Feeling Rushed? How to Have a Slower Morning

Good morning and happy Thursday!  It doesn’t feel like Thursday this week, does it?  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this one change I made in my daily routine lately, and I thought it would be fun to talk about it here.  And since I’m enjoying my slower morning now, I figured it would be a good time to write this post.

how to have a slower morningWhen we travel, I always pick up some trinkets or souvenirs to remember our trip and the places we visited.  I usually end up placing them around the house, my office, or even in my car as a constant reminder of the amazing experiences and places we’ve been.

When we traveled all around Scandinavia, Russia and Europe this May, something felt a little different.  Of course, I wanted to get some of the classic items that the countries were known for, but I couldn’t help but admire more of their way of life than their material items.  A lot of things stood out to me.  Perhaps the one we’ve taken to heart the most, though, is slowness and consciousness in daily activity.  Let me explain….

I couldn’t help but notice a few things that were different in places like the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, etc.:

  • No drive-thrus
  • No fast food joints, except for the occasional train station or airport McDonald’s
  • Not a lot of to-go options at restaurants or cafes
  • Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Panera were missing and replaced by cool, chill cafes
  • No white paper cups in people’s hands as they hurried off to work or school (they’re too busy biking everywhere — no earphones or anything!). 

In other words, it seemed to me like their culture was not based off of being in such a rush all the time.  It made me realize that, although I love the U.S., we have an entire industry and culture dedicated to getting you somewhere faster.

how to have a slower morning barristersbeet.com

Since my brain tends to think about everything in terms of health and food, I couldn’t help but notice the effect this has, or seems to have, on our health.  So I thought to myself, “What can I do to implement small changes to slow down and enjoy what I’m doing at the time I’m doing it?”  I thought about how different my daily morning routine looked compared to that of a typical working person in the Netherlands, Denmark, etc.  I had to be honest with myself and think of how rushed I was/felt.

I’m usually rushing around, packing plenty of food (in to-go containers, of course), making coffee and putting it into a huge insulated mug, drinking coffee in the car on the go (not even enjoying it because I’m not stopping to think…), etc.

Now I’m trying something new.  Something that looks a little more like intuitive eating (thanks to Paige!), but which also applies to things other than food.  So what am I actually doing? Slowing down and enjoying what I’m doing at the moment — aka. having  slower morning.  Here’s what I’ve done to try to implement a slower, more enjoyable morning:

  • Go to bed at night earlier, in order to accomplish the next thing…
  • Wake up earlier 
  • Get out of bed within a few minutes of waking up
  • No TV in the morning (not watching the news has lifted my mood!)
  • Making coffee to enjoy at home with Ryan
  • Making a very small breakfast (I’m not particularly hungry when I first wake up – so I still like to eat my breakfast when I get to work)
  • Sit, without TV or my iPhone, with Ryan and enjoy our coffee and breakfast.

It’s made such a nice difference!  It’s a work in progress and it definitely can’t be every morning — I still have hearings, depositions, or other work/life obligations that don’t allow me to sit and enjoy each morning the same way.  But at least I’m doing it some or most of the time!

Have you guys ever brought home anything from a trip that has stuck with you?  Do you enjoy slower mornings or think they would help set you up more a calmer, more enjoyable day? 

How to Stay Healthy During the Bar Exam

Studying for the Bar Exam (and actually taking it) was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done.  I expected it to be mentally draining, but what I didn’t anticipate was how emotionally and physically draining it would be.  I should start out by telling you that I did very little of what I’m about to suggest… but that’s why I’m writing this post.

stay healthy bar exam barristersbeet.com

I did not take care of myself at all while studying for the Bar Exam, and I came unglued.  I will never forget how, for the first time, I felt immensely sore just from sitting.  My hips, glutes, legs, etc. ached from sitting for so long.  I guess that’s what studying for 12+ hours per day, for 2.5 months, will do to you. 

