2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Originally I had a great little collage right here featuring all the items below that I created on Polyvore. Sadly, Polyvore was purchased by a company called Sense which deleted all Polyvore accounts without notifying the users beforehand. Hundreds of hours of work from my previous job as a fashion stylist and creative boards like the one used here are all gone, and hundreds of thousands of users lost their content, most of whom had put a lot more work into their accounts than I did. Anyhow, that’s my little lament over the loss of Polyvore. Sorry about the lack of a pretty picture!

1. The Oura Ring - $299 - $999

Move over Fitbit! The Oura ring is the most advanced and accurate sleep and fitness tracking device available and it's a lot more attractive than a chunky plastic bracelet. This amazing little ring tracks your sleep, heart rate and heart rate variability, and body temperature and it's water resistant to 100 meters. You can even put your ring on airplane mode to avoid additional EMF exposure while sleeping. The only downside is that the Oura Ring is available for pre-order only and will ship in April of 2018.

2. The Kari Gran System - $140

You have most likely heard me rave about Kari's products before, but honestly I just love her products and they make fabulous gifts! Her Mini Kit ($48) is also a great choice for anyone on-the-go. I keep one in my gym bag and in my toiletry kit for traveling.

3. Lakrids by Johan Bülow Kalaha Box - €30 (~ $35USD) and Organic Licorice - €7 (~ $6USD)

Did someone say gluten-free licorice?! Licorice is a very polarizing flavor but those of who love it REALLY love it and it's nearly impossible to find high quality licorice that's actually gluten-free. I discovered this brand when I was in Stuttgart, Germany last year and I was instantly devoted, so I couldn't resist including this sweet treat in my gift guide. All the Lakrids products are incredibly delicious and so beautifully packaged that you almost don't want to open them up. Almost. And if you're worried about the shipping from Europe, it's very reasonable (free over €70), and surprisingly fast.

4. Beauty Heroes Gift Card or Subscription

Beauty Heroes delivers carefully curated beauty products, one Hero product at a time. Shop their curated online Beauty Store or join their monthly discovery service and receive one full-size, healthy and high-performance Hero Product, plus deluxe Sidekicks, from clean beauty brands you love.

5. Hypershpere Hi-Intensity Vibrating Massage Ball - $149

Have a love/hate relationship with the foam roller? Work out those kinks with this high-tech massage ball. Compared to other SMR/ massage balls, the Hypersphere helps to pinpoint and release trigger points faster, deeper, and less painfully using high-intensity vibration. This col fitness gadget is portable and only 5” in diameter, which helps to release tension in targeted areas better than any roller.

6. Anima Mundi Herbals Anti-Aging & Beauty Kit - $68

A potent compilation of herbs known to support skin detox + health, radiance, glow and overall anti-aging goodness. Botanicals known to support anti-aging share anti-oxidant and phytonutrient chemistry, basically bringing loads of oxygen to every corner of your body. These herbs taken daily will fully support you in achieving a natural beauty glow. 

7. Instant Pot - $79.95 - $149.95

These babies do it all. Well maybe they can't do the washing and chopping for you, but the rest is covered. Instant Pot multi-cookers combine 7 kitchen appliances in 1 - Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer, preparing dishes up to 70% faster. The insert is made of food grade stainless steel with no chemical coating so you don't have to worry about toxic crud leaching into your food.

8. Meal Delivery from The Custom Plate - $18 - $1,299

Give that busy person in your life (maybe that's you?) the gift of healthy food AND more free time. For anyone who struggles to find the time to cook, meal delivery can be a Godsend. This Mercer Island based family company makes delicious, clean food using quality ingredients and since they are small, they're able to customize the dishes according to any food restrictions or special dietary needs. Best of all, Tamara's food is delicious and made with love.

9. Svensk Skogspromenad No. 5 Candle - $38

I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Sally Honeycutt who owns the fabulous little boutique Anders at a holiday get together, and she has curated some of the most wonderful things for her shop. Among them are these gorgeous candles made with pure essential oils, no nasty synthetic or toxic ingredients! This heavenly sandalwood & bergamot scented one is perfect for the holidays and it's on my personal wish list this year.

10. Flying Bird Botanicals Teas - $9.75-$34

This local Pacific Northwest company makes their products with only organically farmed and ethically wildcrafted herbs. Any ingredients they source overseas come from fair trade certified farms and small gardens growing their tea plants with care, using heirloom traditions passed down through generations. These teas are as yummy as they are ethical!

