Navigating the Holidays

December 14, 2016

Let’s be honest, December can be a train wreck for healthy living. Hectically busy schedules create an environment where compromise is a matter of survival, unfortunately in our lives often that compromise is related to our health. So, you’re running around shopping all day and grab a late meal from McDonalds, your starving tired and completely stressed to find the perfect gifts! Sooooo you order that extra-large french fry, you tell yourself you’ve earned that giant milkshake and about 3,000 calories later down that slippery slope you’re swimming in a sea of regret & shame. Has that happened to any of you? Or maybe you are planning your week and can’t find even 1 hour to squeeze in time to the gym with all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, and parties. Oh, the parties, parties on every night of the weekend, meals with friends, white elephant gift exchanges galore! All the wonderful holidays foods that are so special we only make & indulge one time or year. This is such a hard time of year to navigate living a healthy lifestyle, don’t you agree?

A few years back I wrote a Holiday Confessions blog in which I shared a very thorough plan that we used for a healthy & meaningful holiday. Reading it again inspired me so check it out! I am a planner, I love to plan and always function better in life with a good solid plan. As I prepare for the holiday this year my energy & time are so stretched that my approach is simply to survive without gaining weight. This may be disappointing to some but I really believe it is best to be realistic about your expectations and build from there. That said we are making a few major changes that I want to share with you.

This year I am navigating the holidays by:

-Planning & cooking healthy whole food meals for the lunches & dinners we have at home.

-Eating breakfast smoothies each morning which maintains our healthy routine and controls our calories to between 250-300.

-Drinking water all day every day. We’ve been adding some lemon or grapefruit essential oils in our water which serves a gentle detox and tastes amazing. Message me for info on therapeutic-grade essential oils.

-I am not baking any cookies or pies this holiday. {GASP!!!} This is a MAJOR step I am doing intentionally as a healthy choice this holiday. Every year I bake upwards of 40 dozen cookies as gifts to family & friends, for parties, and to eat at home and have done so as long as I can remember. We have eaten much healthier this year and I don’t want to sabotage all our hard work and start off 2017 in a sugar hangover. Sorry friends & family but no cookies this year!

-Gifting homemade winter wellness gifts to friends & family rather than sweet treats. My heart to give & create remain in tack but this gift is healthy for all of us. Here’s a snap shot from Monday when I practiced a natural chest rub recipe I’m making.


-We are not buying any boxes of chocolates this Christmas. Let me explain, it had been a tradition for years in my family (Dad’s side) to buy a HUGE box of chocolates to share with friends who visit during the holidays. Well at various times in our marriage we have kept that tradition, but especially the last few years. Well inevitably I would eat a good amount, ok the majority of that box of chocolates. Yikes! Well not this year. We are controlling our environment by not buying chocolates.

-Making sure to not head into the big holiday meals starving! Ugh that is the worst because you eat everything in sight. So, we’ll eat a normal breakfast (smoothie in our case) and lunch and enjoy a wonderful meal while not being out of control.

-Enjoy the wonderful foods we love but NOT taking any home. I don’t plan to deprive myself of anything specific while we are eating the holiday meals but I’m going to control our home environment very strictly. This limits our unhealthy choices to one meal on one day rather than an entire week or eating crappy food. Also, I’ve shared in the past that I don’t do well when deprived, I end up obsessing about whatever it is and then overeat on it later.

What are your tips to navigate the holidays in a healthy way?

What are the foods you look forward to? What are the foods you could give up?

How do you remain active & moving during the busy season?

I’m praying you all have a wonderful & healthy Christmas & New Year! I am looking forward to starting 2017 off right with a 30-day challenge, more on that coming soon!

Planning for Healthy Travels

Planning for Healthy Travels

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This time of year begins the busy travel season for families. My husband and I love to travel and many of our fondest married memories are in far off places packed with lots of rest & relaxation. We are actually preparing for a 4 day trip this weekend and I thought I’d share some of my preparation tips with you!

When it comes to maintaining our healthy lifestyle, travel can also be kind of scary, BUT it doesn’t have to be!  Armed with a solid plan any vacation can be a healthy success without compromising the fun along the way. As I prepare for this trip, here is what has been on my mind.

