2019 Summer Intentions

For the last couple of years, I have shared my intentions and goals for the summer. You can find them here and here. I’m fortunate to have a job I can do at home, on my own schedule (hello, entrepreneurship!). This means that I have a lot of unstructured time during the summer, in between driving my teen to tennis and golf and time with her friends at the pool and babysitting jobs and all the other things teens need. I like to use this time and the warmer weather to pursue some things I have neglected.

With the school year winding down and summer break at the doorstep, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish this summer and what my priorities are. I always use the change of seasons to reboot my priorities and rethink how I do things, rather than just thinking about it once a year in January.

Here are the goals I have for this summer:

  1. Exercise early in the morning, when the kid is still asleep. I’m lucky enough to have a husband that brings me coffee in bed before he leaves for work around 6:30 every morning. When it’s cold and dark out, I cozy up under the covers and read the news. Now that it’s light and warm, I plan to get my exercise done early while my daughter is still asleep so the rest of the day can be spent doing other things.
  2. Be more intentional about my snacks. I golf a lot, and I usually need a snack during my round because I walk and carry my bag, which uses a lot of calories. Did you know the average person burns about 700-1,400 calories golfing and carrying, depending on if they play 9 or 18 holes? Good nutrition on the golf course is important. But finding easy and nutritious snacks I can cram in my golf bag isn’t that simple. I’ve been compiling a list of ideas and will be posting them shortly!
  3. Continue strength training. When I wrote my summer intentions post last year, I shared that I hate strength training, and that I couldn’t make myself do it no matter how hard I tried. Well, last fall I finally bit the bullet and hired a trainer. It’s only 30 minutes once a week, but I’m stronger and fitter thanks to her. And I actually enjoy my sessions. Unfortunately, we put our gym membership on hold for the summer, so I’m going to have to find a solution for June, July and August. I’m committed, though. Look for an update on how I’ve solved this.
  4. Be a little selfish. After a long winter an entire lifetime of going out of my way to please people and make sure their needs and wants are met, many times at the detriment to what *I* need and want, I’ve realized some things. Of particular interest to me is that our bodies come equipped with internal homing devices that give us guidance. Some of us stop being attuned to these devices because we are so used to putting other people ahead of ourselves that we go on autopilot. But if we practice taking a beat and being quiet with ourselves when posed with a request, that little voice will guide us. I’ve heard people say “If it’s not a hell yes it’s a hell no” and while I love the beautiful simplicity of that, it really can’t be that simple. Sometimes we do have to do things we don’t want (I’m looking at you mammogram). But we also need to realize that for every “yes” we give someone, we are saying “no” to something else. So, balance is really my goal this summer and beyond.
  5. Stop multitasking. It doesn’t work. Studies show we actually get *less* done when we multitask. It also tends to contribute to stress and anxiety, as well as the feeling that you aren’t fully present in your life. I’m a serial multitasker. I’m going to work on that this summer. I think a lot about something my friend Tera said recently, which is “slow down to speed up”. When we slow down and become intentional with our actions, our words, and our deeds, we actually save time vs. making mistakes and having to fix them. Like when I recently tried to carry every single thing from the car into the house while holding my cup of coffee and I spilled it all over the shoes in the mudroom and had to spend a lot of time cleaning up the mess. We could all reduce the messes, both proverbial and literal, if we just slow down a little.

So that’s it! Keep a look out for an update on these goals at the end of June or early July. I’ll give you an honest assessment of how successful I’ve been at sticking with my intentions. And I’d love to hear from you — what are your intentions and goals for the next few months? Please comment!

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From The Annals Of “Crazy Stuff Holistic Nutritionists Say”

Disclaimer: I am technically a holistic nutritionist. Here in the state of Minnesota we have laws against using the term “nutritionist” without having an RD, so I practice as a Wellness Educator. I am passionate about using food and other modalities such as meditation, movement, supplements and other complimentary methods to achieve wellness. However, my beliefs and recommendations are also firmly rooted in science. I believe in having research and proof to back up my methods. It’s important for people to be able to really trust me.

So, yesterday on my alumni Facebook page, a fellow alum asked for recommendations to prevent traveler’s diarrhea while on vacation in Costa Rica. I have studied this topic extensively for my own personal use, as we travel to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico frequently. So, I suggested Florastor (which is a probiotic specifically studied and proven effective for preventing Traveler’s Diarrhea) and Pepto Bismol taken 3x daily (which is also studied for this purpose). I also said that if she wasn’t crazy about taking Pepto, I thought DGL would probably do the same thing. DGL is an all natural demulcent made from licorice which coats the lining of the GI tract. The reason why Pepto is recommended is because it also coats the lining, ostensibly preventing nasty bugs, bacteria and parasites from doing damage. Logically, both Pepto and DGL would likely achieve the same effect.

