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What is a “Mobility Hygiene Routine” and Why Do I Need One?

I’m 43 years old this year and one thing that I’ve discovered about aging is that my body requires more and more maintenance. It’s become more and more like an older car that needs a lot more tinkering and regular maintenance in order to run close to what it used to. I’ve actually started flossing this year…which is something I always used to want to do whenever the dentist or dental hygienist would ask me about it and I’d sheepishly reply that I didn’t do it. Well…my gums decided that they weren’t messing around anymore and my dentist explained what was ahead of me if I didn’t get more regular with my flossing and so…I’m working on adding that to my morning and evening routines instead of just doing it once or twice a month.

So…what does this have to do with mobility routines?

I’ve always had tight muscles, but as I’ve gotten older, they’ve gotten tight enough to cause me problems. I’ve had ITBS, which is a problem where your iliotibial band becomes painfully tight and pulls on your knee. I’ve had plantar fasciitis, which is an issue where the tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes tight, inflamed, and painful. When I was pregnant, I had issues with sciatica, which is pain from the sciatic nerve becoming compressed, usually by tight hip muscles. Now that I’m older, I tend to get stiff and sore more easily and my muscles and joints take longer to warm up and open up.

A mobility routine is a lot like my flossing habit that I’m working on…it’s developing a habit of regular stretching and movement that helps ease and prevent issues like these.

The key is to do specific stretches that target the parts of your body that you have the most issues and do them for a short period of time every day. Before bed is a great time to do this. I usually do a few hip opening yoga poses every night before I go to sleep. I can do them right in my bed and they become part of my bedtime routine. I’ve recently started adding some stretches to open up my shoulders. The idea isn’t to spend a lot of time in these poses or stretches unless it feels good or to spend a long amount of time doing different stretches or poses. The idea is just to consistently do a few stretches that work on the parts of your body that tend to get the most tight and to do it in a way that you can stick with it without much trouble. Ten to fifteen minutes is what we’re going for here.

If you’re unsure about what stretches or poses to do, a quick google search on the body area and stretches or asking your physical therapist, chiropractor, or yoga instructor can get you what you need.

As with many things in life, it’s more important to do a little bit regularly than to try to do a whole lot at once. And like a lot of things to do with our bodies, it becomes more and more important the older we get. Younger bodies are just more forgiving of neglect.


Your Body Isn’t a Mistake…or a Curse

I have spent a large portion of my life wishing my body was something different than what it is, comparing it to the bodies of other women. It started as a child. I wanted to be taller, thinner, more delicate. Instead, I remained on the shorter side, with a stocky build. I wasn’t gifted at sports and if I tried to dance, I was inevitably a beat or two behind everyone else. I felt awkward and frumpy, a hobbit among graceful elves. I even found it wildly unfair that I had a young woman’s body and was weaker and slower than my male friends. I saw myself as unfairly limited, mostly because I was only focusing on what my body couldn’t do.

My 20’s came and I still wanted to be something I wasn’t. I wanted to be the thin bendy yoga Momma. I wanted to be lithe and stylish and not have thick, short legs. I felt like I was a hippo among giraffes. I don’t think I’m alone in these kinds of insecurities. I often felt like aspects of my body that I didn’t like were some kind of mistake, as if G-d meant to give me a ballet dancer’s body and somehow made a mistake along the way. Or, I viewed them as a curse, a punishment of some kind, as if G-d had withheld gifts from me that He’d given to others.

It wasn’t really until my 30’s that I began to find peace with my body. Studying Judaism helped in a lot of ways. In the US, we’re inundated with the idea that anyone can become anything. In some ways, that’s freeing, but it also can be a recipe for being unsatisfied with who and what you are. In Judaism, I found a completely different mindset that accepted and reinforced that different people are born for different purposes. Just like a Levite can never be the Kohen Gadol, I’m never going to be 6 feet tall. On the surface, this seems wildly unfair. Why should a person be limited by their birth? Why shouldn’t we be able to become whatever we want, whether it’s the high priest or a ballet dancer?

