when I was a young woman excited to be out skiing for the very first time. I’ll spare you the gorey details, but long story short, my first time skiing ended with a torn meniscus and ACL. Ouch is an understatement.
Those injuries lead to all sorts of interesting things, and frankly, if it hadn’t been for that experience, I wouldn’t have learned half of what I know about health and nutrition. But surely you can understand why despite being a New Englander, skiing is NOT my favorite cold weather activity.
So every winter, I get to face the same annual challenge you’ve likely faced too: How do you stay active during winter if skiing and snowboarding aren’t your thing? That’s exactly what we’re chatting about today.
Here are a few winter activity ideas to get your wheels turning. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but I hope it’s enough to spark your creativity!
Just to be clear, I DID try skiing again after my knee heeled up. No fear! But despite the fact that later attempts at skiing weren’t quite so tragic, it still wasn’t really my thing. So, I decided to try out a variety of other winter sports.
Turns out, I’m a big fan of snowshoeing! Have you ever tried it? It’s an awesome way to scratch that hiking itch in the middle of winter. I’ve got some woods behind my house, and it’s great to be outside, check out the winter scenery, and get a workout in all in one go sometimes.
“But Dawn,” you might be thinking, “That sounds COLD.” I’m there with you—despite living up north, I actually really dislike cold weather. But honestly, it’s easy to forget how chilly it is once you’ve been moving for a few minutes. You expend a big burst of energy with every single step when you’re snowshoeing, and it’s easy to get lost in the fun!
If downhill skiing terrifies you but you still want to join your friends at the lodge, consider cross country skiing. Popping on some cross country skis and exploring the winter wonderland around you is actually a lot easier than you think. If you have a local bike path that gets covered in snow, that could be a great option for safely cross country skiing in your own neighborhood. Alternatively, some ski resorts offer prepared cross country tracks.
Wondering whether you can still get a workout without all the hills? Don’t let the flat landscape fool you. You’ll get a killer workout with this one, I promise.
If you’re REALLY not interested in being out in the cold, you can always go with the old reliable answer: working out inside. Personally, I’ve figured out how to get a variety of great workouts without heading outdoors. I’ve got a road bike trainer in my basement to get in some cycling—you could also consider a treadmill or elliptical, of course. Check out local classes: pilates, yoga, and aerobics all get you out of the house but still allow you to stay out of the weather. Try out a new gym (bonus points if it offers a heated pool or sauna). Search online for some at-home workout inspiration. Head to the mall before store hours and walk a few laps there with a friend or co-worker. Exercising indoors doesn’t have to mean getting bored!
So those are some of my go-to winter activities . . . I’d love to hear some of yours! Leave me a comment letting me know some of your favorite ways to stay active when it’s chilly out.
If you’re interested in hearing some more of my fitness tips and nutrition tricks, I’d love for you to join my Facebook group! Never Diet Again is free, fun, and an awesome source of accountability and information.
Until next time, I’m your nutrition coach, Dawn McGee, and what I wish for you is that you live a life you love without being hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner. Cheers!
Posted - 3/26/19 (Tue) Read more...
Is it just me or does this time of year always seems to drag on a little bit longer than the rest of the year? While we get more and more excited for spring and ready for warm weather, Mother Nature seems to take her sweet time deciding when spring will actually arrive.
Especially for those of us who live up north, winter is likely far from over. It can really take a toll on our bodies, minds, and attitudes. We can get depressed and even notice physical symptoms—our shoulders inch closer to our ears, causing stress to our neck and body.
If you need a push to get you through the last of your winter blahs, read on! Today, we’re covering tips on how you can recharge during winter time. Just a note—these same tips can really be used anytime you find yourself in a bit of a slump or feeling overextended. I just think they’re extra important to remember this time of year. :)
1. Take a Reading Break
Sometimes you just need a mental break. One quick and easy way to get this break is by reading.
When I’m traveling, I always make sure to have several books downloaded and ready to go on my Kindle. Sure, I read lots of educational books about health, business, and other useful stuff, but I also like to choose a few that are just purely for fun. Whether you’re into personal development, fiction, or non-fiction, don’t feel bad about budgeting time to read things that just make you happy. When you start to feel overwhelmed or like your brain is turning to mush, take a little reality break and escape into a good book.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a new read to boost your motivation, my book 365 Days of Healthy Living is great for a quick pick-me-up!
