How to resist temptation

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Has the weather in the Northeast worn you down yet? The US and Canada started 2014 off with freezing temperatures and polar vortexes that kept us in their grip for a solid 3 weeks. Now that we learned how to bundle up for all occasions, we get more snow and more to come. We have had colder weather than the arctic, big snow falls, sleet, freezing rain and then some. Usually our response to this weather is to turn to comfort. More precisely comfort food.

For some it is the hot chocolate, for others, savoury dishes that seem too heavy in the summer but now hold a certain allure. We drink more and vegetables take a lot more preparation to make them hot and comforting, so they can land on the back burner.

I'm no stranger to the effect that gravy, creamy dishes and sauces, roasts, pies and other sweets hold in the winter. Exercising in the cold weather is harder too, so is motivating ourselves to even consider it when there are only limited hours of daylight.

BUT: here is how to resist temptation with a few shifts in your mindset.

  1. KISS: keep it simple, skinny! I talk about routine a lot and it is true. The more your mind and body know what is coming (or not) the more reliably they will keep you on track. For example, if you eat a wholesome healthy warm dish of oatmeal in the morning on six days out of seven, then you will be less tempted to grab a quick muffin, egg sandwich or croissant on your way to work. The same goes for exercise. If you plan certain classes ahead and pack your bag, you're sort of forced to go.
  2. KO the sugar! I'm not saying you have to quit sugar all together. Although, it is certainly healthier. But if you start paying attention to white sugar in foods that is hidden, that is half the battle won. The simple carbohydrates don't do much more for your body than providing it with quick energy. We all have enough stored in our bodies to provide the body with that. The other problem is that while your body is busy digesting the carbs, other components of your food, proteins and fat, are being stored. Try and find alternatives, like honey or grab a piece of fruit before eating the chocolate bar.
  3. REM: Rest.Eat.Me(ditate)-Time! Not in that order but you get what I mean. Sleep is important in combating temptation and resisting it. I'm a compulsive snacker especially under stress. And I don't usually reach for an apple. When you get enough sleep and eat your last meal long enough before going to bed and then supplement that with 15 minutes of quality time for reflecting, the chances are that you will be less frazzled and make healthier choices.
  4. DIY: do it yourself i.e. cook! We all lead VERY stressful, busy lives but especially in the winter, our choices for takeout can be dumb. When we prepare our own food, we know exactly what goes in it. It's a beautiful thing to cook, to savour the aroma of dishes, to share it with partners and friends and it prolonges the process of enjoying it, too. If you live alone, cook and then freeze things or have regular potluck lunches with colleagues so you can sample some of their food.
  5. Check your MO: as in moderation, as in fallback plan! We can't always resist temptation but we can limit the amount of indulgences that we give in to. The easiest is to not keep too many unhealthy food options around the house. Or have them in individual packs. When the urge is big, make it a ritual that you enjoy. Reward yourself, have a great experience and then move on with your day and week. For example, have one row of a chocolate bar, have a few spoons of ice-cream, eat a slice of pizza and please spare yourself the guilt afterwards. This may just be my humble opinion, but I'm pretty sure guilt will make you fat ;)

Now, all these tricks are for when you are at home. But we are no hermits. Whenever you are out in public and temptation arises, remind yourself of the awesome things that you have in store for yourself at home. When you go to a party, try and keep normal meal portions in mind, then increase them by a little because it's a special occasion but keep paying attention if you start to feel sluggish, heavy, bloated or tippsy. Chances are that is just the prelude of how much worse you'll feel the next morning...

I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments how you resist temptation. Pass on this article if you liked it and come on over to Facebook and like my page.

Have a wonderful rest of your week!

xxR

12 Strategies to have a great new Year 2014!

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At the end of the last year, I spent a few weeks in Australia. Now the sudden drop in temperature from 34 C to 34 F plus jetlag has tested my body's resilience to stress and attacks on its immune system. I'm slowly acclimatizing and relaxed and recharged I wanted to share my go to list with you for a great new year 2014.

