July’s Tiny Change: Creative Hydration

This post is part of Kale & Chocolate’s #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one super small, super doable change…over a year, it really adds up! You can read about it here and share your progress on instagram – tag @kaleandchocolate and @hamptonskiley with the hashtag #12tinychanges for a chance to win some cool prizes!

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: we should all be drinking more water. And yet here we are – many of us walking around in a state of low-grade, chronic dehydration.

hydrate

How do you know if you’re dehydrated? Perhaps you’re feeling a bit unfocused or sluggish, maybe you feel hungry all the time, or your skin isn’t looking its best. It’s entirely possible that you aren’t actually hungry, or unfocused, or having skin problems; chances are, you’re thirsty!

Our bodies are 65% water, and our brains are 73% water. No wonder we feel better when we stay hydrated! Yet it’s easy to forget to drink in the midst of our busy and active lives. This month, we’re going to fill up our cups and keep our bodies happy with more water and better hydration. If you’re not exactly keen on chugging eight glasses of lukewarm tap water every day, read on!

Make it fun (and delicious!)
Not everyone loves plain old water. If you aren’t a fan, don’t worry – there are many other ways to stay hydrated! Toss together a pitcher of spa waters (they’re so easy and colorful!) or load up the freezer with fruity ice cubes and add them to your water or herbal iced tea. Save your leftover smoothies, filling up popsicle molds, and create beautiful (and hydrating) smoothie pops!

Drink easy.
If you spend most of your time in your office, get a pretty glass that you can keep on your desk. If you’re always in the car, find a reusable water bottle and don’t leave the house without it!

Drink a superfood snack
Chia seeds are a miracle food, especially when it comes to keeping us hydrated. These teeny, tiny seeds are hydrophilic, which means that they can absorb approximately 10 to 12 times their weight in water. This powerhouse superfood can also prolong hydration and retain electrolytes in body fluids, protecting against dehydration.

Incorporating chia seeds into your diet is incredibly easy: simply stir a heaping tablespoon to your morning juice or smoothie, and you’re set! For a real treat, try peppermint mocha chia pudding or have a super yummy energy bite!

Drink your eats (no, really!)
Hydration comes in many forms, not just from water! All raw fruits and vegetables contain water, particularly cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, celery, and radishes. Try this watermelon cucumber cooler on for size!

HydrationPost

Drink your potassium
Why do we need electrolytes, including potassium, to stay hydrated? Our muscles use them with water to make sure that the electrical charges in our bodies work properly. Potassium balances the fluids and electrolytes in our bodies. All this is to say: eat plenty of bananas and drink some coconut water. These two foods are inexpensive, widely available, and they’ll help you maintain the proper nutrients after a workout or on a hot summer day.

See? Hydration can be fun and delicious! And once we fill up with the proper amount of fluid, our minds and bodies are so much more effective. We think better, look better, and feel better.

One Healthy Breakdown: create and hydrate!

May’s Tiny Change: Sit Down to Eat

This post is part of Kale & Chocolate’s #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one super small, super doable change – over a year, it really adds up! You can read about it here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges for a chance to win some cool prizes! This is a nutritionist-approved change for SO many reasons!

If you’ve tried one of the #12tinychanges already, you know that each change is easy and doable. May’s tiny change is as simple as taking a seat! Here’s why…

8569082300_8dff51eedb_b

We’re simply going to sit down to eat, as often as possible. Why? It’s really, really important!

We’re not aiming for a tablecloth and two different types of forks, no need for the fancy China.
We’re not trying to make every meal a three-course marathon.
We’re not even shooting for a 100% success rate.

We’re just trying to make rushed, mindless eating the exception instead of the rule.

Who among us hasn’t been there – eating over the sink, picking the kids’ leftovers off their plates, standing in front of the fridge while scrolling through Instagram? (hand raised!) It happens…but it’s really not so good for any of us.

If you need more convincing, here are my top reasons why we should all eat sitting down:

Sitting = Knowing

When we eat on the go, we often eat fast, neglect to chew, and don’t even realize what is happening. Oftentimes, when we indulge in mindless snacking and full meals, we eat more than we need to, faster than we should, and don’t really enjoy it.

Stop Moving, Stop Stress

Shoving food into our mouths isn’t exactly relaxing. Trying to eat while navigating rush hour traffic is not calming (or satisfying!) Eating while we multitask can actually be quite stressful, and stressful situations can lead to the release of cortisol. Excess cortisol can lower metabolism, decrease immunity, and cause gastrointestinal problems. We can avoid all that if we just spend a few extra minutes eating veggie soup at a table instead of drinking it in a mug in the car!