I began to realize that the reason we can’t always choose our path is because it has been chosen for us. Everything about me is on purpose for a reason. My stubborness, my feistiness, and my inseam, all chosen for my specific, unique mission. I can’t be a long legged runner because then I wouldn’t be me…and no one else can fill my place in this world. I began to look at my body in a whole new way and I began to focus on what it COULD do.

Being short, I have a wonderfully low center of gravity. I’m hard to knock over and I’m strong. My bones are not dainty, but they don’t break easily. I can fit in small spaces and I can lift heavy weights. My body has been relatively trouble free for many years and has carried me through so many adventures. I easily backpacked through Europe without any back issues. I managed to survive in an industry where I needed to be able to lift 50lbs. I easily birthed two wonderful children and my body nourished them. My body is forgiving of all kinds of foolishness I’ve put it through and it puts on muscle easily, enabling me to be strong when I need to be. It’s a GREAT body when I need to squeeze onto an airplane and even though I can’t reach the top shelves in grocery stores, I’m strong enough to climb them.

I don’t always know what mission my Creator intended me for, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t being an Olympic runner or a rockette. That’s why I don’t have that body. I have the body that I was intended to have for what only I can bring to the world and once I started accepting that, I was able to start looking for the opportunities that are there to use my gifts to help others rather than envying the gifts others have. Often, the very things I would change about myself are the things that make me unique and uniquely suited to what I need to do.

This isn’t to say that it isn’t good to work on being healthier or improving those aspects of my personality that I can, but it’s important to love, accept, and appreciate the gifts I have been given and find a healthy balance between growing and loving myself as I am.

What is something about your body that you have refused to accept and how might it actually be your superpower?

Do You Serve a Purpose or Purposely Serve?

One thing I believe strongly is that life isn’t random, that there is a plan and that each of us have an important part to play in that plan. Recently, we marked the anniversary of 9/11, a day in this country that saw acts of horrible violence, but also acts of extraordinary bravery. Countless everyday people and first responders chose to put aside their own self-interest and try to save the lives of others, from those who ran into the two towers as they burned and fell to the brave souls who stood up to the hijackers above Pennsylvania, giving their lives to thwart their plans. Such selfless sacrifice is humbling to think about.

In each of these cases, though, the ability to respond in that moment, to make that choice to run up the tower to save lives or to tackle the hijacker, there were choices those people made long before they faced that final choice that allowed them to respond to the call for help. Firefighters train ceaselessly to be able to run into burning buildings carrying heavy equipment and carry people out of danger, but many of the everyday heroes were also people who had the physical ability to respond to that moment.

Imagine being faced with something like that…there is a need right in front of you and you see that you have been placed in this situation for a reason. You are the only one who can help…and then finding that you are unable to do so.

I find that idea heartbreaking, especially if there was something I could have done in the weeks and months before that moment.

And the fact is that the majority of Americans…aren’t in good enough shape to protect their own health, let alone be prepared to save the lives of others.

I don’t say this to guilt you. Our lifestyles, from the food that is easiest or least expensive to get to our work lives…aren’t designed to help us stay in good physical shape. I’ve definitely fallen into bad habits and let my own stress and misplaced priorities lead me to put off taking care of myself. I say this because this is yet another example of how taking care of your own health FIRST helps you be better able to help others, whether that’s taking care of family members or climbing a skyscraper.

Not all of us are meant to carry another person out of a burning building. Some of us just aren’t built for that, but we do have situations that will come up in our day to day lives where we have opportunities to answer a need in smaller ways. Even just making a meal for another family going through something is easier if I’ve eaten well and exercised myself. I have more energy to respond. I’m better able to have patience with my special needs son or stay up with a sick child if I have first taken care of my body.

It often feels selfish to take that time for myself and stick to making that my top priority. Inevitably, there will be things that try to sneak into that time, whether it’s a work demand or something a family member needs. It feels selfish to tell them to wait just so I can prep some healthy food or get in a workout. I’ve found, though, that once I allow that first request to take priority over my own self care, it creates a slippery slope back to putting myself last.

And that leads to me having less for everyone else…less ability to respond to those moments in my life where I feel that I have been placed on purpose to serve others.

