Ditch The New Year's Resolutions Before They Fail...

Yes it sounds harsh; harsh but fair I would say!

Here are some of the most common New Year's Resolutions that rarely make it until February;

•   Lose weight
•   Get fit
•   Eat healthier
•   Get out of debt
•   Be more sociable
•   Earn more money
•   Start my own business

I could go on… So why are these aims doomed to failure before they even get going? Define fit, how much weight and to what purpose, what to eat, how will I get out of debt, by when? etc… Too many people take on too much when it comes to New Year's Resolutions without really thinking how they will make these changes; it's easy to reel off a load of ambitious aims when there's a whole year ahead of us but what are we going to do each and every day to take us one step nearer to those goals? We have to know exactly what we want to achieve and then we have to plan and take action steps to make them happen.

To make real, and more importantly, sustainable changes we need to think smart - as in SMART goals;

•   Specific
•   Measurable
•   Achievable
•   Realistic
•   Timely

Although arguably one of the hardest goals to achieve, quitting something has the highest chance of succeeding - 'stop smoking right as of Jan 1st' fits all the above criteria - the trickiest bits are the Achievable and Realistic depending on the person; the habit to break, their willpower, their support network, whether they can make themselves accountable to someone. Compare that to #1 on our list - lose weight. Why do I want to lose weight in the first place, how can I lose weight safely and sustainably, how much and at what pace, by when, then what??? (There's a reason 'diets' don't work!)

If this all sounds overwhelming and too much like hard work why even bother? Well, there is an answer; a guaranteed path to success, and all you need is to put one 'anytime' resolution into practice;

"Starting right now, using SMART goals I will take small, easy and sustainable steps to constantly improve every aspect of my life - and I will do it forever!"

As a trained and certified Health, Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, my job, (and my passion) is to help people like YOU become the best possible version of yourself. If you want to know more about making permanent improvements to all areas of your life, contact me for a FREE, no obligation one-on-one health and lifestyle consultation. For a list of my services click here and wherever you are and whatever you get up to, have a fabulous 2014 :-)

Why you should start your new health regime BEFORE Christmas

Winter has plenty to offer if you're the outdoor type and don't mind the cold, but for many people it is a time of hibernating - wrapping up lazily on the sofa with a good book, hot chocolate and some comfort food, waiting until spring to start getting in shape again. Ring any bells???

And then what happens - spring is suddenly upon us and everyone wants to get in shape for the summer; eat healthy, exercise more, unpack the summer clothes only to find out they've shrunk over the winter…So here's my take on it!

'Everyone' seems to join a new gym in the New Year - why would you? It's the worst possible time to join; it'll be crowded with uncommitted people who won't be there in a month's time, unfamiliar with the equipment, 'hogging' your favourite work station, wasting time in the showers, cluttering the change area etc. Admit it; you want to go to the gym when there are just enough people to create an atmosphere but not so many that you have to wait for or limit your time with equipment. You want it to feel like your own personal club - am I right? So don't be one of those people; go now and by January you'll feel like one of the old sweats, your workout will be so much more efficient when you have it polished and the staff will take you far more seriously - you'll get to know them and they will more likely take an interest in you and your success. The 'resolutions' crowd will come and go and you'll hardly notice them.

And as for healthy eating - why wait until the spring to change your habits, to panic diet, where your only goal is to lose enough weight to fit into your favourite summer outfit again? That's no way to live a healthy life; it involves too much sacrifice and is unsustainable - if it worked you wouldn't be doing it again and again. Summer beach bodies are earned in the winter! With all the long nights ahead isn't this the perfect time to learn some healthy food options that you actually like? Trust me, I hate to sacrifice my favourite foods - so I don't, I create them! I know what goes in them and I get to make them exactly how I like them.

Contrary to popular beliefs, the build up to Christmas is the perfect time to make the changes! Here's why;
  • Small changes make the most sustainable results so this time of year is a great excuse not to go at it too hard - think moderation. 
  • With the likelihood of lots of parties, rich Christmas foods and general excess you'll certainly get enough treats to keep you going - but what about the rest of the time? Use this time to eat as healthily as you can, all the while knowing it's only a couple of days or so until the next blowout. 
  • Take some light exercise during the day, before you go out - and then enjoy your party without the guilt.
  • If you start slowly and gently now, you'll be far more motivated and in a much better place to step it up come the end of the holidays.
So don't wait until spring to get ready for summer - start now; feel awesome, look awesome, have awesome amounts of energy - just BE awesome!

