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Discover another way to be healthy. My French Approach allows you to reach optimal health without giving up wine, chocolate, and sweets. You can be healthy while enjoying all the good things life has to offer!

Optimize your kitchen for weight loss

Optimize Your Kitchen For Health And Weight Loss

Did you know that you can easily (and for FREE!) rearrange your kitchen in order to accelerate your weight loss and your Prediabetes Reversal process? I am going to walk you through 10 steps to reorganize your kitchen so that it will help you be healthier rather than play against you.

Those tips are easy to implement and don’t require a kitchen redesign! 

Stella's kitchen with lots of room for cooking and no snacks

They are just tricks that make all the difference for your weight loss and your health in the long run. Your kids/roommate/spouse won’t notice a thing. And you? Not only will you be in your kitchen without running the risk of binge eating on chips, ice cream, or even nuts, but you will also move toward a healthier and leaner you, without dieting of course!

If you need some extra help to implement those tips, you can download my KITCHEN MAKEOVER CHECKLIST. It will make the whole process even easier with 25 scientifically-backed tips to make your kitchen an ally in your weight loss and health journey

Are you ready to learn all about those foolproof weight loss secrets?

Read all the tips to see exactly how you can make sure your kitchen is not a self-control sucker and then decide on where you want to start.

By the way, do you know how your kitchen scores on the "Healthy Eating Scale"? Find out in seconds by taking a FREE Healthy Kitchen Quiz!

Tip #1 - Declutter your counter

Take a look around and tell me what you see on your kitchen counter. Cookies? Bread and crackers? Breakfast cereal? Books? Coupons? Pictures? Unpaid bills? Dirty Dishes? Pots and pans that don’t fit in the cabinets? Whatever you find on your counter, the first step to a healthier kitchen is to remove as much as "stuff" you can. Keep the space free and clean for peeling, dicing, chopping… In a nutshell, for cooking! Most of your countertop surface should be used to prepare meals so, go ahead and clean up the mess, even if you don’t cook much (yet!). Not only will it make food preparation possible, it will also force you to remove all the tempting foods from your sight.

Messy kitchen with cluttered counter top

The only items that should have a dedicated spot on your countertop are:

  • Appliances that serve your weight loss and cooking goals, that you use regularly, or would like to use more;
  • Fruits and vegetables;
  • Non perishable foods that are healthy but can’t be snacked on: you know, foods that need preparation, such as rice, flour, dried beans, spices... Except for fruits and veggies, no snacks should ever stay on the countertop… not even healthy snacks like nuts;
  • Items that make you happy without making you gain weight: flowers, a radio, your coffee maker…

Tip #2 – Get the fruits out

Weight Loss Tips: Fruit BasketThe only “Grab & Go” foods that should be promoted on your kitchen counter are fruits and vegetables. You should ALWAYS have a big bowl of fresh fruits on your counter, with at least 3 different types of fruits in it, depending on the season.

The idea is simple: we want what we see. This is not rocket science; this is the very basis for advertising. We are bombarded by images that make us desire stuff we did not even know existed, and we become convinced that not only they are appealing, but we even need them. Do the same in your kitchen!

Expose yourself nonstop to a colorful bowl of fruits and when you want to snack on something, fruits will become more and more often your first choice. Because you see them, and because you don’t see anything else. Try it, you’ll see! At first, you will still want that muffin top, that you know is somewhere in a cupboard, but after a while, it won’t come to mind as often anymore, and that beautiful mango or kiwi will seem irresistible.

Tip #3 – Hide your stash

Weight Loss Tips: squirrel eating nutsJust like we want what we see, we also have a tendency to forget what we don’t see.  So, make it easy on yourself and have everything disappear from your sight that is not serving your weight loss goals. Some “health perfectionists” suggest that you get rid of anything processed, sugary, or with saturated fat. I don’t recommend such drastic moves. First, because you might not be the only one using your kitchen and you don’t want to become the “enemy” or the “party pooper”. Second, because saying a permanent good-bye to everything you love or are used to is the best way to feel deprived and miserable, and to eventually fall of the wagon. Don’t make that mistake! Snack food, ready-to-eat meals, deli meat, pops… keep them, but hide them.

Make sure processed food is stored in opaque containers or covered with aluminum foil, and stored in places that are hard to reach. This way, there will be no visual trigger for you to think of it. Your brain will have to do all the work, and when it does and you really want those chips, you will have to dig deep to reach them from behind piles of veggies, boxes of whole grains, and jars of preserved fruits.

If you can store some of your “tempting” food outside your kitchen, that’s also a good move. This way, it will require a little extra effort to go get snacks, cups of chicken noodle soup, baking supplies, etc. Your house does not allow for that? Think twice! I have made room in my kitchen cabinets for school supplies, and store chocolate chips, nuts, spreads and other “risky” food in the hallway closet where glue sticks and construction paper used to be. Who says food has to be in the kitchen?

Think about it and do it! It’s an easy step that makes a big difference! And if you are ready to throw away some really bad stuff, then ditch anything in your kitchen that contains trans fat (known as partially hydrogenated oil).

Tip #4 – Shrink the dish

Weight loss tips: photo of salad in small plateNo beating around the bush here. The bigger the plate, the bowl, the spoon; the more we eat. I usually don’t recommend throwing things away or going shopping. But in this case, if your plates are bigger than 10 inches, or if your individual bowls contain more than 12 oz., then, yes. Get rid of them! Replace them with eating plates that are no bigger than 9 inches and with bowls 12 oz or smaller. If you drink alcohol regularly (wine included) or juice, it’s worth shopping for glasses that are narrow rather than wide, as this will help you pour smaller quantities. Try also to find smaller serving and eating spoons.

Living in a smaller world helps us focus more on quality rather than quantity. And once we start shrinking our food portions without having to think about it, we start shrinking too. Yes, it works!

Tip #5 – Make food prep easy

Ok, so you are thinking… now that all my “Grab & Go” food is hidden, am I just going to survive on this bowl of fruits? Well, not quite! Remember tip #1, when we talked about getting rid of the clutter on your countertop? Did you think we would keep it all empty and useless? Not exactly! Of course, we will always try to keep as much free space on the counter as possible, but we will also make sure that all the tools necessary for cooking are right there, always available.

Weight loss tips: photo of person chopping herbs for cookingThere are very easy ways to make food. Using super quick recipes, precut ingredients, frozen vegetables, etc. But if every time you want to make a meal, you have to dig in your cabinets to find a cutting board or the salt, it turns sour pretty fast.

So make sure that the following items have a permanent spot on your counter:

  • Cutting board. If possible, by the sink so that you can wash it easily after every use and always have it ready.
  • Spices, garlic, salt, pepper… the basics to make anything tasty without adding calories.
  • A blender or a food processor is a great addition if you want to cook fast and easy. An electric kettle, a steamer, a rice cooker, and a stand mixer are quite handy as well. If you can afford them, it’s a good idea.

By the same token, make sure the basics are not only available but also easy to access in your cabinets: pots and pans, stirring spoons, oven mitts, but also cooking oil, vinegar… and good recipes!

Tip #6 – Portion, proportion

As I wrote earlier, you don’t have to throw away all your treats. But if you want to make progress toward a healthy life and a leaner self, most of the food in your kitchen and pantry should be healthy and whole. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, plain yogurt, real cheese, whole grains, beans… You know, the type of food that you cannot just grab and snack on (fruits are the exception). You can keep your favorite chips and the kids’ cookies, but aim for at least ¾ healthy foods, in your fridge, in your freezer, in your pantry… Make junk food the exception, not the norm.