A friend brought this quote into my life years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since…”Do you serve a purpose or do you purposely serve?” It blew my mind. When I think of serving a purpose, I think of how easy it is to let what is urgent take priority over what is truly important. If I fall into that, I quickly find that I’m serving someone else’s purpose besides the one I was created for. Often, I wind up serving my company’s purpose. To purposely serve, though, requires intention. I have to think of what is the higher priority, what is my purpose and then organize my life around that rather than letting others dictate what I choose.

When I find clarity of purpose and design my life around what I feel I am being asked to give, when I purposely serve others, I find a greater fulfillment and peace, but a big part of that is making sure that I’m prepared to serve that purpose. I’m not a firefighter, so that may not mean lifting heavy weights, but it does mean keeping myself in as good of a physical state as I’m able so that when I am needed, there is nothing holding me back from fulfilling my purpose. In most cases, this is a lot less dramatic than what those brave heroes were asked to do. It could be hauling up bags of food to my husband’s hospital room and being able to greet him cheerfully despite the weight. Or, it could be needing to run to the car to get a child to an appointment and being able to do that and be present to help soothe their fears.

You just never know what purpose you might be in a place for until it happens.

This is why I don’t see fitness and health as in any way conflicting with being a religious person. In fact, I feel that I have a heavy responsibility to take care of the body I have been given to the best of my ability so that when I am faced with a moment where I can see a higher purpose, a calling to fulfill a need…I’m ready and prepared to answer and answer swiftly. It may be that my body breaks down and my purpose shifts to one that is less and less physical as I age, but it’s up to me to be an active partner in taking care of myself so I prolong that until its time.

Do you serve a purpose or do you purposely serve?

When I’m Shaking…Lessons Learned From the Barre

There are moments in life where I feel I can’t hold on any longer, when I feel like I don’t have the strength. Moments when bad news hits me in the gut suddenly or stress and pressure mount up to the point I feel like I will fail under the strain.

Moments when I am trembling, shaking, asking G-d to take it all away.

In my workouts, there are often times I shake. My legs tremble, my muscles threatening to give way, a deep burning. I’ve learned that this edge, right there, is where the greatest growth happens. By bringing my muscles to that point, the point of exhaustion where they can barely hold position, I force them to grow stronger, to be able to more.

Shaking is where the magic happens, not comfort. Shaking is where growth occurs, where we must adapt to new circumstances and find strength we never knew we had.

And in life, when I’m trembling, when I’m shaking, when I don’t feel I can give or do any more…that is often where my growth comes and I find I do have just a little bit more. I can go a little bit further than I thought I could. I can grow and adapt and overcome and learn from the experiences my life brings me.

I just sometimes wish the G-d didn’t have such confidence in me that He knows He can push me so much further than what I think I can do. There’s no faking being weaker to Him since He made me. He knows when it’s time for heavier weights or more challenging positions.

He knows when I’m ready to level up far before I do and His sympathy for my tears doesn’t stop Him from training me to my highest level.

Elul, Wake Up Calls, and Why I’m Doing This…

Even if it’s not your New Year coming up, this time of year, with Fall coming in, lends itself well to new beginnings, whether it’s the energy of kids going back to school or the return to our more usual life after summer, Autumn seems to call for a similar introspection as January. For Jews, it’s even moreso as we take stock of our year at this time and prepare for the next. We always want it to be a better year than the last, but this year in particular, there seems to be a urging to dig a little deeper and make larger, more lasting changes.

We blow a horn called a shofar and part of its meaning is as a wake up call. The fact is…most of us in the US could use a wake up call.

  • Nearly 30% of the world’s population is obese or overweight.
  • Poor nutrition is 1 of the 4 leading lifestyle risks for chronic disease.
  • Unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
  • Most medical schools require little or no nutrition classes as part of their curriculum!
  • The general public is constantly being inundated with miracle diet pills and one-size-fits-all plans.
  • Healthcare is actually “sick care” and more focused on medications than prevention.

I’ve seen this play out in my own life. When I met my husband, I was a runner and probably on the higher side of the health spectrum…but he wasn’t. He already suffered from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It quickly became clear that the same things that worked for me…didn’t work for him. We tried multiple different diets seeking health for him and, over the years, his weight just increased as did his health problems.

