Monthly Archive: December 2012

New Year, New You?

With the final stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, many expect to be transformed from pumpkin to princess or rags to riches in the coming year. Dreams of betterment dance in our heads: to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier, save more money, find the job of our dreams…

While some of these resolutions may be realistic, others are outright unreasonable and unattainable. If you couldn’t lose 50 pounds last year or save $500 every month, then why will it happen this year?

I am not saying you should scrap your resolutions completely. I believe this is a great time of year to reflect on what you have accomplished in the previous year and plan for what you want to achieve in the future. Instead of calling these ambitions resolutions, let’s call them “S.M.A.R.T. goals”.

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.” ~Renowned American philanthropist Elbert Hubbard

Just what is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

It is any goal that is:
• Specific
• Measurable
• Attainable
• Realistic
• Timely/Tangible

For example, if you want to lose weight, then you need to decide how many pounds you want to shed and how long it is going to take you (be specific). You will need to weigh yourself weekly and take your waist and hip measurements to make sure you are on track (making it measurable and tangible). Make sure your goal is attainable, realistic and timely. A weight loss of 2 pounds per week is doable, but a loss of 40 pounds over 10 weeks is not.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help to reach your goal. Consult with a licensed healthcare professional to determine what is realistic and attainable for you. If you are trying to lose weight, he or she can help you plan meals, follow specific nutritional guidelines, develop an exercise schedule, and identify obstacles that prevent weight loss and ways to overcome them (e.g. support your thyroid gland, reduce stress, balance your hormones, prevent stress-related eating, reduce cravings, etc).

Don’t go it alone! Increase your chance of success by buddying up with a friend or family member for your workouts and/or for regular update meetings.

Try and try again. Don’t give up! Piers Steel, author of The Procrastination Equation and professor at the University of Calgary, discovered that it may take five attempts for a vow/goal to hold. The key to achieving your goal is to get right back on the horse. See each new day as a new start. Imagine, as an infant and then as a child, that you gave up trying to walk and then ride a bike. Life would be very different than it is right now!

It definitely won’t be easy at first and you will have to make sacrifices to achieve your goals. But the satisfaction of reaching your goal will keep you coming back for more.

“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” ~Sidney Howard

So let’s make this New Year one where you are a healthier you through S.M.A.R.T. goal planning. Come on, I know you can do it!

Happy 2012!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” ~Lawrence J. Peter

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Cheating (Sensibly) Over the Holidays

Temptation is everywhere…shortbread cookies in the lunch room at work, a dessert buffet at the office Christmas party, plus all of the baked goods you made at home that are supposed to be for Christmas Day. Where is your willpower when you need it? How can you continue to eat healthy over the holidays?

Luckily we live in frigid Toronto, where the style is over-sized sweaters and loose hanging scarves that cover up those few extra pounds many of us gain over the holidays.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are fed up with gaining the “festive five” over the holidays, follow the tips below to treat yourself without having to loosen your belt a few notches. You will be able to have your cake and eat it too, without compromising your waistline and health.

Get those zzzzzs. Sleep deprivation raises cortisol, a stress hormone, which makes us crave sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods such as cookies, cakes and desserts. When we don’t get enough sleep, we also release high amounts of ghrelin, a hormone that makes us feel hungry. Our bodies also produces less leptin, a hormone that makes us feel full. You’ll be fighting a losing battle if you get less than 7–8 hours of sleep at night.

Drink up. Our bodies can confuse dehydration with hunger. Make sure you are drinking at least 2 litres of fluid every day; herbal teas and water are best. This will help to keep your energy levels high and sugar cravings at bay. Try a herbal tea from your local specialty tea shop when you want something sweet. Some of my favourite flavours include rooibos mixed with cocoa nibs, coconut, vanilla and/or chai spices. Sip up and enjoy!

Bump up magnesium levels. Sugar cravings, especially for chocolate, may be a sign that you are deficient in magnesium. Stress, the birth control pill, alcohol, coffee, some medications, excessive sweating and a poor diet can all result in magnesium depletion. Eating foods that are high in magnesium, such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, sesame seeds, halibut, black beans, sunflower seeds, cashews and almonds will reduce your cravings. Talk to your licensed healthcare practitioner before taking any mineral supplements. Discuss the possibility of deficiencies of chromium and zinc as well, as these are needed for proper blood sugar control.

Don’t go hungry. Eat a well-balanced and healthy snack before going to a holiday party to ensure you don’t overindulge. Have a hard-boiled egg and some raw vegetables, snack on some hummus with vegetables, or eat an apple or pear with about 14 raw almonds or walnuts. At the party, focus on the sushi plate, vegetable platter, salads and small amounts of meat to stave off cravings for the sweets.

Enjoy what you are eating. Be mindful of what you are putting in your mouth. Treat yourself but don’t overdo it. Scan the room to see what desserts are available, then choose one or two that you would enjoy the most. Take your time eating the first one, noting the smell, texture, and taste on your tongue. Chew slowly and savour each bite. Give yourself some time before deciding whether or not you want another one. It takes time for your body to feel full from food, so if you wait before you have seconds, you will be less likely to want more.

So go ahead and cheat, without the guilt!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.