Lemons: More than Lemonade

Lemons. I tend to always have them in my fridge. I use them in juices, hummus, dressings, and sauces.  I squeeze them into soups and on top of meals. They help soften and break down kale for salads. They help balance your body’s pH. They can also bring a bit of brightness to any dish. Rich in vitamin C and a whole host of minerals, lemons should be a staple in your kitchen. But what about in your bathroom? Or even your nail salon?

The other week, I got a pedicure at a local, organic nail salon here in Atlanta and the technician rubbed lemons on my feet. The smell of citrus was invigorating, but I learned lemons are more than just energizing for the nose. They are great for the skin. Lemons act as exfoliators - sloughing off dead skin cells and stimulating new cell renewal. The vitamin C also has been noted to brighten dark areas and even out skin tone. Some people even recommend massaging freshly squeezed lemon juice into your gums to stop bleeding and keep bacteria that causes gum disease at bay.

The benefits of lemons go beyond just taste. They are great for the whole body and easy to find at any grocery store. Stock up and soak up this little wonder fruit by incorporating it into daily routines both in and out of the kitchen.

ingredientsJulie Minchew
A Shift in Perspective: Starting vs Stopping a Habit

Photo by: Catherine Teague

I use this photo of my dog and me walking to illustrate a point about habit development and behavior change: seek addition to your life, not subtraction. What do you want MORE of in your life? When we want to make healthy lifestyle changes, we tend to start with what we want to stop doing. For example:

·     stop eating from the snack drawer in the office

·     stop drinking so much after work

·     stop spending so much time on my phone

·     stop ordering out/picking up food

·     stop eating so much meat

While it’s good to identify behavior you want to alter, basing your goals on a negative versus a positive can hurt your long-term success. Why? Because it emphasizes deprivation. You are coming from a place of restriction. This might not seem like a big deal, but mindset is key to maintaining changes in your schedule. Slight tweaks to how you approach your goals can be the very thing that enables you to reach them. Flip the script to what you want your life to include.

I like to work with clients on setting goals that come from a positive perspective and lead to action. So, for example, using those same goals but slightly tweaking the approach:

·     stop eating from the snack drawer in the office ->

start packing a healthy snack in my work bag to eat when I need something (I get more healthy food)

·     stop drinking so much after work ->

start walking my dog when I get home to relieve stress from work day (I get more outside time, exercise, bonding)

·     stop spending so much time on my phone ->

start reading a new book before bed (I get more mentally beneficial stimulation, likely more sleep)

·     stop ordering out/picking up food ->

start preparing and prepping my meals in advance so I have a quick, healthy meals available (I get more healthy food and save more $)

·     stop eating so much meat ->

start filling plate with more vegetables so meat becomes a side (I get more fiber, color etc to my diet)

One of the best ways to stop doing something is to start doing something else in its place. Replace one habit with another one. Therefore, the void is being filled. You are adding something to your life not just taking something away.

When you want to make a change, take the perspective of abundance over restriction. I want more of this (not less of that). You will focus more on the positive action you can take to start feeling the way you want to feel. And, if you can get someone else involved who will mutually benefit from this change (like a dog!), you will feel an extra accountability to follow through with it. The positivity will be added to their life as well. Abundance all around.

wellnessJulie Minchewhabits
How to Increase Willpower
bethany-newman-61417-unsplash (1).jpg

One of the workshops I tend to do at companies is called “How to Increase Willpower.” Why? Because research shows that lack of willpower is the #1 reason people say they struggle to meet their goals. With all the snacks, catered food and stress that comes with working in an office, willpower is really pushed to the limit most days.

Willpower, by definition, is the trait of resolutely controlling your own behavior. Control. That’s a tricky word, right? It summons up all sorts of feelings of restriction, judgment, and guilt. Control can quickly become negative. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

One of the misconceptions about willpower is that in order to be in control you must say no - no to the donuts, the glass of wine, the Tuesday Tacos that were catered in for lunch. I challenge this by positioning control as saying yes – yes to what you ultimately want. What I mean by this is willpower is an act of impulse vs planned. Or put more simply: reactive vs proactive. To be in control is to have a plan in those moments of temptation. A plan enables you to say “I’m doing this instead.” It remains positive. Future-focused. Liberating.

That’s control. That’s willpower.