One of the most frustrating things about all this was all the conflicting information we’d receive about diet. Dietitians would recommend one diet for his diabetes, but that diet would contradict the diet they prescribed for his heart disease. In the news, there would be a report one year that something was a “super food,” and then a report the next advising people to avoid it. We tried paleo, vegan, the whole 30, whole foods, calorie tracking…each time he’d lose weight for a bit, but the minute we relaxed even a little, he’d gain it right back…and then some.

In the midst of all of this, I stopped doing the things that were working for me to focus on trying to take care of him and the kids. I stopped exercising because it meant leaving them. I stopped hiking so much because he couldn’t. I started eating what he liked and I gained weight and sought comfort in food. It was a vicious cycle and I felt like we were only going to keep getting older and sicker. What was the point of trying anymore? Why not accept that this is old age, that our 40’s, 50’s and beyond would be a decline of health and vitality and an increasing list of health conditions and medications?

I needed a wake up call.

I got one when I realized I didn’t want to die, but even more than I didn’t want to die…I didn’t want to waste whatever years G-d has planned for me. No matter what number of years I have left to me, this year taught me that I want to really live them, not just sleepwalk through them. It’s as if I heard the shofar long before Elul this year, waking me up.

I looked at our lifestyle as a whole and what I saw is that everything about our lives makes it harder to be healthy. Our professions both have us sitting at a computer for many hours a day. Our leisure activities were either inactive or revolved around food. Our social activities, when we had them, also revolved around food. I began looking for what I could change now, in the short term, what I could change over the next few years, and also what I couldn’t change and I began making a plan and bit by bit, I’ve been gaining back my health and fitness.

As I did, I had another wake up call…that this is what I want to spend my remaining years doing.

My career is rewarding in many ways. It pays me well and I get a lot of professional recognition as a subject matter expert, but it’s rare that I ever feel like I make someone’s life better. It’s rare that I feel like I made a difference in the world around me. It’s rare I feel like I have eased anyone’s suffering. I make computer networks work for large companies so that they can make money.

I feel like I am here to do more than that.

In my family and friends I see the same suffering I’ve seen in my husband. I feel like I’m surrounded by diabetes, heart disease, and risk factors for cancers. I see people struggling to keep up with their children, struggling to keep up with their lives, drowning in the weight they carry. I see suffering and while I don’t yet have all the answers to help…I do want to be a part of the answer.

I want to help bridge the gap between the life changes that doctors and dieticians prescribe and actually finding ways to make those changes in people’s lives. I want to help people become healthier and reach their goals.

And I’m willing to put my mind to use, picking up the books and going back to school to do it to become a real, certified health coach with an emphasis on nutrition and then, after attaining that, work on certifications to help people become more active, particularly those people who need it most. I want to help people who have health conditions or a lot of weight to lose reclaim their lives so that they can then do what they were meant to do, without pain and without struggle. I want to use all the painful, difficult experiences I’ve had in life, watching loved ones suffer, to help others, to turn those experiences into something positive that helps improve the lives of other people.

I’m tried of turning a blind eye to all those hurting around me from issues with diet and exercise and instead just plodding ahead on my own path and I’m tired of waiting for the right expert with the right answer for my husband and others. I’m ready to start working to learn and grow so that I can help people like him break out of this awful cycle.

What’s your wake up call this year?

Cultivating Joy in Rocky Soil

I don’t know a single person who has had an easy year this year. Most families I know have had health challenges of some kind. Others have had employment challenges or financial woes. Everywhere, there are additional stresses of remote work and learning and the pain of isolation from our usual social outlets.

More personally, this year has brought plenty of challenges with my husband’s cancer treatment, my daughter’s depression, my son’s GI issues and Autism…and then add to that everything else that’s going on out in the world. I’ve cried some tears and had plenty of frustrated days, but one thing that often surprises me is how even in the most difficult of times…there is always a way to find a spark of joy.

It’s in those times where I have to look the hardest to find that spark that it’s the most needed.

There is a time to cry, to be sure, a time to surrender to sadness for a bit and allow the tears to flow, but I find it’s really important not to build a house there, not to live there. It can be tempting when the world outside seems out of control and stress upon stress is heaped upon me to dwell in sadness or anger…but that doesn’t help me or the people I care for.

