Health & Happiness Mondays (Healthy Monday Tips)
I’ve been getting some questions from family and friends on how I stay on track with the changes to my diet. Part of the reason I started this blog is to answer questions and communicate what I do in as organized as possible of a format.
One of the ways I like to stay on track is to use Mondays as a fresh start and a do over so to speak if I’ve fallen off the wagon. Mondays aren’t everyone’s favorite day. In fact, Fridays used to be my favorite day but after having a child, Mondays have started to become a nice break from a crazy weekend. I digress…the best thing about Mondays is being able to reset and start off on the right foot: it’s your opportunity to start over.
The weekends can be filled with special events, dining out and tons of temptations. If you’ve fallen off the wagon on the weekend or if you went to a friend’s house and there simply wasn’t any other options except that fettuccini alfredo and you didn’t want to be rude, I totally get it. The good news is now that it’s Monday, you can reset and get healthy again!
Healthy Monday Tips
Fasting is a quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do after a weekend of cheating or even if I had a heavy meal and the next day my digestive system is screaming at me to give it a break. Once you’ve adopted a low-carb/sugar-free diet, you’ll have less spikes in your blood sugar and you really don’t feel the hunger pains that you used to. Fasting isn’t as painful as it sounds when you’re on a low-carb/sugar-free diet.
If you’re new to fasting, you’ll want to start out easy with a 12/12 fast where you eat for 12 hour and fast for 12 hours. You may already do this. An example would be to eat between 7am – 7pm. This means no late night snacking. This give your digestive system 12 hours to take a break. As you become more comfortable with fasting, you can increase your fast to a 16/8 fast where your eating window is 8 hours. For example eat an early lunch at 11am and finish dinner by 7pm. You would skip breakfast in this example which sounds sad (trust me, I know how sad that sounds) but the bonus is it saves tons of time in the morning when 10 minutes is more like 20 minutes. This is my favorite type of fast. The one thing that gave me some hesitation in doing this was the saying that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I really don’t think that is true anymore. What’s more important is keeping your blood sugar from spiking and choosing the right foods to eat when you do eat. Also, the benefits of a healthy gut are tremendous and sometimes giving it a break can make all the difference.
There are many methods for fasting such as 20 hour or 24 hour fasts which I have never attempted but may work my way up to a longer fast in the future. For now, I highly recommend a 12/12 fast or a 16/8 fast to give you a Monday boost.
Eat your Breakfast for lunch
I often eat vegetable soup for breakfast and some power greens (kale, spinach and chard mix) and some in season fruit. It sounds like a lot of work…and I’m not gonna lie, it is a lot of work. I make about a months worth of the veggie soup, freeze it and defrost it in small containers. I usually make 2 days worth of power greens the night before. I stir fry them in my giant frying pan with some olive oil and salt. Sometimes I’ll add just a touch of chicken bouillon. When I do my fast, I’ll eat my breakfast for lunch instead. Sometimes I’ll add the power greens to my salad and that makes it easier so I don’t have to do more chopping for my salad. Sometimes I’ll put them on a slice of grain-free bread or wrap with sliced avocados or lunch meat. It’s basically takes some of the work out of lunch. Yes! More time to do other things!
If you tend to eat sweeter things for breakfast like keto muffins or pancakes, you can decrease your normal lunch portions and have your sweet treat as the end of your meal.
Stock your Pantry & Fridge with EASY Healthy Snacks
I like to stock my pantry and fridge with (key word) EASY healthy snacks that will keep me from grazing on bad snacks throughout the day. If I’m fasting or doing low-carb, I definitely want a snack but because we’re all busy and don’t always have time to make nice healthy snacks, it’s important that they are easy to grab and go, if you need to put them in a Tupperware and head out the door. These are some of my favorites:
- Slivered almonds: They are much cheaper than marcona almonds but don’t have the skins. (They are great if you’re on a lectin-free diet)
- Walnuts: A palm full will keep you full. Walnuts aren’t as addicting as almonds for me so I try to snack on walnuts when I want to feel full until dinner.
- Trail mix (minus peanuts, cashews and dried fruit): I like to mix almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans and unsweetened coconut shavings. Sometimes I’ll just snack on the coconut shavings as well.