Connecting > Consuming

Dozens of hours go into growing, harvesting, transporting, and preparing the food we eat. Water, sunshine, fossil fuels, and elbow grease make it possible. You put time and effort into preparing each dish, so why rush through the best part: eating it?

may

Something that really helps to slow down and connect: Take five deep breaths before eating. It centers me, clears my mind, and turns my attention to the delicious meal in front of me.

Meals Create Community

Of course, we can’t eat every meal surrounded by friends and family, but sharing food is one of the best ways to connect and bond with others. Eating together is an opportunity to decompress and catch up on our lives. We tell stories, laugh, support each other, and make new memories.

When we cook together or prepare family recipes, we reconnect with our past and our heritage. Mom’s famous TLC Cookies don’t have the same calming, healing properties if we shove them down while standing over the counter as if we share the experience, sitting and tuned in.

So how do we find the time to eat sitting down?

Often, it’s as simple as making the commitment and realizing that, yes, we do have the few extra minutes to sit down if we make it a priority. Think of all the energy that goes into cooking food. We want to appreciate our efforts and not just shove it into our mouths without tasting it!

Let’s be honest about another mealtime distraction: messing around on social media or flipping through TV channels! If we can scroll through Instagram, we can sit down and eat that blueberry bliss smoothie bowl or quinoa & black bean salad.

If you really do need a little extra time in your jam-packed day, what if you set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier? Or do some meal prep on Sundays? With a little bit of foresight, sitting down to eat is possible and rewarding!

One Healthy Breakdown: Sit. Breathe. Eat. Enjoy. It’s a simple change with big payoff.

 

April’s Tiny Change: Eat More Color

This month, our #tinychange is to add more color to our plates. There are lots of reasons to load up on deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables, but for me, one the best reason is that it makes me happy! We feel invigorated and energized just looking at brightly colored meals (not to mention all the health benefits our bodies get from eating them!)

morecolor

Consider this the food version of tucking away your black winter sweaters and dull wool coats and pulling out your bright, colorful sundresses and fun tops: we all look better and shine brighter with a pop of color, even our meals. Here are my five favorite reasons to add more color to your plate:

1. Count colors!
Counting carbs, weighing food, and tracking calories can be effective for some, but they’re surefire ways to suck the joy and fun out of eating. The act of measuring and counting also reinforces the beliefs that healthy living is hard, time consuming, and unenjoyable. Not true!

Healthy foods are colorful foods. Think about it: Black wild rice and brown rice are healthier than white rice; orange sweet potatoes are filled with more phytonutrients than white potatoes; dark green spinach is better for us than light iceberg lettuce; freshly spiralized green zucchini noodles are more nutritious than white noodles. When you choose your foods based on color, making healthy choices is as easy (and fun!) as stocking your fridge with the vibrant colors of the rainbow.

2. Color Crowds Out Clutter
Balance over (hence the name Kale & Chocolate!) but the reality is: we have limited space on our plates and in our stomachs. When we add more color to our meals, there is less room for the not-so-healthy colorless clutter.

Rather than telling yourself that you can never eat pasta again, what if you made yourself a big green salad and tossed your pasta with colorful grilled vegetables? You’d need a lot less pasta to feel satisfied, your plate would be filled with nutritious, colorful foods…and you’d still get to eat the pasta that you love! It’s not about taking away food, it’s about adding color!

Swap your plain store-bought hummus (most likely chemical ridden) for this pretty Beet & Basil Hummus with a rainbow of chopped veggies!

3. More Color = More Nutrients
I’m fascinated by the science of healthy eating; it’s one of the reasons that I studied plant-based nutrition. When we eat colorful foods, we consume more micronutrients (the vitamins and minerals that are vital to development, disease prevention, and well-being).

If you want to make sure you’re getting sufficient nutrients, but you’re not particularly interested in reading labels or researching which foods are high in which vitamins and minerals, simply add a variety of colorful produce to your plate. When you eat all the hues of the rainbow, you’re naturally eating a micronutrient-rich diet. It’s that easy!

Swap bland protein shakes for a beautiful vibrant smoothie bowl with fun toppings.

smoothie
4. Food Love is Self-Love
Think about plain old beige oatmeal versus gorgeous, colorful, creative, and nutrient-dense carrot cake oatmeal. Which meal has more love? Like the vibrant hues of spring, color brings warmth and comfort to your plate. Show yourself love by preparing beautiful, colorful meals.

Swap a simple salad for a Super Summer Salad for more colors, flavors, and nutrients!

5. No Season is More Colorful than Spring
As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, more and more amazing foods appear at the farmers’ market: spears of tender asparagus, creamy avocados, red beets, green broccoli, and gorgeous strawberries are coming into season right now. There is no better, easier, more delicious, and more affordable time to add color to your meals!

