Now, as much as I love this time of the year, we are faced with huge obstacles. Comfort food, sugary drink concoctions, cookie baking parties (I already had to talk two clients down off the cookie dough ledge!), high-glycemic white foods, and of course, the “food pusher” who brings it all to you. You know who I’m talking about. That person who shoves the dessert plate in your face and won’t leave until you’ve tried at least 3 different varieties of the same sugary concoction.
Yikes! Don’t let this be you!
Since we are sitting right smack in the middle of the holiday season, I thought I’d share a few ideas with you for 6 Holiday Strategies you can implement right now to make sure you have the tools necessary to stay on track this holiday season despite the parties, food, shopping, and stress. So kick back, relax, and take a few moments for yourself!
If you’re going to drink… Look, you know I’m all about helping you reach your health, fitness, and weight loss goals. So my normal answer to this would be “Just Say No!” But alas, it’s the holidays and what you need is a survival guide…not perfection. So if you are going to drink, stay away from creamy and sugary drinks. Your best option is red wine. Your next best option is a high end white alcohol, like Grey Goose. Stick with 1 (no more than 2) glasses, and drink 1-2 glasses of water for each glass of alcohol.
Go Nuts! Go Bananas! Keeping some nuts and a piece of fruit in your purse/brief case/car, could save you from actually going bananas and overdoing it at your next meal. Think about it. You’re out and about shopping all day long, then it’s off to pick up the kids, run another errand, and then the next thing you know you’re STARVING. You’re going to do 1 of 2 things here. 1: You’ll go for the quick fix (aka: Starbucks and pastry) to tie you over before dinner, or 2: you’ll try to “be strong” and SKIP your snack, only to find yourself famished by dinner and then eating everything in site. Both of these scenarios could be totally eliminated if you simply PLAN AHEAD and pack an apple and some almonds. There it is. Done. And now you can get on with your afternoon.
Set your goals right now and focus! Look. we all know that when you have clear and precise goals in mind, then all the other stuff just goes away. What do you want for yourself this holiday season? Is it to look smashing at that special party, or actually make it through the season without feeling like you’re in a food coma the entire month? Imagine NOT waiting until January 1st to get focused.
3 Polite Bites might be the answer. I was just in Orlando for a business meeting with other amazing fitness business owners all over the country and my tell-it-like-it-is super-coaches. We all went to dinner and at the end our server brought out these great little desserts. There were at least 12 of them, but all were in very small little shot glasses, and all equaling about “3 polite bites”. So I had some. I enjoyed the evening, the meal, the company, and even the dessert without going overboard. Another scenario: When Aunt Ester is pushing the fruit log down your throat because it seems to make her happy, simply give it “3 polite bites” and be on your way. Aunt Ester is happy and you didn’t blow it on a fruit log.
Pay attention to how hungry or not hungry you are. This might the trick of the century. I actually wrote a blog about this very important concept this past summer after going back home for a visit and finding myself at two different family reunions in a 36 hour period. But here’s the gist, most of us don’t pay attention to the very basic instinct inside of us that tells us when we are hungry and then when we are full. Often times we eat when we are not hungry, over eat past satiation, and then 30 minutes later when we’re rolling away from the table, we wonder why we just didn’t put the fork down sooner! Start to measure yourself on a scale of 1-10. 5 means you’re neither hungry nor full. 4,3,2 means you are becoming more and more hungry (hint: try to NOT get below a 3 or 2, which can lead to eating the entire fridge!). And even more importantly, notice if you are a 6, 7, or 8. If you’ve hit these numbers of “fullness” then don’t eat! Just wait until you get hungry again. More details can be found here.
Make it a priority to move your body this holiday season… Having a plan to move your body most days–no matter what you choose to do–will have a profound impact not only on maintaining your weight this time of the year, but also help to increase your energy and decrease anxiety and stress. As much fun as this time of the year can be, it can also bring a crazy schedule and loads of stress. Making movement a priority will give you a sense of peace and contentment as you move through the holiday season.