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for the Wellness Enthusiast in Your Life

JOW 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

  1. For Him: Beard Tonic Sampler by Herbivore Botanicals $22 - These highly nourishing, non-toxic oil based beard tonics from Seattle's own Herbivore Botanicals combine natural plant oils that promote a healthier looking beard while moisturizing the skin beneath. 

  2. Palo Santo Myst Bad Vibe Killer by Anima Mundi Herbals $18 - A potent anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, Palo Santo can help relieve sickness and expel undesirable microbes from your immediate space.

  3. Athleta Yoga Mat Tote $48 - This bag makes you look chic even when you're all sweaty after yoga.

  4. Suji Red Lip Whip & Lip Buff Duo $37 - I am OBSESSED with Seattle-based Kari Gran's Lip Whips and you will be too. This gorgeous, non-toxic, moisturizing red balm looks fab on everyone and can be applied to be sheer or bold depending on your mood. 

  5. Herbivore Botanicals Bath Salts Set $32 - This is a great gift for bath lovers. They smell divine and are non-toxic of course!

  6. Eco Travel Mat & Towel by Kriya Veda $58 - This ultra-lightweight travel mat fits into a tote, a fitness bag, or suitcase and doubles as a yoga towel. It's also washable, PVC free, Latex free, Rubber free, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and recyclable.

  7. HotLogic Mini $49.95 - This fully automatic personal portable electric oven perfectly heats or cooks your meal so you don't have to nuke all the nutrition out of your food or eat a cold salad every day for lunch. Fits a glass container up to 8.75″W x 6.75″L x 2.5″H.

  8. Liver Cleanse/ Daily Green Detoxifier by Anima Mundi Herbals $25 - This nutrient-dense, therapeutic green superfood supports your liver and gall bladder, helps jumpstart digestion, and contains tons of antioxidants known to promote healthy detox and organ function.

  9. Certified Reconditioned Next Generation Vitamix $349 - Don't let the word "reconditioned" deter you... these blenders are just as good as the standard ones but without as hefty a price tag, and they also come with a 5-year warranty if you're the nervous type. I got my first Vitamix last year and I can't believe how much time and effort I wasted on crappy blenders. And yes, it's OK to give your wife a blender if its this amazing!

Black Friday Specials! Free Smoothie eBook and $50 Off

Now through Monday I'm offering a couple great deals to help you stay healthy during the holidays and get a jump on your New Year's wellness goals. Enter coupon code BF2016 at checkout.

Any questions? Drop me a line at info@joliverwellness.com.

Wishing you a wonderful and healthy holiday season!

Carve a Pumpkin and Avoid Looking Like One

While sugar is a powerful “drug” (see the latest report here), it’s not just the cute and colorful treats that tempt us. Halloween may hold happy memories for many of us of our own childhood costumes and candy collecting, as well as those of our children dressing up for trick-or-treating and their squeals of delight as they came home with pillowcases filled with candy.

But it’s not all fun and games. Sugar can weaken our immune system, increase symptoms of ADD/ADHD, and contribute to weight gain, moodiness and lack of energy. And the more we eat, the more we want. So what can you do now to avoid “over-treating?” Here are few healthy tips:

1. Focus on the Festivities. There is a lot to get excited about besides candy: Make creative costumes, plan a neighborhood party; build a haunted house; have a pumpkin-carving contest; spend the day decorating your yard and house.

2. Speaking of healthy treats … What if you (and/or your kids) try making some cute, nutritious Halloween treats like the recipe below or my Coco Loco Amazeballs? Now we’re talking fun and nutritious!

3. Don’t trick-or-treat on an empty stomach. I know the kids are excited, but it’s a great idea to have a nutritious meal ready when they get home from school. If you’re in a hurry, kids can have a “snack-ful dinner” – almond butter on whole grain toast with apples; carrots with hummus; black beans and quinoa, or a whole-grain pita with avocado and chopped chicken.

4. What is your favorite Halloween candy? Whatever it is – leave it at the store! If you must buy candy to give out to the trick-or-treaters, consider buying candy that you’d never eat if it was the last sweet on earth! Perhaps buy it that morning, and get just enough to give out that night.

5. You can’t eat it if it’s not there. Don’t let one night of sweet treats turn into a month of candy snacking. Toss out leftover candy the next day, and give your kids just a few days to indulge. Better to be a little wasteful by throwing out the sweets than to derail your health and weight goals (not to mention adding to tooth decay and all the other sugar symptoms).

