Trying to get healthy in 2017?

If you think about it, January isn’t the most intuitive time to try to adopt a healthy new lifestyle. It’s cold, the days are short and the nights are long. Those aren’t exactly conditions that make you crave lighter, fresher foods or pre-dawn workouts. And yet January is a great time to adopt healthier habits—whether that means hitting your favorite fitness classes with more regularity, saying no thank you to dessert or taking on a meditation practice.

Why?

Because after the celebrations and indulgences of the holiday season, pretty much everyone feels like hitting the reset button. And those frigid and dark conditions? They’re also not all that conducive to socializing, which means there’s less pressure to go out and meet up, so it’s easier to take three to four weeks for yourself for focusing on establishing healthier routines.

Maybe think of it as the gift you give to yourself. Carve out the time and space you need to make those healthy changes and…here’s the important part…allow them to become your new way of life. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years with my own body, it’s that HEALTH IS HABIT. And while bad habits may be difficult to break, good ones aren’t that hard to start. The key, of course, is sticking with them. Here are my five tips for turning your well-intentioned New Years resolutions into lasting lifestyle changes that help you feel confident, happy and healthy all year round.

 

Try new cooking methods.

Here are three things you need to have in your kitchen to cut a bunch of excess fat from your diet: Cooking spray (I love coconut oil cooking spray for its clean taste and higher smoke point), baking sheets and parchment paper. Instead of sautéing veggies, try roasting them on baking sheets lightly coated with cooking spray. I also cook my egg-white omelets in a cast-iron pan coated in cooking spray instead of using a knob of butter. Last, I love cooking my fish, chicken and turkey on baking sheets wrapped in parchment paper. The meat stays tender and moist and it helps seal in the flavor if you’re using spices and herbs for flavor.

 

Make spices and garnishes your friends.

If the food you are eating isn’t delicious, your meal won’t give you pleasure and you won’t feel satisfied. Many chefs (and most packaged foods) rely on the triumvirate of salt, sugar and fat to make food taste good, but you can easily—and painlessly—cut back on those additives by replacing them with spices. I love tossing my zucchini noodles with crushed red pepper and garlic, stewing my cauliflower with curry and roasting my carrots with cumin, for example. Another easy way to add an extra element of pleasure to your meal (so you run less of a risk of feeling deprived) is to pretty up your plate. Invest and use nice tableware and take a little extra time to sprinkle on herbs, spices or other colorful edibles like pomegranate or pumpkin seeds.

 

Pick a time when you work out and stick with it.

Habit is routine and routines work. Your body gets used to working out at a certain time, just like it gets used to having coffee in the morning or an herbal tea before bed. I like to work out early in the morning before my children (and business associates) get up because I know that at that hour nothing is going to get in the way of me going to the gym. It was hard in the beginning getting up at 5 am, but after three to four I got used to the routine.  Now if I don’t work out early in the morning, I don’t feel right.

 

Trick yourself into a good workout.

On days when I really don’t feel like going to the gym, I tell myself “I’ll take it easy today.” Once I’m ten minutes into my workout and starting to sweat, my energy completely shifts and I’m ready to hit it hard.

 

Sip carefully.

I used to drink a lot of my excess calories in the form of cocktails, wine, or so-called healthy beverages like green juices (many of which are loaded with sugar and devoid of fiber). None of these calories contributed to my feeling of fullness and so it was easy to forget about them. If you do nothing else but make a commitment to drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of water (and no other beverages) a day for two weeks, you’ll be surprised at the results. An extra tip: Try sparkling water with a few dashes of bitters if you’re like me and like to have a cocktail at night.

Three Ways to Get More Joy Out of Your Next Meal

 

When I became a food editor at a magazine, I started thinking about food differently. Now, when I read recipes or thought about what I wanted to cook for a weekend dinner party, I didn’t just consider how the food was going to taste, but how it was going to look. For the first time, I understood that inspire people to want to try to make the recipes we were running (which could often be complicated and include lots of different ingredients), we had to make them look delicious.

 

Working with a top-notch team of art and photo directors, I learned a few easy tricks to making food look beautiful—and I applied those tricks when creating the recipes and styling the cookbook shots alongside Michele Ervin, our talented co-artistic director, for The Model Trainer Method.

 

I’ve noticed that a lot of women, when they are cooking for themselves, don’t make much of an effort to make their food look beautiful. And when they are cooking food that’s focused more on its nutritional value (rather than taste) this can be doubly true.