This is where things got interesting. Someone else from my alumni cohort chimed in saying that Pepto Bismol is a “super toxic soup” and because she didn’t like the ingredients they couldn’t possibly be effective. I pointed out that just because she didn’t like the ingredients didn’t mean they weren’t effective. Science doesn’t work that way.

Listen, you can absolutely hate the artificial colors and other weird binding agents these medications use. You can decide not to use them because of this personal belief. However, when giving advice to a client, I advise against using terminology like “super toxic soup” because 1) It isn’t scientifically accurate and 2) It makes you sound ill informed. 

We went back and forth a little bit, but rather than provide scientific information as backup for her claims, she dug her heels in even more. Just because we graduated with the same certification from the same program doesn’t mean we have the same approach to providing care. My approach is firmly rooted in science and is compassionate, non-judgmental and kind. I refuse to be a fear monger. That kind of approach, in my opinion, is what gives the rest of us holistic nutritionist a very bad reputation. I’m doing my part, little by little, to change that perception!

New Recipe: Cold Sesame Noodles (And More On Healthy Portable Dinners)

It’s activity season in Minnesota, and it’s probably the same where you live. If you have a school aged child, chances are you are spending a good amount of time shuttling them from one activity to another. My teenage daughter is in drama club, rugby, and she takes tennis lessons. The maneuvering required to keep one kid’s schedule straight is a feat in and of itself. I don’t know how people with multiple kids even do it!

Because my daughter goes to school 25 minutes away, it doesn’t make sense to come home and then go back to school for rugby practice at 6 p.m. So, she either goes to drama club or stays and does homework, and I bring her dinner for her break before practice. I’m not the best at coming up with travel friendly healthy dinners, so I am going to start compiling a list. If I get enough suggestions, I will share the file!

I did find this recipe for Cold Sesame Noodles and it looks delicious. I’m trying it out tonight. A friend of mine also recommended these Breakfast Burritos that her kids love.

Ok, so here is where I ask you to help me! Comment below with your favorite portable meals and I will start a file.

Make Your Own Body Scrub

My skin gets so dry in the winter here in Minnesota. Not only is the weather frigid outside but the forced heating inside just parches my skin. It gets itchy and irritated. Body scrubs work great to help slough off the dead skin cells and add some moisture back, but they are really expensive. I am also really sensitive to scents and perfumes, so several years ago I started to make my own body scrubs. They could not be easier and when you make your own you can add any essential oils and scents that you want. You are also in control of the what’s in there, so can avoid a lot of chemicals and additives.

I like a sugar based scrub rather than salt, as it’s gentler on the skin. I also love using almond oil because I adore the scent. Below is my super simple recipe for body scrub. Make some for yourself, and use pretty jars and ribbons to make a really simple holiday gift for your friends and family.

SUGAR BODY SCRUB

1 cup granulated sugar (I like to use raw sugar because it’s a pretty color)

1/2 cup or so of the oil of your choice (I usually drizzle it in until I get the consistency I like)

A few drops of essential oil. With almond an orange oil would be lovely, but anything you  like will work

Use a fork to mix everything together and store in a glass jar

Use all over your body, being careful not to get on the bottoms of your feet if you’re in the shower.

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Food Waste: America’s Dirty Little Secret

peppers and veggies

I was cleaning out my fridge yesterday and came upon several fruits and vegetables that had gone bad. I threw them into the compost bin (we are lucky that our progressive city provides curbside compost pickup) feeling terribly guilty. And for good reason. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Americans waste 150,000 tons of food a day, the equivalent of 1 pound per person per day. Those with the healthiest diets, the ones that contain lots of fruits and vegetables, are the worst offenders. That would be me.

Not only is this offensive to the people in this country who struggle with food insecurity, it’s also horrible for the environment. All the water, pesticides, soil and other materials it takes to grow vegetables and raise animals are being wasted at alarming levels. If your city doesn’t provide composting services, and the huge majority doesn’t, all that food waste is going into a landfill which releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.  Hello climate change.

Add to all of this the fact that only 4 of the 10 larges supermarket chains have plans in place to address waste in their own stores, and we have one very big problem.

I wrote over the summer about my plan to make each day of the week unique. On the list  I will add taking stock of our food situation on weekends so that I can plan ahead for the week to use the food that needs to be consumed soon. My husband pulled a Larabar from the back of the pantry for a snack this weekend and it had mold growing all over it. Turns out it expired in 2017. Larabars are expensive and we ended up having to throw away two boxes of them. To say I felt ashamed of that is an understatement. They are a nutritious source of calories and they could have been donated to our local food shelf if we weren’t going to eat them in a timely manner.

