How to Keep Your Resolutions All Year

How to Keep Your Resolutions All Year

How many times have you resolved at any time of the year to eat right, exercise, lose weight, save money, read more, get fit, or work out more…then felt lazy, unmotivated, unsuccessful or a failure because you didn’t follow through on your resolutions?

How to Keep Your Resolutions All Year

Well, the bad news is that it’s possible you really are just too lazy, unmotivated, not ready or don’t want it bad enough. But the good news is that it’s much more likely, especially since you’re reading this article, that the real problem is not you, it’s your resolutions. With a tiny bit of tweaking and a few simple strategies, you can not only keep your resolutions this year, but you can slowly turn those resolutions into positive life choices that stick with you forever.

Make SMART Resolutions

First and foremost, your resolutions need to be SMART. This acronym, used widely by business coaches and goal-setters, stands for (with some variations): Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable/Actionable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely/Time-oriented. Make sure each of your resolutions is stated with these in mind.

For example, let’s take a common resolution like ‘exercise more’ and make it SMART.

Be more Specific: What kind of exercise? Where will you exercise? Who with?
Make it Measurable: How many exercises session will you do each week? How long will you exercise for each time?
Make sure it’s Achievable and think how to Action it: Will you join a gym, buy equipment, get a coach, schedule time in your day?
Make it Relevant to your life and preferences: What type of exercise do you like? Which is most likely to work with your schedule and budget?
Lastly, put some time frame around it: How about an 8-week exercise class? Or a commitment to run through the spring season?

Are your health goals SMART?

Write everything down

Write down your SMART resolutions, list any action steps needed for each resolution, and continually jot down any ideas, worries, challenges, small successes, and affirmations that come in your mind.

You can keep a food diary, an exercise log, a calendar, a daily diary, a happiness journal – whatever it takes to help you achieve your resolutions.

Writing accesses the subconscious part of your brain, so you will get to know some of the ‘hidden’ thoughts and emotions behind your desire for change and be able to address any that are keeping you from making those changes.

Work on a few changes at a time

Though you may have 6-10 resolutions in mind, it may be easier for you to focus on only 2-3 of those at a time. You could focus on 3 of your resolutions in February, and once those are becoming part of your normal routine, you could add 2 more new resolutions in March. Give those a month to become habitual, then add 2 more in April, and so on.

When making health resolutions, it’s best to work on Thought and Food resolutions first, as then you will be in the right mind-set and have enough energy and nutrients to dedicate yourself to your other resolutions.

Find a support system

Often the first place we look for support is in our home, but our family members and close friends are not always on the same page as us or have differing lifestyles that make our resolutions hard to follow.

Instead of trying to change your family members, just keep focusing on you, and find other like-minded people for inspiration, motivation and encouragement. Facebook pages and internet forums are great for this, as are local community groups, health gyms, studios and classes.

Visualise yourself already achieving your resolution

When you’re sitting in traffic, daydreaming at lunch or lying in bed at night, picture yourself doing the actions you set in your resolutions. Picture the same thing over and over, and imagine yourself as the best you can be at it.

Visualise yourself doing the toughest yoga poses, bounding up the 3 flights of stairs to your office without getting winded, savouring a deliciously cooked nutritious dinner, or responding to your angry boss or child with serenity and understanding. If you truly desire the things you have resolved to do, these images will make you smile and your thoughts will in time become your reality.

Sometimes a resolution has a goal at the end, such as running 4 km 3 times a week in order to run a marathon next season. But often, a resolution, such as running 4 km 3 times a week, is the goal itself. This makes resolutions very flexible and achievable not only once, but many times!

It also means that every day is a fresh start. Just because you didn’t follow your resolution yesterday doesn’t mean it’s over. Start fresh tomorrow! When you keep going back to your resolutions, you will achieve them more and more often until the new action becomes a permanent part of your life.

Keep your SMART resolutions somewhere where you can read them often to remind yourself of what you want to achieve and who you want to be, and every day is another chance to make those positive life changes for good.

Make vague resolutions into SMART life choices
Make vague resolutions into SMART life choices

Some Resources & Inspiration

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This book is a fabulous read for anyone wanting to make some positive life changes, as the author models a very organised and inspiring way of making and following resolutions. There is now a second book, Happiness at Home, and a website full of tools for keeping resolutions.

13 Food Resolutions for the New Year – Great ideas for specific resolutions that will ensure you ‘eat healthier’ all year long.

My Best New Year’s Resolution Diet from Jane’s Healthy Kitchen. You can download the blank form at the end of the article and write in your own foods!

 

What are your health resolutions this year?

13 Food Resolutions for the New Year

13 Food Resolutions for the New Year

Although there’s no reason to wait for a new year to start making changes to your diet, now that a new year is upon us, it’s as good an excuse as any! Whether you are just starting out on your better health journey, or are somewhere along the way, you will no doubt be wondering how you can improve your diet and learn more about food. So for the new year, here are 13 inspiring and simple food resolutions for your best eating year yet!