Once you hide everything that’s not serving your weight loss, you will notice that you start forgetting about certain foods. When that’s the case, get rid of those! Replace them with cans of beans or vegetables, boxes of whole grains, nuts… And of course, fill up your freezer and fridge with vegetables, fruits, more vegetables, and more fruits! I know, you already have that bowl of fresh fruits on the counter, but you never want to run out of fruits. So make sure you always have a back up in the freezer. Same with vegetables. It’s hard to always have them fresh, but that’s no excuse. If you have a freezer, use it! Don’t stock up on ice cream and pizza. Stock up on veggie mixes, cut up carrots, broccoli florets, and all the good stuff. If it’s available to you, you will eat it, and you will end up liking it!

Tip #7 – Healthy foods take the stage

You have stocked up on the good stuff already? Good for you! Now, make sure you see it. You don’t want to rely on your brain to remind you that you have some celery sticks somewhere in a paper bag at the bottom for your veggie drawer. Every time you are in your kitchen you want to see the good stuff. So, just like you hid snacks and junk food in Tip #4, now work on making healthy foods visible everywhere. Store them in clear containers. Cover them with plastic wrap rather than aluminum foil. Put them in the front of your fridge/freezer and at eye level.  Don’t hide them in the back of your cupboards!

While unhealthy foods should be removed from tempting packaging, you should always try to make healthy foods more appealing with nice dishes, a nice display, etc. Again, think advertising and how well it works. Use this to your advantage. It’s an easy trick and it will not only work for you, but for all the other people who might be using your kitchen. Give it a try today!

Tip #8 – Measure!

When you want to indulge on your favorite snack, go for it. But make sure that you have established quantity rules ahead of time (NOT when you are starving!). And follow those rules :-). Again, don’t rely on self-control or on intuitive portions. If you have decided that ¼ cup of almonds is a good snack for you, next time you want almonds, measure ¼ cup. End of story! You’ll see, it’s actually easier than it seems if you have taken the time to decide on the amount of almonds you want to eat, and if you have taken the time to put a measuring cup right by the almonds.

OK, I hear you… I am talking about almonds, but your favorite snack is actually not quite as healthy. No surprise here! I love Peanut M&M’s! You might have noticed, I love nuts! I even wrote a blog post about nuts 🙂 Anyway, you get my point. You know your triggers. You know your “dangerous foods”. Just prepare for them. Think about what amount you are comfortable having in one go, make sure the measuring tool is right there, and don’t think twice. Take that amount, and go away. If you come back for a second serving, that’s fine, no big deal… But keep measuring. Make that amount of pleasure become the norm, rather than indulging without being aware of how much you eat. Measure, measure, measure… Slowly, you will eat less of what is not good for you and for your weight loss goals. Believe me!

Tip #9 – Make your kitchen enjoyable

Weight loss tips: photos of kid cooking with grandmaWhether you take your meals in your kitchen or elsewhere in your house, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to eat more whole food and less processed food. Whole food, often, is food that needs to be prepared. When you move toward a healthier lifestyle, you might need to spend a bit more time in your kitchen so make this experience as pleasant and easy as possible.

Turn your kitchen into a room you like. Make it comfortable, bring chairs in, make sure you can listen to the radio… Also, try to draw people to your kitchen (unless you want a break from them all!). Make room so the kids can do their homework, have the family laptop in a corner, get a puzzle going… Having loved ones in the kitchen while you are cooking will make you feel less lonely and will slowly change the dynamic around food and meals. Others might start cooking with you (or cooking for you!). Give it a try. It might be a more subtle change, but it has a big impact.

Now, be careful! This step is the last one to implement. Because if you get yourself and your entire family to spend more time in the kitchen before you have made temptations disappear from your sight, you might all end up eating more junk food and putting on weight. So do everything else first, and once your kitchen has become your ally for weight loss, lure people in.

Tip #10 – What about TV?

TV can be your best ally if watching it helps you stay happily in the kitchen and prepare healthy gourmet meals for yourself and your family. But it can also be your worst enemy if it takes your attention away from food while you are eating, and leads you to gobble up large amounts without noticing what you’re putting in your mouth. In a nutshell, turning on TV while preparing food is a nice way to make cooking more fun. But please, turn if off when dinner-time comes. Focus on what you are eating, take your time, and enjoy every bite. If it’s not enjoyable, well, you might want to browse for some new recipes 🙂 Stay tuned, I’ll publish my favorite super fast recipes very soon. Your taste buds are going to dance!

That's it!

OK, now if you haven't done so yet, go to your kitchen, and start making a few small changes using the KITCHEN MAKEOVER CHECKLIST.  Among the 25 proven TIPS listed to help you turn your kitchen into an ally of your health, pick the weight loss tips that make the most sense to you or start with the ones that seem easiest.

Take your time, but DO IT! One step after another. Once you are done, you will see that many struggles will go away. And the weight will start coming off more naturally! Of course it does not happen overnight, but it happens, little by little, and with very little effort once you have done the work of "fixing" your kitchen. See how it goes and keep me posted by commenting below! Don't forget to share your own tips or remarks in the comments section, because, together, we are healthier!

If you feel that you need a little more help to get started, I have a great gift for you! Because you have been reading this article all the way to the end, I am assuming that you are quite dedicated to your health. So I suggest that you apply for a FREE Healthy Lifestyle Kick-Off Consultation. If I think a free coaching session might be beneficial to you, I’ll be happy to give you one for free. Allons-y! Let’s Go!

Disclaimer

None of my content is intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illness or disease. The information provided on this website is not intended to take the place of advice from your medical professional, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.

Homemade Almond Milk: quick, easy, no sugar, no crap

Almond milk is delicious, but if you look at the ingredients in store-bought almond milk, it can be quite scary. I mean, chances are that if you are drinking almond milk in the first place, it's partly because you want to be healthier. And your want to feel good in your body, right? Well, as you can imagine, cane sugar, syrup, artificial flavors, processed gums,  extra salt, and preservatives, to name a few, are not really part of a healthy plan!

Bowl of homemade almond milk with almonds around it

Now I get it! Store-bought almond milk is convenient! Who has time to make their own, right? I understand the time crush! I mean, guys, really, I DO understand the time crush! I am in the same boat.

But when you have a super quick recipe and an easy process, I can tell you that making your own almond milk is definitely worth it. And it doesn't keep you from having store-bought almond milk in the pantry, for days when you run out of your own homemade almond milk or when you really run out of time. It's fine! If you only drink half as much store-bought almond milk as you used to, you will notice a difference.

Try it, an let me know how you like it, OK?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced almonds (cheaper than whole almonds!)
  • 2 cups hot water + 3 cups cold water
  • 4 to 8 dried apricots (you can also use 2 to 4 dates, or a handful of raisins)
  • 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
  • Maybe a pinch of salt (optional)

Preparation

1) In a bowl, add 2 cups of hot water to your sliced almonds. Add the dried fruits too and, if you wish, half a vanilla bean. If you don't have vanilla beans, you can also add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract later in the process. I personally like my almond milk plain.

Helath Coach Stella Loichot with offer to download Prediabetes Guide

2) Let the content of your bowl sit for about 30 minutes. If you are good at planning, you can also just add 2 cups of tap water to your almond slices as well as dried apricots, and let it all sit overnight in the fridge.

