What is on your 15 minute to-do list?

15 minute to-do list thumbnail

I admit – I love making my to-do lists. I tend to write my to-do list in the evening, so I can wake up the next day refreshed and ready to get to work. The best part about writing my list at night is that I can go to bed with an empty head and without fear that I’m going to forget something. This system is much preferable to the days where I lived without a to-do list, and at night I would lie in bed, planning my day…especially because even with all of that disruption to my sleep, I would still find myself without clear direction the next day.

Recently, I discovered another great way for my to-do list to help my life run a little smoother:

I created a “15 minute tasks” section on my to-do list!

The 15 minute section of my to-do list is a catch all for tasks that take 15 minutes or less. This list includes emails I need to reply to, forms I need to fill out or bills I need to pay, or daily habits I like to keep up on, like meditating or practicing Italian. Continue reading…


Weekly Newsletter

Sunday Reading

Did you know that I share bonus content, recipes, health tips, and songs in my weekly newsletter? I send it out every Sunday morning, and it includes interesting news and links from across the web that you won’t find on the blog, or via twitter.

This newsletter is my favorite thing to put together and share with my readers. Check out this week’s news, or these past issues to see if you’d be interested in receiving it on the regular.

If you like what you see, subscribe here and share with friends who would be interested!

Thanks for joining!

–Sam


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Getting healthy with friends

Friends on paddleboard
My sisters and I clowning around on the paddleboard at Lake Erie

Food brings people together. It is used celebrate and share in cultures around the world, and the social aspects of food are a major reason why I got into the nutrition field. However, when I first embarked on my journey of eating and living healthier, I came up against a problem: the only thing I did with my friends was eat.

Building relationships around food is universal – we meet first dates over coffee or a drink. We have friends we regularly meet for ice cream, a glass of wine, or dinner. We are creatures of habit, and it is apparent in where and when we meet with our friends and family.

Having habits or activities you always do with certain friends is not a bad thing! But for me, these habits became an issue once I wanted to stop my weekly ice cream habit, or consume just a little less wine. I realized that if I wanted to keep up my relationships with friends, while still transforming my health routines, I needed to find other activities to do with my friends! Wanting to improve my health was the nudge I needed to get out of my old habits and explore some different options.

So I did! I went to dance and yoga classes, formed a book club, and started making dinner for friends, rather than eating out. A weekly walk with a friend through the neighborhoods of my town became a great way to connect more deeply and to get moving on lazy Sunday mornings. And what did I find?

Making these changes actually improved my relationships with those around me. It seems surprising at first, but by getting out of our comfort zones and doing new things, me and my friends talked about different things, shared new experiences, and laughed quite a lot (particularly in our hip-hop dance class…).

It can be scary to shake up our routines or try something new. But the benefits can be huge. Particularly because you don’t have to choose between meeting your health goals and meeting with your friends. For me, my relationships and health began to support each other, bringing more ease and enjoyment to my daily life. It is really cool.

But what activities do you choose? Here are some ideas of ways you can get some quality time in with your friends without worrying about straying from your health goals.

Activities with Friends:

  • Go to an exercise class together.

    Who else is better to sweat it out with you in yoga, spin, or dance class than your friends? Having a friend in class will make it more fun, and you’ll have lots to talk about afterwards. Find a class that either you or your friend have been wanting to try, or something totally new for both of you!

  • Windowshop.

    Are you a city dweller? How about setting up a date to window shop down the nearest stretch of stores? Browsing, rather than having a dedicated shopping trip, allows you to spend more time together and to keep moving.

  • Join a team.

    Kickball, soccer, dodgeball, ultimate frisbee…adult leagues are popping up all over the country, and is a great activity that can keep you and your good friend seeing each other on the regular. Plus, you get to meet lots of other fun people who like to exercise! (Just watch out for too many post-win beers!)

  • Hit the trails.

    There are bound to be beautiful woods, trails, and parks nearby that you have yet to explore. Get your dose of nature on a beautiful day with a friend.

