Measuring Your Progress Without The Scale

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“If I lose ‘X’ pounds, then I can wear my skinny jeans”
“I have to go to the gym today because I ate too many sweets last night”
“I’m doing all the right things, but I’m not losing weight!”

Do any of these statements above sound familiar? We get it, exchanging old habits for new health promoting habits is hard. It’s especially difficult when we feel we aren’t seeing progress!

Diet culture has taught us to tie our self-worth and validation with the number on the scale. If the number decreases, diet culture says that’s “good,”  and when the number goes up or remains the same, that’s considered “bad.” Many of us believe that when we reach a certain weight, we will be more loved/successful/a better person. Why is that? Have you ever considered the fact that maybe your weight has little or nothing to do with your success? Just because your weight isn’t changing does not mean you are progressing ton journey.

Your Worth is Not Dictated by

the Number on the Scale

We often tie our worth to factors that society deems to be “good.” Diet culture tells us that we need to eat healthfully and exercise often to achieve nearly impossible body sizes and shapes. Have you ever considered that there are more reasons to live a healthier lifestyle than to reach a certain number on the scale? In the big picture, numbers don’t tell you the great things that make you uniquely, you!

Say it with me: my self worth is not defined by a number on a scale! Focusing too much on a number on the scale can distract you from remembering the best parts about yourself. Consider your role. Are you a parent to a child? A best friend? A sister? A manager? No matter what, the number on the scale says – it has zero influence on how “good” or “bad” you are at fulfilling your role. We believe that if we weighed “X pounds less” then we will “be more loved,” “be a better person,” or “be what others want us to be” – but this is diet culture speaking here. Remember that these thoughts are not facts. They’re just thoughts.

It’s time to Starting looking at different measures of progress

To combat these toxic thoughts, start looking at different measures of progress. There are so many more ways to document progress during a health journey than tracking how much your body weighs. Body weight tells a how much our muscle/organs/skin/water/fat/etc weigh, but it tells you nothing about nutritional, social, and intellectual progress.

How to Track Progress Without the Scale

To keep track of progress (outside of the scale), start by focusing on sustainable habits. What is one habit that you can easily do every day (or every week) for a long period of time that will help you reach your goals? It should be something simple and realistic like making your own breakfast every day, getting in movement three times a week, or going to the grocery store at least once a week. Focus on habits that are sustainable, and more importantly, enjoyable! Incorporating new habits into your day can be really exciting especially when you are able to see improvements in your overall health.

Stepping away from the scale can be a hard habit to release. So many of us have attached ourselves so much to a number that we don’t know how to cope without it. The best way to detaching yourself from the scale is take it out of the house (or out of sight) and replace it with another form of measurement.

Check out these 10 ways you can measure your progress that have nothing to do with the scale below!

 

10 nonscale wins

Next time you find yourself discouraged by the number on the scale, try and think about other parts of your life that have made you a healthier version of yourself physically, mentally, and socially. The number on the scale is a number – that’s it. It’s your behaviors that define who you are – not the scale. Remember all the things that make you uniquely, you!

At the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group our RDs set non-scale goals with our clients, and do not weigh clients in our office. If you’re interested in learning more about focusing on health promoting habits rather than the on scale, click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call! 

 

-Written by Gabby Childers, and Brittany Jones, MS, RD, LD

5 Reasons NOT to Set a New Years Resolution (and how to set an intention instead!)

 

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“This year, I’m going to __________ (insert resolutions that are hardly ever achieved such as “lose 10 pounds,” “eat healthier,” “exercise more,” and the list goes on).”

Creating a New Year’s resolution is a tradition for so many of us, but how many times have we set a resolution and completely forgot about it by March? New Year’s resolutions have a time and a place, but the majority of the time, they can actually hurt our well-being. We begin with high energy and motivation, but as soon as we mess up, we’re likely to fall back to old habits. This might make you think … maybe this year, I shouldn’t set a New Years resolution…and search for something else instead. Below are some reasons why you resolutions don’t work, and some intentions to consider setting instead.

5 Reasons NOT to set a New Year’s Resolution

1. Your goals are unattainable
One big mistake people make when choosing a New Year’s resolution is that they choose
a goal that is unattainable for their current season of life. If I say, “I want to run a
5k this year,” but I don’t have access to running routes and lack the time to run,
this goal is probably going to be unattainable for me at the moment. Choose an activity
that is realistic for your lifestyle. Setting a goal to walk for 20 minutes three times per week may be more realistic than running a three miles every day.

