How to Avoid the Scary Flu

SickInBed.jpeg

You may have heard that this year’s flu is exceptionally serious. Time magazine reports that for the first time since the CDC began monitoring the flu, every area across the U.S. is affected all at the same time. And for those who get the flu vaccine, the CDC estimates that it is just 30 percent effective this year. In addition, many people are suffering from post-flu illnesses; according to health practitioners, if your immune system is weakened by the flu, you can be more susceptible to pneumonia and other infections that can be even more serious.

So what can you do to reduce your risk of getting the flu? First and foremost, keep your immune system in top shape by following the suggestions below. Also, consider incorporating more immune-boosting foods like the ones below in your everyday meals.

Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against infections and disease so I'll show you some easy ways to help your immune system function at its peak performance and stay healthy this season.

Top Tips for a Healthy Immune System

Lots of things can affect your immune system– the type of foods we eat (or don’t eat); how much water we drink, sleep we get, stress we’re under – these are just a few of the areas that we can address to boost immune function. If you pick just three of the suggestions from the immune-boosting tips below and stick with them, you can strengthen your immune system and increase your ability to stay healthy through the dreaded cold and flu season.

1. SLEEP 
If you are overly fatigued or constantly sleep-deprived, it will be harder for your immune system to fight off disease. On the other hand, regular rest and restorative sleep will support your immune system, so your body has the strength to fight off any potential invaders. (By the way, did you know my programs include helping people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Contact me if you’re tired of being tired!)

2. SUGAR 
If you do just ONE thing to boost your immune system, reduce the amount of sugar you consume – especially if you are already feeling under the weather. Sugar (which comes in many forms and has many different names) contributes to inflammation and runs down the immune system. Leaders in the health, wellness and nutrition fields, such as Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Joel Furhman, also suggest eating organic whenever possible and reducing processed foods (food that comes in a package with a lot of ingredients that you can’t pronounce etc.).

3. ALKALINE VS. ACIDIC 
Did you know that many diseases cannot exist in an alkaline state? And yet, they can thrive an acidic state. So, the key is to help your body maintain an alkaline state and keep your immune system in peak performance! This is a simple matter of choosing to “eat that not this.”

Eating alkaline foods can: 
• Detoxify the body
• Boost your Immune function
• Prevent disease by making it hard for germs and disease to survive
• Reduce inflammation
• Increase energy
• Increase your longevity

What foods are the most alkaline in the body? You guessed it, veggies, especially leafy greens and fruit. (Citrus fruits that are generally considered acidic are actually alkaline producing in the body.) Start your day with hot lemon water and be sure to include a big leafy green salad or big pile of veggies for lunch or dinner.

What “foods” are acidic in the body? 
• Sugar
• Refined and processed foods
• Meat
• Dairy
• Alcohol
• Coffee
• Soda

5. DAIRY 
Nutritional studies show that avoiding dairy can be helpful to avoiding disease, particularly during cold and flu season. Dairy can create inflammation and “mucous glue,” where bacteria and viruses can grow. It can also contribute to allergy symptoms, sinus and ear infections. And as mentioned above, dairy is one of the acid-forming foods.

6. HYDRATE 
Water is essential for ensuring that your body eliminates waste and toxins – and that can help shorten the length of your illness. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight in ounces of water every day.

So, a person who weighs 130 pounds needs approximately 65 ounces of water – more if you exercise regularly. Start as soon as you wake up, by drinking 8 ounces of water before you do anything else! And here’s a proven tip: Hot water actually penetrates your cells faster than cold or room temperature water!

I’ve listed six actions for boosting your immune system. Try choosing just three to incorporate into your daily living, and give yourself the best chance of staying healthy this season.

Top Immune-Boosting Foods and Herbs

1. Vitamin C 
If you want to help support your immune system, include plenty of natural Vitamin C, and choose organic whenever possible. This powerful antioxidant helps in the repair and regeneration of tissues, and protects cells throughout the body. Good food sources of vitamin C include: 

• Broccoli
• Brussels sprouts
• Cantaloupe
• Kiwi
• Oranges
• Lemons
• Peppers
• Pineapple
• Pink grapefruit
• Strawberries
• Mango

2. Garlic 
Used for centuries as powerful “food medicine.” It has antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory benefits. See soup recipe below.

3. Omega 3 
Found in flax, hempseed, chia seed, salmon, mackerel, krill, cod liver oil, avocado, and almonds, just to name a few. Omega 3s boost the immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells that eliminate bacteria and protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. Omega 3s also lessen the severity of infection.

