Your Holiday Survival Guide to Do Holidays Different this year: save money, avoid unwanted holiday weight gain, and preserve your sanity

Tis the season of holiday parties, extra spending, and perhaps a bit too much eggnog. This time of year used to be so stressful for me. We were charging Christmas on our credit card, I couldn’t stop eating all the Christmas cookies, and I seemed to ramp up my time spent at the gym. The last one was in part to combat the extra pounds I was terrified of gaining and to help me cope with the additional stress this most joyous season tended to bring out.

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 This year my husband and I vowed to spend less money on stuff and instead invest more money on experiences. 

I’ll admit at first I was a little hesitant. Not really for me, but more for my kids. The thoughts of ruining Christmas for them swirled in my head and I even began to question whether or not I was a bad mom for not wanting to spend a ton of money on my kids. I guess that is just another ugly head of the comparison game.

As a kid at Christmas time it seems like your whole world revolves around getting all the things on your Christmas list.  The thought of not getting my kids the things they long for (even though I know in my heart spoiling my kids by getting them every single thing they want isn’t good for them either ) brings up emotions from my own childhood where  money was always in short supply and quite often I remember NOT getting the things on my list.

The thing of it is…I’m ok. I have not been scarred for life. And while I’ll admit  I do believe my parent’s money habits have  contributed to the way I handle and spend money. I am still working on this.

Stress less by saying no, thank you.

No, on its own IS a complete sentence, but if you’re looking to soften the blow just a bit you can add a smile and a gracious thank you to the end of your no.

The point isn’t really whether you add the ‘thank you’ or you don’t, it’s that you are being choosy about what you are committing yourself to. Especially this time of year. So think about the things you actually want to do and that align with your own personal core values. Then  make sure you do those things first.

Everything else can get deleted. Of course, sometimes you will have to make sacrifices and that is also ok. Just decide what you’re wiling to sacrifice on and what isn’t worth it.

For example if you’re eating a slice of pie just because you don’t want to disappoint someone or hurt their feelings or you don’t want them to feel alone in eating, then a ‘no thank you’ would be ok. You don’t have to cave into someone else’s agenda to show them you love them.

 Give more

While this time of year seems to be especially marked by additional spending and gift giving, there are more ways than one that you can be generous or lavish others in gifts.

Get creative–How can you give more of your time, your talent, or your natural gifts? Instead of focusing on all the time you don’t have or spending money that isn’t really there, think about the joy you’ll be adding and the cheer you’ll be spreading instead when you choose to invest time in other people or causes that are important to you.

 Enjoy the fun foods

Self control always. Restriction never. This year instead of counting all the treats, calories and macros, why not let yourself relax a little bit more? As long as you make your food choices with intention and mindfulness I say have that extra cookie without another thought about it.

Focus on REALLY enjoy the fun, festive foods of this season–savor each bite. Create an experience around that special food. It goes without saying this is a stressful time of year for many, let’s not take it out on Grandma’s homemade goodies. Eat in moderation and in alignment with your goals. Sometimes that is simply having the thing and not stressing over it.

Explore new ways to move your body

It is easy to get into a rut with our fitness. Instead of just doing the same thing over and over why not try a new activity this winter. Snowshoeing anyone? Or maybe there is a class you’ve been wanting to try, but you’ve been too busy hitting the trails on your runs. Whatever you’re used to doing to get your body moving, try something else this winter. Your body will thank you. Your mind will thank you. And you’ll appreciate the new skills and challenges that come with trying something new.

You can always make it better by grabbing a buddy.

Be just a smidge more intentional

This one goes without saying, but I’ll repeat it anyway…whatever you do, do it with intention. This means actively choosing what you’re doing, what you’re eating, how you’re spending your time and your hard-earned cash. Don’t get stuck in the same routines and ruts. For most women we operate on autopilot. We’ve got so many things to do in a day we just get going without ever really stopping to see how what we are doing are either helping us get closer to living our dream life or slowly pushing us further from it.