Just because it is the 31st of October doesn’t mean we have to indulge in daily sweet treating that we wouldn’t normally do. It’s really about making better choices that keep YOU feeling better. Have cut-up fruits and vegetables in your fridge; fill snack bowls with almonds and walnuts (and take some to work, too!) Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and give yourself permission to break with old Halloween traditions to start your own.

Banana Ghosts and Tiny Pumpkins

Serves 12

Perfect for a party, these treats are a great way to provide your kids with some healthier choices.

• 6 bananas, peeled and cut in half horizontally
• 24 carob chips
• 12 tangerines or clementines, peeled
• 2 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 12 ½ inch pieces, and sliced thin (see picture)

For the Banana Ghouls, place carob chips as “eyes” on the bananas, turning them into ghostly goodies! For the Tiny Pumpkins, insert one cut celery piece into the center of each clementine to make a party “pumpkin” treat. Serve on a large platter at room temperature!

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!

Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How You Can Make Sure Yours Succeed!

Did you know that 95% of New Year’s resolutions are forgotten or denied by the last day of January? Studies find that by February, many people are further behind than when they made the resolution! Here are some of the reasons why, and what you can do to avoid the pitfalls.

Challenge: New Year’s is a false start-time influenced by a group mindset. People have a greater chance of succeeding when they have laid the groundwork for success and considered the best time to begin working on their goals. January 1st is an arbitrary date, and we get caught up in feeling as if everyone is doing it. That said, there are some great ways to kick off the New Year on a positive note by taking care of your physical and emotional health and establishing healthy habits.

Solution: Collaborate with a friend or coach to pick a start date that’s right for you to begin working toward your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight, you may first want to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, then clean out the “temptations” from your pantry and refrigerator. This helps you set up for success from the start. The best way to accomplish a long-term goal is to work toward it all year long. If you do choose to participate in a January health or fitness program, look for something like my Reboot Your Bod Detox that will teach you healthy, sustainable habits that you can incorporate in your daily life long after the program ends. 

Challenge: We set vague and/or unattainable goals. Resolutions are typically black and white – dealing in absolutes: I will quit smoking. I will exercise every day. I will not spend money. Goals like these set you up for failure before you even begin!

Solution: Set realistic and specific goals. Don’t try to fix everything all at once. Focus on what is most important to you right now, for THIS year. For example, “I will lose weight” is not a specific goal; however, “I will lose 10 pounds” is both specific and measurable. To make it realistic, give yourself a reasonable timeframe to attain your goal and set smaller, weekly goals. Then, celebrate when you’ve reached that first weekly goal, such as losing your first pound or two!

Challenge: It is difficult to stay motivated day after day, week after week. If we decide to give up or give in, who’s really going to call us on it? In order to make true change, we need to “retrain our brain,” create new habits and ensure accountability.

Solution: The #1 tip from health experts is: get support. Have an accountability partner, work with a Wellness Coach one-on-one, or exercise with a “workout buddy.” Accountability increases your opportunity for success by more than 50 percent! For example, with a Wellness Coach, you can explore your individual challenges and what’s holding you back, without feeling judged. With a workout buddy, you’ll show up on time, week after week, and have someone with whom to share your successes and hardships!

Try these other proven tips:

Picture your preferred future. Close your eyes. Picture how you will look, act, talk, walk, smile, when you’ve achieved your goal.

Feel the feeling of success. Consider how you will you feel once you’ve achieved your goal: Happy? Confident? “Lighter?” Go ahead and let yourself imagine it! Be specific – are you walking down the aisle in your wedding gown (or bridesmaid dress)? Are you dancing in skinny jeans and sexy heels? Are you on the beach in a bathing suit – without a cover up? Visualizing yourself as already having achieved your goals will help you stay on track toward what’s truly important to you.

Understand what de-rails you. Have you ever heard of “emotional eating?” That’s when we use food to comfort us when we’re depressed, scared or stressed out, for example. Let’s say you get upset at work; you may head to the vending machine thinking something sweet or salty will make you feel better. (It won’t.) Or if you’re bored, you might find yourself mindlessly eating chips in front of the T.V. Identifying your own unique, emotional eating triggers is the first step toward creating new healthy habits!

Start with these tips to help you ring in the New Year – healthier, happier, and with more intention and compassion for yourself!

Chocolate, Beloved Chocolate!

