CAN’T GET STARTED? BE CURIOUS!

Many people come to see me wanting to lose weight. (I would love for people to focus, instead, on being healthy, but that’s a topic for another blog.) In most cases, the greatest obvious nutrition obstacle is the time needed to plan, prepare and prep. Even if you’re not cooking a lot, eating healthily still requires having a plan and executing one takes time. My clients and I also talk about the fundamentals needed to be successful, which include:

  • Paying attention to hunger and satiety
  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Trying to eat as many whole foods possible. (Or, trying to eat as little processed food as possible.)
  • Having healthy snacks on hand
  • Watching the amount of unhealthy carbs consumed
  • Moving your body as much as possible

Then, we proceed to the specifics of their life—their lifestyle, their food preferences, their willingness to cook, their family unit, their work, how social they are, and how much time they are willing to dedicate to good nutrition. All of these will factor into creating the right plan for them. Since we are all different, no two plans will be identical.  Once armed with some structure, many people do very well. And many don’t.

If you are stuck and can’t seem to get started, I want you to be curious. Curiosity is a IMG_1275positive!  Unlike self-deprecation, curiosity keeps your mind open. It makes you take a closer look at your behavior, without judgment, so that you can unpack WHY you act (or not) in a certain way. Often times there is a less-obvious obstacle preventing you from achieving your goals. Being curious might uncover something much bigger—something deeper, that you need to address.

A client of mine wanted to lose weight and so we had several discussions and created a plan. When she got stuck, she became curious. And after some painful introspection, she realized that the underlying issue was that she had to  start focusing on her social life (or lack of one). It was much easier for her to zoom in on weight loss—she kept convincing herself that losing weight would be the answer to all of her problems. Once she uncovered this, she was able to address her deep-rooted issue, which was far more important than simply losing some weight.

From my experience, the worst thing that you can do for your mental sanity is to keep starting something, not being able to maintain it, and stopping. This is so damaging and deflating to your sense of well-being. In this blog, I used the example of weight loss but it applies to anything in your life that you keep starting and stopping: exercise, cooking, meditation, making time for yourself, reading more, learning something new, spending more time with loved ones, etc. Instead of yo-yo-ing, take a breath, stop and be curious. Be a detective so that you can uncover the deeper, hidden issue. You will then be better able to tackle your obstacles once and for all!

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WHITE TURKEY CHILI WITH KALE

This chili is amazing!! I added a small piece of chopped chorizo into the onions, which really spiced things up nicely!!! A perfect dish for this cooler weather.

ingredients

2 T olive oil, divideddownload.jpg

1 lb. ground turkey or chicken

2 t chili powder

1 t each ground cumin and dried oregano

½ t sea salt

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale

4 scallions, chopped light and dark green parts divided

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1, 15-oz can cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed

directions

In a Dutch oven on medium-high, heat ½ teaspoon oil. Add turkey, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt and cook, breaking up the turkey with a spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer turkey mixture to a plate and set aside.

In same Dutch oven still on medium-high, heat remaining 1½ teaspoon oil. Add yellow onion, kale, light parts of scallion, celery, jalapeno,  and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in turkey mixture, broth and beans. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring, until heated through and slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide among bowls and sprinkle with dark green parts of scallion.

(recipe found on https://www.cleaneatingmag.com/)

 

 

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THE SNOWBALL EFFECT

Isn’t it crazy how bad habits, even when kept at bay for a long time, come back? I imagine a knock at the door, opening it and saying “Hello bad habit, welcome back!” Often times one bad habit leads to another. I see this all the time with exercise and clean eating. I’m not sure which one comes first but either a lack of exercise causes a decrease in motivation to eat well, or not eating healthily leads to inactivity. This becomes a snowball effect which is “a situation in which something increases in size or download.jpgimportance at a faster and faster rate” (Cambridge Dictionary). The good news is, the snowball effect can work for you.

A year ago, a new client, “Margot”, came to see me. Margot was in her mid-sixties and not in the best shape. In fact, she wanted me to train her in order to build up her leg muscles so that she could eventually have her knee(s) replaced. Margot was unconditioned. I wasn’t sure how we would get through the first session but we did. Slowly but surely, Margot started making some progress. As she got stronger, she started to do more activities on her own. Her walks around the block with her dog grew longer; her short stints of swimming at her local pool increased. The more she did on her own, the stronger she became, and the more she was able to do with me. All of this exercise and movement motivated Margot to eat healthier. She started paying more attention to her diet and began cooking. She lost weight, felt more energetic and this allowed her to become even more active. A year later, we are both stunned at what she can do. There is no talk of a knee replacement. While I understand physiologically what is happening to her body, I still find her transformation to be nothing short of miraculous. Often times, in our sessions, we  giggle when she is able to do yet another more challenging exercise.

In Margot’s case, the snowball effect is at work in the most positive way. I can visualize the snowball traveling down a hill, getting bigger and gaining momentum. It’s all so glorious when it’s working for you.

If you’re stuck in a rut, have no fear. Focus on one small change and stick to it. That small change can lead to another, and then another and before you know it, you, too,  might find yourself in a wondrous snowball effect!

