Archive for food

Making December Great Again!

“The secret to bigger change is usually found in those small things you do daily. Small steps, and smart daily choices, add up. Healthy and happy is found in the daily details of lifestyle.”

by: Lisa Harrington

December is here, and for many, it is the most wonderful time of the year. However, when it comes to sticking to wellness goals during the month of December, sometimes we don’t make our smartest decisions. December is a challenge for all of us, routines are disrupted and old, unhealthy choices can come creeping in, making the wellness challenge ever trickier. Try following these 3 strategies to maintain healthy goals over the winter holidays.

  1. Identify Your Wellness Strengths and Weaknesses: We all have them, so take time to identify yours. Once you have considered that, then you can develop strategies to adapt and improvise; helping yourself achieve a happier, and healthier holiday outcome. For example, if you do not like walking in cold weather then perhaps you can put together a winter walking uniform that will keep you warm. Then give it a name, like “Mom’s Indomitable Snowman Suit” and enjoy bringing your family or friends a few smiles every time you engage in your physical activity goals! Use your imagination!

If you know that baked goods with added sugars/fats are your pitfall, then you might offer to bring a healthier (but still tasty!) tray to work and family gatherings. A small, smart decision like this leads to other daily, small smart decisions on health. And you are most likely going to give in to a craving, either with too little movement, or too much food. It’s alright; just know that you can get back on track with your next smart, healthy decision!

  1. Watch Portions Closer than Ever: Portion control is the best way to still have a little fun with food while focusing on your health so that you will be around to enjoy many more holidays!  Look for smaller sized plates or spread your food selections out on a larger plate.  Focus more on the people and conversations at food gatherings and eat slower, savoring every bite.  Think, “less is more” with certain holiday favorites. Take sample size bites of the starchy foods, such as casseroles, stuffing and rolls and share desserts with another person.  Take a breath and think through your portions—you can do this!
  1. Be Present in the Moment: Do not wait until January to pick back up on your health and wellness goals.  Diet and lifestyle change is an ongoing process—think of it as slowly un-locking a part of you that is trying to break out and exist. We all have some capacity to fill our mouths with more nutritious foods or lead more active lifestyles, so it is up to each of us to give that person within us a chance to live. Do not lock your healthy, active self away until next month.  December can, in fact be one of the most wonderful times of the year!  So bring your best self out now to engage with your family, play with your friends and serve your community.

Remember, we want to help you achieve your nutrition, physical activity and lifestyle goals—this December and all throughout the year!  Now get out there and make it a happy, healthy holiday!


It’s not how fast you know; it’s how well you know fast.

how well you know

by: runhers women’s association

“It’s not how fast you know; it’s how well you know fast.”  Let’s break that statement down. Fast learning is good, as long as you are drilling straight into the facts. Or getting to the heart of the matter quickly with good information. You don’t need more info. You need the right info, at the right time.

Reading a headline, or seeing an image on the television, in the paper, or on social media, doesn’t automatically mean it is true. So, you may ‘know’ something, but it may not be actually or even partially true –  or it could be a twisted opinion of something. And in many cases, it’s a flat out lie. Often times it is a clickbait type attention grabbing headline designed to get an advertisement (or three) in front of you. Willful ignorance is the not the way out, especially when setting examples to kids, or others you may have influence with.

Speaking of influence, many experts, leaders and celebrities are not educating you – they are being paid to sell you specific products. In fact, most sports stars and celebrities are endorsing unhealthy food and drinks.  Even our ‘peers’ are now selling out to companies who will provide them a few dollars of free product – in exchange for endorsements, which the company writes, on their social media feed. The more ‘likes’ (analytics) you can generate, the better. And marketers believe that peer to peer selling is the most effective way to move product right now.  So, be careful what you allow yourself to know fast – and don’t fall for all the ‘10 things you are doing wrong’ links. You’re NOT doing everything wrong!

If you are interesting in knowing more on the social media ‘influence factor’ – this is a good start. “Being A Social Media ‘Influencer’ Is Officially Meaningless.”

