5 Tips to Stay on Track When Life Gets Tough

Life is about to get tough.

We just sold our house. It wasn’t on the market. We had no plans to sell. We were approached by buyers who wanted it enough that it was worth it to sell and build ourselves a new home.

And now we have agreed to be out in six weeks.

This is going to be a ridiculous time and I want to maintain all the health gains I have worked so hard for.

We need to find a suitable rental near our kids school immediately. We have to buy land and create house plans. We still have to drive (and coach) our kids to their competitive hockey. We have to purge, sell and organize our belongings. And we have to run our businesses. Oh, and lastly, the move is going to happen over Christmas (it is the very end of November as I write this).

If all you can hear in your brain is a 4 letter expletive I appreciate your sympathy very much. Let’s swear in unison to the tune of “Deck the halls…”. But yes, I know we did this to ourselves. Until this morning I actually thought I might be on the brink of losing my mind before the real hard work had even begun.

After spending a lot of time processing this over the last few days I am ready to tackle the move with one big commitment to myself: I am not going to lose my mind.

We have all faced extremely challenging periods in life and the most important thing you can do to get through them is to:

Stay true to the tried and true systems that work for you when everything is going well.

When life is going well and you sit back to think about all that is great you notice that you are eating well, exercising on a regular basis, enjoying great social ties. Likely you are sleeping well. You know where you have to be when, and you can plan for things that you look forward to. Overall, the flow of your days comes with a certain amount of ease and predictability.

But when the going gets tough, our first instinct is often to throw this all out the window to make room for the stress, worry and time that our challenges bring.

Suddenly you can’t commit to anything because there is so much unknown. And even when you do find yourself with a few minutes to spare, you use it to worry or numb your mind rather than to do something that will help you (like hit up a grocery store or take a walk).

Here are five tips to help you stay on track when life gets tough. 

  1. If you go to the gym regularly, keep going.
    • Now more than ever, it is important for you to work off the stress and release happy endorphins into your body. Do not let “I don’t have time” become your mantra. You may need to cut back from four days a week to three, but don’t stop going. 
  1. Prioritize and enjoy healthy meals.
    • Sure, take-out is easier but it is going to leave you nutrient depleted and exhausted. Either continue with your regular meal prep and keep healthy snack and meal options in your kitchen at all times or hire a personal chef to help stock your freezer with meals that are ready to reheat at a moments notice. Going to the grocery store should still be a regular occurrence even though you are busy and distracted. This will keep your energy up as well as your ability to deal with stress.
  1. Protect your sleep.
    • It is probably unrealistic to expect to get a beautiful minimum of 8 hours of sleep when you are excessively busy and overwhelmed but allowing yourself to stay up until the wee hours of the morning and then rising again with the sun is one of the worst decisions you can make right now.
    • Sleep deprivation inhibits your immune system (you get sick), reduces your ability to think clearly and deal with stress, causes weight gain and of course, depletes your energy. So pick a “must be in bed by” time and commit to it. 
  1. Stop doing things that suck your time.
    • What were you spending time doing before that you can stop doing? A couple of hours of Netflix every night? Facebook? I agree that not all time is wasted doing either of these things but when your time is so precious, you need to be smart about it.
    • Make a list of your time-wasters and stop doing or reduce your time doing them. Instead, do something that will move you toward your end goal.
    • Helpful hint: Use this productivity app to disable your Facebook feed temporarily so that you can go to different pages in Facebook without being distracted by the newsfeed.
  1. Make time-bound plans.
    • Now that you will have some more time (because you made the stop-doing list), put together a plan for what you need to do and when. What important deadlines need to be met between now and the end of this busy time? Write down the tasks, determine the deadline and then schedule it into your calendar.

When life gets tough, it is so easy to just throw your hands in the air and let go of all the important things that you regularly do to keep yourself healthy and feeling well because at times like this, you are in survival mode, giving your attention only to what is most urgent.

Use these tips so that you can work with the pressure that comes along with the tough times in life to keep yourself on track and cope with the stress.

This will come to an end and you have the choice of coming out of it just a little off your game or totally knocked out.

You choose.

(I hope this was helpful).

Obviously, eating healthy can be overwhelming sometimes. Dealing with sugar cravings, managing the desire to eat when you are stressed and sorting through all of the conflicting nutrition information is hard. That is why I work closely with my nutrition consulting clients, to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that you can sustain. Connect with me HERE.

 

Kristin McCaig on CTV Morning LIve

7 Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Their School Lunch

It is easy to pack school lunches with loads of healthy foods like vegetables and fruits. The challenge lies in making sure that they actually eat their food!

If you are tired of loading up their lunch bags with healthy food only to dump most of it into the garbage at the end of the day then read on. I am going to share a handful of simple tricks to help you and your kids eat and enjoy their healthy school lunches.