Growing up and fitting in - we've got it all wrong!

I was chatting with friends the other day and we're joking, (although not really) about how we're getting stiffer and less flexible as we get older - and none of us are that old! Then the upside of ageing comes up, how we get more self confident and care less about the opinions of others on how we look, dress and act and how life is tough, for different reasons, at any age.

So I ask the question; which category of people has it best; the most confident, the most flexible, the greatest capacity to learn, the most open minded and inquisitive? The answer of course, is babies! And then it all goes downhill from there…and although this is lighthearted, it's also very true! Although the same could be said for dogs; they don't seem to get sick, they intuitively know what is good for them and what isn't - and when was the last time you saw a stressed out dog?

We have it all wrong! My eldest sister Sue, (love her to bits) has always been the free thinking one in our family and I have to admit over the years, I've considered her to be a bit 'out there', but as I get older and wiser I'm starting to think she may have had it right all along.

At around five we go to school, and I know things have changed since my days but the basic outline is still the same; we sit quietly in rows day after day, only speaking when we're spoken to. We are asked the questions, but we're then told the answers - we learn to remember rather than think. We learn what we're told - this is right and that is wrong; there really isn't a whole lot of encouragement to question everything. So what happens to our naturally inquisitive nature? It gets quashed! I always remember my young nephew Callum in his early days questioning everything; I would constantly be 'grilled' about anything and everything when I visited, every tradesman that came to the house would be interrogated in great detail about what they were doing and why. And he would remember all of it down the last snippet of information. I remember hoping that it would never stop and he would go through life taking in everything that went on around him. I know I stopped doing it long ago; I took everything to be what it seemed on the surface. I accepted everything I was told by anyone in any kind of authority; teachers, parents, police, priests - in fact any adult. I joined the military and believed what I was told by anyone with any seniority to me. I learned who the good guys were in the world, and who the bad guys were - both of whom seemed to constantly change depending on what, I don't know? But that's what we were told so it must surely be right…mustn't it???

It wasn't until I grew older and realized that I didn't really know very much at all, but what I did know was that I wasn't the only one - everyone in life was just passing down the same information without questioning it. Someone could have made up a total lie years ago and we all believed it because 'it must be true' and to question it would mean not fitting in, being the outsider, being different.

And this is the biggest mistake of all; we shouldn't fit in, any of us. We should ALL fit out, we need to all be different, be our own outsider. How can we change things for the better if we keep on doing the same things that clearly don't work? And this isn't about anything specific; it's about everything in life; how we live, how we lead, how we build our homes, how we provide for our families, how the country is run and how we create sustainable energy. This is not me being a conspiracy theorist, this is me opening my mind. We are fed into a system based around money, debt and greed. Young people come out of university with huge debt which often takes them many years to pay off, by which time they are 'fitting in', they use their qualifications to get good, well paying jobs. But part of having these good jobs involves having the big house, the nice car and all the toys. So we now have to earn good money to just be able to sustain the lifestyle that the good job affords us. And so the circle goes round and comes round - on and on and on - until we retire after 40 plus years of working 50/60/70 hours a week to give ourselves what we are told is the good life! But what has this all cost us? We put on weight, we spend more time sick, we pile on the medications, we get stressed, we lose our health - for what? To fit in, to belong - to the consumer population. 

And this is the wealthy ones; what about the less fortunate? So many families these days are struggling to get by; both parents working two jobs just to make ends meet - those ends never will meet - as long as huge corporations can pay minimum wage in order to make more profits for the shareholders.

Thankfully we now have the internet so there is no right and wrong answer anymore; all the information in the world, right and wrong, is just a click away. Some true, some not true, but at least now we have the choice. We get to read both sides of every story, every argument, which can only be a good thing. We can make our own informed decisions, we get to question everything and make our own minds up. No longer is there any justification to the phrase; "Don't believe what you read on the internet!" You'll read plenty of information that at first seems wrong because it's not what you've been led to believe, it goes against everything you've ever been told. But is it wrong? Maybe, maybe not… We need to start thinking for ourselves; question where the information is coming from. Just because it comes from a reputable source - why is that source reputable? Who sets to gain from this information? Are there political or commercial interests at stake here? If it's just the opinion of a 'nobody' does that make it any less worthy of your time and consideration?

