A Prescription for Overindulgence (Meal plan included)

A photo by Maciej Serafinowicz. unsplash.com/photos/BC49M6wl--8

We’ve all been there at one point or another.

One too many heavy meals eaten out, “treats”, glasses of vino, or late nights burning the midnight oil. Maybe all of the above? (*slowly raising my hand over here*)

Maybe it was a weekend away at the cottage, a beach vacation, or an endless stint of patio drinks in the summer. Or maybe life just got crazy busy.

You went off the diet, the protocol, the plan. You overate.

Maybe only temporarily, or maybe for too many days in a row. And well, now you don’t feel so hot.  At least not as hot as you know you could be feeling.

So what do you do?

Well speaking from experience I can tell you that most people do one of two things:

1. Keep on doing what they’re doing. They’re too far gone and there’s no turning back. The healthy eating and lifestyle will resume after (INSERT: the crazy week, the summer, the work deadline, the holidays, on Monday).

Or

2. Berate self for having no self-control. The new (overly restrictive) “clean” diet begins tomorrow. Swear off (INSERT: gluten, sugar, alcohol, dairy, coffee, and/or packaged foods) FOREVER!! Diet lasts exactly 3 days or until the next (INSERT: weekend, party invite, dinner out, holiday, work trip, cottage weekend, emotionally distraught day).

Sound familiar?

If you find yourself riding the pendulum from one extreme to the other (I know I personally did for years), I’d like to present you with a third option.

This is the exact prescription that I personally follow myself, whenever I have what feels like an overly indulgent period.

It requires no supplements or fancy food stuff.  It’s simple, but that’s the beauty of it, because if it was anything but simple it would be too easy to find an excuse to not follow it.

You just wake up one morning and quietly and discreetly put it into action – no tears, drama, or declaration to the world that you’re starting a new diet.

Because life is always going to happen. There will always be birthday celebrations, long weekends, work deadlines, and holidays. And it’s not to say that these events need to throw you off track, but if they happen to do so, then just keep coming back to the prescription (easy peasy).

In the end, it’s what you do repeatedly and consistently that will impact your body the most over the long run.

I suggest consciously following this prescription for a minimum of 2 days, but feel free to follow it longer.

My Prescription for Overindulgence

A few things first…

This plan is designed to:

1)    Break the pattern of unfavorable food and lifestyle choices

2)    Balance blood sugar levels and reduce cravings

3)    Get digestion running smoothly and reduce belly bloat

4)    Increase energy levels and break through lethargy

5)    Leave you satisfied without feeling hungry all of the time

 

Guidelines to keep in mind:

1)    You know your body best so use this prescription as a template and adjust it according to your own needs. This is what I personally follow.
2)    There are no specific foods you have to eat. The sample menu is provided for inspiration only. Swap ingredients based on preference and seasonality.
3)    With regards to point #2, if you’re highly active and/or lean, and weight loss isn’t a motivating factor for you, feel free to include more whole-food sources of carbs with your meals (i.e. sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, and fruit).

 

The Prescription (follow all 4 steps):

1) Drink more water

  • If you want peak energy levels, glowing skin, balanced blood sugar (read: fewer sugar cravings), and a well-functioning digestive system (read: regular BMs) then proper hydration is critical. Even mild dehydration can impair brain function, mood, energy, and leave you feeling constipated (on all levels).
  • This will be your main beverage throughout the day, and the very first thing you’ll have in the morning after waking up – yes, before your coffee (which you can still happily enjoy if you want).
  • The ideal amount will vary based on your activity level, how much you sweat, your diet, among other factors, but if you’re unsure then 2 liters is a good target.
  • Try adding cucumber slices, lemon, lime, or fresh mint to make it more enticing. Whatever it takes for you to want to drink more of it. Iced herbal tea is another great option for the summer months.

Note: Ideally during this prescription alcohol will take a back seat, but for those times when (for whatever reason) that’s not an option, a glass of dry wine with dinner is acceptable (hey, I’m just being realistic).