Healthy New Years Resolutions

1. Give up sugar for a week.

Better yet, try 21 days or a month! Sugar is more addictive than cocaine and just as dangerous – it just kills you slower. Even unprocessed fructose sugars in fruit can be addictive for some people. Fortunately, as with other addictive substances, when you get it out of your system for awhile, you can break the addiction!

2. Try a food you think you don’t like.

Tastes can change, especially as you eat less processed and sugary foods and more whole plant and animal foods. I would have never thought I’d like brussel sprouts, liver, raw tomatoes, kale, eggplant or mussels, but now I love them. Brad used to hate omelets and mushrooms but now is a fan!

3. Swap caffeine for herbal tea.

And see if you miss it after a week! Caffeine is a stimulant, which many of our already over-stressed systems don’t need. It is also a diuretic, increasing the excretion of water through urination, while most of us need to take IN more water. Most cafes have peppermint and chamomile herbal teas, and there are many other delicious varieties in the shops to try at home.

4. Try using coconut oil.

Coconut oil has no trans fat when heated, even at high temperatures, and is mainly composed of health-giving medium-chain saturated fatty acids. Use it in your regular recipes in place of other oils and rub some into your skin while you’re at it. It’s full of Vitamin E!

5. Get shake-ing! Blend up some shakes.

With a blender or stick blender and a few ingredients, you can have a highly nutritious, satiating meal in minutes. Try out some different types of shakes to see what you like best so you can keep those ingredients on hand all the time. Just say no to protein powders!

6. Source an organic food shop and farmer’s market.

Chemical-free organically grown whole food is not as expensive as you think, and worth any extra pennies when you know what pesticides do to you. Locate organic food sources and farmer’s markets by asking around, visiting your local council office or searching on the web. Slowly buy more of your groceries from these places and soon you won’t need the supermarket.

7. Find a free-range butcher.

Remember that animal protein and fat is only as healthy as the animal was. Find a butcher who sources grass-fed, free-roaming animals and get to know each other. You can then also learn about new cuts of meat, cooking tips and put in special requests. Forming relationships with the butchers and farmers who feed us can only ensure our better health.

8. Set up a learn-to-cook date or cooking play date.

Set up a lunch or dinner cooking (and eating!) date with a friend who likes to cook, so you can socialise while learning some cooking skills and ideas at the same time. You can take turns hosting and being the cook, like a recipe swap, or make a regular dinner party night out of it. If you have kids, have a kitchen play date where the parents cook together while the kids play.

9. Pick a food that you can stop buying and start making.

Homemade versions of most foods are much healthier than the store-bought version, and in some cases can turn an unhealthy food into a nutritious one, as with tomato sauce (ketchup), mayonnaise, and salad dressing. Coconut milk is easier than you think and homemade broth/stock will save you heaps of money.

10. Try some new vegetables or fruits.

Despite the awesome variety of produce available to us these days, most people eat the same types of fruit and veg every week, even all year round. No wonder we are bored with healthy food! Awaken your taste buds and add various nutrients to your diet by buying something new each time you go food shopping. Get some ideas on veggies and how to cook them from the Vegetable Cheat Sheet.

11.  Stick to a budget without compromising quality.

Notice where processed, pre-prepared, packaged and restaurant foods are actually much more costly than whole plant and animal foods. Buy produce in season for best value and learn how to use inexpensive real foods and cheaper cuts of meats, like cabbage, carrots, chicken broth, boned meats and slow-cooked meats. Think about which unhealthy habits or unnecessary material goods are draining your budget and re-allocate that money to buying good food. Here’s our 15 ways to eat healthy on a budget.

12. Grow your own herbs or vegetables.

Herbs require very little space, even a windowsill will do. You will save money, always have fresh flavours on hand, and can even freeze any extras for later so none go to waste. If you have a balcony or small yard, find a book or website that teaches you how to plant a few veggies so you will always have cheap, fresh organic food at home.

13. Develop a great relationship with food.

Instead of fearing calories, worrying about possible intolerances and scrutinizing vitamin and nutrient needs, just start looking at food as a life-giving, pleasurable, interesting array of plants and animals that you are fortunate to have plenty of. Keep it simple: eat real whole plant and animal foods, only eat until you are full or satisfied, savour the tastes, ignore the labels, and appreciate all the energy and joy that you receive from each mouthful.

Remember that unlike goals, resolutions are rarely reached and then finished. Resolutions are more of an on-going thing, allowing for a fresh start and new try however many times you like. Resolutions can continue to motivate us and remind us of our personal challenges and desires every day of every year. So keep your resolutions where you can see them regularly throughout the year, as positive change is not limited to January.