So is there an answer to all this ranting? I believe we should all learn how to live from babies and dogs; they both seem to have it right - we clearly don't. And parents, next time you need an answer to one of life's troubling questions, just try asking your kids. You have nothing to lose and you may just be surprised by their open-mindedness...

Healthy Sweet Treats Party Food Recipe Round-up

I had such fun rounding up my favourite savory recipes for our finger foods party collection, but everything in balance, right?! We all need a little sweet to compliment that savory fix!

Sweet treats don't have to be bad for you. Nor are they necessarily 'cheat' items. When you're preparing these at home you're in control of the ingredients - choose high quality dark chocolate and organic ingredients when you can. The big difference between these treats and something you'd buy from the store in the lack of processed rubbish and refined sugars. Still consume in moderation but make sure you ENJOY them (because feeling guilty just makes you miserable - and then you'll want to eat more to console yourself!)

So here they are....my round up of 12 delectable desserts and sweet treats for your seasonal party!

Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters from Lexie's Kitchen
Fruit Kabobs from Taste of Home
Dates stuffed with Nut Butter from Healthy Tipping Point

Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites from Free People Blog
Grinch Kabobs from Nourishing Minimalism
Candy Apple Wedges from An Edible Mosaic

Tahini Fudge Squares from {never}homemaker
Yogurt Drop treats from She is Red
Coconut Macaroons from A Tasty Love Story

And just in case you missed it...Check out 20 Healthy Savory Finger Foods recipe round-up 

Healthy Party Food Recipe Round-up!

Yes, it's that time of year again; work parties, long lunches, family gatherings, friends popping round etc as everyone enjoys the atmosphere that is the lead up to Christmas. But along with this comes… the bloating, the tightened waistband, the excess pounds sneaking on our midriffs. It's always the same; as much as we try and eat healthily at meal times, it's the snacking, the party foods that does it every time.

We all know the best options - chopped veg and pieces of fruit dipped in a healthy hummus, but despite our best intentions we just can't resist the chicken fingers, the meatballs, the chocolates… or can we…?

To save you the hard work I've put together an awesome list of my favourite healthy finger foods; some are my own creations, but most I've collected from around the web. All are delicious and for the most part healthy.

For extra tips on all aspects of staying healthy at Christmas see my older post here - now go out and enjoy everything the season has to offer :-)

Here are 20 Healthy Finger Food Recipes and ideas for your next seasonal party!;

Zucchini Pizza Bites from Inspired Dreamer
Thai Turkey Meatballs from You Say Tomato
Masala Chicken Fingers from Better Together BC

Healthy Mozzarella Sticks from Every College Girl
Mediterranean Cucumber Cups from The Three Little Piglets
Sun-dried Tomato Hummus from Veggiestyle with Daphne
Devilled Eggs from me!

Parmesan Chia Seed Crackers from Chocolate and Dumbbells
Bruschetta from Daniela
Stuffed Peppadew Peppers from Carolina Girl Cooks
Omelette Cupcakes from Hungry Healthy Happy

Stuffed Dates with Goats Cheese & Pistachios from Noshing with the Nolands
Black Olive Penguins from Foodie with Family
Crispy Quinoa Bites from The Healthy Apple
Dolmades from Melbourne Seasonal Eater

Stuffed Mushrooms from AB petite
Cucumber with Smoked Salmon from Amazing Sandwiches

Check out part 2 of my Healthy Party Finger Foods - I have rounded up 12 awesome sweet treats recipes for your sweet tooth pleasure!

Caprese Salad on a Stick recipe

Caprese Salad has got to be my favourite salad. Love that fresh, fresh taste of the mozzarella and fresh juicy tomatoes. And everything tastes better with balsamic vinegar, no?! This variation is perfect for entertaining - no mess, no plates, just grab a stick and pop it right in your mouth. Then repeat. Frequently!!