Just like it’s good to open up the windows and air your house out, it’s good to open up the emotional space in my home and allow the mood to lighten. It’s important to play and laugh even especially when it might be difficult to find reasons to. It helps my children feel like things are going to be all right. It helps my husband feel less down himself. It helps all of us shift to a more positive mindset.

Joy grows most easily in easy soil. The seeds come up thick in softer times. But…we often can’t choose the soil we’re given and that doesn’t mean that joy can’t grow in rockier soils in difficult times…it just needs a lot more tending. Whenever I try to grow any plant in my garden or home that wasn’t meant for my climate or soil, it’s going to be a lot more work. I’ll often have to shelter that plant from cold winds or sun that’s too bright. I may have to water it more or add things to the soil to make it happier. I might have to bring it inside when the season changes. It still can grow here…it just requires a lot more care and maintenance.

I find the same is true of joy and happiness in rocky times.

I start by looking much more closely for the seeds. Often, they are hidden within little things. Maybe I spot a colorful bird at our feeder. Normally, I might just smile and note this and move on with my day, but if I’m working hard to grow some joy, I’ll stop and take a picture and make sure the rest of the family sees it. A movie comes out that we all might like…instead of just remarking about it, I make an event of it, complete with different flavors of popcorn and PJ’s worn on the couch. I take each small speck of joy I can find and I nurture it into something bigger and then I share that harvest with the people I love.

What seeds of joy have you been overlooking that you could tend?

Hobbit Breakfast Scramble Recipe

This recipe is really more a template I use to make a breakfast scramble that I have for breakfast 6 days a week. It got it’s name because it’s usually my “second breakfast” and I was joking that I eat like a hobbit, with smaller meals every 2-3 hours, similar to the hobbits in Lord of the Rings. I usually start the day with a protein shake before my workout, then follow it up with this breakfast scramble. I often chop up the veggies ahead of time and portion them out and also pre-prep sweet potatoes so that this all comes together in a snap while my kids are doing their morning routine.

This scramble gets me veggies, protein, and a little bit of carbs and is the perfect mix to get me fueled for work or errands. It’s also a great way to use up leftovers I have in the fridge. It’s more a template than a recipe in that I can toss in whatever vegetables and healthy carbs that I have on hand. I also love that even though I eat it almost every day, by varying the ingredients, it doesn’t get boring!

Hobbit Breakfast Scramble

1 Green Container (cup) non-starchy vegetables (peppers, onions, summer squash, greens…whatever goes good in a skillet), diced
1 yellow container (1/2 cup) healthy carbs (pre-cooked sweet potatoes or potatoes, beans, etc), cubed if needed
2 eggs or 1 red container (3/4 cup) tofu
1 tsp olive oil or other healthy oil for the frying pan

Heat a small to medium size frying pan to medium-low and spray with oil. Allow pan to get warm and then add the veggies, cooking until just cooked through. Add the carbs and warm through. Scramble 2 eggs in a bowl or substitute extra firm tofu and add to the skillet, breaking up and scraping the skillet often until completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper and serve with hot sauce if desired.

Ultimate Portion Fix container equivalents – 1 green, 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 tsp

Why 2020 is THE Year to Work on Your Health!

There is not a single person I know who isn’t having a rough time this year. I know people struggling with work circumstances, either having lost a job or having to work crazy hours to make up for cutbacks. I know people worried about their health or the health of their loved ones. I know people struggling with childcare needs or their kids’ virtual learning. Covid, natural disasters, politics…it’s all enough to make anyone want to just crawl in a corner with a tub of ice cream and call it a day.

But if ever there was a year to begin taking care of your health and wellness, this would be it.

All these stressors are exactly the reason it is more important than ever to focus on your health first. Having had covid-19 myself and known others who have, I can say firsthand that this is a challenge you will have wanted to train for if, heaven forbid, you become ill. Even if you don’t become ill, this year has enough other challenges to throw your way. You want to be in the best place possible to handle them.

That begins with you making a commitment to yourself.

