, and it washed completely out of my shorts, which was a pleasant surprise.

We hung around downtown for a little while after the race, taking pictures and shivering in the drizzle of rain. All in all, this 5K was a great time and definitely a fun race to put in the books. We could have used some “happier” weather, but the rest of the experience was a lot of fun!

The Color Run is quite expensive for a 5K (almost double what I’m used to paying for smaller, local races!) but I guess someone has to cover the cost of all that pixie dust powdered color they’re spraying all over us! I don’t think I’d pay for it again, but it was definitely a good one-time race and I’m glad to check it off my “Bucket List: Race Edition”. 🙂

Yet Another Reason to Love Sweet Potatoes

I’ve always harbored a deep affection for sweet potatoes, but today I discovered yet another reason to love them.

And it can be summed up completely in three little words: Sweet Potato Chips.

sweet potato 2

You may be thinking that sweet potato chips have been around for ages – which is true – but I’d never tried a homemade version, until today. I recently stumbled across this blog while looking for a recipe, and discovered a very simple how-to post on homemade Sweet Potato Chips. “Very simple” meaning: three ingredients – one of which is the sweet potato!

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods because not only are they extremely good for you, but there are lots of ways to prepare and enjoy them! One of my favorites is to microwave the sweet potato for 6 minutes, slice into rounds, slather with coconut oil + cinnamon, and a sprinkle of sea salt. I also love to cube sweet potatoes, steam them on the stove, and toss them into a salad. And then there was the time I made sweet potato browniesmelt-in-your-mouth good.

I’ve made sweet potato fries before, but these chips were even better (in my opinion) because they got a little crunchy around the edges and really tasted like a salty, fried, potato chip. The only difference is that you fry these chips in a good-for-you fat and sprinkle with mineral-rich sea salt, so they should be enjoyed entirely guilt-free! 🙂

Without further ado, here is the recipe for this healthy and delicious snack:

SWEET POTATO CHIPS

sweet potato 3There are just a few steps to this recipe and the whole process took me less than 15 minutes. Simply slice your sweet potato (into VERY thin slices so they will cook more evenly) and heat up some coconut oil on the stove while you’re slicing. Then fry the sweet potato slices for 3-5 minutes, flipping regularly to keep them from getting overly dark like mine did. 😉 

Once they’re done cooking, lay them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil, sprinkle with some sea salt, and enjoy!

sweet potato 4

 

Check out these links for more info:

Why Coconut Oil is a Good-for-You Fat!

Health Benefits of Sea Salt vs. Table Salt