Healthy Holiday Eating Tips with Keysa Hale

Keysa Hale, Health Coach

When you’ve been working hard to focus on your health all year, it can be difficult to figure out how to keep up that focus during the holiday season.  We want to enjoy our holidays, but celebrations are often based around food and decadent desserts.  So how do you stay healthy without gaining a ton of weight?  Keysa Amaro, Health Coach has the answers for you in our Healthy Holiday Eating Podcast:

Show Notes:

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2016- The Year of Connection

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Missing Hawaii

It is midway through December. The Christmas tree is up, and that combined with the smell of pine and fallen leaves outside the house has me in a nostalgic mood.  It has me thinking about the past year.  God, so much has changed.  This time last year, I lived in Kailua, the most gorgeous place on the planet.  I dare you to tell me different.  I lived a mile away from a beautiful beach.  My best friends lived in walking distance from me.  On a Saturday morning I had a dozen people I could call at the drop of a hat to invite to a last minute hike or walk on the beach.  I knew my neighbors, and I had healthy, active people surrounding me.  I could walk to Crossfit and my work was a mere 15 minutes away.

Why then does it feel so right that I’ve moved to this out of the way place, where we are surrounded by squirrels, deer, bugs and birds?  Where Walmart is the best option for produce?  Where the beach (which in no way compares to Kailua) is a half hour drive away?  Where we are afraid to let our dogs run loose because they might get eaten by alligators or snatched up by large predatory birds?

One major answer is family.  I am missing my best friends like hell, and I am going to have to figure out how to visit soon, but now I feel like I live on the same planet as my family.  When I call them in the morning, it is also morning for them.  I don’t get the news 6 hours later than they do.  I saw my family and Nathan’s family in July.  Then I drove to New York for Thanksgiving.  Twice.  I am going to see

them again over the Christmas break.  I think Nathan said it most eloquently when we spoke of it in the car the other night.  He said, “This last time we drove away from the house, I was sad, because I would miss them, but I wasn’t thinking Is this the last time I am going to see them?”

How shitty is that question?  This is why I moved from Hawaii.  If someone in my family gets sick, or a family member gets married, or a family member has a baby, those things matter to me.  And living in Hawaii, you start to question whether you can afford to go see them.  That’s screwed up.  My mother-in-law had a liver transplant.  My sister-in-law gave her half of her own liver.  That’s freaking amazing.  And when we got married, they couldn’t come to Hawaii, because traveling when you’ve gotten a liver transplant is pretty freaking difficult, especially at first.  That sucked.  Big time.

Living so close feels amazing.  I feel like I am getting to know them again.  And it’s not like I didn’t talk to my siblings or my parents.  We kept and still do keep up a pretty good conversation via facebook

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Seeing Family is Priceless

and email and I was able to have Skype conversations with them on most of the holidays over the years.

Seeing Family Is Priceless
Seeing Family Is Priceless

But, let’s be honest.  It’s not the same.  It’s not the same as trying to sleep on the top bunk at your parents’ house when your oldest sister is sleeping on the bottom bunk and you’ve got years of catching up to do.  It’s not the same as being able to clear your crap out of your parents’ house for them.  It’s not the same as having a cup of coffee with them across the island in the kitchen or building a bonfire or playing Pandemic or talking about the Dragonriders of Pern books or simply being in their presence.  It’s not the same as spending time with your nieces and nephews and the dogs.  And it’s definitely not the same as being able to give them a hug.

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Seeing Family is Priceless

I feel like I missed a lot over the years, but at the same time, I grew up in Hawaii.  I became a big girl there.  I learned how to be a kind, loving, healthy, individual.  I learned how to love myself and I found friends there that became my family.
So how, in 2016 do I find what I had in Hawaii (not the beaches, but the friends and the lifestyle) and stay close to my family?  How do I find that connection somewhere close enough to New York?

I haven’t found the answer yet.  My husband and I are looking for employment possibly near Asheville, NC or in Colorado.  I need to find a group of people who are interested in health and wellness like I am.  We need to find a place that doesn’t have an undercurrent of discrimination.  And I need a place to be able to hike and work out, but this place can’t cost as much as Hawaii did.  I refuse to be a slave to the price of a plane ticket home.
Any ideas?  Comment below!  Where do you think the best place to live is?

 

Missing my Hawaii Family
Missing my Hawaii Family

Veterans Day

November is a month that is geared towards gratitude.  Two of my favorite holidays happen during this month- Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is obvious, and it is well shared about.  Veterans Day, on the other hand, seems to be a day that is given very little attention.