If you are a very "last-minute" person, you can skip the soaking step altogether. It's fine as long as you have a good blender. You might just have to blend a little bit longer.

3) Once your almonds have soaked, pour the content of your bowl (sliced almonds + 2 cups water + apricots or other dried fruits) in a blender. If you had vanilla bean in the bowl, remove it, don't put it in the blender. Don't throw it away though: you can still use it for another recipe! If you are using vanilla extract, now is a good time to add it to the blender content.

4) Blend on low and then high speed for about 2 minutes. When the milk is perfectly smooth (you don't see chunks anymore), add 3 extra cups of water and blend a little longer. Note: all together, you have 1 cup of sliced almonds and 5 cups of water.

If you want, you can stop everything at this point and just drink your almond milk like that. That is, with the almond "flour" in it. It will have a nice texture and will be delicious. 

Make your almond milk less calorie-dense

5) If you are like me, trying to keep an eye on your weight, then you want to keep going a little further with this recipe. You are going to pour your almond milk through a lycra sock (clean and reserved for that purpose!) or through a cheese cloth, so that the almond "flour" is filtered out and you end up with almond milk that is much lighter.

Now if you do that, your almond milk won't be as thick and creamy. That's why manufacturers often add gum and all kinds of stuff in their almond milk. You can totally drink it as is, though! But if like me, you like it on the thicker side, keep going. Because WE are going to do thicken it naturally and healthily!

6) Pour your filtered almond milk back into the blender, and add half a tablespoon chia seeds. Blend again at high speed for about a minute, and that's it! Let your milk sit for a few hours or overnight and when you are ready, enjoy it. Thanks to the chia seeds, it will be deliciously thick and creamy. 

PLUS, you will get an extra dose of protein when you drink it! How is that for a healthy milk?

It's even easier in video!

If you want to see how I make this delicious almond milk myself, watch the video I just did on Facebook. And please, share it if you think some of your friends would enjoy making their own, deliciously healthy almond milk.

Do you have prediabetes?

If you do have prediabetes, or if you are worried about your blood sugar levels, you might wonder whether eating nuts is actually good for you. I mean, it's so hard to know what to do! Some doctors recommend a low-fat diet, other recommend a high-fat diet! If you are confused, find your answer in my last article: "I am prediabetic: should I eat nut?"

And if you find everything about prediabetes to be confusing and complicated, I recommend that you download my Beginner's Guide To Reversing Prediabetes Naturally, with 5 hassle-free proven steps.

And as always, if you need a little extra help to get started on reversing your PreDiabetes, apply for a FREE Healthy Lifestyle Kick-Off Session.  If you are really determined and I feel that I can help you, I’ll be happy to chat with you for 30 minutes and see how you can stack all the odds in your favor. Allons-y! Let’s Go!

Disclaimer

My recipes are personal suggestions put together for your convenience and tasting pleasure. Please don't assume that every recipe works for everybody, and make sure you won't be subject to adverse reactions. Bon appétit !

What to ask a potential coach

Are you thinking about hiring a health or lifestyle coach to help you lose weight and live a healthier life? Here are some important questions to ask any potential coach before making your decision. Remember, we all place a different amount of importance on various aspects of a professional relationship, so ask the questions that matter the most to you.

Stella Loichot - ACE Certified Health Coach

What is your accreditation?

It is important to know that as of today, anyone, anywhere, can proclaim themselves “Health Coach” and establish their brick & mortar or online practice without any kind of knowledge, training, or credential whatsoever. For that reason, it is particularly important to check the background of the coach you are thinking of hiring.  You need to make sure that they have gone through the right training and keep their knowledge up-to-date by meeting nationally approved re-certification requirements. Here is an article that lists the most popular Health Coach Certifications currently offered.

The ACE (American Council on Exercise) Health Coach Certification is the only one that is accredited by the National Council on Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The NCCA is the organization that accredits certification programs for nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, and registered dietitians among others. ACE requires that as Health Coaches, we renew our certification every other year. To do so, we need to pursue continuing education and take exams that allow us to stay up-to-date with evolving science in the domains of nutrition, exercise, and behavioral change among others.

Many coaches are certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). ICF offers a unique globally recognized and independent credentialing program for coaches.  The ICF’s mission is to train coaches who are expert in the art of coaching, separately from the industry in which they decide to practice. ICF Credentials are awarded to professional coaches who have met stringent education and experience requirements. Yet, ICF Credentials don’t grant a coach any knowledge in health or nutrition. For that reason, it is important to make sure that their background and other trainings are filling that gap, if you are looking for a coach who will be able to provide you with nutrition consulting for instance, or help with a chronic condition such as cholesterol, diabetes, etc.

What is your approach? Why does it work?

Of course, you can’t expect a coach to give you all the bits and pieces of their program in a first introductory call or session. There is no time for that. Plus, if a coach is doing their job right, they will adjust their program to your specific needs, so it won’t be the same exact content for every client they are working with. But you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what a potential coach’s approach to wellness is and how it can help you.

How do you apply your principles in your own life?

Stella Loichot wearing apron for cooking mealWe have all met that guru who wants to take us down a road that they are not traveling themselves. Why would that be? Is it because what they recommend is not realistic? Or because it doesn’t lead to the results they are describing? Ask your potential coach for a few examples of how they are walking their talk. Not only will you get a better idea of how candid and open they are, but you will also get a better idea of whether or not what they are promoting is something you actually want for yourself. Why are you a coach?

Listen to their story and see if it resonates with you. It does not have to be something crazy or amazing. Yet, having someone explain their big “why” to you will give you a better idea of who that person really is and what their purpose is. You will get to know them a little bit more and by now, you should know if you want to work with them or not.

What makes you different?

The difference between two coaches comes from so many directions. Their coaching philosophy, whether they coach in-person or remotely, the length of their programs, how available they are in-between sessions, whether they provide education and guidance or just coaching, whether they “push” you or let you move at your own pace. Do they use technology? Do they have their own platform or do they adjust to yours? Are they flexible with appointments or not?

It is not always easy to choose between coaches. Sometimes you like them all! Their approach, their tools, their prices, everything seems equally appealing to you. Then just ask them! Ask them what makes them different. Ask them why you should choose them rather than another health coach? They will probably know and will explain in detail.

Will you get in touch with my doctor?

In my opinion, a good dedicated health coach will ask you to put them in touch with your Primary Physician. Of course, you won’t have to agree to that, but your coach should at least ask. It’s important for a coach to introduce themselves to your doctor and establish this idea of a team approach to helping you reach your wellness goals. Of course, you, as a patient and a client, will be responsible for keeping communication flowing. You will make sure both your coach and your physician are aware of what’s going on with your health, but having the coach make that first introductory step, if you so wish, is important. If a coach is not planning on getting in touch with your doctor, it might be an issue down the road.

Will you support no matter what?

In other words, will your coach support you if you take avenues that they don’t necessarily endorse, such as special diets, workout regimen, etc.

Health Coach Stella Loichot working out with healthy and happy client along the beach

It is important to know that many health coaches also offer guidance. What does that mean? It means that they will make recommendations when it comes to nutrition, physical activity, etc. And this is one of the areas where health coaches might largely differ from life coaches. Because Certified Health Coaches have expertise in areas such as nutrition or exercise science, they are not just going to ask you questions and let you come up with your own answers. They will guide you, they will walk you through a process, they will educate you along the way, they will arm you with tools and knowledge that you will be able to use later, long after the coaching is over, to make healthy choices for the rest of your life.