*This post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge, implementing one monthly small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! Read about all changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges tagging @kaleandchocolate and @hamptonskiley! Yes, there are prizes involved!

color

One Healthy Breakdown: Here’s to eating the colors of the rainbow and a bright, vibrant spring!

March’s Tiny Change: Notice Your Subconscious Thoughts About Food

*This post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! Read about all changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges. (Did I mention that there are lots of theme-related GIVEAWAYS each month?! Read on!)

march-tiny-change-1-r2

For the last six months, we’ve been making teeny, tiny, totally doable changes in the direction of creating and sustaining healthier lives. So far, we’ve talked about how we fuel our bodies (eating breakfast every day, trying plant-based foods, cooking at home, and moving and resting our bodies.) But a perfectly fueled, well-rested body won’t do us any good if it’s home to a negative, pessimistic, self-critical mind.

Have you ever found yourself having unkind thoughts like these?

“I can’t believe I ate all that pasta. Gross. I’m so weak.”

“How do I keep screwing this up? I told myself I wasn’t going to overeat and here I am, stuffed, unhappy, and guilty. I should be better than this.”

“I know that dairy upsets my stomach, but I just ate half a pint of ice cream. I’m so bad.”

I recognize them myself because this is something that I struggled with for ages. If I ate too much, I’d say mean things to myself. If I didn’t eat enough vegetables, ate mindlessly, or if told myself that I wasn’t going to finish the rest of the hummus and then when I did—I’d berate myself.

This food-related stress and anxiety isn’t just emotionally unhealthy: it’s physically unhealthy. Marc David, my mentor and founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, explains that our thoughts quite literally affect how our bodies function. Guilt and other negative, stress-related emotions trigger the release of cortisol, which can cause us to store more calories as body fat.

Thinking negative, stress-inducing thoughts after a meal impacts our digestion and nutrient assimilation and removes any pleasure we might have experienced while eating the food. To put it simply: the thoughts we think about the food we eat instantly become the reality in our bodies via the central nervous system.

By now, we’ve heard “you are what you eat,” but you are also what you think! This month, let’s commit to stopping unkind thoughts before they even start. We can rewire our mind to be more positive. Here are three steps to help you release negative food and body chatter, once and for all:

1. Take note of when and how you say these things to yourself.
For many of us, these unkind thoughts are mental background noise. We’ve heard them so many times, playing on repeat in our heads, that we don’t even notice them anymore. Whether we are aware of them or not, they affect our self-esteem, our choices, and the chemicals in our bodies. Noticing these thoughts is the first step to healing our relationships with food and our bodies.

march-tiny-change-2-r2
2. Speak to yourself the way you’d speak to a young child or a dear friend.
We would never, ever tell a friend that she was “weak” for having a second serving of brownies, but for years I’d say things like this—and worse!—to myself. When I finally realized that my negative self-talk was a problem, I struggled to find positive, supportive things to say to myself. If you’re in the same boat, talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a dear friend or a young child.

“You’re doing your best.”

“You made the most of a tough situation.”

“You’re doing a great job—keep it up!”

“I’m proud of you.”

When we give ourselves the same amount of love and attention that we give other people, our internal dialogue begins to shift. This can feel a little awkward at first, but keep the conversation going! Training a new behavior takes time, and once it’s ingrained, you’ll have swapped a harmful, unhealthy, and counter-productive habit for a positive, uplifting, healthy one. Using kind, supportive language in your conversations with yourself will help ease the food stress—and more!

3. Remember that you are the creator of your thoughts, so you can change them.
When we tune into our inner dialogue, it’s easy to feel out of control. It can seem as though we’re being forced to listen to a radio station where a mean (or even spiteful!) DJ isn’t taking requests.

But it’s important to remember that our thoughts—both good and bad—originate from us. We are the creators of our thoughts, so we are capable of changing them. I can say to myself, “That’s how I was for the last XX years, but I don’t want to be like that any more. This changes now.”

Your mind is a one-person radio station—and you are the only one who gets to choose the playlist. Believe it or not, it’s all up to you! You can even try this trick for re-routing your internal monologue: The next time you start to hear the same unkind chatter that plays on repeat, I want you to actually think (or say!) the words: “Stop. Change the station.”

Imagine reaching out toward the knob on your car radio and turning the dial. Or imagine pulling the headphones out of your iPhone and being greeted with glorious (and peaceful!) silence. Try it. You won’t believe how effective this can be!

Changing the way you think is a journey that requires a lot of focus and effort. Be gentle with yourself during this process and try not to get down on yourself when and if you have those negative thoughts again. They’re bound to resurface occasionally. Awareness is the first step here!