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Meal Plan for the Win {Week of 4/19/16}

Hi! How was your weekend? Ours was a nice mixture of being busy and relaxing.  We celebrated my brother-in-law’s birthday, went on a few walks (the weather in NJ was beautiful!), did some shopping for an upcoming trip, and cooked a lot of food for the week.    Speaking of food prep, I thought I would share what I did this weekend to prepare for a really busy week ahead.  Besides being really busy at work, I also have several client meetings, Bar Association events, networking events and a family get together.  I was also hoping to be able to sleep, eat, exercise and most of all, spend time with my husband.  What’s a working girl to do?  PLAN!meal plan food prep

Thanks to my Sunday food prep, my meals this week will look something like this —>

Breakfast: Egg bake with spinach, shredded potato, onion, maple turkey breakfast sausage, garlic and spices. For days that I hit the gym, I also have 1 scoop of Sunwarrior protein powder with water or a protein smoothie.

Lunches: I packed 3 containers of quinoa, shredded rotisserie chicken and 1 cup of roasted  chickpeas, broccoli, onion and carrot based off of this Chickpea Broccoli Buddha bowl from Hummusapien  (I have meetings the other 2 days).  I topped each bowl with 1 large spoonful of the peanut sauce from Hummusapien’s recipe.  It’s one of the best sauces I’ve ever had!  Perfectly sweet, salty, spicy and savory – the Thai would be very proud that you hit all 4 “S”s!

Dinners:  Trader Joe’s quinoa/brown rice pasta with “creamy” sauce (almond-milk based roux) w/ sundried tomatoes, basil, onion and rotisserie chicken based on this recipe; OR vegetarian re-fried bean & chicken enchiladas; OR leftover chickpea broccoli buddha bowls with a salad.

Snacks: roasted Indian chickpeas; cucumber and carrots with hummus; Boom Chicka Pop; Lara or KIND bars.

In order to have these meals (and others) all week, I had to prep the following today (Sunday):

  • Slice organic strawberries for smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt parfaits;
  • Cook 3 cups quinoa in chicken broth;
  • Shred chicken of 2 rotisserie chickens from Wegmans;
  • Roast broccoli, carrots, onion and chickpeas;
  • Prepare Trader Joe’s Brown Rice & Quinoa pasta & non-dairy sauce w/ chicken and sundried tomatoes;
  • Slice 2 lemons to use for water and tea all week;
  • Slice carrots & cucumbers for snacking;
  • Prep ingredients & cook egg bake.

Did you do any meal prep over the weekend?  How do you manage eating well during the week when you’re really busy? 

Healthy Skincare Regimen

I spend a ton of time (more than I care to admit) thinking about, preparing, chopping, cooking, and packing healthy meals almost everyday.   Despite the fact that I use skincare products everyday, I haven’t put nearly as much time or attention into carefully selecting and purchasing these products as I do with food.

I’ll stand at Wegmans and read 4 nutrition labels for a pasta sauce, but I don’t even bother to look at the label of a lotion I’m going to slather all over my skin?  Doesn’t really make sense, huh?

healthy skincare

I’m embarrassed to admit that I only recently started taking a serious look at what skincare products I’m using, what’s in them, and which ones I can find that are healthier for my body.  I have made the conscious decision to put more time and energy into what’s soaking into my largest organ: my skin.  As you know, the point of this blog is to help busy professionals (like me!) maintain a healthy lifestyle despite a hectic schedule.  So I’ve done the heavy lifting for you guys!  You can thank me later…

Did you guys know in 2016 the global skincare market is expected to reach sales of nearly $11 billion?!  The Nutrition Business Journal reports that the organic/natural skin care industry is just shy of $4 billion.

This prompted me to start a little series here on the blog.  Today’s post is the first in that series: identifying what is in your skincare products.  Next up, we’ll focus on a few easy swaps you can make, healthy, environmentally-friendly companies making great beauty products (thank goodness for Acure!), and which products are the most important to swap for a healthier alternative if you’re on a budget.   Read on –>

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The Healthiest Food Shortcuts

 

If you’re anything like me, you have plenty of weeks where you have little to no time to prepare healthy meals/snacks.  Some people just throw in the towel and figure if they have no time, they will just grab take-out, go to the drive-thru, or grab something from their freezer.  I like to think that I’ve come up with a happy medium for those weeks.  I’m going to share some of the shortcuts that have helped me reach that balance.

healthy time savers

The key: healthy food shortcuts from some of my favorite grocery stores.  Healthy shortcuts = food items that are either already prepared, or have done all of the “heavy lifting” for you (i.e., chopping, peeling, steaming, etc.), so that you can easily incorporate them into a simple meal or snack.  Healthy shortcuts are one of the biggest reasons I’ve been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle despite working so much.  Even though this may mean paying a little more for convenience items, I think it’s worth it in the end.