 

Now let me show you How to Keep Your Resolutions All Year!

thy New Year Resolutions

 

Which of these resolutions are you ready to commit to? Do you have a different food resolution for this year?

‘No Poo’ Shampoo Free Didn’t Work For Me

'No-Poo' Shampoo Free Didn't Work For Me

I kept coming across articles about women who had ditched shampoo (gone ‘no poo’) and had the shiniest, loveliest hair of their lives. So I decided to stop shampooing my hair too. I waited for my hair to adjust so I could have gorgeous ‘no poo’ hair pictures to post too. And then after about 3 months, I gave up. Here’s my ‘no poo’ story.

My 'No Poo' Shampoo and Soap Free Experience

I have been going more minimalist these days, and freeing myself of vanity-driven rituals, so the ‘no poo’ craze seemed to come at the right time for me.

I was also starting to resent the high cost of chemical-free hair and body care. I don’t want to put toxins on my body, so I buy the best quality products, which are not cheap. I would wash my hair with expensive shampoo, but that would dry it out, so then I would need some expensive conditioner to make it soft again. After washing my body with expensive soap, my dry skin would need to be slathered in expensive lotion. What a ridiculous cycle and so un-primal!

So it was decided that from the first day of winter I would stop using shampoo, soap and deodorant. Kaiya (4 y .o.) wanted to copy mummy, so she told everyone that she was ‘taking a break’ from shampoo and soap as well.

Trying shampoo alternatives

After heavily researching through all the ‘no poo’ articles, it seemed most men and many short-haired women just stopped washing their hair altogether. Cold turkey. But most long-haired bloggers were still using something on their hair – just not shampoo.

So I decided that I would try the bi-carb soda (baking soda) wash and apple cider vinegar conditioner. Two things I have in the house all the time (for cleaning and cooking) anyway and are much cheaper than organic shampoo. Especially because you only use a tiny bit diluted with plenty of water, and you only do it once or twice a week.

The bi-carb soda (baking soda) made my hair feel really coarse and gross, like there was tons of styling product in it. It did take away the oilyness a bit though, so I persisted. I thought it must need more time to adjust and gave it a good 6 weeks, but just couldn’t stand the feel after a bi-carb wash.

Apple cider vinegar, however, turned out to be a great conditioner. Diluted with water in a spray bottle and kept in the shower, just a few sprays on the bottom part of my long hair (not the scalp) every week or so really helped with the tangles.

Searching for an easy alternative to the bi-carb, I read about washing with honey. My hairdresser mum and a couple blogs talked about the PH of honey being much better than the bi-carb. So I tried that for 4 weeks, mostly while I was staying with family up in Cairns, Australia.

Raw honey dissolved in water (one tablespoon honey to 1-2 cups water) worked beautifully! It could have also been my hair finally adjusting it’s oil production a bit (now that the oils weren’t being stripped by shampoo) but even when the oil built up over a few days, the honey wash would make my hair lovely again. Raw honey isn’t as cheap as bi-carb, but I figured as the oils settled, I could do the honey wash less and less.

Water quality a factor?

But then I came back home to Sydney and my hair was terrible again! The honey wash didn’t do the trick anymore and my hair was coming out coarse and flaky again, like it was full of old hair gel or mousse.

I went back to the ‘no poo’ blogs and discovered many people saying that they found huge differences when wetting their hair with hard water versus soft water. I don’t even know what kind of water I have in Sydney versus Cairns, except that I have a water filter on my Sydney shower head, which means less chlorine, metals and chemicals. However, my gross hair was back, here in Sydney. Poo.

For a few more weeks I persisted with ‘no poo’, knowing that some people’s hair takes longer to normalise than the common 6-8 weeks that many bloggers wrote about.

It wasn’t until I saw an old Primal Health video interview of myself that I realised how bad my hair looked now.

We shampoo for vanity, not cleanliness

Brad (hubby) commented a few times about my hair not being clean. But I realised early on that my hair wasn’t dirty. It was just oily, frayed and unruly. It wasn’t shiny and polished from washing with products and styling.

My semi-wavy, slightly frizzy hair had taken on a new texture and style since ‘no poo’. The best part of this was that it was much curlier than usual. Most people didn’t notice the oilness, but they noticed the curliness and I got lots of compliments on my nice curls. So I wasn’t straightening my usual haphazard waves.

After a few weeks, though, the natural curls starting looking more like the beginnings of dreadlocks. And with the bi-carb soda and/or Sydney water, the texture around the scalp made it too hard to try and style into something that didn’t look ratty or oily.

I was doing my best to let go of the vanity aspect of my once lovely long locks, but Brad was getting grossed out. He finally asked me if I would please shampoo, and I stood firm to my ‘no poo’ commitment. But only for a couple more weeks.

The real secret to gorgeous hair

I was determined to wait out the ‘adjustment period’, but after almost 3 months, I started to realise that my hair wasn’t going to adjust. It was simply unhealthy.

