You Don't Have to "Earn" Your Favorite Foods with Exercise

You Don’t Have to Earn Your Favorite Foods with Exercise

Even though I’m a dietitian and food is my favorite topic, it would be nearly impossible to avoid talking about exercise with my coaching clients. Almost everyone who comes to me is interested in health improvement in some form, and I approach each situation using a “whole person approach”, which means I appreciate how important things like stress level, sleep hygiene, movement and social connection factor into the equation.

One thing I notice repeatedly is that most people (at least my experience) tend to view exercise as:

  1. Solely a weight management tool

  2. A way to “earn” food, specifically indulgent food and alcohol

This is such a disservice to all of its amazing benefits! I do a lot work around why this tends to be an ineffective strategy for reaching goals, so today I thought it would be helpful to dive into this further.

Why Your Exercise Mindset Matters

Have you ever been in a group fitness class where the instructor keeps yelling out things like, “you gotta earn that wine later” or “work hard now so you can enjoy that Halloween candy”.

This is one of my biggest peeves. I get it, these instructors don’t mean any harm and are simply trying to be motivating. But this just isn’t how things work. Our energy needs vary from day to day and there is room for the fun stuff, within reason. Plus, elevating treats on a pedestal makes them way more alluring and scandalous than they need to be (how exciting that you “earned” a peanut butter cup, right?).

In short, you don’t need to exercise to earn your food, and here’s why this mindset can be problematic.

  • It becomes tempting to restrict on your sedentary days. We all have days that are lower in movement than others. Whether we’re not feeling well, are on vacation, or are stuck inside because of a snowstorm. Rest days are also an important part of muscle recovery and actually help us perform better overall. Regardless, we still need a substantial amount of food to fuel our organs and body systems properly, especially if we’ve been working out hard in the days previous.

  • You’ll start to associate workouts with indulgent food and/or alcohol which can lead to overeating, often followed by that vicious cycle of overeat/restrict. Using exercise as a tool to overeat and drink doesn’t teach you how to become a competent eater, it reinforces the idea that “calories in = calories out so we’re good", but there’s more to it. For example, I could skip meals all day and then just drink a bunch of wine to fit within my energy needs but that wouldn’t be doing any favors for my health.

  • It creates a negative association with exercise. If you view exercise/movement as something you have to do to compensate for a fun meal out with friends the night before, you probably won’t find it very enjoyable and remember, enjoyable movement usually results in consistent movement.

Practical Tips for Shifting Your Mindset

If you have a love/hate relationship with exercise, what can you do to make it more positive?

Try a bunch of different things until you find something you actually enjoy. There are so many different options these days, surely there is something for everyone. If motivation hinders you, make it social and connect with friends. If getting out of the house is a barrier for you, find something you can do at home. If time is an issue, try starting with just 15 minutes. Depending on what your current routine looks like, making exercise less structured might be a good thing too.

Next make a list of all of the reasons why you enjoy said workout. Here are some reasons why I love my favorite class:

  • It gives me a chance to take time for myself

  • It wakes me up and gets me laser-focused first thing in the morning

  • It’s gives me confidence that I can do challenging things and push through uncomfortable moments to achieve something great

  • I leave feeling strong and powerful

  • I leave feeling energized and ready to conquer the day

  • I love the sense of community at the studio

Lastly, be more cognizant of the language you use around movement. We had a great discussion about this topic on Healthy Buzz in episode 9 that you might find helpful. If you start talking about exercise/movement in a positive way instead of “omg I need to work off all of that pizza and beer” way, I would imagine you’ll notice a difference in how consistent you are fairly quickly.

Interested in working 1:1 to work on your relationship with food and exercise? Schedule a free 15-minute intro call to see what that might look like for you.

My 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies

Once again I’m back to share some gift ideas for the foodies in your life! Looking back on last year’s guide I realize I’m a little behind schedule on this — I published my 2017 Healthyish Gift Guide a whole week earlier. If you’re anything like me and haven’t even started your holiday shopping yet, I know you will still find this helpful so here we are.

I would still recommend every item on my list from last year, so feel free to start there. I wanted to make sure there were no repeats, so I rounded up 10 new things that would make an excellent gift for the food-lover in your life (read: anyone who loves to try new things, loves cooking, and considers exploration of the local restaurant to be a major hobby 🙋).

It was important to me to also provide options for budgets all across the board so trust me when I say there is something for everyone. Here we go!

