The number one question that I receive about wellness and eating right is, "so, where do I start?" The second, usually, is "well, what do YOU eat in a day?"
Here's the thing: as much as I would love to toss a few one-liner's at you, share my lunch with you, and change your entire life, it's not going to happen in five minutes. Wellness is a journey that we're all embarking on from completely different starting points with varying personal challenges. For some of us the transition will be easy, and for others it might not be. And that's okay! We've all been raised differently, we enjoy different foods, we work in different industries, we have different goals, we encounter different challenges, and our hobbies are different. What works for me might not work for you. What will work for you, though, is the path that you discover for yourself.
The number one thing that you can do, right now, is start. Do something, anything, to start your journey. Most people underestimate what they are capable of. Stop wishing and start creating! What brought you here? What is your goal(s)? How much do they matter to you?
Here are my top five wellness tips (number five is a freebie and a call-to-action at the end to help you get started). Oh, and if you really do want to know what I eat every day, I've started posting some of my meals and tips on my Instagram Stories! If you don't already, follow along @pandahamandah !
Keep. It. Simple. Eat the foods that we were intended to eat: the ones that grow from the ground or up in the trees! You can get these from any Farmer's Market, CSA, neighbor's backyard (ask first;)), or in the outer aisles at the grocery store. Bonus points for eating local and/or seasonal foods! Avoid foods that have been processed (think white bread (boo) versus whole grain bread (yay).. one of my favorite quotes is, "the whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead"), avoid foods that contain added sugars (choose an apple over bottled apple juice with added sugars and preservatives), and, for the most part, avoid foods that come in packages.
Eat the Rainbow.
Aka: eat a variety of foods! Every color gives us different goodness, whether it be vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, or hydration... we need it all! The easiest way to do this is to eat a rainbow every day (bonus if you can pull this off with every meal, but baby steps). Make it fun by tracking your rainbow (see the freebie below!). This is especially easy and FUN if you have kids: make a game out of it, and they'll be begging to eat their fruits and vegetables (I'm not kidding: I have taught every age, from pre-school to high-school. It really does work!).
If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you are already dehydrated! Not only that, many times "hunger" is actually hydration in disguise. Start every day with a glass (or two!) of water with lemon (lemon aids digestion). Carry a reusable water bottle with you and keep it full! Drink two glasses of water for every caffeinated drink (or alcoholic drink) that you enjoy. Better yet, find out exactly how much water that you, personally, need every day by doing some simple math (told you I'm a teacher!):
- Multiply your weight by Two Thirds (0.67)
Example: 130 lbs x 0.67 = 87 Ounces of Water Per Day
- Add 1.5 Cups (12 oz) of Water for every 30 minutes of exercise
- If you have a caffeinated beverage, double the size of the beverage to rehydrate
- Example: Today I worked out for 60 minutes and had one 16 ounce coffee.
87 Ounces + (12+12+32) = 143 Ounces of Water Per Day*
*which is a little over 1 Gallon (1.117), which is TOTALLY DOABLE!
Eat With Love
I wrote an entire blog post about this. Every single time you eat, eat with love. Be happy with every choice that you make, whether it's healthy or "not-so-healthy" (read more about that in the previously mentioned blog post). Food is our fuel, our nourishment, and our medicine, and we should treat it that way! When you eat, take the time to sit down, slow down, be grateful, and eat with all five senses. Chew slowly. Savor every morsel. Try closing your eyes as you chew: you'll notice every flavor and every texture. Whether you eat with loved ones or alone, enjoy every bite! When you begin to feel full, stop (the body doesn't tell us we're full for about :20 minutes, so if you begin to feel full, you are already overfull!).
Hold Yourself Accountable
Write down your goals. Make a plan, and make it happen. If it matters to you, you'll do it! Plan your meals, pack your lunch (or know of a few healthy spots near your work), track your meals, track your workouts, tell your friends, and track your moods. Don't count calories, count colors! When I work with clients, we begin by learning our patterns:
- What are our "go-to" foods? Which do we LOVE, which do we crave, and which do we just hate?
- Do we consistently skip certain meals (like breakfast)?
- Are we eating enough/ not enough?
- How do our meals, snacks, and drinks make us FEEL?
- Are we drinking enough water throughout the day?
- Are we sleeping enough? Are we moving enough?
From here, I ask clients to journal his/her eating habits and moods before/after eating for a week. Nothing is counted other than the foods consumed (drinks included). From there, we learn and we take action.
I recently created a Food Journal for someone I'm working with (see example below!), and would love to share it with you for FREE. The 3-page PDF includes a weekly meal planner (you can toss this on your refrigerator or on your desk), a daily food journal, and a notes page for daily reflection. When you download the file you can keep the size as-is (it will print out large, as a standard-sized sheet of paper), or you can print it at 50% so as to make it more of a "journal" size.
When you first journal (you can totally keep this up after you set your goals!), you should eat as you normally do, "good" or "bad." You'll only learn if you're honest with yourself and can truly see what habits you fall into! Sometimes, we don't notice our patterns until they are staring us in the face. It is then that we can take action, make changes, and shift towards our best selves! I hope this helps you begin your shift. Tag any take-aways, journal posts, or food pics with #theshiftwellness, I'd love to see them!
How To Use This Food Journal:
- Log the date at the top, and add any notes that you feel are important to know (for me, I note the classes/workouts that I have that day, which does affect the food & drinks that I will need).
- Track everything you consume, drinks included! Small handful of M&Ms? Log them.
- Remember to pay attention to your mood before & after you eat.
For example, I LOVE to grab vegan fast food, but when I previously tracked my moods I noticed that beforehand I would always be really excited and hungry, but afterward I usually felt lethargic and down. I realized that I ate this way when I was in a rush or having a stressful day, but that eating these "foods" only made my day worse after the few minutes of enjoyment I received from eating them.
- Track the colors that you eat (from natural sources! A bag of Skittles does NOT count) in the top right. You can color them in (fun), or just X them out. You'll start to learn which colors (antioxidant phytochemicals) you miss regularly, so you can start to add them in.
- Track your water consumption in the bottom left, and any caffeinated beverages in the bottom right. Again, you can color them in or simply X them out.
- The "brain" symbol is to track your sleep.
- The "dumbbell" symbol is to track your workouts. you can simply even put an X if you only care that you DO workout that day.
Get Yours Below!!