4. Zinc 
Found in broccoli, kale, mushrooms, sesame seeds (Tahini), pumpkin seeds, beans, cashews, eggs, wheat germ, and oysters, to name a few. Zinc helps prevent illness and can lessen the severity and length of colds and flu symptoms

5. Selenium 
Found in Brazil nuts, what germ, whole grains, eggs, sunflower seeds, garlic.

6. Elderberry 
Found in cherries, red grapes, black rice, and also in natural extract, juice and pill form (at health food stores)

I've had several clients ask me what they can take if they feel like they're coming down with something. Two of my favorite immune support products are Wellness Formula Herbal Defense Complex and Super Bio-Vegetarian. Both products are formulated with a powerful combination of herbs, medicinal mushrooms, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support the immune system and boost your well-being. Locally you can find these at Pharmaca or for existing clients, you can them at 20% off from my online dispensary.

Here’s to your best health, and kicking the cold and flu season this year!

6 Top Travel Tips for a Healthy Vacation

Tip #1: Plan and prepare. You wouldn’t go to the beach without making a list of essentials such as sunscreen, a hat, and a bathing suit, right? Get in the habit of planning and shopping for healthy snacks and food essentials before your trip too.

Tip #2: Pack healthy snacks. Flight delays. Traffic jams. Long lines at amusement parks. Travel is unpredictable and you don’t want to end up hungry without any healthy choices. That’s a sure-fire way to give into food temptations you might later regret. Pack a variety of healthy options. See the list of my favorites below. If you run out of snacks when traveling, look for a Starbucks in the airport terminal or on the road; you’ll usually find nuts or a protein pack with Justin’s nut butter or a hard-boiled egg and some fresh fruit or cut-up vegetables. These healthier snacks will give you the energy you need to enjoy without weighing you down!

Tip #3: Pick up fresh fruit and veggies when you arrive. Many people think because they are staying in a hotel that they can’t visit the local market. Not true! Many hotel rooms have mini-fridges, or you can keep a few snacks in the ice bucket! I love to have a banana or fresh blueberries on hand, as well as carrots and hummus – see my list below!

Tip #4: Stay hydrated. If you’re flying, bring a stainless or glass water bottle and once you’re through security, fill it up. The pressurized air on planes can dehydrate you quickly. Rule of thumb: drink half your weight in ounces of water every day – even more important when you’re in warm weather or traveling on planes.

Tip #5: Make good choices when dining out. Even when on a cruise, visiting a foodie town or staying at a resort, you can stave off food-related symptoms or weight gain by making savvy dining decisions:

  • Pass up the bread basket. If you want to have a healthier starter, ask for a fresh vegetable platter.
  • Order a side salad. It will give you fiber that will help you feel full and keep you regular, which can sometimes be challenging when traveling. Skip the creamy dressings and ask for apple cider or red wine vinegar, olive oil and lemon on the side.
  • Ask for changes. Is the fish special fried? Ask for it grilled. Does it come with a side of potatoes? Ask for veggies. Is it covered it sauce? Ask them to use olive oil and lemon juice instead. Most restaurants these days are very accommodating to their guests’ health-related requests.

Tip #6: Walk it off. Or run. Or bike. Or hike. Or swim. Whatever you chose, it’s important to take care of your body by keeping it moving every day. If physical activity is not built into your day, try to book a hotel with a gym, and consider hitting it first thing in the morning, before your day is filled with other activities.

Take-and-Travel Healthy Food Ideas

Following is a list of some of my tried-and-true travel favorites. Some I pack no matter where I’m going or for how long – like protein bars, shakes, nuts and grass-fed organic beef jerky. Others I pack depending on where I’m going, how I’m getting there, what access I’ll have to fresh markets, and how long I’ll be gone. The more prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be able to eat healthier and feel better.

• Individual chia seeds or flax packs. Traveling can disrupt your regularity. One of the best ways to “keep going” is to include healthy fiber in your daily meals. Stir flax or chia seeds into your smoothie, cooked oatmeal, soups or water.

• Amazing Grass Green Superfood. Superfoods powder on-the-go gives you great energy and a dose of greens. Just mix with water or add to a smoothie. If the “green powder” scares you, choose an appealing flavor like berry or orange and try it at home before you go. It might pleasantly surprise you!