For the first part of this year…I wasn’t doing that. Like most people, I sought comfort in my sourdough starter and netflix. I hid in my home and hoped things would get better. I ran from room to room making sure my kids were on zoom sessions for school in between work demands. I put myself and my own care last, thinking that once everyone else was taken care of, THEN it would be time to focus on me.

That magical “me” time never came.

The clock would hit bedtime before I knew it and there were still tasks left undone even before I’d get to myself on my list. I’d tumble into bed tired but unable to sleep well and wish life was different or at least more like 2019. I’d dread the morning when I knew I’d have to get up and face it all over again.

I don’t even know exactly what clicked this summer to change that, but it did. By chance, I actually clicked on one of the workout ads on my Facebook feed and, next thing I knew, I’d signed up for a workout and nutrition program. Once I’d made that investment, I felt like I needed to get my money’s worth. I didn’t want to waste our family’s funds. So, I set my alarm earlier and got up and put myself first, before all the other things on my to-do list. I got my workouts in and prepped my food and stuck to it.

And when Covid hit me, I was thankful I did.

I’ve talked with others who made it through Covid and there has been an ongoing refrain. Most of the people I have talked to have either been thankful that they were physically active and in decent shape when they caught it or wished that they had been. Being in better shape seems to make it easier. I know for myself that it felt like my whole body was under one huge stress test when I was sick and I was thankful for all the breathless hours spent in my workouts that helped me breathe when I was sick.

Even before and after Covid, though, I have found that eating right and working out has really helped me deal with the stresses that this year has thrown my way. Before I started taking care of myself, my anxiety was through the roof. I had a prescription for Xanax for at night, in case our neighborhood got unruly and I felt unsafe. My reflux was worse. I was winded going up and down the stairs, so even just doing laundry or regular activity was a struggle. My nerves were shot and I was irritable.

As I began prioritizing my own health, I had more breathing room in my life. Each task took less energy and every stressor took less of a toll. I didn’t need the Xanax anymore and my sleep improved. My reflux has all but disappeared. I get out of bed without the joint and spine stiffness I had. When the unexpected does happen, which it still does, I’m better able to roll with it.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband had major surgery to remove cancer that he’s been in treatment for this year. I’m not sure how I would have made it through the past 2 weeks if I hadn’t made these changes in my life. It was still challenging, but not nearly as much as it would have been for the me of 6 months ago.

If ever there was a year that you NEED to put yourself first, put your own oxygen mask on so that you have more overflow available to give to those you love or yourself, this year is definitely it. If you need help getting started or finding programs that work for you, on your schedule, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you live better, even in such a crazy year!

September Book Review – Atomic Habits by James Clear

I’m going to be doing a monthly book review or a review of a podcast with the theme on self-improvement, diet, or fitness. I’m always reading or listening to these things in my free time, so I might as well share the good ones!

This month’s book, Atomic Habits, is definitely one of the good ones. The author, James Clear is geekily obsessed with the psychology behind how we build good habits and break bad ones, but he writes in a way that isn’t too technical and very down to earth. He breaks things down into the practical, so you can use these tools to make it easier to work on your own habits.

And health, fitness, and nutrition are ALL about habits!

I’ve been using his tips to make good habits, like prepping my morning smoothies and omelete veggies in advance as well as to break bad habits, like reaching for chocolate when I’m stressed. The idea behind his process is to break behaviors that you want to build into small, easily do-able pieces and then build on these tiny building blocks, hence the name “atomic habits.” He also points out that it’s the small things we do consistently in our lives that make the most impact, not big things we do occasionally.

One of the tips he gives that I’ve found really helpful is focusing on a ritual around a small turning point. For his example, a dance choreographer just focuses on getting dressed for her workout and hailing a cab to the gym. In my case, I focus on getting up out of bed at 5am and getting my workout clothes on. In both cases, working out once you’re there and dressed is pretty easy. For the dance choreographer, once she’s at the gym, she might as well do “something,” but it’s easier to get herself there if she’s just committing to going there, rather than committing to going there and working out 2 hours. For me, once I’m up and dressed, the rest of my routine falls into place because I’m already up and dressed. He also uses the example of a man who wanted to begin working out and simply committed to going to the gym and working out for 5 minutes…that’s it. For a week, he went, worked out for 5 minutes and went home. Evetually, he figured, if he was already there, why not work out a bit more to make it worth the trip? Next thing, he’d built that habit of working out.

