Take a Moment, In the Moment

Take a moment to capture the moment. I know, I know. We talk so much about putting down the phones and the cameras and staying present in the current moment – what about that?

Well, there’s a balance. And, just like when you’re literally trying to balance on one foot, you might not ever actually feel like you’ve achieved that balance perfectly, but you’ll at least have one foot firmly on the ground, wobbling at the ankle but keeping you in an upright position.

That balance is going to look different for everyone, but there’s a huge difference between the compulsive ways we use our phones and cameras and an intentional use of them as a tool to help us appreciate the things that happen in our lives each day.

Capture the everyday moments. Stop yourself in the middle of making breakfast, when there’s half a box of cereal spilled on the floor and your kid’s hair is still in a mess of a braid from the day before, and snap a picture. This is real. No pinterest-worthy avocado toast with an artful drizzle of olive oil. Show the chaos, and all of it.

Make sure you’re capturing a little bit of everything that happens throughout your day. You don’t have to do this all the time (it’s all about that balance yo), but when you find yourself thinking, “Man, this is nice,” or “Ha! I can’t believe this is my life,” or even “I can’t wait for this week to be over,” take a moment, in the moment, to make it a memory you can look back on in five years and think, “Ha! That was nice. I can’t believe that was my life. I was so stressed out that week, but it was kind of fun.”

Think about the things you’re going to want to look back on, and capture them for yourself, not for the ability to show others, thought sharing them with others is a great way to connect and engage as long as you’re doing so mindfully of your intentions. It’s not single the Instagram-worthy sunset you’re going to remember in 20 years, it’s the fact that you always used to climb up on the rooftop to watch the sunset with your honey at that house you both loved.

Capture the moment, in the moment. This way, you’re not just grabbing an image, you’re taking time to notice what you’re doing and why it matters. Instead of moving the croissant a little closer to the latte to get that perfect photo that shows how well you brunch (we’ve all done it, but like whyyy do we do it?), you’re noticing what’s worth remembering about your life, just as it is. Nothing for show, just for keeps. And if you decide to share, that’s cool, but if you don’t, that’s just yours.

How to Negotiate Like a Boss

When it comes to our careers, money, though one of the most important factors, remains a somewhat taboo topic. However, in order to make informed career decisions, we have to be comfortable talking about and asking for what we want when it comes to compensation.

Jessica Williams, a leader in empowering women and advancing the professional development of female leadership, was our guest on the podcast this week and shared some of her tips on how to negotiate your salary, taking into account all the unique challenges that come with being a woman in a male-dominated workforce. Jessica is developing an online course to help you powerfully negotiate your salary, so look out for that on her website.

Here are Jessica’s tips to negotiate your salary like a boss:

  1. Analyze the situation – Become an expert on what you’re worth in the job market based on your skills, your experience, and your position. Use helpful websites like Glassdoor, Payscale, and Indeed to research the going rate for what you do.
  2. Decide what you value – Is it just more money? More vacation time? The ability to work from home? Flexibility? Leadership opportunities? Get clear on what is important to you so you can negotiate from powerful position.
  3. Research your counterpart in the negotiations – You need to be able to show some compassion and understanding. What are their motivations, and how can you leverage your skills and knowledge of what they need to make the negotiation process feel mutually beneficial? Also, try to understand the other person’s personality to make your arguments that much more personal and effective.
  4. Know what your bottom line is – You have to decide the point at which you are willing to walk away from this job or opportunity. That way, you’ll know when there’s wiggle room and when there’s not and be confident and willing to walk away if you truly cannot meet your bottom line.
  5. Work on your confidence – Examine what your relationship to money is and figure out why, if at all, the subject makes you feel uneasy. Plus, get yourself feeling good and well before you go in for the conversation. Sleep, exercise, and eat healthfully. Get yourself ready to be unstoppable.
  6. During the conversation, express your gratitude. Approach the negotiation from a collaborative point of view, and express that from the get-go.
  7. If you don’t get where you want the first time, don’t take “just no” as the final answer. Look for other ways to get what you need, whether it be more vacation time, a bonus structure, cell phone reimbursement, or other creative ways to up-level parts of your career.
  8. Be patient and know that this is a process. Ask to renegotiate at regular intervals.