To help you have kinder & more loving thoughts, I’ve teamed up with some incredible partners to give you awesome and supportive tools for this month’s challenge. Simply join the conversation #12tinychanges on instragam and tag @kaleandchocolate and @hamptonskiley.

One Healthy Breakdown: What you think is just as important as what you eat. And the only person who can change your mind is YOU.

February’s Tiny Change: Eat More Plants

*This post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! Read about all changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges!

comp-1

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits associated with eating a plant-based diet, like reducing your risk of heart disease, lowering your blood pressure, and adding years to your life. Food experts, nutritionists, and dietitians may disagree about the right diet, but amidst these debates, they have always been able to agree on at least one thing: MORE PLANTS = GOOD.

This month’s tiny change is just that – tiny. No need to cut foods out, restrict, or diet. Simply add more plant-based foods and recipes to your cooking repertoire. If you’re already eating a largely plant-based diet, wonderful! Try something new and interesting like DIY nut milk. If you’ve yet to dip your toe into plant-based cooking, start easy with something like chia seed pudding.

You don’t have to eat less or cut out anything. Just add more vibrant colors, nutrients, and variety to your meals. If a few of those delectable plant-based dishes happen to replace the less-than-healthy ones in your repertoire, that’s just a bonus! So what constitutes “plant-based,” exactly? Great question! Fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and oils are all fair game – all things that originally stem from plants (pun intended!)

FullSizeRender(47)

Here are five ways you can make this tiny change easy and awesome!

1. Incorporate these plant-based foods into the way you already eat

The best thing about plant-based foods? You can fold them into absolutely any eating style – they’re totally inclusive! Eating Paleo? Vegetarian? Gluten-free? Locavore or seasonal eater? Great, simply add more plants to your daily routine!

2. View this as an opportunity to experiment with new recipes + types of food
Consider this a little nudge to explore new recipes or make reservations at a new restaurant. Asian, Indian, and Ethiopian cuisines include lots of plant-based dishes, many featuring interesting spices and flavor combinations. Give them all a try!

Instead of trying to plant-i-fy existing dishes, why not try something totally different? We’re much more likely to enjoy a recipe (and make it again) if we eat it with an open mind…rather than thinking “this was much better when I made it with a whole stick of butter…” This tiny change gives you the perfect excuse to push yourself toward easy experimentation and more adventurous eating.

sautee

3. Know that this isn’t just about smoothies and salads
Gotta love a good green smoothie, but there are tons of luscious, decadent plant-based foods out there. In fact, if you want to try just one new plant-based recipe a week this month, how about some delicious oatmeal, hummuscookies, PB & J, sweet chocolate avocado mousse, and even ice cream?! Plant dishes can be sweet, savory, warm, chilled, and satisfy just about any craving!

4. Swap in one plant-based dish for one meat or dairy dish

Rather than overhauling your entire meal, try just swapping one dish. Munch on a batch of homemade veggie burgers and sweet potato fries for your Friday night Netflix marathon or warm up with butternut squash soup for meatless Monday. Whip up a balanced meal, use DIY nut milk in your smoothie or make guacamole instead of french onion dip. Just one tiny swap at a time; you’ll be amazed how easy it is to eat more plants!

5. Choose plant-based dishes when you’re eating out or grocery shopping

Now, you know I’m a huge advocate of DIY-ing, but most of us are short on time and long on obligations. Who among us hasn’t picked up dinner on the way home from a hectic day?

Remember, there are a surprising number of plant-based options at your local grocery store, and maybe even your favorite restaurant. Grab a tub of guac, baba ganoush, hummus or even black bean dip. Check out the salad bar for freshly prepared veggies, grains, and plant-based proteins to add to a bed of greens.

When you’re eating out, soups, salads, and vegetarian entrees are often plant-based, (and delicious) so give it a try. To help kickoff this tiny change, you could win amazing prizes and tools to fill up your plate with as many colors and nutrients as possible. You’ll be amazed by how simple it is to eat more plants. And the best part? This easy, delicious tiny change can set you on the road to a healthier heart, longer life, and happier body!

One Healthy Breakdown: Crack open you cookbooks and get ready to veg out!

January’s Tiny Change: Do It Yourself

OHH Intro: we couldn’t be more into this month’s challenge to DIY (do it yourself!) You’ll save money, eat way healthier, spend way less time grocery shopping, and shock yourself with how good it feels (and tastes!) Read on for Kale & Chocolate’s rundown of how to become a DIY’er…

If you’re just joining us, this post is part of Kale & Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one super small, super doable change—it really adds up over the course of a year! You can read about all the changes here. Share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges for a chance to win awesome prizes!