This blog is divided into two parts. Part one is my recent CTV appearance where I covered three key tips and Part two is in the blog below. They each contain different tips so please explore them both!

You may pick up some new lunch ideas as well!

And my favourite tip is at the end of this blog.

You can watch the segment HERE.

Kristin McCaig on CTV Morning LIve1. Put the best food at the bottom of the thermos.

If you are giving your kids a thermos full of sliced up sausages and sweet potato cubes for example, do not put the veggies on the bottom. Make sure that meat is the last bite (if they are carnivores that is).

Otherwise you know how this story ends…the veggies will remain uneaten.

2. Don’t let cheese get soggy.

Is this a universal problem? My kids, who LOVE cheese, have made me throw out so much cheese because they said it was “soggy” by lunch time.

First off, never pack cheese in a container with anything else, especially fruits or veggies. The water from the fruits and veggies will create a moist environment or seep directly into the cheese, making it mushy and just not appetizing at all.

So, what to do? Freeze it!

Cut up your cheese into slices and freeze them. Then put the frozen cheese into individual portions (in small containers) and take them out of the freezer only when you are packing the lunch.

Cheestrings and Babybells are solving this problem by being individually packaged but then you have extra garbage…and I have never seen a high quality cheese in individual portions.

PS-If ice packs are working for you on their own, that is awesome too!

3. Give them a healthy “treat.”

In our house, my hubby and I can barely finish a meal without at least one (or three) squares of dark chocolate. And my kids are not immune to our weakness so as time passes, they are adopting our habit of enjoying a little treat after a meal.

But I don’t want to fill their lunches with unhealthy options like cookies and snack bars.

So instead of throwing a bunch of kale into my kids lunch and hoping for the best, I purposely include at least one treat that really is a treat, by my standards of course. And the kids know that the rule is, I will continue to give you this treat so long as I see that you are doing your best to eat the healthy food as well.

The treats I turn to most often are

  1. A square of dark chocolate.
  2. Flax Snax (super easy to make with your kids)
  3. Plantain chips (Just a small handful. And admittedly, these are likely not much better than regular potato chips…so definitely they count as a treat).
  4. Dark chocolate chips and raisins (you can add coconut flakes and pumpkin seeds too)!
  5. Fruit To Go bars.

4. Keep their lunch bags clean. 

Don’t take this personally, I know it seems obvious but washing the kids’ lunch bags occasionally is important.

My kids are lucky if I do it twice a year but that is just not often enough.

There are few better ways to ruin an appetite than to open your lunch to the smell of spoiled yogurt or old stew that is hiding in the folded corners of the lunch bag.

So every couple of weeks, throw that smelly bag into the wash so that you have one less thing deterring the kids from eating their lunches. 

5. Get them to help with planning and packing.

If you haven’t seen the amazing thing that happens when you actually get the kids to make a meal, I will tell you right now: When they help make it, they are much more likely to eat it!

Give them a paring knife and a cutting board and ask them to cut up the yellow pepper or the apple. Lay out the recipe and ingredients for Flax Snax and have them mix it together. Or just simply ask them to go to the fridge and choose which fruits and veggies they want today.

Getting the kids involved helps them build the skills of meal planning, choosing healthy food and in the end, they are more excited to eat what they chose.

6. Rotate the options and keep it simple.

There are times when a specific snack is a huge hit. They beg you to put it in their lunch. And this lasts for weeks. Until suddenly, it comes home untouched for three days in a row.

What is happening? I thought I had the lunch menu perfect?

Nope, it’s time for a change…again.

To make these changes doable, I recommend keeping it simple in general. Instead of offering the choice of three fruits (a few strawberries, half of a peach and half an apple), give them an apple (cut up or whole) until they are done with apples. Then move on to peaches. A few weeks later, just give berries.

This will make it much easier on you to find new options when they are sick of the old ones.

7.  Whatever they don’t at school, they eat at home.

This is my favourite tip of them all. We are feeding the kids nutritious foods for a reason. So we need to see them eat it!

If your child chooses to forego their healthy food at school, it becomes the after school snack or a side dish at dinner.

Simple but awesome.

I hope these ideas have been helpful for you. If your kids are giving you a hard time about eating their healthy school lunch, do not give up. This is your opportunity to show your child how to make wise decisions about food even (and especially) when many of their friends and classmates are not as lucky.

Obviously, showing your family how to live healthfully can be overwhelming sometimes. Knowing how much you should be eating, how much exercise is enough (or too much) and figuring out how to get everyone on board can feel frustrating. That is why I work closely with my nutrition consulting clients, to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that you can sustain. Connect with me HERE.

Kabobs

Kabobs are so delicious especially when you have had the meat marinating for a period of time before grilling them. And they are great because you can personalize them! If you love mushrooms, slide them on. If you like the delicious flavour of a grilled onion, do the same!