2) Eat lighter meals

  • Aim for 2-3 meals per day and build them around a good quality protein, some healthy fat, and lots of low-starch vegetables.
  • You can eat until satisfaction (no need to measure anything) but each meal needs to include the protein and fat component to ensure that you won’t be hungry a few hours later and tempted to snack.
  • Breakfast might be a smoothie, but at the very least lunch and dinner will include at least 50% vegetables or more.
  • Ideally, you won’t snack in between meals, but depending on the timing of your dinner you might find you require a late-afternoon or evening snack. I personally find it helpful to think of dessert as your evening snack and wait a little while after dinner to have it. (Note: There’s much more to this “no-snacking” principle which I’ll address in my next blog post, but for now, just know that you’ll be facilitating better digestion by creating space between meals, and you’ll also be conditioning yourself to be more attuned to your true hunger)
  • Limiting sugars and starches (carbs) for a while will naturally lower blood sugar and insulin (your main fat storage hormone), and will help keep your hunger and cravings for sweets at bay. Also, lowering insulin triggers the kidneys to shed excess sodium and water from your body, helping to get rid of that unnecessary water weight and bloat!

*Sample Meal Plan*

Morning: Smoothie made with frozen berries, unsweetened coconut milk, chia seeds, and a scoop of protein powder OR 2-3 eggs scrambled with baby spinach in coconut oil or butter, with a side of sliced tomato and cucumber

Lunch: Chopped veggie salad with cucumber, tomato, red pepper, zucchini, and olives topped with leftover baked chicken (or other protein of your choice) and dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt.

Dinner: Baked Salmon, sautéed broccoli, and arugula salad w/goat’s cheese

Dessert/Evening Snack (optional):  ½ cup of full-fat (plain) yogurt topped with raspberries and unsweetened shredded coconut OR a small handful of raw almonds with a few squares of dark (70% or higher) chocolate

3) Move More

  • It can be difficult getting back on track after you’ve lost momentum, but remember it’s only a matter of one workout before you gain it back. Think about that high you feel after a good sweat session (you know what I’m talking about) and let that be your motivating factor.
  • I usually find that a high-intensity workout is the best way for me to get back into the swing of things, but choose whatever exercise feels best for you. My current routine consists of a variation of different classes through ClassPass (HIIT, Barre, Reformer Pilates), the occasional run, and TONS of walking.
  • If you don’t currently have any type of structured exercise that you do regularly, or you don’t have access to a gym or club membership right now, don’t let that deter you from moving your body. At the very least get outside and GO FOR A WALK.
  • Fit it some form of movement wherever you can – in the morning, on your lunch hour, after dinner. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Every step counts! Remember: as long you’re more active than you were yesterday you’re still making progress. In other words, going for a brisk walk will always trump sitting on your derrière in front of the television ;)

4) Get More Sleep

  • Individual requirements will vary from one person to another but when you meet your sleep needs (for me that’s usually at least 7 hours, uninterrupted) you’ll function at your best. Get to sleep at a time that’s reasonable for you and your work schedule, but ideally, that will be before 11 pm.
  • Keep in mind that when you’re sleep deprived you’re more likely to make unsavory choices around food and exercise. Maybe it’s that quick pick-me-up in the form of a muffin at Starbucks, or that 3rd coffee you need to get you through the afternoon. And the after-work workout session? There’s no way you’re making it to the gym when Netflix and chill on the couch is calling your name and sounds so much more appealing. You get the picture. Make sleep a high priority!

Want a more simplified version of this prescription?

If nothing else, just remember these 4 things:

  1. More water
  2. More vegetables
  3. More movement
  4. More sleep

What would you add to this prescription? Share your own strategies on what works for you in the comments below!

All love,

Elaine

The Sexy Language of Your Body

BODY BY ORI ART

 

Stomach gurgles. Heartburn. Excess weight. Belly bloat. Creaking joints.