Own Your Health

We know that health and happiness are inextricably linked, but how can we use that knowledge to best improve our health and become happier? With all the conflicting information out there, it can be hard to make the decisions on what to eat, how to exercise, what to look out for, and how the heck to keep everything balanced.

This week on the podcast, we chatted with Dr. Robin Miller, integrative medicine physician and co-author of the book Healed! Health & Wellness for the 21st Century. She gave us some mind-blowing health information that can be turned into simple, actionable steps you can take either today or at your next doctor’s visit to get healthy and happy in a fun, diet-free, empowering way.

  1. The Microbiome & Gut Health The bacteria in our gut affects everything about our health. Fecal transplants (putting the gut bacteria from one person into another) have even been shown to change a subject’s disposition. You can have yours tested to find out what’s going on in there and how you can change what you eat to optimize your health.
  2. Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) & Heart Health TMAO is the best correlate to heart disease and stroke we know of (yes, better than LDL and HDL), and you can have your doctor test for it. If you have high levels, lower your consumption of red meat, eat more extra virgin olive oil, take grapeseed extract, or drink Guinness stout (all shown to reduce levels of TMAO).
  3. Mend Program & Brain Health A study of 10 Alzheimer’s patients showed that optimization of health lead to a reversal of cognitive impairment in nine out of 10 patients. If developing Alzheimer’s is a fear of yours, take steps to improve your brain, heart, and gut health to reduce chances of developing the disease.
  4. L-Methylfolate & Depression This alternative to folic acid can be helpful for people with depression and can be the cure for some patients’ IBS. L-Methylfolate helps the brain release the neurotransmitters for happiness and pleasure. Taking adequate Vitamin C has also been shown to help with depression.
  5. EMDR Therapy & PTSD Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, when exposed to EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing have shown incredible improvements, and can see a complete shift in how they relate to traumatic memories and experiences. This therapy can eliminate symptoms of PTSD and IBS.
  6. Eat Chocolate, Drink Coffee Yup. They’re not just delicious and mood-boosting, they have been shown to increase life span and improve overall wellbeing. If you’re going for coffee, stick to the basics: don’t add a bunch of cream or sugar, make it yourself, and avoid using a French press (it retains the oils in the coffee and can increase LDL levels). Eat dark chocolate of 65% or higher purity. Let one square melt on your tongue to make a chronic cough disappear for an hour.
  7. Scream Cream Ladies, this stuff is the female viagra. It’s a mild cream that will increase your sensitivity down there and improve your sex life, which, in turn, will make your life so much happier and healtheir.
  8. Ballroom Dancing There are so many benefits to ballroom dancing: it improves your balance and rhythm, gets you moving, and brings you physically close to another person to move together. Take a ballroom dancing class and get all these benefits, plus that of joining a new community and trying something new.

 

Why Seven Times

Over the past few years, meditation and mindfulness have crossed over into the realm of things you can do that pretty much no one is going to argue is bad for you. People might not understand it or do it themselves, but at this point, no one is going to be like “Oh, you’re meditating? You should really cut that out.” Nah.

Still, no matter how widely accepted it is as a useful practice for our mental health, many people still have trouble integrating it into their daily lives. Like taking a daily multivitamin or going to get your teeth cleaned, it’s something we all think we maybe should do, but we can’t quite find the motivation to get crackin’ and do it.

But what if we’re looking for the wrong thing? What if, instead of motivation, we searched for inspiration? A driving force that comes from within, that doesn’t depend on external factors or circumstances or how we feel that day. Our WHY.

If there’s a habit or practice or behavior you want to integrate into your life, and you can’t seem to stay motivated to really do it – it doesn’t have to be meditation, it can be anything you really want to pursue but are having trouble sticking with – try the following exercise:

  1. Ask yourself: WHY is this important to me? WHY do I want to do this?
  2. Once you have your initial answer (something like “because I want to feel more relaxed” or “because I need to clear my head”), ask yourself WHY to that answer.
  3. Now ask WHY to that answer.
  4. WHY?
  5. WHY??
  6. WHYYYY????
  7. Be the annoying five year old and ask yourself one more time: WHY???

Once you have asked yourself why seven times, take a minute to reflect on whatever you’ve discovered. Is it what you thought you’d find? How does it feel?