And kabobs are great for meal prep too! You can make the marinade below, pour it over your cubed meat and thread the meat and veggies onto the skewers. Then freeze! Just thaw and grill when you want them.

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce, gluten free (VH Brand is gluten free)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 green onion, chopped

For Kabobs

  • 2 pounds of meat or protein (chicken, flank steak, pork, tofu), cut into 1 inch pieces or strips
  • peppers, cut into large chunks, optional
  • whole mushrooms, optional
  • zucchini, cut into rounds, optional
  • onions, quartered, optional
  • cherry tomatoes, optional
  • haloumi (a delicious type of cheese that does stays firm when grilling), optional
  • skewers (wooden or metal)
  1. Soak skewers in water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add all marinade ingredients in a bowl or jar.
  3. Using either your immersion blender, regular blender or food processor, mix all ingredients.
  4. Cut up meat and prepare veggies.
  5. Immerse meat in the marinade.
  6. Thread meat and veggies onto skewers in any order.
  7. For meal prep, freeze kebobs at this point. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
  8. Grill kabobs for 10-15 minutes or until meat is cooked through, turning every three minutes.

Obviously, losing weight and maintaining that progress can be overwhelming sometimes. Knowing how much you should be eating, how much exercise is enough (or too much) and figuring out what other factors are playing a role can feel frustrating. That is why I work closely with my nutrition consulting clients, to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that you can sustain. Connect with me HERE.

 

Healthy homemade chocolate avocado pudding

Healthy Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: none

Special Equipment: blender or food processor

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados, skin and pit removed
  • 4 ripe bananas, peeled
  • ¼ cup raw cocoa powder
  • 1/4 or less maple syrup

Steps

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth.
  2. Use a rubber spatula to scoop all of the pudding from the blender into small bowls.
  3. And for a cool summer treat, freeze the pudding into popsicle molds.

Healthy Chocolate Popsicles Recipe

Serves 4

Obviously, losing weight and maintaining your health can be overwhelming sometimes. Knowing how much you should be eating, how much exercise is enough (or too much) and figuring out what other factors are playing a role can feel frustrating. That is why I work closely with my nutrition consulting clients, to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that you can sustain. Connect with me HERE. Or get my FREE 7 day meal plan HERE.

Strong is the new beautiful

I’ve Put On Weight

I knew that finding out my weight at my annual physical was going to be a tough moment. In fact, I considered requesting that we skip the weigh-in but decided against that because I do like tracking health data.

I have been on scales a number of times over the past couple of years and they all gave a similar reading but up until now I was able to convince myself that they were off by a few pounds.

Because I cannot weight as much they say…

But when the nurse and I looked at the number on the scale it was confirmed. I weigh 10 pounds more than I did just a few years ago. I have stayed roughly the same weight since I finished high school and also, after 2 pregnancies. And I weighed 10 pounds less even when I was done nursing my kids and was much less active.

If you are ready to stop reading because you are put off by the fact that I am making a big deal about 10 pounds when your weight struggle has gone far beyond that, please stay.

Any person who is obsessed with their weight is affected when they gain weight. The fears about the weight continuing to rise, the scrutiny over every bite of food we take and the fact that thinking about this weight interferes with so many beautiful moments in life every single day are shared between myself and you.

I am offering valuable insight below that applies to anyone who is being ruled by the fear of the number on the scale. Please stay and read on.

I had managed not to gain weight in any of the predictable life stages but now suddenly, as I near 40, I am heavier.

I sat on the examination table at my doctor’s office with my open-back gown, re-evaluating my diet, wondering if I should cut out all potatoes and dairy, avoid dark chocolate entirely and, oh my god, I eat a banana every day….maybe the carbs are the problem! I’ve also been staying up so late…

Suddenly I started thinking that my lifestyle is a mess.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I wanted to skip the scale altogether.

Because, here’s the thing:

Literally, 2 hours before I stepped on the scale at my doctor’s office, I was looking at my body in the mirror and I was happy.

I was happy with the muscles that I saw. I was reflecting on my recent soccer game, the goal I scored, the speed I used to get ahead of the other team’s defenders…I am strong, I am healthy and I know it...and I work for it.

I eat incredibly well 90% of the time. I am more active than I have ever been. If you had asked me prior to getting on that scale how I felt about the healthfulness of my lifestyle I would have said 8/10 if 10 was “extraordinary health and doing everything you can to be amazing.”

And within seconds of getting on the scale all that happiness was gone. Pouf!

Like so many women, my self-confidence and self-love are fragile and easily influenced by the number on the scale.

You and I grew up in a world where our health was measured by our body mass index and “ideal weight” was a number we chose arbitrarily most likely based on what we weighed in high school (this habit very likely picked up from our Slim Fast drinking, LA weight watching mothers who fed us Fruit Loops while telling us not to eat too much or we’d get fat….because that wasn’t just me, right?).