On the opposite side, how ‘well’ you know fast, is a more robust view and understanding of what you are reading or seeing.  At IBM, Tom Watson had one word posted around the campus – think. Steve Jobs said at Apple that we have to make the details unforgettable, even intuitive. They knew, along with many other talented thinkers, that it is well worth the extra step, staying with a problem a little longer, to get through the clutter and find clarity. They actually did question almost everything.

Others insulting our intelligence is not the answer. Yet, every day we are bombarded with words, statements, and advertisements that do insult our intelligence. Our bullshit radar is on high alert almost full time these days. Or we have been habituated to filter and ignore, or accept the noise. So, science is faked (pseudoscience), health claims are unsubstantiated, research and studies are completely biased, or the number of participants in a ‘study’ is very low (non-conclusive) – and on and on.

So, how do you find clarity and truth in all of this? It’s not always easy. Of course there are things you don’t know, or are doing wrong. That’s the case with all of us. We can all do better. As women, when the hair stands up on the back of our necks in a social situation, we know something/someone is just not right. It’s sensory, and very real. You call bullshit, or leave that environment. It’s nearly the same thing with continued learning, whether it’s personal – or you are learning to help your family. Both are very important.

One way to getting to the root of an issue is using Sakichi Toyoda’s “5 Whys” technique – a simple but powerful tool for quickly uncovering the root of a problem, so that you can deal with it once and for all. Ask why 5 times on the matter at hand.  It can produce amazing results.

So, open your mind, and trust your instincts! Be your own best advocate, and that will take you a long way. And by the way, science says you think better when you have a run, or a walk – which only cost you a little time!  Not to mention all the other good feels!

december’s challenge checklist


By: Coach Sara McCauley 

There’s no denying it – holiday season is upon us and in full force! Schedules become full of events, shopping, celebrating and eating, which means less time that you want to spend working out. This is may not be the best time to commit to a new fitness plan, however you can make a commitment to get the best out of each situation. Time doesn’t always allow you to go to a full gym workout, or a long run – BUT I know you can fit in something each day, even if it is 5 minutes! Something is better than nothing.  I put together a schedule for the month of December, which includes short workouts you can do, anywhere at any time. You can follow the calendar exactly, and take the guess work out, or pick/choose an item from the checklist each day.  It can be a very stressful time of year – you owe it to yourself to have a little “me” time.   

As far as all of those treats and eats that are everywhere, enjoy them! However that doesn’t mean ALL of them. It’s the season for chocolates, sugar everything, thick sauces, adult beverages, etc. – so, while there is no reason to deprive yourself, or completely eliminate the temptations, I do encourage you to make smart decisions.  Here are a couple of tips to help keep your goals in mind, eating under control, AND your sanity through the holidays: 

  • PORTION CONTROL:  When eating from a buffet style meal, make ONE plate. Choose appropriate servings of your selection and stick to that. Don’t go back for seconds. Drink water, and give your body enough time to settle. If you decide at that point you are still actually hungry go back for a protein or veggie.  
  • EAT BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME: If you are attending an event that you know will not have sensible options, or not sure when your next meal will be, eat a healthy meal before you leave home.  This doesn’t mean you have to become a social outcast, you can still eat what is offered, you’ll just have something healthy already in your stomach (veggies!) – so, you don’t over eat out of starvation.   
  • KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS HANDY: Keep a protein bar or quick snack in your purse, at work or in your car, just in case. We all know those “quick” shopping trips can turn into an all-day event, so be prepared. Keep that HANGER under control, no one has time for cranky pants! 
  • POTLUCK: Chances are you will attend one or many of these before the month is over.  So, you control what you eat. Why not YOU be the one to bring a healthy dish? There are thousands of healthy AND tasty recipes that can be offered, hello Pinterest, that do not require a lot of effort! This way you know there will be a smart choice at the party, and you can introduce new options to more people! 
  • EAT YOUR VEGGIES and HYDRATE:  Notice the vibe yet?  Stop complaining and just eat your greens! We’ll put aside all of the many health benefits that veggies offer, and stick with the simple fact:  they provide a great source of fiber which keeps you fuller longer AND keeps your system regular. I urge you to drink lots of water throughout the day.  Keep water close at all times. Try to get at least 96 ounces. Reach for your water after a meal, before that dessert, and between meals. Often times you eat out of boredom, or you think you feel hungry, but in reality you could just be dehydrated and need fluids.    