Welcome to 2016! Most people think of January 1st as the one and only day to turn over a new leaf, but if you’ve been participating in the #12tinychanges challenge, you’ve been building healthy habits since September (go you!) And if you’re new to the challenge, welcome to the simplest, least painful habit-shifting program you’ll ever tackle, #12tinychanges challenge.

blog-images-chocolate-barkAfter the holidays, when so many of us fall off of our routines, we may be tempted to kick off the new year with some BIG promises to ourselves, but it’s really, really, really hard to stick to BIG goasl for the long haul. The population at the gym has already cut in half since January 1. Instead of being one of those, get on board this tiny change and bite off exactly what we can chew. Sound good? Let’s spend a little time in the kitchen in DIY mode making delicious items we may ordinarily buy.

Are you already asking why on earth you’d complicate your life by hand-making purchasable foods? It probably seems more convenient to just grab things off the grocery store shelf and plunk down some cash. But once you try making some of these everyday items on your own, you’ll be amazed by how easy (and delicious) it can be! Why waste precious time and energy running to the store for almond milk when you can make your own tastier version in five minutes right in your own kitchen? What about your morning smoothie? How about that $15 jar of almond butter we all know and love?

IMG_3513You might think it will be boring, time-consuming, or expensive to DIY. Guess what – it’s not! It’s actually fun, significantly cheaper, and far healthier than buying everything pre-made.

Why should you try DIY-ing something you’d normally buy?

It’s incredibly satisfying + fulfilling. Few of us have ever made our own bread, nut butters or jams. (Hello, awesome homemade PB & J!) Contemplating the processes of making these items can feel intimidating, totally understand. Until I started creating my own staples, there were so many recipes I avoided because I feared their complexity. Why should I spend time learning how to DIY something when I could just toss it into my cart and buy it instantly?

Making your own staples can actually have a ripple effect through your whole life. Confidence and capability in one area often trickle over into other areas of your life, in the kitchen and beyond. Once you’ve mastered whipping up your own almond milk or putting together mason jar salads, there’s no telling what you’ll attempt! If you think something is out of your reach or beyond your skill set, it’s extremely satisfying to finally try it, figure it out…and then work it seamlessly into your weekly routine.

FullSizeRender_1

When you make it yourself, you can customize it. Have you ever bought a granola bar and thought, “Hmm, I wish this was a tad less sweet…or why does this have 20 grams of sugar and tons of chemicals in it?!” When you make your own bars or bites, you can customize them to taste exactly the way you like…without the chemicals!

Create your own trail mix exactly how you like it. Add more of the things you love while skipping the unnecessary sugar, salt, and fillers found in the packaged versions. When you DIY, you know exactly what’s going in…and you control exactly which not-so-healthy ingredients you leave out!

You can view DIY-ing through the lens of curiosity + experimentation. This tiny change is just that: tiny. You don’t have to replace every store-bought condiment or staple in your house. You don’t have to make everything you eat from scratch. You don’t have to whip up award-winning sauces or a picture perfect superfood smoothie bowl the first time you try, just take it one step at a time.

Consider how making from scratch improves the quality of the food you eat, and how much you’ll learn about your ingredients. Notice how much more you appreciate your meals when they include your homemade staples, this will lead to more mindful eating and enjoyment!

If you’re really interested in kicking up the DIY challenge a notch or two, check out my book, Whole Food Energy. It’s packed with 200 easy-to-make recipes designed specifically for busy, active people who want to stock their kitchens & pantries with healthy homemade snacks and light bites to eat on the go. It’s pretty much a DIY goldmine!

Remember to go slowly and pick one or two DIY projects a week. Once you experience a homemade latte, (best part, you don’t have to leave the house!) sweet potato fries, (better than take out!) or the best brunch around, you’ll be hooked.

Lastly, I want to give you the tools to get going. I’m giving away amazing prizes each week throughout January on Instagram. Think: signed copies of my book, superfoods from Windy City Organicsc to enhance your creations, and much more! Just tag #12tinychanges to enter and follow @kaleandchocolate and @hamptonskiley while you’re at it!

One Healthy Breakdown: No time like the present, start gathering your ingredients and get ready to dig in!

Word of the Year

What if planning for the new year felt thrilling? Exciting? Fun and invigorating? I don’t know about you, but when I was in the habit of making yearly resolutions, they most certainly did not feel like that.  Coming up with a New Year’s promises to myself was more like an exercise in shame and disappointment; it seemed to highlight all the ways my previous year hadn’t quite measured up.

Add to that the stress of planning goals and changes for the next year, and it became a recipe for disaster! At the end of 2013, I changed the way I thought about my coming year and instantly, everything felt lighter, easier, and more loving.