- Unsweetened or Green Plantain chips: I love these when I am craving a crunchy and salty snack. I have to admit, it’s hard to not eat the whole bag. These are good to portion out into a snack bento box. They’re also great for dipping with guacamole or any low-carb dip. You can get these at a Trader Joe’s if you have one near you.
- Celery sticks: I don’t like celery stick as a stand alone snack. They need to be dressed up with something. One of my favorite things is to add ready made pesto on them. It masks the strong celery smell if you don’t care for that. Almond butter is also a good alternative but don’t add those raisins. They are full of sugar.
- Baby carrots: These are sort of an obvious snack but I love them with a little sour cream with an onion or garlic salt mix.
- String cheese: String cheese is such a nostalgic snack, it just makes me happy to eat them.
- Lunch meat: Mmm mmm, I love me some rolled up lunch meat. It’s not as portable, especially in the hot summer months, but if you’re home on the weekends and want a quick little snack, roll up a couple slices and it’s an instant snack.
- Olives: Salty and briny, just the perfect snack if you’re craving something salty.
- Hard boiled eggs: If you have an instant pot, you can make these in a jiffy. I really wanted to say jiffy today. 🙂 I guess I wrote it but it still counts! The best thing about instant pot eggs is that they peel in a jiffy too! Seriously, you have to try it if you haven’t. It will change your life.
I’ll have to do a more comprehensive healthy snack post but these are my top 10 EASY snacks.
Simple Monday Night Dinner
I usually plan a weeks worth of meals on the Friday before and try to get my grocery shopping done on Friday or the weekend. This allows me to do prep over the weekend but sometimes weekends are hectic and life just doesn’t go as planned. That is why Monday night dinners are always my simple day. This is the day when you can use your pre-marinated frozen meat and grill, bake, instant pot it (pretty sure that’s not a verb) or do whatever it is that you want with it and serve it with a side of veggies.
I like to do natto (fermented soy beans) Mondays or whatever day that I need a break from cooking. Natto is definitely not for everyone, in fact, if you didn’t grow up eating it then it’s probably too late to start. Although I have met adults who started eating it for health reasons and they loved it. I always have some in the freezer so I’ll pop a couple of packs into the fridge in the morning and they are perfectly defrosted by dinner. I’ll make a big salad and maybe a sweet potato (5 minutes in the Instant Pot) and that’s dinner. If you don’t eat beans or sweet potatoes and want to be carb-free, then you can make a omelet or frittata or anything that you can whip up easily. The key is to keep it simple.
10 Minute Workout Before Lunch
I know how hard it is to get a workout done during the weekdays and sometimes it’s even harder on the weekends. I’ve found the best way to get a workout in is before lunch on the weekdays. Mondays are great days to start because you’re motivated to get back on the horse.
Short and Sweet
I like to keep them short and sweet so that I’m not dragging my feet to get started. I know it’s just 10 minutes and the reward is lunch. One of the other benefits of keeping it only 10 minutes is that often times getting started is the hardest part so if you just get started, sometimes you’ll have energy to go a little longer but there’s no guilt if you finish in 10 minutes. Additionally, there’s the psychological effect that influences your eating habits and keeps you wanting to eat healthier because of the effort you put into working out.
I’m a big fan of low impact workouts because they are much easier on your joints, especially if you have bad knees. I like to do workouts that I can do anywhere. If you have an office at work or even a cubical, you can do stretching workouts or weight training without fancy equipment. It will still get your heart rate up and work out some muscles.
Here are some of my favorite Monday Workouts. Some are longer than others but you can customize them for your level:
- Quick Fat burning workout for women
- 5 Dumbbell workouts to sculpt your arms
- 6 Exercises to get rid of cellulite in 2 weeks
- Inner thigh and hips sequence
- How to lose a muffin top & belly fat fast with this 6 exercise workout
If you’re feeling like you’re in a slump and need some motivation to get back in the saddle (sorry for all the equestrian idioms), use Mondays as a way to start all over. Try fasting to give your digestive system a break and keep your meals simple. And if you’re up to it, try a before lunchtime workout.