We all know that the holidays test every bit of will power, and your ability to make good decisions. Remember, it’s alright to indulge a little. If there is something that you REALLY want than eat it, in the proper portion, then move on. Don’t let guilt consume you, you have enough stress. Let it go! Try to get in as much activity as you can, even if it’s not all at once, sneak little bursts in, it does add up. Make the commitment NOW to stay healthy and make smart decisions through the upcoming weeks!  You will be happy you did in January!  

Let’s GO!

  1. 50 PushUps 50 Starjumps
  2. 20 minute Fartlek Run
  3. 40 Jumping Jacks, 40 Jump Squats, 40 jump lunges
  4. 100 Pile Squats, 20 half squat, 20 full, 20 half with heel raise, 20 full with heel raise, 20 pulses
  5. 5 minute wall sit (take short breaks to complete)
  6. Yoga stretch
  7. HIIT 40/20/4 High knees 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, Plank Jack 40 seconds, rest 20seconds,    complete 4 rounds of each.
  8. 60 single leg deadlifts, 60 hip bridges
  9. 100 Crunches, 20 slow crunches, 20 right, 20 left, 20 bicycle, 20 butterfly
  10. 100 Lunges,  20 alternating front, 20 alternating back, 20 right, 20 left, 20 jump lunges
  11. 5 minute plank variations, high, low, side, legs lifted, arms lifted (break as needed)
  12. Park furthest away from store to add in extra walking every time you go to the store.
  13. Running in place, squat jacks, plank walk, 1 minute of each, 3 rounds total
  14. 200 mountain climbers
  15. 2 burpees, 2 leg lifts, repeat 4, 6,8,10
  16. 60 superman extension up to a high plank
  17. 100 Vups, modify as needed
  18. Foam roll your tight overused muscles
  19. Booty Burner, 50 Alternating back lunges, 50 front lunges to balance, 50 single leg decline bridges (use a step or couch)
  20. Run 1-3+mile run, make the time for yourself, do a few laps in your neighborhood, get some fresh air!
  21. Take the family for a walk or run, start a family tradition
  22. Step it Up! Use a stair, chair or a study bench, 1 min of each: alternating step ups, step up to balance 1min each side, side step up to leg lift each leg, jump ups(box jump)
  23. Plank Jumps: 20 of each repeating twice. Front:High plank position, jump feet in together, Right: jump feet to the side then to the center, Left jumps, In& Out: start with feet together, jump them out wide then back in.
  24. Fast pace laps around the mall before shopping
  25. 10 push ups for every glass of eggnog
  26. 100 push up challenge (can be throughout the day)
  27. 1 mile run time yourself, try to beat your time next time
  28. Take the stairs everywhere you have the opportunity
  29. 20 Squats every time you check your Facebook on your phone
  30. 20 second plank for every gift you wrap
  31. Alphabet abs: lay flat on your back, lift your legs off the ground, feet toghet “draw” the alphabet with your feet
  32. Ab Burner: 20 frog crunches, 20 bicycle crunches, 20 leg lifts, 20 side plank with dips, each side, low plank with hip dip 20 each, high plank with leg ext 20 each, 2 min low plank hold
  33. Tabata Squat Variations 20/10/8: 20 secs of each squat, 10 secs of rest, 8 variations of squats. Wide squats, side to side squats, squat jumps, split squat(each leg counts as 1), squat jacks, chair pose, squat pulses
  34. Firecracker: 50 jumping jacks, 20 star jumps, 20 plyo push ups, 20 explosive jump lunges, 20 back lunge to high jump each leg, 50 jumping jacks


a good way to start your day

Editor’s Note:  With fall in full swing, we get to thinking about nice welcoming mugs of goodness to warm our bones.   Research has shown a strong association of teas with long life and health in many ancient cultures.  After reading this WebMD article, you will find that green tea is very beneficial for your health.  We enjoy iced green tea in the summer, now it’s time to make it a year round drink, a daily ritual!  Drink it to relax, and for your health.  Enjoy the article!  Cheers!   