Chocolate is a big topic for my clients this month, with many of them suffering from post-Halloween blues …not-so-thankful memories of Thanksgiving desserts … and the temptation of holiday goodies strategically placed on store shelves and throughout workplaces everywhere. While candy makers would have us believe that all chocolate (and more chocolate) is good for us, not all chocolate is created equal! Before the frenzy of the festivities carries you away, let's bust some common chocolate myths help you separate fact from fiction.

Did you know that if we averaged all the chocolate eating in America, we consume 12 pounds of chocolate per person, per year? (I don't know about you, but I definitely contributed to that statistic in the past!) But why do we LOVE chocolate so much? Well, when it comes to brain chemistry, eating chocolate is actually similar to falling in love. It’s true; your love affair with chocolate is not just your imagination (but it may be one-sided!). When we consume chocolate, it releases serotonin and endorphins in the part of our brain that controls our feelings of pleasure, love and happiness. It is this chemical release that can become addictive and cause cravings for more.

Think about it -- when do you have the strongest cravings for chocolate? When you’re tired? Sad? Frustrated? Anxious? Bored? When you reach for those chocolate kisses or M&Ms, what do you want them to do for you? Maybe you’re hoping that eating them will make you feel better, happier, or give you more energy. But here are the facts: The chocolate may give you a short burst of euphoria or energy – what we call a “sugar rush” -- but it's short-lived. And when you crash, you will often feel sadder, moodier, more frustrated, or more tired than you did before!

But wait! Not all chocolate is created equal 
Mass-produced chocolate – like candy bars, kisses, hot chocolate -- are made of mostly sugar, inflammatory oils, chemicals, and preservatives. These ingredients can lead to or aggravate health problems such as hypoglycemia, obesity, diabetes, headaches, insomnia, depression, osteoporosis, arthritis, and cancer – just to name a few.

Chocolate is also one of those “foods” that we tend to eat mindlessly; a handful of M&Ms becomes two or three or even a whole bag. When we are not aware of how much chocolate we’re eating, we are at risk of gaining weight and running down our immune system.

On the other hand, high quality, organic chocolate with a high percentage of raw cacao offers many heath benefits in addition to its feel good nature. The unprocessed cacao bean (“kah-‘cow”) is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants similar to those found in red wine and green tea, which help protect your cells against damage by free radicals. In addition, high-quality cacao is rich in magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc, copper, theobromine, Vitamins A, B, C, D, and Omega 6. Chocolate also has a blood-thinning effect and can prevent blood clots. According to the University of California, Davis Department of Nutrition, eating raw cacao can be just as effective as taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke. It can also help prevent cravings and promote a feeling of satiety, which makes it a great way to get a sweet fix without going overboard. Obviously that’s not the case if chocolate is a binge food for you, but I find that 80% cacao dark chocolate is so rich that it’s hard to eat more than a few bites.

Below I’ve listed a few of my favorite chocolate bars for my fellow chocoholics. Try a few and let me know which one is your favorite. My general rule of thumb is to choose a bar with a minimum of 70% cacao with low sugar content and to savor it slowly. Happy Holidays!

Theo Organic Fair-Trade Salted Almond 70% Dark Chocolate

Equal Exchange Chocolates Organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate

Taza Chocolate 85% Super Dark

Artisana Organics Venezuelan Criollo Cacao – Dark 85%

Camino Panama Extra Dark Chocolate Bar (only available in Canada)

My 2015 Holiday Gift Guide - Fabulous Goodies to Give and Get

Jeannie Oliver Wellness Gift Guide 2015

Here are a few of my favorite wellness and beauty products to give and receive this holiday season. Happy Shopping!