 

What is one way you plan to do the holidays a tad different this year? Join the conversation below. And if you ever have any topics you want covered in an upcoming post, shoot your questions over to alisha@alishacarlson.com

 

Here’s to creating food freedom, finding joy in moving your body, and making peace with your body long before you ever reach your fitness goals.

xo,

Alisha Carlson (8)

 

Quit procrastinating: how the lie of starting Monday is sabotaging you

How many times have you told yourself you’ll start your diet or your workout program again on Monday or in the New Year?

What if I told you there is no such thing as a “Monday” or as a “New Year, new you”. After all, we are only promised today, aren’t we? So why wait? Why not start today, in this moment, with what you have…

The tricky thing about diet culture is that we can get lulled into the mindset that we always have to start again, start over. The idea of ‘starting’ implies that there will be an end to whatever we are doing, and inevitably we will fail again.

Ditching the diet mindset means you won’t have to worry about starting again on Monday or starting over in the New Year.

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How do you ditch the diet mindset?

 

1. Think about the long-term gains and goals.
Set goals for yourself that inspire you to live a better life now, without waiting on the scale to budge or the clothes to get smaller. Decide what kind of value you want to add to your life and to the life of those around you.
Make small changes over time instead of completely overhauling your entire life at once. Change can be stressful enough as is. So why not take it slow? Start with a five-minute action and get good at showing up for that every day. Then Slowly build on that foundation of consistency. For most of us, the habit of showing up for ourselves will feel foreign. We need to create a culture of winning.
Don’t let the stress of life get to you. I was your classic comfort eater. Whenever I felt stressed, I’d turn to food or to alcohol or to exercise to help me manage my stress.
I know what you’re probably thinking.. isn’t exercise a good thing? It depends. For many, exercise is a great thing and can add so much value to their life. But for others, it can become another vice or another shackle.
The bottom line?
Find healthy ways to manage your stress. And do it in moderation.

2. Your journey is a practice. Not a test. 

Be the first one to give yourself some grace when you slip up or make a mistake. The more freedom you give yourself, the easier this will be. So instead of having food rules and obsessions you live by, create some healthy habits or practices around food and exercise.
Think about how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go. This simple mindset shift can make all the difference in your motivation levels and your excitement.
Who wants to work for someone who never appreciates their efforts? When we focus on our shortcomings and how far we are from our goals we are being the boss that never recognizes your hard work.
Spend some time this week focusing on the gains you’ve made and not the gap between where you are and where you want to go.

3.Create momentum with small changes, not a drastic overhaul

Our lives are comprised of thousands of tiny choices we make each and every day. Most of them are so small, we don’t even recognize the impact they will one day have on us. These small choices seem insignificant in the moment, making them easy to overlook. But they all add up.
Pick one small thing to tweak. It should feel so easy it’s stupid. In fact, I would argue its the easy choices that are the hardest to stay committed to. For some reason we have this belief that success has to be hard. That if we aren’t #onthegrind all day every day we might as well not bother.
Stumped on some small things to commit to this week? Use this list to help get the juices flowing:
-Take the stairs or park a little further
-Start your day with a routine that sets you up to win the day (a simple gratitude practice can do wonders for your mental state and your perspective)
-Add one more veggie to your day
-Have one glass of wine instead of two

The bottom line is this: Waiting to take action only sets us up to fail over and over…

If you are waiting to start until Monday or January or when you feel ready to make a change to your nutrition, fitness, or lifestyle, you will never make a change because you will never be ready. Sometimes you just have to leap first and have faith for what’s on the other side.
So what small action will you choose TODAY that will move you closer to your goals before next Monday or before the New Year? Share in the comments below so we can cheer you on!
xo,
Alisha Carlson (8)

Keep your nutrition simple if losing fat is the goal…

For Fat loss, keep it simple..

Photo Credit: Court Prather

Like most women, I have spent years and countless dollars trying to lose weight. I overcomplicated things, followed super restrictive diets, and was a habitual quitter. I used the word diet like a verb and not the way it was originally intended to be used. Diet culture and the weight loss industry kind of likes it that way. Because if we can’t ever truly figure out how to lose weight or fat we will keep coming back looking for more. That is exhausting, discouraging, and not at all anything I want to be a part of.