A cup of green tea is a good way to start your day.

By: Paula Spencer Scott A WebMD Feature

“It’s the healthiest thing I can think of to drink,” says Christopher Ochner, PhD. He is a research scientist in nutrition at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Green tea is beyond a super food.”

In the past 20 years, thousands of studies have shown green tea’s benefits.

Healthy Cells

Why is green tea so good for you? “It’s all about the catechin content,” says Beth Reardon, RD, a Boston nutritionist. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Green tea is not processed much before it is poured in your cup, so it is rich in catechins.

Healthy Heart

Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure.

Brain Health

What’s good for the heart is usually good for the brain, and your brain needs healthy blood vessels, too. In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains.  Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.


Green tea seems to help keep blood sugar stable in people with diabetes. Because catechins lower cholesterol and blood pressure, they can protect against the damage a high-fat diet can cause, Ochner says.

Weight Loss

Green tea can help increase and even change your metabolism, so you burn more calories from fat. Studies show that green tea can also help you keep weight off once you’ve lost it.

It’s also a smart swap for sugary drinks. “All things being equal, if you sub 1-2 cups of green tea for one can of soda, over the next year you’d save over 50,000 calories,” says Ochner. That’s more than 15 pounds.

Cancer Role

Studies on green tea’s impact on cancer have been mixed.  But green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages of growth. There are some indications green tea may help destroy cancer cells.

Less Stress

Sipping tea helps you slow down and relax, Reardon says. An amino acid called theanine found in green tea can provide a calming effect.

For a healthy cuppa:

  • Don’t add green tea to boiling water. You’ll kill helpful catechins. Better: 160-170 degree water.
  • Add lemon. Vitamin C makes the healthy compounds in green tea easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, makes it harder to absorb the catechins.
  • Levels of the healthful compounds in green tea can vary. Rule of thumb: Pricier teas usually have more, and canned green-tea drinks have less.

Aim for at least four cups a day, two with caffeine and two without. Even more than that seems to have little health downside, other than the possible effects of caffeine, Ochner says. “There could not be a more simple way to improve your health,” he says.

demystifying the food label

Editor’s Note:  We recently received an e-mail from Cheryl M. in Little Rock, “I’ve recently started your Sofa2Success  program, and I am wondering if you’ll be adding more information on how to select the best food to go along with my increased activity?”

We always say it’s the little things that make the big difference.  With food labels it’s no different.  Once we know and understand the basics, we can navigate the endless choices that are presented to us at the grocery stores.  If you are not familiar with all the information presented on food labels, this article is for you.  We’ll be doing another article on ingredients/additives as well as the advertising claims some companies make versus the real nutrition facts soon. You will laugh out loud at some of the claims!  Please be thoughtful about what fuel you put in you and your family’s bodies!  The more you know …   

Article Via:  American Heart Association

Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make healthier food choices.

Here are some tips for making the most of the information on the Nutrition Facts label.

Start here. Note the size of a single serving and how many servings are in the package.

Check total calories per serving. Look at the serving size and how many servings you’re really consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the Percent Daily Value (% DV).

Limit these nutrients. Remember, you need to limit your total fat to no more than 56–78 grams a day — including no more than 16 grams of saturated fat, less than two grams of trans fat, and less than 300 mg cholesterol (for a 2,000 calorie diet).

Get enough of these nutrients. Make sure you get 100 percent of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

Quick guide to % DV. The % DV section tells you the percent of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV — 5 percent or less is low. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV — 20 percent or more is high.

Here are more tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:

  • Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator (  In general, as you think about the amount of calories in a food per serving, remember that for a 2,000-calorie diet:
    • 40 calories per serving is considered low;
    • 100 calories per serving is considered moderate; and
    • 400 calories or more per serving is considered high.
  • There is no % DV shown for trans fat on the panel because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have enough scientific information to set this value. We recommend eating less than 20 calories or (less than two grams of trans fat) a day – that’s less than 1 percent of your total daily calories (for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).
  • When the Nutrition Facts panel says the food contains “0 g” of trans fat, it means the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
  • When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, you could quickly reach your daily limit of trans fat.