What did I do? I chose a word of the year. In 2015, I picked the word trust. In 2014, my word was simplify. My “word of the year” anchors my daily life. It helps me focus. It guides the work I do, the choices I make, and the way I navigate my everyday. When I feel adrift, I remember my word of the year and come back to myself & my goals for 2016.

word-of-the-year-2015-bMy word for 2016? Spaciousness. Sounds nice & relaxing, doesn’t it?

This means making space in my day for a spontaneous game of fetch with my dogs or a leisurely stroll through the farmers’ market. It means finally making space for the book I’ve always wanted to write. It means prepping food on Sunday in a non-stressful manner… and then having space to kick back and enjoy my evenings without worrying about what’s for dinner during the week.

Spaciousness1-editedIt’s resisting the desire to schedule, map out, and micro-manage every single last detail. It’s saying “no” comfortably to make room to say “YES!” It’s greeting life and opportunities with open arms.

But the word that works for me is not necessarily the word that works for you. Maybe you’d like 2016 to feel focused or connected or inspired. Or perhaps you want ease or to be more playful.

Choosing a word of the year has grounded me and changed the course of my next trip around the sun—and I want that for you, too! Here are three steps that will get you started:

1. Think about how you want your life to look and feel
In order to keep traditional resolutions, we usually end up counting calories, dollars, or social media followers. We track numbers and assess our success based on said numbers.

But when you navigate your new year with a single word as your beacon, the new year slowly shifts into something easier and sweeter. A “successful” year is a year that looks and feels the way we want it to look and feel.

Peer through the window of your Future Dream Life and really imagine the specifics. Would it look like Fridays off, getting a manicure with your best friend? Would it look like more quality time with your kids? How would you spend that time with them? What would you talk about? Would your Future Dream Life look like a night out in the city? Who would you be with? What would you be wearing?

And how do you want it to feel? Do you want to feel free? Supported? Seen? Imagine the way you want your heart and mind to feel every day and then choose a word accordingly.

2. Trust your intuition
Choosing your word of the year is a lot easier than you’d expect. You don’t necessarily have to labor over this decision; you likely don’t need to turn this over in your mind a thousand times.

Really think about the past year. What worked? What didn’t? If you’re honest with yourself, you probably already know how you’d like next year to be different. If a word immediately springs to mind and it feels right in your gut, you’ve found your word. Congratulations!

3. Now consider how you can apply this word to your whole life
“Supported”’ at home means something different than “supported” in your professional life. And “connected” to your body is different than being “connected” to your partner.

How does your word apply in the context of work? At home? Does it affect the way you move your body or the choices you make around food? Will it change the way you use technology?

When you take the time to imagine the way your word applies to all the areas of your life, you’re ready to make that word happen—everywhere.

Now it’s your turn to identify your word for the new year. Good luck!

One Healthy Breakdown: Wishing you a year filled with health, happiness, and finding just the right word!

December’s Tiny Change: Move Your Body Every Day

OHH Intro: This month’s #12tinychanges is something near and dear to our heart at OHH; movement and we practice what we preach! This is the perfect tiny change to get out the holiday stress. Read on for Kale & Chocolate’s take on daily movement.

I know what you’re thinking: “it’s the holidays. The last thing I have time for is exercise! I am so, so, SO busy. I barely have time to even think about it!” Trust me, I get it. Hear me out…

First off, let’s call it “movement,” not exercise. A lot of us have negative associations with the word “exercise.” We immediately picture getting chosen last in gym class, dancing awkwardly in the back row of a Zumba class, or taking a beating during bootcamp. Let’s reframe, shall we? What if we simply aim to move our bodies every day—and that movement can take whatever form we like?

moveYour daily movement can be a long walk to the farmer’s market or a hike with the dogs. It can be two hours of raking leaves, an hour of cleaning, or 30 minutes of playing tag with kids. It might even be a one-person dance party in between all the holiday baking. You get the point. Just make it your goal to “move my body every day.”

During the winter—and especially the holiday season—we need to move our bodies more than ever. This is a time when many of us fall out of our routines and make promises to get back on track after the new year. But movement helps us manage the stress of holiday shopping, packed social calendars, and trips to see family. Movement also helps us cope with the inevitable ”seasonal mopes” that accompany lower temperatures and less daylight.

When we move around (in any way), we’re more patient, more focused, and more relaxed—all things that come in handy any time, but especially when you’ve got to wrap 67 presents, attend holiday parties, and travel for hours on crowded roads and packed airports with everyone and their mother!

If you’re ready for this month’s tiny change, here are seven easy ways to make movement part of your daily routine:

1. View it as respite
You’re not “going to that cardio class you hate,” instead you’re “taking a hike in the gorgeous, crisp air.” You’re not “attending that dreaded spin class,” instead you’re “clearing your head with a walk around the neighborhood” or “going to that amazing yoga class.” Rather than thinking of movement as mandatory exercise, think of it as time away from all the tasks and to-do lists to clear your head. Movement can be a break and a breather, not an obligation.