Now since health coaches often have a plan in mind for you, it’s important to know from the start whether or not your coach will stick with you if you drift away from their program. If a coach promotes a vegan diet, what will happen if you decide to actually eat fish? If a health coach recommends that you do meditation, what will happen if you just can’t “comply”. Some coaches are very flexible. Others stick to their plan because they think it’s the ONLY way. Others are right in the middle… Ask them where they stand and decide what you feel comfortable with.

Can I get in touch with your past clients?

A coach might just be starting out or have 20 years of experience under their belt. Numbers are not necessarily the most valuable data in this case, but you are the one deciding what you feel comfortable with.  I believe that it is important to ask a potential coach if you could get in touch with one or two previous clients though. This way, you can get a better idea of what it feels like to work with that person. You will be surprised at how many coaches won’t grant you that privilege and will just ask you to read their testimonials. And I don’t blame them. Many do that out of respect for their previous clients.

If you know that you have found the coach you want to work with, then this step is indeed unnecessary and it might be good to leave people alone. But if you are still wondering and if you are still feeling scared (because often that’s what it’s all about!), just ask! I doubt that any coach will give you a client’s email address or phone number (although it might be possible!), but if YOU are willing to have your email given to a past client, they might contact you directly. If it’s the case, just let that person talk and try to get a better idea of what you will get out of the coaching work.

Which coach do I choose now?

If a coach does not provide you an opportunity to ask the questions that are important to you, you should see that as a red flag. Most coaches offer a free discovery call. That call allows you to get your questions answered and also get a feel for the coach’s personality. Make the best out of that free consultation and use it to make sure that your coach is not just answering your question but is also a good listener.

Be ready to answer questions too. Just as you are trying to see if your coach might be a good fit, a potential coach should also try to assess whether they can help you or not. They need to ask YOU questions. They need to save you time and money and tell you right away if they believe they can’t help you.

What’s next?

Now you can go and browse the Internet to find a Health Coach among the thousand coaches out there who are or are not certified. Or you can schedule a FREE Intro Session with me! Yes, I am the Certified ACE Health Coach who you know already because you have been reading my blog posts for a while! Take that first step, take your health seriously… the longer you wait, the harder it will be! Let’s Go! Allons-y!

How to handle Halloween candy

How we eat during the first holiday of the season will often determine how we handle Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. That’s why it is so important to start this season off right and set a good example for ourselves. If we don’t stop the Halloween candy madness this year, we know it will just slide downhill as the season goes on.

10 Tips to Stay in Control this Halloween

Read 10 simple tips below and make this Halloween a different one. A fun one, a sweet one, and yet, a memorable one: this year, YOU will be in control, not the candy.

Halloween trick or treater with her candy

1/ Procrastinate

Halloween is on October 31st, not as soon as the bulk bags of Kit Kats and Milky Ways start popping up in the aisles. Wait until the very last minute to buy those bags of candy. Stop by the store after school, or after work on Halloween night. Chances are, you will get a discount, save money, and will-power! And since you didn’t buy your candy two weeks ago, you and your family didn’t get a chance to get into the bag and eat it all before the special night. So you won’t have to spend extra money to go buy more.

Be careful not to fall for the “buy 4 get the 5th bag free” trap though, or to buy your candy for next year because “it is such a great deal”. We all know where that would take you: most likely not to where you want to go!

2/ Only Buy What You Need

You’re not a rookie. You had trick-or-treaters for a while now. No, there won’t be 280 kids visiting your house, so no, you don’t need 10 lbs of candy. If you used 3 bags of candy last year, buy 3 bags this year too. Now I know, you might be tempted to buy extra, “just in case”. No one wants to be the house that turns off the lights at 7:30 pm, I get it! So distribute the candy smartly throughout the night and that won’t happen. Kids want candy, yes, but they don’t need an armful of them from every household!
Deep inside, we are all hoping for leftover candy after Halloween. But save ‘future you’ some trouble, and don’t buy more than you will hand out. Candy isn’t helping your wellness goals, and there’s no way around that.

3/ One Bag at a Time

When trick-or-treaters start knocking at your door, empty one bag of candy into your bowl. Not two, not three. One is enough. When it’s gone, you can open the next one. If you want to offer a nice variety, then buy a variety bag in the first place! If you open all the bags at once and you have leftovers, we all know what will end up happening. But if leftovers are in an unopened bag, you can return it and get your money back and you won’t be tempted to eat it! You can also donate extra candy to organizations such as Soldiers Angels for our troops. On a side note, I think it might be better not to donate Halloween candy to food banks and shelters. I might be wrong though. People who are struggling to get around food are also trying to stay healthy. Yet, they are receiving sugar goods more often than not, so it might be better to donate canned vegetables, beans, and other healthy foods to them.

4/ Buy Candy you Don’t Like

It’s not mean, it’s not selfish, and it’s not because you don’t like a type of candy that others dislike it as well. There is no need for you to buy all of your favorite sweets and spend the entire night trying to resist eating them. Pick the treat that doesn’t tempt you and go with that! Kids generally love everything with sugar, and they won’t be too picky when it comes to Halloween candy. This is something to keep in mind when trying to manage your weight. The idea is not to “be good and strong,” it is to make sure your environment is not tempting you in the first place. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make your life easier for yourself!

5/ Buys toys instead of Candy

Do you love all sweets, no matter what? You can’t resist anything with sugar? That’s okay too! In that case, buy toys for the kids instead. They will be thrilled! Plus, it’s a great opportunity to get creative with Halloween. You can buy stickers, key chains, glow sticks, silly putty, bouncy balls… Ask your children to help you come up with ideas! As long as you don’t give out carrot sticks and raisins, anything that your kids approve of will work, and make your night much easier.

6/ Strike a Deal

OK, so you have been handing out candy all night and are quite satisfied with yourself. Now your kids are coming home with their bags full of your favorite sweets. Tough!!! You want to indulge? Of course? There are ways to make it controlled so that you don’t ruin your healthy streak.

In my house, I have a deal with my little one: she gives me all of her Kit-Kats (she is very generous!). I eat as many as I want on the night of Halloween, and after that, that’s it! So I usually eat them all at once (yep, that’s me!), feel a little nauseous but very content, and then go right back to my normal habits. That’s what works for me. Try to find a deal that works for you! Don’t try to implement a “no candy policy”, but don’t let yourself binge every day for two weeks either. Make a plan and stick to it. Find something that is an improvement compared to usual, so that you feel proud and good about yourself for the rest of the season. But make sure it’s also satisfying, because you want to look forward to Halloween, not dread it.

7/ Chew Gum

Fish chewing gum and blowing a bubbleIf your kids spend hours and hours sorting their candy, trading, negotiating, organizing, and the whole process is excruciating for you, chew some gum. It’s hard to eat anything while chewing gum, and you can try lots of sweet candy-like flavors that are sugar-free!

8/ Throw Away as Much Candy as You Can

The easiest way to resist temptation is to eliminate temptation. So right after Halloween, get rid of as much candy as you can. I will let you negotiate with your own children and see what kind of deal you can strike.
With the candy that’s left, have the kids hide them, or if the kids are also struggling with self-control, have a spouse hide them. Be upfront with what you are dealing with. Trying to fight your demons on your own is the best way to lose the battle. Putting pressure on yourself by going public and getting help from your loved ones is an amazing way to stick to your goals.