The key to changing up your routines, as is always the case, is flexibility. It is about expanding your horizons and getting to experience new things with your friends, so you don’t have to choose between following your health plan and spending time with those you love. Of course you are going to still get an iced cream or a beer, or have a date for burgers, and that is great! But by adding in some different activities, it keeps your relationships fresh, and keeps you both healthier.

What are your favorite ways to get active with friends?


Build healthy habits one at a time

Smile
Image courtesy of thesartorialist.com

Looking to jumpstart a daily flossing habit? On the first day, get out your floss, and only floss one tooth. On the second day, you can floss two teeth. The third day – floss three. After a month or so, you are used to getting your floss out every evening, and are getting your entire mouth the good treatment. When I learned about this strategy a few days ago, it reminded me a lot of my own strategy for starting a new healthy habit: I identify an actionable first step and build my health goal around that process. For the example of flossing, this works because for many of us, the issue is getting the floss out in the first place. Once we floss one tooth, it’s a lot easier to take care of all of them.

There’s another reason why this strategy works so well for ingraining your flossing habit:

It leaves you wanting more.

Continue reading…


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Grocery Store Shopping Series: Happy Healthy Tip #5

Evaluate nutrition claims on products

Welcome back to another post in our healthy grocery store shopping series! This series is designed to help you be a more efficient, healthier, happier shopper. Last time, we talked about shopping the perimeter first: buy the fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and fresh bread before you head into the aisles to pick up the processed stuff. Once you do make your way into the labyrinth, you’re ready for Tip #5:

Beware products bearing gifts (particularly nutritious ones).

There are many subtle (or not so subtle) nutrition messages on the front of food products that are designed to catch your eye and snag a sale. As a savvy grocery shopper, these nutrition claims are a signal for you to inspect that product a little further, and decide if what the company is claiming is actually of benefit to you.

Let’s look at various messages common to most packaged products:
ront Label of cereal box

Cereal box photo courtesy of smncc.com

On the front of this box of Frosted Flakes, the left side has the usual players — the manufacturer, brand name, the dazzling smile of Tony the Tiger, but on the right, I noted the appeals to both parents (nutritious!) and children (toys!) to buy the product. The toys are a pretty obvious sell, and it’s probably a losing battle to get your kids to not be tempted by those free gifts. But I’d like to spend the rest of this post deciphering some of the nutrition claims found on products, so you can make an informed decisions about which products to buy and consume.

Common Nutrition Claims Deconstructed

  • Cholesterol Free!

    What does this message actually mean? That the product is made from plants. Only animal-based foods (milk, meat, eggs) have cholesterol! On the one hand, this message is great: the manufacturers didn’t have to do any special processing or add weird ingredients to make your products cholesterol free! On the other hand, it’s a little misleading to think that the label denotes an extra level of healthfulness above that in other similar products.

  • Now with less fat! (or less sugar).

    This message is a big warning sign that the ingredients have changed since you last bought the product. Fat and sugar are very important for the deliciousness and shelf stability of a product. So if a product has been reformulated to decrease the fat (for example), there may have been an increase in sugar, salt, or other ingredients to keep it tasty, keep the consistency of the product, and keep it shelf stable. When you see a “now with”, check the back of the box to see if what ingredients may have been substituted in, and make sure the new formulation still aligns with your health needs.

  • High Fiber!

    Similar to the cholesterol message, high fiber does not have to be a bad thing. If anything, we need more fiber in our diets! There are two possible reason why your product say high fiber: either the food is naturally high in fiber (because of flax seeds, dried fruit, or whole grains), or a bunch of ingredients were added to the product to increase it’s fiber content. Some of these fiber additives can increase abdominal discomfort (read: gas), so added fiber is something to watch out for if you haven’t been feeling so great after eating certain products. If you’re searching for added fiber on the ingredient list, watch out for “bran” ingredients.

