Healthy Halloween Hacks

Halloween is a fun time of year for both kids and grownups. But with fun comes temptation, looming all around us in cute candy wrappings, beckoning us to have just.one.more.treat…You can certainly still enjoy the holiday without sabotaging your fitness and health goals. By allowing yourself a couple of small treats or finding healthier alternatives, you can lower your chances of a binge session later on.

Here are some of my best Halloween hacks:

1) Check the nutrition information before you indulge. Most nutritional information is based on more than one mini-sized bag. Read the label, know how much you are consuming, and if needed, divide your bags into serving sizes to help with portion control.

2) Choose dark chocolate over white. Dark is your healthiest option when it comes to candy and believe it or not, white chocolate is the unhealthiest option. Why? First, it does basically nothing for cravings. Secondly, white chocolate is packed with extra sugar and added fat from the extra milk products used to give it its white coloring.

3) Need a healthy party treat idea? How about Spiders On A Log! Spread any type of nut butter on some celery sticks and then press in 2 dark chocolate chips. The spider “legs” can be created with melted dark chocolate in a piping bag or you can use dark brown sprinkles.

4) Are you carving a few pumpkins this year? Don’t waste the seeds! They can be roasted in the oven with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper and make a tasty and nutritious snack.  You can also save some to throw into your morning smoothie for a little dose of healthy fat to keep you full longer.

Another thing to keep in mind if you’re having a party or trick or treaters is that the growing epidemic of potentially deadly food allergies is becoming more and more common in both children and adults. You can offer your trick or treaters stickers, stamps, bouncy balls or other small toys or crafts instead of candy.

You may notice teal pumpkins on some doorsteps in the area this year and that means that the household is participating in The Teal Pumpkin Project. This project is aimed at raising awareness of food allergies and making the Halloween season inclusive for all. Participating houses pledge to have non-food treats available for trick-or-treaters so that food allergy kids can still participate in the trick-or-treat tradition.

However it is you may be celebrating, I hope you have a happy and healthy Halloween! Feel free to share your own tips and hacks below.

This post was originally shared on TAPInto Morristown in 2017 and has since been updated.

xo,

Julia

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Falling back into a routine of fitness and health

After the laid-back demeanor of summer, most of us are ready to get back into a end-of-year routine. Kids have been back at school for a month or two and Summer Fridays are long over. The weather in our area is still a little wishy-washy, but we know Halloween is around the corner, making the grand entrance for the other fall and winter holidays that follow suit.

selective focus photography of vegetable shake on brown wood board

Photo by Alisha Mishra on Pexels.com

For many of us, fall relates to detoxing. It’s almost  like we want to do a quick cleanse before we start the overindulging once again in a few weeks. Cleansing can be a great way to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle, but they’re not healthy for more than a week or two and people are left wondering what else to do. My advise is that if you choose to do a short program like a juice cleanse, have a plan for what you will do once it’s over.

Find some healthy crock pot recipes, experiment with new in-season veggies, or find some healthy local take-out options for the inevitable busy days. These are much better alternatives than trying to constantly restrict yourself and risk falling short on your health and fitness goals.

I just sent an email out to my newsletter subscribers talking about some of the things I would like to focus on this fall. Some are simple, like investing in a few new pieces for my wardrobe, others are a bit more complicated (for me), like updating my home décor (I’m so indecisive with that stuff!) and working on my online services.

The truth is that it’s a great time of year to reestablish your goals and look at your progress. There’s no need to wait until the New Year to start doing this. Take a look at what you accomplished up until now, see where you’re falling short, and work towards what you can still improve.

A few other tips I’d love to share with you are:

  1. Walk more! Explore your neighborhood or local park.
  2. Try a new workout class.
  3. Meal prep for healthier lunches.
  4. Replace one of your glasses of wine with seltzer.
two woman lifting dumbbells

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

So, what will you choose as the leaves and temperatures drop? Will you look for opportunities to take care of yourself, mind, body and spirit? Or will you sleep in every day and skip your workouts, eat all the foods and hibernate until January?