9/ Let your kid be the boss

You rule the house most of the time, right? So for once, let the kids be the boss of you! Once your kids know what you are trying to do (stay away from the candy) they will be more than happy to keep you in check. For once, they will be the ones saying “NO!” and they might really enjoy that shift of power. Plus, sometimes, they will see how hard it is to be the bad cop. They will realize that when they say no to you, you get pissed off, you try to negotiate, you insist… and they really wish they could give you candy to please you. It might be a great learning opportunity for them, depending on their age.

What is YOUR plan for Halloween?

You have some tips, now what are you going to do with them? If you want this year to be a different one, you have to make a plan. Here is how you do it.

First, ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. Look back and think about what WILL happen if you let things go as usual. Then, think about what you would like to see happen ideally. You now have the worst case scenario and the best case scenario. Find a compromise somewhere in the middle and settle for that. Then, make a plan using the tips above as well as your own strategies, and talk to your family to make sure they help you stick to that middle-ground solution.

If you feel that you won’t be able to make it, send me an email or book a FREE 20-minute phone call and let’s brainstorm! Sometimes, it does not take much to get started on the right path.

The ultimate trick: #10

No matter what, there is one thing you should never forget. Whatever you love, don’t feel guilty for it! Whether you wish you could binge on chocolate or eat a bag of candy corn every day, whatever you wish is perfectly fine. It doesn’t mean you can indulge overtly, because it would keep you from reaching your wellness goals, but please, stop feeling bad for what you crave. There is no shame in loving unhealthy food, and for wanting a lot of it!!!


PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND I DON’T KNOW YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.

©2018 Allons-y Coaching, LLC – Seattle, WA – All rights in all media reserved.

Protein-rich snacks without nuts

Are you running out of ideas for what to put in your children’s lunch boxes and snack sacks? Not to mention your own brown paper bags! With most schools and daycare centers abiding by the “no-nut policy” – if only they could also have a “no-crap policy!” – it is sometimes difficult to provide a protein-rich snack for our little ones. And even for us, moms and dads, who have a nasty tendency to eat leftovers from the kiddos anyway. Plus, most schools don’t have refrigerators, so the options are even more limited!

No worries, I’ve got you covered! Here are a few ideas of snacks that are rich in protein, don’t contain nuts, and can stay out of the fridge for a few hours (or forever!).

Brown paper bag with question mark to represent lack of ideas of healthy snacks with protein

Combine them with healthy carbs such as a piece of fruit or minimally processed whole grains. You will obtain a balanced snack for your child or for yourself. By the way, when I say minimally processed, what I mean is “no more than 5 ingredients listed on the label”. If you don’t have any such products in your pantry, don’t panic! Just start replacing them little by little with healthier choices. When change happens progressively, nobody really pays attention.

Healthy snacks rich in protein – no nuts – no fridge:

  • Seeds: they can be a great alternative to forbidden nuts. They are rich in protein and other nutrients, don’t take up much space, and there are plenty to choose from. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are usually a hit.
  • Edamame in a pod makes for a great protein-rich snackEdamame is also a good snack that can stay out of the fridge for a little while. To add variety, you can sometimes choose it pre-cooked in the pod, and sometimes roasted and crunchy.
  • Crispy crunchy chickpeas: they come in many different flavors. Find the ones you and your kids like the most and go for them!
  • Cheese: of course, we think babybel and string cheese, but you can also cut pieces of all your favorite cheeses and roll them up in plastic wrap. Getting your children to appreciate all kinds of cheeses is a great way to develop their taste for the good things of this world. Did I ever tell you I am French? Furthermore, keep in mind that when you eat a stronger cheese, you don’t need as much of it to feel satisfied. You know, it’s like chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the less you eat at once. Because the taste is so powerful that a small piece is enough. So when you or your children start appreciating more flavorful cheeses, you will also feel content with a smaller amount of them. Don’t you like that idea?
  • Dried seaweed (nori, kelp…): they are often sold in individual packages and are super light, which makes them great if your child’s backpack (or yours) is heavy. You might want to pack gum or a toothbrush with them though. The taste has a tendency to stick around!
  • Jerky: you can alternate beef jerky, turkey jerky, but also salmon jerky if you can afford it. They are all somewhat high in sodium, but once you know it and make sure you compensate with less salty foods during the day, then you’re all good. Oh, by the way, don’t forget to provide plenty of water to your child when there is jerky on the menu!

Of course, in case nuts are not an issue, then those are always a great snack to keep in mind. Almonds, pecan, cashew, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts… and all the kinds of butters that come from them obviously. Keep an eye on the portions though. I have an article to help you with that and to help you figure out when nuts are really good for you.

Meal prep counts for snacks too!

Remember that most of the time, unless you or your child has a specific condition, what is healthy for your child is healthy for you too (and vice versa). Keep in mind also that we usually derail from our wellness goals when we are starving and unprepared. So if you are making healthy snacks for your little treasure, why not prepare double portion so that you too are covered.

Take 30 minutes on Sunday night to get all your snacks ready for the week. Put them in small bags and in a closed container and grab them as you go during the week. You will save time, energy, money, and so much frustration! Once you have done that for a month or two, healthy snacks will be second nature for you rather than a source of headaches.

What’s next?

Having a healthy snack is fantastic, but it won’t help much if you don’t start your day and your child’s day with a healthy balanced breakfast. Read my article “What to eat for breakfast” for a list of quick and easy breakfast ideas.

If you want more ideas or need help with Balanced Meal Planning, let me know. I am here to support you. Contact me via email at stella@allonsycoaching.com or book a FREE 20-minute phone call so that we can chat.


PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND I DON’T KNOW YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.

©2018 Allons-y Coaching, LLC – Seattle, WA – All rights in all media reserved.

How dare you sleep?

Do you feel guilty when work or kids get in the way of your healthy eating? For instance, when you have a “heavy” lunch with clients, work overtime and skip dinner, or finish your kids’ leftovers? If you are like most people who are trying to “eat better”, chances are yes, you DO feel guilty when life events keep you from making healthy choices.

I am not saying that guilt is a good thing. I personally feel that we should feel responsible, but not guilty. But we won’t go there today, it will be a topic for another blog post.

Fingers pointing to express guilt feeling when not eating healthy or not working out

What about exercise? Do you feel guilty when you have to skip a workout because of work, kids, or whatever life is throwing at you that day? Again, I am pretty sure that you DO feel guilty in those instances, at least most of the time.

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Double standard

Now tell me: do you feel guilty when you wake up 3 times at night because your kids have nightmares? Do you feel guilty when you set your alarm at 4 am because you have an early conference call? Do you feel guilty when you are sleep deprived because you travel for business? My guess is that you DON’T feel guilty in those situations. I might be wrong of course, but from what I have seen and heard from my clients, most of us plainly and simply don’t take responsibility for our poor sleep.

We blame ourselves for our imperfect choices when it comes to food and physical activity, but when it comes to sleep deprivation, we think of ourselves as the victims.

As a society, when someone tells us that they “can’t resist” the donuts at work every morning, we tend to think that they have no will-power. When someone tells us that they “have to” answer emails at 10 pm each night because it’s corporate culture, we have compassion. Yet actually, where is the difference? Why such double standards?

When it comes to sleep, we feel powerless.

It even goes further than that. We live in a society where sleep deprivation is considered a good reason for bragging.