Have you ever sat in the absolute back seat of a commercial plane? I’m talking about the last row, where the seats don’t recline and you’re right next to the bathrooms.
Well, that’s where I am right now as I write this to you. On this plane, the jets cover the windows, so you can’t even see outside.
I’ve just spent the past 5 days in “The Big D”, (aka: Dallas), mixing some family time with a business trip. I tackled 2 (yes….TWO) big family reunions in one very long weekend. It’s always good to see my family, young and old, who travel from all over to be together for this short spell. There is always waaaayyy too much food, including my grandmother’s homemade ice cream, which when it’s about 100 degrees outside, is the only thing I really wanted to eat. : )
Sharing a meal with some of my crazy family : )
In my nutrition coaching programs, one of the first things I teach is “How to gauge the hunger scale”. And with the incredible amount of BBQ Brisket, Tri-tip, 7 varieties of potato salad, that weird pink fluffy “salad”, 3 different homemade cobblers, banana pudding, a birthday cake for my Great Aunt (who celebrated her 90th by the way…) and of course, homemade Big Red ice cream, this particular hunger scale came in very handy this weekend.
HOW TO MONITOR YOUR HUNGER AND FULLNESS
Most people don’t take the time or even bother to check in to see what’s really going on in their body. They eat because it just happens to be time to eat, or because everyone else is eating, or because some emotion evokes an eat-everything-in-sight moment. This is not a judgment against you (or myself for that matter), but a cold-hard fact. Putting nutrition aside, if you are not at your body’s natural weight, it is because you (your mind) are eating when you (your body) is not hungry.
And a full weekend of buffet style family reunions can be looked at two different ways: one, is of horror, while you eat everything in sight, completely unconscious of your body’s communication… or the other is option is to view it as an opportunity to tune in and listen to the subtle messages your body is giving.
YOUR CHOICE! (Don’t you love free will?)
THE SCALE, from 1-10
1: Get the *&*&%* out of my way…. I. Need. Food. NOW!!!
(just a side note…this is a totally rotten place to be. When you get here, usually it’s a sign of your blood sugar dropping way below normal and you will stop at nothing to get some food in your body. At this point, often consciousness is gone, and it is extremely easy to overeat reaching a 9-10 on the hunger scale in 5 minutes flat…yikes!)
2: Okay…I’m dropping too low, I can really tell I’m hungry.
***Eating somewhere around/between 2-3 is ideal***
3: More than just a little hungry
4: You’re starting to feel a little hungry. It’s just below neutral, so it’s subtle. Nothing crazy here, so if you pay attention, you notice the very subtle feeling.
5: Is “neutral”. You are neither hungry nor full. Maybe this is where you are an hour or two after eating.
6: Is just above “neutral” in terms of fullness.
7: Feelings of satisfaction with the amount of food you’ve eaten. You can tell there’s no more hunger, and feelings of over-eating are also not present
8: This number is easy to get to, when you’ve decidedly moved to a 7, and then even just 1 or 2 bites more and….BOOM…you’ve reached an 8. The fullness factor has increased. (ps… this is not easy to pay attention to if you are hooving food in your mouth at a rapid pace. Slow down grasshopper…. put that fork down. Breathe. Get your monkey mind to connect to that hot body of yours!)
***stopping somewhere between 6-8 is ideal***
9: Oh boy…you’ve ignored (or just flat out didn’t realize) your body’s very subtle clues and have passed the point of no return. : ) Now you’re on the couch ready for a nap.
10: You know the feeling you get when you ate too much dinner, then kept snacking in the evening, and now it’s time for bed and it just hurts to even lay down? It’s like you turn to one side, but your belly stays over there! A very unpleasant feeling, indeed, brought on by unconsciousness and neglecting your body’s very gentle and subtle feedback systems that tell you you’ve had enough. But, it’s ALL good (even the bad)… there’s always tomorrow. : )
Here’s how it works:
Your body is miraculous and does not fail you. If this belief does not come easy to you, then it will be difficult to believe that your body actually does give you the right messages…it’s just your job to pay attention!
