Ditch the junk...without losing your mind.

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Breaking habits can be even harder than starting new habits -- wouldn't you agree?  Especially when those habits are related to your health.  If you tend to gravitate toward unhealthy junk foods, it can be a considerable struggle to change your eating habits to incorporate healthier items. 

 

There are a few reasons why this is so difficult to do, and even better, there are several tricks you can implement to get over that hump.

 

Today we're speaking specifically to breaking the junk food habit and beginning to eat more whole foods...

 

Go gradually with your cutbacks

Junk food is loaded with sugar, and your body gets hooked on it.  Start by cutting down on these junk foods that are currently in your diet. You’ll get less of a high from them, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your healthy eating goals. Start by taking the sugar out of your coffee, or by switching out your snacks each day with a healthy snack.  Whatever small step you choose, stick with it until you're comfortable with your new healthy habit -- then move on to your next healthy habit.  It works like a charm!

 

Never buy foods with more than five ingredients

In the supermarket, you should mainly roam the fresh aisles where the produce and unprocessed foods are. However, there are still staples you’ll need from the inner aisles. Read those labels when you find items in those inner aisles, and try to find the healthiest option possible of what you're shopping for -- the fewer ingredients and the more you can pronounce those ingredients, the better. 

 

Add more colors and textures to your plate

A salad is impossible to eat if you just throw soggy lettuce in a bowl. Instead, make it a rainbow of colors and a playground of textures. Add tomatoes, colorful peppers, crunchy nuts, and even a bit of goat cheese to please your palate.

 

Break your bad habit cycles

If you always ventured to the vending machine at work in the mid-afternoon, break the association with that by starting a healthier habit. Take a walk that keeps you away from that vending machine, for example. It will only take a few weeks to replace that old bad habit with a good one, and you'll be feeling so good about your swapped habit that you'll be ready to tackle your next habit swap.

 

Make healthy foods more accessible

You’re more likely to eat right when you’ve got a healthy snack ready to go. Bag up portions of mixed nuts, make your own trail mix, and keep cut up veggies with hummus around and you’ll always have a healthy go-to snack.

 

Don’t keep junk in the house

To make the switch complete, keeping those junky items out of your house is best. That way if you get a craving at midnight, you won’t be willing to run out and get it. You’ll train yourself to save sweets and treats for special occasions instead of for late night snacks.

 

Allow yourself to be disgusted

A great way to make the change to eating less processed foods is to really learn what’s in them. Go ahead, pull those packaged foods out and research the labels. Look up all the ingredients you can’t pronounce. They sound much less delicious now, don’t they?

 

Be patient and kind with yourself, too. Your inner voice needs your nurturing to make this change for the better.

Making Resolutions You Will Actually Keep!

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Does it seem like the years fly by faster each year?  Sometimes I can't believe how fast they go by, and this year is no exception.  We get wrapped up in our schedules, and before we know it, we're making holiday plans again with our loved ones. 

 

Same goes for New Year's Resolutions.  We proudly proclaim them at the beginning of each year with the best of intentions.  We really mean to accomplish them, but nearly all of them fall flat before Spring even hits. 

 

There are many reasons why this happens.  To stick with your resolutions, you’ve got to be realistic about your goals. Here are some tips for creating resolutions you’ll actually keep so that when New Year’s rolls around again, you can try making a new resolution instead of the same ones year after year.

 

1. Set up a reward

Whatever you’ve decided, be it weight loss or quitting smoking or even both, you’re more likely to make a positive change in your behavior if you have a reward waiting down the line. Make your goals manageable, also. Saying that you just want to lose weight has no direction which is why this goal always fizzles out. Make checkpoints along the way if you're going to see those results, and make those rewards unrelated to food.

 2. Pair up with your pals

Getting together with friends to better yourselves is an excellent way to build up your new good habits. Whether it’s taking a class together at the gym or learning a new craft like painting or pottery, teaming up with your friends will make it much more likely you won’t give up on your goals.

 3. Keep a written record

Writing down your resolutions makes it more front and center in your mind. In fact, starting a journal around your resolutions is highly recommended. You can write what you’ve done each day to get to that goal.

4. Dissect your resolutions into tangible goals

If you’re serious about achieving your resolutions, before the ball drops, write out your resolutions. Then, dissect them into what you’re going to do to get there. So, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, write down what you’re going to do to get there on a daily basis. You can commit to 15 minutes of exercise per day to start and then increase it at a checkpoint. You can also commit to swapping out some unhealthy items every week. Doing it this way will help you make the changes you want to see.

 5. Share your resolutions

If you really want to succeed, tell your friends and family about your resolutions before New Year’s Eve. You will find much support and possibly teammates to take along for the journey.

 

Don’t let another year of unresolved resolutions fly by. Make 2019 your year, it’s entirely within your reach.  What are you excited about in the new year?  Hit reply and let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

6 Ways to Stay Healthy When You Travel

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Whether holiday travel plans, vacations, or work has you on the road, it can certainly disrupt your usual routine and throw you off track. So how do you still get in a workout and eat right even when you’re miles away from home?

 

It's absolutely possible with some intention setting and pre-planning.  You may have to be traveling, but taking the time to take care of you is critical no matter where you are.  Here’s how to do it without it feeling like a chore.

 

1. Check out your hotel’s fitness options

Most hotels have fitness centers or swimming pools. Find out what they contain before you book. If your company is footing the bill, you may not even have a say in where you stay, however knowing what exercise options you have available will allow you to keep a fitness plan while you’re traveling. Should there be no fitness room of any kind, you can stream videos in your room to exercise to or get in some walking as you explore the area you're visiting.

 

2. Learn about the food in your destination

Most places will have healthy eating options, though they might not be as robust a selection as you’re used to. Find out what kind of food is available in your hotel and nearby. Some hotels have kitchenettes where you can cook your own food, which is an excellent option for keeping your own healthy foods on hand for your meals.

 

3. Don’t just sit there

Long flights mean lots of sitting, which affects your circulation. Get up and move about the cabin and do some exercises while in your seat to battle it. Trapped in the airport from a delay? Get up and walk around a bit before returning to the gate. Incidentally, if you’re traveling internationally, moving about more will help you beat jet lag faster.  There's plenty to do and see in an airport, so have fun exploring and getting some extra steps in.