Sexy language? Hmm, maybe not.

Nonetheless, your body is speaking to you and it doesn’t like being ignored.

You’re not expected to always understand its translation, but you must at least attempt to hear it out.

If you’re not paying attention, now is the time to pull up a chair and LISTEN UP. (*double snap*)

YOUR BODY SPEAKS. IN. THE. LANGUAGE. OF. SYMPTOMS.

Brittle finger nails, check. Pimply skin, check. Stomach pain, check. Bloating, check. Excess weight, check. Frequent colds, check. Missed periods, check. Depression, check. Burnout, check. Screaming uterus, check. Every possible symptom under the sun, check, check, check.

Some symptoms shout a lot louder than others, competing for your attention. “Pick Me! Pick Me!” 

While some are completely manageable, albeit just a tad (read: extremely) annoying. Gurgling intestines, I’m looking at you!

The point here isn’t to make a goal out of achieving a symptom-free state of bliss where you never so much as even have to feel a whisper of movement from within. And it’s definitely NOT about shutting your body up from talking to you all together.

No way!

You want those pathways of communication clear and open, flowing smoothly right up until that very last day you breathe in your final sweet breath. Because how else will your body sound its alarm system after you’ve ingested some grossly contaminated food other than expelling it violently into the toilet?

The point is you need to listen, carefully. That’s your job: to remain open and curious about the language of your body, sexy or otherwise. Not to become complacent or let those symptoms run your life, or to chalk things up to being “normal” or part of the inevitable “joys of getting older”. (And just to be clear, it’s also not about subduing or muffling those symptoms with medications, although sometimes that might be necessary).

It’s about having guts, really. To put on that sexy little detective hat and step up to the plate to take an honest and hard look at how you’ve been living, and examining every area of your life with a fine tooth comb. Of course, it goes beyond just the food you put into your mouth, silly. You knew that, though.

It’s also about recognizing which areas need changing, and then having the courage to try changing them, should you deem that a worthwhile pursuit. And then, of course, having the humility to pick yourself up off of the floor (wiping the dust of that booty in the process) and trying again when you don’t get the results you had hoped for the first time around.

So…the moral of the story is: never forget that your body is always talking to you and that her mother tongue is the language of, you guessed it, symptoms (yes, it’s that good I must repeat it).

Pain is a call for change, but to change your endgame you’ll need to roll up those sleeves and do things a bit differently; because as you know, to keep on trucking along doing the same old thing but expecting different results is just crazy thinking. You instinctively know this though deep down in your gut. It’s just another one of the many ways your body is always communicating with you!

Until next time,

Elaine

5 Strategies for Keeping Healthy Over the Holidays

Holiday hangtime

This article is slightly adapted from the original version published here.

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the celebrations, parties and social gatherings. While many people equate this time of year with over-indulgence and getting off track with their health goals, this doesn’t have to be the case at all.

With the following tips, you can have your holiday cake (and eat it too!) while still fitting into the same dress size when the New Year rolls around.

1. Be Selective. You don’t need to deprive yourself during the holidays but set your standards high. Would you rather have the generic store-bought cookies that taste just alright, or Grandma’s homemade plum pudding served up with love? Skip the mediocre stuff that you can easily have any time of the year and save your indulgences for those few treats that you really look forward to enjoying over the holidays.

2. Keep it “Business as Usual” in the Daytime. Most holiday gatherings and parties tend to occur later in the day and around the dinner hour. If you can keep the rest of your day relatively “clean” and in order then you don’t have to sweat a few indulgences later on. Make it a point to get in as much of the good stuff earlier in the day with a heavy emphasis on veggies and greens.

For example, you could start your day off with an alkalizing green drink, snack on veggie sticks between meals, and make lunch a huge raw salad topped off with some quality protein and/or healthy fat. Don’t forget to hydrate with plenty of water and swap out some of those caffeinated drinks with herbal teas.