In my workshop, I provide several strategies on how to increase willpower with the goal of changing people’s perspective of it.

wellnessJulie Minchew
Recent Interview in Voyage ATL

I recently did an interview with local Atlanta publication, VoyageATL, as part of their “Inspiring Stories” series. If you are looking for more information on what I do or why I do it, this is a great reference. My favorite question was whether or not Atlanta is a good city for Health Coaching. Here is article!

wellnessJulie Minchew
Beat the Holi-daze: How to Not Fall off Track

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be when we let ourselves go. We fall out of routine. We overindulge with food and drink. We stay up late. We stay inside. We stay….still.

The season becomes a daze. Then we wake up in January and  feel the need to reset.

But what makes the holidays scary in regards to keeping healthy habits – lack of structure, not being at home, relatives, having too much time but nothing to do etc – can also be the very things that ignite new life into our healthy habits. It’s all about your perspective. How you use this time. How you view this time.

Here are 4 tips on how to not fall off track during the season:

1. Don’t let one day or meal set the tone. - If you eat/drink too much or not as healthy as you would like, remember it’s only one meal, one day. No pressure. Eat/drink the way that fits with your health goals the next meal or snack, the next day. Every time you eat or drink is a new chance, another choice. It’s not all or nothing.

2. Create a colorful, balanced plate. – Avoid the beige, monochromatic plate. Before you make your plate, visualize what you want it to look like in detail. Then make a plate that matches that image. It’ll help you avoid impulse grabbing. You know what you are looking for. Visualization is key

3. Think differently about traditions/rituals. – If you always bake a lot with your sister out of nostalgia, what’s something else you can do together that serves that same purpose? Or what are only 1 or 2 recipes that you can make vs 4?

Also, how can you rethink leftovers? If you don’t want to keep all that food around but don’t want it to go to waste either…could you surprise a neighbor? A friend? Share.

4. See this time as a vacation from your normal routine, not your routine. – Take advantage of having more time and more friends/family around. Instead of going to the gym, maybe you go on a long walk with your boyfriend. Maybe you take your dogs to a state park for a hike. Maybe you meal prep with your mom and aunts for the week ahead (meal prep party!). Maybe you try a crazy workout class with your husband in the middle of the day because…why not? Then you can grab a fun lunch afterwards.

The holidays are meant to be fun and relaxing. A healthy routine can be too. Flex your habits in new ways this next month. Explore. Experiment. Get others involved. Accept that things will be different and be ok with it. Your routine will not be perfect, but is it ever?

wellnessJulie Minchew
How to Navigate Work Dinners

Going out to eat with clients and colleagues is a part of a lot of our work lives. And, let’s face it, most of the restaurants selected are usually not the healthiest (ie steak houses). Appetizers, bottles of wine, heavy entrees, several desserts – we end up eating more than we would celebrating with friends and family. There’s just something about work dinners that gets us. It’s become the ultimate indulgent meal.

This doesn’t have to be the case, though. With a little preparation and some awareness during the meal, we can enjoy work dinners and still feel in control of our diet.  

Here are some tips on how to navigate work dinners and not fall off a healthy eating routine:  

1.    Check out the menu in advance – once the restaurant has been selected, go online to review the options. Then pick your entrée. If you go into the meal knowing what you are going to order, you won’t be as tempted to order something unhealthy in the moment (and after a cocktail). Make a plan and stick with it. If there isn’t anything that looks like an option for you, plan to request a veggie dish. Most chefs will happily make a veggie dish with all the vegetables on hand.

2.   Pick 1 or 2 indulgences – If the restaurant is known for great wine or dessert or you spot an irresistible appetizer, prioritize it. Then adjust the other parts of the meal to accommodate that choice. If you want more to drink, cut back on the apps and nix dessert. If you want apps and dessert, cut back on drinks. Or if an entrée is calling your name and it isn’t that healthy, don’t fill up on apps or splurge on dessert. It’s all a tradeoff. Find what you are most excited about and prioritize it.

3.   Pay attention – It’s easy to get caught up in conversation and ambience and mindlessly eat or drink. Be aware of what you are eating and drinking and how you feel. You might realize you are more full than you thought (or more inebriated). Constantly checking in with yourself will help you avoid overindulgence.

4.   Don’t compare your plate – We all have different priorities and nutritional needs, so don’t worry about what other people are doing at the table. Most people don’t care what you are or aren’t eating or drinking. Peer pressure exists, but as adults we should be able to stand our ground. Just stick to what you want to do and don’t worry about matching the decisions of others in the group.

5. Enjoy yourself and the company! If you eat or drink a little too much, know that you can pick up where you left off in the morning. No one meal does harm. It’s all the daily, repeatable decisions that make the difference in the long term. Stay the course.

eatingJulie Minchew
Need Workout Motivation? Find Purpose.