2. Prioritize Mental & Physical Self-Care
You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: Self-care matters. Personally, I like to combine a few self-care favorites to get the most bang for my buck, so to speak. When I’m home, I love to put on my favorite face mask and sit upside down (on the floor, on my back, with my legs propped against a wall or my bed). I usually read something on my kindle while the facemask sets and enjoy a solid half hour of “me-time.”
This is a super simple routine that anyone can do in a short period of time, but it has big benefits. It relaxes you mentally, but it also does a lot to recharge you physically.. Lots of women (myself included) retain water in their feet, calves, and ankles—laying this way allows that fluid to drain easily and generally leaves you feeling lighter and more energized.
3. Self-Massage Is a Lifesaver
One of my very favorite things in the world is my knobby self-massage stick. With all the traveling I do, my lower back gets tight, and that often extends into my legs, knees, feet, neck, and shoulders. If I’m not careful, I start to notice that my whole body hurts.
The knobby self-massage stick is a great way to get relief. If you’re interested in hearing more about this technique, I’ll cover this in a lot more detail in my upcoming course, Reclaim Your Life, One Bite at a Time. It’ll be available soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for tha!
However you like to relax, the important thing is to make time for things that leave you feeling recharged. When you feel yourself slipping into that winter funk, just take a little time for yourself and don’t feel bad about it! As moms, it’s easy for us to get caught up in caring about everyone else’s needs, but as the old adage says, “You can’t pour from an empty vessel.” Take care of yourself first!
These are just a few of my personal favorite ways to recharge, but I’d love to hear from you, too! What are some of your favorite ways to relax and recharge? Let me know in the comments! And let me know, too, if you decide to adopt any of these practices this week. :)
If you’re enjoying these tips and would like more hands-on attention from me, I have just a few spots left in my pilot group for my Reclaim Your Life, One Bite at a Time program. Drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more.
Until next time, what I wish for you is to live a life you love without feeling hungry, deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner. Have a great week!
Posted - 3/19/19 (Tue) Read more...
I don’t know about you, but from where I stand up here in chilly New England, March 20 (the first day of spring!) can’t come soon enough. Who’s ready for sunny days and fresh produce? I sure am.
Of course, along with spring comes spring break, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, and a ton of other reasons to celebrate! While this is a fun time of year for many of us, it also offers us many temptations.
The truth is, every single season brings its own challenges and cravings. If your kids are going to be home during spring break, you might want to take them out for ice cream. If you’re lucky enough to be headed on a tropical spring vacation, the umbrella drinks will surely be calling your name. And whether you celebrate Easter or not, you’ve inevitably noticed that those Valentine’s candies have already been replaced by Peeps, Cadbury eggs and chocolate bunnies. Spring is FULL of challenges.
So I thought today would be a good chance to talk about how to handle cravings when the temptations are everywhere and you’re itching for a sweet treat. How do we deal?
Like we talked about last week, sometimes the best answer is: go ahead and have the treat! Then, get right back on track. Remember—don't make it a whole splurge day, and don't beat yourself up about treating yourself. Just enjoy it.
Make sure you have some protein, fat, and carbs when you enjoy your treat so it doesn't spike your blood sugar. In return, this will help prevent a blood sugar crash, which would cause you to crave more and more treats.
That’s it--just drink your water! Drinking water is such a simple thing that we often neglect. It can make a big difference, so hydrate!
You can even make it part of the spring break fun! My family always loves a good game of beach volleyball, but even if that’s not your thing, you can take a walk, ride bikes, or go swimming. Movement keeps your digestion moving, your metabolism high, your bones strong, and all sorts of other good stuff.
That's it for my quick tips today. Whatever your plans are as we head into spring, have a lovely time, keep your nutrition in mind, and be kind to yourself! My hope for you is to live a life you love without being hungry, feeling deprived or giving up your glass of wine with dinner. Cheers,
Posted - 3/12/19 (Tue) Read more...