  1. Wellness Journal by Moleskine $19.95 - Keep track of your body and mind. Informative pages: seasonal food calendars, food facts, measurements and conversions. 6 theme-based sections to fill in: Diet, Exercise Log, Personal Goals, General Health, Games, Inspirations. 6 tabbed sections to personalize and 16 blank pages in which to unleash your passion's creativity.
  2. Tata Harper You Are Loved Natural Lip Treatment Set $75 - A 100% Natural & Nontoxic exclusive set of antiaging lip treatments to help volumize the lips, reduce the look of lip lines. Softening and conditioning for healthy, beautiful lips.
  3. Aromaflage Wild Combo $90 - Aromaflage is a fine fragrance that also repels insects. Aromaflage is comprised of aromatic essential oils from the Southeast Asian jungle, with notes of spicy cardamom, warm cedar wood, and snappy spruce. Free of DEET, paragons and sulfates.
  4. Animamundi Herbals Rainforest Immunity superfood $24 - This powerful mix of herbs exhibits strong immune enhancing properties, high levels of antioxidants, and string anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. A deeply therapeutic herbal supplement full of phytonutrients that slow the aging process and strengthen the blood, immune system and nervous system.
  5. S'well 17 oz Water Bottle in Sparkling Champagne $35 - Drinks stay cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 without any condensation on the outside, ever. Ice stays in your bottle and steam stays trapped with a cap that prevents leakage. 
  6. The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Over 300 Delicious Whole Foods Recipes, Including Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Egg-Free Dishes $15 - This is my favorite cookbook! It makes a great gift for anyone who has dietary restrictions or who just wants to improve their overall health and still enjoy great food. And don't let the missing ingredients deter you - the recipes are delicious!
  7. Animamundi Apothecary Passionfruit Seed and Cacao Sugar Scrub $22 - An invigorating blend of firming, exfoliating & antioxidizing ingredients for smooth & supple skin. They source organic brown sugar, biodynamically grown vanilla and passionfruit seeds, organic rose petals, all from small farmers in Costa Rica. An exquisite and healthy way to maintain lymph health.
  8. Tory Burch for Fitbit Fret Pendant Necklace $175An exclusive collaboration between Tory Burch and Fitbit. Transform your Fitbit Flex (sold separately) into a super-chic accessory for work or weekend, day or evening, with the Fret Pendant Necklace. Made of stainless steel, it’s based on the decorative, open fretwork that’s a signature of Tory Burch design — complete with a secure, easy-access latch on the back. Suspended from a thin link chain, it looks polished while keeping the device comfortably close.
  9. Beauty counter Face Oil Collection $175Three luxurious face oils with unique scents to incorporate into your beauty regimen. All Lustro Face Oils promote the appearance of beautiful, healthy-looking skin.
  10. Beautycounter Sheer Shimmer Collection $58 - Hit the party circuit with this duo, designed to give you that holiday sparkle. Our new Lustro Shimmer Oil in Rose Neroli delivers a head-to-toe glow, while our versatile Lip Sheer in Twig complements any beauty look.

How to Win Thanksgiving

Forget football! Here is YOUR game plan for enjoying a healthy, feel-good Thanksgiving weekend!

1. Don’t show up hungry. When you sit down for the Thanksgiving meal, you don’t want to be “starving.” Studies show that skipping meals on the big day won’t save you calories – in fact, you will end up eating more!

2. Start Thanksgiving Day with two things: : 1) A healthy, satisfying breakfast and stay hydrated. There is not one right meal choice for everyone; if you need help figuring out what breakfast is best for you – let’s talk. 2) An intention for the holiday, such as “I will have a 'plan' and stick with it; I will eat mindfully, and I’ll remember to breathe!"

3. Have a midday mini-meal. If your Thanksgiving meal is in the early afternoon or evening, have a healthy midday snack that includes protein, fiber and healthy fat to help you avoid overeating at the Thanksgiving table.

4. Skip any foods that you don’t absolutely love. Don't waste your calories or indulgences on foods that aren't totally wonderful and amazing. Enjoy that piece of pie but skip the rice or potatoes that aren't that special, and fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and clean protein. When you do eat something indulgent, really SAVOR it! Eat it slowly and take time to notice the smell, taste, and texture. You'll be surprised at how much more satisfied you are if you are mindful and present in that moment vs. popping cookie after cookie in your mouth without really paying attention.

5. Make the good stuff. If you’re not in charge of the Thanksgiving meal, you can still bring a healthy dish to ensure that you have a healthy option that you enjoy. Use this tip when you are the host, too!

6. Limit alcohol to one drink or skip it altogether. The more alcohol you drink the worse your judgement will get so this can also keep you from “mindless” eating and drinking! Instead, sip water, sparkling water with lemon/lime, or herbal tea. 

7. Say no to unhealthy leftovers. If you’re hosting, buy disposable food storage containers and send your guests home with all the not-so-healthy leftovers. If you don’t have it in your house, you can’t eat it!

8. Get right back to your healthy routine. If you eat a little too much or make some poor choices on Thanksgiving, don’t sabotage the entire weekend! The next morning, head to the gym, go for a walk or a bike ride. Drink half your weight in ounces of water each day, and journal about whatever cravings or feelings you have. The faster you get back on track, the less chance you’ll have of gaining weight or suffering from food-related symptoms. It's not the occasional indulgence that sabotages your health goals, it's the habitual, daily choices you make that determine your long-term success.