 

4. Stay hydrated

Water is essential when you’re flying. It might mean more trips to the lavatory, but without enough hydration, you may become dehydrated.  It's easy to slack off of water intake as you travel, but be extra mindful this year of staying hydrated along the way.

 

5. Adapt to the time zone

Even if you fly from one end of the country to the other, the time zones will play tricks on you. Eat all of your meals at the correct times in the time zone you’re in. If you’re not entirely hungry, eat a fiber-rich snack to help power you through.

 

6. Keep the right attitude

No matter where you are, even when your normal routine gets shaken up, always remember that a healthy and fit lifestyle isn’t just some short-term goal. It’s a way of life, and sometimes life has bumps in the road. Keeping that on your mind will help you make healthy choices.

 

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself while away, but rather, make smart decisions. Small tweaks to your travel plans can show significant results, and I invite you to keep that in mind as you travel this season.  We often subscribe to the "all or nothing" mindset, but the sweet spot is right in the middle of all or nothing. 

5 Tips to Get You Through This Holiday Season Stress Free

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The holiday season brings a great deal of joy and warmth along with it.  There's something extra special about this time of year -- but it doesn't come without fault.  A great deal of added stress is seemingly dumped on our plates, and it can be hard to catch our breath.  The pressure of finding gifts, rushing around in the hustle and bustle to visit everyone, having people visit you, getting to see relatives you miss and even having to deal with those that aren't always a joy to be around.

 

This season really can be enjoyable and heart-warming, even with the stress involved.  Walking into this time of year with a great mindset and some helpful reminders gets me through every year... and I'd love to share my tips on how I do this with you.

For a stress-free holiday season, I try to...

 

Remember perfect doesn’t really exist

Your cookies turned out like blobs. Your lights aren’t lighting up. Your kids just made a mess of your clean house moments before the guests are arriving. Surrender your vision of what perfect is and just let it go. The only thing the people in your life care about is being with you.

 

Don’t feel bad about saying “no.”

You can’t do it all. There’s no reason you need to go to every party and event from now through New Year’s. Decide which ones are most important to attend and politely decline the others. Spreading yourself too thin isn’t good for anyone, and it makes the time fly by faster, also. You'll enjoy the holiday months better if they don't whiz by in a blink.

 

Stay away from crash diets

We’ve talked about reasonable ways to handle healthy eating during the holidays before. Please don’t decide to starve yourself to compensate for the extra calories you had or are going to have at that holiday party. If you do slip up, forgive yourself and make a point to be more mindful. Don’t punish yourself for any mistakes. Just move forward with better decisions, no punishment involved.

 

Know that asking for help is okay

Let me repeat: you can’t do it all. Let family and friends help out when they offer. They can bring a dish, grab something from the store on their way, or help with the dishes. If you have to go to someone’s party and don’t have the time to make something, grab something pre-made from the store. There comes a time when we all need help and learning how to accept it will be incredibly beneficial for your sanity.

 

Fit in time for yourself

Women, in particular, spend less than 30 minutes a day on themselves. Go for a run, get a limited-edition special-roasted coffee at the corner café and sit there in peace, read a book, take a bath, or make time with your best friend to just have one-on-one time without your kids tagging along. You’ll feel full again, which renews your mind and spirit like nothing else. We can't give from an empty cup, as the saying goes.

 

Remember, the holidays are about joy. Find yours within, and you’ll be able to spread more of it around.  What makes you feel most joyful? 

Psst! 7 Ways to Boost Energy (that aren't caffeine!)

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Do you faithfully begin your day with a cup of coffee?  Statistics say over 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide each day, so chances are, you're a coffee drinker.  Sometimes it feels like the only way to add some pep in your step is to fill up your mug with some fresh coffee, doesn't it?

 

A cup of coffee isn't a bad thing, but having an arsenal of ways to boost your energy without caffeine is beneficial, so here are some ways to do just that...

 

1. See the sunshine

Pop open your curtains and let the sunshine light up your mood.  This is especially helpful if you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and can help to reset your biological clock. Let the sunshine in while you get ready for work, and you’ll find you have a much sunnier disposition.

 

2. Try rosemary

Rosemary essential oil has been shown to help boost brain function.  On top of that, it smells delightful. Diffuse rosemary frequently and allow the aroma to infuse your home to feel more positive and alert.

 

3. Have a protein-rich beginning

Breakfast that’s rich in protein is going to give you that jumpstart you need. Protein controls your blood glucose levels so get those on an even keel before you even head out the door.

 

4. Turn up the music

Maybe there is something to singing in the shower while you get ready. It helps liven you up and boost your spirits all in one!  Make a playlist on your phone of your favorite songs that amp you up, and listen to it during your morning routine.

 

5. Try the Breath of Fire

In the practice of kundalini yoga, there’s a technique called Breath of Fire. It involves taking short, fast breaths in through your nose while contracting your diaphragm. It gets your heart rate up and gets the blood flowing.

 

6. Drink some water

Especially in the morning, water is excellent for cleansing away toxins and waking up our organs. More water means less dehydration, something that can sap your energy fast.  For even more of a boost, add lemon to your water for more flavor and a dash of vitamin C.

 

7. Check in with your eating habits

What we eat has a significant impact on our energy.  If you tend to eat large meals that take a lot of effort to digest, you can feel weighed down and sluggish afterward.  Lighten things up by eating a lighter lunch and breaking your meals up throughout the day to keep you feeling sustained.

 

The next time you feel like your energy is tapering off, try one of these caffeine-free ways to stimulate your mind and body and get that energy flowing!  Which one are you going to try next time you need a perk up?

 

My favorite energy booster is making sure I make rest a priority and getting out for a quick walk as often as possible – even in the cold!

And yes… I still drink coffee!  

 What's your typical way of boosting your energy?

Hit reply and let me know what you’re excited about trying for a boost of energy.

