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)

How to stop feeling guilty around food

The holidays are right around the corner and for so many this is a time of year that brings about  mixed emotions. Usually the slurry of emotions leave us unsure of how to feel. Even though this is supposed to be one of the most joyous times of year, they  can be overwhelming. I know my family is far from perfect and there is always a little uneasiness as my husband I try to navigate the sticky situations that family can present.

Toss in all of the holiday parties, end of the year deadlines, and weeks where your kids are out of school and it is easy to see why we, as women tend to put ourselves on the back burner and become a bit more relaxed with our routines. However, I’ve found that the more relaxed I get around the holidays, the harder it is for me to get back into my rhythm come January.

Often guilt and shame accompany this time of year. Whether we find ourselves over spending, over eating, or over drinking. It seems that we buffer our feelings and How to stop feeling guilt or shame around food, fitness, and your bodyemotions just to get by. After all, this is the season to eat, drink, and be merry, but usually the stress of the season leads to a bit more of the eating and drinking, and less holiday cheer all around.

You might be nodding in agreement, because you too have felt these same things and have found yourself buffering instead of facing the music. I am guilty of this. Thankfully we don’t have to wait until January, we can start today.

How to avoid guilt + shame around over eating, over drinking, and over spending: replace old habits and behaviors with new ones

First, let’s identify and acknowledge shame and guilt. Often they are interchanged, but they aren’t exactly the same thing…

Shame is feeling like YOU are wrong. It’s intense, it’s painful. Shame makes you feel like you have to hide from others because if they knew about you and all your secrets,  you’d be unloveable.

Shame is something I see so many women carrying when it comes to their food choices. It isn’t uncommon for us to feel like we have to hide what we ate from others to avoid being seen or to justify our food choices to minimize the shame we feel around them.

In our society, a woman’s worth is often tied to her external appearance.  It was for me growing up, and I see it still in other women, on magazines, even other coaches/ trainers that put too much emphasis on the physical goals without touching on the other important areas of health too. When we find that sweet spot of letting ourselves be seen, brining those things that make us feel shame into the light is when we can begin to shrug shame.

Guilt on the other hand, is feeling like you did something ‘bad’–Again, this comes up so often around food for women. We assign morality to our food choices, like it’s either a good or bad food. If this is true, then we either are good or bad for eating them #lies. 

Food is a neutral party. Neither good nor bad. Its our meaning that changes things.

“I cheated on my diet”…”I am so bad for eating this”… I am so guilty of saying things like that in my past. And what would usually came next? Shame. It was a vicious cycle that the diet industry kept me trapped in for years. I vividly remember the pain I’d carry when I was “too weak” and gave into my cravings. I felt like a disappointment and a failure.I cringe when I hear another woman say any of these things.

How can you beat guilt and shame before it beats you?

Bring it into the light. Share with someone you trust and you know won’t judge you. Even journaling about it can help. Express your feelings. Practice rephrasing or reframing those thoughts  for yourself.

Your value and worth don’t come from what you did or didn’t eat or whether or not you did or didn’t do a workout today.

Call out the lies- if you catch yourself talking negatively when you glance in the mirror or if you try something and do it less than great notice the thoughts + self talk that ensues. If its negative, it’s a lie, and it’s gotta go. Come up with counter arguments to those lies. Or better yet, create some mantras or words of encouragement you can repeat to yourself before you get in those situations that tend to bring out the urge to shame or guilt yourself.

What can you do if you are being guilted or shamed by others?

First, remember you can’t control or change other people, but you can change your environment and who you spend your time with.

Assess your current environment and the people you spend the most time with. Are they for or against you and your goals?

Take action: Change one thing about your environment, maybe that is removing foods that you know lead to you losing control. Maybe it’s investing in some dumbbells or bands so you can always move your body even if you can’t make it to the gym or your favorite class.

Who is one person you need to spend less time with? Create an action plan, who can you add to your circle that will help you?

Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt. Whether good or bad, we are usually trying our best. We are doing what we can, with what we have, and it’s only reasonable that we would see others the same way. NO need to create extra stress or drama by believing anything other than this.

Give yourself some space to process. One way I do this is by  creating small margins of time in my day and/ or week to reflect. I am always talking to myself. If you could hear what’s happening in my head most days you’d probably think I’m crazy. But if I’m talking, I can’t listen to the negative voice. Then give yourself some time to just listen. 

