I found this article from Health.com - It's so important to set goals and make changes that you can and will stick to.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're planning healthy meals:
Downsize portions - Change your perspective on portion sizes. Anyone can eat healthy foods, but portions are often much too large. Using a smaller plate also help you eat less because the smaller portions make it look fuller.
Think protein first - When planning a meal, the first thing to think about is protein. If you eat a balanced meal of whole grains with protein and fat, most likely you will tend to snack less and cravings for sweets is practically nonexistent. Aim for at least one serving of protein at each meal, which equates to about five ounces of chicken, five ounces of canned tuna, or a couple of eggs.
This cartoon seems so appropriate right now.... this winter has been crazy cold for our area and I think others too! With colder weather comes the need to "hibernate" - which has been part of my problem. When it's cold all I want to do is comfort myself with food. Which is OK if I had made healthy choices with the "comfort food". It's hard to do that! Unless you try just a little bit to find healthy comfort meals!! Once again... ironically I have a Pinterest Board named "HEALTHIER CHOICES"!! I just have to laugh at myself sometimes! But check it out... there are some great pins on there. Back to healthier eating.... I plan to make this one next week!
Healthy Chicken Vegetable Casserole
Minutes to Prepare: 15 Minutes to Cook: 30 Number of Servings: 6
Ingredients 12 oz cooked chicken breasts, diced 2 T all purpose flour 2 T butter, unsalted 10 oz skim milk 1 pinch white pepper 1 t Italian seasoning 1 T parmesan cheese, grated 7 oz penne pasta, whole wheat 2 yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped 1 zucchini, chopped 2 heads, approx. 12 ounces broccoli, chopped 1/3 c monterey jack cheese nonstick cooking spray
Directions Prepare the white sauce by placing the butter in a small sauce pot that has been preheated over medium heat. Once the butter foams, add flour and stir for 1 minute; try not to let the mixture turn brown. Add milk to the mixture and continue to stir until it starts to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add pepper, Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese to the sauce. Stir to combine. Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees. During the last minute of the pasta's cooking, add the chopped broccoli to the water. Allow to simmer for one minute.
Drain the pasta and broccoli. Spritz the bottom and sides of a 9 X 13 oven-proof casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta and broccoli with the chicken and chopped vegetables; cover with the sauce. Place in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the Monterey jack cheese and cover with foil.
Bake for 20 minutes; remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is melted.
Nutritional Info Servings Per Recipe: 6 Amount Per Serving Calories: 320.6 Total Fat: 8.9 g Cholesterol: 51.8 mg Sodium: 175.3 mg Total Carbs: 36.1 g Dietary Fiber: 8.8 g Protein: 27.9 g
So this AM I decide to weigh myself.... (first time in a while) and I have to admit...I was SHOCKED!!!! "Udderly" Shocked!!! And I'm going to post it here: 156.2
Looks like Christmas, a business trip to Las Vegas, drinking "good beer", FREEZING COLD WEATHER and other excuses have caught up to me!!! So I MUST get back on the wagon... this was a true test that I cannot stray from my exercise schedule and logging my food!! (With a few exceptions of course) I can tell that I haven't been working out to my normal level nor have I been watching what I eat. What's ironic about this is - I watch fitness videos, read articles, etc. all the time "to keep myself motivated"... Ahhhh, I guess I've been putting that "motivation" in my pocket b/c until now... I haven't done much with it. But we are back to it and ready to see some progress!! To get started here are a few things to remember:
Be kind to yourselfand CELEBRATE all your victories along the way!
I haven't posted in a while - holidays, busy schedule, laziness, etc. But I'm back on the wagon and the image above really struck me considering all the junk that comes thru the doors during the holidays. It's all about making decisions, sticking to them and how you think about it when you do stick to them. Making the "shift" in your brain is not easy - the lil' devil on your shoulder will still pop up from time to time and if you indulge its OK but don't let it derail your whole day, week, etc. On that same note here are a few ideas for goal setting. This is what I plan to work on in the month of January.
The 6 Characteristics of Effective Goals
Challenging: Your goals should be realistic and suited to your present capabilities. You can’t go from habitual couch potato to world-class athlete overnight, or recover the “look” you had in your 20's if you’re pushing 60 right now. Small, progressive steps toward reasonable, long-term goals are crucial to success. But your goals should also push you to extend yourself beyond where you already are.Otherwise you will get bored and quit the game.
Example: It's great to work on drinking those eight cups of water everyday, but people do not lose weight from water drinking alone. Get thee off thy butt and go do something that makes you sweat. Then you'll need the water and it won't be so hard to drink.
Attainable: Don't take the challenging characteristic (above) too far. Make sure you can actually achieve what you're setting out to do. Otherwise, you will get frustrated and quit the game.
Example: Sixty minutes of aerobic exercise may be better than 30 minutes, but two hours may not be—especially if you're so worn out afterward that you have to stop exercising completely for a while. You can always build up the time and intensity of your workouts as your fitness level improves over time.
Specific: Trying to "do your best" or "do better" is like trying to eat the hole in a donut. There's nothing there to chew on or digest. You need to define some very specific, concrete, and measurable action-steps that tell you what your goal looks like in real-life terms. Include how you will measure your results so you can tell whether you are getting anywhere.
Example: If you want to get a handle on emotional eating and you've decided that keeping a journal may help, set aside scheduled time to do your writing each day; set up some specific changes in your behavior that you want this work to produce (like not eating after your last scheduled snack); and create a time interval and/or method to figure out whether your journaling is helping you reach that goal or not.