 

 

Please check out what we have to offer in virtual coaching!

https://www.lifespacehealth.com/healthiepackages

6 Ways to Keep from Over-indulging on Thanksgiving

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Behold, the season of all the good food is upon us. 

 

I've spoken to so many of you about what your biggest health struggle is over the holidays, and inevitably, food is a huge one.  You feel like you undo all of your hard work throughout the year in these last few months, only to start the new year off with new plans of getting your health in order again.  And the majority of us stay on that cycle for our whole lives.  Sound familiar?

 

I want you to feel like this year is different. Instead of throwing all caution to the wind and waiting for the new year to roll around, I want to help you find your perfect balance of feeling on track and still enjoying the heck out of those yummy holiday dishes.

 

That’s why you should make sure to incorporate these healthy hacks into your Thanksgiving to survive the holiday as well as the others just around the bend.

 

1. Walk it off

Instead of just lounging all day waiting for the big meal to arrive on the table, go for a walk.  Actually, my favorite way to start Thanksgiving day is with a morning walk.  It helps to set the tone for the day and feels great to start the day with some fresh air.  In fact, involve your relatives and make it a family affair by taking a long stroll after the big meal, as well.  Not only is it relaxing and good quality time, but it will also help you digest your food better.

 

2. Eat your breakfast

You may think you’re heading things off at the pass by not eating breakfast, however by the time you get to that big Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll be so hungry you’ll likely overeat. Make a healthy breakfast choice, and have a hearty salad for lunch. It will keep your blood sugar balanced so you won’t become too hungry, and you'll have made great choices all day and can indulge a little at Thanksgiving dinner.

 

3. Lookout for the pitfalls of gravy

Gravy is one of the things we look forward to at Thanksgiving -- a little extra flavor we don't typically have throughout the year.  However, be mindful of what you use to portion your gravy on your plate.  A large ladle can rack up an extra 800 calories, just for the ladle of gravy.  Instead, grab a tablespoon and drizzle your gravy onto your plate. By using this hack, you’ll still get to enjoy everything else and get your gravy too -- guilt free.

 

4. Bring a healthy side

If you’ve been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner, make your side dish something healthy. There are lots of tasty options that everyone will love -- make a salad with homemade dressing, or bake sweet potatoes and dress them with sprinkles of cinnamon.  These are incredibly simple and loved by all, so you can't go wrong with either.  You could also look up healthy Thanksgiving side items on Pinterest to find something a little fancier if you love spending time in the kitchen whipping up new things!

 

5. Savor the desserts

This is not a free license to eat everything on the dessert table, however, if your grandma makes the best pumpkin pie, make sure you ration yourself some room to enjoy a small piece. See lots you want to try? Then take bite-sized samples of each, then sit and truly savor them. Don't overdo it, but enjoy those desserts you only get to have a few days per year.

 

6. Perfect your portions

When filling up your plate, load it up with veggies first, then the rest. When you make the majority of your plate veggies, you’ll feel fuller without feeling overstuffed. Plus, that gives you room to enjoy that dessert you’ve been pining for too.

 

Thanksgiving should be a relaxing holiday that you enjoy, but having a few boundaries for you to follow to keep up your healthy lifestyle will go a long way.

 

What's your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?  Mine is watching the Detroit Lions give it their all, year after year!

 

Comment below and let me know what your favorite Thanksgiving tradition is – I always love reading what others hold near and dear to their hearts this holiday!

 

 

Please check out what we have to offer in virtual coaching!

https://www.lifespacehealth.com/healthiepackages

5 Ways to Ditch the Brain Fog

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Do you ever have those days where you can't seem to think straight?  It can feel like your brain is actually foggy, and you can't possibly see through the fog to get to your thoughts.  Fatigue often accompanies brain fog -- feeling easily irritated, forgetting things or having trouble learning new things, feeling unmotivated, anxious, lacking concentration and even insomnia. The stress of life can cause brain fog to take root, but the good news is you can do a lot to clear the fog in your head.

 

Here are a few simple tweaks you can start implementing now:

 

Change your diet.  One of the best ways to clear away brain fog is to change what you eat. If you are eating processed and artificial foods, it’s time to cut those out of your life, as they can cause a host of problems including brain fog.  Beware of cutting carbs -- your brain needs them to feel more centered. Swap out unhealthy carbs for complex carbs made with whole grains. Start adding in more fresh fruits and vegetables. Doing these things will help reduce the inflammation that can set off brain fog.

 

Go to sleep.  Your body needs sleep, and if you’re not getting enough of it, brain fog will prevail. Start going to bed a little earlier each night and having a routine of unwinding at bedtime to help prepare yourself for better sleep. The more sleep you get, the better your health will be overall and the clearer your brain will feel.

 

Get more exercise.  Because exercise helps get the blood flowing through your body, transporting more oxygen with it, it’s a great way to clear brain fog. Plus, you’ll feel better too. Try a brisk walk, an outdoor run, yoga, or a HIIT at-home workout and feel the positivity of change all over.

 

Find healthy ways to manage stress.  Take a moment for yourself. Ignore your phone and find a way to unwind that makes you feel positively fulfilled. If you don’t, you can allow anxiety and fatigue to fester which can cause your cortisol levels skyrocket. An overabundance of cortisol can prompt you to gain weight and have trouble sleeping, inducing the brain fog and feeling unwell. 

 

Cleanse.  Heavy metals and toxins are in our air, water, and even in our food.  When we ingest them, it causes inflammation in our gut and takes a toll on our body.  Unfortunately, we cannot avoid them altogether, so we must be mindful of cleansing as often as possible.  As a simple daily task, try flushing out toxins with more water which will help move toxins out of the body and leave it refreshed.

 

You don’t have to suffer from brain fog anymore. Take these steps for your health, and you’ll find you’ll see everything more clearly.

Quick Lunch Options for the Work Week

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Lunchtime can be a real challenge when you want to keep your food choices healthy.  There are tantalizing treats scattered throughout your office break room and your desk is in close proximity to the vending machines that can easily tempt you. 