In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, a lot of foods today also come with nutrient content claims provided by the manufacturer. These claims are typically featured in ads for the foods or in the promotional copy on the food packages themselves. They are strictly defined by the FDA. The chart below provides some of the most commonly used nutrient content claims, along with a detailed description of what the claim means.


If a food claims to be… It means that one serving of the product contains…
Calorie free Less than 5 calories
Sugar free Less than 0.5 grams of sugar
Fat free Less than 0.5 grams of fat
Low fat 3 grams of fat or less
Reduced fat or less fat At least 25 percent less fat than the regular product
Low in saturated fat 1 gram of saturated fat or less, with not more than 15 percent of the calories coming from saturated fat
Lean Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Extra lean Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Light (lite) At least one-third fewer calories or no more than half the fat of the regular product, or no more than half the sodium of the regular product
Cholesterol free Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat
Low cholesterol 20 or fewer milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Reduced cholesterol At least 25 percent less cholesterol than the regular product and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Sodium free or no sodium Less than 5 milligrams of sodium and no sodium chloride in ingredients
Very low sodium 35 milligrams or less of sodium
Low sodium 140 milligrams or less of sodium
Reduced or less sodium At least 25 percent less sodium than the regular product
High fiber 5 grams or more of fiber

If you can’t remember the definitions of all of the terms, don’t worry.  You can use these general guidelines instead:

  • “Free” means a food has the least possible amount of the specified nutrient.
  • “Very Low” and “Low” means the food has a little more than foods labeled “Free.”
  • “Reduced” or “Less” mean the food has 25 percent less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.





happy healthy holidays

Editor’s note:We are really thrilled that Alyson connected with us!  Her passion and enthusiasm for getting people educated on food is amazing.  Alyson is a Registered Dietician/Licensed Dietician with the communication skills to bridge terms/information about nutrition and food to simple, easily understandable messages we can use every day.  How to read food labels, understanding nutrition needs and content, how to shop smart at a grocery store and saving money are topics she addresses and will continue to address with individual conversations or presentations!  Thanks Alyson!

Happy Holidays everyone!  I absolutely love this magical time of year!  As my career has advanced over the past few years, my travels home have decreased significantly.  The holiday season allows me to spend precious time spent with the ones I love the most, my family!  This year I have been extremely blessed by the wonderful new friends I have met through runhers.  You have encouraged me, pushed me, and challenged me to be a better person.  I now know that you have to set goals to be able to achieve them, you will survive running in 102 or 20 degree temps, and most importantly running shoes are more than just pretty accessories.  You have given me so much that I wanted to give something back.  My passion is food.  Food is much more than just something we eat.  It becomes a part of us, the way it nourishes our body, the way it bring us together, and through the culture it creates.   However, it can be overwhelming for us who struggle with balancing our health.  My best advice, enjoy traditional holiday meals and party foods with family and friends while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, too.  You can have it all, you just have to BALANCE.Ultimately you are in the driver’s seat, you are in control.   Keeping in mind a few simple steps can make a big impact on your holiday intake.  Start with taking the edge off your hunger before you go to a party.  If you skip meals throughout the day you will be more likely to over indulge from hunger.  Food options at parties tend to be less nutrient dense so fill up during the day.  Party buffets can keep you coming back for more, but one trip can do the trick.  Fill up your plate the first time with lots of fiber by eating fruits, vegetables and whole grainsThen go back for some of your favorites.  You’ll be less likely to overindulge if you’re already full.  Use a smaller plate, if a salad plate is available use it for your entrees.  This will keep your portion sizes in check.  Alcohol calories can add up fast so for every alcoholic beverage you have, rotate with a glass of water.  This will keep you hydrated and prevent you from doing anything inappropriate at the holiday office party.  You can also try sparkling water and a lime twist rather than alcohol.

