Category Archives: Waistlines & Wellness

Spice up Your Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut SquashWhether it’s a bone chilling rainy day or a frigid winter afternoon, nothing warms my soul more than a cup of home-made roasted curry butternut squash soup. I absolutely love the rich flavour and the curry spice kick. It’s extremely quick to make and comes with a whole host of health benefits.

Butternut squash is low energy density, which means it offers tremendous nutrients without a lot of calories. It’s also rich in dietary fibre and phyto-nutrients and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, making it highly recommended by dieticians for controlling cholesterol and weight loss.

Here is my quick, delicious recipe that is sure to warm you up on a chilly day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Medium Sized Butternut Squash
  • 1 Large Onion diced
  • 1 Litre of Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
  • 3 table spoons of curry powder
  • 1 table spoon of nutmeg
  • 1 table spoon of cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roasting the Butternut Squash

  1. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise
  2. Place it on a foil lined baking sheet cut side up
  3. Bake for 50 minutes
  4. Scoop the butternut squash into a bowl and set aside

Preparing the Broth

  1. In large pot, brown the diced onion and curry powder
  2. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil

Putting it all Together

  1. Add scooped butternut squash and boil for 20 minutes
  2. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Blend well using a food processor or blender (I use my Ninja. Because I love the name. )
  5. Let cool, serve and enjoy!

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Weight gain after 30… The top 3 reasons and how to beat it

I have been athletic my whole life; if I wasn’t doing layback spins, I was running like the wind, trying to hit a homerun or spiking volleyballs. Although my weight has always fluctuated somewhat, I used to be able to think about losing weight and make it happen. By and large, I have successfully maintained the same dress size for over 10 years.

Then I turned thirty and everything changed. I went up 2-3 dress sizes seemingly overnight. Ok… I was doing my MBA, working a demanding job that involved a lot of travel and adjusting to a move back to the big city. Life was crazy! Surely this was the reason. I was just reliving my Frosh 15. As soon as school finished, I’d be right back to where I was.

Well… School has been out for over a year, and I’m still struggling to drop one more size. And getting to where I am has been extremely challenging. Much more challenging than ever before! I had heard of this “weight gain after 30” phenomenon, but I was sure it wasn’t going to happen to me. Sharing my challenges with friends and colleagues has revealed that they too have been dealing with the same issues.

So, the past few months, I have made it my mission (I may have become a little obsessed) to better understand the reasons behind weight gain over 30 and how to manage it effectively. I have read countless books and articles, spoken with nutritionists, doctors and other healthcare professionals and learned from other women who have successfully managed through this challenge.

I know what you’re thinking… It’s all about hormones. They are the cause of the slowdown in our metabolism. I thought that too. But I quickly came to the sobering realization that, unless you’re dealing with thyroid challenges, hormones only play a small role in this. Everything else is about living a balanced lifestyle.

THE TOP THREE CAUSES OF WEIGHT GAIN AFTER 30

Reason 1: Busy Lifestyle

When we hit 30, most of us are at the top of our career trajectory; working long hours, sitting behind a desk all day and eating catered food at important business meetings. In addition to this, many of us are facing major life changes – buying our first homes, moving in with our partners, getting married or starting families. Balancing all this leaves very little time for healthy and nutritious meals and exercise – both of which are increasingly more critical to maintaining a healthy weight after 30.

How to Beat It:

  • Give up unnecessary commitments and make more time for YOU
  • Make Sunday a cooking day and make as much snacks, lunches and dinners as you can to free up some time during the week
  • Use the time this frees up to add regular exercise to your routine and protect this time as much as possible
  • Engage in active social activities with friends and loved ones or your kids

Reason 2: Increased Stress

With a busy lifestyle comes increased and chronic stress. Chronic stress produces the stress hormone cortisol which not only slows down metabolism, but makes it more difficult to shed unwanted weight. In addition, prolonged stress can cause changes in your blood sugar levels that could result in hyperglycemia or metabolic syndrome, which significantly impair your metabolic functioning. Plus the stress can cause us to eat unhealthy foods. How many of us turn to cookies, chips or wine to help reduce some of the stress? Guilty!