I want to see women lose weight, lose fat, get healthier, and stronger. I want to see women become more confident and live the lives they were created to live.

No, I am not saying that it is your weight or the amount of body fat you’ve got, how much weight you can lift, or your health score that will give you worth, make you loveable, or beautiful. However, I do know that for myself and for so many other women that I’ve helped, the more they started taking care of themselves and started seeing progress in the arena of their health and fitness, they changed. They became more of themselves, more relaxed, and more confident.

With so much information out there, how do you decide what is right for you?

Keep it simple. Like almost so simple it seems silly.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, body fat, get stronger, tone it up, build a bikini body, or whatever you can use the same principles. You don’t need to completely cut out any certain foods or restrict yourself to the point you feel like you’re going to kill someone.. (I’ve been there!)

If you’re tired of riding the ‘diet’ rollercoaster, you wanna lift weights and stay lean, or just wanna have more of a relaxed relationship with food here are some pointers to get you started.

  1. Whole foods > Processed foods
  2. Eat mostly plants (fruits and veggies), lean protein, and quality/complex carbs, healthy fats in that order. It’s time to rethink the “my plate” slightly..
  3. Eat slowly—-> this one is a big one! Especially if losing is a goal. You gotta give your brain time to realize your stomach is full.
  4. Eat slightly less than you usually do.

If you wanna catch the video version (where I go in to detail a bit more on each of these), you can click here to >> catch my latest IGTV <<

What do you struggle with the most when it comes to your nutrition? Drop a comment below with your questions, successes, and struggles.

 

Getting in shape | Some things to consider before you start that new workout routine

 

 

So, you’ve finally decided to dust of those kicks and get your butt in gear…You’ve got your  cute new workout gear, a Spotify playlist to keep you motivated as you log those miles and those reps, heck you’ve even written out your goals with a detailed plan. This is fantastic news, and I seriously couldn’t be more thrilled that you are taking this courageous next step towards improving your wellbeing and your health.

If you’re anything like me then you probably get super excited to start something new. You go all in and throw yourself out there without much preparation. I am slowly learning that planning ahead is actually quite virtuous and saves a ton of time, but that is for another day and another post.

I do believe that there are certain benefits to being the ambitious and somewhat impulsive person that I am. We usually don’t hesitate to act. If we get an idea we are excited to start implementing right away, which of course saves us from analysis paralysis or procrastination. However, we also fizzle out pretty quick after the newness has worn off or we hit some pretty intense obstacles. As with everything, finding a balance between the two extremes is probably the best place to be. And I’m learning 😉

Alisha Carlson Fitness Contact

Before you lace up those new shoes and hit the gym, here are some things to consider as you start this new workout routine..

It’s ok to be a beginner. In fact, no matter how long you train we should always hold the curiosity and the humility of being a beginner.

Let your ego go. Allow yourself to be comfortable where you are at in your journey. This is going to require you to go in with your blinders on so that you aren’t comparing yourself to others.

Set a strong foundation from the start. Ask yourself these questions before you start your new exercise + nutrition program:

  • What is my current experience with exercise? Sure I mean time wise or training age, but also what has your experience with exercise been up to this point? Is it something you like/dislike, something you feel confident doing…etc.
  • What foundational skills do you have in place? This  will definitely impact your confidence in getting started and sticking with it. Plus, if you’re interested in something like olympic lifting or physique competitions, you want to make sure you’ve got the skills in place to help you succeed.
  • What are your end goals? This might seem silly, but if you don’t have a clear picture of what you want your body to feel and to look like and how you want to feel in your body, you will have a hard time finding the right exercise program for you. Someone who wants fat loss is not going to train or eat the same way as someone who wants to run their first marathon.
  • And last, but certainly not the least to consider is whether or not you are working with any injuries. If so, make sure to check with your doctor before starting and take the time to do the proper rehab. It shouldn’t be painful to workout, out of your comfort zone–yes, but physically hurt, not so much.

Regardless of if you’re just starting out, starting over, or have been working on your health and fitness for a while you will benefit from taking some time to walk through these steps and lay a strong foundation so that you can crush your goals for years to come.