 

Temptation surrounds you and can veer you off of your path quickly, leaving you feeling disappointed and defeated.  To avoid these negative feelings, it's crucial to be proactive about your meals for the work week.  The best thing to do in this situation is to prepare your lunches, but you might have no idea what to make or feel that's too time consuming.  After all, do you really need one more thing to add to your to-do list?  I hear you loud and clear.  I'm going to share with you some of my best and easiest lunches you can whip up in mere minutes so you can enjoy healthy lunches all week long. 

 

A Quinoa Bowl.  Quinoa is a food that is easy to prepare, very nutritious and that is incredibly easy to take to work with you. Of course, you want a little more in your bowl than just quinoa, but you can add anything you want to make your bowl delicious and filling. Vegetables that you enjoy -- possibly broccoli, zucchini, onion and a sauce of your choice.

 

Mason Jar Salads.  These are so simple, delicious and you can prepare them for the whole week in one sitting.  Use mason jars to hold your salad ingredients so when you empty your jar into a bowl, it creates the perfect lunch salad for you.  Start by putting dressing in first, then your toppings & veggies, and finish off your jar by adding your greens last.  This will keep your dressing away from your greens, so they won't get soggy.  You can store these in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

 

Lettuce Wraps.  Simple enough, toss your favorite chopped veggies and any fitting leftover ingredients from your fridge in a lettuce leaf.  Drizzle with a complimenting sauce, wrap it up and call it a day.  These pair well with soup, so keep that in mind as you're meal prepping for the week. 

 

Spaghetti Squash.  This is definitely one of my go-to quick, affordable and healthy lunches.  I always have a spaghetti squash on hand as they're so versatile.  This is another great option for tossing in any leftover veggies from the fridge, mix with some marinara sauce and you've got yourself a pasta-free spaghetti that won't disappoint. 

 

These are just a few examples of all the delicious meals you can quickly prepare at home and take to work without too much of a hassle. Some take a little more time than others, but you can always use the Sunday to meal prep your meals for the entire week, so you don’t have to wake up extra early on your work days. If possible, you could even leave all the meals you created at work so you can grab it during lunchtime, and you don’t have to take anything to work all week.

Why You Crave Carbs and How To Stop It

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Even when you begin changing your eating habits for the better, incorporating cleaner foods and better practices, you can still fall victim to the massive carb craving.  Sometimes, we attribute these carb cravings to a lousy day at work or a stressful week of deadlines, but carb cravings can also come from physiological imbalances. 

When you feel stress, cortisol, the stress hormone, skyrockets along with your blood sugar.  To compensate, your body releases the fat storage hormone, insulin, to help bring your blood sugar back to stable.  When that happens, the insulin tends to overcompensate, and your blood sugar dips lower than it should. Your body becomes confused and thinks it needs more energy, and thus, a carb craving is born.

Now that you know this, you can take steps to outsmart your body when it comes to carb cravings. First, you can take steps to reduce your stress or learn healthy coping mechanisms for when it arises. Next, you’ll need to change your eating habits to satisfy that carby craving without derailing your progress.

 

Here are a few of my favorite tricks on how to do this...

 

The Salty Swap.  Next time you can't shake your craving for a crunchy, salty snack like potato chips, go for something that gives you what you want in a healthy way.  For example, carrot and celery sticks with a side of hummus will fill you up and fuel you for the rest of your day. You can also air-pop popcorn or roast chickpeas, sprinkling each with a little sea salt to fulfill your saltiest desires.

The Sugary Sweet Swap.  Sweet tooth at it again?  Next time you're longing for a dessert, trick your brain with something naturally sweet that isn’t full of refined sugars and processed junk.  A square of dark chocolate, as long as it’s at least 80% and pure is a satisfyingly indulgent choice that won’t derail your habits. You could also have a banana “shake” using almond milk, a dash of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract for a treat will satisfy your sweet tooth, guilt-free.

The Pasta and Bread Swap.  And of course, there’s the staple items you’ve always eaten with every meal because that’s what you’re used to. Rice, pasta, bread, even cereal…these are all high-carb foods that will derail your efforts if you eat them too often. Luckily, there are swaps you can make that will fill you up while still being wholly satisfying. Cauliflower is a great way to make pizza crust, breadsticks, mashed “potatoes,” and rice. Using a spiralizer will help you make noodles out of vegetables that taste amazing too.

Now that you've gotten some ideas on how to tackle those carb cravings -- arm yourself with these ingredients in your kitchen at all times, so these swaps become second nature. 

Simple Tweaks to Ditch Your Sugar Habit

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Most people don't know how much sugar the average person consumes on a yearly basis. Without even realizing it! Statistics show that we consume more than 40 pounds of sugar in a calendar year -- quite alarming when you think of it in pounds, right? 

When we think of sugar, sweet desserts such as cakes, donuts, candy, and cookies come to mind immediately.  But there are tremendous amounts of sugar hiding in everyday things we consume, and when we consume them regularly, they add up fast. 

Making a few mindful tweaks can make all the difference.  Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep added sugar at an absolute minimum in my life:

Choose real fruits.  It takes no extra time to grab an apple rather than a pre-packaged fruit cup or applesauce.  It's just as easy and doesn't contain any of the added sugar the pre-packaged items have.  So, choose something fresh from the produce stand instead. 

Focus on fiber and protein power.  Fiber-rich foods will fill you up and keep you that way for longer so you’ll be less likely to eat something when you’re not hungry. Protein-packed foods have the same benefit.  Combine both of these for delicious ways to stay satisfied throughout the day, and you’ll be less likely to seek out sugar.

 Phase out added sugar bombs.  If you’ve put sugar in your coffee every morning for the last ten years, start decreasing the amount until you no longer use it. You can also try kicking the habit on the spot if you’re ready for it.

Study labels before you buy.  Is your pantry brimming with pre-packaged, processed foods? It's time to learn to live without these. And when you do, commit to reading all the labels of every packaged food item you buy from now on. Added sugar is in some of the most unsuspecting places (like jarred spaghetti sauce!) so read every label before putting anything into your grocery cart.

