Four Ways to Love Yourself While Loving Your Job

iStock_000016251684_SmallIn developing business communications, I often quote  thought leaders like Albert Einstein, Jack Welch and Sheryl Sandberg. My all-time personal favorite quote  though comes right out of the mouth of Carrie Bradshaw during the final episode of Sex & the City – “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Those are sage words. I’m lucky enough to have a great husband who really loves me, even when I repeat tired jokes about impending zombie apocalypses and often eat 80% of the premium chocolate bar he bought for us to “share.”  But I have had to recalibrate another area of my life recently   – balancing a job I love with taking care of myself.

I returned to corporate America last October as the Executive Vice President of Communications for the National DCP, which is the $2 billion supply chain management cooperative serving the franchisees of Dunkin’ Donuts. (Yes, they stock our break rooms with goodies but I don’t have any samples to share.) The job has been like a Reese’s peanut butter cup of excitement for me – I have gotten to build our internal, external and corporate communications strategy from scratch while also leveraging my executive coaching skills at work each day.  Incredibly fast paced, the 24/7 environment never stops. I have been on the road for much of the past two months and given my level of responsibility, frequently work on weekends while constantly staying plugged into email and texts.

Exciting stuff, indeed. Until you realize that your healthy eating habits have left the building, normally high energy level has plummeted and the bags under your eyes wouldn’t fit in the airplane luggage bin. As I’ve been working on balancing my love for work with loving myself, here are some tips that are yielding results:

  1. Treat nutrition like a project plan. You’ve mapped out that new project launch in detail and know three quarters of financial forecasts like the back of your hand, but never give a thought to what you are going to eat each day. So diving into leftovers from another department’s catered breakfast or fast food discards tends to constitute most of your lunches. I’ve been planning ahead by bringing healthy lunches and two sets of snacks into work, which helps me pass up the leftover cookie pile. The same is true for work travel. Keeping natural protein bars or nuts in your briefcase or purse curbs your hunger in transit. If i know where our team is headed out for dinner, I will check out menus online in advance to select healthier options.
  2. Get enough sleep. This one can be hard, especially if you have to get up early and go to bed late after a work dinner. I love exercising before work but have realized that sometimes getting seven hours of sleep is going to do me more good than anything else and adjust my schedule. Plus its natural for sleep deprived souls to gravitate towards lots of caffeine and sugar to stay awake during the day so getting enough rest helps you make better choices.
  3. Start and end the day focusing on yourself. My best days are spent journaling, even for 10 minutes, before I go to the gym first thing and then work. At night, I try to stop checking emails an hour or two before bed and drift off reading a good book or listening to a positive recording.
  4. Take breaks and time off. My boss told us to book vacations in advance to ensure we keep our commitment to taking time off. So I listened to his advice and now have fun breaks scheduled for September and December; just writing about this makes me smile. But also try to balance the hard work with more frequent, smaller breaks. I have had to work a number of weekends recently and plan to take an upcoming Friday off to just focus on myself.

How have you handled making time for yourself with a challenging job? What practices keep you healthy and happy on a daily basis?

How to make the best of a fast food situation

iStock_000007141433SmallIn an ideal world, we would gravitate towards unprocessed, healthy foods in the same way that Kanye West adores Kim Kardashian…fully and completely, no matter what haters or Saturday Night Live parodies say. But even when eating clean comes to you as easily as breathing, sometimes you don’t have access to healthy choices. Like that time you were stuck in an airport, without an emergency protein bar stashed away at the bottom of your purse, or when you bolted late out of work to catch a concert with your sweetie and dinner was going to be limited to whatever the concessions booth served. Here are a couple of tips to make the best out of a fast food situation:

  • Look for the best of the bunch. the Centers for Disease Control estimates that fast food accounts for more than 15% of daily calories for people in their twenties and thirties. That’s why FITNESS Magazine put together this list of two relatively healthier options on the menus of each of the top 10 fast food chains in case you need to indulge in an occasional grab-and-go meal.  For example, they highlight the Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette plus Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait; for a total of 375 calories, 9.5g fat (4g saturated) at McDonald’s.
  •  Forego the extras. Chipotle is my favorite fast food restaurant, primarily because they buy anti-biotic free chicken and beef, prepare items fresh and try to use organic and/or local items when possible. But even there, the calories and sodium content add up. So I forego a lot of the “extras” to keep things healthier – opting for a burrito bowl without the flour tortilla, asking for only one scoop of brown rice with my chicken, veggies and black beans, and saying no to the cheese and sour cream in favor of a scoop of guacamole. Whenever I have an early morning flight back home, breakfast is usually oatmeal from Starbucks, without adding any sugar. Think about how you can choose filling proteins, veggies, fruits or salads from fast food menu options without falling into the deep-fried foods trap.
  • Think small. In our supersize culture, portion sizes have gotten out of whack and a typical fast food meal way exceeds an average person’s recommended daily calorie allowance. Consider options from the kid’s meal or whatever the smallest portion sizes may be. Don’t hesitate to ask for water instead of the soda that comes with your meal or ask anything that can be custom plated to come in half the normal portion size.

