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.

Crunching Cravings

Thanks to Elise of Kale & Chocolate, for sharing her chewy story on One Healthy Hamptons!

Recently, one of my awesome clients came to me with a situation:

She nourishes her body regularly with vibrant, nutrient-dense meals. Fitness is a fun part of her daily regime. When it comes to her health, she feels better than ever.

Except…

photo(194)Every night, during family time, her husband heads into the kitchen to pop a huge bowl of movie theater popcorn. You know—that caloric bomb swimming in salt and mysterious bright yellow butter.

And, every night, that bowl of popcorn would seep into her senses. And before she could stop herself, her hand was digging in—over and over.

I knew this smart, savvy, health-conscious woman wasn’t actually craving that kind of popcorn. She usually makes the right choices, and truly prefers whole foods over processed & fat-laden options.

So, what was she really craving?

Together, we dug deep and went through a roadmap to discover her cravings, peeling back the layers and looking for any emotional triggers, too. We still couldn’t crack the crunchy code.

She filled up on nutritionally balanced smoothies for breakfast. Lunch was usually a big vibrant bowl of veggie or lentil soup, and she was enjoying dinners that included some combination of fish (or other protein), sweet potatoes and sautéed leafy greens.

She told me that when the popcorn appeared each night, she wasn’t hungry. She felt satiated, and noticed that her energy levels were sky high. So, what was ultimately the problem?

She was missing the CRUNCH. While her meals were nutritious & delicious, her smoothies, soups and softer foods weren’t cutting it with her urge to crunch.

Craving the crunch is quite common. When we’re stressed from a long day, we subconsciously clench our jaw. Chewing a crunchy food in your mouth releases this tension. And when you don’t satisfy your need for crunch in your meals, then you’re much more likely to turn to the less healthy options in between. (Hello chocolate chip cookies!)

When we think of balancing our meals to prevent cravings, the “protein-fat-carbs” macronutrient trifecta is at the top of our minds. (And it should be for steady blood sugar levels.) But, we don’t often consider the importance of balancing texture to keep us satisfied & satiated.

In the spirit of recognizing our craving for crunch (minus the calorie-laden, nutrient-deficient chips, popcorn & pretzels), here are my favorite ways for you to munch & savor crunch as part of your meal or for a mid-day snack.

Crunchy Meal Toppers:

For a creamy smoothie or an extra thick smoothie bowl, top it off with nuts, trail mix, homemade granola, seeds, cacao nibs, coconut chips or chopped up apples, pears, or frozen fruit. (If you haven’t checked out Breakfast Criminals yet, you should! I’ve been totally inspired to step up my breakfast game with some pretty creative smoothies & toppings.)

For a satiating meal of oats or quinoa, put walnuts, almonds or any combo of nuts and fruit to add more texture.

For beautiful salads in a bowl or mason jar, think about including the crisp vegetables like carrots, red pepper, cucumber, cabbage, celery, jicama, and broccoli. Then, sprinkle some kale chips, nuts, seeds or roasted garbanzo beans as a finishing touch.

For that piping hot bowl of soup that will warm you up from this inside out, pair it with flax crackers or a side of carrots & cucumbers.

crunchy-wideCrunchy Standbys:

Kale Chips (or sweet & spicy here)
Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Nuts—almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios
Trail Mix
Roasted Chickpeas
Raw veggies
Apples, pears
Frozen grapes
Homemade Granola
Cacao nibs
Chocolate (Keep it in the freezer for that extra snap when breaking off a square.)

Just in case you’re curious, my client now happily enjoys a crisp apple and a handful of almonds while her husband still eats his popcorn. She feels amazing and completely satisfied.

One Healthy Breakdown: A little crunch goes a long way.

*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.