When you can dig down and find what inspires you, you can forget about getting motivated and be driven by something deeper: purpose. And isn’t that kinda the whole point?

Go with Your Gut

We’ve all heard it said a million times when faced with tough decisions: go with your gut. Often when we have a choice to make, we load ourselves down with too much information in an effort to be rational and end up clouding our own judgment, making it even more difficult to decide. There’s a reason people say to go with your gut. Most of the time, your gut is just right.

When you’re about to do something and get a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach, that’s your body telling you, “Hey, um, maybe this isn’t such a great idea.” And when you do something and suddenly feel a burst of energy and a rush of tingly feeling in every extremity, your body is essentially the Kool-Aid man bursting through the brick wall of indecision yelling, “Oh yeaaaahhhh!”

So, if we know this is true for life’s big moments, why don’t we apply it to our eating habits?

It seems so obvious when you say it – I mean, your gut is kinda where hunger comes from and food goes, right? – but we’ve let eating become a thing of reason. We eat not because our body is telling us we need to, but because it’s lunchtime, or because someone brought cookies to the office and it would be rude to let them go to waste, or because we know it will make us feel better. We don’t eat not because we’re full, but because we ate too much yesterday, or we have to fit into that dress later, or because we’re busy.

When we eat this way, we’re neglecting the natural signals our body is giving us to either eat or stop eating. Our bodies are so cool! They have the ability to tell us when to go to bed, when to wake up, when to eat, and when we’ve had enough – no trackers or alarms needed! But in order to tap into those powers, we have to be listening. So go with your gut, and get on your way to a better relationship with your food and with your body.

 

Momentum Can Stop You in Your Tracks

Put down the phone. Pause your podcast. Stop the music. And let yourself become utterly, miserably bored.

We’ve collectively lost the ability to do this as a society, but being bored, or simply getting to the point in not having something to occupy our minds where our mind can really wander, is essential to our ability to solve problems and think creatively.

I, for one, have gotten stuck in this momentum of adulthood wherein I’m getting so much done and being sooo productive. I’m ninja chopping my way through emails and appointments and showing myself and the world how together a lady can have her stuff.

That’s great and all, but all it really does is keep me on whatever hamster wheel I’m currently on. But I’m a writer. And checking off tasks on a to-do list isn’t gonna help me come up with an idea for something to write, and it sure isn’t gonna help me write it.

Ninja chopping through all the tasks, following that seductive momentum and going going going, can actually decrease your capacity for deep work. We have to create space to get lost in thought in order to get to the creative, deep thoughts that will inspire that next great idea or the answer to a nagging problem.

So put down the phone, turn off the TV, and go stare out a window. We have to allow ourselves to be bored out of our minds in order to get back into them.


Sarah Mowery is the Podcast Marketing Editor for the Spark – Inspire Your Life Podcast and an avid podcast listener. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Sarah enjoys writing, playing outside, going to concerts, and anything else she can list here that will make you think she’s cool. Sarah is a 200-hour registered yoga teacher and a member of the teaching team at YogaSport in Dallas. You can read more of her writing here.

Just Start (Anywhere!)

We all have it. That thing in the back of your head that you’ve wanted to do forever but just haven’t had the time, the resources, the energy – you name it – for.

The thing is, we’ll never have enough of any of it. And waiting sure doesn’t give us any more. This week on the podcast, we loved everything Jeanine Donofrio said about how she started her gorgeous blog, Love & Lemons.

She had it in her mind for a while and wasn’t sure if it was “the thing” to do or where it would go, but one day, she just started. As she said, “I’m just gonna get going because I feel drawn to doing this.”

YES. Just start. Don’t wait until you feel inspired or motivated, just start! And when you stop yourself because you don’t know where to start, start anyway. Anywhere!

We achieve being through doing, so get to doing.

Differentiating “Need” and “Want”

This week on the podcast we talked about the Spending Fast I’m doing to majorly cut back on my expenses and save money for my 2,650-mile hike (or, as my grandma and the kids I babysit call it, my “very long walk”). The spending fast is different from a traditional budget in that there are no set spending limits for certain categories. In fact, there is only one category on which you’re supposed to spend any money at all: Your Needs.

Sounds simple, right? And it is! Simply identify your Needs, and spend money on ONLY those things. Simple. So very simple. And so very not easy at all (until you get the hang of it, that is).