The best way to ensure there will be something healthy and delicious at a party is to bring a dish yourself.  There are lots of easy to prepare recipes such as zucchini and brown rice casserole, bean salad with variety of beans; green beans, lima beans, pinto and black beans, or whole-grain pasta salad.  You can also use can help find healthy recipes.  Simple substitutions in your holiday food prep can save you precious calories and fat!  Using two egg whites in place of one egg can reduce the cholesterol and produce the same tasty result.  Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and lighten holiday fat content.   Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads like banana bread.   For dips, sauces and pie toppings use non-fat greek yogurt, sour cream and whipped topping.   Sliced almonds make a delicious, crunchy topping in place of fried onion rings.   Choose reduced-fat or non-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles.

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping can be exhausting.  You want to make sure you continue to stay active and keep on track so don’t forget the fruits and vegetables.  Here’s some “on the go” options:

  • Pack raw fruits or vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, apples or bananas
  • Snack on hummus and vegetables on whole-grain bread or crackers
  • Make lettuce wraps filled with black beans, peppers and onions
  • Fill a thermos with vegetable or tomato soup

Let’s face it, you want to spend your money on presents for your loved ones, not your food budget.  It‘s easy to save money on groceries during the season.  Start by buying frozen vegetables and fruit.  Many fruits and veggies aren’t in season this time of year which can really spike your grocery bill.  Shop from bulk bins so you can buy smaller amounts, especially for those specialty recipes you’ll probably not make again anytime soon.  Buy produce that keeps longer in the refrigerator such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage or carrots.  And lastly, use leftovers for weekly meals.  For example, here is a great soup recipe using your leftover turkey and mashed potatoes!


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups chopped cooked turkey (about 1 pound)
  • 2 1/2 cups mashed cooked peeled baking potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, carrots; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add broth, turkey, potatoes, and chopped sage, stirring with a whisk until blended; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in pepper. Garnish with sage sprigs, if desired.

Here’s to staying happy and healthy during the holiday season!  All the best!

~ Alyson

small things add up

small things really do count …

2012 is well underway, resolutions may still be in full force (maybe not) and the holiday bulge may still be hanging around (ouch!). People tend to make lofty New Year’s goals to be healthier, but aren’t successful because they aren’t specific enough, too rigid to achieve and stay on track, or maybe you just haven’t followed through.

For many women, all it takes is one candy bar or one bad meal and the rest of the day, or even the week is ruined. We beat ourselves up over the one lapse. Instead look at the big picture and know that we can get back on track. Break it down and know that the small things can make a dramatic difference in your quest for a healthier you. Try these simple day to day tips – the small things will add up to something big!