• Fresh fruit that’s easy to eat on the road, such as apples, bananas, avocado, etc.

• Justin’s Almond Butter single packs. Delicious with a banana, an apple or spread on Flackers or Mary's Gone Crackers.

• Mary’s Gone Crackers, Sticks & Twigs and/or Flackers. These are my favorite gluten-free crackers.

• Q’ia Superfood Cereal. A mixture of buckwheat, chia seeds, hempseeds, almonds and cranberries. 

• Protein powder individual serving packets. I recommend Vegan Proteins+, Sunwarrior or your choice of a non-soy plant-based powder.

• Amazing Grass Protein Superfood All-In-One Nutrition Shakes in individual packets.

• Nut mixture. Combine your choices of walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and store in individual serving containers or bags.

• Bars, bars, bars! My recommendations include Genuine Health Fermented Vegan Proteins+ Bars, Primal Kitchen Grass-Fed Collagen Bars, or InBars.

• Single serving hummus and raw baby carrots or apple slices

• Dry roasted Edamame or Chick Peas (Saffron Road brand)

• Primal Pacs organic grass-fed jerky

• Mount Hagen Organic Instant Coffee in single serve packets

Be sure to pack a shaker bottle to mix on-the-go protein drinks and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated!

How to Have a Great Summer While Staying on Track With Your Goals

Summer officially begins this month and that means Father's Day, graduations, parties, weddings, and vacations, all of which may be fun but can also be stressful and filled with temptations. We want to look and feel our best when we’re traveling and enjoying warm weather and less clothing, but being in “vacation mode” often means over-indulging in foods that don't serve us and neglecting workouts. This leaves us feeling sluggish, bloated, heavy, and regretful, and when we return to everyday life it feels like we're starting from scratch (again).

But this doesn't need to be the case! You don't have to miss out on the fun or deprive yourself if you put some strategies in place and plan for success. If you know how to navigate different situations, you can feel confident and take good care of yourself no matter where you are or what you're doing.

Traveling
Preparing for a trip requires pre-planning. Start with your mode of transportation and make sure you’re prepared with healthy snacks whether you go by plane, boat or car. Below is a list of my favorite traveling companions. If I’m driving, I pack extra in a cooler to have in my hotel room; if I’m flying, I bring whatever I can and I try to find a health food store at my destination: 

  • Almonds or a mix of almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds 
  • Protein powder and/or meal replacement shakes and a Blender Bottle
  • BPA Free water bottle with a built-in filter such as Eco Vessel
  • Sliced veggies, organic apples, or grapefruit
  • Individual-sized hummus, almond butter and/or guacamole 
  • Sliced apples (goes great with the almond butter!) 
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers or plantain chips; great with guacamole or hummus!) 
  • Hard-boiled organic eggs from pasture-raised chickens 

Dining Out
With the possible exception of fast-food restaurants, every restaurant has options or will provide substitutions to meet your needs and any food restrictions. Do your best to find farm-to-table style restaurants that use organic, local ingredients and ask for extra veggies instead of the starch. At a Mexican fiesta? Skip the chips and melted cheese and order the veggie fajitas, for example. Ask your server to bring just the grilled veggies, and extra guacamole -- hold the sour cream and cheese (if you're gluten-free, ask for corn tortillas or skip them altogether since non-organic corn is usually GMO). Salsa works as a great side, as do black beans and a small amount of rice for some complete protein sans factory-farmed meat or poultry. No matter where you go, you should be able to order grilled chicken (hopefully free-rang/pasture-raised) or fish; steamed or grilled vegetables, and salad with olive oil and lemon juice or a vinaigrette. You might even consider asking the server not to bring the bread basket. And what if you drank less alcohol and relaxed with some sparkling club soda with lime or berries? You may be surprised how GOOD you feel after the meal (without the bloating, sluggishness, or headache)!

Picnics, BBQs and Family Reunions
You can’t control what your hosts will serve, but you can stack the odds in your favor by BYOF (bringing your own food). Make enough to share, of course! If you arrive with one or two healthy, delicious options, you’ll be sure to have something you enjoy without having food-related symptoms or regret. Check out my website for healthy recipes, from appetizers to desserts. No time to cook? A veggie or fruit tray is always welcome!