Time-limited: Goals need to come with deadlines, due dates, and payoff schedules. Otherwise, they'll fade into the background with your daily hubbub, and you'll quit playing the game. If your long-term goal is going to take a while to reach, create some intermediate- and short-term goals. These will make your larger goal seem less daunting and keep you focused on what you can do here and now to help yourself get there.
Example: If your overall goal is to have the weight off in one year, make sure you set up some intermediate weight goals to serve as check points along the way. Otherwise, those small things you need to do every day, and the small successes you achieve, can seem so insignificant compared to how much further you still have to go that you may lose interest.
Positive: Goals should always be framed in positive terms. Humans are not designed to white-knuckle their way through life, always trying to not do things or to avoid certain thoughts, feelings, actions or circumstances. We are much better at approaching what we DO want than avoiding what we don't want.
Example: If you want to reduce the amount of “junk” food you eat, frame that goal in positive words like increasing the amount of calories you eat from healthy foods, and identifying which healthy foods you want to eat more. Instead of trying to eliminate chocolate treats, for example, plan a low-fat yogurt with fruit for your sweet snack. If you do this for a few weeks, your brain will disconnect the habitual association between treat and chocolate and make a new one with the yogurt and fruit. And you’ll be just as happy with this new treat!
Flexible: Good strategies and goals are always flexible, because nothing in this world stays the same for very long, and staying alive and on course means being able to adapt to changing circumstances.
Example: You are always going to run into circumstances that make it difficult to stick to your diet or exercise plan—special occasions, unexpected schedule conflicts, even just a really hard day where you need a break from the routine for your mental health. Your goals should include some contingency plans for dealing with these problems so that you don’t fall into that all-or-nothing thinking that lets one difficult situation become an excuse for ditching your whole plan.
And remember, meeting your goals is 90% attitude. No one is perfect, and you’re going to have days where you just don’t do what you set out to. Make sure you build up some good stress management habits and tools to help you deal with those days without losing sight of your long-term goals, or losing your motivation.
I don't know about you but I am highly effected by the winter months! It's cold, it's get dark earlier and earlier, the holidays take over your schedule, etc. I found this article on SparkPeople that had some great ideas for lifting the "ho-hums" of the dark winter months.
15 Natural Mood Lifters - Quick and Easy Ways to Lift Your Spirit
Here are a few more natural mood lifters you can try.
Eat often and eat light. When you eat at regular intervals throughout the day you will prevent dips in your blood sugar that can negatively affect your mood. Plan your meals and snacks to prevent yourself from getting overly hungry, aiming for three to six eating episodes (total meals plus snacks) each day.
Limit refined carbohydrates such as soda, candy, cookies, and white flour, which are concentrated sources of sugar. These foods may give you an immediate rush of energy, but they will cause you to crash and fatigue soon after.
Include a small amount of lean protein at every meal and snack. Protein will leave you feeling alert and productive for hours.
Eat foods rich in omega-3 fats. These foods have been shown to lift moods and can possibly alleviate depression. Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish like salmon or sardines, canola and olive oils, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts.
Ramp up your B-12 and folate (folic acid). Scientists believe these nutrients help the body produce a neurotransmitter called serotonin—a known mood stabilizer. Shellfish, fortified cereal, oatmeal, wheat germ, and vegetables are some of the many foods rich in these nutrients.
Get your daily dose of exercise. Whether it’s a formal session at the gym, a walk with the dog, engaging in a sport or just playing with your kids, getting up and moving will boost your mood and energy level.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule—even on the weekends. Although most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, you might need slightly more or less to function optimally. The important thing is that you consistently get the sleep you need.
Go outside and breathe in the fresh air. Take a break from your home or office to get some air and sunshine. Even stepping out into cold weather will wake you up and refresh your mind.
Listen to music you love. When your mood is spiraling downhill and the little voice in your head is anything but positive, turn on your favorite tunes and sing along. Soon, sweet music will fill your mind instead of negative thoughts.
Indulge your senses. Sights, smells, sounds, tastes and tactile sensations can quickly change your mood. Light a scented candle that evokes memories of theholidays, bake cookies to remind you of happy times at your grandmother’s, buy your favorite flowers and revel in the smell (and sight) of them, or soak in a scented bubble bath while listening to soothing music.
Do something that brings you joy. Whether it’s going to a movie, reading a novel or having lunch with your best friend, take a well-deserved break from work or stressful situations and do something you love. The change in mood will lead to better concentration and efficiency once you return to the task at hand.
Play or cuddle up with your furry friend. Just petting your dog or cat has been shown to lower blood pressure and evoke a sense of calmness, happiness and well-being. If you don’t own a pet, visit a pet store or volunteer at an animal shelter to get your furry fix.
Volunteer. There is nothing like the act of giving to those in need to make you feel appreciative of the life you lead. Walk dogs at an animal shelter, feed the homeless at a food shelter, teach English at a literacy program, or assist in programs for special needs children. Do your research and you will surely find a group that can use your talents and skills. If time is an issue for you, contribute through donations and you could evoke the same feelings of happiness.
Fake it till you make it. Researchers have found that the simple act of smiling seems to activate happiness centers in the brain. Keep smiling and in time, your mood will match your facial expression.
Create a list of natural mood enhancers that will work for you. Feeling angry? Write in your journal. Stressed? Try a yoga class. If you're exhausted, take a 20-minute nap. And if you’re feeling down, rent a funny movie. Remember, you have a choice and the ability to change your mood. With some trial and error, you will figure out the best strategies that work for you.