  • Drink more water – This one is crucial, adding more water to your diet alone can do so much good for your body. It also assists with weight loss. Drinking 96 ounces of water daily decreases fluid retention, improves liver function, appetite decreases, metabolic functions improve (more energy to burn more calories) and blood volume is maintained. Simple fix: keep a large bottle of water with you at all times because once you actually feel thirsty, dehydration has already set in. Mood swings and headaches are many times just simple hydration issues.
  • Unhealthy munchies – Stay away from the unhealthy snack trays and candy bowls. You know what we’re talking about! If you’re hungry, eat something healthier – try not to pick at something just because you’re stressed or bored. Simple fix – remember to eat all your daily meals – then keep healthy snacks with you during the day. Here’s a tip on an ideal day; breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack. By keeping regular eating habits you are less likely to be hungry and go for those unhealthy treats. A handful here and a bite there can add a lot of empty calories/sugar to your day. If you feel comfortable with it, keep a food journal so you have an idea of just how many calories you take in and when.
  • Think. Don’t eat it if it’s not worth it – There are some days a girl feels the need to splurge! Please make certain it’s something you really want to ensure that it was worth it so you don’t have that guilty “why did I eat that” feeling.
  • Soda and Sugary Drinks – We’ll do complete stories on ‘sugars’ in the near future. A diet high in sugar contributes to weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which raise the risk of heart disease, warns the Cleveland Clinic. It’s added in soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and even added in many juices! Don’t get us started on foods! Surveys have also found that the average American consumes ~ 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar every day. Health gurus say we should really be drinking/eating a fraction of that amount. The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 5 teaspoons (20 grams) of sugar per day, for adult men, it’s 9 teaspoons (36 grams) daily, and for children, it’s 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day. A 12 ounce Coke has 39 grams of sugar as a reference point. We will have a forum soon on label reading! We are not saying to BAN everything – what we are saying is to be informed, aware and adjust accordingly. Everyone enjoys a sugary treat once in a while!
  • Vegetables – Veggies are good for you. Great source of fiber which is beneficial to be heart healthy, lower risk of colon cancer and keeps you “regular”! An easy fix suggestion is to substitute veggies for fries. Or ‘bake’ the fries! We all have heard about what fried foods can do to us! Try adding servings of veggies to every meal. Add colors, experiment and have fun with it. The fresher the better!
  • Portion Size – Yes, it is true – America has the largest meal and packaged portion sizes in the world! For example and let’s be honest here, we know candy bars and other sugary treats aren’t getting us any closer to our goals so if you’re going to eat it, PLEASE stay away from the super-size, king-size, etc. and go with the bite size. Use smaller plates for meals, do some food research, learn label reading and have some fun with it! Many restaurants are famous for huge portion sizes! Make one order ‘dinner for two’ like we many times do! Heck we even order off the kid’s menu if they’ll let us! You can be sensible and creative when eating out!
  • The Great Chocolate Debate – Look for a higher cocoa content – 70% and higher are the healthiest. The higher levels provide more nutrients, antioxidants etc. Less is more with this type of beautiful stuff! Slow, small bites are much more enjoyable and satisfying.
  • Try keeping a meal log – Always at a loss what to plan for dinner every night, run out of time to fix dinner so just stop for fast food? Take a few minutes on the weekend and plan what you’re going to have for dinner each week. Plan grocery shopping around that and have everything on hand so you can feel more confident and in control all week!
  • Move Around – Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Seriously just do it! Many people are at desk jobs all day. Take 5 minute fitness breaks! Take the chair away, walk around or even squat in place. If your company has flex time or a rewards system for staying healthy, tap into as many of those resources as you can! If not – ask about leading a “walking’ break or meeting or find some other creative ‘moving’ solution! The more you move, the more you can do! Once again and back to the main topic – the small things will add up to big things. Use your imagination. One size does not fit all! What may seem to be small improvements for one may be HUGE for others so it’s all about finding what works for you! Pick one small improvement that you can work on per day/week and focus on achieving that goal then continue on each week. Leading a healthy lifestyle is most definitely a marathon not a sprint, so work towards improvements that you can continue on long term not for a quick fix.

I hope this helps with remembering that small improvements, one step at a time, really are the way to go. We are never going to get everything right, but we can adjust and have lots of fun with it. The point is to move your body and put good stuff in it! Laugh, have fun and play like a kid!

Peace Love Run ~ Sara McCauley, Energy Director

slow cooker tuesday – vanilla-cinnamon cocoa

Happy Slow Cooker Tuesday to you!  I was unsure about the kind of recipe I wanted to post for this week, so I decided to take some inspiration from today’s expected weather here at the OKC headquarters.  We have been enjoying lovely warm weather in Oklahoma this last week. Today we are expecting some rain! I love all things warm in the cool, gloomy months of winter. As I was flipping through the recipes in my favorite slow cooker book I came across a Vanilla-Cinnamon Cocoa that just sounded delicious. I don’t usually think of beverages when I think of a slow cooker, but I love the idea of it!

Vanilla-Cinnamon Cocoa
The Best of Prevention Slow Cooker Recipes
1/2 cup sugar (I use raw sugar)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups boiling water
3 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk
6 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Combine sugar and cocoa in a 4-qt or larger slow cooker. Add boiling water. Stir well to dissolve. Add dry milk, water, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Stir well to dissolve. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Beat cocoa with a whisk to make frothy. Ladle into mugs and garnish with cinnamon stick, if desired.

Servings: 12
Per serving: 170 cal, 13 g protein, 29 g carb, 1 g fiber, 1 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 5 mg chol, 190 mg sodium

My mouth is watering as I type this! This could easily be made into a coffee beverage as well. Just add a shot of espresso!