As we all know, Valentine’s Day just happened. And whether you love the holiday or hate it, one thing is for sure: The holiday of love comes with a whole pile of nutritional challenges. Boxes of chocolates? Check. Fancy dinners? Check. Cocktails with girlfriends? Check. Valentine’s parties at your kid’s school, at the office, and heart-shaped cookies everywhere you turn? Check, check, and check.
But honestly, it’s not just Valentine’s Day! It’s Girl Scout cookie season. It’s almost spring break (hellooo, margaritas). It’s life in general. Sometimes it seems like the world wants us slip off plan, doesn’t it?
Fortunately, I come to you today bearing tidings of great joy (sorry, wrong holiday):
There seems to be a common misconception that good health means no sweet treats, desserts, or indulgences. I’d like to debunk that right now. Maybe that works for some, but for most of us, trying to entirely deprive ourselves of our favorite “junk foods” is a one-way ticket to eventual failure. Even the most dedicated healthy eaters need a break now and then. I know I sure do.
That’s why I’m putting my foot down. I’m taking a stand. It’s perfectly fine, perfectly accepted, and in fact, even EXPECTED and NECESSARY to incorporate treats into your regular healthy routine. You’re welcome.
Now, of course, that probably means something a little different to all of us. One woman’s idea of a splurge might be having that extra cocktail every other weekend; another’s might be enjoying a giant piece of chocolate cake once in a blue moon. For me, it helps to set up some guidelines. These rules might be different for you, but here’s a look at the rules I follow when I’m strategically adding treats to my plan.
Choose high quality treats. I’m not going to have a piece of some random cake and then think, “Gee, that wasn’t really worth it.” If I’m having cake, I’m getting the most primo, moist, delicious cake I can get my hands on. If chocolate is your thing, make sure it’s rich, indulgent, amazing chocolate. A bite of a half-stale Little Debbie cake that happens to still be in your cupboard just won’t do, friends.
Ditch the Guilt. If we’re doing this, then we’re doing this. We’re not half doing it but feeling bad about our decisions tomorrow morning. We’re not doing it but saving it as a tool to beat ourselves up with later. If you’re planning to enjoy a treat, ENJOY it! Then, move on to your next well-planned, balanced meal.
Integrate Treats Between PFC Meals. Picking up where that last rule left off, it’s important to stack your treat in between two PFC meals. Why? Immediately jumping back on track will keep your blood sugar from going crazy and, perhaps more importantly, will keep you from experiencing that special hangry/cranky/tired combo that comes from a sugar crash and leaves you craving even more chocolate. Veering off course for a moment and then steering yourself right back onto your normal nutritional path will keep you stable and energized.
Go buy a box of Samoa cookies. Warm up with some hot cocoa. Whatever floats your boat. Just be smart about it!
As for me, I’m more likely to go for red wine, cheese, and crackers than dessert, but I do love to have really high quality chocolate occasionally. I usually try to steal a bite of my kiddo’s molten lava cake when he’s not looking to keep my portions in check. ;)
Another great idea, if you’re a chocolate lover, is signing up to be a Godiva member. Now I know what you’re thinking--that sounds like nutritional suicide, right? But every single month, Godiva members get one free truffle. Just one. And it’s ridiculously delicious. Sometimes, all you need is that one super-flavorful bite, and membership programs like this one can be a great way to sate your sweet tooth without having to order a whole dessert.
What are some of your favorite treats? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, what I wish for you is to live a life you love without feeling hungry, deprived, or giving up your glass of wine (or slice of cake!) with dinner.
Posted - 3/05/19 (Tue) Read more...
All month long, we have been talking about setting SMART goals. I realize that I may have given you the impression that if you set SMART goals, you are 100% guaranteed to make them. While you have certainly insured your success at a higher percentage, there's no guarantee. Life happens, for sure, to all of us.
What do you do? One of the reasons why it’s important to make our SMART goal measurable is so that we can measure and say, "Hey, did I make my goal?" But what if the answer to the question is a resounding, nope?
As you may or may not know from my social media posts, I recently embarked on a 90 day clean eating challenge. I started January 1 (Happy New Year!) and my first goal was to lose five pounds and lower my body fat percentage by about two percent by the end of January.