The Wedding Crasher
You can’t bring your own meal to the wedding, but you can prepare in other ways. Eating something healthy before you go will prevent you from being ravenous by the time the reception doors open. And of course, while a sip of champagne to toast the newlyweds won’t throw you off your game, drinking throughout the evening can add up, interrupting your sleep cycle and leaving you feeling rotten in the morning. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and if available, add fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries to that bubbly to make it even yummier!

What To Know Before You Go
If you find that you cave in to temptations during these summertime soirees only to experience regret, you could be an “emotional or situational eater” or there could be situations that “trigger” your eating habits. You may want to consider meeting with me before your big event or vacation, so we can talk about your concerns and challenges and set you up for success. As your coach, I can help you change your relationship with food so that you are control of it, instead of it being in control of you. Together, we can learn why you might be “stuck,” what’s getting in your way, and how you can make small changes that will make a big difference. To learn more about what wellness coaching can do for you, cIick here to schedule a complimentary Coffee Talk session where we can talk about designing a plan based on your specific needs and goals!

Healthy Holidays Game Plan

HolidayTable2.jpg

The holidays are upon us - the time of year when many people under-prepare and overindulge. What do I mean by “under-prepare?” Well, when faced with days of holiday temptations like pies, casseroles, cakes, candy, and holiday drinks, many people feel overwhelmed and lost without a game plan. You don’t have to be one of them! See my Healthy Holidays Game Plan below. I’ve included tips not just to help you avoid gaining weight, but also to ensure that you feel your best. It’s important to remember that holiday foods are usually loaded with empty calories (high in calories, low in nutrients), and typically have lots of salt, sugar and unhealthy fats. As a result, overindulging makes us feel tired and bloated. We may notice symptoms such as congestion, stomach distress, headaches, itchy skin, and/or achy joints. We can also feel moody or depressed after our sugar high comes crashing down. Top that off with the disappointment of having gained weight and undone our healthy habits, and we’re not really having “happy holidays” anymore!

Prepare yourself with my top tips for surviving holiday meals, including my Recipe Makeovers below – cleaned up versions of traditional (and not-so-traditional) holiday recipes. Still delicious, now nutritious!

Here are my tips for looking and feeling your best this holiday season.

Step 1: Be Aware of Holiday Eating Triggers

In order to prepare for what’s ahead, it’s helpful to consider what might trigger you to overeat during the holidays. According to health researchers, several factors can contribute to holiday weight gain:

• Stress. We love our family, but sometimes close quarters (or just an extended meal) with our relatives can make us a little stressed. Add to that the pressure of kids on vacation and a change in schedules, and you’ve got what’s known as “food drivers” – eating to feel better. In addition, this kind of anxiety may cause your body to increase the production of cortisol (the stress hormone). An increase in cortisol can cause weight gain regardless of the amount of food you eat.

• Travel and Sleep Deprivation. Whether vacationing or visiting relatives, traveling disrupts our everyday schedule and can be exhausting. We tend to dine out more and exercise less. In addition, we may not sleep as well in a “foreign” bed or we get less sleep as we try to pack more into each day. Research shows that our appetites increase 25% when we’re tired! Plus, we crave sugar, caffeine and carbs to give us quick energy.

• More of everything. If everyone around us is indulging ... and if everywhere we turn we see a platter of treats ... our resistance wears down. "The proximity and visibility of a food can consistently increase an adult's consumption," says Brian Wansink, professor of marketing and human behavior at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating. "Even for people with the greatest resolve, every time they look at a candy dish they say, 'Do I want that Hershey's Kiss, or don't I?' Gradually our resolve is worn down." 

• Binge Now, Resolve Later. Millions of people make New Year’s resolutions to eat better and lose weight. However, according to a study cited by Dr. Suzanne Koven of Massachusetts General Hospital, people often take an “all or nothing” attitude between Thanksgiving and January 1st – binge eating now before they begin their resolution. 

Step 2: Arm Yourself With Proven Strategies

So how do you prepare to face the odds against you this time of year? Plan ahead and follow my Healthy Holidays Game Plan:

• Set a clear intention. What is your GOAL for surviving the holiday? Write it down, including the “why.” For example: I would like to MAINTAIN my current weight because I don’t want my clothes to feel tight. I would like to AVOID OVEREATING because I want to be a good example for the kids and don’t want to have an upset stomach when my family is visiting over the holiday.

• Don’t have it in the house. You CAN control what’s in your fridge and pantry! Don’t stock up on candy, cakes and sugary drinks and you won’t be tempted to eat them. If your family wants a holiday treat, suggest a dessert place they can patronize and ask them not to bring home “leftovers.” You can also create a healthy dessert alternative (see my Holiday Recipe Makeovers). Let your friends and family know about your health goals and ask for their support.