At the beginning of this project, I had to write out a full list that separated out my Needs (think rent, groceries, gas, electricity) and my Wants (think clothing, eating out, drinking out, getting your hair did). Not only has this exercise helped me save boatloads of cash, but it also opened my eyes to how frivolous my spending habits had been.

We all spend unnecessarily. How could we not? It’s so convenient to pull out that plastic card every time we justify to ourselves that we need that new book or deserve a cupcake this one time or just can’t wait until we get home to eat because we’re starving. But, when you take a closer look, you might be surprised to find that, really, there’s not that much that you need.

Here are the top spending areas where I have saved money by putting them on the Wants list and cutting. them. out.

Books

  • Problem God did I have a problem with buying books. I genuinely felt FOMO if I left a Barnes & Noble without a bag of new books in hand. And of course I felt that way. I’m always listening to podcasts and reading articles and seeing Instagrams about these inspiring people and their new books coming out about subjects that, if I don’t read about, I will be dumb and out of the loop and no one will talk to me.
  • Solution Here’s a fun thing though! Books are free at the library, you just have to give them back. BOOM.

Knick Knacks/Souvenirs 

  • Problem When I go to a concert, I want a t-shirt. When I go on vacation, I want a t-shirt. When I walk in a cool art museum gift shop and am surrounded by the latest in modern design and watches with no numbers on them and upside-down octopuses that hold all your rings (!), I want all of it!!!!
  • Solution! Did you see all those times I said “want”? Yeah. Get over it.

Food

  • Problem Eating out is convenient. There’s food wherever I go! And my friends do it, so what am I gonna, like, not hang out with my friends? Also, what if I’m on a road trip and I get hungry and I need a Clif bar?
  • Solution! Groceries. Cooking. Bring yo snacks!!! These things not only save money, they essentially force you to eat healthier. And your friends don’t care if you eat before you come out with them and then still go out with them, I promise. If they do care, get new friends (also free!).

Drink

  • Problem Drinks are also convenient and often a huge part of social experiences. What if someone wants to meet up for coffee? What if I’m going out and I want to have a beer or a glass of wine
  • Solution! OK, if you want to drink alcohol, by no means am I saying to stop. Remember groceries?! Stock up on the cheap wine. Have a few drinks before you go out (I believe the kids call it “pregaming” (just kidding, I still am a kid and know for a fact we call it pregaming)), then go to the bar or concert or sporting event (that you already had tickets to because you’re not buying new things right now) with your friends! Drink water. Feel great in the morning. If someone wants to meet up for coffee, go watch them drink coffee or suggest that you meet somewhere else. Parks are good. So is your own house.

Clothes/Accessories

  • Problem I don’t think I even need to say anything here.
  • Solution! Unsubscribe from all the shopping newsletters and stay away from the stores. Out of sight, out of mind. Wear what you have, get creative with it, and if an occasion comes up that you don’t have an outfit for? Well, that’s what friends’ closets are for, my dear.

Subscriptions/Memberships

  • Problem OK this is a tough one. I had to do some digging here, because with the way auto-pay works now, it’s hard to even know all the services you’ve subscribed to without even realizing it. That one-year free trial you signed up for two years ago? Yeah, they have your CC info, and they are using it.
  • Solution! Identify the paid subscriptions you use on a daily or at least weekly basis and that add value to your life. For me it’s Spotify, Adobe Creative Cloud, and my membership to the climbing gym. You have to give yourself the things that feed you and keep you going, but recognize that you really don’t need a subscription to every magazine and a membership at three gyms. Then, get out your shovel and dig deeeep into your credit card statements to see who is billing you. Cancel those errant subscriptions that you just do. not. need. Goodbye, Angie’s List, thank you for your service.

Services

  • Problem Seems like we outsource everything these days. Uber drives us. The cleaners do our clothes. The nice ladies and gentlemen wash our cars and cut our hairs. Shit adds up.
  • Solution! Do. It. Your. Self. Or find a friend who’s good at it. Make it a car washing/laundry doing/driving to the airport party and bond with your friend over how fun doing things for free is. If you can’t do it yourself or get help getting it done, find the cheapest possible way to have someone do it for you.