Drown out cravings with water.  If you’re a soda drinker, you can cut out quite a bit of added sugar by ditching your soda habit.  Sometimes, we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty -- and other times, a stressed day makes us reach for desserts. Whatever the case, a glass of water can solve the problem. Drink one down and then wait 15 to 20 minutes. The craving will usually be gone but if not, choose a piece of fruit to satisfy the urge.

It takes time to get used to life without added sugar in it, but you’ll soon feel better than ever.  Finding the perfect sweet treats that aren't harmful to your health is a powerful way to get past the urges and learn to adapt to your new lifestyle without processed sugar.

I LOVE chocolate but I don’t like the sugar that goes along with milk chocolate.  Over the years, I’ve learned to love dark chocolate. I started with a lower percentage, 60-65%, but now I’m up to 90% dark chocolate.  Not only is it low in sugar but it’s high in other good things like iron and even fiber (who knew?)!

What’s your favorite low-sugar treat? Share it here with us! 

Journaling for Good Health?

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Journaling isn't just for teens anymore. Science has shown that keeping a daily log of your day has a lot more benefits to it than merely creating a place to dump your deepest thoughts in private.

 

You don’t need to be a writer or even want to become one to start journaling, but you might just want to run out and buy a cute notebook after you read these benefits journaling can have for you.

 

Beneficial reasons to start journaling, if you aren't already...

 

Boosts creativity

It’s one of the more obvious benefits, but you’ll find that you become more creative when you just let it flow in your journal. It’s a stream of consciousness process that allows you to go where your mind takes you, and much like dreams, that’s pretty exciting.

 

Restores mindfulness

Happiness is directly linked to mindfulness. When you’re writing in your journal, your frustrations and anxieties ebb away, and you’re left to unite with your thoughts completely.  Sometimes simply having a place to dump all of your feelings, disappointments and thoughts also gives you a way to let them out and walk away from them.  This release helps you to feel your feelings, sort through them via pen and paper, and move along in a healthy manner.  It's quite powerful.

 

Brings you closer to achieving goals

When we journal, we often write about the things we wish we could accomplish -- that café we dream of opening or that dream vacation we've had on our minds for years. No matter what it is, writing it down helps your brain focus on those goals and find ways to bring it to fruition. Essentially, it means you’re more likely to achieve those goals if you simply write about them first.

 

Improved memory

Writing things down not only serves to prevent you from forgetting them but using a pen and paper forces your brain to engage with it cognitively. That means even when you’re not writing something down in the moment, like say at a social event when a new contact tells you their name, you won’t space out and forget it if you journal.

 

Better communication skills

Keeping a journal is a way to help vocalize your thoughts. Interestingly though, it also benefits the way you speak, since it naturally forces you to build your vocabulary and put your thoughts in order. You’ll find that when you’re out in the world engaging with others, your journaling will have served you well for this purpose.

 

Do you keep a journal?   I have kept one periodically over the years. I find now that it really helps clear my head and keep me focused, particularly when I have a lot going on.  I’d love to hear about your experience with jotting down your thoughts!

 

 

Scale not budging?

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You've ditched the processed junk foods and started bringing healthy lunches to work.  These are powerful first steps that sound simple but make a profound impact.  You even saw some significant improvements in the beginning, but you've seemed to hit a plateau.  So, what's going on?

 

While eating clean is of utmost importance when paving a healthier path, there could be some non-food related reasons why you’re not seeing or feeling any improvements lately. 

 

 

Here are a few non-food related reasons you may be feeling stuck...

 

Being too focused on the scale

When you feel like you’re doing all the right things, it can be frustrating not to see or feel any improvements -- try not to get discouraged, though.  We tend to measure our success by the number staring back at us on our scale, which isn't an effective way to gauge our progress.  With things like fluid fluctuations and building muscle, the scale can be deceptive.  It is most practical and accurate to assess our growth by how we feel and how our clothes are fitting.  Don't let the scale tell you how you're feeling; you are far more than that number. 

 

Not exercising

If you're eating healthy and not prioritizing exercise of some sort, you will likely hit that plateau.  While eating clean is a crucial piece of staying healthy, exercise is the other puzzle piece necessary to achieve the goals you've set for yourself.  You don’t need to workout in the gym for an hour every day if you don’t want to but at the very least, walk briskly for 20 to 30 minutes each day.  Find the exercise that fits into your schedule and that you enjoy the most. 

 

 

Exercising too much

And yes, there’s a fine line to walk with exercise. If you don’t exercise enough, it's not ideal -- but if you exercise too much it causes stress and impairs your adrenal hormone production. So if you’re working out too much in hopes to reach your goals faster, take a couple of days off and reevaluate your workout strategy for better results, like with yoga and weights instead.  Contrary to what you might think, weights are an important part of an exercise that will help you build a stronger body, even when your body is at rest. 

 

You’re still drinking sugar

Sure, you eat salads and healthy meals all day long but your morning coffee is filled with cream and sugar, or you’re drinking fruit juices or diet soda.  If this is a struggle, make it a goal this week to begin making some changes in this area.  If your drink of choice is something other than water, begin trading water in for your beverage of choice until you crave water more than that sugary drink.  It will happen, I assure you!  Try flavored sparkling water like LaCroix to satisfy the bubbly craving, and infuse your water with fruit to add some flavor. 

 

My biggest challenge….

Wine.  If my weight starts to creep up, it usually means the wine has been flowing a little too freely lately.  I cut back by not letting my husband pour for me any more (!!) and being diligent about alternating wine with sparkling water. 

 

What are some of your biggest challenges?  How do you manage or plan for them?

 

4 Ways to Not Get Sick this Winter

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Winter can cause a yearning in your soul to warm up by a cozy fire and finally slow down.  I love that nature works like this, innately causing us to change with the seasons, have you ever noticed?  The winter brings the desire for warmer foods, connection with loved ones, and more rest and relaxation.  The critical part of this fascinating natural phenomenon is that we listen and oblige. 

 

Another tendency is to feel our desire to workout slow down this season, which is also common.  There are a few ways I go into the Winter season mindful of this, and I'm going to share with you my top ways to help you keep a Winter wellness routine, as well.  These work for me each year, and I hope you'll gain some ideas you can use, too!