• Eat before you eat. Don’t attend the holiday meal on an empty stomach. (Many people think that skipping meals on the big day will help them save calories, but studies show the opposite is true.) Instead, start your day with a healthy, high-fiber breakfast such as a veggie omelet or gluten-free oats with protein powder, walnuts and blueberries. Then, have a midday protein shake that includes a handful of spinach, half a green apple, half a frozen banana, almond butter, unsweetened almond milk, and hemp seeds. This has plenty of fiber to keep you satiated so you won’t want to overeat at the table.

• Eat small portions of just your favorites. Use a regular spoon – not a serving spoon – to place a small portion of your favorite foods on your plate. Skip any foods that you don’t absolutely love. This way you’ll be able to taste all of your favorites without overeating any of them. Eat slowly, starting with the veggies and protein, and try to be mindful as you eat; savor each bite and chew slowly and you'll be more satisfied and less tempted to eat more or snack later.

• Don’t linger. Once you've finished your meal, offer to help clean dishes; take the kids (or the family dog) for a walk; or start a game of catch outside. You can also grab one of your favorite relatives and sit in another room to catch up, or pull out some old family movies or DVDs and gather everyone together to watch. Plan time to enjoy non-food centered recreation.

• Don’t come empty-handed. When you are invited to a holiday meal, offer to bring a dish – and then make it a healthy one. Bring hummus with carrots and cucumbers; salsa with Mary’s Gone Crackers (my favorite gluten-free crackers); a tray of mixed nuts and roasted chickpeas; a bowl of roasted red and green peppers and hummus with a variety of olives. Now you will have something healthy to eat! (You can use this tip when you are the host, too!)

• Drink up! Fill a glass with sparkling water and lime and sip on it throughout the meal. It’s a great alternative to sugar-laden alcoholic drinks or wine. Sipping water throughout the day will also help you refrain from mindless eating and drinking! Keep in mind that judgement decreases with each alcoholic drink, making that second serving of dessert or potatoes look like a better and better idea.

• Be generous. Don’t be tempted by leftover pies, potatoes, sauces, and stuffing. A few days before the big meal, stock up on disposable storage containers so you can send your guests home with all the leftovers. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it!

• Get back on track fast. Even if you do eat more than usual at your celebratory meal, don’t throw in the towel for the rest of the weekend! Wake up at your regular time the next day and have a glass of warm water with lemon within an hour of waking. Lemon acts as a natural detoxifier to help you eliminate toxins and restore an alkaline pH to your body. Make a smoothie or eat a banana and head to the gym; or go for a walk or bike ride. Have a high-fiber lunch such as veggie stir-fry, vegetarian chili or soup. And continue to drink plenty of water throughout the day (aim for half your weight in ounces of water each day.) The faster you get back on track, the less chance you’ll have of gaining weight or feeling uncomfortable symptoms.

• Be good to yourself. While it may feel good in the moment to indulge in that pumpkin pie or stuffing, these foods often make us feel bad. They typically contain loads of sugar, salt, processed ingredients, and saturated fat. If you notice you feel bloated, congested, headache-y or itchy, chances are you’re having food-related symptoms. For example, wine contains histamines, which can cause congestion and/or sinus headaches. Carbs and sugary foods wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels, and we feel tired, moody or depressed after the “sugar high.” Be good to yourself by choosing foods that help you feel energized, in control, confident, and symptom-free!

Don’t let the holidays stop you from achieving your health & weight loss goals! Now is the perfect time to take control of your cravings, instead of your cravings taking control of you. If you would like to look and feel better, have more energy, and reduce your symptoms, - click here to schedule your free consult and take the first step towards revolutionizing your health & fitness.

Wishing you a peaceful and healthy holiday season!