 

 

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APPLE CIDER GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS

This is a PERFECT chicken recipe for the fall! delish-190912-apple-cider-glazed-chicken-0176-landscape-pf-1571156445

ingredients

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 apples, sliced

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed

2/3 cup apple cider

2 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. Grainy mustard

1 tbsp. butter

3 rosemary sprigs, for skillet

directions

Preheat oven to 425°. In a medium bowl, add potatoes, apples and chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until combined.

In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining olive oil. Add chicken and sear, skin side down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove chicken from heat while you make the glaze.

To the same skillet, add apple cider, honey and grainy mustard. Bring mixture to a rapid simmer and cook until mixture has reduced slightly then whisk in the butter. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up, and scatter the sweet potato mixture and rosemary sprigs around the chicken. Turn off the heat and transfer the entire skillet to the oven.

Bake until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. (If potatoes need longer to cook, transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest and continue cooking until tender.)

(recipe found on delish.com)

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PARMESAN BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD

Here is a different way to enjoy Brussels sprouts. A lovely Fall salad with gorgeous colors!!

ingredientsdelish-brussels-sprouts-salad-1528221412

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 tbsp. lemon juice

¼ c. freshly chopped parsley

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved and thinly sliced (about 8 cups)

½ c. chopped toasted almonds

½ c. pomegranate seeds

Shaved Parmesan, for serving

ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper until combined. Add Brussels sprouts and toss until completely coated. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for at least 20 minutes and up to 4 hours before serving.

Fold in almonds and pomegranate seeds and garnish with shaved Parmesan before serving.

(adapted from a recipe found on https://www.delish.com)

 

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THE BENEFITS OF DECELERATION

I recently went to Boulder, Colorado and while there, I took a restorative yoga class with an incredible instructor, Lara. As the class started, Lara began talking about something that she learned that day about electric cars: She discovered that electric Zdp6sMyoGA.pngcars actually recharge when the accelerator is not being pressed. This means that when the car is going downhill, and decelerating, it is actually recharging. She wanted us to think about this as it pertained to our lives. Since rest is restorative, she wanted to know…….were we decelerating enough?

I sat there feeling as if Lara was speaking directly to me. I came to Boulder feeling broken in every way.  A month prior, I had a bad bike accident. I should have taken time off so that I could rest and recover.  Instead, I chose to ignore all of that just “carried on”, as if nothing happened.  (DENIAL!) Eventually it caught up with me and I re-injured myself hardly doing anything. I hobbled into that yoga studio barely able to walk.

Like most people, I had to learn the hard way before I was ready to make a change. Our bodies are wondrous—they work so hard for us all the time doing things that we all take for granted. Right now, as you read this, your heart is pumping, your lungs are taking in air and removing carbon dioxide, your digestive system is breaking down and absorbing nutrients, hormones are flowing, new red blood cells are being made, your eyes are blinking, your kidneys and liver are detoxing, your white blood cells are fighting off invaders. In return, we owe our bodies good nutrition, water, a lot of movement, and REST so we can recharge.

I preach to my clients about the benefits of rest and yet I did not follow my own advice.  Pushing through pain is never a good thing! So, if you find yourself rushing around, trying to squeeze it all in,  and pushing yourself too much, sooner or later your body will send you a strong message. Mind did. Please don’t make the same mistake I made!

I am currently on a path of embracing deceleration so that I can properly heal and recharge . I want my life more balanced. Maybe you need to recharge, too?

 

 

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HARISSA CHICKEN WITH LEEKS, POTATOES AND YOGURT

This Melissa Clark recipe is AMAZING!!! I made this a few days ago and grilled the chicken instead of baking it in the oven. Either way, try it!

ingredientsdownload.jpg

2 tablespoons harissa

4 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons kosher or flaky sea salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

3 chicken thighs

3 chicken legs

1 pounds roasting potatoes (such as Yukon Golds) and/or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ -inch cubes

2 leeks, washed, sliced in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced crossways

grated zest of one lemon

½ cup plain yogurt

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

lemon or lime juice

1 cup mix of fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, chervil, and tarragon, very coarsely chopped

directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the harissa, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, cumin, 2 ½ teaspoons of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the black pepper. Add the chicken and potatoes, then rub the thighs and legs and potatoes with the marinade. Be sure to use your hands to rub the sauce under the skin of the chicken. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the leeks together with the lemon zest, ¼ of the salt, and the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.
  4. Transfer the chicken and potatoes, and any sauce in the bowl, onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the chicken pieces so they are skin side up, and make sure the chicken parts and potatoes are in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Toss the potatoes (so they can brown on the other sides of them) then strew the leeks over everything on the baking sheet. It may look like a lot, but they’ll bake down.
  6. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, another 20 to 25 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, in a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the garlic, the remaining salt and pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.
  7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spoon the yogurt sauce in various places over the chicken and potatoes. Top with fresh herbs and serve.

(Melissa’s Clark recipe found on www.tastecooking.com)

 

 

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