3. Party Smart. Fill your plate with plenty of salad and vegetable-based dishes and opt for smaller portions of calorically dense foods. Skip the fried hors d’oeuvres in favor of the vegetable crudités, olives, bean-based dips, and quality cheeses. Limit your helpings of carb-rich and sugary foods, which can negatively impact blood sugar, and balance them out with plenty of protein-rich foods like seafood and lean meats.

Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks, especially if you have many social gatherings lined up where you know you’re going to be drinking. Opt for wine or spirits mixed with soda water, and skip the sugary drinks and cocktails. Sparkling water mixed with a bit of unsweetened cranberry juice, fresh mint and pomegranate seeds makes a festive and refreshing alternative to alcohol.

4. Keep on Moving. Although the holidays can be busy, it’s not the time to throw your exercise priorities completely out the window. If you can stick to your regular workout routine then great, but at the very least commit to getting outside and walking for at least 20-30 minutes each day. If you’re staying with family recruit a walking partner to take morning walks with you, or round-up the troops for a post-dinner stroll and use the time to connect with your loved ones.

5. Start Each Day Fresh. Even if you do happen to go a little overboard indulging, this doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel until January. This is self-destructive to the core. Remember that each day is a clean slate. Get back on track as quickly as possible by reverting back to the tips mentioned above and you’ll be further ahead by New Years.

And lastly, if you need some extra motivation, keep this fun quote in the back of your mind:

“Summer bodies are made in the winter”

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

xo Elaine

 

5 Steps to Getting Results that Stick

Have you ever found yourself saying, “I know what to do, I’m just not doing it”?

Maybe you’re excited to start a new diet plan. This time is going to be different, you tell yourself.

You start off strong but then work suddenly becomes hectic, or maybe you go on a trip or spend a weekend visiting your family. In other words, life happens and gets in the way of your new plan to eat healthily.

We’ve all been there at some point. But here’s what you need to know.

The best health plan is worthless if you can't actually execute it in your real life ~ via @elainebrisebois Click To Tweet

That’s right.

You can know all the tools of the trade – know the best health practices, have a great meal plan – but unless you’re able to take consistent action, and not continually get thrown off course when life gets in the way (as it inevitably will) you’ll never get the lasting results you desire.

The reality is, changing our deeply ingrained habits and behaviors is no easy task.

It doesn’t matter if your end goal is weight loss, clearing up eczema, healing digestion or improving health markers related to blood pressure or cholesterol.

It’s tempting to want to overhaul our lives in one go. And sometimes that works for a while.

BUT if you’re somebody who continually finds yourself back at square one starting all over again with your diet, or unable to create healthy habits that actually work for your lifestyle, then please read on!

5 Steps for Getting Results that Stick

1. Revisit your “WHY”. So you want to lose weight. Great. Why? Grab a pen and paper and take 10 minutes out of your day to make a list of all the reasons. Looking great in a bikini is fair game but try to dive deeper. Come up with at least 5 or 10 meaningful to you reasons on why you want to lose weight. How will things be different in your life? Consider how not losing the weight is holding you back, regardless if those limitations are self-imposed or not.

Perhaps you want to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy, or reduce your risk for health complications like cardiovascular disease or Type 2 Diabetes later down the road. Maybe you just want to feel more confident in your own skin or make shopping for clothes a more pleasurable experience. There’s no right or wrong answers, but the reasons must be meaningful to you.

Now that you have your handy little list keep it somewhere safe. You’re going to refer to this list every time things get tough and you want to give up. This list will serve as your reminder as to why you started down this path in the first place. And no it’s not simply to torture yourself, you have a more meaningful agenda at play. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

2. Identify your Biggest Constraint(s). In other words, what’s that one thing that holds you back the most from experiencing the health you want. If you could just remove this one obstacle then things would be easier and you’d likely get results faster.