Going Places

  • Problem I can’t just sit at home all day, I want to go places!
  • Solution! I’m writing this at a Public Library right now. Freaking awesome. This place is quiet and the Wi-Fi is free. No purchase required. No shitty Starbucks coffee. There’s all kinds of places to go where you can do things for free. Parks. Tons of museums. Walking around cool neighborhoods. Riding your bike.

There are tons of ways to save money if you know where to look. And, often, “where to look” is your own spending habits. Challenge your ideas of what you “need” to spend money on, and you’ll be saving money in no time.


Sarah Mowery is the Podcast Marketing Editor for the Spark – Inspire Your Life Podcast and an avid podcast listener. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Sarah enjoys writing, playing outside, going to concerts, and anything else she can list here that will make you think she’s cool. Sarah is a 200-hour registered yoga teacher and a member of the teaching team at YogaSport in Dallas. You can read more of her writing here.

Angela on Unstoppable Success Radio with Kelly Roach!

Success looks different for everyone, but one woman who is working hard to give entrepreneurs and business owners the tools to get there is Kelly Roach. Her podcast, Unstoppable Success Radio, is an inspiring show where some of the most accomplished business owners and entrepreneurs share their strategies and secrets to increasing productivity, fast-tracking their businesses, and achieving their goals.

So, the exciting news: Our very own Angela Wagner was a guest on Kelly’s show this week! They talked about how to shift your mind back into neutral so you can slow down, brush away distractions, and re-focus on what matters.

If you love what you hear on Spark, make sure to tune into the episode and check out more of Kelly’s work.

Here’s where to find it: Kelly Roach Coaching – Angela Wagner

Not So Sweet: Hidden Sources of Sugar

Top 10 Sources of Hidden Added Sugar

This is a contribution from Megan Lyons, owner of The Lyons’ Share Wellness (http://www.thelyonsshare.org/health-coaching/).  For more tips and tricks from Megan, follow her on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thelyonsshare/), and join her Free Coaching Friday series on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thelyonssharewellness) to get your questions answered!

It’s not breaking nutrition news that sugar is detrimental to our health.  Excess sugar consumption has been linked to weight gain and obesity, uncontrollable cravings, cavities, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, premature aging, mood swings and irritability, and so much more.  Even though we know that it is harmful, however, our consumption continues to skyrocket – the average American eats over 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, making up between 230 and 362 calories in our daily diet.  That’s over 75 pounds of sugar per year!

It’s nearly impossible – and unnecessary – to avoid sugar all together.  A moderate amount of fruit (especially when balanced by a diet high in vegetables, healthy fats, and protein), dairy for those who can tolerate it, and even a bit of honey or maple syrup here and there won’t lead to health problems.  However, these little bits of added sugar are found in nearly everything, and they can quickly add up if we are not careful.  

Limiting our consumption of added sugar – while difficult – is one of the most important steps we can take towards maintaining a healthy weight, balanced energy levels, and overall optimal health.  Below are my top 10 sources of hidden added sugar, along with healthier substitutes, so that you can become a sugar sleuth and support your best health.  Don’t let yourself get swept away on the sugar roller coaster!

Spaghetti sauce:

  • Examples: It might be one of the last places you’d expect to find added sugar, but most pre-prepared spaghetti sauce is loaded with it.  A ½-cup serving of Prego Tomato, Onion, & Garlic sauce has 12 grams of sugar, or 3 teaspoons, and most of it is added sugar (“sugar” falls right after “dehydrated onions” on the ingredient list).  Most people use double or triple the serving size, which means they could easily have the same amount of sugar as a can of Coke … right on top of their pasta!  
  • Upgrades: Replace it with plain canned tomato sauce with some Italian seasoning stirred in (a ½-cup has 4 grams of naturally occurring sugar), or simply sauté some fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, and oregano in olive oil.  For a prepared option, try Uncle Steve’s (http://amzn.to/2esqQ5k).

Barbecue Sauce

 

  • Examples: Two tablespoons of KC Masterpiece Original barbecue sauce contain a full three teaspoons of sugar.  I recall my family making barbecued chicken with about a half a bottle of barbecue sauce (a whopping 51 teaspoons of sugar, split between our 4-person family), so I think it’s safe to say that it can quickly add up.  
  • Upgrades: To upgrade your barbecue sauce, try marinating chicken in olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs.  Even if you “must” spread a thin layer of barbecue sauce on after cooking, you’re still reducing your intake dramatically.  For a prepared option, try Simple Girl (http://amzn.to/2glGNaq).