Double check the price of products with nutrition claims on the front.

Some better-for-you products truly do cost more because it takes higher quality ingredients, a slower process, or a specialized workforce to make that good quality product. However, sometimes, the price are higher only because of the health claim, and not because they actually cost more to produce. When you see a claim attached to a higher price tag, take a step back to evaluate what their enhancement is, and if you actually feel that the benefit provided by the product is a worthy trade off for the price.

What are other common nutrition claims do you see on the front of products you buy? Do they influence your purchasing decisions?


Healthy Summer Strategies

Healthy Summer Run
Image courtesy of fitgirlonthego.com

I love Summer time — everyone is a little more relaxed, the sun is out, I can spend time at the beach. But it feels like as every Summer begins, I also notice changes in my body – I find myself more tired, thirsty, and less motivated to stick with my exercise routing. Does this happen to you?

The thing is, it’s not that we’ve all become lazy bums that need more sleep! Rather, the tiredness and lack of motivation are symptoms of the stress our bodies are under because of the high heat and changing weather. That’s why this summer, when the temps started rising, I enacted my happy summer health plan to work with my body as it adjusts, rather than fighting through my lower energy levels. The result? No summertime fatigue and an easy segue way into Summer fun. Read below for how I am transitioning into a happy and healthy summer.
Continue reading…


Well at work: Healthy snack drawer

Healthy snack at the office
Image courtesy of austinprimalfitness.com

Planning snack time at work at first seems like the wrong way to go. We’re eating too much, not too little, right? Plus we are already bombarded with opportunities to eat at work: office birthdays, lunch meetings, midmorning pastry breaks…despite all of those offerings for food, having an emergency healthy snack stash can actually help you eat less when those temptations for the unhealthy office snacks arrive, and can keep you at your mental, emotional, and physical peak. Below I explain why having a healthy snack drawer at work can be good for you and for others, and how to do it.
Continue reading…


Choosing your health goals

Working together for Health goals
Image courtesy of natural news

Every day we are bombarded by messages about the newest diet craze, a medical study with surprising findings, and an expert who knows what we “should” be doing for our health. However, at the end of the day, we all have different needs. And unfortunately, it’s practically impossible to be a a paleo, gluten-free, vegan who does 8-minute high intensity workouts 3 times a day, wakes up before 6am, and manages to retain her sanity.

…Well, actually it’s pretty fortunate that we can’t do that. But it’s unfortunate that most of us walk around thinking that we should be able to hold ourselves to these health standards that are almost impossible to achieve.

Eventually, you have to choose which health messages you’re going to listen to, and which you’re going to decide are not worth your time.

Continue reading…


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Grocery Store Shopping Series: Happy Healthy Tip #4

Grocery perimeter

It’s time to get shopping!! In this series meant to help you become a happier, healthier grocery shopper, we’ve talked about the importance of shopping happy, knowing when to go, and making a list. Now, it’s time to revamp how you shop when you’re in the store!

My tip for this week is based on the geography of a grocery store, and is good practice no matter what your current shopping habits or needs are. Continue reading…


Grocery Store Shopping Series: Happy Healthy Tip #3

Grocery List
Photo Courtesy of imgarcade.com

This post is part of a series on forming healthy, efficient grocery store shopping habits. We’re on to the last post about the pre-shopping experience. Enjoy!

 
 
Having a grocery list is the most important of the pre-planning shopping tips we’ve discussed so far. We’ve talked about not shopping hungry, and choosing the right time to go grocery shopping, but having a plan is so important. Did you know that supermarkets are on average 42,000 square feet and contain over 38,000 different products? WOAH. Navigating that labyrinth with a list and a plan is going to make the entire experience easier and less frustrating.

As a bonus, we’re going to use the grocery store list to make sure that your food purchases align with your health and monetary goals. The grocery list is just one more thing that’s going to help you live your healthy lifestyle.

Making a Grocery Store Shopping List

Continue reading…