Category Archives: Behavior Modification

Beating the Four O’Clock Slump (Part 2)

Yesterday I gave you 5 of my top 10 tips for how to beat the 4-O’clock slump — the time of day you’re most lack energy and reach for a candy bar or bag of chips to gain some energy. Here are the rest of my top 10 tips:

6. Eat more magnesium-rich foods. Magnesium is needed to metabolize food and it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Good sources of magnesium include fish, nuts, legumes, green vegetables, and whole grains.

7. Increase iron intake. Iron is needed to carry oxygen in the blood to all of the tissues, organs, and muscles in the body; therefore, iron deficiency can lead to fatigue. Foods high in iron include meat, liver, fish, poultry, dried fruit, dark green leafy vegetables, and enriched cereals.

8. Make sure to get your B-vitamins. The B vitamins (including folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12) are important for metabolizing fat, protein, and carbohydrates and releasing energy.  Good sources include green leafy vegetables, eggs, whole grains, meat, seafood, liver, nuts, and legumes.

9. Prevent the ZZZs with zinc. One of the many functions of zinc is to help the body produce energy from carbohydrates. Zinc is also needed to repair muscle fibers after a workout. Foods high in zinc are poultry, seafood, oysters, liver, and legumes.

10. Reduce stress and anger. Stress can leave you mentally and physically drained, and holding in anger can use up energy. Some solutions include talking to friends or a professional, exercise for stress relief, meditate, and focus on breathing.

Do you suffer from the Four O’Clock Slump? If so, what do you do to beat it?

Beating the Four O’Clock Slump

beating the 4 o'clock slumpHave you ever noticed that at three or four o’clock your energy level is low and you’re feeling tired and hungry? You’re not alone! Many people suffer from what I call the “Four O’Clock Slump.” You may think that having more coffee or something sweet will get increase your energy, but caffeine and sugar are not the answer. In fact, they will make you feel worse in the end. So what will help you beat the slump? Here are 5 ways to boost energy!

  1. Eat breakfast! Breakfast jump starts your metabolism, giving you the energy you need for the morning.  Make sure to have a combination of complex carbohydrates and lean protein.
  2. Eat balanced mini-meals throughout the day. You need to refuel your body every 3 to 4 hours (which is how long it takes for your blood sugar to drop if you’re eating nutritious meals). Meals and snacks should be a mix of lean protein, complex carbs, and a little healthy fat.
  3. Drink more water. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired and lethargic, and the body often confuses dehydration for hunger. Make sure to get enough non-caffeinated, no- or low-sugar beverages throughout the day.
  4. Take a walk. Fresh air, daylight, and exercise will increase oxygen to your brain, heart, muscles, and lungs, which will boost energy and alertness.
  5. Avoid high-fat meals. Fat takes longer to digest than protein and carbs, leaving little blood flow to the brain and the rest of the body. You need enough fat in your meals to prevent sugar highs and lows, but not too much that you’ll feel weighed down and sluggish as a result. Choose healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados, and remember – a little fat goes a long way!

Stay tuned for 5 more tips to boost energy tomorrow!

Weekend Warrior

If you’ve been watching what you eat and following an exercise routine during the week, don’t let the fact that it’s a weekend get in your way. Instead, be a weekend warrior! A study in the journal Obesity* found that changes in lifestyle behaviors on weekends contributed to weight gain and a cessation of weight loss on the weekends.The main reason: people eat more and exercise less on Saturdays and Sundays.

The weekend isn’t an excuse to take a break from your goals. Here are some ways to stick to your diet and fitness routine and still enjoy the break from work, school, or whatever else you have going on during the week.

  1. Start your day with breakfast. Just as you do (and should!) during the week, have breakfast first thing in the morning. If you sleep later than usual on the weekends but still get up a couple of hours before lunch, make sure you have something small to get your metabolism going.
  2. Move your body. Go to the gym, for a bike ride, or to an exercise class you don’t have time for during the week. Whatever your preference, just do something active!
  3. Don’t skip meals. Even if you’re going out for a big dinner, you still need to eat lunch and probably a snack before your night out. If you think you’ll skip meals to save up for dinner, you’re in for a rude awakening. You’ll end up eating more than you would normally and regretting it the next time you step on the scale.
  4. Watch the alcohol. It’s easy to overdo the drinking over the weekend. Between dinner out, meeting friends for drinks, or perhaps a party or two, you’re likely going to be faced with many alcoholic beverages. Your best bet? Swap one or two alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones. Trust me — you’ll be happy when you don’t have a hangover the next morning.
  5. Keep your goals in mind. Whatever you do, remember your goals. Put them in a place you’ll see them so you can remind yourself what you want to accomplish and not let weekend activities get in the way. If you haven’t made any goals, there’s no better time than now. Check out The Basics of Goal Setting if you need help setting some.