I hope you enjoy this cocoa and your Tuesday!
Live. Life. Beautifully.
Staci Patton

slow cooker tuesday – homemade applesauce

I love trying to find new things to snack on that are healthy and low in fat and calories. I also like to find recipes that are versatile so you can tweak them, and make them your own. Today I am bringing homemade applesauce to the table. Since it is Tuesday, it would not be right if it was not made in the slow cooker!

Cinnamon Applesauce
The Best of Prevention Slow Cooker Recipes
7 apples (try McIntosh), peeled, cored, and chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
Place apples in 4-qt or larger slow cooker and sprinkle with cinnamon. Add water. Cover. Cook on low 2 to 4 hours, or until apples become mushy. Stir in brown sugar and mix well.

Servings: 6. Per serving: 143 cal, 0 g pro, 38 g carb, 2 g fiber, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 0 mg chol, 8 mg sodium

Play around with different spice combinations. Try some nutmeg and clove, or if you want to get extreme even some cayenne pepper. Different kinds of apples will bring different flavors. Granny Smith apples make a great applesauce too!

I hope you enjoy this healthy, tasty treat!

Live. Life. Beautifully.

Staci Patton

lifestyle & food

Allow me to introduce myself!

My name is Staci Patton. I am Oklahoma born and raised, Edmond to be exact. I am a business owner by passion, hair stylist by trade. I also enjoy athletics and cooking, among other things. I am self-taught in almost everything I have done, with some outside help and support along the way. I love cooking with a slow cooker. I also pride myself in making dishes healthier when I can.


My daily goal is to create life balance. If I am not careful, I will immerse myself into work. I love what I do that much. So, I limited my hours, hired a fantastic manager, and now have time to do other things that also contribute to my overall happiness.


I grew up in competitive athletics. My mom enrolled me in ballet and tap at age 3.  I continued to dance into high school. I also picked up power tumbling, and at age 8 started racing BMX (bicycle motocross). It got to the point with racing bikes and dancing I had to choose one. Naturally, I chose BMX. I raced until I graduated high school, for a total of 11 years. I had the privilege of racing all over the country and even crossing the ocean a handful of times. I still have a deep love for BMX. I have a BMX family I stay connected with today.


Now that I am a working adult, I want to stay healthy and fit. I achieve this by doing a boot camp 3 days a week and running. I finished my first half-marathon in November of 2011 in 02:01:41! I was never a runner as a kid, so this was a huge accomplishment for me.


As I mentioned earlier, I love to cook. Fortunately, I love fruits and veggies. Unfortunately, my weakness is desserts. Most of the time a small piece of dark chocolate will take care of that craving.


My first recipe post is one of my favorite things to make in the slow cooker. It comes from Best of Prevention Slow Cooker Recipes book. I make minor adjustments to most of the things I cook. For instance, this recipe calls for reduced-fat mayo. Instead, I use non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Making that one change cuts out 40 calories per 1/2 cup serving.


Chicken-Currant Salad

Adapted from Best of Prevention Slow Cooker Recipes


2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1-1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or water)

2 Tbsp. currants or raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 rib celery, finely chopped

4 scallions, minced

Pinch salt

3/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (I prefer Chobani brand)

3 Tbsp. fruit chutney (or favorite flavored jelly/jam)

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

  1. Place chicken in 5-quart or larger slow cooker. Add just enough broth (or water) to cover chicken and then add currants.
  2. Cover. Cook on high 2 1/2-3 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. Strain chicken and currants and let cool in refrigerator 1 hour (I have eliminated this step when I’ve been in a hurry). Cut chicken into small cubes.
  3. Place chicken, currants, almonds, celery, and scallions in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Combine mayo (or yogurt), chutney, and curry powder in another bowl. Stir into chicken mixture. Serve over lettuce leaves, if desired.

This also makes a great sandwich or wrap. I typically eat mine over romaine. One-1/2 cup serving is approximately 161 calories using the Greek yogurt. If you stick with mayo it’s 201 calories per serving.


Live. Life. Beautifully.

Staci Patton