“Hell is other people”

That’s not me saying that of course. That’s Jean-Paul Sartre.

It is true that when we don’t sleep well or when we don’t sleep enough, it’s often because of external factors: kids, work, a snoring spouse, hot weather, stressful events, etc.

Yet, if you think about it, all those factors that affect how we sleep, they actually also affect our exercise routine and our eating behavior (maybe not the snoring spouse!). Yet, because we feel empowered with our nutrition and physical activity, we adjust to those obstacles, we control them, and we don’t give up our goals because of them.

If you want to eat vegetables and your kid throws a tantrum because they don’t like veggies, will you just give up and not eat vegetables for the next 16 years? No! You’ll find ways around it, right?

It’s the same thing with work. If you have to work overtime for 2 weeks and can’t take a lunch break, you will figure out a way to bring healthy lunch boxes so that you can eat at your desk. You will adjust and make sure that you keep eating healthy because it is your priority. And you will do the same with exercise.

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Sleep is like food and workout

If you want to sleep well, you have to start thinking the same way about sleep than you think about nutrition and workout. You have to realize that YOU are in charge of your sleep; YOU have the power to make your nights better.

If sleep is a priority of yours, you cannot let others decide how you sleep, when you sleep, and how long you sleep.

Poster with sleeping cat and note saying "dont bother me I am sleeping"

5 years ago, I had absolutely no control over my nights. I am a very light sleeper and need perfect conditions to fall asleep. In a nutshell, I am a pain when it comes to sleeping, my husband and kids can testify! Yet, despite all that, I have been able to change my surroundings, educate my family, eliminate tensions, and develop many strategies that now allow me to sleep as much as I need. And I can tell you, I need A LOT of sleep! I never thought that it would one day be possible!

No sleep = no weight loss

But wait a minute! Why does sleep even matter? I won’t get into the details in this article, but there is one thing you should know. If you are eating well and moving well, but not sleeping enough, you won’t lose weight. It’s that simple.

That’s why sleep goes hand in hand with weight loss. That’s why I spend a lot of time giving workshops about sleep in the Seattle area, to make sure people stop struggling with diets and crazy workouts, and instead, start focusing more on their sleep.

So please, if your goal is to improve your overall health and lose weight, think about it. Just like you have power over your nutrition and your exercise routine, YOU are in charge of your sleep. And just like with food and workout, if you start making small improvements in your sleep routine, you will be able to build on your successes and you will soon feel completely empowered. When it comes to sleep too, YOU are the boss, you are not a victim.

It’s an entire culture of sleep deprivation that we have to change. It starts with you feeling proud of taking care of your sleep, rather than feeling guilty for sleeping in. You can do it! Allons-y! Let’s go!

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25 Tips to Sleep Better

If you need help establishing healthy sleeping habits, reach out to me or check out my Stress Management & Sleep Program.

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You can also download 25 Tips for Better Sleep (and a bonus!) and get started right away!

Not sure what to do and where to start?  Contact me via email or book a FREE 20-minute phone call. We will get you unstuck!

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PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND I DON’T KNOW YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.

©2018 Allons-y Coaching, LLC – Seattle, WA – All rights in all media reserved.

Make fewer decisions to reduce your stress

If you are tired of making decisions all the time – at work, at home, within your group of friends, for the school PTA… – establishing a new healthy lifestyle might add even more to the load. Having to make healthy meal choices 3 times a day, choosing between sleeping-in and going to the gym, resisting the donuts or splurging, working over your lunch break or going for a walk… This will soon become exhausting and extremely stressful.

Actually, stress is one of the main reasons people give up their wellness goals.

Stressed woman facing too many decisions

It is very important that you work on reducing the number of decisions you make on a daily basis. Not only it will limit your risks of making poor choices, but it will also help lower your level of stress hormones. After that, use my “TOP 10 tips to control your stress (plus a BONUS!).

Let’s see how you can easily reduce the number of decisions you make every day.

1/ Simplify your life

– Automate

Organize your life so that recurring choices become automatic. It’s OK to eat the same thing every single Monday, to have the exact same grocery shopping list every week, to always do the same thing at the same time with the same people for a while. Especially in stressful times! This will appease your brain.

For instance, design a meal plan for a week or 2 and use it over and over again, only tweaking your shopping list according to seasonal produce. If you need help with meal plans, let me know, I can provide that to you!

Don’t forget to put into your calendar anything you need to automate, until it really becomes a habit: meals, snacks, workouts, chores, etc.

– Get rid of stuff

Make sure you don’t have too many clothes and shoes to choose from in the morning, and that those you have are well organized in your closet. It will save you plenty of time and loads of stress. Get rid of items you are not wearing, throw away the make-up you never use, and actually do the same with everything in your house.

Too many handbags create stress

Clutter is known for being a huge stressor. Give stuff away, empty your home and office. Not only you will have fewer options to chose from, but you will also reduce the time it takes for your to clean up your mess. Not to mention the rewarding feeling of having other people benefit from what you can’t put to use.

– Establish routines

Have as many routines as possible in your week and link them to healthy habits.

Let me give you a few examples of stress-reducing routines:

  • Always go to the gym on your way from work on Tuesdays and Thursdays;
  • Go for a run every Saturday morning (rain or shine) before your usual family brunch;
  • Walk around the field during your son’s soccer practice while calling friends and family.

You get the idea, right?

If you look at your calendar, there are many things that you already do regularly. Associate them to a healthy activity that you are trying to set up as a new habit, so that little by little, it will just be weird for you to do one without doing the other. Those routines can be lifesavers when you are starting to lose your motivation for living a healthy life.

2/ Establish rules

When it comes to your “diet” and exercise plan, establish “rules” that you just have to follow without having to make decisions. Any rules! They can be completely random!

For instance, I have a rule that goes: “I can eat all the treats I want but only if they are homemade”. It makes it super easy for me to “decide” whether or not I will eat a piece of cake, wherever I am. I actually don’t have a decision to make, I just follow my rule.

Your rules don’t have to make sense or be logical. They just have to work for you and be “no-brainers”. Of course, this strategy only works if you are a rule-follower. If the first thing that comes to your mind when you see a rule is “How can I bend this one?”, you might want to focus on another tip! 🙂

If you find making decisions all the time stressful, it’s important to find ways to make decisions once and for all for as many things as possible.

3/ Involve others

Of course, chances are you are not just making decisions for yourself. You are making decisions for others too, and carrying alone the burden of the consequences.

It is time to involve others everywhere they can be involved. When you plan meals for the week, involve your family. When you plan vacations, nights out, getaways, potlucks, meetings, etc. Let others make as many decisions as possible and just be the coordinator if you really want to have control. Or you can even go further and let others handle it all while you become “just” an active participant. Remember, whatever you do, pretty much anyone else can do it too… as long as you let them do it THEIR way 🙂

Cat helping with laundry to relieve stress

You are not the only one who can do laundry!

Be careful though, involving others might add to your stress if it adds a lot of coordination and mediation. So make sure you are really letting go. Remember what your goals is: you want to have fewer decisions to make, you want to lower your stress level, you want to free some brain space so that you can keep your focus on what really matters to you: your health, your wellness goals, your well-being.

When you involve others, LET GO! Don’t micromanage. If the grandparents are watching the kids, let them decide what they do and when they go to bed. You are here today, right? So the grandparents must have done something right! If your spouse is cooking, just sit back and enjoy the meal. It might not be what YOU want, but remember when people do their thing, they might just do it THEIR perfect way.