I spent most of my childhood in a pool. In fact, I was almost born in a pool - my mom went into labor with me while hanging out with my bro in the water. Swimming is in my DNA. I joined the neighborhood summer league when I was 6, then year-around club teams, then my high school team. I thought swimming would always be a part of my life, but as I got older I fell out of it. Other things took priority – academics, friends, partying, etc. It just didn’t hold space in my life anymore. After college, finding affordable pools in the city was hard. They aren’t as accessible for daily workouts like other forms of exercise. I stopped swimming.

A couple of years ago, I wanted to shake up my workout routine and joined the local Y to start swimming again. At first, I loved it. Getting back into the water was like going back in time: the familiarity of the strokes, the technique, the lingering smell of chlorine on my skin, the total body exhaustion. I missed it – all of it.

Despite this rekindling of my love for swimming, I got bored. Getting in cold water in an indoor pool at 6am proved daunting. Not having any friends who swam made it lonely. My excitement waned. I stopped swimming again.

But now I’m back. For the past several months, I’ve been swimming at least 2-3 days a week and pushing myself further and harder than ever. Why? What’s different? Purpose. I signed up for my first relay triathlon. My swimming now holds more meaning than just a workout. I’m training. I’m preparing for a race that involves other people who are counting on me – to practice, to push myself, to show up ready to race.

I’m not saying that you need to sign up for races or events in order to workout. Daily exercise should be a part of our routine just like brushing our teeth. However, if you’re in a workout rut and need motivation to try something new or revisit something old, put a tangible goal to it that will hold you accountable. For example, if you want to run more, sign up for a local 5k. Or if you want to do more pull ups, challenge a friend to a future competition.

Putting purpose behind your workouts (other than to be fit and healthy) is sometimes the edge you need to really see your potential. 

exerciseJulie Minchew
The Other F-Word: Fiber

How much fiber have you had today?

We worry so much about getting enough protein everyday, but what about fiber? Fiber is essential for a healthy diet with benefits that go beyond just helping us poo. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar, and aids us in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Most Americans, however, are not getting enough of fiber. Only an estimated 3% of us meet the daily requirements! With the rise in high protein diets (and misguided fear of fruit & carbohydrates), meat is crowding out space on our plates for fiber-rich foods. No wonder so many relatively healthy, active people are suffering from digestive distress and microbiome issues. We need more fiber in our lives.

So how much do we actually need? According to The Institute of Medicine, men under 50 should consume about 38 grams and women 25 grams of fiber each day. Adults over 50 require less with only 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women.

What are fiber-rich foods?

·     Beans and legumes (split peas especially are high)

·     Whole grains (whole grain/wheat bread, pasta)

·     Oatmeal and oats

·     Veggies (all of them)

·     Fruit (especially berries)

What if you follow a paleo or keto diet? No fear. There are plenty of ways to sneak in more fiber without having to eat legumes or more fruit than you are comfortable consuming.

·     Seeds – Add flaxseeds or flaxseed meal to your smoothies and yogurt. You can also bread chicken or fish with flaxseeds. Add chia seeds to really anything liquid. They will thicken it up and become gel-like. Great for a pudding texture.

·     Cauliflower and broccoli– roasted, pureed, sautéed or made as rice both of these veggies can be added to almost any dish.  

·     Avocado – healthy fat and fiber? Win win. These little guys pack in 6.7 grams of fiber per half.

Artichokes – throw on a salad or butternut squash pasta to up the fiber content. This veggie packs more fiber than any other vegetable at over 10g per medium size artichoke. 


Mindful Eating: Food with Consciousness

“The simple act of actively noticing things.”

– Ellen Langer

I love the podcast On Being with Krista Tippett. A recent episode was especially interesting to me because it was with Ellen Langer, the first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology department at Harvard. Dubbed in some circles as “the mother of mindfulness,” Langer has been studying mindfulness for over 35 years. To her, it’s not just meditation and yoga. We can practice mindfulness by “simply noticing new things.” It’s more about being intentional with our behavior and observing our surroundings. Truly “being mindful” is about noticing not just being.

The practice of being more mindful when we eat is an important one because research shows that most of our eating is unconscious. We are mindless when it comes to it – except when we are dieting. When we diet, we are conscious about every single morsel we put in our mouths. This is why dieting doesn’t work in the long term. It’s too extreme behavior for our brains to handle. What we want is to strike a balance. To be mindful, not rigid. To notice and observe. To make healthy eating habitual yet still thoughtful.