My favorite Winter Wellness tips...

 

1. Don’t burn the candle at both ends

If your social calendar looks anything like mine, it's jam-packed this season.  We just made it through all the Holiday parties, and now it's time to catch up with those we didn't have time to see last month, and of course, celebrate the New Year.  However, don’t feel obligated to attend every gathering you get invited to, particularly if you’re feeling burnt out from work and your other obligations. It’s great to meet new people and socialize, but if it causes you to get less sleep or it stresses you out, decline some of the less essential offers.

 

2. Be mindful of social settings

For the events you do attend, remember that cold and flu germs often lurk without symptoms at first. There’s no need to be paranoid about shaking hands or meeting people, but be mindful of your hands before you eat and don’t touch your nose, mouth or eyes after shaking hands with someone. Keeping your hands clean is the best way to avoid a winter illness.

 

3. Keep working out

Your best battle against the winter blues is to keep to your workout routine.  Finding it hard to stay motivated during the colder months?  Switch things up.  Try a new class at your gym or take on a new challenge that will help keep you motivated.

 

4. Hydrate more

Getting enough fluids is essential on any day, but in winter the weather is drier and so is the heat indoors. Not only that, but your skin can become parched too. Drinking more water and applying more moisturizer is a must.

 

So, what's the norm for you?  Do you try to stay on track during the winter months, or do you put things off until it starts to warm up outside?

 

Be kind to yourself during the winter months and the rest of the year too! 

 

If you need help setting goals or staying focused on the ones you have set for yourself, please find us on Facebook or contact us via our website www.lifespacehealth.com

 

 

Six Super Simple Ways to Eat Better

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The holidays are over and the new year is among us -- a special and exciting time where we make ambitious plans for our next twelve months and dream of the possibilities.  The most popular resolution is improving health, and we usually are quite ready after the holidays.  As tasty as the holiday tidings are, they leave us feeling a little less on track with our goals than we'd like.

 

Those new healthy resolutions don't have to be complicated, and they don't have to end before February even arrives.  The key to looking and feeling your best is to keep it uncomplicated and simply focus on clean eating.  In case you've heard the term "clean eating" but haven't quite understood what it means -- clean eating is all about consuming healthy, whole foods and cutting out the processed junk. Whether you’re ready to jumpstart your clean eating now or you’re wondering what it takes to get started, we’ve got super-simple steps for a no-fail progression into clean eating.

 

1. Focus on your inner motivation

Whether you’re determined to race in the Boston Marathon next year, or you have seen first-hand the damages done by not eating well through relatives or friends that have suffered as a result of their eating habits.  Whatever it is that is motivating you to eat clean, bring it into your direct focus so you will be more successful in sticking to your clean eating plan.

 

2. Reevaluate what you’re currently eating

Before you begin your clean eating journey, it helps to journal about what you’re eating before beginning. This way, you can truly see what it is you’re eating and look for patterns. After the stressful end of week push at the office, you might notice you’re more prone to ordering pizza, and you can take steps to head that off at the pass rather than fall into the same pitfall time and time again.

 

3. Set realistic, measurable and specific goals

When people make changes to things in their lives such as a change to their eating habits, they can set themselves up for significant failures if they don’t take it step by step. That means that if you want to be successful in the long-term, you should tackle one or two new things every 1-2 weeks, so you have a better chance of sticking to it. Don’t just say you’ll stop eating desserts forever. Instead, set a goal of only eating one small dessert per week, and go from there to decrease it further. It’s realistic, measurable and very specific.

 

4. Clean out your pantry

Sadly, most American pantries are filled with processed foods.  A good rule of thumb is to cut out anything that contains more than five ingredients on the label, and anything unnatural should go. If you have a lot of unopened items, donate them to a shelter. 

 

5. Refocus your grocery shopping strategy

We’re creatures of habit, every one of us. When we go to the supermarket, we usually follow the same path every time. Shake things up and head straight for the produce section. You really should be avoiding almost all of the middle aisles of your supermarket anyway because that’s where those processed food pitfalls lurk!

 

6. Master meal prep

One of the easiest ways to dive right into clean eating is to prep your meals. You’ll find tons of healthy meal prep plans online that even give you shopping lists to use. If time is a factor, look for crockpot recipes that require you to dump in the whole foods in the morning and come home to a hot, delicious, clean and healthy meal every night!  

 

As you can tell, it only takes small changes over time to create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.  I’m here to cheer you on every step of the way, hit reply and let me know how you are feeling, and what you’d like to accomplish as your first step.  I’d love to hear your plans.

 

If you need help setting goals or staying focused on the ones you have set for yourself, please find us on Facebook (Life Space Health) or contact us via our website www.lifespacehealth.com

Sneaking Health Benefits into Holiday Dishes

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The holidays are here, and it is time to savor all the joy they bring -- friends, family, meals together, giving & gratitude.  Of course, along with them are hearty dishes and sweets that can certainly wreak havoc on our bodies. Casseroles laden with cream, sugary cakes and cookies, and other tempting empty calorie bombs will adorn the dining tables we surround.  Unless we do something about it, that is!

 

But how can you make healthy decisions during the season of eating, especially without anyone noticing?  Well,  I have a few of my favorite tricks to share with you that I use each season, and the best part is, nobody ever notices. 

My favorite ways to sneak healthy goodies into my meals are...

 

Go for bone broth or herbal teas

When you roast or poach food, make soups or stews, or even for your gravy, use something that gives you a boost of health instead of canned sodium-riddled broth or plain water. Using bone broth will add more depth of flavor, and it will provide you with healthy immune boosting properties.  You could also try herbal teas like ginger tea or green tea that will add a light flavor and add more antioxidants for better health.

 

Sprinkle in some turmeric

Turmeric is a naturally powerful anti-inflammatory that is filled with antioxidants.  It is related to ginger and looks quite similar to a ginger root, and is most easily consumed in dried form.  You can sneak it into dishes by sprinkling it in and enjoy the benefits it brings.  Add just a little bit to your sweet potatoes, salad dressings, and dips. Go easy on it since the flavor can be strong to those that aren’t used to it.