I’m on a budget – don’t get me wrong.  But I also work a lot, and my husband works a lot, and we don’t always time to do everything we want to do throughout the week.  I allocate a part of my budget to convenience items at the grocery store if I want to eat well but don’t have the time to prepare everything from scratch.  Remember: You can’t do it all!  Work, kids, school, healthy eating, exercise, relationships, family, friends…. the list goes on and on.   The key is being able to recognize what areas you’re willing to pay a little more for.  For me, healthy shortcuts are a big convenience factor that I’m willing to pay for.

TRADER JOE’S

Cauliflower Rice – although you can buy a head of cauliflower, chop and pulse it in a food processor, doesn’t it sound a lot easier to buy a bag of it already done for you?  It’s SO much easier to toss this cauliflower rice into a pan with 1 Tb. EVOO and saute for a few minutes until cooked through.  Plus, TJ’s version only has cauliflower and a little salt as the ingredients.  Just the way it should be.  Delicious! And so much easier.

Lentils – I love lentils, but I don’t love the amount of time it takes to cook them.  Sometimes I just want to throw lentils in some soup or on top of a salad to add more protein but I don’t have the time (read: several hours) to cook dry lentils.  Enter TJ’s Steamed Lentils, which are less than $3 and already cooked for you!

trader joe's

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Brown Rice packets – when I food prep, I try to cook rice on the weekends if I know I’m going to use it for a stir fry or to add to taco bowls.  When I don’t have the time, these brown rice packets from TJ’s save the day.  Although you can heat the rice in the microwave in the packet, I like to remove it from the plastic and heat it on the stove (you can toss it in soup or in a skillet with veggies) to heat it up in a healthier way.

Hard Boiled Eggs – Another great, go-to protein source in our family is hard boiled eggs.  I try to make my own most of the time, but the whole point of this article is for those weeks when you just can’t get it done. For less than $2.50, you can buy this bag of 6 hard-boiled eggs.  They make it so much easier to get your daily dose of protein.  Just chop them up and put them in a salad or eat along with a smoothie or oatmeal for breakfast.  Remember, though, 1 egg only has about 6 grams of protein.

Organic Apple Slices – even I will admit this is a true lazy girl trick, but hey – I do what I can.  I find that I’ll snack more on apple slices in they’re pre-cut and ready to go on my busiest days.  This bag of apple slices is great to have on hand as a healthy go-to snack.  They make for an easy and convenient travel snack, too!   I have to have mine with some TJ’s Almond Butter :  )

WHOLE FOODS

Tasty Bite packets – I keep a few of these on hand in the house to make a quick and easy vegetarian Indian meal when hunger (hangry!) strikes.  Again – this is all about convenience and having back up options! Of course I’d rather make this from scratch.  But let’s get real – who has the time to make an Indian dish from scratch on a weeknight?  (If you do – I’m jealous!)  Toss a packet of Tasty Bite’s channa masala, lentils, punjab eggplant, etc. with some of Trader Joe’s brown or cauliflower rice for a simple vegetarian meal when you have little time.  I try to round out my meal with a big salad with tomatoes, cucumber and carrot to add some additional nutrients.

whole foods

 

Organic Frozen Fruit – one of the biggest ways I trimmed my grocery budget and made room for these convenience items was to stop wasting fresh fruit and start buying frozen fruit for oatmeal and smoothies.  I still buy plenty of fresh fruit (especially when it’s on sale over the summer), but I learned to buy the fruits we weren’t finishing throughout the week from the frozen section instead.

Whole Foods’ Guacamole – this is probably the hardest to stomach because although it’s delicious, it isn’t cheap.  I love making my own guacamole when I can, but this is a great option to have on hand to throw on top of a salad, tacos, chicken, etc. throughout the week if you don’t have time.  To keep it fresh – flatten it out in the container after using, put a very thin layer of water (enough to cover the guac), and store in the fridge.  I dump out the water before serving and repeat the process all week long.