9. Be good to YOU. The holidays are a busy and stressful time for most of us and self-care tends to go out the window. Schedule some time for yourself to get a massage, take a relaxing walk, or spend some down time alone or with your partner. Don't engage in negative self-talk or inner dialogue because it just makes you feel worse and less motivated to make good choices that truly serve you. You deserve to be well taken care of, especially by yourself.

By being proactive and using these healthy planning tips, you can have a happy AND a healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Healthy Holidays Game Plan


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

Staying Sane & Healthy For The Holidays


As we welcome (or resist) the arrival of the holiday season, it's easy to get overwhelmed, lose sight of our health goals, and throw self-care out the window. Well have no fear, help has arrived! Here are my top tips to help you navigate the holidays with balance & sanity and maintain your waistline in the process.

1. Plan some down time.

The holidays are a busy and often stressful time for most of us. Before you get caught up in the shuffle, schedule some time for yourself each week that’s JUST FOR YOU. By having some time to unwind & relax you will enjoy the season more and be more present for your loved ones during holiday festivities. You will also be less prone to emotional eating, excessive drinking, sickness and depression, all of which are far too common this time of year.

2. Take Care of Yourself, Emotionally AND Physically

Getting regular exercise and good quality sleep are crucial in maintaining good energy and a positive mood, especially when we are overly busy and indulging in holiday treats. But even those of us who are fitness addicts often forget to take care of ourselves emotionally, and we brush any negative feelings under the rug because we feel we don’t have time to deal with them. During the darker winter days it is natural and even healthy for people to feel more melancholy and introspective. This is when that down time really comes in handy – you can be alone with your thoughts and have a good cry if you need to. Sometimes you’ve just gotta get it out! For others the holidays can be lonely and you may need more time with other people. In this case, don’t be afraid to reach out for extra support and social time.

3. Don’t “Should On Yourself”

We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to “perform” at this time of year when we already have more obligations than usual.  We feel like we should be upbeat and functioning at 100% 24/7, wowing our friends & family with our Martha-like skills and entertaining prowess; We should make cookies for the school, we should have the house decorated perfectly and we should prepare the perfect meal and buy the perfect gifts and we should look beautiful and put-together while doing it. But this isn’t realistic and by overextending and burdening ourselves with all the thoughts of what we should be doing, making or feeling, we burn out and miss out on what could be a joyful and relaxing holiday season. Practice saying “no” to anything that’s not necessary or truly important and as my mom always says, “don’t should on yourself”.

4. Set Yourself Up For Success

On the morning of a big meal or party, start off right with a healthy, high-protein & high fiber breakfast (think veggie omelet or protein powder & whole fruit smoothie), and a good workout. DO NOT try to save calories by skipping meals before the big event. You’ll just end up overeating at the meal, inhaling the sugary stuff, and feeling generally rotten afterwards. By starting your day on a healthy note and reminding yourself of your health goals, you’ll be more likely to make healthier choices later in the day.

5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Aim to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water BEFORE your party or big meal. Staying hydrated will help keep your appetite in check, minimize sweets cravings, keep you more alert & energetic, and help prevent water retention the next day.

6. Strategize Your Meal

If fat loss or avoiding the impending “food baby” is your goal, then you need to have a strategy for your meal. Eat plenty of veggies and your protein of choice first, chewing slowly and savoring each bite. Then, if you’re still hungry have some potatoes and/or stuffing but start with small servings and continue to eat slowly.  The protein and fiber from the veggies will fill you up faster and you’ll end up eating less of the starchy foods & feeling more satisfied overall. 

7. Pick Your Poison

Think about what sweet or decadent item (other than the main meal) that you love the most and leave the other less appealing options behind. Pick your favorite thing and don’t waste your calories on the other stuff that you don’t enjoy as much. Mine is pecan pie. I wait all year for it and I enjoy every bite! For others it might be cheese or a hot toddy. Whatever you choose, really take your time as you eat/drink and savor it, noticing the smell and how it feels in your mouth. Often when we overeat it’s because we eat to quickly and don’t take time to truly enjoy our food, leaving us unfulfilled and unsatisfied. If fat loss is a priority for you, choose alcohol OR dessert, but not both.

8. Have Some Fun and CELEBRATE!

Above all, make it your goal to have some fun this holiday season. Plan a special outing with a friend or loved one and do something that’s purely for fun and enjoyment. Remember all the things you have to be thankful for and celebrate them! You’ll reduce stress and create happy memories that you’ll treasure for years to come.