How do you handle fast food situations when nothing else is available? What are some of your go-to-foods at quick service restaurants?

 

 

 

 

 

Want real change? Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions and focus on supported goals instead

Ditch the New Year's Resolutions According to a recent Marist Poll, 44% of Americans are planning to make a change in the New Year. Many of the survey respondents are making New Year’s resolutions for better health or a happier life, with the largest amount aiming to lose pounds, exercise more or eat better. However – no surprise here – only 8% of people actually keep those resolutions according to a University of Scranton study.  Bummer, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Here are a few steps you can take to create real, positive change in 2014:

  • Set realistic, clear goals. Let’s say that you vow to be happier in 2014. What does that actually mean? Do you crave more alone time, want less stress, desire a new job or a better relationship? Break down that big desire into a clear goal in order to make it actionable and obtainable. For example. if decreasing stress is your objective, then your action steps could include installing a smart phone app that takes you through a guided meditation three times a week and stop checking emails at least two hours before bedtime to give your mind time to rest.
  • Plan ahead. Haven’t tried to exercise since George W was in the White House but now understand that moving more will give you more energy? Awesome goal. But don’t just try to jog on the treadmill wearing flip-flops and street clothes (no lie, saw a dude in just that garb at our hotel gym in the Bahamas last week). Do some research and create your fitness plans in advance to ensure better results and minimize injuries. Many gyms offer a complimentary session with a personal trainer who can teach you the most effective ways to exercise. Search online for “how to” videos and content on running, Yoga, swimming better or just about any other activity. Tell the  Zumba instructor this is your first time in class so he/she can give you pointers and keep an eye out for you. And dress for exercise success to maximize your performance and comfort.
  • Make it real. The more you can bring a goal to life increases your chances of long-term success.  One of my big goals for 2014 is to finish writing and publish my book, which focuses on helping people get unstuck and have the life of their dreams.  I’m visual, so making this goal a reality for me includes journaling about it, having it become one of the cornerstones of the vision board I’m creating this weekend with friends, posting positive messages about it on the edge of my computer screen and more. Pick one of your goals for a moment and think about how you can bring it to life. Since weight loss tops the list of so many people, could it be motivating to take photos of your progress each month to share via social media, pick out clothes you plan to buy in advance when certain milestones are met, put a photo of yourself at your hottest on the front of the fridge as a motivator to make healthier food selections?
  • Get support. Sharing a goal with like-minded, positive souls can increase your chances of success. My husband, who is already fit as an Ironman triathlete, is about to start a 30-day Paleo eating program to clean up his nutrition. His triathlon coach is doing the same, which creates a direct connection of support, while I’m reinforcing my own clean eating habits by ensuring we won’t have any processed foods, sweets, items with gluten or dairy around that don’t meet his goals or mine either. Even this little circle of support will help us all succeed in our healthier eating objectives. Whatever you are focusing on, talking about your goals and sharing milestones, challenges and tips with others can really make a difference.

What are some of your goals for 2014? Do you set New Year’s Resolutions and if so, what makes or breaks them?

Four Ways to Get Ready for Fall Wellness

With the high today in Atlanta topping 82 degrees and triple-digit temperatures forecast for my impending trip to Tucson, Arizona, it does not feel like summer has relinquished its grip yet.  But on September 22, fall officially begins – and here are four ways to help you get ready for wellness this season.