Gift Guide for Foodies 2018

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I’ve shared about how much I love both this cookbook and the Netflix series. The book would be the perfect gift for someone who loves learning about the science of food and cooking. As a bonus, the illustrations throughout the book are super unique and beautiful!

Milk Frother. This is a simple tool that allows you to whip up a fancy-ish coffee or tea drink in less than two minutes. I use mine to make tea lattes in the afternoon, or to froth up some eggnog for coffee around the holidays. The one I linked is similar to mine and even has a travel case. Need I say more?

PB Love Co Nut Butters. PB Love Co is one of my favorite new food product finds of 2018! This is a Denver-local company and they make fantastic nut butters — just the right amount of added sweetness and the perfect texture. For the fellow nut butter lovers in your life, send a three-pack that includes the classic peanut, salty peanut, and cinnamon almond flavors.

Pretty Cloth Napkins. I may have a bit of food blogger bias because I love using pretty napkins in my photos, but who wouldn’t love to have a set of these for entertaining? It’s a great way to add a little flare to your table setting.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream. OMG hands-down the best ice cream I’ve ever had! I’ve been to the original S&S in Portland, plus one of their new locations in San Diego and the flavors are always so creative and delicious. If you have someone in your life that’s ice cream obsessed like me, you might consider sending them a sample pack. It would also make for an easy but special dessert if your giftee is hosting anything in the coming months.

A Healthy Buzz Weekend. In case you haven’t heard, my best friend and I are hosting a women’s health & wellness retreat in the Spring of 2019! This would make a fantastic gift for anyone who could use a weekend recharge plus guided movement, feel-good food and just an all-around great time. I’ll be leading cooking demonstrations and we are going to plan some awesome meals (all of which are included in the registration fee). We are also running a Black Friday deal and if you refer someone (or gift it!) you’ll get $99 + a surprise piece of Healthy Buzz swag.

If You Can Read This Socks. I bought these socks for a few different wine-lover friends last year (okay, I also bought a pair for myself) and they were a hit! I love stuff like this because I would never buy it for myself, but think it’s fun to sneak them on once in awhile and see if anyone notices the message on the bottom.

The Bon Appetit Gift Box. On last year’s gift guide I included a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine because I am totally obsessed with everything they create. It’s the one food magazine that I get, and I read it from front to back within days of receiving it each month. This year they are doing something different and offering a full on holiday gift box! It includes a one-year subscription, but also some other things like a tote bag, a cookie scoop with three recipes, a Stasher bag (these are so popular!) and two Skor bars. I thought this was such a fun way to gift a subscription.

Kale T-Shirt. I never get tired of seeing these shirts! I got a food pun shirt for my birthday and love it.

Wood & Marble Square Platter. This GORGEOUS marble and wood platter from C&B would make the perfect serving tray for a snack board over the holidays or any time. It’s pretty enough to keep on your countertop and totally Instagram-worthy too!

And also just as a reminder, some of these are affiliate links which means I earn some extra cash (at no difference in price for you) if you purchase any of them. Happy shopping!

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2018 Gift Guide for Foodies

What I've Learned In Three Months of Self-Employment

Today is special because it marks three months since I took the leap from corporate office job into full-time entrepreneurship. I remember feeling so energized, and also slightly terrified, when I left work on that last day. My income potential was completely in my own hands. Also, my income potential was now completely in my own hands 😬

I have to say that the idea of coming up with an idea, then working your tail off to bring it to fruition is insanely rewarding. There’s also some not-so-great things that come with owning a business and I would be remiss if I hid the fact that I experience challenges on an almost daily basis. I wanted to write this post for anyone who is either considering making a similar move in their career, or someone who already has and feels lost and hopeless with where they are.

Here are six things I’ve learned since starting this crazy self-employment adventure.

Leanne Ray | Denver Registered Dietitian

Sometimes you have to pivot, and be okay with it.

If you know me well, you know that I’m someone who always has a plan. I find immense satisfaction in looking ahead weeks, months and years and dreaming about where I could be by that point in time. I’m extremely detail-oriented (total walking dietitian stereotype) and I make lists about lists. Actually, I just recently took a personality test and my results indicated that these are a few ways to get along well with me:

  • Leave me alone when I’m doing my work.

  • Help me keep my environment harmonious and peaceful.

  • Tell me when you're proud of me or my accomplishments.