As a nutrition coach, it’s sometimes difficult to admit when I fall short of goals, but in all honesty, that’s exactly what happened this time--I didn't hit it. By the end of January, the scale had not budged at all. Now, that was fine by me; I lost a lot of bloat and slimmed down by a couple inches. I lost about one percent body fat, which is great because that means my workouts are effective. But, technically, I didn't hit my goal. Bummer.
So, what do you do if you set a goal and don’t hit it? Do we throw up our hands and say, "That’s it! I'm all done." Or do we reset, start from where we are, and continue from here?
Take a couple of minutes to breathe. Don't worry about it. The reality is, that which is measured can be improved.
When I didn't hit my goal, the first question I asked myself was, how was my eating? Did I choose the right foods? In my case, food wasn’t the issue. I did a good job choosing healthful foods and eating clean. Was I 100% consistent in the midst of all that? No, but 75% for sure.
Next, I asked myself if there were any extenuating circumstances that could have affected my progress. When I reflected on the month, I realized I’d been traveling A LOT during that time. I also caught a stomach bug, which certainly didn’t help.
That led me to examining my movement over the month of January. In the course of all that traveling, I spent one week in California. While there, I sat through a lot of meetings: keyword, sat. And of course I didn’t exercise while I had a stomach bug. My body needed rest, and I did my best to give it that rest.
Given that I was traveling and sick, my intensity definitely could have been higher. However, as nice as it would have been to hit that goal, it was crucial to go a little easier on the workouts during January so I didn’t injure myself or cause myself to stay sick longer. I’ve only just gotten back to exercising at a higher intensity, and the last thing I want is a setback. So yes--my intensity could have been higher. But I made the right choice for me in the moment, and that’s something I can work on going forward.
I said, "Okay, here's where I am. I'm feeling good, I've lost inches, I've lost bloat. The scale didn't move. My body fat percentage moved a little bit. What can I do to make a difference? I'm going to continue eating clean, and I'm going to add a little bit of intensity to my movement."
The next morning, I added in 15 minutes on my elliptical. It's not a lot. It's not like I'm planning to add an extra hour each day--that wouldn’t be achievable. But 15 minutes a day? Totally achievable.
It's simple--I've got an elliptical in my house.
It's measurable--I’ll do this five days a week for 15 minutes a day. If I don't get to do it in the morning for some reason, I can do it in the afternoon or the evening. It's just 15 minutes.
Is it realistic? I think it's realistic. I will be traveling again some this month, but I am staying at hotels with gyms so I don’t expect that to be an issue.
And finally, it's time-based. I'm specifically looking at this next month. I'm not expecting overnight results--that's just not the way life works. There is no easy button, there is no magic pill to take. It takes persistence and consistency.
If you didn't hit them, let's look at where we are today and set our goals for the next month. Don't look at where you wanted to be and set a goal from there. Set a goal from where you are today.
That's it for now--stay tuned for next week’s conversation about something we all love: treats! For today, what I hope for you is to live a life that you love, without being hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner.
If you’re enjoying this content, I hope you’ll check out my Thrive VIP group where I have a live Q&A every month, we have guest experts, and I’m available to answer questions in our group anytime. The investment goes up in March, so take advantage of 2018 pricing now. You're also welcome to join my free group, Never Diet Again--this is a great community if you're looking for a little extra accountability, health tips, workout and recipe ideas, and nutrition advice. :)
Posted - 2/26/19 (Tue) Read more...
In my work as a nutrition coach, I’ve just about seen it all. Sure, I’ve had some clients who were young, active, had great metabolisms and just needed some guidance. But most of my clients have been people whose metabolisms have slowed over the years, whose careers make it difficult for them to find time to eat every three hours or exercise regularly, and who come to me feeling bound to their unhealthy choices by the ins and outs of their everyday life.
Today, I'd like to share a little story with you about how one client of mine adapted his goals into SMART goals that fit his specific circumstances. His job made eating throughout the day particularly challenging--not only was he busy, but he was a busy sales manager who spent his whole day on the sales floor, where no food was allowed.