1)      Add warmth with functional, fashionable layers

Chances are good that the “go-to” running tank top and shorts look that so efficiently wicked sweat away this summer isn’t going to give you enough warmth during outdoor exercise in the upcoming months. No matter where you reside, you will also need something to wear post work-out before hitting the shower. I don’t spotlight many products in this blog, but here are two that I use for functional yet fashionable exercise cover-ups:

  •  At first glance, I don’t have much in common with Olympic Volleyball Gold Medalist and tall, blonde goddess Kerri Walsh…okay, make that a second and third look too. But we both dig BORELLI active performance scarves, which can be turned into wrap-around jackets and even sarongs depending on size. While some women “glow” after killer workouts, I am sweating hard and appreciate how this item wicks away sweat four times faster than cotton while helping me vie for the title of gym fashionista.  A triathlete herself, founder Marissa Borelli Casellini is passionate about creating products that marry fitness and style; you can wear her creations to ward off post-workout chills or as a chic accessory in daily life. Never very intrepid when it comes to geometry and angles, I found their demo video essential in figuring out how to wear this with flair.  Visit http://www.borellidesign.com/ to learn more.
  •  Then there is my lululemon hoodie jacket. Perfect to wear while driving home after an exercise class or running errands, I love its vibrant purple color and how it keeps my nicely warm before changing. Plus it lasts. I’ve had this jacket for three years now and it keeps on ticking.

2)      Embrace Seasonal Foods

If you’ll miss summer offerings like strawberries and watermelon, take heart with all of the seasonal foods options like cranberries, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apples, winter squash and much more. Here’s a handy guide to fall produce from Cooking Light magazine that spotlights selections and recipes. As for me, I’m all about the pumpkin, opting for smoothies over pies these days. Here is my favorite pumpkin smoothie recipe:

PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE

Courtesy of Citron Nutrition, adapted from Tasty Yummies

¾ cup cooked pumpkin (you can use canned, but fresh is much better)

1½ cups unsweetened organic vanilla almond milk

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced

2-3 Medjool dates, pits removed (soak first if they aren’t soft)

Clean additions:

1 scoop of vegan protein powder or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Directions: Add all of your ingredients to the blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. If your pumpkin and/or almond milk isn’t cold, you could add a handful of ice, although this may make it less creamy. You can also add a splash of water or additional almond milk if your smoothie is too thick. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

 

3)      Plan workouts to take advantage of seasonal changes

Consider changing up your exercise routine to enjoy the crisp fall weather. If you typically run on a treadmill or cycle city streets, head out to the countryside or mountains to experience these activities and more while savoring the beauty of changing leaves. I found great resources such as Hike New England and Autumn Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains with a quick online search and am sure you can do the same for your own area.  

4)      Focus on blossoming internally

There might not be flowers outside, but the fall is a wonderful time to start blossoming internally through personal growth. You don’t face the stupid pressure of New Year’s resolutions and with school back in swing, it feels like the season to learn something new. Last fall I took swimming lessons to combat a long-time fear of being in the water. While I’m never going to be Diana Nyad – and have no desire to ever wear a jellyfish-proof mask or adopt a distance swimming-friendly hairstyle – I can now get in a pool with a kickboard and sometimes no accessories at all without freaking out.  Or maybe you really want to meet your soul mate and it’s time to push yourself to put up an online dating profile to start getting out there. Whatever the case, nurture yourself and see how the happiness grows within.

What is your favorite part of fall? How do you plan to challenge yourself or grow during this season?

Four Ways to Keep It (Your Diet) Real

From professional athletes with seven figure contracts to musical prodigies topping the charts, just about every celebrity talks about how they like to “keep it real.” You know, the same people who order custom-Gulfstream jets and rack up $200,000 shopping sprees at Barney’s before lunch.  It makes me laugh, much in the way that MC Hammer ironically bragged about his staying power in 1991’s “Too Legit to Quit” only to fizzle out a few years later.

However, one place where keeping it real truly pays off is your diet. Specifically, in the kinds of foods you eat. Consuming lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, veggies and other wholesome items will do your body a whole lot more good that relying on processed stuff whose nutrition label ingredients read like a chemistry experiment.

“Many people successfully lose weight on diet programs that substitute packaged meals, shakes and bars, all full of fake ingredients, for properly-prepared, whole foods,” says Certified Nutritional Therapist Joanna Brown. “Once they try to re-enter the real world, they have not learned how to cook real food for themselves or gained any knowledge about portion sizes.  Before they know it, the weight comes right back on.”

“After this yo-yoing, so many of us develop an all-or-nothing mentality, where we’re either binging or dieting but don’t know how to maintain a healthy weight and enjoy food in moderation,” continues Brown.  “I really love the diet programs out there that use real food, with no artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, chemicals and preservatives.  When we lose weight with whole foods, we’re not just getting skinnier, but nourishing our bodies so we can live longer, have plenty of energy and be less susceptible to disease.  We have to remember that there is a big difference between being skinny and being truly healthy.”