Cherry Tomatoes
Bocconcini Cheese
Fresh Basil Leaves
Balsamic Vinegar
Cocktail Sticks

Simply stick 1 cherry tomato, 1 mini bocconcini cheese and a basil leaf onto each cocktail stick. Arrange on your serving platter and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

To make the Balsamic Reduction
Add 1/2 cup of Balsamic Vinegar to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat so the liquid will simmer until thickened. Watch and stir occasionally - once it starts thickening it goes quickly!

Health(ier) Devilled Eggs

Possibly my all time favourite 'party' food. But they get a bad rap for not being healthy. I think eggs are perfectly healthy and it's easy to trade out the traditional mayonnaise filling for greek yogurt (but really we're only talking a smidgeon of mayo per egg anyway so I wouldn't sweat it too much!!) But for these I did skip the mayo bringing you a healthier version;

  • 6 Hard boiled Eggs
  • Curry Power
  • 2 Tbsp Greek Yogurt
  • Paprika
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper
Cut all the eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Add to the yolks the Yogurt, Curry Power and Salt & Pepper and mix to a paste. If it's too dry add a little more yogurt to get a paste. Carefully spoon the mixture back into the Egg Whites. Arrange on your serving plate and sprinkle with paprika and a sprig of parsley.

Curse you Coach Recap and Reminder...

Ok, for those who haven't started my December 'Curse your Coach' challenge for whatever reason, I just wanted to let you know it's never too late to start - like NOW people!!! It is nearly Christmas after all and who doesn't like to go into the holiday period feeling good about themselves - in every way :-)

Here is the link to the original rules of the game with the daily challenges and cringe-worthy jokes you may have missed so far below - extra points for the person who catches up all in one day - and there will be a prize for the funniest/most interesting/whacky contribution...

Day 1 - Pick someone you don’t know from my Facebook friends and send them a message introducing yourself and telling them how you know me!

Two blondes walk into a building……….you’d think at least one of them would have seen it.

Day 2 - Easy physical intro – 50 squats. If you can do 50 then do 100, if you can do 100 then do 150…..

Phone answering machine message -”…If you want to buy marijuana, press the hash key…”

Day 3 - Eat 8 portions of veg and 2 of fruit today!

I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn’t find any.

Day 4 - Your legs should be aching from two days ago – do the same squats again!

I went to the butchers the other day and I bet him 50 quid that he couldn’t reach the meat off the top shelf. He said, “No, the steaks are too high.”

Day - Compliment a total stranger!

My friend drowned in a bowl of muesli. A strong currant pulled him in.

For all the up coming days, keep an eye on my Facebook page. Each challenge gets posted the day before so there should be no excuses wherever you are in the world…

Have fun and enjoy the challenge :-)

Fresh air experience

This time of year might just be one of my favourites; I love the summer heat and the colours of spring and autumn but there's something about the first snow outing of the season. Fortunately I live in a lake valley surrounded by mountains which means we get much milder weather at lake level while we have deep thick snowy conditions up on the high ground.

And so it was this weekend that a bunch of us, and of course our dogs, headed to the hills for our first snowshoe hike/fumble… There's a ski resort just about 45 minutes from here and just 2 kms short of that there is a smaller area with Nordic skiing, snowmobile routes and plenty of trails to snowshoe and let the dogs go mad together. Ours being a Vizsla with no undercoat and very little body fat was the only one to wear a fleece coat; at 20 months she's still too young to know when she's cold and would quite happily freeze to death as long as she was having fun!

The logistics of getting 7 people, 6 dogs and 3 vehicles to the same place at the same time was like herding cats so by the time those who needed to hire shoes had them and we were all ready to go it was already well into the afternoon. And being a cloudy day, we only had a couple of hours till dusk but it was plenty of time for our first foray together. It did help that we knew where we were going so we managed to get deep into the forest before turning round to come back. It would have been nice to have done a loop but unfortunately there are maps of the area's trails and although we were following 'blazes' on the trees, we had no way of knowing how far each trail would go - I think we need a full day, a GPS and a picnic to figure out some loops of our own.

Exercise - check!
Fresh air - check!
Quality social time - check!
Self care - check! 

Next trip is planned to be a night hike with all of us carrying a backpack of food, dry firewood and maybe just a small warming tipple or three...
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