 

My point of view is that you should make an even bigger effort to make the food that is good for you look and taste delicious. Why? Because you are less likely to feel deprived. And when you don’t feel deprived, that’s when eating right becomes simply how you eat, rather than a “diet” which implies, for better or worse, a temporary change in your eating habits. Temporary changes yield temporary results. Want to shift your shape for the long term and maintain that bikini-body confidence 365 days a year? It all starts with your attitude—and how you think about mealtime.

 

 

Tip One: #EattheRainbow (But not why you think)

 

The popular Instagram hashtag comes from the idea that the color of the fruit or vegetable you are eating is indicative of the vitamins and minerals it contains. For example, green plants contain Vitamin K and folic acid and orange vegetables have Vitamin A. Including a variety of colors (red tomatoes, orange carrots, purple cabbage, green leaves….and so on) on our plate is an easy and fun way to ensure that we’re getting all the health-boosting benefits of these micronutrients. But there’s another reason to think about color when building your meals: It’s visually more pleasing.

 

Tip Two: Plate your food like a chef or a food stylist.

 

Don’t just throw everything together in a bowl and dig in. Spend a few extra minutes preparing your food with love and care and arranging it in a pretty or unexpected way on your plate. The energy and intention you give to your food prep, is a little bit like the effort you put into your workout: You get out of it, what you put into it. Mindful eating doesn’t start when you sit down with a fork in hand and a plate in front of you; it starts way back in the kitchen, with the cutting board and the carrot.

 

Tip Three: Invest in tablewear that makes you happy.

 

Think of the plates and napkins you use as the clothes and accessories of your table. You know that on the days you make an extra effort to dress nicely for work or to pick your kids up from school, you have a little more spring in your step. Dressing your table well can have the same impact. Using cloth napkin and pretty plates and bowls can elevate a simple weeknight meal or your mid-day Greek Yogurt to something that feels a bit more special. The end result? You enjoy eating what is good for you more.

 

Simon Pearce Linen Crinkle Napkins
Simon Pearce Linen Crinkle Napkins

For our photo shoot, we used napkins, plates and utensils from Simon Pearce, a family-run company based in Vermont. I fell in love with the company’s heritage of craftsmanship and quality, as well as the look and feel of their Belmont bowls and Hartland Ridge plates, which are simple, elegant and modern. To complete a perfect place setting, you need a napkin as soft as it is functional—like their linen crinkle napkin—and flatware that adds a little metallic sparkle to your table (any of their sets will do).

Click here to check out their investment-worthy plates, bowls, linens and more: Simon Pearce.

Ask The Model Trainer

 

Hi Guys! After I received about a million direct messages over Instagram, we decided that it makes the most sense to have you post your questions on Facebook (www.facebook.com/toneandstyle). If you’re feeling a bit shy or your question is of a more personal nature, feel free to submit them via the contact form on the website. Just let us know you prefer to remain anonymous. Going forward, we will no longer be answering questions sent to my Instagram.

 

The Question:

 

“If I lift heavy, will I get bulky?”

 

The Answer:

 

This was by far the most popular question asked. The answer is no. If you want to change your body and proportions, you need resistance training, cardio and a proper diet. You cannot get big and bulky unless your diet supports it. It takes years of hard work and dedication to gain huge amounts of muscle. This does not happen by accident. Generally, women who complain about being too bulky have a higher body-fat percentage, not too much muscle. 

Resistance training will give you an incredibly lean, fit physique when accompanied by a proper nutrition plan and regular cardio.

 

 

The Question:

 

What are your thoughts on ‘if it fits yours macros’?

 

The Answer:

I like to think of diets as fun math puzzles. They are designed actually with numbers and then foods are plugged in at the end that fit those numbers. They can get more sophisticated as well depending who is designing them. With “if it fits your macros” the quality of the food does not matter- only the numbers matter.  So, for example, say I’m eating meal one—if my carbohydrate number is 30g it doesn’t matter if those 30g come from oats or from candy.

I personally am not a fan of “if it fits your macros” or as it is sometimes referred to as “iifym.” I think we should be treating our bodies with love and respect and fueling it with healthy, nutritious foods the majority of the time. The quality of the food you put into your body affects workout performance, recovery, energy levels, skin, hair, everything. You can’t fill your body with junk food all day, everyday, and expect it to perform well. That being said, I think that iifym has its place. For example, if someone eats healthy the majority of the time and needs a mental break from constraints of their diet, it can be a useful tool. They can use iifym to have a meal with foods they may be missing while still hitting their target macros and progressing towards goal.