Well, I couldn’t agree with Joanna more. That’s why I’ve compiled these four tips to help keep your diet real:

1)      Develop your own Food Rules

Rules are an interesting thing. Some people live to break them. A series of hypocritical books about dating rules taught women how to play games to land the guy – only to have the co-author get divorced. When it comes to food, the rules can be downright confusing. That’s why I really liked Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Filled with wry humor, this little book features practical advice for making daily decisions about what to eat. Like the debate between Chicken McNuggets and free-range bird, or a Big Mac versus a Banana. Wisdom includes things like “Avoid food products containing ingredients a third-grader can’t pronounce” and “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.” Today, my personal nutrition “rules” include avoiding processed foods, using sugar sparingly and treating fruits and veggies like best friends.

 

2)      Eat Your Colors

Eating something fresh and colorful at every meal does your body good.  That is because the colors of many veggies and fruits reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain, which protects against chronic diseases.   Most people have heard the guideline of eating five fruits or vegetables a day, but feel free to consume more. In January 2011, a study conducted by the University of Oxford found that people who ate eight or more servings a day of fruit or veggies were 22% less likely to die from heart disease. But you don’t have to go that far to lower your health risk. For every serving of nature’s goodness eaten above two per day, these super-smart scientists observed a 4% decrease in the rate of heart disease deaths. And we’re not talking about a small, skewed study conducted at someone’s family reunion. The largest of its type, this research featured over 300,000 participants.

 

3)      Make processed the last priority

It’s probably no surprise that an apple is better for you than an apple-flavored pop tart. Now apply that same thinking to other food groups too. For example, fresh ground almond butter is a beautiful thing, while highly processed peanut butter with hydrogenated oils and sugars aren’t doing your body any favors. A lean cut of beef from the grocery store – bonus points for grass-fed, by the way – will always triumph the meat entrée in a frozen dinner. Less is more when it comes to processing foods. Opt for the whole, fresh versions whenever possible.

 

4)  Pay Attention to Beverages.

Before you think this whole discourse is just about food, the same thinking applies to beverages too. Sticking to unprocessed drinks helps your wellness and waistline. Feeling angelic because you avoid regular sodas and only stick to the diet stuff? Unfortunately, that may be part of the problem too. In July 2011, the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions featured data with a potentially ominous message – diet sodas could contribute to weight gain and those artificial sweeteners they contain might put you on the road to Type 2 diabetes.

One study cited from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio tracked any association between consuming diet drinks and body fat over time. Monitoring a sample of nearly 475 participants, they found that people who reported drinking diet sodas had 70% greater increases in waistline growth than non-drinkers over a period of three and a half years.  Even worse, people who guzzled at least two or more diet sodas each day experienced waistline growth that was 500% more than that of non-drinkers. Yikes! No wonder water is always my first beverage of choice.

Want more info on keeping your diet real? Check out some of the helpful links below.

How important is making healthy food choices in your diet? What changes have you made to keep it more real in your diet?

Great Resources:

Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source – http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/

American Dietetic Association’s Public Information Center – www.eatright.org

U.S. Government Collaborative Resources – www.nutrition.gov

WebMD’s Healthy Eating and Diet Center – www.webmd.com/diet

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov

Eat Well (sustainable food) – http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home

Michael Pollan’s Website (great articles, resources and links) – www.michaelpollan.com

 

Can a nutrition “cleanse” help clean up your mind?

While many people wouldn’t blink at the thought of using a dry-cleaner for their clothes or a housekeeper for their residence, getting help to clean up their digestion and eating habits is another story.  Personally, I thought detox/cleanses were at best too extreme for my tastes or at worst, in the case of crazy fad diets, harmful to your body. But I just gained a big dose of enlightenment over the past week and now see how a cleanse can help clean up your mind.

The impetus was a conversation with my friend Ginger earlier this month, a beautiful redhead with a slender frame who spent most of her life as a total sugar addict.  Hearing her rave about the 21 day cleanse she completed with a holistic health coach was like witnessing a non-believer get religion. Yes, her very minor “muffin top”was gone, but more importantly, Ginger broke her craving for sugar, experienced an incredible amount of energy, had a level of clarity at work those bolstered productivity and just felt better overall. Color me impressed, but not enough to check it out further at the time.