Start tuning into your body and really listen to the clues it gives. This is difficult at first, but over time becomes easier and natural.
Each time you are about to grab for food—whether it’s mealtime, snack time, or cravings/compulsions time—ask yourself if you are really hungry, and then give yourself a number from the scale.
What this does is open your consciousness to decipher what’s really going on inside. Are you stressed? Lack of Sleep? Are you eating because it’s just time? Are you truly hungry?
Once you dig deep, you might realize you’re not hungry at all! Then you can use your free will to decide if eating whatever it is will serve your body, your purpose, and your greater good.
Or you might figure out that you are indeed hungry and it’s time to eat.
If you decided it’s time to eat (you’re below a 5 on our scale), now comes the fun part: Paying attention while you are eating!
Notice while you are eating if you are on auto-pilot or if you are taking your time. Notice if you can put your fork down occasionally and pause in the middle of the meal. And most importantly, can you notice as you slowly move from below 5 and into the 6, 7, or above range? And more than noticing…can you stop with happiness and content before hitting those higher numbers? If you can’t…why not? What’s going on there?
Look… I realize this isn’t rocket science….
But nevertheless, most people find it difficult to stay conscious enough to let this process occur. Start practicing before the big party, and let it be your guide everyday. In our nutrition coaching programs, this is one of the many methods we use to get you the results you need and deserve.
MY PERSONAL STORY
This might have been my best trip to Texas. As most of you know, I’m not a big fan of deprivation. If you “go on a diet”, there is an equal and opposite binge waiting around the corner for you.
But using this scale and staying present, in the moment, conscious (whatever you want to call it), I enjoyed all the foods from my family, eating when I was hungry, and stopping when I was full. As for my Nana’s homemade Big Red ice cream, the small bowl I savored s-l-o-w-l-y, might have been the best bowl I’ve ever eaten.
Because it’s really not the ice cream I want. It’s what the ice cream represents. It’s the feelings of a hot, humid summer afternoon, sitting on the porch swing, hanging around with my grandmother and family, listening to the kids play, and my great aunt’s laugh. It’s the full realization of the moment, taking it in and savoring every sight, sound, taste, and touch. That’s what I want….and unconsciously eating 3 bowls of Big Red ice cream won’t get me anything but an upset stomach. And most importantly, what I was really craving—connection with my family—would never have happened because I would have been too busy stuffing my face instead of feeding my soul.
And how did I do it, and how can you do it, too?
By getting a little mechanical with your life and implementing a system that works. The hunger scale above combined with mindfulness just plain works. This is the stuff we teach in my nutrition-coaching program. Working with a coach (as I have found out for myself) can literally catapult you into a new level of consciousness.
Now it’s your turn: Share below your conscious experiences connected to food… AND even your let-it-all-loose eat what ever’s in sight! (because when it’s all said and done, neither is better than the other, but both are powerful learning lessons if you want them!)
I’m fresh off of an epic downhill mountain biking weekend in a cute little mountain town called Downieville.
I just love it up there, where I can jam on my bike, spend the rest of the day reading and napping, then fall asleep to the sound of the river and crickets!
Big smiles after an epic day of bombing downhill! I have a fun video on my facebook page if you want to check it out: audrajeanbaker
This past year and half has been a huge time of personal growth and internal shifts for me, and at some point this past summer I thought to myself: “SH*T! I don’t want to do this anymore!”
And then I thought, “SH*T! …. Really? I don’t want to do this anymore?!? WTH?
I was feeling burnt out, resentful, and not wanting to tackle the day-to-day checklists that are required for running a successful business.