There are a lot of examples in the book like this of small things you can to do make good habits stick easier or be more pleasant and ways to make it harder to indulge in bad habits. He gives his own example of cutting back on his social media usage by having his assistant change his passwords at the beginning of the week and only give him the new passwords right before the weekend! He also goes into how to work with rewards and punishments for yourself to help reinforce the habits you’re trying to make or break.

It’s easy to see why this book became a bestseller.

Want to work with me to create your OWN healthy habits? Looking for a workout routine or nutrition plan? Contact me and let’s get working together!

How I Handle Holidays…Without Getting Off Track!

How many times have you been doing great with workouts and eating…making steady progress and then…BAM! Holidays hit and next thing you know you’re waking up in a carb inspired stupor, gravy dribbled down your chin?

Ok, maybe that’s just me, but holidays are one of the toughest times for any eating plan. Most holiday foods just don’t fit well in a healthy diet. They’re full of yummy, delicious, fat, sugar, and carbs, all meant to add comfort and joy.

As an Orthodox Jew, I have a LOT of holidays. Every week, there’s the Sabbath, which revolves around bread, wine and delicious food. Then there are seasonal holidays galore, most of which involve large family meals. Think Thanksgiving EVERY WEEK and you get the picture.

As a result, I had to come up with a strategy even in my first week of how to handle holidays. I didn’t want to deprive my family of their favorites and I didn’t want to feel deprived, either, but I also didn’t want to have to work even harder to make up for weekly lapses. I had to find a balance.

I use a container system called the Ultimate Portion Fix from Beachbody, but these tips could work for any system, whether you’re counting calories with something like myfitness pal or daily burn or doing points with weight watchers. Here’s what I learned pretty quick in those first couple of weeks…

  1. I couldn’t just save up all my containers/calories/points for holiday meals.

    I tried this at first. I saved up all my yellow containers for my Friday night meal so that I could enjoy yummy challah bread and a dessert. It worked as far as keeping me on track, but I found that I was tired and HANGRY all day on Friday, snapping at anyone who came into the kitchen while I was cooking. Your mileage may vary, but for me, this wasn’t going to work. I didn’t want to be miserable all day just so that I could eat up that evening. Even worse, I was so hungry by the time the holiday meal came around, that it was really hard not to overeat.
  2. I couldn’t just forgo all my favorites, either!

    Next, I tried this. I would just stick to my plan with no more than a tiny bit of bread and a sip of wine. I ate a separate meal while my family ate freely. Again…this did NOT lead to a happy Mama. I felt left out and grumpy and my family felt guilty eating in front of me. It was no fun for anyone, even though I was still on track and felt physically good.
  3. What did work was a balance between these two!

    Ok, this should have been obvious for me, but it wasn’t. What I eventually settled on was saving a little more for my holiday meals and making sure that I had lots of healthy options as part of the meal. In my system, this means I still eat some carbs during the day, but I eat less during the earlier part of the day than I would a normal day. Then, I have a little more wiggle room for my holiday meal without feeling depleted and hangry all day. I also stay mindful during the week that I’m going to be indulging a little on the holiday, so I’m a little more stringent sticking to my plan the rest of the week. (My plan allows 2 “unhealthy” swaps per week…I save those up for the holiday!)

    My daughter loves to make desserts and is sad if I don’t try them, so I plan for a small portion and then stick to that small portion. I still feel included and she is proud to show off her growing baking skills. I do the same with my other holiday favorites. I plan for a little bit of bread, a limited portion, but enough so I don’t feel like I’m being punished. I make sure I have plenty of healthy veggies and lean protein on the table to round out my meal.

So, limiting portion sizes and eating a little less during the day, but not to the point I’m run down or irritable really works for me. Even if you’re eating someone else’s cooking, you can usually find healthier choices and control your portion sides. Another big help is sending leftovers home with others when you can and not taking leftovers home when you’re the guest. Let that holiday meal be it’s own special thing and then get back on plan!