I was a guest speaker recently for a Mommy/Baby Fitness class, taught by one of my favourite personal trainers - Sarah Snider.
I spoke to the group about how a big part of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle is about changing your habits, behaviours and mindset.
Healthy living is about progress, not perfection. The best motivation comes from focusing on the wins or the progress you made in a day, like, "I exercised today" instead of focusing on an "oops," like, "I had a chocolate bar for my afternoon snack". If we only focus on the "oops," it can lead to "all-or-nothing" thinking: "I made a mistake eating that chocolate bar, now my eating day isn't perfect, so I guess I'll just have a glass of wine tonight, or order takeout instead of cooking."
When we focus on our progress or wins, it becomes a motivator to keep making healthy choices. And all those healthy choices over time, turn into healthy habits, that lead to long-term sustainable change and a healthy balanced lifestyle.
In addition to having the right mindset, I talked about some of my favourite healthy habits to help you feel your best, like drinking enough water (boring I know, but SO important for overall health, digestion, meeting your weight loss goals, etc. etc.), meal planning & prep (if this is something you struggle with, you can register for my Spring Re-FRESH 3-Week Meal Prep Online Group Program to help you get into the habit of meal prep!), and eating at least 4 cups of vegetables per day with 2 of those cups being "top-shelf" veggies.
"Top-shelf" veggies are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, arugula, bok choy, collards, radishes, watercress, turnips and Brussels sprouts.
They are so important to include on a daily basis because:
1. They contain phytonutrients — plant-based compounds that may help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer.
2. They're also rich in folate, vitamins C, E and K.
3. They’re also high in fiber and low in calories, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied without overeating, which can lead to weight loss!
4. Eating top-shelf veggies is also connected to hormone balance, specifically when it comes to estrogen - they help our body metabolize or get rid of excess estrogen. Estrogen dominance can throw everything out of whack - causing symptoms like weight gain (especially in hips, thighs & mid-section), fatigue, irritability, anxiety, heavy periods, etc. Eating at least 2 cups of cruciferous veg per day is one way to help with estrogen dominance.
One of the comments I had during my talk was, I don't really like eating vegetables, and what the heck do I do with bok choy? Common complaint, and I hear ya! I rarely eat bok choy, and cruciferous veggies can be difficult to prepare.
One trick I've learned with cruciferous veg is - chop the living daylights out of them! A finely chopped kale salad with a caper vinaigrette dressing and pumpkin seeds is SO good. Top any green with broccoli slaw or coleslaw (most grocery stores have pre-packaged, pre-washed slaws!) for a sweet crunch and process your cauliflower florets into rice as a base for butter chicken or a Thai coconut broth.
The other day I had some extra Brussels sprouts lying around so I chopped them fine, and made a delicious slaw with apple cider vinaigrette, topped with craisins, toasted almonds and parmesan cheese. It was super easy, and completely changed the flavour of the sprout.
When it comes to cruciferous veg, take advantage of all their amazing health benefits; eat them raw, and chop them fine!
Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Toasted Almonds & Parmesan
1 lb or 2 cups whole Brussels sprouts
Extra greens like baby spinach or baby kale or arugula (optional)
1/3 cup raw almonds, slivered, sliced or whole
1/3 cup craisins or dried tart cherries
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Honey Dijon Apple Cider Vinaigrette
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
Shred the sprouts: First, cut off the tough ends of the sprouts and any browning outer leaves. Then slice them as thinly as possible.
If you are using raw whole almonds, preheat oven to 350F, and toast them on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, until they are fragrant and turning golden on the edges (toasting step isn't as necessary if you're using slivered or sliced almonds).
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, and mustard until blended. In a medium serving bowl, toss the shredded sprouts with the almonds, craisins, Parmesan and dressing. Season with sea salt & fresh ground pepper.
Serve immediately on a bed of additional greens for added texture & flavour), or cover and refrigerate for up for 4 days. The Brussels sprouts will continue to soften as they marinate. The edges of the sprouts might brown lightly over time. Enjoy!