We know that good skin and nails comes from good nutrition, water, sleep, etc. and hair is exactly the same. My unhealthy hair wasn’t suffering from a lack of good shampoo, conditioner and styling aids. It was suffering from a lack of nutrients.

You see, my ‘no poo’ experiment coincided with a time when I was suffering from unexplained weight loss and a rosacea rash due to a leaky gut and a parasite called Dientamoeba Fragilis . So my body wasn’t absorbing all the wonderful nutrients I was feeding it, and my hair was simply reflecting that. My hair was like a listless plant that needed water and good compost.

The real secret to gorgeous hair is health.

I gave up, but not completely

Knowing that it would be awhile before my rash cleared up and my gut started fully absorbing nutrients, I decided that the ratty looking hair was just another stress.

So I have gone back to shampooing my hair once or twice a week, and still use the apple cider vinegar as conditioner on the ends. I use my beloved hair straightener to tame the frizzy, unhealthy kinks and frays so I look a bit better and that makes me feel better.

However, I have never gone back to using soap or deodorant and I don’t think I ever will. Water alone cleans my body and face just fine, and doesn’t dry out my skin the way soap does. And so now I don’t need expensive body lotion either! If my skin gets a little dry, a little coconut oil does the job.

But no deodorant?! Well, Brad says I smell great, so I guess I don’t need it. 🙂 I don’t sweat a lot, but now when I do, there is no body odor! I think that often our B.O. from sweaty armpits is actually just our sweat reacting with the soap. Our bad smells can also come from our diet and health.

Kids do great with ‘no poo’ and no soap

Kaiya has also stayed off the soap, except on rare occasions of unbearable filth. And kids get much dirtier than we do everyday! But water does wonders for getting clean and I’ve learned that body care products are over-rated.

Kids also do much better with ‘no poo’ as they don’t have years of oil-stripping shampoo regiments behind them. Their hair doesn’t go through shampoo withdrawl or need to normalise its oil production.

Kaiya’s hair never got oily or dull. It did get ratty and a bit matted though for awhile, which was remedied with more brushing and some apple cider vinegar conditioning. Now I only shampoo her hair occasionally, on those unbearable filth days. Her 3-year-old friend has gorgeous ringlet curls that shine and bounce gloriously, even after one year of no shampoo.

 

I know the shampoo and styling just covers up my real hair, but I’m ok with that at the moment. I’ve given up lots of vanity but not completely, and as my gut health improves, so will my hair. And then maybe I will go ‘no poo’ forever.

 

Have you gone ‘no poo’? What was your experience?

Christmas Salads for a Healthy Summer Holiday

Christmas Salads for a Healthy Summer Holiday

I’m dreaming of a light Christmas. No bloating, sugar hangovers or weight gain. Fortunately, celebrating the holidays below the equator means lots of red and green summer vegetables and fruits which look festive but feel light. Plus, these Christmas salads and sides are so quick to make that you’ll have plenty of time for all that holiday fun in the sun.

(Americans, Europeans and other Northern hemisphere residents, there are a couple awesome ideas for you at the end – scroll down!)

Christmas Salads for a Healthy Summer Holiday Meals
Have a healthy holiday with beautiful Christmas salads

So for you Southern Hemisphere dwellers, here are some ideas that I came up with simply by pairing fresh red and green produce. The combinations and possibilities are endless, so use your imagination and let your taste buds lead the way.

Start with Christmas coloured salad ingredients

GREEN: Asparagus, zucchini, green beans, green capsicum (pepper), spinach and other leafy greens, basil and other wonderful herbs.

RED: Red Capsicum (pepper), all types of tomatoes, watermelon, chili peppers, strawberries and cherries.

Then mix and match!

This can be as simple as blanched or steamed green beans with raw red capscium.

Green beans and Red Capsicum
Simple as Green beans and Red Capsicum!

Start with a basic combination of red and green, then add herbs, nuts, salt and pepper, oils and vinegars, or homemade dips.

This beautiful salad took 5 minutes to make and is delicious! It’s drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then sprinkled with sea salt and pepper.

Spinach and Tomato Salad with Walnuts and Grated Zucchini
Spinach and Tomato Salad with Walnuts and Grated Zucchini

Another variation is to use large sliced tomatoes, and arrange with the green beans on a plate. My arrangement here is very basic, but you can jazz it up however you like. This is also delicious drizzled with oil, vinegar, sea salt and herbs.

Blanched green beans and sliced fresh tomatoes
Blanched green beans and sliced fresh tomatoes

Zucchini is plentiful and very cheap in the summer and can be prepared so many ways. It is delicious sliced and grilled or sauteed. You can also eat it raw, grated or peeled as a salad. Here, I’ve used a veggie peeler to ‘peel’ the entire zucchini, then added red capsicum for the Christmas colour. Again, add dressings, herbs, nuts, avocado, etc. as you wish!