Jeannie Oliver

On the Road - Staying Healthy On-the-Go

You’ve been looking forward to it for months ... packed perfectly ... taken time off from your daily life ... it’s finally time for your summer vacation! With everything you’ve put into it, don’t you want to feel your best and have enough energy to really enjoy yourself? After all, if you overindulge you may end up with stomach distress, headaches and/or achy joints. Plus, foods that are rich, fried or sugary can make you (and your kids) feel exhausted and moody – and who wants that when you’ve planned for paradise? Or maybe you're a road warrior and you travel for work. You especially need that energy and a clear head to be at your best, and to fend off the "traveler's bulge" when your only choices are fast food or Applebee's. Yikes! Here are my tips for feeling your best while traveling:

Prepare for the unexpected. You can’t control a flight delay or long lines at museums or amusement parks, but you can control what you eat. Keep your blood sugar levels even and happy by packing your own low-sugar treats. I fill several small snack bags with a ¼ cup of nut mix (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds). You’ll get the benefits of zinc, magnesium, fiber, Omega-3s and healthy fats to keep you full!  Ialso pack a blender bottle and individual packets of meal replacement shakes (I like Vega One, Amazing Meal or Shakeology), and some snack bars like Vega Vibrancy or YouBars.

Drink water instead of soda, fruit drinks, Gatorade, or tea/coffee. This is the number-one health tip for frequent flyers, because airplanes are extremely dehydrating due to the pressurized cabin air. Bring water bottles (or bottled water) everywhere you go and plan to drink 8 ounces every hour or one 16-ounce bottle every two hours. Your goal is to drink AT LEAST half your weight in ounces of water a day (more on very hot days or when you are exerting a lot of energy.)

Eat a protein-packed breakfast. At a hotel restaurant, it’s tempting to select a bagel and cream cheese or French toast—but that’s like eating cake for breakfast. That’s right – to your body, this kind of breakfast metabolizes the same way as cake, spiking your blood sugar then setting you up for an energy crash and sugar cravings later in the day. Instead, opt for an omelet with sautéed broccoli, red pepper, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes – fill it with veggies to keep you full longer. Or for smaller appetites, order one egg any way you like it, skip the hash browns and ask for sautéed spinach on the side. Another great option is oatmeal with blueberries, sliced almonds or crushed walnuts. You can even get oatmeal at Starbucks!

Sip smoothies. When I have room, I pack my Nutri-Bullet or use a Blender Bottle (with a spring or metal ball) and make my own smoothies or protein shakes as a morning start and sometimes an afternoon snack, too. I blend single-serve chia seeds, single-serve almond milk, single-serve Vega Protein Powder, and bottled water; then I toss in whatever fruit and veggies I can buy nearby or get from the hotel restaurant. This gives me a TON of energy and regulates my blood sugar and mood (which makes my husband very happy.) In airports, you may be able to find Evolution Fresh Juice at Starbucks – add your protein powder, shake well and you’ve got a healthy substitute for your homemade smoothie.

When dining out, have it YOUR way. If an item is fried, ask for it grilled. If it comes with french fries, ask for a side of vegetables instead. Request a green salad with veggies instead of coleslaw. Tell the waiter no bread basket, please - you won’t fill up on empty calories, and you won’t have to nag your kids that they’ll “ruin their appetite.” Check http://www.happycow.net/ to find some healthy restaurants in whatever area you’re visiting. Some of the best choices may be off the beaten path!

Don’t go by the menu. Ask how the food is prepared. For instance, does the salad dressing contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup? Do they use hydrogenated oils for cooking? Also, “lite” necessarily mean light in calories - it's usually code for less fat but more sugar which is even worse for you. When in doubt, ask for your food to be simply steamed or grilled and request olive oil and vinegar for salad dressing.

Order a salad, but skip the extras. The typical restaurant salad is loaded with croutons, cheese, and sometimes dried fruit (very high in sugar). So get the salad, but ask for only greens, vegetables and some nuts. Use oil and vinegar and lemon juice for dressing, or do the fork dip: ask for your dressing on the side, in a small bowl. Dip your empty fork into the dressing, then skewer a forkful of salad. You’ll be surprised at how this tastes just right, and how little dressing you’ll use.

Skip the alcohol and caffeine. These drinks really dehydrate you, deplete your natural energy and make it more difficult to get a restful night’s sleep.

Don’t take a vacation from fitness. Go for a walk, do yoga stretches, fit in a series of push-ups/sit-ups – do some form of exercise every day. I make it a first-thing-in-the-morning ritual, before the day gets too busy. Also, plan activities that are unique to your vacation – waterskiing, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, salsa dancing – whatever your destination offers, go for it! I love to visit yoga studios and local gyms if I have time, too; I meet some locals, learn the favorite non-touristy spots, and I usually discover a new tip to add to my hometown exercise routine. I search for nearby studios online and check the online reviews to make sure I pick one that’s high quality.

Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy start to summer!