  1. Start anywhere: Around the New Year, we often get bogged down in expectations and resolutions lists. I say, don't get overwhelmed on New Year's Day by the gazillion things you feel you need to accomplish right away. Most likely you'll be tired after celebrating. So start anywhere... have a healthy late breakfast, do some yoga or go for a leisurely run. There are still 364 days in the year to come.
  2. Make a plan: They say slim people usually eat in a pretty boring way. It keeps your diet simple and less room for too much over-thinking (i.e. cravings, etc.). This doesn't mean that you should eat the same thing every day. But eating at set meal times, and keeping meal sizes the same from day to day along with keeping healthy staples at hand and a healthy exercise routine, will change the way you look and feel.
  3. When in doubt, meditate: Meditation can be done in many different ways, IMHO. Its health benefits are undisputed and clearing one's head is generally a good idea. Whether you have a set time and place each day to sit and breathe or if you swim/ run whilst solving the world's problems, find that me time and focus inward.
  4. Don't restrict yourself: On MBG's recent list of wellness trends to watch in 2014 they mentioned that the strict view on gluten, alcohol and other ingredients of life would probably loosen up! Amen! I think healthy eating is very individual and needs a lot of experimenting. There is no one-size-fits-all. Ultimately you have to be mindful of the quality of the things you bring into your life. Whether they are food groups or relationships.
  5. Foster healthy relationships: I have dealt with deceptive people and it wasn't nice. It was also very hard to break free. However each one of these relationships has taught me something... Now my gut usually tells me early on what to do. We are overwhelmed with the amount of people and information that we are surrounded by. Pick and choose and make sure you spend quality time with the people who add the most (love) to your life.
  6. Read and Write: This is a petpeeve of mine, but seriously. Have you recently read a book? Not just an article online, a buzzfeed post linked on Facebook? Have you picked up a pen and written a thoughtful note, a letter or postcard? Maybe in the future, we won't need to anymore, however I would rather receive a love letter than an email. And smelling a book still excites me more than a kindle... Just sayin'.
  7. Spend time in nature: Yes, the local park counts. But try and be mindful of the time you spend there. Even in the winter, you can go for a walk. A friend of mine suggested hiking with our dogs in the summer. Time flew by and the landscape was breathtaking... and literally breathless, we got good exercise in, too. Nature's beauty gives us a different perspective on urban life, with its wide unpopulated areas which is very calming.
  8. Act in a respectful manner: Listen rather than speak, hold the door for someone, sit down for a meal and leave the phone in your bag. Manners have changed, there are a lot of things we would need to add to classic etiquette with subway seats and cell phones on tables. But the underlying sentiment is still the same. Make things easier for someone else, listen to them and make them feel appreciated and it will come back tenfold.
  9. Look forward not back: I am the queen of what-ifs, shoulda, coulda, woulda and regrets. It's a hard thing to shake. However, what's done is done. If you have hurt someone and are aware of it, apologize and make amends. However if all the looking back is about life choices, STOP! Nobody's perfect. Nobody's expected to be... You can make better mistakes tomorrow :)
  10. Listen to music: Regardless of what kind of music you like but it will usually have some effect on you. When you are tired, it can wake you up, music will push you through a run or other exercise, soothing music will help you release sadness or anger. Classical music may help you study or work. Go on now, switch on that radio, iTunes or Spotify and enjoy.
  11. Stop fretting about the future: Again, check no. 9... I am learning to live and be present. To lay the groundwork for things to happen but not forcing them to. I am learning to let the best outcome come to me, whether that is what I expected or not and accept it. It is hard and it takes time. And I won't always know why a disappointing outcome may not have been good for me if reversed... But the things that come in its place are looking to be pretty good!
  12. Go mirror-less: Have you noticed that when you go away on a vacation, you can probably go for a full day without really looking in the mirror? Well if you don't do that, try it! I'm sure you can do your morning routine and then resist looking in the mirror and checking on your appearance too often. It feels good! Trust that you look good, feel what your body needs (hand cream, lipbalm, a glass of water) and stay away from the selfies for a few hours...

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy 2014! xxR

Super Easy Recipe for Dinner: Rice with Pomegranate

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This is a super easy recipe for dinner, especially during hectic weeks: rice with pomegranate. I know it sounds odd but it is such a flavourful dish, you will want to eat it every day! Boil 2 cups of rice that you like (I like Jasmine rice, wild rice or pilaf) according to instructions on the box and let it cool slightly. In the meantime, de-seed the pomegranate. It's nice to use them fresh and you find them everywhere right now (at least here in New York). There's a tutorial on the Huffington Post on how to de-seed a pomegranate like a pervert. Or you can buy the seeds :)

I like to use the whole pomegranate and mix the seeds into the rice. Season with 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, juice of 1/2 lemon and if you enjoy dairy, 2 tablespoons of Lebanese Labneh (strained yogurt). It's my new obsession, my friends call it the Lebanese ketchup and it's very healthy. I have used it previously in my Quark Dessert. Season the rice with salt and pepper.

This dish can be enjoyed by itself or as a salad by adding greens like kale. You can also use it as a side dish for roast chicken.

PS: I took this beautiful photo from Pinterest because my result didn't look quite so pretty...

I hope you enjoy it!

xxR

New Beginnings - How to embrace them

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I have only been back in the training business since April this year and I'm loving it. Not being tied to a desk and working as a personal trainer is the best thing that has happened to me. With summer coming to an end and a new moon happening tomorrow, I only found it apt to reflect on new beginnings and the past few months.

"A New Beginning usually happens at the end of another New Beginning"

On September 5th we will have a Virgo new moon, which is here bringing into alignment and integration all we have been learning and growing into. We have been going through some deep shifts as we birth our new selves into being, shedding our skins in favor of  more authentic forms… (see this article on the Mystic Mamma blog).

For the last month or so I have been feeling this shift pretty intensely, After an initial 3 months of excitement, new things, new clients, I reached a plateau, which is good but I'm not quite where I want to be yet. I have more goals for the future, both practically such as finding a great indoor space to work at in the winter as well as where my personal growth is concerned. Part of that personal growth is to embrace patience and impermanence.

Even though I am not always fond of new beginnings/ change, I like new moons, they feel cleansing, powerful, like a clean slate. I have used them in the past to re-evaluate, to get back on track and to listen deep inside me to see if I'm still following my intuition. And with each new moon, usually something happened, sometimes bigger, sometimes subtle but always valuable. So I'm excited to see what happens after tomorrow.

Each new moon that I consciously paid attention to, has also taught me a thing or two. Here are 5 things that I continue to find valuable:

  1. Change makes us uneasy but since it is happening anyway, embracing it, is the easier path.
  2. Someone has been in that situation before and has experience but that doesn't mean that the way they dealt with it, has to be my way.
  3. Patience means resting assured that if it's not the new beginning that we wanted this time, it will still happen in the future.
  4. Trusting that the best possible outcome for us will happen, is something we can learn from the "Urvertrauen" (basic trust in the goodness of existence) that children have.
  5. Getting rid of some old stuff, baggage etc. is GOOD and feels even better.

My next four weeks will be dedicated to training for the 5k race that I mentioned recently (see below).