I was confused by my reaction because I absolutely love what I do. Putting together Be Fit Boot Camps and having the most **Amazing** clients and members is the coolest thing ever. And for crying out loud… I’ve gotten to travel over 4-weeks this summer… what’s my problem?
Well this month has finally brought me some clarity. I’m smack dab in the middle of an intensive Yoga Teacher Training, and starting another course at the Institute of Psychology of Eating (which offers a TOTALLY different approach to teaching nutrition and weight loss). It was somewhere between a Downward Dog and a Back Bend that it hit me:
I love Be Fit Boot Camps… but now that it’s running smoothly, my PASSION is to be able to help you, my clients and Motivation Monday subscribers to make healthy, smarter nutritious choices not only on your plate, but also in your day-to-day life.
While I’ve been tallying up all these Nutrition degrees, certifications, personal growth and experiences… I haven’t been bringing any of it to fruition as an offering to you.
As soon as I figured that out, everything shifted! These internal shifts and my interpersonal growth have everything to do with sharing my knowledge with you.
So here’s what is PASSIONATELY coming down the pipeline straight from my heart to yours:
1. You’re going to see a New & Improved LIVE version of my 30-day Clean & Lean Challenge offered to you over the next few weeks. It’s perfect if you are in a space of being really ready to take action with your food and lifestyle in order to make big changes in your health and weight. (you can see more of what I’m talking about here)
2. In October, I’m going to start rolling out my Vibrant, Healthy & HOT nutrition coaching program. This program will ABSOLUTELY NOT tell you “what” to eat. Because you and I BOTH know that true, permanent weight loss AND living in a body that feels comfortable, strong, and alive has NOTHING to do with eating this “good” food verses that “bad” food. This program will once and for all end the internal battle and struggle going on in your head and heart. No matter if you have 10, 30, or 100 pounds to “lose”. The extra weight is the symptom. The diet you go on is the band-aid and can never get to the root of what’s causing the weight gain in the first place. Vibrant, Healthy & HOT will cut to the heart of the matter completely changing your relationship to food and to yourself.
In the comments section on the blog, I am dying to hear about a time in your life when everything just clicked and you KNEW the path you HAD to take.
I just had to share this with you, because this very selfish act is making me feel like I’m coming back to life.
So for the past few Weekends I’ve been volunteering at a kitchen that feeds hungry and homeless people. This is something that’s “been on my list to do”, but you know… life happens.
And considering I teach nutrition and work closely with clients in the realms of food, weight loss, and nutrition, I felt that I needed a different perspective.
Looking at food from a completely different lens, from the lens of people who truly go hungry, gives me such humbleness and grace for not only everything I have, but especially access to local, organic, real food anytime I want.
One gentleman came up to me after his meal and said, ‘Thank you so much for bringing joy into my day… you’ve made it that more bearable to be homeless one more day in the Tenderloin.”
Well, thank you sir very much, but what he doesn’t realize is he just lifted my spirits to an all time high.
The few people I’ve shared this with keep telling me how self-less it is, but I am telling you… The feelings I get are of extreme satisfaction, joy, and peace… and I will selfishly return to experience these feelings again and again.
And then I realized something…
I’m pretty sure I’ll selfishly get to the same elated state by helping you.
So lets get this ball rolling : )
You already know I teach nutrition and weight loss from a holistic and non-dogmatic perspective (no diets here), and now I want to how I can serve you?
So… is there anything I can do to help YOU?
Click here to tell me what you’re struggling with so I can “Motivate your Monday”, as we like to say :) I’ll be reading every response that comes in so I can continue to provide as much value as possible in upcoming “Motivation Monday” Videos. : )
Audra : )
P.S. I’ve spent this year in a pretty deep (and quiet) contemplative place, all while spending quite literally thousands of dollars on continuing education in realms of nutrition, weight loss, and specifically how to help people lose weight from a psychological, emotional, and spiritual perspective. Bottom line? Whatever diet you’re on will never work. We have to dig deeper and get to the root of matter. If you’re ready then make sure you leave your burning questions and struggles here.