Frozen Greens – I love Whole Foods’ frozen kale and spinach because they’re easy to toss in  a smoothie, steam for a side vegetable, or to de-thaw, sauté, and add to any dish.  You can always find organic, affordable bagged options.  Not only are they much easier to use, but you can ensure you have healthy greens on hand if you just keep some in the freezer all the time.

Are there any items I missed? I’m always looking to learn about healthy shortcut options! What are some of your favorites?

 

3 Benefits to Morning Exercise

I was hesitant to even write this post because I honestly believe that you should fit in exercise whenever you can.  I also understand that not everyone is a morning person or that you may have circumstances that prevent you from exercising in the morning.   On the other hand, I can only speak from experience and in my experience, my lifestyle requires I schedule and plan exercise ahead of time if I want to make sure I get my daily movement in.

 

morning exercise benefits

It’s also important to define “exercise”.  Exercise doesn’t mean hours in the gym or even going to the gym at all.  It can be a class, yoga in your house, a brisk walk, or whatever movement works for you.  It’s great that there’s a push now to just move more overall.  People are realizing that it’s unhealthy to sit for the majority of the day, even if you do exercise.

Not only do I have to work out at night sometimes because of my work schedule (can’t go to a deposition with sweaty hair!), but I can’t work out everyday either.  I do what I can, when I can – and that works for me.  I just prefer to workout in the mornings because of the benefits I’m going to talk about in this post.

Now that we know I’m not just talking about going to the gym, working out everyday, or ALWAYS working out in the AM, let’s talk about some of the reasons it’s helpful to fit your exercise in the AM (when you can!) if you’re busy.

  1. Fewer Interruptions:  I don’t know about you, but not many people call me early in the morning and invite me to Happy Hour or to grab breakfast before work. There are very few people who want to hang out with me at 6:00 or 7:00am :  )

When I leave my workouts up in the air, I consistently shove them aside to do things that are clearly more fun – go to happy hour with my co-workers, meet my family for dinner, or go out with a friend.  The point is, I want to be able to do all of these things when they come up, so exercising in the morning means that I’m open to plans that come up later in the day.

In addition to “social interruptions”, unexpected work projects come up or long days at work leave me feeling so drained that, despite my good intentions to exercise after work, I can’t muster up the energy to go to the gym when it comes down to it.

There are 2 steps you need to take if you want to stick with morning workouts:

  • (A) become a morning person:  To become a morning person (or at least get up when your alarm goes off!), check out this article by Athena @ Fitness & Feta.  She gives some great tips and touches on a lot of the things I suggested in this post and this post.
  • (B) schedule your week ahead of time: try sitting down for 5 minutes on the weekend to plan out your week.  I keep all of my appointments, meetings, court hearings, dinners, etc. in my iPhone so I have a really good idea of what I’m doing all week.  I try not to schedule workouts on days I know I’ll just end up skipping because I have too much to do already.
    • Enter a calendar entry for each one of your workouts. Use fun emoticons and put the exact workout you’re going to do in the notes section (i.e., 30 mins cycling, yoga class @ gym, Workout #1 Winter Shape Up, etc.).  Anything you can do to make it more exciting than it is, right?

When I have less than 25 or 30 minutes and I’m looking for a quick cardio session I warm up at a moderate walking pace for 5 minutes, and then switch on/off between walking briskly at 4.0 mph for 2 minutes and running ~7.0 mph for 2 minutes for 20 minutes total before cooling down for about 5 minutes at a slow walking pace.  Gets the job done! 

2. Set Your Intentions: For me, one of the biggest unexpected benefits to morning exercise was how it affected me for the rest of the day.  If I’m going to take all of this time to set out my clothes the night before, make my breakfast, pack some protein powder, get up at the crack of dawn and sweat my heart out, then I’m certainly not going to reach for that mediocre cookie leftover after an office lunch meeting.  For the most part, I’m motivated to eat well for the rest of the day and make sure that I get plenty of water to rehydrate myself.

Overall, I think you’re much more likely to stick with your goals if you feel like you’re putting forth effort and that you don’t want to blow it.

3. Energy Boost:  Another benefit to morning exercise is that you actually feel more energized throughout the day.  Morning exercise is the gift that keeps on giving because your EPOC (excess post-exericse oxygen consumption) keeps your body burning calories long after you leave the gym.