Raw zucchini and capsicum salad
Raw zucchini and capsicum salad

Capsicum (bell peppers) come in both red and green and often plummet in price over the summer when supply is plentiful. We have already shown how it can be sliced and eaten raw with salads. Here, I’ve grilled the capsicum until the skin got black and blistered. Then let it cool thoroughly and pulled the skin off. Grilled capsicum can be added to any salad or eaten on it’s own, with fresh herbs like basil and some oil/vinegar/seasoning or dip.

Grilled Capsicum with Basil
Grilled Capsicum with Basil

Or hollow out the capsicums and stuff with salads or meat, like I talk about in the Lovin’ Leftovers article, ‘Same Food, New Dish‘.

Preparing stuffed capsicums for Christmas
Preparing stuffed capsicums for Christmas

Asparagus is another star summer veg which can be grilled, oven-roasted, sauteed or quickly blanched (dropped into boiling water for a couple minutes). It works well as the main component of the dish with red fruit or veg added for Christmas colour.

Roasted Asparagus with Red Peppers (Capsicum)
Roasted Asparagus with Red Peppers from Tastebook
Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes Christmas Dish
Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
Asparagus and Strawberry Salad
Asparagus and Strawberry Salad from Tastespace
Asparagus, tomato and avocado salad
Asparagus, tomato and avocado salad

Tomatoes, as shown above, go with everything, come in many different sizes, and are so easy to prepare. Sliced, diced, marinated, roasted, grilled, sauteed, and raw. You can make a tomato salsa to pour over your green vegetables, or hollow out large tomatoes and stuff them like the capsicum. Here, I’ve halved some cherry tomatoes and topped them with my homemade pesto. Dee-lish!

Pesto-topped Cherry Tomatoes
Pesto-topped Cherry Tomatoes

Don’t forget the lovely red fruits – strawberries, cherries and watermelon. Throw cherries and berries onto your green salads. Chop up some watermelon and mint for a refreshing red and green fruit salad.

Veggie Christmas Trees

Broccoli is a mainly a winter veg, so if you are having a winter Christmas, or find some quality broccoli in your summer Down Under, try out these gorgeous Christmas tree veggie platters! I might try the top one with steamed broccoli drizzled with oil and sea salt. What could I use instead of pretzels for the tree trunk?

Raw broccoli and tomato Christmas tree platter
Raw broccoli and tomato Christmas tree platter
Raw vegetable Christmas Tree
Raw vegetable Christmas Tree from Creative Ideas on Facebook

Pair these Christmas salads with a roast ham, pork or lamb shoulder, roast beef, roast chicken or turkey, or grilled fish. Throw some prawns on the barbeque or peel and eat them cold.

Your Christmas feast will be gorgeous, delicious, nutritious and feel light in your body on a warm summer day. Plus, you’ll have room leftover for some primal style Christmas desserts (recipes coming next week!).

Merry Christmas Mate!

 

Does your family have the same foods for Christmas every year? Are you starting some new healthier traditions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Stay Healthy Over the Holiday

How to Stay Healthy Over the Holiday

Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day or any other celebratory event, everyone has their own traditions and way of celebrating, but much of it will include a lot of sugar, processed food and alcohol. These “festive foods” are strongly tied to all the happy holiday memories, making a powerful emotional connection in our minds when we eat these foods. In our minds, happiness is tied to eating marshmallow bunnies, christmas cookies, halloween candy, valentines day chocolates…and as we get older, washing it down with celebratory drinks. So it’s no wonder so many people are sick at the end of the holiday period, when it’s time to get back to school and work. Well maybe it’s time for some new traditions! Isn’t it possible to celebrate, have a holiday AND take good care of our bodies so we feel amazing even after the party is over?

Bex and Brad enjoying the Christmas Holiday 2008
Kaiya was in my belly this XMAS. There’s sparkling water in my champagne glass.

All I Want For Christmas is a Good Body

The number one New Year’s resolutions are to get fit, lose weight, and eat healthy, but we spend several weeks before the new year trashing our bodies! Well, this is the year things are going to change for YOU. You are reading this article, and soon will be armed with new ways of approaching any holiday time so that you don’t come out the other side tired, sick and several kilos fatter. So let’s get to it – If there’s going to be a holiday feast and party platters, let’s talk about food!

Every Feast Starts with Meat & Veggies

Meat and veggies are always a feature at any holiday gathering, so make these foods the bulk of your plate! If you’re throwing the party or bringing a plate, make colourful and delicious meat and veggie dishes. When you go to a party, find the meat and veg and fill up on those first. What’s more festive than a roast pork with crackling and roasted vegetables? Or for summer holidays – fresh prawns, barbequed meats and colourful salads? The list of festive meat and veg dishes could be endless but here are some ideas:

– Chicken, beef, lamb or fish on skewers! Alternate the meat with colourful veggies and grill them up for an easy main party dish. Kids love to help make the skewers too.