2. Give yourself the right fuel
It’s hard to move your body when you haven’t nourished it properly. Make it easier by loading up on proper fuel. I swear by a tasty bowl of oatmeal, berry good bars, pumpkin bread, or even chocolate squares. Stay hydrated and help out those sore muscles with a green smoothie. Or go for the ever popular avocado toast—and add an egg or other nutritional boosts to help refuel and recover.

IMG_19643. After you’ve moved your body, notice how good you feel
That serene, accomplished feeling you have after you’ve moved your body? Notice it. Do you have more energy? Are your endorphins running? Acknowledge the feeling. Say to yourself “I feel great and that’s because I moved my body.” When you mentally pair a positive emotion with a physical act, you’re more likely to make it a part of your daily life!

4. Rather than meeting for drinks, meet your friends to move
It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and it’s a great way to bond. Just get outside wherever you are. Walk around town, meet for a run, head to a fun class, or bundle up on a stroll along the beachfront. If it’s really too cold, take it inside and cruise around the mall before it opens (window shopping optional!)

5. Embrace winter and the unique activities that go with it
Instead of hunkering down and hibernating, what if we welcomed the snow and ice with open arms? Colder temperatures bring activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and ice-skating!

6. Do more of your favorite active hobbies
I bet movement is already part of your life—maybe you’re taking fitness classes or playing with your pups. What if you simply did more of what you’re already doing? Add another weekly sculpt workout, get on your mat every afternoon for 10 minutes, or tack-on an extra few miles to your bike ride. If you’ve found something that works for you, do it more!

7. Remember that every step counts + you’ll never regret moving your body
When your calendar is overflowing and you can’t fit in an hour-long workout, it’s easy to throw in the towel and throw yourself on the couch. Try an at-home workout that fits into your schedule. If you don’t have time or you’re not in the mood, just add a tiny bit more movement to your day—take the stairs, park further away, add two more blocks when you walk the dogs. They all add up!

And if you need a movement pep talk? No one ever says, “Ugh, I sure wish I hadn’t hiked to that beautiful overlook” or “starting my day with yoga was such a terrible idea!” Once you get moving, you’ll be glad you did. Doing creates more doing—a little bit of intention and movement affects everything. You’ll feel like a happier & more energetic version of yourself all day long!

Kale & Chocolate will be giving away some great prizes to get your endorphins pumping! To enter, simply share your movement on instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges and tag (and follow!) @kaleandchocolate and @hamptonskiley.

One Healthy Breakdown: movement is medicine, so get moving!

12 Tiny Changes to Make the Year Amazing

*When Elise Museles of Kale & Chocolate shared her idea for #12tinychanges, I hopped on board without hesitation and I think that you will as well! After all, September is the perfect time to make healthy changes, we might as well make changes that stick! So, join us in making the next 12 months amazing, one tiny change at a time! Elise explains exactly how below:

September always feels like the beginning of a new year, doesn’t it? There’s an energy in the air as the kids head back to school and we adults buckle down at work. Just like the new year, many of us view September as an opportunity to make big changes: more exercise! Fewer refined carbs! More water! No TV! More salad! Home-cooked family dinners every night!

768px-EenbruinigherfstbladAnd we might just try to implement all of those changes at once, going from one to 60 in two days. Not surprisingly, this rarely works. We burn out, pull a muscle, and unhappily binge eat over the sink (we’ve all been there.) Our goals to eat healthy, exercise often, and replace TV with journal writing are strong on day 1…and gone by Friday…oops!

Has this ever happened to you? How many times have you broken promises to yourself? This time, it’s going to stick. This time, it’s going to be different. I know because I’ve been there. The only solution that I’ve found is to make teeny, tiny, sometimes even laughably small changes over the course of a long period of time. Baby steps, indeed.

Instead of “I’m quitting dairy tomorrow” I said, “I’m going to put almond milk in my coffee every morning for the next month.” Instead of “from now on, I’m drinking eight glasses of water every single day,” how about “I’m going to drink a glass of water before each meal for the next month.”

12tinychangesBy the time a month had passed, I was on my way to developing a new healthy (and permanent) habit. By the time an entire year had passed, I had over a dozen new habits! I slept better, ate cleaner, moved more, and was kinder to myself. I made all of these changes in a sane, sustainable way…and those good habits have stuck around. It’s not about the changes we want to make, it’s about the changes we actually commit to and turn into habits.