P.P.S. If you’re interested in knowing more about where I’ve been volunteering, check out their program here. They make it super easy to volunteer, and you just can’t beat the high!
(unless you’re smoking crack… but then my guess is you wouldn’t be reading my newsletters if you smoked crack… so just go volunteer… it’s healthier anyways. : )
I am deep in the heart of East Texas spending time with my family for our bi-annual family reunion out at my Aunt and Uncle’s lake front property.
It’s pretty much station vacation out here. The weather is surprisingly awesome (90 as opposed to the typical 107 degree days!) and spending some quality time with my family is always great.
Two of my favorite people in the world, my brother and his wife, drove in from North Carolina and they look amazing. My brother looks like he’s glowing. He’s always been lean and athletic, but today he looks like my yoga teacher, long and lean! He’s actually leaner than I’ve ever seen him, and well… no joke… he’s glowing!
Paddle Boarding with my Bro!
About three months ago they made a huge life decision to change their diet to a 100% plant-based diet.
Now coming from Texas, there of course was a little controversy at the family reunion dinner table when everyone was eating ribs and brisket, but they brought their own food. (Check out the pic!)
I turned into a pseudo-vegan while hanging out with my Bro and his wife… yummy!
And as a Nutritionist, this is a question I get a lot. To eat meat or not to eat meat? That is the question….What is the answer?
First, I think it’s you need to understand a very important point:
Diets are like religions.
Once someone finds something that “works for them”, it’s pretty hard not to share their discovery. They’ve experienced it first hand and so it makes sense that they would completely believe in it’s ability to do for you what it did for them.
(Read the paragraph above with the word “religion” in your head, then read it again with the word “diet” in your head…the two really aren’t that much different!)
But as I know there are many different paths to God, there are also many different paths to nutritional freedom.
And that’s great. But there are as many diets out there in this world as there are people! And if you look at “science” or “research”, you’re going to find just as convincing evidence that will back one type of diet (don’t eat meat) as you’ll find for a whole other type of diet (eat meat).
So as I dig deeper into my schooling at the Institute of Psychology of Eating, I realize there are actually only 3 types of “diets” that you should be concerned with and if you can keep it in this perspective, you’ll have more peace and confidence in your daily food decisions.
This is the type of diet that works for you and your life day in and day out. It’s sustainable for your activity level, your happiness, your lifestyle, and your peace of mind.
This type of diet is great if you have a specific disease and need a specific way of eating that will help in the healing process. There are many experts out there promoting very good therapeutic diets, but the problem lies in our attachment to it.
We think that because the diet worked for this period of time to help with this particular disease, then IT MUST be what I should be doing forever.
This simply is not the case.
Lets take for example, the Pritiken diet, which is low protein, low meat, and very low fat. People with heart disease would go on this diet, and they would literally reverse heart disease. I mean that’s a BIG DEAL! Can you imagine your belief in a diet if it actually reversed heart disease in your body? Awesome right?
But what happened to the people who kept eating this way for months and years later (after the therapeutic effect) is they actually got sick in another direction. They ended up with clinical fat deficiency. Their hair and nails were thin and brittle, they had flaky, dry skin, and because of the inevitable hormone imbalance, they were often very moody and irritable. (This often leads to weight gain even when you are eating minimal calories and fat.)
Fasting can also be an extremely therapeutic diet doing wonders for your health… but can you live on it? Hell no!
So the key is to notice what diet can maintain you day in and day out? What’s a therapeutic one? Once the benefit is there, you stop.
Experimental simply means, “lets try eating this and lets see what happens”. Many of the different diets, supplements, and food products on the market today haven’t been around long enough to know what effect they really have in our body’s.
We are literally part of a huge food experiment when we partake in eating foods with artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or take different supplements.
And there’s nothing wrong with that! I’m not bashing this… I think it’s great! Because we get to choose what we want to partake in!
