Meal planning is by far one of the most helpful habits you can have in your toolbox. Over the last 15 years of raising a family and striving to live a healthy life, I have found that when I take time to plan out my meals for the week, my whole week goes so much more smoothly. There is less stress, I eat better, and I feel better.
I've put together some helpful tips and strategies on how to start your own habit of planning meals.
Benefits to meal planning
Common barriers to meal planning and how to overcome them
Two methods of meal planning
Detailed Meal Planning- for those that need more structure
Mix and Match Meal Planning- for those that resist too much structure or are already practiced with meal planning.
Have some Go-To Meals or planned back-up meal ideas ready, so if something comes up, you don’t find yourself ordering that take-out or having pizza delivered.
Ideas for go-to meals:
Don’t forget to plan healthy snacks, if you like to snack. Limit snacks to 100-250 calories and focus on nutrient dense whole foods.
Lastly, check out this great website service www.realplans.com. For a small monthly fee you get an access to a cool planning tool that makes your shopping list for you and you can access all kinds of recipes. If you have dietary restrictions this is a really helpful tool!
Thanks to Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE for her book "Prediabetes a Complete Guide. Your Lifestyle Reset to Stop Prediabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses" check out her site here for more great resources: https://jillweisenberger.com/jillweisenberger.com/
I am 2 years now into my new life in Ann Arbor. Moving away from the beautiful community and life I created in small town SW Wisconsin was a hard decision to make. I feel grounded and stable now, but I know it's going to take more time to feel deeply rooted and connected here.
I've had a few different jobs since I've landed. First was the Ann Arbor YMCA working on the wellness floor, teaching yoga and being a lifestyle coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program.
While working at the Y, I also started teaching yoga at the Dexter Wellness Center and tried a short stint of sharing yoga at various locations for the University of Michigan's M-Healthy program.
I got really spun out trying to teach so many different classes ( chair yoga, beginner yoga, yoga with teens, vinyasa yoga, yoga for corporate folks). Having a high load of classes per week at three to five different locations meant I was driving around a lot, exhausting my voice and energy, and not making very much money! My desire to be a calm, grounded presence for my yoga students was not happening.
In the fall of 2018 I thought, "wow, this is not sustainable. I need to get a job." Well, a job appeared and I took it- scaling back to teaching yoga at only one place (the Dexter Wellness Center) and two classes a week.
I worked that job until this past July. (Thank you Harvest Kitchen for employing me!) But then a crisis hit. You could call it a mental health crisis due to working a lot of long hours and not taking care of myself. But actually it was a crisis of meaning. A crisis of purpose. I found myself deeply questioning, What the heck am I doing with my life and where am I going? Who am I and what is this all for?
You see, part of my dream in moving back to Michigan was not just about being closer to my family and my roots. It was about putting myself in a bigger environment so I could take bigger steps.
Bigger steps to fulfill my purpose and create meaning in my life. Bigger steps to generate the income I desire to fund the things that are important in life to me.
Since leaving my job in July, I've been reckoning with some deep questions. I've been doing some hard examination of myself and bringing to light the places I've been hiding. I realized how much I've been hanging back and hiding out, afraid to take the next step.
What I do know is that the call I heard years ago to be a Wellness Coach and to help people transform their lives is still alive, and still calling me deeply. So with deep breaths I am taking the plunge back into the scary waters of entrepreneurship and re-developing my coaching practice.
To begin, I am starting where I left off with my work at the YMCA and helping people steer their direction away from the scary cliff of Type 2 Diabetes. I know I can help women especially, make small sustainable changes in their diet and exercise plans to lose the weight and change those A1C blood levels back into the safe range from a pre-diabetic diagnosis.
Stay tuned to see how it's going to unfold!
Thank you for your friendship, love and support!
I love attending yoga festivals and gatherings. It's wonderfully nourishing to connect with other yogi's, practice together, and open our hearts with chanting.
After several years of attending yoga festivals, I am excited to be on the other side this summer as a presenter at YogaFest 2019 at the Song of the Morning Yoga Retreat Center in northern Michigan.
Look for me on the schedule Friday at 2:00 and Saturday at 12 noon. I will have some musicians joining me to provide a live musical soundscape for our practice. It's going to be so sweet!
I hope you will come and join me! Use code BABAJI62 to get 10% off tickets.
Students sometimes ask me about yoga mats- which one to get?
Well, I came across this great review of different mats and wanted to share with you. Check it out.
Here's an article that reminds us what we all know-- that putting our self-care first is the most important thing we can do. There's some helpful suggestions and links for more info to get you inspired. Check it out! -Lauren
Self: Priority #1- by personal trainer Sheila Olson
We get it, you are a busy, working adult. With everything you have on your plate, self-care doesn’t sit high on the priorities list. But taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do to ensure you have the energy and drive to carry out each of your daily responsibilities.