I swear I’m not a totally mean, stand-off-ish person! But these are surprisingly true. Imagine my dismay when what I originally set out to accomplish doesn’t actually work. I quickly learned that sometimes it’s necessary to switch directions and try something new without spending too much time dwelling that the “million-dollar idea” I had didn’t land. One thing that I didn’t have in my original business plan: the Healthy Buzz podcast which is turning out to be one of my favorite projects to date!

In-person connection is more important than an online presence.

Social media is fun and a great way to connect with other like-minded people. I also love it as a tool to showcase my personality and nutrition approach, portray my business mission and educate people in playful and creative way. One thing that social media isn’t: a catchall marketing tool.

There’s a difference between interacting and engaging and actually generating revenue. While I knew this probably wouldn’t be my biggest client referral source, I was surprised at just how few people came to me this way.

I also want to say that I thought I knew a lot about various social media platforms but there is always SO much more to learn. It’s one thing to use Facebook and Instagram regularly - it’s completely different to actually understand the strategy behind turning it into an effective business tool.

focus on serving first.

This one comes straight from one of my biggest sources of inspiration in the online business world - Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. His mission is largely focused on providing value and serving customers above all else and he is extremely generous to his fans.

Now, of course every business owner is providing something of value because otherwise, um, it wouldn’t be a business. HOWEVER, I think a lot of entrepreneurs are primarily focused on making money as fast as possible, instead of providing great customer service and building genuine relationships for long-term partnerships.

Real talk: I do have bills to pay and I can’t just be giving away my time for free. But I do subscribe to the theory that if you focus on solving a problem and showing compassion first, ideas on how to make it mutually beneficial will come.

Staying On Task Can be hard.

I get daily business tips in my inbox by an entrepreneur named Larry Jansky and I would highly recommend it to others. He provides short and powerful tidbits of knowledge that start my day on a positive (and motivating!) note. One of the most recent emails he sent said, “You can get ahead by simply controlling your attention - because most people don't do a good job of it”. How true is this?!

Working from home by yourself without anyone looking over your shoulder is a tricky dynamic to get used to. If you go down a black hole on You Tube for a half hour, no one will know, but your productive will suffer because of it. Here are some things I’ve personally changed to improve my focus during the day:

  • Turned off mobile notifications on Facebook. I just counted, and I’m in 27 different groups on Facebook (mostly business-related, some just for fun). TWENTY SEVEN. I get a lot of value out of these, but it’s a way more efficient use of time to designate specific blocks throughout the day to check-in and spend 10 or so minutes catching up and contributing to the conversation, rather than staying constantly connected.

  • Started using Todoist. This might be my favorite new tool of 2018. It seems so simple, but it’s basically a glorified to-do list with drag and drop capability and a color-coding system to help with prioritization. I still love my paper lists, but it’s nice to have access to this at all times (via computer or app). I start every day prioritizing this list.

  • Learned to batch tasks. If you were to ask me what a normal day looks like, it would be really hard to answer. On any given day I could be working with clients (or creating new materials for them), writing blog posts and social media content, networking, creating new recipes, or giving a presentation at a workplace. Just like in cooking, I’ve found it helpful to batch similar tasks together instead of flying by the seat of my pants. If I want to photograph a recipe, it makes more sense to do two or three while I have everything out. If I’m in writing mode, I may as well knock out a couple of pieces of content.

Efficiency is a key indicator of success.

Also known as, “work smarter, not harder”. It took awhile for this to sink in with me. I could easily work on my business late into the night, early in the morning and all afternoon on weekends if I didn’t set boundaries. I think deep down I felt like if I was always busy, that would equate to more business and the perception that I was killing it (so dumb - but so true). The reality is, not only is this totally unnecessary, it’s an implosion waiting to happen.

After being left to my own devices every day, I quickly learned that if this whole thing was going to work, I’d have to come up with a model that adds tremendous value to my customers but also makes sense for my own emotional well-being. This is why I’m constantly making changes to my offerings based on client feedback and my own learning experiences. p.s. I’ve got some big changes coming to my coaching services in 2019 and I can’t wait to share them!

Persistence is everything.

These things take time to build, and there are so many hard decisions to be made along the way. I’m a big believer that persistence is HUGE because sometimes it would be way easier to quit when things get hard.

Persistence is my word of the year because I wanted to prepare myself for the times when I had these self-doubting thoughts or second-guessed my decision to go solo. If there is one thing to take away from this article, it’s to remember that you are unique and have something special to offer the world (as said by Marie Forleo). Sometimes it just takes time to figure out how to deliver the message in a way that resonates with a large group of people.

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