JUST MAKE IT BETTER

A client of mine, let’s call her Cindy, has been struggling to eat healthier. In the past, she’s gone on several diets and like most people, was only successful in the short run. In Cindy’s case, being on a diet reflexively makes her feel denied, which is never a good thing.  Since I hate diets, we are creating new plan, which includes a different way of thinking about food. Our plan is called: JUST MAKE IT BETTER

JUST MAKE IT BETTER means you get to eat foods that you love but have to “doctor” iStock-1131794876.t5d482e40.m800.xtDADj9SvTVFjzuNeGuNUUGY4tm5d6UGU5tkKM0s3iPk-620x342them up to make the meal healthier. For example, if you love chicken Parmesan from your local pizzeria, instead of eating the whole portion, cut it into thirds. Eat 1/3 with a giant salad. Eat 1/3 with bowl of broccoli. Eat the last 1/3 with a bunch of raw fruits and vegetables. I would  rather Cindy eat a small portion of food that makes her feel satisfied, than eating something she doesn’t like but chooses it only because it’s “healthy”.  That strategy never works.

JUST MAKE IT BETTER can look like this:

Instead of eating two pieces of white toast with jam for breakfast, change it to one slice whole-grain toast, and add some avocado slices and/or an egg.

Instead of eating 2-3 slices of pizza, have one small slice with a large salad or veggies.

Instead of eating a large carton of greasy Chinese food, get a small container along with a large container of steamed veggies. Mix ½ of the small with all of the large and you have just made your meal a heck of a lot better!

JUST MAKE IT BETTER gives you freedom to stay clear of feeling denied. You can have fun being creative. You can slowly include more and more fruits and vegetables and swap out most processed foods. If you do it slowly and have an open mind, you might find this way of eating a perfect plan for you, too. You don’t have to overthink…..you have to JUST MAKE IT BETTER!

 

 

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VINEGAR CHICKEN WITH CRUSHED OLIVE DRESSING

This is one of the most popular NY Times recipes and for good reason! It is easy to make and beyond scrumptious. The ingredients work magically! This one is a keeper!! 

ingredients23romanrex-articleLarge

3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

6 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

½ cup white wine vinegar

1 ½ cups green Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

1 cup parsley, tender leaves and stems, chopped

directions

Heat oven to 4500 F. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with turmeric and 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure chicken is skin-side up, then pour vinegar over and around chicken and place in the oven.

Bake chicken, without flipping, until cooked through and deeply browned all over, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine olives, garlic, parsley, the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Once chicken is cooked, remove baking sheet from the oven and transfer chicken to a large serving platter, leaving behind any of the juices and bits stuck to the pan.

Make sure the baking sheet is on a sturdy surface (the stovetop, a counter), then pour the olive mixture onto the sheet. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently scrape up all the bits the chicken left behind, letting the olive mixture mingle with the rendered fat and get increasingly saucy. Pour olive mixture over the chicken, then serve.

 (recipe found on https://cooking.nytimes.com)

 

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NO TIME FOR EXERCISE? NO NEED TO PANIC!

A good friend of mine, Lydia, is in graduate program that is wreaking havoc on her regular routine. Because of her new internship hours, she can no longer exercise in the morning. She is in full-time position with two young kids at home, and when her day finally ends, she is beat. I knew that this was making her feel anxious when I received an SOS text message from her asking, “WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND??? WHAT CAN I DO?”

There are so many body weight exercises that you can do ranging from lunges to IMG_1397.jpegpush ups. Lydia would love to have a routine of body weight exercises, but there is place to do them. No need to panic–there is good news! Studies show that breaking up exercise into smaller pieces can be just as effective as one longer session. In Lydia’s case, she has several breaks throughout the day.

Before I continue, I have to pause to remind you that “exercise” simply means moving your body so that your heart rate goes up. As I mentioned in previous blogs, dancing around your house like a maniac IS exercise. (Think Zumba!) Lydia has access to several flights of stairs so as long as she climbs them and gets her heart rate up, she will be exercising!

More good news: Lydia can progress her stair climbing. She can walk faster up and down; she can do more stair climbing throughout the day; she can run up the stairs; she can take two steps at a time. She also has a lunch break where she can go for brisk walks.  The other day I received a text from her telling me that she did a 15-minute UPHILL walk during lunch. Between these walks and the stair climbing, Lydia IS exercising.

Even if you have time to do “traditional” exercise, incorporating more activity during the day is important for good health.  It’s moving away from being sedentary (the new smoking) to living a more active life!

 

 

 

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH POMEGRANATE AND GOAT CHEESE SPINACH SALAD WITH RED WINE VINAIGRETTE

A client of mine made this salad during the holidays and it was a major hit!! Feel free to play around with the ingredients–I’m going to add more spinach. The ingredients work magically!

salad ingredientsbutternut_squash_pomegranate_salad10.