In the morning on holidays like Veteran’s Day there will be a multitude of sharings on social media, thanking our military members for their service.  This is wonderful and at the same time it often seems like an afterthought.  A quick nod for the day you got to take off of work perhaps.

But Veteran’s Day is a day of true appreciation.  After several years of working with military members and their families, I have a much deeper understanding of how important this day is.  The sacrifices that our military members make whether they are sent off to a war zone or work a desk job on a local base are deeper than most of us know.

Veterans Day celebrates our military members and coincides with Armistice Day- “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace” – President Woodrow Wilson.

To me, this is a day to celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy every day.  Freedom of Speech, Religion, Assembly, to Bear Arms, to own property, to live or travel anywhere, to work at any job, to marry and raise a family, to education, to participate in politics, to equal justice, to wear what you want, to make your own choices in your life, to complain about plain red cups, to post naked pictures of yourself on the internet.  You get to make those choices on your own.

I am grateful that I do not have to cover my face and body when I leave the house.

I am grateful that I could live in New York, Hawaii and North Carolina.  I am grateful that I can move if I want.

I am grateful that I can be friends with whoever I want.

I am grateful that I listen to the music I want.

I am grateful that I could marry who I wanted.

I am grateful for both fast food and farmer’s markets.

I am grateful for being able to vote.

I am grateful for clean, running water.

I am grateful for our police force, our military, our EMTs, our ability to cure so many diseases, and science.

I am grateful that I can believe whatever I want.

This is a short list.  When I picture myself living in a third world country or a country where women’s rights are non-existent, the list of gratitudes becomes extensive.

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What freedoms are you grateful for?

 

What Happened to Thanksgiving?

Three weeks ago I was walking in Walmart in the gardening section.  And there, tucked quietly on the side, in a row, near the patio furniture, were Christmas trees.  This was before Halloween.  I feel like the school year just started.

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Now, this is not a rant on how we are celebrating Christmas earlier and earlier.  Frankly, I don’t care about that in particular.  I’m sure there are people who quite brilliantly leave their Christmas tree up year round because it takes less energy.  That I don’t mind.  What I do mind is that the “holidays” based on getting stuff are squeezing out the holiday for appreciating the stuff.

Halloween has always been about dressing up and getting candy.  What’s cooler than dressing up and becoming something or someone completely different from yourself for one evening?  And getting Snickers bars to boot?  That’s amazing.

After Halloween is supposed to come Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a holiday about family, about quality time spent together, about playing soccer or football in the backyard after eating a ton of food around a huge table packed with loved ones.  The whole idea of Thanksgiving is preparing food for someone else.  It’s spending hours together in the kitchen getting different dishes ready.  It’s everyone pitching in to make an entree or a dessert.  It’s guests helping you clean your dishes when half the party has left.  It’s playing Atari with your cousins in the basement and going on a long walk in the woods to counteract the tryptophan from the turkey.  This holiday is all about giving and thanking and community and kindness and gratitude.

No wonder it’s been completely overshadowed by the Christmas holiday season.  I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but here in America we like to get stuff.  We think our kids deserve hundreds of presents and we think other people should know what expensive thing we want to get under the tree.  In every school I’ve worked at over the years, Santa has become a bargaining tool for the children.  If you’re good you’ll get stuff, but if you don’t listen, Santa won’t come.

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So we go from dressing up and getting stuff in October, to a quick thanks for a second in November to “give me, give me, give me” in December.  January we have a momentary break and then we jump into February’s candy and card fest.

I guess I don’t need to go on, you can see where this is going.  We have become a country run by the gifts we get for each other.  We deserve the new car, the newest iPhone, and my child should have all the things on his Halloween, birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day lists.  We have become collectors of shiny stuff.

This year, I challenge you to cover your eyes and ears when the commercials for Christmas come on.  Stop believing the advertisements telling you how much you need.

What do you really need?  You need Thanksgiving.  Over and over and over again.  Remove yourself from the craziness.  I’m not saying not to give gifts.  But you don’t have to get everyone you’ve ever met a gift.  You don’t have to make a card for everyone who has ever crossed your path.  Your loved ones don’t need more than one present from you.

holding-handsThis holiday season (whatever that means) do your best to schedule time for the people you love.  Get out a board game.  Go outside for a walk.  Read a book together.  Create a meal from scratch together.  Do anything, but do it with someone.  Put your phones and your iPads down and look each other square in the eyes.  Whether you pray or not at your holiday of choice, you should still sit next to each other around a table and hold hands for a moment.  Maybe just take a deep breath together.  The human connection is something we’re losing.  Be the one to bring it back to your group.