Finding balance in an unbalanced world
It’s easy to look at your schedule and see that it leans heavily toward taking care of others. But you’ve no doubt noticed that sometimes when the clock strikes five, you’re ready to slink onto the sofa and slap a box of pizza down on the table for dinner. Fatigue is a side effect of an unbalanced lifestyle. In order to circumvent access exhaustion, you have to learn how to fit self-care into your day so you’ll have the energy to keep going strong until bedtime. The quickest and easiest way to start the process is by finding a spot in your home you can use to meditate. This room should have a view of the outside world and be far enough away from your main living space that you can clear your head in peace at the beginning and end of each day.
Part of finding balance in your world is creating a comfortable home environment. If your house is cluttered, you’ll feel stressed out. If it’s dark, there’s no incentive to keep things neat and tidy. If your home is too cold, all you want to do is sit on the couch under the covers; too hot and you’ll seek refuge elsewhere. Consider implementing some of the principles of feng shui, an ancient Chinese method of restoring balance and creating a natural flow in your living area and life.
Fitting in fitness
Having a comfortable home is only part of caring for yourself. Self-care also includes maintaining a physical fitness routine to keep your mind and body strong. You can combine fitness with socialization by finding a workout partner. Fitness recommends speaking with your personal trainer, reaching out to friends and family, or starting a workout group with your coworkers. You can also make TV time exercise time. Consider investing in a few small pieces of equipment, such as a weighted hula hoop or recumbent bike, that you can use while you catch up on your favorite Netflix shows. And if you happen to be an Amazon Prime member, NBC News explains you can access free online workouts right from your TV, phone, or computer so you can take your workout with you wherever you go.
Calm from morning until night
Another important aspect of self-care is finding ways to deal with stress without raising your blood pressure. Much of how you deal with stress is in how you treat your body and mind. Hobbies, such as coloring, knitting, and sewing, can help you settle your mind while getting a good night’s sleep can help you be more emotionally prepared for everyday stress. You can invite restful sleep into your life by making sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and comfortable each night. Invest in a high-quality pillow that you can settle into. Forbes offers tips on how to pick the perfect pillow and explains that choosing the wrong one can keep you up tossing and turning the entire night. Each morning, give your muscles a good stretch before hopping out of bed. This will get your blood flowing and put you in a positive mood so you don’t have to greet the day as a sleep-deprived grouch.
Self-care isn’t a luxury. It’s taking care of yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep, and making sure you have a comfortable environment to call home. Learning how to balance these things with your busy life will help you enjoy more moments and better get through the ones you don’t.
- Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.
For over a year now, I have had the pleasure of sharing chair yoga with seniors. It's wonderful to see the positive effects over time the practice has. Check out the article below. Great links too!
6 Reasons Why Seniors Should Get Into Yoga, by Harry Cline
Yoga has been trendy for the last decade, and it’s no surprise why: it’s exceptionally versatile. At its core, yoga is meant for you at any level. You don’t need to do a backbend to get into yoga. You don’t even need to be able to touch your toes. Yoga has benefits both physical and spiritual. Even if you don’t feel up to it, you should consider giving yoga a try. Here’s why.
It’s Super Accessible
Regardless of your current flexibility, there’s a yoga for you. There are many different kinds of yoga and levels of practice, so it’s easy for you to get into. You can do it anywhere, even with your caregiver. If you don’t know where to start, there are online tutorials and classes. If you’d rather learn in person, there are classes available at local recreation centers. You can search online for local yoga studios, and many of them offer discounts and options for beginners.
It Can Help with Chronic Pain and Osteoporosis
A recent article published by HuffPost highlighted an important benefit of practicing yoga: it can improve bone density. For people who are already having problems with osteoporosis, it can slow or even reverse problems with bone density loss. Yoga can strengthen the nervous system and promote gray matter retention as you age, which protects your brain and can help you manage chronic pain.
Yoga Actually Helps Your Heart
A recent scientific study showed that yoga not only assists with flexibility and developing strength, but it can also increase the amount of oxygen that your body uses and positively impact metabolic capacity. Yoga is a proven way to not only become stronger but keep your cardiovascular system and lungs healthy.
Another way that yoga can help your heart is by decreasing blood pressure. One study showed that doing yoga for one hour a day could have an even more significant impact on blood pressure than changing lifestyle factors.
Yoga Builds Mental Wellness
According to Newsweek, yoga has multiple benefits for emotional health. It’s been shown to be effective at alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. It also helps in the treatment of eating disorders, PTSD, and other psychiatric disorders. A major part of yoga is learning techniques that can help you manage stress and see your body as something that you work with, rather than against. Building mental wellness in a sustained way is an important part of aging well and maintaining health.