That all changed eight days ago. You know that moment in Gone with the Wind, where a frustrated, post-Civil War Scarlett O’Hara dramatically hoists a turnip in the air and declares with God as her witness that she will never go hungry again? That’s the place I was – minus the ruined plantation and hoop skirt dress. I woke up tired of beating myself up about the eight to 10 pounds I regained several years ago, constantly counting calories and letting the number on a scale determine my level of self-esteem. Determined to get rid of this baggage and look and feel my best by my wedding next month, I knew it was time to take action.

So I opened my mind and investigated the cleanse, which is administered byCertified Nutrition Coach Linda Citron. I was surprised to see the 21 day plan let me eat proteins like fish and chicken, favorite foods such as avocados, steel cut oats and almond butter, whole grains and lots of veggies. Recognizing that support is essential, the process includes a 30 minute upfront planning consultation from Linda, a printed how-to manual with lots of recipes, thought-provoking questions to journal about and daily supportive emails.

I signed up for the experience and now, on day seven, I’m feeling wonderful. My clothes are fitting better and the sugar cravings are gone. What has also been great is how this cleanse has impacted my thinking. I’m happier, feel more balanced and have greater clarity about my career and passions.  After the cleanse ends in several weeks, I plan to share before and after shots and insight about how the cleanse helped clean up my life overall.

Have you made major changes in your nutrition or other areas of your life that lead to sustainable positive change?  Ever try a cleanse or detox effort and if so, what was the result?

 

Ten Foods to Never Eat: Easy Compliance or the Impossible Dream?

In the average American household, there is a lot of confusion about healthy eating. Some people feel virtuous when they opt for a bag of fried, processed veggie chips over the traditional Lay’s brand, or snack on mini ice cream bars versus a scoop of premium ice cream, even if eating five of those little suckers has more calories and fat in the end. That’s why I wanted to share this list of Ten Foods Never to Eat from Fitness Magazine, compiled from experts in nutrition.  But even if you know what not to eat, does that mean you are actually going to listen?

I opened the link with a bit of swagger, thinking most of these items wouldn’t cross my path or palate at all. Many didn’t, like margarine, soda, sugary cereal and processed baked goods. Others sure did though, like bagels, bacon and soy sauce. I eat these sparingly; we are talking about maybe two bagels a month tops, and bits of bacon that might be added to another restaurant dish or pizza topping for flavor every month or so. I’m not feeling especially guilty in writing this though, because a moderate approach seems to work best for me in weight loss maintenance.

What I’m curious about is the concept of “never” eating a certain food again. When I realized over 20 years ago that most of my calories were coming in from chocolate, I went cold turkey on the stuff and didn’t eat it for 11 years at all, not even when PMS struck. But I didn’t put a “never” label on it and added chocolate back into my diet in 2004 and did not end up suddenly regaining those 50 lost pounds. Now I feel that demonizing specific food products only puts the offending item at the forefront of my consciousness. Like saying “I won’t eat sugar” and then finding myself craving it constantly.

Do you have a list of foods you never eat? How has your compliance with that rule been – easy over time or an insurmountable goal?

When saying “no” too often triggers overindulgence

A few years back, Jim Carrey starred in a movie called “Yes Man” about a negative kind of guy who changed his life by saying yes to everything that came his way. Hadn’t thought much about it until now, when I realized that my constant efforts to say no to “treats” were causing me to crave them even more.   It made me wonder if carving out some room for regular indulgences can help maintain overall healthy living practices.

One of my goals this year is to embrace the best health and wellness of my life. I’m talking about the whole ball of wax here, with regular sleep and journaling for clarity getting as much attention as good nutrition and exercise. So at first, the food part of it sounded pretty simple. I would try to eat 100 grams of protein or more each day while keeping an eye on the overall calorie count. Avoid sweets like it is fashion advice from Christina Aguilera’s stylist.  Aim for five daily servings of fruits and vegetables while chugging down about 12 glasses of water during my waking hours.  While it appeared to be a sound plan, I forgot one very important aspect – the human factor. Trying to be “perfect” day in and out was causing me to crave some form of relief, usually in the form of sweets.

As nationally recognized Life Coach Michelle Goss explains, “The act of demonizing sugar or any particular food just gives it attention. Pressuring yourself to constantly say no can backfire, causing you to crave that item even more.”

So I chilled out a bit. Focused mostly on healthy choices while leaving the door open for measured indulgences – things like a quarter cup of trail mix with chocolate or a couple of chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. And when I did that, things have slowly gotten easier. Most days I don’t eat those item. But having the option there quells the rebellion before it takes place.