How to Beat It:

  • Yoga is a great way to relieve stress and remain centered through life’s toughest challenges
  • Try having bubble baths at night to help you unwind from your busy day. If you’re married or in a relationship, this can also be a nice way to spend time with your partner and infuse romance into your relationship
  • Go for a manicure and/or pedicure, or treat yourself to a spa day. Doing something nice for yourself will automatically enhance your mood and give you the recharge you need to get through whatever is on your plate.

Reason 3: Inadequate Sleep

Our busy lifestyle and stress often leads to inadequate sleep. We have so much on our plate, we`re staying up late and getting up early just to keep up. And when we do sleep, it`s poor quality sleep. We`re reliving the stressful day we had, thinking about all that needs to be done tomorrow, etc. Lack of sleep also produces hormones that impede the proper functioning of our metabolism. Plus we`re taking in more calories we realize through the consumption of caffeinated drinks and sugary treats for that boost of energy to get us through the day.

How to Beat It:

  • Use fruits for sustained energy boosts during the day
  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm
  • Aim to exercise 5 hours before you go to sleep to optimize the quality of your sleep
  • Aim for 7.5 hours of sleep a night

How you do you manage your weight?

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Feeling stressed about the fact that you’re stressed?

Statue of Bouddha

I don’t know about you, but I’m always running a mile a minute. Stress is such a common aspect of my life, that I barely notice it anymore. And when I do, it’s more of a nuisance than the trigger for self-preservation that it should be. So I frequently ignore the warning signs and plow through life, determined not to let it get the better of me. But inevitably, it does… I hit a wall and quarantine myself for a few days to recuperate before repeating the cycle over again.

I was talking about this to a friend recently and through our conversation, it hit me… We cannot avoid stress; we cannot control or ignore it. But we can manage it effectively. The key is to pay special attention to our emotions or stress indicators, and treat them as a signal that something in our life is out of balance. Then determine what that is and address it in order to re-center.

Here are some stress management tips that may help you feel better and less stressed each and every day:

  • Accept that you cannot control everything and just let go – Easier said than done, I know… But breathe through it, imagine setting it sail on a paper boat in the ocean – whatever you need to do in order to relieve the anxiety and just let it go.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and outlook – It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts like “Nothing ever goes right”, “why does this always happen to me”, etc. Try to catch these thoughts in their tracks and reframe them with “I’m doing my best”, “How can I get some help” and just go into problem solving mode rooting yourself in the belief that a solution exists and you will find it.
  • Take a breather – if you’re starting to feel the stress bubbling up, stop what you’re doing and go for a walk. Take deep breaths and force yourself to smile. You will feel the stress dissipating immediately.
  • Set aside daily “Me Time” – I indulge in bubble baths just about daily. I find the warmth and candle light incredibly soothing and have come to view them as a reward for a job well done through the day. Find something you like doing and that gives you a sense of peace and relaxation and do it every day.
  • Get enough sleep! – Sleep is the single most powerful way to manage stress. If you are well rested, you accomplish more, maintain a positive attitude and persevere through difficult situations much more effectively.
  • Exercise regularly – Ok… I admit I’m bad at this one. I do better when I schedule workouts with friends or through organized sports. But since learning that about myself, I ensure I have a team sport at least once if not twice a week to make sure I get out there. And I always try unique exercise trends and try to make them into social affairs.
  • Eat healthy – I know… It’s hard to make nutritious meals all the time. I have used that excuse a million times… But if it only takes me 1 hour on a Sunday to prepare my lunches for the week and stick them in the fridge. And sometimes, I make some stews and crock pot recipes that I can freeze in single serve portions throughout the week. It is possible…
  • Get Social! – Nothing is more therapeutic during a stressful time, than spending time with loved ones that lift your spirits, can help you trouble shoot problems and just make you feel loved and supported amidst the craziness that life can be sometimes.

And if all else fails, pour yourself a glass of wine, snuggle up on the couch and escape reality for a while with a solid chick flick.

What are your stress management secrets?

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