Still, he was on a mission to clean up his eating habits and get his metabolism humming again. So we set to work figuring it out. That’s not to say it was easy--at first, transitioning from rarely eating throughout the day to squeezing in six small meals seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. But like I said: he was determined.
And so we tackled his obstacles one at a time, and the first question that had to be answered was, How was he going to fit in his mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals? Rather than just saying, I don’t know but it has to be done, we opted to adjust his routine one tiny step at a time.
First, we decided that instead of aiming to eat two extra meals during every work day, we’d start by trying to incorporate one extra meal on three out of his five work days that first week. For him, that seemed simple enough. It was certainly measurable--one meal, three days. It was achievable--we put a plan in place and decided that if he had a pre-mixed shake ready to go, he could easily pop into the break room (or in an emergency, into the restroom) and have a quick snack. It was realistic--the plan didn’t affect his ability to do his job, didn’t require him to spend a substantial amount of his time at home doing food prep, and didn’t alter his lifestyle in any meaningful way. And finally, it was time-based--we decided to try it for just one week to see how it went. Once that week was over, we would assess the situation and adjust for the week ahead.
Going about meeting his goals in this way really gave my client an opportunity to succeed, to relish his success, and to build on that. And that’s really the key for all of us when we’re putting together goals. Success builds upon success, and who doesn’t want to be successful at meeting their goals in both the short-term and the long-term?
For that reason, I want to encourage you to take everything you’ve learned about SMART goals over the last few weeks and really examine it as it applies to your life. Do you need to include some extra steps in your plan to accommodate for difficult circumstances? Do you need to spend some time creating a realistic strategy? It might not be immediately easy, but succeeding is absolutely possible!
If you're looking for additional support, I invite you to come join me in my free group, Never Diet Again. Once there, you’re more than welcome to ask me any questions you have! I'm always happy to help you set goals and set yourself up for success.
That’s all I’ve got to say for this week, but I'll be back next Tuesday with more tips and tricks you can use to be healthy in your everyday life. Until then, what I hope for you is to live a life that you love without being hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner.
Posted - 2/19/19 (Tue) Read more...
Hey there! I don’t know about you, but the cold weather sometimes makes it difficult for me to stay focused on my health and fitness when all I really want to focus on is snuggling up on the couch with a hot bowl of soup.
On a similar note, I wanted to talk to you today about setting SMART goals for movement. In my last post, we talked about what “SMART goals” are and what it means to set them. Now, we're going to extend that information to thinking about how we can set SMART fitness and movement goals.
It's so common for people to want to jump right in and look at the end of their journey. And while Stephen Covey does say, "Begin with the end in mind," you can't just skip right to the end. We have to create benchmarks that keep us focused and motivated throughout our whole journey--and that’s exactly what SMART goals are for.
Like we talked about with regard to setting SMART nutrition goals, we have to pick goals that are simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. Here are some statements for example:
(This is unspecific, not measurable, and not time-based.)
(You know exactly how many days out of the week you’re planning to walk over the course of the next two weeks. Simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.)
(For most us, this isn’t a realistic goal. It’s not achievable and doesn’t have a deadline. We’d be likely to fail, feel guilty, burn out, and go back to our old habits quickly.)
(This is a simple, clearly measured goal. Walking 5,000 steps is an easily achievable and realistic number for most people. We have a time-frame: over the next two weeks.)
While it can be tempting to set lofty, long-term goals for yourself, it really is important to choose actions that are achievable and to commit to them for a certain amount of time, and then grow from there. It’s way easier to stick with something if you know exactly what you’re doing for how long. Meeting your milestone on the way to your long-term goal will keep you feeling motivated and excited about your wellness journey.
If you aren’t sure whether your goal is SMART or not, start by asking yourself: is it simple, specific, and clear? Can you measure or track it? Does it have a time-frame? Only you know what’s achievable and realistic for you, so focus on the more objective words in the acronym first if you start feeling confused.