Stop asking for more and appreciate all the things and people you have.

Do you have any plans with friends and family for the holidays?  Share it below!

Preparing for New Year’s Goals

December is my second favorite month of the year.  July wins out because that is my birthday month, so it is full of celebration.  But December is close on its heels.  I love December for many reasons: there’s the holiday celebrations, the holiday food, the holiday music, and the gracious attitude that people seem to adopt as they count the days to Christmas.  But my favorite part of the month is its representation of the end of the year.  Over the last few years it has become a time for me to reflect on the past year and think about the next.  It gives me a chance to look at all of the challenges that I went through and to congratulate myself for the successes.  And it is a time for me to prepare for my New Year’s Goals.

How many New Year’s Goals have you successfully made and kept throughout the year?  For the majority of the population most goals are dropped by February and completely forgotten about by March.  Health clubs go through a ginormous spike in memberships during December and January.  And more than half of those people stop showing up a few months later.  Why is this?  People are usually VERY motivated at first.  They get the membership.  They buy the outfits.  They research the diets.  They get the nicotine patch.  They bite the bullet and look at their finances.  They stop buying things they don’t need.  They buy the Spanish Rosetta Stone.  They spend more time with family and friends.  But soon enough the motivation goes out the door.

I believe that we do not spend the time we should on figuring out WHY we want to reach the goals we choose.  We pick lofty goals that sound great, but when our desired outcome is superficial, or we’re trying to please someone else, we tend to lose motivation.  Want to lose weight?  Why?  Want to get out of debt? Why?  Want to stop smoking? Why?

 

If you can’t answer the question, you are likely to be one of the millions of people who drop their New Year’s Goals.  And if you answered that you just want to stop smoking because other people tell you it’s a good idea, your chances of following through are pretty slim.  But if you desire to stop smoking because you have a new baby in the house and you want to feel energetic enough to play with her, or you want to protect him by keeping second hand smoke away, now those are more likely to push you through the year.

So what if you can’t answer the why or you’ve just figured out you have no motivation past pleasing your spouse?  Journaling is my first recommendation for most problems.  The process of writing helps you get clear on what you perceive the problem to be, and helps slow down your thinking when it comes to solutions.  You can also go back and look at your writing if you lose motivation or need to remember something you’ve forgotten.  For those who don’t like writing, drawing a picture, cutting out pictures, or recording voice memos can be helpful as well.  Here’s some journal exercises that I have done over the years to get really focused on my goals and helped me follow through.

  •  Write down what you think your goals should be.  Then ask yourself the question, “Why?”  and write the answer.  Continue to ask yourself a few times until you feel like you’ve really gotten to the answer.  An example-  “I want to stop drinking.”  Why?  “Because I have gained weight and been less motivated to do work.”  Why? “Because I feel unhealthy.”  Why? “My wife is unhappy with me.” Why? “Because I feel unhealthy and I’m not taking care of myself.” Why?  “I want to feel healthy and take care of myself.”  Why? “Because I want to be healthy enough to take care of myself and take care of my wife.”-  Now there’s motivation to stop drinking.
  • Write down previous goals that you have made in the past.  Free write about any challenges or successes you had while meeting those goals.
  • Write out your fantasy life.  Write how everything would be different if you met your goal. All of the things you would be able to do, places you’d be able to go, or things you’d be able to have.  Get precise and specific.

Now that you’ve gone a little deeper with your goals, it’s time to evaluate if they need to be rewritten.  Continuing with the example above, wanting to stop smoking because of the new baby in the house, maybe you realize that it’s not just about cigarettes.  You want to feel energetic enough to play with your baby and keep both of you healthy.  Quitting smoking might only be a part of this goal.  Writing your goal in a more positive frame will help keep you on the right track, even when things get hard.  Your new goal might be “By February I will be able to have the energy to spend at least 8 hours with the baby.”  Framing your goal in this way might help you make decisions not just about smoking, but about exercise and healthy eating as well.  And if you give in and have a cigarette, you have not “failed your goal.”  You don’t have to give up.  You have the motivation of spending time with your baby to keep trying.

What goals do you have for the New Year?  What is the motivation behind it?  How will you keep the motivation to make it all the way through to December 2014?  Comment below!