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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Breaking The Habit

Habit. A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. We all have habits, some good, some bad. I have a habit of cleaning and scrubbing all my produce before cooking it. Good habit, right? But I also have a habit of buying too much produce at once and throwing half of it away because it goes bad. Not so good habit.

We all have bad habits that we probably wish we could break. Some, like the above, aren't necessarily detrimental to our health, but others can definitely effect our well-being. For Instance, I also have a habit of buying a healthy snack, such as my favorite Mary's Sticks and Twigs, and eating the whole bag in one sitting. Yikes.

Making changes in our lives in order to improve our health and well being usually requires breaking some of our bad habits. Easier said than done, but let's face it, we could all use some improvement. So how do we give up our bad habits and trade them in for good ones, or at least better ones?

The first step is identifying the habits that you wish to change. Find habits that continuously hinder your health, happiness or well being. Any change we wish to make in our lives starts with and requires motivation. The general desire or willingness to do something. Only you have the power change yourself, but without the desire to precipitate change, success will be difficult.

Once you are ready to take action, follow these simple tips and you will be sure to succeed!

1) Lasting change takes time. Don't try to change all your bad habits at once, you will be sure to get overwhelmed and likely fail. Start with one and focus on making that one stick.

2) Be realistic. Chose to change things that are within your control, otherwise you can set yourself for disappointment and get discouraged.

3) Take baby steps. You may have more success by upgrading your bad habit to a less evil one first and then breaking it all together, rather than going cold turkey from the start.

4) Set goals. Make a list of the necessary steps to achieve your goal, and check them off as you reach them.

5) Stay motivated. Write yourself daily reminders and stick them on your mirror, refrigerator or some place you will constantly see them, especially in places where the bad habit is bound to occur.

6) Keep track of your progress. Keeping a journal each day can help you identify when and why you are having difficulty versus success. Take a few minutes each morning to write down your intentions for the day, and few minutes each evening to reflect on how you did.

7) Ask for help. We can't always do everything on our own. Don't be afraid to use your resources and ask for help!

8) Be grateful. Be aware of the others that have helped you reach your goals and express your gratitude.

9) Start today! Why put off til tomorrow, what you can do today. Procrastination will hinder your motivation and allows the opportunity for distraction.

So what are you waiting for? What bad habit will you start breaking today?

Keep it Fresh!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back To School!

We all probably think, in some way or another, that we could be making healthier choices as far as our diet is concerned. And as much as we want ourselves to be healthy, we want even more to feed our children as healthy as possible. Our child's health is so important, because their young developing bodies are more vulnerable and therefore susceptible to illness. Feeding our kids a healthy, wholesome diet will not only help prevent sick days, but it will also be the most important thing we can do for their report cards. A healthy child will be focused, alert and attentive, allowing them to be at their utmost capacity to learn and perform their best! However, when our kids head off to school we relinquish the power to control everything they eat for a good part of the day. Therefore it is important to get them excited about making healthy choices and then send them off with healthy options so that we can feel confident that they will choose to eat the way we want them to.

Most of our schools unfortunately do not have healthy cafeteria options. Instead the cafeteria is an oasis of fried non-foods, baked goods, sugary sodas and juices. Get kids excited about bringing their lunch from home by providing them with fun ways to pack their lunch. Maybe it's a lunchbox with their favorite colors or characters. A great budget-friendly idea is to let them decorate brown paper bags anyway they want. This can also be a fun family arts and crafts hour each night before bedtime. Make it more eco-friendly by using recycled materials such as your paper grocery bags, or purchasing plain stainless steel canisters and containers that can be reused and decorating them instead. Sweeten the deal by surprising them with hand written notes, stickers or fun little games inside their lunch box.

Finding the time to prepare healthy meals and snacks for our children can be tough, especially for parents that work full time. However we don't want to sacrifice their health by being rushed to find something to send them off to school with. Make it easier on yourself by planning ahead. Set aside a half hour each Sunday evening, or whenever is best, to layout the kids' meals and snacks for the week. Also use this time to make anything that you can in advance. For example, make a batch of a healthy trail mix and separate it out into individual snack-size baggies. Involving the kids will get them more interested in what they are eating, and make them more apt to enjoy it!

Finding the right foods to feed our children can be even more difficult! Every child is going to be different, as far as what they like and are willing to eat. It is important to do your best while staying within realistic boundaries. All the effort in the world to prepare the healthiest meal possible is going to go to waste if your child is going to get to school and not eat it. Start with small, reasonable changes and work your way up. You will be surprised at how much your child will crave less junk foods and more healthy foods as they build healthier habits. In general, stick to healthy, natural, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. Avoid (as much as possible) hydrogenated oils, trans-fats and processed and refined packaged foods, especially those that contain lots of sugars, artificial colors and artificial flavorings!

Most importantly, nothing will feed our childrens' needs and nurture them as much as love! A home cooked or prepared meal will contain all the love and caring that you put into making it!

Keep It Fresh!
- Jill