Have a great and nutritioulicious™ weekend!!

*Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Aug;16(8):1826-30. Epub 2008 Jun 12.

Happy, Healthy, and nutritioulicious™ New Year

As we close out the end of one year and enter into another, it’s a great time to reflect on what we have accomplished over the past 365 days and think ahead to what we want to achieve in the next 365 days.

Take out a pen and paper and write down some of your goals for the new year. As I said in my post Resolve All Year Long, it’s best to do this throughout the year, so keep the list and reflect on it periodically in 2010. And don’t forget about The Basics of Goal Setting and writing them in a way that will Make Your Goals Count!

Whether you want to fulfill nutrition, fitness, work, or interpersonal goals, you will be more successful if you write them down. Store that piece of paper someplace you won’t forget and go celebrate what you’ve attained in the past year!

Wishing you and your families a Happy, Healthy, Nutritious, and Delicious new year!

Make Your Goals Count

The other day I discussed The Basics of Goal Setting, and how it’s important to set long- and short-term goals. I mentioned that there are three characteristics of short-term goals — they should be attainable, measurable, and behavior-oriented. What does all this mean? Read on to find out!

Attainable goals are those that are realistic and actually something you can achieve. If it’s not realistic, it won’t happen, and therefore it is not attainable.

For example, it is not realistic to say “I will never eat ice cream (insert your “trigger” food here) again” or “I will exercise 7 days a week” when you know that your lifestyle does not allow for this type of commitment.  Unrealistic goals like these will leave you feeling like a failure — certainly not how you want to feel. Instead, you can set attainable and realistic goals, such as “I will enjoy ice cream once a week or on special occasions,” or “I will exercise 4 days a week for 30 minutes each time.”

Measurable goals help you keep track of your progress. If you don’t specify the what, when, where, and how long for your goals you will have a vague statement that will leave you less committed to your goal.

For example, “I will exercise more” is an admirable goal, however it is vague and can easily be broken because who knows what that really means. On the other hand, if your goal is “I will walk on the treadmill 4 days a week for 30 minutes each, at 3.5 mph” you are more accountable and more likely to adhere to your plan because the goal is specific and measurable. (To be even more accountable, you can specify which four days you will do it — and put it in your calendar too!)

Behavior-Oriented goals that are within your control allow you to engage in healthy habits that are more natural and will not require an upheaval of your regular lifestyle. For example, a behavior-oriented goal is “I will get off the bus two stops early and walk the rest of the way to work” is a behavioral change that is within your control.

What are your attainable (and realistic), measurable (and specific), and behavior-oriented (and within your control) goals?

The Basics of Goal Setting

Last week I told you that when it comes to changing your behavior, it’s best to resolve all year long, not just to wait until January 1st or until a big event is on the horizon. A big part of making changes is planning in advance — just as you would plan for a party or study for a test, you need to make a plan for how you will accomplish the changes you want to make. Planning for behavior change is best done by setting goals.

Goal setting is an important tool to use to help you progress on your road to a healthier lifestyle. In order to achieve the dietary and lifestyle changes you are striving for, it is important that you establish both long-term and short-term goals.

Long-term goals need to be clear statements of what you want to accomplish. These types of goals can be general, such as “I want to lose 50 pounds,” or “I want to eat healthier.” It is best to make only 1 to 2 long-term goals at one time. Additionally, to increase your chances of accomplishing your long-term goals, it is important to break them down into mini, short-term goals.

Short-term goals help you  reach your long-term goals. For example, if your long-term goal is “I want to lose 50 pounds,” a short-term goal may be “I will exercise 4 days a week for 30 minutes each day.” The short-term goal of exercising for this specific amount of time will help you achieve the desired weight loss over time.

In general, goals should not be open-ended. Short-term goals especially should have 3 major characteristics. They should be:

  • Attainable
  • Measurable
  • Behavior-Oriented

What do each of these characteristics mean in the context of goal-setting? Find out later this week!

Do you have any long-term goals?

Resolve All Year Long

As soon as the holiday season rolls around, people start thinking about what resolutions they will make come January 1st. It’s certainly a good idea to plan ahead — it’s much better than waiting for New Year’s day. However, the New Year is not the only time that you can resolve to change your behavior.

In my opinion, too much emphasis is placed on making changes at this one specific time of year. The same is true when people decide to go on a “diet” (I put that in quotes because in my opinion a diet is your daily food intake) in preparation for a wedding, a vacation, or what has come to be known as “bathing-suit season” (aka the summer!).

It is definitely important to evaluate your behaviors and determine when to make changes, but self-reflection is best done on a regular and ongoing basis, not just when occasions arise. And in order to make changes successfully, it is important to set goals.

Since so much emphasis is put on making resolutions at this time of year, next week nutritioulicious™ will be dedicated to goal setting. But keep in mind that goal setting should be done all throughout the year — not just one day!