5 cups (1 ½ lbs) cubed butternut squash, cut into ¾ inch pieces

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

10 oz baby spinach

1 ¼ cups pomegranate arils

4 oz goat cheese or feta, crumbled

dressing ingredients

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp minced shallot

2 ½ Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

directions

For the butternut squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash in a mound on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to evenly coat in oil. Spread into an even layer.

Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes then remove from oven and toss. Return to oven and bake until tender, about 10 minutes longer. Allow to cool several minutes before adding to salad.

For the Salad: In a large salad bowl toss together spinach, squash, ½ of the pecans and ½ of the pomegranate arils.

Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and gently toss. Sprinkle with remaining pecans, pomegranate arils and goat cheese and serve immediately.

For the dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and season with salt and pepper to taste (about ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp pepper). Process until well emulsified.

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

 

 

 

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DON’T MESS WITH WILLIE

A client of mine recently shared an INCREDIBLE story with me that I must share with you! I promise you that this story, about an 82-year old woman, named Willie, will not only make you laugh but will truly inspire you.

Click on this YouTube link.  Seth Myers takes you through the story about fierce Willie Murphy, who proves to be one serious badass.  Take a close look at Willie’s body—at 82, she has a lot of muscle! It is never too late to start weight training, to build muscle, or to get stronger!

 

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LESSONS FROM LIZZO

This summer, I fell in love with the singer-songwriter, rapper, and flutist, Lizzo. download.jpgLizzo is a big girl—some would call her plus-sized, others would simply say that she’s fat. No matter your view, Lizzo belts out lyrics about self-love, body-acceptance, and being your own soulmate.

Of course, there are those Lizzo haters—the people who say that she’s encouraging others to be fat and unhealthy.  While I have not done extensive research, I have never heard Lizzo encourage people to be fat, eat junk food, or not to exercise. She, instead, wants women to stop fighting themselves and to move towards a place of acceptance, no matter what their size.

I love Lizzo’s messages.

Since Lizzo has stirred up a lot of controversy, I started thinking more about what it means to be healthy. Given that the mind and body are connected, I can make the argument that perpetual mental distress about your body can lead to stress and anxiety, which has a huge impact on physical health. So, is a skinny woman, obsessing over food, her weight, and how much she exercises, healthy? What about someone with a “perfect BMI”, who never exercises and has no muscle mass? Or someone, who needs to shed 20-30 pounds, but eats well, exercises, and is in great cardiovascular shape?

Clearly, the definition of “healthy” is not so clear.

Now that 2020 is almost here, I think we all should aim for more self-acceptance. I’m not suggesting to ditch exercise, to be sedentary, or to eat a diet full of processed food. Do the best you can, but treat yourself with kindness along the way. I have always believed that if you put yourself first (so many women can’t), you will ultimately be better to everyone. As Lizzo says, “IF I’M SHINING, EVERYBODY’S GONNA SHINE!”

Amen sister!

 

 

 

 

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JANUARY 1st: DON’T DO IT!

Now that it’s the middle of December, this is a perfect time to talk about my least favorite 4-letter word: DIET. If you’ve been reading my posts, you will know that I don’t like diets simply because they don’t work. I promise you that if they did work, I download.pngwould feel differently. This 4-letter word might be floating around in your brain as we head into the holiday season, knowing that January 1st is just a few weeks away.

This past year, several of my clients decided go down the diet path—some of them went on Weight Watchers, others chose different plans. Not surprisingly, all of them lost weight. Not surprisingly, all of them re-gained some or all of the weight back. Long-term weight loss happens only when you make real lifestyle changes. My clients who have done that, have been successful.

So, what’s the difference between the two? A diet is a plan that you follow but has some built in restriction that prevents you from sticking to it long-term. I have two issues with this:

  1. Diets mess you up mentally: Failure leads to frustration, self-loathing and in some cases, obsessing over food and what to eat.
  2. Diets mess you up physically: When you start to lose weight, while there is fat loss there is also muscle loss. Muscle mass is what keeps us strong and metabolic. Often times, especially on a low-calorie diet where weight loss is rapid, there will be more muscle loss. If you abruptly go off the diet and re-gain the weight quickly, there will be fat gain. After all is said and done, you might weigh the same, but your body composition could have changed leaving you with more fat and less muscle. Who wants that? NOT ME!

Lifestyle changes are set up for you to do them forever. There is more freedom, no restriction, and no rigid time frame. Realistic small changes are made and once the first change seems easy, you move on to the next one.  If something doesn’t work, you tweak the process and figure out what will work. Lifestyles changes are dynamic.  They evolve over time and change since aspects of your life do as well.  The goal is to make behavioral changes that become a way of life, not something you do temporarily.

While lifestyle changes are gradual and fluid, you won’t be successful unless you are committed to making a long-term investment in yourself. This is not easy. However, obsessing about weight, going on and off diets, gaining and losing weight, is its own special kind of hell. I don’t want that for myself or for any of you! My advice? Instead of starting a new diet, take a moment to think about what you want, and what you are willing to do.

 

 

 

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