Food & Water– 90% of our meals with be out at local restaurants. When going to restaurants normally we employ the strategy of looking at their website to plan ahead of time. This trip the restaurants are pre-chosen and out of our control so there will be no way to check the menu in advance. Here are my tips:

  1. Discuss sharing a meal in advance with your spouse or travel companion and agree on something you will both be satisfied with.
  2. Look for markings on the menu that indicate healthier options
  3. Keep snacks on hand so that you don’t go into the restaurant completely starving and with less self control. Pre-portion and throw in a bag or purse for easy access on the go. For some great snack ideas that that travel well check out Re-thinking Healthy Snacks: Crunchy & Salty!
  4. Enjoy local and seasonal items, request modifications when needed, and load up on veggies as you normally would at home. =D
  5. We will be going to an area that is near the ocean and I plan to enjoy some great fish that I don’t get often in Texas. Fish is a lower calorie protein when, grilled or broiled and not fried, that is a perfect travel choice.
  6. When staying in a hotel call ahead to find out if they offer continental breakfast and what healthy options are available. Starting the day making healthy choices always keeps me on track!
  7. Don’t forget to keep drinking your water! Save money on your trip by drinking water at meals, keep a case of water in the hotel, and take a bottle when on the go.


Pre-portioned grab & go snacks, some of our favorite teas, Organic Stevia, and some go to granola bars!

Pre-portioned grab & go snacks, some of our favorite teas, Organic Stevia, and some go to granola bars!

Activity – Traveling affords terrific opportunities to seek out different activities not available where we live. This trip for us has a specific focus and won’t allow much adventuring. So to fit in activity we have planned ahead, here’s my tips:

  1. Call the hotel ahead to find out what exercise facilities they have available. Our hotel this weekend offers an exercise room, as most do these days. It also offers an indoor heated swimming pool.
  2. Plan ahead by packing a couple workout outfits, tennis shoes, socks, swim suits, and any of your other favorite gear. Having it with you keeps you motivated and dispels any excuses.
  3. Look for a terrific parks, bike rentals & paths, tennis or basketball courts, places to go swimming where ever you travel this summer. Explore museums and other outings that will keep you moving.
  4. Plan activity into your travel. No matter what type of trip, no matter how tight the schedule or budget may be. It is so important to fuel your body with what it needs and be consistent with your active lifestyle.  Our plan for this trip is to squeeze in time at the gym and pool during before breakfast and at the end of each day. Even 20 minutes makes such a huge difference and is totally worth it!
I'm ready for activity! I've got my shoes, socks, workout gear, and swim suit packed!

I’m ready for activity! I’ve got my shoes, socks, workout gear, and swim suit packed!

Stay accountable – Travels don’t have to be the purpose to be derailed from a healthy lifestyle.  Keeping accountable with whatever plan you chose could be just the step that keeps you on track. Here are my tips.

  1. With our Weight Watchers plan we track everything that goes into our mouths on their really terrific website. Just in case we don’t have internet I’m packing a handy paper tracker! This is a fantastic accountability step to keep you aware of food choices and staying on track. There are tons of ways to track your food or caloric intake these days, tons of free apps for the phone and websites. When in doubt pack some paper & pen J
  2. Do you have friends that you stay accountable via phone, email, or Facebook? Why not check in while traveling? We are blessed to have many layers of accountability, here is a pic of us traveling at Christmas and attending a Weight Watchers meeting while in Ohio. It was the perfect boost to get us through the holiday.
  3. Ask friends and others on the journey to help you make a plan ahead of time that works for you! I talked to some terrific friends who understood the details of our travel and they gave me great insights I hadn’t thought of. What a blessing to have great healthy minded friends!
On our trip to Ohio in December we kept accountable by attending a local Weight Watchers Meeting. It was SO much fun!

On our trip to Ohio in December we kept accountable by attending a local Weight Watchers Meeting. It was SO much fun!

We are committed to our healthy lifestyle and continuing to honor God with the choices we make NO MATTER what life throws at us. With a plan in place, tools packed and ready, we are equipped to enjoy a wonderful trip. I hope you have found some of these tips helpful and will enjoy fun & healthy travels this season!

Holiday Confessions!

Holiday Confessions! – Originally posted January 19, 2012

Reposted on September 29, 2012

I do fully realize that Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, & my birthday (January 8) are now long gone and we would all like to move on with this New Year 2012. However I felt it would be remiss if I didn’t communicate some interesting things that I learned passing through this time of year about myself and about this journey to becoming healthy.

Going into Thanksgiving we had been on this journey for about 3 solid months and our home “environment” was very much changed. If you read my recent blog entry “Targeting for Change” I talked at length about the stages of change based on a graph from Weight Watchers (if you haven’t read it you have to check it out cuz it is my favorite blog entry so far!). Well environment is the first and easiest area to facilitate change. Regarding food we no longer had anything in our refrigerator or cabinets that would not be good for our body. House environment under control, check!