 

Use sweet alternatives

Don't worry -- I'm not suggesting you do away with your dessert table altogether, but those unrefined sugars are what we are trying to avoid.  If you swap out the unhealthy stuff for a natural sweetener that is a better option, you’ll still get the sweet tastes everyone loves without the slew of chemicals. Try raw organic honey.  Local honey is best, which can typically be found at your local health food store.  You can also look for coconut sugar or coconut syrup, or even use dates.

 

Freshen up flavors with fresh herbs

Fresh herbs add a new dimension of taste to your dishes without adding fat and calories. Plus, they naturally have their own benefits from adding more antioxidants to reducing inflammation. Experiment with your favorite ones to add more zing to your mashed potatoes or liven up your veggies.

 

The holidays don’t have to be so heavy on the unhealthy items, particularly when you use these simple tricks for making your favorite holiday dishes healthier.

Happy Holidays!

How to Manage Stress Eating During the Holidays

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The holidays can be a great time of joy for many. But for others, they are filled with anxiety and stress. Sometimes, even for those that love the family get-togethers, the stress of holiday shopping, finances, and hosting relatives can tear them apart. When stress hits at this time of year, it’s easy to turn to that tray of cookies for moral support. After all, cookies won’t criticize you about your life choices the way your family will.

 

But that’s not healthy and you know it. Plus, you’ll feel even less joy when you realize you’ve undone the whole year’s worth of fitness you’ve worked so hard for. If you find the holidays cause you to gobble down more than you should as a way to cope with the stress, we present to you these 5 ways to stop the stress eating before the first tray of cookies is trotted out to the company break room.

 

Be active

When your boss announces there are no bonus checks this Christmas or your mom says you’re still single because one of your nails on your manicure is chipped, instead of reaching for the holiday goodies, get outside in the fresh air for a walk, hit the gym, chase your kids in the yard, or just do something physical that appeals to you. You’ll release the stress and the exercise will help release the proper chemicals in your brain to make you feel better.

 

Workout your mind

The brain needs exercise too. Instead of letting it harp on the negative things that cause you to stress-eat, give it something constructive to do. Take 10 to 20 minutes to yourself to read something you want to read, work on a crossword puzzle or do something else that stimulates your mind in an enjoyable way. It will help you feel refreshed.

 

Focus on healthy eating

While it’s true that the holidays are certainly a time for more indulgent meals, when you focus on your healthy eating prior to the big family dinners, it won’t be such a shock to your waistline. Make sure you’re eating meals as you would normally without skipping them. If you starve yourself all day because your job or your family (or both!) is making you nuts, you’re more prone to stuffing yourself at dinner with things that aren’t very healthful.

 

Practice moderation

Yes, there are certainly foods we only get to enjoy during this time of year like holiday cookies and cakes. But again, eating all of them isn’t going to do any good. So indulge mindfully and moderately. If you always look forward to your sister’s famous pecan pie, then focus on eating that when the time comes and say no to treats that aren’t as delicious like boxed cookies.

 

Forgive yourself

No one is perfect so if you find you caved in to peer pressure at work and ate treats you promised yourself you wouldn’t, forgive yourself and move on. Make the next thing you eat healthy and get moving on your exercise. But above all, keep your head up because that is the key to getting through the stress of the holiday season.

Remember, the holidays are supposed to be joyful, not stressful! 

Eating Healthy on a Budget

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One of the most frequent reasons I hear from people for not eating as healthy as they’d like to is that it’s too expensive.  It can certainly appear that way at first glance -- but after a bit of evaluating you soon realize that eating healthy is absolutely possible on a budget.  In fact, once you get the hang of it, it can be quite simple!

 

I'm going to share some of my tried-and-true tips on how to eat healthy without breaking the bank.  Take these tips and make them habits in your life, and you'll soon find you can successfully have a healthier kitchen without sacrificing a large chunk of your bank account.

 

Shop the perimeter.  Think about it -- all of the healthy items are on the outside perimeter of the store.  For the most part, the inside aisles are the pre-packaged, boxed foods that typically aren't ideal for a healthy lifestyle. – and they’re more expensive per serving.  There are certainly some items you'll need from the inside aisles, but the majority of the cart can be filled with items from the perimeter.  So always start by shopping the perimeter of the store before you dive into the inside aisles. 

 

Don't get pre-cut items.  Yes, it takes extra time, but buying pre-chopped onions or cut up fruit costs a significant amount more than buying a full cantaloupe and cutting it yourself. 

 

Shop at different places.  Wholesale stores such as Costco or Sams Club may be most beneficial to shop at for some healthy items, but probably not your entire grocery list.  Scope out where you can get your staple items weekly.  Are your veggies most affordable at the Farmers Market or Trader Joes?  Is it most economical to get your grains and beans in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods?  Shop around and find the best deals for what you need on a weekly basis.

 

Grow it at home.  Are there some items you frequently eat that you can grow in your backyard or on your balcony?  There are a tremendous amount of foods that you can easily grow at home, many of them you can even grow from scraps.  Free is always great, right!?  And when you grow it yourself, you know your food isn't laden with harmful chemicals.  So, what can you look into growing yourself?

 

Buy in season.  In season vegetables and fruits are far less expensive, more nutritious and easier to find.  Fruits are almost always on sale at conventional grocery stores – so check online to see where you can get berries half off or where you can stock up on fruit for the week.

 

Some produce costs more than others.  Making the bulk of your produce the least expensive ones can keep your grocery bill down each week.  Greens, carrots, apples, bananas and celery are among a few very inexpensive options.  Balance those out with some more expensive broccoli, Brussels sprouts or berries, and you're well on your way to eating healthy on a budget.

 

I’d love to hear more about how you eat healthy on a budget!

4 Foods That Can Naturally Boost Your Mood

Spring has finally arrived – a time when we naturally want to refresh & rejuvenate ourselves and our surroundings.  The winter blues may still be lingering, which creates the perfect opportunity to learn some natural tips and tricks on peeling away the rest of those winter blues and enjoying the new season.  

 

There are countless ways to boost your mood naturally, but I’d love to tell you about a few of my favorite foods that naturally boost your mood and help you calm down. 