– Roast turkey, lamb, ham, chicken, pork, or beef. Rub on some salt and herbs; crisp up the crackling; stuff poultry with cut oranges or lemons. You’ll have healthy leftovers for days.
Throw plenty of veggies in too while you’ve got the oven on. Whole sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips, beetroot, onion…or cut them all up and make a roast veggie medley.

– Whole grilled fish, fish cakes, fresh prawns and other shellfish. Seafood is very festive and the possibilities are endless.

– Green beans or broccoli sprinkled with crispy bacon; grated/shredded cabbage, carrot and capsicum (bell pepper) salad with chopped nuts, raisins, orange wedges, oil and vinegar; leafy green salads with loads of colourful toppings.

Make low-sugar, flour-free holiday treats
Raw gingerbread men from chocolatecoveredkatie.com

Sweets without all the Sugar

The best sweet food for any occassion is fruit. Make fruit skewers, fruit salad or a fruit platter. Use as many colourful fruits as possible for the season. Cut fruit shapes with cookie cutters. Hollow out melons to use as a decorative fruit salad bowl.

Nuts and seeds are another perfect snack food for any get together. Toss raw nuts with mixed spices; serve nuts in the shell with a nutcracker; make a trail mix; roast pumpkin seeds.

One of the biggest obstacles, however, to your healthy holiday is all those chocolates, cakes, cookies and candies. Every holiday, there they are staring you in the face, luring you with happy sugar-filled fun memories. There are three ways of getting over this hurdle:

1/ Just say no. If you are the type of person who can’t just have one bite, and is easily addicted to sweets, make a pact to yourself to not even have one bite. Before each party, remind yourself of the consequences of eating sweets: weight gain, bad moods, tiredness (sugar coma), getting sick, or whatever relates to your body and goals. Fill up on meats, veggies, fruits and nuts, and if anyone asks, keep your explanation simple and upbeat.

2/ Choose your battles. Decide which holiday sweets are your absolute favourite and have a small plate or handful of that. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule – take great care of your health 80% of the time, and it will be strong enough to handle the stress, sugar, and toxins you incur 20% of the time. Have a plate of christmas pudding, a slice of pumpkin pie, or a small Lindt chocolate bunny as part of your celebration. Enjoy it slowly and leave it at that.

3/ Make paleo / primal sweets and treats. With the paleo ‘movement’ and health awareness growing rapidly, there are hundreds of recipes for baked goods and sweets with less to no sugar and flour. And being homemade, it won’t have additives and preservatives! Some great sites for these recipes:

www.fastpaleo.com
www.elanaspantry.com
www.thenourishinggourmet.com
www.primal-palate.com
www.civilizedcavemancooking.com

You can celebrate holidays without drinking alcohol

Cheers! What about alcohol?

In many of our cultures, hardly any celebration is without alcohol. However, if you are eating well, exercising and making lifestyle changes to feel healthier and/or lose weight, drinking alcohol can quickly reverse all your hard work. So try these ideas during the holidays:

If you want to only have a few drinks:

– Sip your drink slowly. Slowly drink a full glass of water between each drink.
– Drink spirits straight or only mixed with water, soda water, or sparkling water. Leave out the soda and fruit juice mixers!
– Dilute your wine and champagne. Halve your glass of white wine and fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. Fruit puree fills up a champagne glass well and tastes nice.
– Keep lots of healthy food snacks nearby as alcohol will make you crave junk food.

If you want to celebrate without drinking at all:

– Bring a bottle of sparkling mineral water and some fresh limes, so you’ll have a nice drink for yourself. Also, drinking this in a short glass looks like a cocktail, so you won’t get pestered to have an alcoholic drink.
– Make mocktails with blended fresh or frozen fruit and sparkling mineral water.
– Think about how great you’ll feel tomorrow and know that you’re not really missing much.

Eating isn’t the only holiday activity

There is more to holidays than consuming food, alcohol and material goods! Put your time and energy into memorable activities and traditions and make your celebrations revolve around the activity.

– Go for a walk or drive to look at Christmas lights
– Set up an Easter egg hunt or a more challenging scavenger hunt for adults
– Have a Halloween costume parade and competition
– Go Caroling or sing carols at home
– Play board games, do puzzles, make crafts
– Play at the beach, in the snow, by the lake, in the park
– Serve meals at a homeless shelter or deliver old clothes to the needy
– Dance!

Don’t forget the other 5 of the Primal 6

– Thoughts: Say no if you feel too busy or pressured; omit holiday traditions that are too stressful; stay within your budget and do free things; make time for yourself.
– Breath: Take time to stop and breathe and/or lay on a foam roller; use your holiday time to learn breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.
– Water: Keep drinking plenty of filtered water. Keep your water bottle with you at all times.
– Movement: Get outdoors and play; dance with friends and family or by yourself in the living room; do some stretches every morning or night; join an active group or sport.
– Rest/Sleep: Get to bed by 10pm on the nights when you are not out, so you don’t accumulate too much sleep debt from late night celebrating. Don’t overschedule yourself, make rest time.