Commercials from our childhood like the one for Special K cereal with the woman in a red body suit claiming “You can’t pinch an inch on me!” lead us all to have a super slim body as the ideal and only acceptable vision for our future self.

Just the idea of any extra amount of fat on my body was enough to make me want to lose my mind.

But amazingly, my actual experience of this…of these additional 10 pounds… when I am not looking at the number on the scale, is that I am over the moon about what my body can do at the gym, how my body allows me to lift heavy things at work every day, do physical work around the house and be active with my family. Sure, pregnancy ruined my once voluminous breasts and I have cellulite that will never go away but I am generally so happy with my body and my overall health.

For many of us the scale has an imaginary red line. Below that line is “Perfection” and above it is “Fat.”  But it’s not real and it is so wrong.

For me, the best plan is to avoid the scale completely.

Instead I generally track my body composition and health based on a specific set of criteria:

  1. Am I taking care of my body (exercise, chiropractic, mobility, massage)?
  2. Am I eating well?
  3. Am I getting adequate sleep that is restful?
  4. Am I coping with stress?
  5. Do I spend time with people I love and who love me?

When I left the doctor’s office and had some time to breathe and think, I came back to these criteria. Here were my answers to the questions above:

  1. I am now more active on a regular basis than I have ever been. I am lifting weights and playing soccer and my muscle mass has increased which will increase my weight. But I do need to be more consistent with chiropractic, massage and mobility.
  2. I eat extremely well (not perfectly).
  3. I could do with a bit more sleep (and this FYI, for someone who does need to lose weight, can be a big factor because it messes with hormones and can lead to consuming more food).
  4. I deal well with stress. (I communicate. I seek personal growth. I let go of what is beyond my control). With that being said, my stress levels are higher when I have not had enough sleep.
  5. I spend time with good people.

These considerations give me a much clearer picture of how I should be feeling about my body. The scale doesn’t tell me any of this.

And I use this information to decide what tweaks I need to make in order to be confident that my body is at it’s ideal composition and health (which for me means taking the right action steps to get more sleep).

Another good moment in this whole episode was when I opened up to a good friend who is very thin but super active and strong. I would have put her at about 25 pounds less than I am.

I told her about my weight and essentially said I was feeling shitty about it. So she told me what she weighed….and I was totally shocked! She only weighs a bit less than me. I would never, ever have guessed that.

And on top of that, I have women in my life that are strong, fit, confident and weigh more than I do…and I idolize them. It never crosses my mind how much they weigh. They are freaking beautiful and how they show up in the world is inspiring; as a patient mother, an strong athlete, an entrepreneur etc.

Weight is by no means irrelevant, but it’s certainly only a part of the equation.

We tend to be misguided about what healthy looks like on a body and on the scale. And our perceived state of beautiful is often different than what is our healthiest weight or body composition and structure. Some people are naturally curvier than others. Others have smaller bone structure.

These are things we cannot change. And that needs to be ok. 

And if you are carrying extra weight that you know you need to lose in order to be healthier then the next step is to change your action steps instead of losing time, feeling bad about your body.

I will be honest with you though, one of my biggest fears is still that one day I am going to see a picture of myself and gasp “Is that really me?”

I admit that I worry that 2 years from now will bring me 10 more pounds.

And although research does not conclude that as women age, we are certain to gain weight, it can still happen and for some people it is actually healthy weight, even if we hate it.

Studies have suggested that people with a BMI that is considered slightly overweight, seem to have longer lifespans and the “overweight” may be protective against mortality. There are a lot of factors to consider in this study but it opens the consideration of how realistic is our “ideal weight” in the first place.

When you find yourself questioning whether or not your weight is ideal, instead of getting on a scale, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I taking care of my body (exercise, chiropractic, mobility, massage)?
  2. Am I eating well (enough or too much)?
  3. Am I getting adequate sleep that is restful?
  4. Am I coping with stress?
  5. Do I spend time with people I love and who love me?

If you are taking the right actions to support your health and you find that your energy, immune system and moods are good and you have recent blood work to back this all up, I really hope that you can logically conclude that your body is beautiful and exactly as it should be.

If your actions seem to be aligned with this criteria but you are not seeing the expected results, get support from an appropriate health professional. You may be experiencing hormonal dysfunction or have gaps in your action steps that you are just not seeing.

And if you need support with these action steps, consider working with a nutritionist to make sure you are doing everything you can to create the healthiest version of you, without worrying about the number on the scale.

Can you relate? Please let me know your experiences in the comments below.

Obviously, losing weight and maintaining that progress can be overwhelming sometimes. Knowing how much you should be eating, how much exercise is enough (or too much) and figuring out what other factors are playing a role can feel frustrating. That is why I work closely with my nutrition consulting clients, to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that you can sustain. Connect with me HERE.