How do you lower your stress NOW?

– Go and look at everything you do in a week.
– Look at what you can automate, at the routines you can establish, at the rules you can put in place, and at the people you can involve. Don’t forget the kids!
– Set some time in your schedule for the coming month to go through your house and office to do some cleanup. Get rid of stuff!
– Tell people around you about what you are doing and ask them where they would like to get involved.
– Start today and make one small change right away.

If you struggle or if you feel that your stress load comes from different places, download my  “TOP 10 Tips to control your stress (plus a BONUS!), or reach out to me. I have tools and resources that could help you a lot with stress management. Contact me at stella@allonsycoaching.com or schedule a 20-minute phone call (FREE) so that we can chat together.

Good luck with this! You can do it, just get on it. Allons-y! Let’s Go!

 


PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND I DON’T KNOW YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.

©2017 Allons-y Coaching, LLC – Seattle, WA – All rights in all media reserved.

Best and worst beverages for your health

When it comes to beverages, the most common mistakes we make are the following:

  • We don't drink enough WATER: if you drink less than 6 cups per day, there is a good chance you are not getting enough.
  • We don't know what's in our drinks: ingredients, sugar, calories.
  • We drink mindlessly: while driving, walking, working, etc.
  • We don't take drinks into consideration when evaluating our nutritional intake: we end up swallowing plenty of unnecessary energy, which, of course, will be stored as fat!

Starting from those observations, how can we improve?

What's the best beverage for our body?

Well, it's pretty straightforward. The best beverage for our health is water. No coconut water, no vitamin water, no electrolyte water, just plain tap water (unless your water system has been contaminated and in that case, you might consider bottled water).

Clear healthy tap water running from faucet

We all have different needs when it comes to water, depending on our age, gender, level of physical activity, the amount of water we get from our food, the climate we live in, etc. I won't tell you how much water you need to drink, because it's very specific to each person. Yet, if you have no clue what a reasonable amount of water is for you, you can start with the following plan:

  • a cup of water right when you wake up;
  • some water after every bathroom break;
  • some water before each meal;
  • a bit of water before you go to bed.

This should amount to about 6 to 8 cups per day. Of course, if you are thirsty in-between, drink! Thirst is a great indicator that you are not getting enough water :-). And if you workout, drink extra water too!

If you are still in doubt, here is another way to assess your hydration level. If you pee almost clear, you probably drink too much water. If you pee dark yellow, you are not drinking enough water. Yep, it's that easy! No need to get all fancy, scientific, and complicated!

Which beverage is the worst for our health?

Some will tell you it's coffee, others will tell you it's soda, and many will tell you it's alcohol. In my opinion, the worst beverage is the one you are drinking mindlessly. Out of habit, without enjoying it, and without being aware of what you are actually gulping down.

Prediabetes Reversal Banner

Soda?

I would like to give you just a little more information about soft drinks. If you take a look at the food label on your favorite pop cans, you might notice that many of them contain added fructose. Natural fructose, which you find in fruit, is good for you. But added fructose is very damaging to your liver. Regular consumption of fructose-containing beverages is a cause of fatty liver in patients without risk factors, according to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine. Considering that fatty liver is the second leading indication for liver transplantation in the US, it is quite scary, isn't it?

Surgeons doing surgery on patient with fatty liver

I am not saying that soda is the worst beverage for your health (although, you would not have to tickle me much to have me confess!), but please, if you drink pops regularly, make sure you are really enjoying every single sip, because your body is paying quite a high price for this small pleasure.

Also, here is a word of caution regarding diet sodas. Their calorie content is very low or negligible. Yet, because they are very sweet, they don’t quench your thirst, they make you crave sugar, and they even make you eat more food. So don’t try to replace your regular pop with diet soda. It might help a bit, but not that much in the long term.

Alcohol?

I won't demonize alcohol. Yet, I have seen clients struggling with weight loss because they are sleep deprived (yes, it's linked!). They don't always realize that their poor sleep is due to the couple of drinks they have at night. If you are having trouble sleeping through the night despite the fact that you are old enough to read those lines, alcohol might be a reason.

Alcohol makes you drowsy, so you might fall asleep better when you drink a glass or 2 at night. But, alcohol has a strong side effect: it is dehydrating. As a result, you will want to get up at night to pee. A good reason to wake up! Plus, you will be thirsty, so you will also want to get up to get a glass of water or you will be very uncomfortable with a dry mouth and maybe a headache. Chances are, you will wake up before your alarm gets off. Not to mention that once the “depressant” effect of alcohol is gone, you will have a sudden burst of energy and awareness, which will make you very likely to wake up during the night, no matter what.

Man suffering from headache because of alcohol consumption

Alcohol also aggravates breathing problems such as snoring, and it interferes with the most restorative stages of sleep. So when you drink alcohol before going to bed, you won’t feel as rested the next day and even feel groggy.

So, if you are having trouble sleeping, keep an eye on your alcohol consumption. By the way, if sleep is an issue for you, you might want to read my article "Why can't I sleep well anymore?" and download 25 Tips to Sleep Better (and a Bonus!).

Whatever you drink, make it count!

If an average person needs about 2200 calories per day from food and beverages. That’s about 700 calories per meal if you have 3 meals per day, right? Did you know that a Starbucks Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino can contain up to 530 calories? 12 oz of apple juice contain about 180 calories, even more than 12 oz of beer.

I am usually not a fan of calorie counting, far from it! But if you know approximately how many calories are in the beverages you consume on a regular basis, it might be a wake-up call. And maybe you will decide to eliminate a couple here and there, you know, the ones that are not quite "worth it"!

Here is the thing with drinks. We have a tendency to wolf them down without really noticing and without getting much pleasure from them. Yet, drink 2 beers tonight and you will swallow the equivalent, calorie wise, of almost half a meal. Maybe that's what you want? Maybe sharing a beer with someone might be a healthier option.

Evaluate your favorite beverages

Here is what I suggest you do ASAP. List all the beverages you consume regularly and find out their approximate calorie content. Here is a list to help you, with average values:

  • 16 oz hot chocolate: 320
  • 7 oz Gin & Tonic: 200
  • 16 oz latte: 190
  • 12 oz apple juice: 180
  • 12 oz lemonade: 170
  • 12 oz beer: 160
  • 8 oz whole milk: 150
  • 12 oz regular cola: 140
  • 5 oz glass of wine: 120
  • 4 oz Martini: 120
  • 12 oz sports drink: 100
  • 12 oz unsweetened iced tea: 2
  • water: 0
  • sparkling water: 0
  • unsweetened tea: 0
  • black coffee: 0

For more, you can go to USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

You can also use the Alcohol calorie calculator from the US Department of Health and Human Services. It's pretty convenient!

Health Coach Stella Loichot with offer to download Prediabetes Guide

Having your own list will help you identify the most "dangerous" drinks. Next time you are about to drink one or the other from your list, ask yourself the following questions first:

  • Am I drinking this because I am thirsty? If the answer is yes, drink WATER!
  • Am I drinking this out of habit? If the answer is yes, could you put a healthier habit in place?
  • Do I really want this drink? Will I enjoy it all?
  • Could I pick a smaller size and still be satisfied?
  • Is this drink worth the calorie content? If yes, could I cut my snack, or maybe skip dessert?
  • Can I replace this drink with one that would be healthier?
  • Can I make this same drink healthier by using slightly different ingredients?

