Sunday, July 20, 2014

Journaling and Goal Setting

In my holistic health coaching practice, I encourage journaling.  Journaling is a great way to track progress, to monitor things like food intake, (types, amounts, frequency, etc.), exercise, blessings  received, and whatever else comes to mind for the summation of any given day.  It’s a wonderful life-giving habit to acquire and stick with long term.

Also in my practice, I work with others as they set reasonable, attainable short term goals consistent with their long term goals. Together we track the goals, monitor them for success, and in some cases, re-work them for an even better outcome.

Where am I going with this?  Precisely to encourage a new partnership—journaling and goal setting.  Continue to set those goals, for sure, but commit them to paper now, and keep them handy so that you can work in the journaling part as you go along, and watch the successful outcomes roll in as never before! 

When you write down your goals, you’re laying the first brick, or planting the spring seed, so to speak.  The ongoing recording of the process of working those goals, bringing them into  being on a day to day basis can help you achieve them  in several different way.

First, by setting a few minutes a day, every day at a predetermined time to write about your goals, you are guaranteeing that you will spend at least that amount of time each day thinking about those goals and how you are going to achieve them.  In other words, it’s time that you’re going to spend “tending your garden.”

Second, a journal allows you to record your progress.  If you’ve encountered setbacks while trying to achieve an important goal you may be feeling discouraged. Writing about your experience can help you to keep motivate to keep moving forward as well as to see the progress you’ve already made toward the achievement of your goal. Also, if success has been hard to come by, reviewing the process may help  you uncover what, precisely, isn’t working.  Then, by making a small adjustment in timing, or amount, or another variable, you’ll be right back on track to achieving your goal.

Third, a journal is evidence of past success.  Before you start working on a new goal, it’s a good idea to sit back with some of your old journals and read about your past successes.  Doing this will give you motivation to work on a new goal with a feeling of certainty that it too will be achievable.

Fourth, having a set time during which you’re going to write about your  goals each day keeps you accountable.  Nobody wants to sit down and write: “I did absolutely nothing o move closer to meeting my goals  today. Knowing that this time of reckoning will occur every day will help you in the “having something positive to say” department.  You’ll like that!

Finally, writing daily about your goals helps you to identify possible obstacles that you may encounter, and create an action plan on how you’ll deal with those obstacles when they arise.  Then, when a obstacle does appear on your path, you won’t be blind-sided or caught off guard about it.  Rather, you’ll know just how to deal with it.

Journaling of all sorts is a good thing.  Goal setting is a good thing.  Combine these two things can be a powerful tool for achieving those goals, helping you to achieve your health and lifestyle ideals.    Begin your Goals Journal today!

And if you’re interested in having additional support and encouragement as you work to achieve your most healthy and vibrant self, visit my website at to learn more about the benefits of working with a certified health coach. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

9 Ways to Conquer Sugar Cravings

Sugar is a sizzling hot topic right now with the release of the new documentaries “The Men Who Made Us Fat” and “Fed Up.”  I saw the latter, which was a great compilation of things I’ve seen before about the great sugar excess, and some material that was new to me.  It’s a great film, narrated by Katie Couric, and I hop you’ll all try to see it.  It’s very well done, and shines a bright, bright light on the relationship between the food industry and the epidemic rise of obesity and diabetes among American children.  Powerful film, I tell you!

While it’s easy to blame the food industry for much that  is wrong with the  food we eat in this country, (and much of that blame is well deserved!), one of the invitations of this documentary is for individuals like you and me to take a look at our own sugar intake, and how we, as consumers, are complicit, albeit indirectly, in the problem of sugar excess.  I have often said that each bite we take makes us either part of the solution or part of the problem.  Even if our sugar intake has reduced gradually in the last few years, as it well may have, it doesn’t hurt for us to look again, to do a review, lest we get complacent….

Sugar has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.  It’s a leading factor in excessive weight gain, inflammation, and unhealthy skin conditions.  It is also associated with mood swings, bulging middle sections, bloating, and afternoon energy slumps.
We are genetically programmed to enjoy sweet foods.  In their natural state fruit, for example, has many vitamins, minerals, and plenty of fiber.  The problem is that the highly processed granules and syrups that are added to much of the food that  we buy are highly addictive.  Following are some ways to manage our relationship with sugar, so that it is not in the driver’s seat of our lives, always beckoning us to have more and more of it.  Consider these helpful tactics to gain better control over the sneaky stuff.

1.  Eat lots of nourishing foods, particularly in their raw state.  Increase the amount of dark leafy greens and other vegetables.   When your body is truly nourished, that is, receiving all the nutrients that it is searching, the voice of sugar will not be nearly as demanding when it calls.  Sugar cravings can be eliminated by a more nutrient dense diet.

2.  Drink more water.  Soft drinks, soda, energy drinks, and packaged fruit drinks are typically loaded with sugar.  Additionally, sometimes sweet cravings are simply a sign of dehydration.  Before you reach fro the sweets, drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes.  The craving may just disappear.

3.  Reduce caffeine consumption.  The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, which can cause sugar cravings to become more frequent, more pronounced.

4.  Eat sweet vegetables.  Pumpkin, corn, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, healthy, and delicious.  Packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, they’ll keep you satisfied for longer, and will help to curb your cravings.  Also, try some coriander, mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.

5.  Use natural forms of sugar.  When the idea of a “real” dessert is irresistible, you’ll do yourself a big favor by avoiding artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar.  Enjoy some fresh fruit, or foods sweetened with dates, organic maple syrup, or coconut sugar or syrup.  The less refined sugars you eat, the less sugar you will crave.

6.  Avoid the fat-free and low-fat labeled foods.  They compensate for the lack of flavor from fat with high quantities of sugar, which will assure you a seat on the roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.  Foods high in natural fat, such as coconut, avocado, nuts, and seeds actually reduce sugar cravings while they balance hormones and feed the brain and skin.  Don’t believe the marketing ploys and make better friends with whole foods, which are much better life companions anyway.

7.  Get moving.  Even ten minutes of walking or yoga a day to begin with will help  to balance blood sugar levels, boost energy, clear the mind, and reduce tension.  All of these things will eliminate the need to self-medicate with sugar.

8.  Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation.  Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, are the most readily usable forms of energy for an exhausted body and mind.  Sugar is a quick form of energy in a chronic state of stress and/or sleep deprivation.  Getting adequate rest will save you from this toxic, never-ending, unhealthy cycle.

9.  Find sweetness in non-food ways.  Cravings – especially for sweets – often have a psychological component.  Is it really more fun, adventure, affection, or freedom that you crave?  Be good to yourself.  Check to see what’s out of balance in your life.  Treat yourself.  Reward yourself in ways that don’t involve food, especially the sugar-sweetened kind.  (Seeing the movies I mentioned above will give you encouragement to become more of the solution to the sugar craze in this country than part of the problem.)  When life is sweet enough, you don’t need sugar additives.

Please feel free to leave comments below  I’d love to hear from you about some of your sweet cravings --- what they are, and how  you’ve managed them.

Have a wonderful July 4th weekend!