The Golden Rules of Healthy Socialising

Lastly, never forget the golden rules of staying healthy at parties, dinners, and social events. These apply perfectly to holiday time:

1/ If you know there won’t be much healthy food offered, eat well before you leave home!
2/ Never stand next to the food table / buffet / snack table / bar.
3/ Carry lots of whole food snacks with you like raw veggies, nuts, fruit, egg muffins, salmon cakes, and spinach bread. This is especially important for your children!
4/ For main meals, serve up your plate then don’t go back for seconds. Avoid family style dining and buffets when possible. Learn more on portion control.
5/ Decide before you go if you will have no sugar and/or alcohol or just a little, and stick to it.
6/ Enjoy a small amount of unhealthy food and drinks if you are following the 80/20 rule for health and weight maintenance.
7/ Don’t make a big deal explaining your healthy choices. Simple, upbeat answers work best.

Above all, enjoy yourself! Stressing about the challenge of staying healthy over the holiday can cause more health problems than actually having the cookies. So instead of thinking that you will be deprived of treats and drinks, focus on all that you will receive and enjoy about the holiday – homemade food, friends and family, music and activities. Happy Holidays!

My Ugly Rosacea Face Rash is Making Me a Better Person

My Ugly Rosacea Face Rash is Making Me A Better Person

I’ve always been confident about my looks, my health, and my ability to get what I want. Then I got The Face Rash. For over a year now, I have had this splotchy red rashy thing across the inside of my cheeks, my nose, forehead and chin. And I’m so grateful. Here’s why…

What I learned from My Face Rash

We’ve all heard the phrase “learn from your mistakes”. Our adversities in life can be our biggest teachers – whether they are mistakes, unexpected hardships, ill-fortune, loss or disease. However, it’s up to us to look for the lessons in these things, after we are done with the crying and cursing and self-pitying, of course. 🙂

Well, that exactly how it is with The Face Rash. For months it stressed me to no end – not knowing where it came from or what was wrong with my health, hating the way I looked, not being able to get rid of it, and feeling a failure as a health coach. But gradually I started to notice the lessons. And now, wow, what life-changing lessons they have been!

Here’s what The Face Rash has taught me:

Let go of control and go with the flow

You may be surprised about this lesson, but it’s probably the most important one for me and has changed my life the most.

As usual, whenever I have symptoms of ill health, I immediately look to my Primal 6, and #1 is thoughts. So the first person I went to see about my rash was my intuitive healer. Yes, I have an intuitive healer! This wonderful woman has taught me so much about the power of our thoughts on our health, so I went to her for a session.

I noticed a definite theme in what she said. “Left brain is controlling/dominating; the right brain is screaming to be heard…” “masculine side is taking over; you are weighed down by feeling you have to be strong for everyone else” “lack of trust in the universe, the system, etc. – feel like you have to control it”.

Around the same time, Kaiya (then 3), started having uncharacteristic angry outbursts and constant power struggles with me. My faithful parenting book suggested that children who engage in power struggles learn to battle for control from having a controlling parent. Umm, that would be me.

Then the clincher was a friend telling me that in a Louise Hay’s book she was reading, she learned that skin problems have to do with trying to control everything in your life too much. Ok, ok, I got it.

I started meditating, envisioning that every breath out of me was “letting go of control” and every breath in was “going with the flow”. I wrote the word FLOW everywhere. I made an effort to stop micro-managing my household and my family; to ask more for other’s ideas and input; to admit that I didn’t have all the answers; to accept flaws in my family; to stop over-scheduling life.

Kaiya’s power struggles disappeared as she didn’t have anyone to struggle against. Brad and I communicated better. Even my relationship with my mum flourished. I became more relaxed. And things always seemed to work out better when I didn’t try so hard to make it what I thought I wanted.

Did the rash go away? No.

Did my relationships, my family, my attitude and my life improve? Yes!

Thanks Face Rash.

Letting go of some vanity is so freeing

My whole life people have complimented me on my skin, and I have never worn makeup (except mascara and occasional lipstick). As The Rash got redder and flaky and bumpy, even people I didn’t know asked me, “What’s that on your face?”

I pretended like it didn’t bother me, telling myself, “Well at least I’m not single and don’t go out socialising much.” But normally I would be excited for the occasional party, and instead I started dreading them because of my face rash. Instead of jumping into pictures, I always offered to be the picture taker. I stared at my rash in the bathroom mirror several times a day. And I stared too long at everyone else’s clear, beautiful skin.