To be clear, your movement goals don’t have to revolve around a step count! If you’re not terribly interested in walking (or if there’s too much snow on the ground where you are), consider setting a goal that involves attending a class regularly. I love reformer-based Pilates, so my goal is to make sure I get to at least three of these classes plus one boxing class per week, for a total of four classes spread across the week. If I can't get to boxing on Saturday for some reason, I simply replace the class with a different sort of interval training during the course of the week. And when all else fails, I know I’ve got my treadmill at home. It’s not super exciting, but it works.
I hope this helps you set yourself up for success with your movement and fitness goals! Drop me a note in the comments below and let me know what your movement goals are!
If you enjoyed this content, please join my free group Never Diet Again, where you can find the community and support you need to achieve your goals.
As always, what I hope for you is to live a life that you love where you're not hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner. Until next time,
Posted - 2/12/19 (Tue) Read more...
Hi there! Dawn McGee your nutrition coach here. Today, I want to talk to you about setting SMART nutrition goals. It's a time of year where we all set resolutions and new goals, and our food-related goals are no different: The number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. But that's very vague and nebulous, right? Which is exactly why I teach setting SMART goals to my clients--and why I wanted to tell you all about them today! So, let’s dive right in.
What's a SMART goal?
SMART is an acronym. S is simple, M is measurable, A is achievable, R is realistic, and T is time-based.
Why is it important to set SMART goals?
There's a saying that goes, "A goal without a date is just a wish." If I say, "I want to lose 15 pounds," and I don't have any plan for it or a deadline in mind, then, it's very unlikely that I’ll lose 15 pounds, right? It’s not enough to simply identify our health goals; we need to plan for them and set some rules for ourselves, too.
How can I turn my goals, my dreams, my wishes, my hopes for my nutrition for this year into SMART goals?
Since actions sometimes speak louder than words, here’s an example. I just started a 90-day journey back to good nutrition, for a variety of reasons. Over the last couple of years, I’ve not always been super faithful to my program and to my nutrition. I have not been saying “yes” to me--I've been saying “later.” It's time to start saying yes. So, I’ve set some goals.
My numeric goals are to lose nine percent body fat (about 15 pounds) in 90 days. If we take a look at that, that's my overall goal. How can I aim for something that’s a bit shorter-term, still measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based? This week--week number one of my recommital--I'm focusing on my food foundation, and I'm getting back to clean eating. What am I going to do? I have put together a meal plan for a full day of food that I like, that's clean, that's nutritious, that's going to keep me eating well-balanced meals of protein, fat, and carbs every 3-4r hours, and I plan to repeat that seven days in a row.
Is it terribly exciting? Nope! But it is going to get me focused on my food foundation and back on track. It's simple: I've got the same meal plan for seven days. It's measurable: again, this is my situation for exactly seven days. Is it achievable? This might vary a little from person to person. Admittedly, if I said I was going to stick to this same meal plan for 30 days, that may be unattainable. But for seven? Yeah, I can do that. Is it realistic? One meal plan, seven days. I’m making a few small changes instead of tons of huge changes. It's definitely realistic. And finally, is it time-based? Yep--seven days, no more and no less.
That's how I've turned my first milestone into a SMART goal, and I'm feeling really good about being able to achieve it because I've got a plan in place. That's what happens when we take our wishes and use them to set SMART goals.
As always, if you have any questions or if you’re working on a specific goal right now, drop me a line in the comments! If you’re unsure of how to turn your long-term goals into SMART goals, let me know--I’ll gladly help you shape them into SMART goals so you can succeed.
For more great info like this, grab my Eat, Drink, & Be Healthy Guide.
Until next week, what I really hope for you is that you live a life that you love, without being hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine. Take care.
Posted - 1/31/19 (Thu) Read more...
"It seems so silly and extravagant to use a coach."
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Posted - 6/02/15 (Tue) Read more...
Don't let this happen to you!! Today was a day off from school, so we took our time getting going and made a more leisurely breakfast. Egg white omelet with kale, spinach, avocado, tomatoes, and banana peppers. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a relaxing morning, right? Wrong! We waited too long to have breakfast and everyone's blood sugars were low - which makes for cranky people in this house!! Keep your pacing, eat on plan, enjoy your day!! Happy Passover and Easter to all who celebrate!
#FoodieFriday #VNCoach #DMCoach
Posted - 4/03/15 (Fri) Read more...