Food is meant to be enjoyed. And as Langer points out “our experience of everything is formed by the words and ideas we attach to them.” How we frame our food – good vs bad – will determine how we experience it. If we decide that a salad is “diet food,” something we don’t want to eat but feel like we should, we are setting up ourselves for displeasure. Salad doesn’t stand a chance next to pizza. However, if we reframe the way we think about healthy food, see it as something delicious, we will enjoy it more. We are influenced by what we believe something is – the meanings we attach to it. Notice how you define certain foods and then explore reframing the way you think about them.

To eat healthier, we must eat with consciousness.

eatingJulie Minchew
How to Make your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Oh New Year’s day – the day that brings a fresh start to us all. We are so hopeful about what we will achieve and vow that THIS year is OUR year. However, despite much effort put forth in January, the majority of us do not keep our resolutions past March. Why is this? And what can we do to make this year different? Below are a few tips on how to kick off the new year so your desired changes have a better chance of surviving – and becoming healthy habits that last.

Start Small. One of the biggest pitfalls of resolutions is that they start big and extreme. For example, we give up all alcohol and sugar and promise to go to the gym seven days a week. This might last a couple of weeks, but you’ll soon get tired of such a rigid extreme in behavior and revert back to your old routine because it requires less effort. (There’s a reason why most programs and “challenges” last only 28- 30 days.) The key is to start small – begin implementing one routine change at a time and build on it. Want to start eating healthier? Find a time in the day or a meal that usually involves unhealthy indulgences and fix that. Start there and when you’ve changed that, add something else. The objective is to make the new feel familiar. That’s when it becomes default.

Prepare. After you decide what changes you want to make this year, figure out the plan – the whole plan – and prepare for it. Write down not only the what but also the who, where, when, how, and why. Who will be involved in your goal? Most likely other people will be directly or indirectly involved in whatever it is you’re trying to do. For example, if you are changing what you eat everyday, are your spouse and kids on board? What about that co-worker who you always grab a mid-afternoon snack with? Then think about where and when this new behavior will take place. If you are deciding to workout, is it a gym at 6am? Or a run outside immediately after work? And then how will you do it? If you plan to workout immediately after work, you may decide to pack a gym bag the night before and put it by the door. And lastly, spend some time thinking about your why. Why do you want to make this particular change? Why is it important now? This why will serve as your motivation when times get tough.

Find External Accountability. According to Gretchen Rubin, when it comes to meeting expectations, most of us are what she calls “Obligers.” This means we have the tendency to meet outer expectations (ie work deadlines, family responsibilities) but struggle to meet inner expectations (ie New Year resolutions). The solve is to find external accountability with our goals. This could be finding a workout buddy who is relying on you to exercise, a personal trainer who is waiting for you to at the gym, or a health coach (like me!) who is helping you track your progress. Expanding the benefits of accomplishing your goal to other people could be the inspiration you need to stay on track. Even just sharing your goals and successes with others will make you feel more accountable to them because people will ask how things are going and start to expect that behavior from you.

Welcome the Stumbles. You will not be perfect and that’s ok. Go into the new year knowing this. Plan for failure because if you welcome a stumble it helps prevent a fall. You will miss workouts, eat doughnuts with your kids, and order take out instead of eating the home-cooked meal. This is life. The key is to effectively deal with these lapses so they don’t turn into full on relapses in behavior. We have a tendency to think “all or nothing.” Once we’ve done something “bad,” we say f-it and surrender to the bad behavior. Instead, see the behavior as an exception and get right back on track at the next meal. Know that exceptions will come along and plan for them.

Build Knowledge. Most people kick off a new exercise regimen by joining a particular studio or a new diet by subscribing to a meal plan, but don’t rely too heavily on any one outside resource for attaining your health goals. There will be times that resource will not be available. You don’t want to depend so much on it that you are at a loss when it isn’t there – like when you travel. As you begin your new routines, build the knowledge necessary to keep it going yourself. Be proactive in learning as much as you can about what it is you are doing so you can replicate it on your own as needed. So when you go out to eat on a Saturday night with friends, you know what to order off the menu that keeps you still on track with your goals. Or when you're traveling for work, you feel confident you can keep your workouts going despite not having access to your personal trainer or the workout studio you frequent. Also, most plans are one-size-fits-all. Be aware of what works for you specifically. The more awareness you have of your own needs the better you can customize plans for individual long-term gains. 

Hopefully, these tips will help make this new year a successful one for you and your health goals. Remember to be easy on yourself as we all experience ups and downs along the journey. The goal of good health is a continued one.

wellnessJulie Minchew