 

 

Ketchup:

  • Examples: The third ingredient in Heinz ketchup is high fructose corn syrup, and the fourth is corn syrup – just picture a ketchup bottle ¼ full of sugar, and that’s exactly what you’re putting on your burger!  
  • Upgrades: I recommend swapping for tomato slices or salsa, which give a lot of flavor with low calories and no added sugar.  For a prepared option, try Sir Kensington’s (http://amzn.to/2w4EK4R).

 

 

Salad dressing:

  • Examples: By now, you’re probably noticing a trend: many sauces tend to be sugar-laden.  Salad dressings are no exception, and the ones labeled “fat-free” are often the worst culprits, since food manufacturers have to enhance the taste with something (added sugar!) after removing the fat.  Two tablespoons of Kraft Fat-Free Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing have 9 grams of sugar.  In fact, the dressing contains more sugar than vinegar, oil, raspberry, or anything else aside from water!  
  • Upgrades: To upgrade your dressing, look for dressings with 2 grams or less per serving.  I recommend using olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  I often enjoy dressing a salad simply with avocado oil and salt, hummus, or salsa and avocado for a Mexican-inspired salad.  For a prepared option, try Tessemae’s Balsamic Vinaigrette or other flavors (https://www.tessemaes.com/collections/dressings/products/organic-balsamic).

 

Yogurt:

  • Examples: You may think that you’re making the healthier choice by opting for yogurt at breakfast, but if you’re reaching for a version laden with added sugars, you may be wrong.  Yogurt is one of the top places food manufacturers hide added sugar – a 6-ounce container of Yoplait Strawberry has 25 grams of sugar (more than 6 teaspoons!), and Kraft Breyers Smooth & Creamy Lowfat Strawberry Yogurt has a whopping 39 grams (nearly 10 teaspoons).  
  • Upgrades: Any yogurt will have some sugar, because milk products contain lactose, a naturally-occurring sugar.  A plain 6-ounce serving of Fage 0% Greek yogurt contains 7 grams, for example.  Remember to check the ingredient list to see if sugar (or any of its many other names) are high in the ranking.  In general, I recommend staying away from any yogurt with more than 15 grams of sugar per serving.  It is helpful to choose plain varieties (rather than fruit flavored varieties), and add your own flavoring with berries, other chopped fruit, canned pumpkin and cinnamon, or cocoa powder and stevia for a chocolaty treat.  Even adding a small drizzle of honey or maple syrup will give you far less added sugar than the pre-sweetened varieties.  For prepared options, try Fage plain yogurt, Quark flavored yogurt, or Siggi’s flavored yogurt.

Muffins:

 

  • Examples: Even the healthier-sounding muffins at Starbucks contain up to 34 grams (they have recently redone their menu, as previous versions had up to 57 grams of sugar each!), and it’s not just Starbucks.  The Cinnamon Crumb muffin at Corner Bakery has 50 grams; the Coffee Cake muffin at Dunkin’ Donuts has 51 grams (in fact, you could have 5 Bavarian Cream donuts for less sugar!).  

Energy bars, protein bars, granola bars:

 

 

  • Examples: If I had a dollar for every time a client told me they ate an energy bar instead of an apple, thinking they were making a healthy decision, I would be a happy camper.  Not only do most energy bars contain preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and more chemical-sounding ingredients than you can imagine, but they often contain high amounts of added sugar.  A Clif bar – often touted as a healthy snack – contains 24 grams of sugar.  The first ingredient (even before oats!) is brown rice syrup, a source of added sugar.  The “Performance Energy” PowerBar contains 28 grams of sugar, and the first ingredient is a combination of various types of sugars.  Of course, this is far less harmful if you’re in the act of running a marathon or a multi-hour bike ride, but for the average person picking up a bar in the checkout aisle of the supermarket, the sugar is doing more harm than good.  
  • Upgrades: To upgrade your bars, look for bars that have only naturally occurring sugar (Larabars, for example, are fairly high in total sugar, at 18 grams each, but the sugar comes from fruit only, rather than added sugar).  Lower sugar, higher protein bars are also available, and are great options for many people, but the “best” bar really varies by person.  Depending on the clients’ goals, the sensitivity of their stomachs, their dietary restrictions, and their preferences, I have a wide range of bars that I frequently recommend.  Regardless, I recommend choosing one with minimal added sugar, at least 3 grams of fiber, and at least 5 grams of protein and / or healthy fat.  A few of my favorites are Paleo Protein Bars (http://amzn.to/2rtJFJM), 22 Days bars (http://amzn.to/2v6FvKx), or No Cow bars (http://amzn.to/2edYeeo).