Ever since I watched this Oprah episode on food waste way back in 2008 I have thought about the food we waste. Did you know Americans make up just 5 percent of the world’s population but use 25 percent of the world’s energy resources?

I, for one, am just tired of the waste, and I’m ready to make some changes. One thing we do well in our house is eat leftovers. We love them and more often than not we eat at least 75% of the leftovers in our fridge. But I am going to start freezing what we don’t eat instead of finding them in the back of the fridge when it’s unsafe to eat them. I’m going to insist we finish one type of snack food in the pantry before we buy something similar. And I am going to stock back up on these reusable BPA-free GreenBags that I used to use all the time until we ran out. They keep fruits and veggies fresh much longer.

What haven’t I thought about? Is there something you do that helps reduce your household’s food waste? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

 

StopTober?

I have been thinking about this word for several days now. It’s a mashup of “Stop” and “October” and apparently some people in the wellness and self-improvement world use it as a chance to try to stop a bad habit. I have also heard it more specifically referred to as “SoberTober” amongst people who take a break from drinking any alcohol during the month of October.

So ,what habits are people trying to stop? Drinking. Smoking (in England, the National Health Services, or NHS, uses the word for their stop smoking campaign). Eating junk food, gluten or sugar. Swearing. Watching TV. Overspending. Going through the drive through. And on and on.

Part of me loves this idea. So many of us wait until January to decide to cut out unhealthy or unhelpful habits (and sadly, the majority of us fail). This sort of gives us an opportunity to address things that are bothering us during a time of year when we are ramping up our eating, drinking and celebrating.

The other part of me would like to see people focusing on adding healthier behaviors rather than stopping or giving up something. There is real value to the “crowding out” philosophy, where you crowd out unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones. It’s a bit gentler and for many people this approach works better. But, I am a moderator, which means I can eat just a half of a cookie or drink a half of a glass of wine. So for me, the crowding out approach works. But I appreciate that many people do better abstaining than moderating, and need firm guidelines.

I am going to do a little experiment for the month of October. The one thing I really have trouble moderating is my iPhone usage. I am on it most of the day (reading articles, researching, emailing, texting family and friends, and yes, scrolling through my social media feeds). I am not happy with the amount of time my hand is tethered to my phone, so while I am not going to give up my phone completely, I am going to set limits. The new iPhone update has a “Screen Time” tab in the settings. You can keep track of how much time you spend using certain apps and set limits on them. I was shocked to see how much time I have spent on my phone over the last few days. And although yesterday I “only” spent a total of just over two hours on social media, I spent almost two full hours texting.  Another way to help me stop the habit of picking up my phone whenever I’m bored is to use the Forest app more often. You can grow virtual trees if you don’t use your phone for a set amount of time. And when you’ve racked up enough points, a real tree will be planted.

Is there something you’d like to give up in October? Or do you think it is a silly idea? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Why You Should Teach Your Kid To Cook

I recently wrote a piece for Your Teen Magazine making the case for why every teen should know how to cook. If you have been following me for any length of time you will probably know that I enjoy cooking immensely, and I feel very comfortable in the kitchen.

This wasn’t always the case. As I write in the article, I grew up not knowing how to cook, and I went away to college having not even the most basic of skills. I think knowing how to perform the most common “adult” tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry are essential for every teenager. I went to college not knowing how to do any of those things, which looking back seems unbelievable.

I believe that one of the main goals in raising a child is to help them become productive adults who can get along well in the world. This means having good social skills, being able to have a conversation with an adult, and knowing how to shake hands. In my opinion it also means knowing things like how to make an entire meal from scratch, how to chop and dice using the appropriate chef’s knives, and how to make cooking calculations in your head (ie: four tablespoons = 1/4 cup).

Teaching your kids how to cook can be messy and frustrating. My daughter has been in the kitchen with me since she was a baby. There has been a lot of spilling and mistakes over the years, and moments when I would just rather do it myself.  But just this past weekend she made a healthy banana blueberry bread from scratch that turned out beautifully. It made me realize it was all worthwhile.

These “soft skills” are just as essential in building a capable adult as all the other skills we want our kids to have. It gives them confidence, allowing them to begin their young adult lives with a head start.

I’m curious: what was your experience growing up. Did you leave for college or other post-high school adventure knowing essential “adult” skills? If so, how did it help you in other aspects of your life? Is there anything you wished you had done differently with your own kids? Comment below!

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