 

4 Foods that Boost Your Mood & Help Fight Anxiety Naturally

 

Asparagus  -  Asparagus is loaded with folic acid, which has been associated with stabilizing and boosting your mood.  One cup of asparagus offers two-thirds of your daily folic acid requirements.  As if that wasn’t great enough, asparagus goes well with nearly any meal!  Sauté, steam, roast or grill it – it’s quick, simple and a delicious addition to your meal. 

Avocado  -  The numerous benefits that avocados boast make them a favorite addition to my meals.  A slice of avocado is chock-full of Vitamin B which is essential for healthy brain cells and nerves.  Also an excellent source of potassium and healthy fats, avocados hold many benefits that can assist in boosting your mood. 

Blueberries-  Although they are small, blueberries are a Vitamin C and antioxidant powerhouse.   These benefits are crucial in helping to protect against and repair cell damage.  Quercetin, an antioxidant found in abundance in blueberries, is an incredible natural anti-inflammatory. 

Almonds  -  Munching on almonds is an age-old trick for reducing stress.  Almonds are high in Vitamins E and B2, both of which are great immune system boosters during stressful moments. Just a few spoonful’s of almonds can do wonders for your mood.

These are just a few of my favorite foods that can help boost your mood and keep stress at bay.  There are numerous others, such as spinach, oranges, fatty fish such as salmon, and more.   

What do you do when you feel the stress packing on?  Do you first think to reach for a comfort food that may not be of service to your health?  It’s natural to feel this way, especially if you do not program yourself to think about healthy ways to combat your stress and elevate your mood.  I encourage you to think of healthy ways to elevate your mood, using your own wisdom and even a few of the tips you read here today!  What do you plan on doing next time you need a mood boost?  

5 Ways You Can Eat For More Energy

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Are you in a low-energy rut?  Sometimes it's lack of sleep that's the culprit, but other times – even if you're getting your Zzzzs – you can fall into a vicious low energy cycle.  And before you know it, you're making frequent stops at Starbucks to kickstart your day.  Make a few tweaks to increase your energy naturally without relying on caffeine or processed sugar.

Here are some of the ways that you can keep your energy level high all day.

1.   Drink apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has been tied to many health benefits, but did you know that increasing energy is also one of them?  The amino acids contained in apple cider vinegar work to counter fatigue.  Next time you're feeling worn out, add a teaspoon or tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water or your smoothie and watch your energy level rise.

2. Fuel up with fiber

Starting your day off with a breakfast containing fiber can help boost your alertness throughout the day.  This is possibly because fiber takes longer to digest by slowing the absorption of food in the stomach, so blood sugar levels remain more steady for a longer period of time. Some great options are whole-grain toast or a bowl of oatmeal with ground flaxseed.

3. Pick a protein

While protein isn't going to give you the energy surge you would get from a macchiato, it's in it for the long haul giving you lasting energy for hours to come.  Include protein in your meals throughout the day for energy without the crashes. 

4. Have more frequent meals

Rather than having three meals a day, it may be beneficial to you to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. This allows you you to maintain a higher, more stable blood sugar level throughout the day so you're not experiencing the sugar highs and lows. 

5. Go for a stroll

If you tend to get a mid-afternoon energy downturn, going for a short walk can invigorate the rest of your day.  The next time you feel a coffee run coming on, head outside for a walk instead.

These are just a few ways that you can increase your energy.  Start with one of these tips and over time you'll begin to reap the benefits of lasting energy -- all it takes is a few simple shifts in your habits.

What do you plan on implementing this week to try to maintain your energy throughout the day?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

4 Ways To Sneak Veggies Into Your Day

If you're like most people, you might believe that eating healthy requires a lot of work.  From planning out meals to grocery shopping to buying quality ingredients – it can seem like a mass effort sometimes.  That’s not to say the effort’s not worth it -- but a big effort that sometimes seems easier to simply avoid, right?

 

We all know that eating the right foods, especially vegetables, is essential to better health. But what if you're not a huge fan of shopping, chopping, and prepping?  As it usually goes, the things that are the best at keeping us healthy and nourished aren't always the easiest path to take.  It takes some practice and trial and error to find your sweet spot for infusing health into your day on a daily basis – and one great place to start is finding some simple ways to add more veggies into your day. 

 

Here are my 4 favorite ways that you can add veggies into your day...

 

1. Use Veggies to Kick Off Your Day

Vegetables are not just for lunch and dinner.  Kick off every morning with veggies on your plate.  Throw a handful of kale into your morning smoothie or use last night's leftover veggies to whip up an omelet.  There are numerous ways to add veggies to your morning meal, and getting them in early means you’re well on your way to eating your daily servings of veggies by dinner time. 

2. Go for Frozen

Fresh veggies are typically the better option, but chopping and preparing vegetables from scratch isn't always practical for many of us.  So, stock up on frozen veggies on your next supermarket run.  Freezing vegetables is considered minimal processing, as many of the veggies will still retain a lot of their nutritional value.  Having frozen vegetables on hand at all times leaves you no room for excuses when you’re in a time pinch.
 

3. Double Up

When you're preparing salads, soups, pasta sauce, or a healthy casserole, double the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for.   Stir extra veggies into your soups or put an extra portion into your sauce.  You’ll only enhance the flavor and nutritional value, so it’s a win-win!
 

4. Join the Meatless Monday Movement

If you’re a meat eater, have you started going meatless on Mondays yet?  This is an excellent way to get more veggies onto your plate every week, and it's simple.  Just cut out meat on Mondays and dedicate your plate to more fruits and vegetables.  If Monday is not convenient, pick another day that works for you.  Not only will you be lowering your grocery bill and getting more nutrients by eating more veggies, but you're also trying something new, and variety is the spice of life!

Vegetables are a fabulous source of many beneficial nutrients for your body.  When you cut back on processed foods and "sneak" more vegetables into your day - you're making better choices that set you up for a lifetime of healthy habits.

So, what are a few ideas that have sparked?  What’s on the plate next week for Meatless Monday?  I’d love to hear your ideas, so please share them here!