Is it your lack of organization or ability to prepare healthy meals for yourself? Is it the regular “drinks” out with friends that leave you feeling crappy the next day and constantly skipping your morning workout? Is it the daily coffee habit that exacerbates your IBS and leaves you feeling anxious? Is it the nightly stress eating or sugar binges?

You may have a long list of obstacles you believe to be holding you back, but it’s really important to zero in on the one (maybe 2) things that stand in your way the most. This isn’t always glaringly obvious and might require some investigative work, but once you’ve pinpointed it you’re going to make it your sole focus (for now).

3. Set Your Limits BUT Under Commit. This is where you commit to smaller actionable steps that move you closer to your end goal. But wait! Before you go committing to removing gluten, sugar, coffee, and alcohol all at once for 2 months starting on Monday – stop. Remember, you’re just choosing the one (maybe 2) biggest constraint(s) from step 2. This isn’t to say that you can’t handle more; you’re just not going to commit to doing more. It’s all in the semantics! This means you’re free to accomplish more, but you’re not going to make it a commitment.

It’s important to only make commitments that you’re 90-100% confident you know you can complete. In other words, before making the commitment ask yourself, “How confident am I on a scale of 1-10 that I can actually complete this goal”? If your answer is anything less than a 9, I encourage you to reduce the commitment to make it easier.

For example, let’s say you chose a lack of exercise as your biggest constraint from step 2. You might commit to working out 2 times per week for 30 minutes. Remember, you can always workout more than you say you will, but unless you’re absolutely confident that you can do it consistently every week don’t commit to more.

Another example might be giving up something, such as alcohol. There are a few ways you can tackle this. One, for example, might be to commit to only having 2 drinks per week (on the weekend only) for the next month. Then at the end of the month you’ll reevaluate. On the other hand, you might do better giving yourself absolutely no wiggle room at all because you know a few drinks might lead to a few more, in which case committing to no alcohol whatsoever for a set period of time might actually be easier for you.

You get to choose for yourself. The whole point is to only make commitments you know you can keep, knowing full well you can always up your efforts later once you have a few wins under your belt. Just remember:

Doing things well consistently trumps being perfect intermittently ~ via @elainebrisebois Click To Tweet

4. Reward Behavior NOT Results. While we don’t have direct control over whether the scale goes down 10 pounds by the end of the month, we do have direct control over our behaviours. This concept is sooo empowering because it sets you up for repetitive small wins that boost confidence and motivate you to keep on going.

For example, if your biggest constraint from step 2 was lack of physical exercise and you’ve made the commitment to workout for at least 30 minutes 2 times per week, then at the end of the week as long as you’ve checked the box 2 times on working out for 30 minutes then you’ve succeeded. Yay! This is why it’s also easiest to make commitments that are unambiguous – meaning either you completed it or you didn’t. There’s no gray area in between.

Now that you’ve got working out 2 times per week under your belt, maybe you’ll decide to boost your commitment to 3 times per week; or perhaps you’ll decide that 2 times per week is just perfect for you right now and you’ll move on to tackle a different obstacle, like that 3 pm coffee you know you don’t really need!

5. Get Support. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to join a 12-step program or hire professional help. The point is to set yourself up to win by eliminating any potential challenges.

It might mean nicely telling your co-worker to stop offering you her home-baked cookies because you’re trying to eat healthier and they’re just “oh so tempting”. Or maybe it’s letting your friends know that you’ve decided to cut back on alcohol for a while so they know to stop offering you drinks when you go out. It could also mean having a friend to go for after-dinner walks with, or to call when you know your tendency for emotional eating is at its peak. Having a nutritionist or coach who can hold you accountable and who you can regularly check in with can also be very helpful (*wink*wink).

In the end remember that it’s consistent action that will continually repel you forward and lead to lasting results.

Hope you found this helpful!

xo Elaine

As always, I love hearing from you. In the comments below, feel free to share your own thoughts on how you’ve successfully created new healthy habits that have stuck with you over the long-run. Also, if you found this post helpful, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it with somebody you know who could benefit!