Exercise (in many forms) also gets your blood pumping and oxygen flowing, which studies have shown can have lasting effects on your mental sharpness for up to 4-10 hours.  If you work long, stressful days like I do, you know how beneficial this point is!

Need some motivation? Try this:

  1. Love music?  I look forward to plugging in to unplug from the world when I exercise.  Download the Spotify app, find a playlist or station that you love, and give yourself something to look forward to.
  2. Remember the feeling you get after you exercise.  Have you ever regretted a sweat session?
  3. It motivates me to think of my overall goal (to be healthy and well) and that getting up and moving is another step towards that goal.  It doesn’t hurt when I buy myself a new pair of Zella leggings every once in a while (<——- have you guys tried these? I’m obsessed!).

*Please remember, I am not a personal trainer or a fitness expert (yet), I’m just sharing my personal experience and some of the planning tips that have worked for me. Talk to your doctor or a medical professional before starting any exercise regimen or changing your current routine.  Thanks for reading! 

Do you like to exercise at any particular time?  If you exercise in the morning, what motivates you to get up each time and sweat it out? 

Healthy Breakfast Choices at Panera

No matter how much preparation you put into your meals, fitness, and overall health, there are always going to be times when you need food on the run.  Panera is one of those places that I stop by for breakfast on my way to work when I don’t have time to prepare anything, and it’s also a place I like to grab coffee and a healthy snack to write these blog posts ;  )

Before recently, the general thought about Panera in the healthy eating community was that they disguised themselves as a healthy restaurant when really their food was made with chemicals, additives and lots and lots of unhealthy carbs… until recently.  Have you guys heard about all of the changes Panera has made?  Of course, they’re not perfect and there are still improvements to be made, but this is an awesome start.

So what are some things you can order if you’re trying to eat well and you need to grab something on the run?

healthy breakfast panera

One of the best things on Panera’s breakfast menu is the Steel Cut Oatmeal with strawberries and pecans. It comes with a sugar and cinnamon topping, but you can ask for that on the side (like I did in the above photo).. 

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Prepare for Your Workweek Throughout the Week

Morning everyone!  I hope you enjoyed the first post I wrote in this 2-part series on preparing for your workweek.  Although some people don’t want to spend a few hours each weekend preparing for the week ahead, I think it’s important to focus on what you can do and realize that every little bit counts.  I’ve gotten the best bang-for-my-buck for those practices I’ve implemented at night.  I thought I would share a few of those things with you here to help you prepare for healthier workdays.

Today’s focus: tips & tricks for the workweek that you can implement during the week.

Here are a few things you should give a try the night before a busy workday to ensure healthy success…

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Preparing for Workdays on the Weekend

Did Daylight Savings hit everybody else as hard as it hit me?  Phew!  It’s so funny that 1 hour can throw things off so much.

I’m going to give you guys a couple of posts this week on preparing for your workweek on both the weekend and during the week.  Through this series of posts, I’m going to break down some simple tips and tricks that you can use to make your workday healthier, one step at a time.  Some people like to get everything done on the weekend, and some like to spread it out over the week.  Other times, the choice is out of your control and you just need to do what you can.  The point is that really any amount of preparation or energy you put forward will make you healthier (than if you did nothing) in the long run.

Today’s focus: preparing for your workday on the weekend.

My workday preparation is constantly evolving, but I like to think that I have a decent system down nowadays.  If I don’t do a little bit of preparation either on the weekend, the night before, or early on the morning during the week, I look something like this —>

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Here a few tips that you can try over the weekend that will make your whole week much easier.  If you only have 1 hour, 30 minutes or just 15 minutes, there should be a few tips that you can give a try:

Food Prep – Bulk: I’m going to talk about “bulk” food prep in much more detail in future blog posts, but I’m sure you’ve heard all about the trend of cooking a number of recipes or bulk basics on the weekend that will last you all week.  It’s certainly not for everyone.  I have weekends where I don’t want to spend 1, 2 or 3+ hours in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up (isn’t that the worst part!?) instead of being outside or with loved ones.  The basic idea behind bulk cooking is to set aside a block of time over the weekend to wash, chop, dice and cook up most, if not all, of the food you need for the week.

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