Comment and let me know if you use any of my tips!

Marathons: I don’t always love them but I keep going back for more

Running for 26.2 miles is not for the faint of heart. It takes consistency, dedication and determination, and a small amount of crazy, to put in the work week after week, anywhere from 12 to sometimes 20 weeks. I’m counting down the days to my 5th marathon which had me thinking about a few things…

Why I keep coming back for more marathons...

First of all, I have a runfession to make. I don’t love training for marathons. Whaaat?!!

I don’t. I really like running but I don’t love it all the time. Some runs are awesome, while other runs I need to really force myself to finish. It’s the sense of accomplishment I get from finishing a tough (physically or mentally) training run and the pride from getting my finisher’s medal after crossing the finish line that keep me going back for more.

Us marathoners know we can’t just show up and fake it. We have to put in the work to have the best performance possible. Setting a new personal record and feeling good throughout the entire run is an amazing feeling that makes all the hard work worth it.

Many people turn to long distance running because it makes them a better person, a better wife, a better mom, a better friend, by allowing them to clear their mind of stress and “head noise.”

It gives us mamas some “Me Time” to daydream. Some people may choose to binge watch Netflix; others, we choose to lace up our sneakers and run.

I don’t do it to be “skinny.” I have actually gained a few pounds training for this marathon. Sure, running helps keep me in shape, but if my goal was to just be fit I could simply do 20-minute workouts every day and be fine. Long distance running digs into other areas of my wellness I just can’t get from a lifting session.

My 4th marathon, the NJ Marathon. April 2018.

Let’s discuss my training a bit.

Avoid injury and crosstrain.

My first goal is always to show up healthy to the start line of the marathon. I want to avoid injury as much as possible and it’s my main goal with any clients I train as well. I build up mileage progressively and cross-train by doing strength training about 2 days a week. It’s really important to not give up strength training, but to modify it so you are doing movements that are the most beneficial to running. Examples are single-leg squats and side planks. I’m such a strong believer in the philosophy that in order to be a better runner, you need to be a stronger and more mobile runner, that I have made it my duty to help runners, and any type of endurance athlete, get fitter to run better.

Run a short race to test your speed and to “practice” racing.

It doesn’t have to be a half marathon; even a 5K can help you gauge how fit you are and give you a better idea of what your goal time should be. It gives you a chance to practice controlling the nerves and also you can practice some of your nutrition.

Run twice a day.

I don’t mean multiple crazy longs run that you’re breaking up into two. Doing 2 runs a day is an option if you only have time for 4 miles in the morning and then maybe you can do 4 more on your lunch break. I wouldn’t break up a speed session, but if it’s a day that calls for 8 easy miles, I believe it’s fine to do this. If the long runs are also fatiguing you or you’re injury prone, I would recommend breaking those up too. Perhaps you do 10 miles in the morning and the rest of the long run in the afternoon. The most important factor of the long run is time spent on your feet, so the accumulated fatigue will still present itself if you do it this way.

Work on your mental fitness.

I have completed long runs in 90+ degree weather. I have completed long runs by myself. I have done many boring runs on the treadmill. I occasionally get comments such as, “I can’t believe you do that!” Well, my response is always, “I have to do what I have to do!”. The reality is that by doing things that are not so exciting, you build your mental toughness and it will pay off tremendously come race day.

Follow along on Instagram to see how I make out at the Steamtown Marathon this Sunday. I missed the Boston cut-off by a couple of minutes even though I broke my qualifying time of 3:35. I’m ready for a no-long distance winter and hope to work on half marathons (funny I don’t consider 13 miles long distance anymore!) until I decide to go for another 26.2 next year.

In the meantime, I’ll be participating in a virtual stroller race- so check that out on Instagram too.

What is the one thing that you struggle with most when training for a race?

If you enjoyed this blog post and feel that it might help someone, I would appreciate if you shared it.

xo,

Julia