Meditation and Yoga are Powerful Tools for Addiction
Meditation plays an important role in building mental and spiritual strength, as well as preventing addiction relapse. Integrate meditation into your life by practicing it while you do yoga, as yoga is a meditative act. Studies even show that yoga and meditation combine to form a powerful tool that can change you at the cellular level.
Addiction recovery requires mental and spiritual strength, but having a good relationship with your physical self also plays a critical role in addiction recovery. Building yourself physically can help your body retrain itself and avoid entrenched ways of thinking. For many people in recovery, having a good relationship with the physical self is as important as the spiritual one.
Yoga Can Help You Maintain Independence
Nearly all people want to live a long life where they can maintain independence and stay healthy. The secret is exercise. Yoga isn’t just for increasing flexibility or maintaining mobility. It’s an exercise that can help you lose weight, become stronger, and maintain aerobic health.
Yoga has a dose-dependent effect: the more you do it, the more awesome you feel. No matter what age or level of strength, you can do yoga. It’ll build your strength and flexibility, improve your relationship with your physical and spiritual self, and eases the aging process.
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.
I followed the calling of my heart to be closer to my family, (my parents and grandmother especially) and have relocated to Ann Arbor Michigan.
The last year and a half have been incredibly challenging as I prepared to move my family. I have had to face all my demons and look at them more closely. i discovered there were more layers of grief living within me to pull back and learn from. More layers of healing that needed to happen. Once the decision to move was made, I had to pull back a lot of my energy from what I was offering and creating with my coaching business and workshops to the physical details of making a move happen- selling a house, organizing stuff, wrapping up details.
And now that we've landed, I feel the excitement of creation. The opportunity to recreate my life to be even more aligned with my dreams and desires.
I'm still following the threads of joy, laughter, yoga, relationships, living a healthy lifestyle, and connecting with Spirit and I'm still carrying with me my deep desire to help others and be of service to LOVE.
I'm remaining open to my inner guidance and I'm doing what is in front of me every day.
Choosing to TRUST. Choosing to LISTEN. Choosing my heart over my MIND. Choosing to let go of fears.
I've recently created a guide to help people create a simple morning routine for themselves so they can change the way they start their day. This came out of my own efforts to start my day off with more positivity and intention. I would like to share with you a little bit of my story around it, with the hope that it inspires you to take action in your own life.
To be honest, for years I've started and stopped my efforts of personal development through enacting various yoga practices, meditation practices, journaling, and more. But I've never been able to stick with anything for very long, and I had begun to think this was a personal flaw of mine. I found myself having a hard time getting up out of bed in the morning and making time throughout the day for activities that I knew intellectually were good for my body, mind and spirit. I knew that when I kept a consistent yoga and meditation practice I felt better- more grounded, happy, and clear. But somehow these positive feelings weren't enough motivation for me to keep the practices up. I had fallen into a "was there something wrong with me?" kind of funk. (Can you relate?) And to top it off, I was a Wellness Coach for god's sake- so I had piled a bunch of shame on top of the funk, which left me feeling pretty low.
Enter January 2016, and yes, I was feeling the "New Year" inspiration to make a change and make some resolutions. Through a fellow coaching friend I found out about the book "Miracle Morning" by Hal Elrod. The author's "recipe" for a morning routine inspired me to try enacting a morning routine of my own and the results I began experiencing inspired me to share about the benefits with my clients and others.
What I first noticed when I made the effort to start my day off with more intention by getting up earlier and forcing myself to get out of bed was that I felt so ENERGIZED! I felt much happier, confident, proud, and like I really accomplished something before the day even started.
I started my morning routine by following Hal Elrod's recipe of S.A.V.E.R.S- (Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing.) I soon found that this was too many activities for me to try to enact at once. It worked better for me to simplify my routine by thinking about activities for BODY, MIND and SPIRIT. (Which I write about in my guide.) It also helped me to give myself permission to be flexible with how the routine went every day. After all, every day is a new day and a different day, so my routine is never exactly the same.
In fact I created a page in my journal to help me plan out what I wanted to do:
Now, as you can see- this is a 45 + minute routine. Which means I have to get up early to make it happen- cause once my kids get up it's time to make breakfast, get them to school, and life just takes over. I found that if I don't get it done before breakfast time, it's hard to make it happen.
And some mornings, I still find it hard to get out of bed- even after my six months of effort and practice. I still find it challenging to consistently get to bed at a time that allows me to feel rested enough to get up and do my routine. So, am I doing this routine every day? No. I've been tracking when I do it, and I average hitting it 5 days a week. And some days I do a shortened version if I am feeling pressed for time.
Six months in, let me tell you, I really notice when I don't do it. I take that as a good sign. That means it's becoming a habit.
In sharing about habit formation and routines with a client she admitted that it took her 5 years to develop a daily yoga practice. Phew! What a relief this was to hear as it reassured me that I wasn't alone in my struggle to create healthy habits.