What can I drink then?

I am not telling you “stop drinking”, “no alcohol!”, “no sodas!”. Although honestly, I am not far from suggesting the latter, sorry! But be aware of their effect on your health and on your weight. Because sometimes, they are not worth it.

Green tea in a cup as a healthy alternative to sweet beverages

Whenever possible, favor the following beverages:

  • water or sparkling water: plain or with a slice of lime or lemon, with slices of cucumber, strawberry, with fresh mint;
  • herbal tea, unsweetened iced or hot tea;
  • black coffee (decaf or not, depending on your sleep!).

If you are hesitating between a cocktail and a glass of wine or a beer, your best bet is often to go for the wine or beer. And stay away from sports drinks, unless your workout is quite intense and lasts an hour or more.

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PLEASE REMEMBER, THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.

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Positive psychology helps with weight loss

In the media, we talk a lot about positive psychology, and how positive thinking improves our feelings, actions, and success in life. Positive psychology is trendy, and that is a very good thing!

If you don’t know what positive psychology is, let me explain real quick with an image. If you know what it is, skip to the next section “How to think positively?”, where I will show you how a positive psychology strategy that will help you with weight management, fitness, and stress relief.

What is positive psychology?

Our thoughts, when they travel in our brain, create their own trail. We call those trails, pathways. If we have a thought pretty rarely, the trail will stay narrow and rocky (or muddy if you live in Seattle!).

Man having difficulty walking forward on muddy trail

Just like in real life, who would invest in trying to make a trail better if no one is using it, right? If it’s a thought that is coming back to us over and over again though, the trail will become wider, smoother, until it becomes more like a highway. Now, whenever there is an event in our life that can lead to different types of thoughts, which thought do you think is most likely to come up first? A thought that has a muddy trail to travel on, or a thought that has created a highway already? The latter of course!

The idea of positive psychology is that if you intentionally think positive thoughts as often as possible, they will end up creating highways in your brain. As a result, when an event happens, a challenge presents itself, or difficulties arise in your life, positive thinking will be more likely and much faster to occur because positive thoughts will already have highways to travel on, rather than rocky trails to scramble on.

Beautiful road leading to rainbow and happy place

If, on the other hand, you have a tendency to always focus on the negative and be pessimistic, then negative thoughts will have highways to travel on and positive thoughts will only have tiny and difficult trails. Consequently, you will be much more likely to feel depressed, give up on challenges, have low self-confidence, etc.

How to think positively?

One thing you can do to start thinking more positively, is to write down all the positive things that happen to you day after day. What do I mean by positive things? Well, everything that makes you feel good, makes you feel happy, proud, hopeful, excited, etc. And if you are really depressed right now, you can start with everything that does not make you feel too sad. Yes, we all have different standards for happiness, depending on where we are in life and it’s totally OK.

So when you record your positive elements, think about laughing with friends, eating something good, sleeping in, completing a project, watching a sunset, not fighting with your mother, having a smooth commute, anything that brings you some kind of contentment!

Positive journaling

In positive psychology, we encourage patients and clients to use a journal and record, every single day, at least 3 things that went really well that day. And if you have a tendency to focus on the negative, or even to just not pay much attention to the positive, I highly recommend that you try doing this for a few months. Every night, sit down and list 3 things that went well that day or at least did not go wrong. And every morning, sit down and list 3 things that you look forward to. Make sure that you always find NEW items to list, so it doesn’t get repetitive. You need to rack your brains a little! It will require some time, but this type of intentional focus will make a big difference after a while in the way your mind is wired and in the different pathways available to your thoughts.

Positive thinking and weight loss

Now you are wondering what this might have to do with weight loss, stress relief, and exercise. Here we go! If you list all the things that make you happy, bring you joy, or make you feel good, you will be able to get a very long list after a short period of time. Do that for a couple of months, you will be surprised at all the sources of happiness available in your life.

List of source of happiness categorized in groups: stress relief, exercise, healthy, and unhealthyAs you keep adding to your list, categorize your items into 4 groups:

  1. Less stress (anything that you find calming)
  2. More exercise (anything that makes you move)
  3. Healthy (helps you reach your wellness goals but not related to exercise or stress)
  4. “Unhealthy” (doesn’t help you reach your wellness goals)

Having this list of agreeable things will help you organize your new lifestyle. Get used to scheduling as many activities as possible from groups 1, 2, and 3 in your calendar. Sometimes, we don’t really know what to do, we lack inspiration or motivation. Having a list handy is all we need to get moving again! And when you list only contains things that you love doing, what a great resource!!! Now, don’t scratch out category #4 of course! It’s not because you want to establish a healthier lifestyle that you have to quit enjoying all the pleasures that don’t help you reach your goals. Just be mindful. Spread those activities out, make sure they are not your main source of happiness.

Are your kids bored sometimes?

If you have children and they are sometimes bored, I would encourage you to teach them how to do this as well. Not the categorizing part, but the initial listing part. Have them list all the little things that they enjoy doing. When the weather is bad, their friends are out of town, or the WIFI is down, they can take their list out and find something to do. Something that has brought joy to them before. Make sure they don’t just list big events such as “Go to Disney Land”. Teach them positive thinking early on. You will make them resourceful and give them a head start for working on their stress and happiness when they grow up.

What to do now?

Start your list today, and add to it, every day! If you find it hard to focus on the positive, email me or schedule a FREE 20-minute phone call so that we can chat. I will help you!

 

Of course, don’t forget to share this article on Facebook so that your friends can benefit as well. Let’s not do this alone! Wellness is a journey and if we don’t create a community around it, it will be hard for all of us. Now think positive and be healthy. Allons-y! Let’s Go!


PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND I DON’T KNOW YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.

 

Is pizza a balanced meal?

You keep telling yourself that you should eat balanced meals, and yet, it is so hard! No time, no energy for cooking, no motivation sometimes, or even a lack of skills you think…

Balanced meals are too much work!

Maybe you are like some of my dear clients, who eat pizza or fast food 3 times a week for dinner, and most often than not, grab a cookie or a donut at snack time. If that’s the case, eating balanced meals every day might seem out of reach for you. Just like it used to seem out of reach for my clients.

Well, not so fast! Let me show you how easy it can actually be. Eating healthy for the long term is not about dismissing everything you have been doing so far. It’s about tweaking and making small improvements to your current habits.

We will just take 2 examples and then you will know how to adjust to your own needs.

Make your pizza night nutritionally balanced

Unhealthy pizza turned into healthy dinner (lettuce, pizza, orange)

 

Make your snack more balanced

Unhealthy snack (cookie and soda) turned into healthier snack (pear, milk, and cookie)

 

You get the idea, right? Always keep those principles in mind:

  • add fiber (greens/fruit) to whatever you are having for dinner or for snack;
  • add protein if there is none in your food already;
  • only eat 1 or 2 servings of the “unhealthy” food.

It’s important that you don’t always focus on eliminating what you like or what is convenient. Because you will be miserable and you will end up quitting. Instead, think about proportions: make sure that unhealthy food is only a small part of what you are eating. See how you feel after making that change!

If you want more ideas or if you need help establishing a healthier lifestyle, let me know. I am here to support you! Contact me via email at stella@allonsycoaching.com or book a FREE 20-minute phone call so that we can chat and see where you could start. The first step is often a very hard one to take. Go for it!

 


PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND I DON’T KNOW YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.