When going out to eat we by this point had developed the routine of choosing a restaurant ahead of time, looking at the menu and nutritional info on said restaurant’s website, and pre-choosing our meal in advance. In this day and age all restaurants no matter how small, yes even Berry’s in Norwalk, OH, has a menu on their website. Not all have nutritional info but we have found we make better informed food choices if we minimally look at the menu from home first and come up with a game plan before entering into the restaurant. You know they pay marketing people millions of dollars on jingles, commercials, & menu pictures to ignite your taste buds and tempt you into all kinds of delicacies that are not good for you or your wallet. So our restaurant environment was under control as well, check!

That said I have to be honest and tell you that going into this holiday season was overwhelming to me as much of the environment phase that we have mastered would be tested and challenged. Thanksgiving is spent every year with my husband’s grandmother who is an amazing cook. She has been cooking since she was seven years old and had to pull a stool up to the stove top (not kidding). We split the cooking duties and my husband and I make the turkey, several sides, and usually one dessert. She does the ham, the rest of the sides, and several yummy desserts. This Thanksgiving we were armed with a plan. We discussed in advance the entire menu with his grandmother. This helped us prepare in two major ways. We could then plan to bring at least one side and a dessert that we would feel good about putting into our body. This also helped us determine what dishes we didn’t want to sacrifice for and what dishes we wanted to factor into our points (caloric intake) for that day. For instance there is always a traditional pasta salad on hand at any of our family gatherings. Though I like it and have eaten it in the past many times, this isn’t a “special” dish that we only get this time of year. Whereas his grandmother makes “The Best” stuffing this side of heaven (please don’t be offended Ohio family but I’ve converted) and I had to eat at least a cup of stuffing. This delicacy is only offered at Thanksgiving and Christmas so it was prioritized in my plate that day.

Our plan for Thanksgiving survival also included the following:

-We started our planning in prayer to ask for God’s help in preparing and making choices that would honor him.

-We made sure to eat breakfast, small snack, and lunch as we would normally so as to not go to dinner completely starving.
-We drank plenty of water all day including all evening at the event.
-We got plenty of rest that week and prioritized sleep even with family in town.
-We pre-choose the items including quantities that we were going to put into our bodies that day. We enjoyed the foods that we love including dessert and did not deprive ourselves while being in control.
-We brought a measuring cup and measured the food items such as stuffing, rice, potatoes, etc. just like we would in our home environment.
-We positioned ourselves at the end of the table furthest from the food so that we were not visually looking at food all night. This also allowed us to connect with family and enjoy the conversation with Thanksgiving.
-I know a lot of his grandmother’s recipes and I pre-calculated the calories for some of the dishes ahead of time so that I could be informed on what the values would be.
-We planned ahead that we would not take any food home, and if pressured only items that we could fit within our healthy routine.
-We went to the gym and exercised good all week and then the following weekend as we normally would.
-We attended our WW support group meeting faithfully which fostered encouragement and camaraderie. This is not a journey that you can walk alone through, we need people.

Long story short we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were successful in our plan and even got more activity with my husband’s Latin family spontaneously broke out the salsa dancing later that evening. It was one of the most fun holidays we have ever had. At our WW weigh in the Saturday following we both actually lost weight that week. All this planning may seem ridiculous or exaggerated to you but you have to understand the power that food has over me & others. It is a powerful addition like any other. I have been “dieting” in the past countless times and the holiday season has completely thrown me overboard. One compromise leads to another, then another, which leads to shame, regret, & humiliation. It is a slippery slope and I never want to under estimate its power again.

Thanksgiving laid the framework for the rest of the holiday season. With its success we maintained a similar plan at Christmas, New Years & my birthday. We didn’t deprive ourselves but made choices that would honor God. We cooked a lot, we made informed decisions when going out to eat, we exercised daily, and we loved on and enjoyed family. For so many years of my life my mind over the holidays has been consumed with food and followed by a New Year that began with shame & guilt. It is amazing how God ministered to my heart this season as I have allowed him into this area. My time with family was so much richer, my connection with the meaning of the holiday was so much more vivid, and my joy was complete as we got on the scale at our WW meeting and in the end both lost weight through it all.

Questions for you….

1. Can you relate to what I shared about feeling guilt and shame following a holiday?

2. What has been your biggest food struggle around the holidays?

3. What tips do you use to surviving the holiday?

4. What tips that I shared stood out to you that you might try?

5. Maybe you don’t have issues with food but you have friends or family that do. How can you use some of these tips to support them during your next get together?