If you’ve been in the fitness game for a while, what tips would you give to someone just starting out? And if you’re just starting out, what tip will you implement first?

I love hearing from you, drop your tip in the comment below so we can connect and learn from one another.

 

xo

Alisha Carlson (8)

 

Break your bad habits in just 5 minutes a day

 

5 Minute

 

What’s the hardest part about change for you?

Change is such a scary place to be. It’s like we know we want it, but we are afraid of what’s on the other side. There are so many quick fixes out there or plans that encourage us to completely overhaul our lives and make radical changes. Sometimes those plans work and sometimes they back fire in the worse way. Ultimately it depends on who you are and what works for you. If radical change is the only way to go and you can make lasting change, then this blog post may not be for you. However, if you like to dip your toes in the pool of change before diving in, then read on my sweet friend.

I mentioned the other day that I am on a new leg of my own journey. And I’ll be completely honest I am usually the one that dives all the way in and figures it out as I go. That works for me…. some of the time, but there are lots of times I get myself in too deep too fast. I get overwhelmed, confused, and just stall out. Sometimes instead of doing the same thing and wanting different results you’ve gotta be wiling to shake it up a bit. So in the spirit of being a bit rebellious to my old ways, I’ve decided to take it slow. Enjoy the journey, and reflect a bit more along the way.

If you’re staring change straight in the eye and it’s got you intimidated, then I got you! Instead of trying to eat the whole elephant at once, ask yourself what you can do in just 5 minutes a day? What small, seemingly insignificant change can you make in five minutes a day?

Maybe it’s parking a little further and walking more. Maybe it’s eating one more serving of veggies for the day. Maybe it’s going for a walk instead of plopping down on the couch after work. It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it is moving you in the direction you want to be going. Then just focus on that simple 5 minute action daily and slowly build from there. And most of all just have fun with this! Try making it a game to see how many days in a week you can get that 5 minute action in. If you are someone that likes having a prize at the end, you can even try setting up little rewards along the way. So let’s say you do your 5 minute habit consistently for 2 or 3 weeks, have something that you will do for yourself (just make sure it is not going to undo what you’ve been working on for the past few weeks).

I’m dying to know what 5 minute habit you will commit to this week…let me know in the comments below, so I can check in on you and see how you’re doing with that!

Don’t let the fear of changing keep you from being all you were created to be! If you’re ready for more than a 5 minute change, then let’s chat, email me: alisha@alishacarlson.com and if you’re up for a little challenge, I’ve got a special 5 day mini-program that I want to get into your hands for free. You can click here to claim your seat. See you there!

Cheers to choosing change over comfort,

 

xo

Alisha Carlson (8)

Every day can be Taco Tuesday with this easy one skillet meal

I’ve been rocking my single mom status this week while my hubby is out of town for a work conference. One week may seem like a long time (and at one point it was for us too), but being a military family we have gotten used to long stretches of being split up whether for training camps or deployments. Regardless of how long he’s gone, I am a big fan of easy and quick meals that my kids don’t fuss over.

I was scrolling Pinterest last week as I normally do to get new dinner ideas and came across a super simple one skillet dinner that was healthy and delicious. Plus, it took less than 25 minutes from start to finish.. I made a few tweaks to the recipe and here is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it and let me know how you change it up, because there are literally thousands of ways this dish could be made!

 

What you need:
1 lb ground turkey ( I used 99%lean, you could use chicken or beef too)
1/2 white onion
3/4 c salsa (Costco is my favorite one)
1 whole wheat tortilla
1/3 c shredded cheese
Cumin
Chili powder
Sea salt
Garlic powder
1 can rinsed and drained kidney, black, or pinto beans (no salt added)
And your toppings of choice

To make:
Sauté onions until cooked (about 3 min)
Add ground meat cook, breaking apart and season with spices
Add salsa and cheese
Cook until meat is done and warmed through
Cut up tortilla into strips and add it into the mix (optional)

Serve with lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, and green onion or any other toppings you typically like on your tacos 🌮🥑

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