What is your current nutrition philosophy?  How do you balance healthy eating with indulgences?

Can Partnerships Help Reduce Childhood Obesity?

Partnerships can be a beautiful thing – just ask anyone whose buddy from that third grade field trip who kept them from being left behind, or check out how Thomas Edison’s collaboration with J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt’s brought his invention to a mass market. The same could now be true when it comes to tackling childhood obesity.  According to a September report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, some states are seeing declines in youth obesity from partnerships between schools and communities that focus on long-term education, better access to healthier foods and increasing activity levels.

After reading non-stop headlines on the growing childhood obesity crisis for the past few years, I was surprised and excited by these signs of progress. As noted in this Time Magazine story, places like New York, Philadelphia and cities in Mississippi and California are leading the downward trend. Okay, we already knew that the Big Apple is trying to take a more proactive stance and California has long been considered more innovative when it comes to healthy living. But who could have anticipated that Mississippi, one of the heaviest places in the U.S., or the home of cheesesteak sandwiches would make the list?

But there it was, news that Mississippi reported a 13.3% drop in childhood obesity and Philly saw the rates decrease by 4.7%.  Curious how this was achieved? Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Jim Marks, senior vice president and director of the RWJF Health Group says there is a pattern among the cities with the most significant declines. Most are implementing multiple, comprehensive programs that target both schools and communities by upping the availability of healthier foods and encouraging more physical activity and educational opportunities. “From this aggregation, it is clear now that any community that makes these kind of changes over a few years will see their children get healthier,” says Marks. “We have now enough places that have done this that we can confidently say to communities that if they make these changes, they will see these improvements and more we hope over time.”

That includes tapping into as many different venues where people eat and buy food as possible. For instance, since 1992 Philadelphia has worked with The Food Trust to help corner stores fill their shelves with fresher foods, bring better food to under-served markets, connect schools and farms and require acceptance of food stamps at farmer’s markets. Similarly, on the state level, the RWJF report credits Mississippi and California’s success to adopting nutritional standards in schools by offering healthier food, drink and snack choices as well as increasing physical activity requirements.

What role do you think partnerships will make in encouraging kids and people of all ages to improve their wellness? Have you participated in or created any in your community?

Thanksgiving Day Strategies from Weight Loss Success Stories

For most people, Thanksgiving is the caloric equivalent of a 24-car pile-up.  But this great American holiday of gratitude and togetherness doesn’t need to throw a hand-grenade into your healthy habits. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these Turkey Day strategies from some terrific weight loss success stories:

Hank Hanna, the hilarious soul behind The Business of Losing Weight Blog, has lost 110 pounds over the past 18 months by eating better, counting calories and exercising. In the process, he managed to become athletic and is now training for a half-ironman 70.3 triathlon next April. A food addict who recognizes that the daily struggles to eat well become harder over the holidays, Hank formulated his game plan in advance. His approach includes eating large portions of veggies, a little bit less lean turkey protein and then just a taste of the sweets. One of the 43.6 million Americans that AAA predicts will travel during Thanksgiving, Hank has already packed his running shoes and thought about handling the social expectations of overindulgence.

“I will definitely NOT blow it out at Thanksgiving and deal with the consequences later,” says Hank.  “Don’t let what others around you are doing affect how you stick to your game plan. It is easy to give in when your family is egging you on to have another helping or when they poke fun at the way you are eating. Remember that it is all worth it for the sake of your health.”

Vicki Lauter, who first started working out seriously at the age of 46, has maintained her 25 pound weight loss for over six years through regular workouts, personal training and making smart eating choices each day. Consistency has been the key to her success, especially when it comes to dealing with events like Thanksgiving.

“I look at holidays no differently than an average day,” explains Vicki, who will be celebrating Turkey Day this year out of town with friends. “Be consistent and make conscious food choices. Although Thanksgiving food may have a few more calories, I’ll just chose to eat what I really want and then pick up my workout the next day.  Yes, on Black Friday I will be at the gym NOT the mall!”

Here in our household, my fiancée, who is now training for his first triathlon after losing 30 pounds during the past year, has been banking his calories all week with the intention of enjoying all of the great food at our spread without guilt.  I’m definitely working out that morning and have arranged for salad and veggies to balance out the sweet potato soufflé and pumpkin pie that typically command all of my attention.

How do you handle Thanksgiving? Plan ahead or dive in full-throttle without any thought?