Small steps you can take now in your mindset, movement, nutrition, and relationship with yourself:

Daily affirmations: The key with affirmations is to make them believeable. At first it might be a stretch, especially if you’ve gotten used to being bullied by your own thoughts. One thing I’ve done this year that has been so helpful in this arena has been to back up my affirmations with specific bible scripture. This way I am reminded that these things are in fact truth.
Start small and build up. It’s not the big things you do once in a while, but the small things you do daily that make the biggest impact. It’s tempting to want to change EVERYTHING at once, but that only sets us up to fail in the long run. Pick one thing and stick with it until it feels easy, then you can add another.
Slow down when you eat. I still struggle with this from time to time, but it is the first habit I teach my clients, so it is that important, and if you totally forget everything else you know about food this one habit is all you need. Slowing down allows you to feel full before you reach that uncomfortable stuffed feeling. Plus when you slow down, you get to enjoy your meal and your company that much more.
Choose movement that feels good and even a little indulgent. For me that is a mix of weights/ running or walking/ and some yoga sprinkled through my week. I used to snub walking because it wasn’t the sexiest. But you know what? It still burns calories, gets your heart pumping, and has some major benefits for your mind. So walk on! (if that’s your thing). The point is, moving your body is a gift and you get to decide what feels best. So forget the latest fad workout and just do you.
xo,
Alisha Carlson (8)
What is the hardest part of staying healthy during the holidays?

 

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.

 

Healthy snack ideas for any diet

Yep, you read that right. I used the word diet, without even a blink of the eye. It’s not because I want you to buy into ‘diet culture’ which is in itself a pretty destructive and ineffective way to manage your weight, your health, or your sanity for that matter. Instead I use that word because the word diet itself simply means a way of eating…for life. So whatever diet you choose to follow, whether it be paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, clean eating, keto or any other diet created make sure it is one that will allow you to reach your physique + health goals and is something you can do for life.

It was that little shift in mindset that really was the catalyst for change in my own life. Before deciding I was going to create a new lifestyle, I had approached every diet with a temporary mindset. I chose things that were restrictive and designed to give me maximum weight loss in the shortest period of time…in other words, limit my carbs, eat veggies and protein, and lose a bunch of water weight. Not sustainable and not really what I was after. Fat loss, was really what I wanted. Sustainability was another thing I craved.

Speaking of fat loss, these snack ideas I’ve prepared just for you are sure to help with that. Not to mention give you sustained energy- think no more energy crashes and feeling satisfied longer.

Mix protein + healthy fat + carb

One of the best tips I can give when prepping any sort of snack for you or your kids is to make sure you are mixing lean protein, some healthy fat, and even a little carb in the form of fruit/ veggies/ or whole grains. When choosing carbs think about fiber content, look for carb choices low in sugar, and overall ingredients.

Focus on minimally processed

I touched on this a bit above, but let’s dive into this a little more…Whether you are choosing your carbs, proteins, or your healthy fats aka your macros, you want to look for ones that are in as much of a natural state as possible. Ask yourself how this food would have looked in nature. If you wouldn’t find the ingredients in nature, put it down and walk away.

It took some time for me to start reading food labels, and there was definitely a learning curve to it as well. Essentially if I can’t pronounce it and it looks like its a chemical compound, or I recognize it from sources other than food, I am not eating it and neither is my family.

Ditch the ‘diet’ foods

If you are doing the above, then this will be pretty easy. However, if you are still drawn to the 100 calorie snack packs and diet soda (like I used to be), or “snack” foods like crackers/cookies/bars then let’s chat about why these may not be the best choice for helping you curb your hunger mid afternoon.

Diet foods may have the calorie thing under control, as in they are either quite low in calorie or have no calories (like diet soda), however what they do have is probably a lot worse than a few extra calories from whole food sources. Often snack foods are laden with extra sodium, sugar, and ingredients that you likely wouldn’t find in nature. Diet inspired snack foods are also pretty low in nutrient density meaning the amount of good-for-you stuff is pretty low compared to the calories.

Some of my go- to snack ideas

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  • Hummus and veggies
  • Guac and veggies,
  • Hard boiled eggs and veggies or fruit
  • Greek yogurt and fruit (opt for a coconut or other non-dairy yogurt if you’re vegan)
  • Apple and almonds
  • Apple and peanut/nut butter
  • Fruit and cheese/ Veggies and cheese (can also use nut cheeses like almond)

It doesn’t matter if you make these yourself or get a little help from your local grocery store these are all good choices whether you are on the go or relaxing on a Saturday afternoon. There are tons of great options already made for you, just be sure to read the label, and when you’re snacking listen to your body’s hunger cues. Try stopping before you finish the whole thing. Take a breather between bites. Remove distractions that make it easy to finish the whole thing.

Keep in mind these are also great ideas you can use to fill out a lunch for yourself or your kids. Try making it a game if you’ve got picky eaters. Everybody has more fun when we make it a game!

What are you already doing that is helping you live a healthier life? Drop your tip in the comments below, I’m always looking for new strategies to try!

 

Cheers to a wonderful day,

Alisha Carlson (8)

 

 

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)