But then I remembered how freeing it was as a backpacker to wear frumpy clothes, no mascara and never style my hair. I reflected on the times when bad hair days, extra body weight, fashion and pimples stressed me out unnecessarily. Vanity is really just a mind-set, so I decided to change mine.

I decided to stop the chore of plucking my unruly eyebrows, and even stopped washing my hair for about 4 months (but that’s another story, coming soon). I got more comfortable with just being me, unvarnished, rash and all.

I also realised that as long as I was with friends that I was really comfortable with, I never thought about the rash, so why not spend more time with those people, than with people I felt I had to impress?

Did the rash go away? No.

Did I learn to let go of some of my lifetime of vanity programming? Yes!

Thanks Face Rash.

Health is a journey, not a destination

A chronic rash was especially surprising to me and those who know me, because I’m a health coach and health is my passion. I have  “figured out” all the secrets to optimum health and therefore should be in perfect health for the rest of my life. Right? Nope.

After 6 years of living Primally and feeling and looking the best I have in my life, here comes The Rash. Ok, I must be slacking on one or two of my Primal 6. So I work on them all year and still have the rash. Hmm, I think…

How can I be a role model for good health when I can’t figure out my own health?

However, over time, I realise that health is not something we arrive it. It is a fluid, ever-changing part of our lives that is so complex and holistic in nature, that to aim to “achieve” it is like aiming for perfection. What a revelation! In life, the goal is not to be perfect, but to be constantly growing and evolving. And so it is with health.

My health journey over the year also taught me so much about all the amazing health practitioners there are out there. I’ve consulted an iridologist, a homeopath, an intuitive healer, an applied kinesiologist and chiropractor, a nutritionist, a naturopath, a food intolerance test, a colonic hydrotherapist, a general practice doctor, and a functional medicine doctor. I learned from books, videos and articles all about fungus, gluten, digestion, gut disorders, food intolerances, parasites, rashes, automimmune diseases, and diagnostic testing.

Has the rash gone away? No.

Have I been on an informative and enlightening health journey that will also help me be a better health coach? Yes.

Thanks Face Rash.

Some hurts take years to heal

This last lesson is one that I had already been learning through my sessions with the aforementioned amazing intuitive healer. It’s incredible to learn how emotional pain can stay in the subconscious mind for decades, causing physical pain and illness long after your conscious mind has forgotten the experience.

Well, I’m now learning more about how physical damage can take years to heal, too.  Does time heal all wounds? Maybe not on it’s own, but it’s definitely a key component of the healing process.

If I had been in a rush to clear up this rash, I would have gone to a dermatologist and just put some cream on it. I would have covered it with make up.

And then I would have never found out that I have a very leaky gut (READ: damaged small intestine wall), a dientamoeba parasite the lab finally found, and a high intolerance to gluten.

I am treating the parasite now, but my poor gut still has a lot of healing to do. And it’s going to take time. But what’s another year of nurturing and learning about my body and myself?

Is the rash gone yet? No.

Have I learned the sources of my body’s imbalances and how to begin healing the damage? Yes.

Thanks Face Rash.

Rash UPDATE End of December 2013:

After taking antibiotics for the parasite, not only did I test negative for the parasite, but my ugly rosacea face rash completely cleared up from my whole face. Almostly instantly! Was the parasite the cause of my rash? Or does Rosacea just respond well to antibiotics? Hmmm…

I could look back and say it would have been nice to have just tested for parasites in the beginning, but then I wouldn’t have learned all I did. And after so long with that rash, I can’t stop marveling at how nice I look without it. I’d forgotten what I’d looked like before, and now I really appreciate my nice skin.

I’m now working on healing the damage to my intestines. Here’s how I’m healing my leaky gut and how you can heal yourself of most anything.

Rash UPDATE December 2014:

We have been traveling around the world for 7 months, and my gut healing protocol got left somewhere along the way, as I delved into all the amazing foods of the world. It wasn’t until the 5th month, after 4 weeks in Mexico eating lots of corn (one of my gut irritants), that The Rash came back. Boo! Its looking pretty red and inflamed.

My first thought was that the parasite must be back. I started looking into parasites again and learned so much more! I realised that parasites are always present within us, and it’s only when our guts are out of balance that they start to flourish and cause problems. Instead of eliminating parasites, my aim should be to keep my gut, health and body in balance!

I’ve decided to wear a little light make up to cover The Rash, which helps me feel way less stressed about, as I know stress contributes to my digestive issues! And I’m turning my focus to balancing, rather than curing.

Rash UPDATE January 2017:

I’ve written a second article about what’s happened with The Rash over the last 2 years. You won’t want to miss it, as there’s been Big changes and Big learnings! And wait til you see my face pictures. Hope it may help you with your own Rash.

My Ugly Rosacea Face Rash – Learnings Part 2

 

Please feel free to comment below with any questions! I do this to help others and that includes you. xo