If you'd like to check out my guide, I have a link to it on my welcome page. If you'd like to have some conversations about how you could step into creating some practices for yourself, email me to schedule a free discovery session with me to find out how coaching can help you.
Comment below and tell me, how are you starting your day? What challenges do you face?
-- Lauren M Hunt
Here are some thoughts-it's sort of a master brainstorm list-- that came to me as I was thinking about what it means to be a woman. It's inspired by the many women I have gotten to know in my community here in the Driftless region of Southwestern Wisconsin and the things I have learned from them. They are all goddesses in their own way-- and you too have a unique beauty within you that wants to come forth.
These actions are all about how to awaken and cultivate the divine feminine energy within. They are about celebrating the feminine way, the feminine power. They are all actions that I have incorporated into my life to empower myself.
Practice these regularly to awaken more joy, bliss, and divine love in your life. Model them to your daughters!
Does this post inspire you and have you wanting to awaken your feminine power more? Can you imagine yourself embodying all these qualities and actions? Contact me to set up a free discovery session to see how coaching can help you achieve your personal goals.
I believe that when women are empowered to be happy, be themselves, and are flowing with divine energy more fully, powerful things can happen! Women have the power to change this world. It's my deeper mission to empower women (and men) to change themselves so we can ultimately change society and this world to be a better place.
I am thrilled to be part of the Empowered Self-Care Blog Tour http://selfcaretour.livenotorious.net; showing how important it is to take care of yourself! Be sure to check out the other amazing woman participating in this 8 day tour- there are a lot of gems to be found in each of their blogs. #selfcaretour15 #livenotorious
As a Wellness Coach, I talk to women (mothers of young children mostly) about their relationships. What many women don’t realize is that dissatisfaction in your marriage has very little to do with your partner (excluding the extreme situations where there is abuse or safety issues).
Most women can change their experience of their marriage by simply increasing care for themselves.
This is where I start with all my clients- by seeing what we can shift from their side of the relationship first. We often start by talking about creating a plan for increasing self-care.
Here are some important points to keep in mind when enacting a self-care plan for yourself.
#1: Notice when you need more self-care
Tune into the warning signs. For me a big warning sign is a feeling of dissatisfaction. This shows up often as thoughts directed toward my partner, (if he was different then I’d be happier) my home (if I only had the money to change this or that) the place I live--- it’s almost always something external. Other warning signs: snapping at others, reaching for sugar or other substances; escape through TV or Internet, or just a general low feeling. I read these warning signs as a direct message that I need to increase my self-care.
Be sure to check out Kendra Kantor’s blog earlier in the empowered self-care tour for more on the warning signs.
#2: Shift your mindset
You need to value yourself, your happiness, and your life. You are important! As a mother, your energy affects the whole household. Your children look to you; you set the whole tone of the house. Women are often the keepers of the heart and tenders of the marriage too. When you are resonating brightly, all others in your family will be affected.
So notice how you tend to put yourself on the back burner! Notice your thoughts. Make a choice to put yourself first. This is also about taking full responsibility for your happiness. Remember that you have the power to shift your experience by the choices you make every day!
#3. Know thy self
Build on what works and do what is authentic to you. Do what you like to do without getting caught up in comparison to what others are doing. Study yourself- what triggers you? Be curious about what works and what doesn’t. No more “shoulds.” Don’t take up yoga because you think you should- when what you really love is going for long walks.
#4. Make a Self-Care List or Chart
Get out some paper, and your favorite pens, markers, or colored pencils and list all the little things that you like to do for each area of your life: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Think of it as a love note to yourself that serves to remind you. The act of writing this out and creating it by hand is a powerful experience for your brain- so don’t skip this step! To help, you can imagine that your highest self is speaking or you can tune into that “motherly voice” within. (“Now Lauren, remember to eat your vegetables- remember you love to dance?”)
Look at your self-care chart often and ask yourself: am I doing what I said I wanted to do? This chart can be your go-to anytime you notice the warning signs and you can pick something to do to take care of yourself right away. It's also great to acknowledge all the things you are ALREADY doing to take care of yourself.
Here’s an example of a chart I made a few years ago in which I added some lovely affirmations.
#5: Pick ONE thing to start with
When implementing new habits and behaviors, I advise my clients to just pick one thing. Have the thing be easy so you can build your trust in yourself to follow through. By enacting a self-care plan we are not trying to hold ourselves to some ideal of perfection nor are we aiming to bully/shame ourselves more for not meeting goals.
Be sure to take time to celebrate when you’ve established new habits or completed what you said you were going to do!
Some other reminders:
If you desire (or need) more personal support as a mother in enacting a self-care plan for yourself or support in shifting tension in your marriage contact me for a complimentary session to see how coaching can support you in your goals.
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