So I invite you to take advantage of September’s bustling new energy and join me in the 12 Tiny Changes Challenge, by committing to 12 small and doable changes to try—one per month, over the course of the next year. Grab yourself a cup of matcha tea and nestle in. We’ve got a fun year ahead. Are you ready? Let’s go, why wait?!

September: This month, I’ll devote a few hours to meal prep every week.

Your mom wasn’t kidding when she said that if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. It’s so much easier to eat healthy all week when your pantry, fridge, and freezer are properly stocked and prepared! This month, spend a few hours every Sunday (or Friday or Monday – you choose) prepping some of your meals & snacks, shopping for fresh, in-season produce, chopping, slicing, and peeling. You don’t need to do it all at once, but with the new fall routine settling in after summer’s carefree days, it’s an opportune time to create a little structure with your meal planning. Learn how to set yourself up for success here. Be sure to follow @kaleandchocolate on Instagram, (and @hamptonskiley) post your meal prep pics, and join in by using #12tinychanges hashtag. Last but not least, there will be prizes!

One Healthy Breakdown: get prepping and posting, change(s) is just around the corner!

Food Guilt Be Gone!

Kiley’s Intro: Eating my way through Italy has me thinking a lot about food guilt and lack thereof. Everything tastes better here (of course it does, it’s all fresher than fresh, drizzled with olive oil, accompanied by wine, and followed by gelato!) Italy is pretty much foodie heaven and the focus seems to be on taste, pleasure, and indulgence instead of calories, weight-loss, and diet. What a refreshing change of pace.

FullSizeRenderAs a culture, we tend to infuse shame into indulging in culinary delicacies. We’re taught that sweets, carbs, and alcohol are “bad.” Therefore, instead of feeling happy after a pleasurable meal, we resort to guilt. Shame on us!

Fueling our bodies with nutrients is essential, but eating mindfully and satisfying cravings are also crucial for overall good health. So, how do we make this transformation and rid the guilt? Elise Museles’ (of Kale & Chocolate) provides us with some insightful tips on slowing down, eating mindfully, and replacing food shame with enjoyment…a concept the Italians have down pat!

Does this sound familiar…

I feel GUILTY when:

Indulging in unhealthy foods
Eating when I’m not really hungry
Making poor food choices
Indulging in comfort foods
Munching on sweets
Looking in the mirror

MP900182704And that guilt you feel? It puts your entire life on hold. Not to mention that it serves no useful or forward moving purpose.

Guilt zaps every ounce of energy you have. It drops you into an endless array of stress and pressure. It forces you into a constant battle between your body and your mind.

The minute you introduce guilt into your world, your inner critic becomes the loudest voice in the room. Suddenly, your mind turns into an evil villain – spouting harsh judgments that you instantly start to believe.

Here’s what I know:

Paying attention to your inner critic won’t help you lose weight.
Hating your body isn’t going to get you any closer to looking like a million bucks.
Always thinking “I should” do something will lead to nothing but stress and disappointment.

Are you ready to take the power away from the voices in your head and put it back in your body? Here’s how: you need to show your body some respect by learning to listen to it. Your body is smart. It has a lot to tell you … if you really tune in.

Going through life at warp speed and focusing on your never-ending to-do list, pushing and pushing to get everything done…will never rid you of guilt. Why? Because you’re too busy being a human doing rather than a human being, which prevents you from tuning in…and keeps you from making choices that are in alignment with what your body really needs.

Think about it. If you’re in go-go-go mode:

How can you really know if you’re hungry?
How do you notice the signals that you’re full or satiated?
How do you understand what your cravings really mean?
How do you experience a pleasurable meal and savor all the goodness?
How do you take in all the sensations when you barely have time to chew?

What’s the result of not listening to your body? Oftentimes, a big old serving of guilt.

Your ultimate goal is to find ways to slow down so that you can be more intentional and mindful to create the space to listen to your body. Instead of eating your meal mindlessly while standing up, try sitting down and noticing the smells, the flavors, the tastes and textures. Instead of beating yourself up for wanting the chocolate chip cookie, try paying attention to why you might be having cravings.
Instead of assuming that you need to finish your plate and then feeling uncomfortably full, try putting down your fork and checking in with yourself mid-meal.

guiltOne Healthy Breakdown: When you tune into the wisdom of your body and allow your actions to follow suit, you’re much more likely to make guilt-free choices with food… and beyond.

*Elise Museles is an attorney turned Certified Eating Psychology & Nutrition Expert. She helps women stuck in a motivation-to-frustration cycle adopt a more joyful & positive approach to nourishment that starts with the food on the plate, but ultimately extends to all areas of life. Enter a delicious world full of freedom, ease, and fun at Kale & Chocolate. For daily inspiration, join Elise on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kaleandchocolate.