Breakfast cereal:

  • Examples: Starting your day with a high dosage of added sugar sets you up for more cravings throughout the day, and leads to general blood sugar instability.  What a shame, then, that so many of the foods we feed our children first thing in the morning contain so much added sugar!  There are the obvious sources, like Kellogg’s Froot Loops, which clock in at 13 grams per serving and contain more sugar than anything else, and Kellogg’s Honey Smacks (initially called “Sugar Smacks”), which are over 50% sugar by weight.  And it’s not just the indulgent-sounding varieties that are sugar bombs.  Even healthier sounding products often contain large quantities of sugar – a 1-cup serving of Post Raisin Bran contains 19 grams of sugar (nearly 5 teaspoons), and a ¾ cup serving of Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran contains 14 grams.  
  • Upgrades: To upgrade your cereal, first watch your portion sizes. It can be helpful to measure out a correct portion at least a few times, so you learn to eyeball the appropriate size.  Second, choose a healthier cereal.  I recommend looking for a cereal with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving, at least 3 grams of fiber, and at least 3 grams of protein or healthy fat.  There are some available cereals that contain just one ingredient, the grain itself (for example, puffed millet or puffed kamut).  I also recommend that clients add in a tablespoon of chia seeds or slivered almonds to their cereal bowl, to provide a bit of extra healthy fat that will slow the blood sugar spike, and some optional blueberries, to provide a good dose of micronutrients to start the day.  For more on this, and to hear some options that I recommend, watch this video: https://www.facebook.com/TheLyonsShareWellness/videos/1379645332121198.

 

Dried fruit:

  • Examples: If dried fruit seems too delicious to be healthy, unfortunately, it probably is.  Not only do most food manufacturers add in significant amounts of sugar to sweeten the dried fruit, but the process of drying removes water, which concentrates even the naturally-occurring sugar and makes it more likely to spike your blood sugar.  Half a cup of fresh cranberries, for example, contains just 2 grams of sugar, but half a cup of Craisins (sweetened dried cranberries) contains 58 grams!  
  • Upgrades: To upgrade your afternoon snack, simply choose whole fruit whenever possible.  When you do choose dried fruit, be sure to seek out the kinds without added sugar, and rely upon the sweet taste from the fruit itself.  For prepared options, try Matt’s Munchies (http://amzn.to/2gsiI5j) or KIND Fruit Bites (http://amzn.to/2vIRfPn), and limit to one serving per day!

Coffee drinks:

  • Examples: The large Frozen Sugar Cookie Coffee Coolatta (made with skim milk) at Dunkin’ Donuts contains 141 grams of sugar, or over 35 teaspoons.  The Venti Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha at Starbucks contains 108 grams. Surely, the consumers who choose one of these options are not thinking they’re making the healthiest possible decision, but they probably aren’t anticipating that they are consuming over 5 days’ worth of added sugar in one sweet cup.  
  • Upgrades: To upgrade your coffee shop choice, a simple coffee or tea is your best bet, and contains no sugar.  If that’s going too far, try a simple latte … a Starbucks Grande Caffe Latte with coconut milk contains just 8 grams of sugar, and the version made with nonfat milk contains just 11 grams.  Better yet, save your money and brew a nice cup of coffee or tea yourself, using Nutpods (http://amzn.to/2ocFTTF) as a delicious and creamy, sugar-free addition!  

Note: this is an updated excerpt from “Start Here: 7 Easy, Diet-Free Steps to Achieve Your Ultimate Health and Happiness.”  For much more on how to reduce sugar, and 5 more hidden sources of added sugar, buy the book here: http://amzn.to/2e5C905!