This is where you get to use your judgment, wisdom, intelligence, and insight… and you ask, “is this the kind of experiment I want to partake in?”
Do I want to eat artificial sugar (color/preservatives) even though it’s only been around for a short period of time?
Do I want to consume dairy even though my family lineage never drank it?
Do I want to eat a vegetarian even though my ancestors never did?
Now you have the power to make smart decisions for yourself. You can think, “hmmm… I could follow this diet for 4 weeks, and I may be able to lose some weight, or heal my gut, but then I know I’ll have to do something different afterwards.”
And this is what makes nutrition so exciting. There really is no one way of eating. What matters most is to build upon your nutritional and body wisdom to know what is right for you. And when I use the word “know”, I don’t mean to know it from your head. You Know it from your gut, and your heart.
So back to the original question: should you eat meat or not?
From a nutritional standpoint, if you choose to eat any animal product at all, the best thing you could do for your health is to make sure you are choosing quality. Organic, grass-fed, free-range. Know your farmers and know your ranchers.
And if you are choosing not to eat animal products, make sure you are getting enough protein in the forms of vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans/legumes, and quality protein powders like hemp or pea, while limiting the amount of soy. (It’s so easy to over use soy-an overly processed estrogen mimicking food.) And take care not to overload your diet with junk carbs (breads and pasta’s) and tons of “vegan donuts and cupcakes”.
And the best thing you could do (in regards to health) with either choice is to eat more plants.
But when it comes to making the decision for yourself, there is a Knowing deep in your heart (and yes, in your gut!) that only you can know.
So go out there and eat some cow! …. Or don’t!
What are you up to these days? Maintenance? Therapeutic? Experimental? Do you have strong feelings one direction or the other as to whether you should eat meat or not? Share you comments below:
Transformation and Giving Back… it’s what life is all about : )
Happy Monday Morning!
You wanna know what inspires me more than anything else?
Well, two things actually.
First I love listening to other people’s success stories. Not just health and fitness, but with anything.
When someone has been faced with a challenge or obstacle in their life and have faced it squarely, chosen the curvy, less traveled unpaved road of transformation, and come out on top despite numerous odds, I get tears in my eyes and Goosebumps all over… because this is surely the juice that life is made of!
And even though we get all caught up with the “final product”, like an “after picture” or “Now they finally have their degree”, or “Now they’re sober”… I think what’s really inspiring is not the final product, but everything that had to happen to get to where they are now.
Every shift in body, mind, perception, heart, and soul…. that’s where the juice is.
And it’s usually not very sexy.
This is what I loved about story of one of our winners of the 21-day Charity Boot Camp we just wrapped up. There’s only so much transformation that can occur in 21-days, but what I loved about her story wasn’t so much that yes, now she can fit into her dream wedding dress, or that she has more energy, or that she dropped 7.5 total inches over the course of the 3-weeks…
All that’s great. But when she said:
I realized that the most critical piece was simply completing the 21 days and putting “MY 100% into the program. Whatever resulted from that was simply icing on the cake.”
The journey is always what gets you there. The blood, sweat, and tears. The transformation of thought and the willingness to do what you know you need to do despite not being in the mood. And truthfully…. ESPECIALLY when you are not in the mood.
How are you going to show up right now… TODAY on your journey?
Inspire someone (yourself?) today by facing your obstacle squarely, and CHOSE the curvy, less traveled unpaved road.
Love, Audra : )
PS… the second thing that inspires me is giving back! Saturday was not only the wrap up of our 21-day Challenge, but also our Pushup for Charity event! Check out the quick fun video and if you are moved, support our cause to help our wounded warriors coming home from war!
"Hey there hottie! I'm Audra. What? We haven't met? Well, my most delicious + juicy introduction begins with Food, Sex, and Dirty Little Secrets. Interested? You can grab the guide here and start getting real with yourself so you can live in a body you proud of, and experience a more meaningful life filled with deep love and connection."