2. Your resolution is too broad
For example, let’s say your goal is to “spend more time with my family.” This goal has great intentions, but there’s nothing to back it up. Resolutions need support to make it sustainable in the long run. The only way to achieve a major goal is to start small. Start by picking a small action that you can start doing in the first week of the year. Here an example would be to “have a family game night at least once a week.” This goal is specific, realistic, and attainable. When creating goals for yourself, use SMART goals to keep yourself accountable and organized.

3. You aren’t targeting the root of the behaviors you want to change
It’s hard to stop habits cold turkey when you’re not dealing with the root of the issue. Let’s take binge eating for example. Binge eating is the result of something that is going on  internally. You have to learn why you are binging in the first place before you can  change the behavior. In a situation like this, we recommend working with a registered dietitian skilled in disordered eating (like Allison!) and a counselor to discover the reasons why you may be exhibiting these behaviors.

4. Your goals are “negative” based
A negative based goal is a goal that is trying to fix something that is “wrong” in your life. Having negative based goals can leave you feeling guilty and lazy for messing up or not following through with your plan. Instead of fixating on parts of your life that aren’t ideal, magnify your strengths. When you magnify or multiply what is going right in your life, you will gain the momentum and motivation you need to improve your well-being. Ask yourself, “what am I already good at?” and build your goals from there.

5. You don’t have the right mindset
Maybe you’ve made the decision to create some sort of change, but on the inside, you’re not ready to take the necessary steps in order to make that change. You haven’t made that internal shift yet. To reach your goals, you must be willing to make some changes in your lifestyle. It’s going to be uncomfortable because, well, change IS uncomfortable. Are you willing to be uncomfortable to make a change? If so take action! If the change is worth it, create space and make time in your lifestyle to implement that change. Set yourself up for success. If now isn’t the time in your life to take action towards a goal, that’s okay! Seasons come and go. Try and reevaluate your circumstances in a month or so to determine whether or not you’re ready to take the net step, and be sure to build a support team around you to help you get there.

Set A New Year’s Intention Instead

New Years resolutions typically are external actions or desired outcomes while intentions are internal power and long term change.

Think about it this way, a resolution may be, “to lose weight.” Instead let’s flip that to set you intention “to listen to my body” Later down the road, weight loss may occur because you could be eating more vegetables, enjoying your movement, and learning how to cope with stress. Instead of implementing rigid practices through goal setting, intentions focus on practicing kindness towards your body.

The purpose of an intention is to cultivate a desire you wish to live by. Start by evaluating the things you would wish to see more of in your life. From there, we need to dig a little deeper and discover the root of that desire.

When looking at areas you wish to see more of, does it come from a sense of loneliness in your life? Does it stem from feeling inadequate or not good enough? Is there guilt? Shame? Do you have low self-esteem? These are deep questions to ask yourself, and you may feel some vulnerability trying to answer them. Choose your intentions based on these feelings.

Examples of New Year’s Intentions

  • Cultivate joy
  • Stay grateful
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Simplicity (do less)
  • Self compassion
  • Be vulnerable
  • Show love to others
  • Keep an open mind
  • Share your unique gifts
  • Be brave

After deciding your intention, create small action steps that you can do to help you be more intentional this year. If your intention is to “be more present,” a small action you can do a few times a week is to practice breathing for three minutes or journaling for three minutes. This only takes three minutes out of your day, and it’s allowing you to be more intentional about staying present.

Connect with yourself and ask, “What are some things that bring me the most energy and joy in my life?” Be clear with yourself and the things you want to cultivate, and write it down on a sticky note or a notebook. Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to your intentions. You cannot pass or fail. Use these handwritten messages as a reminder to pick up where you left off no matter where you are in your intention journey.

Make this year the year of intentionality. Connect and discover the things you truly need for yourself. Wishing you all the best in 2020!

-Written By Gabby Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Intern 

Last Minute Gift Guide

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I don’t know about you, but this whole Christmas is three weeks after Thanksgiving is NOT going very well for me! This holiday season has been a struggle with parties, travel, gifting, and Q4 deadlines.

That’s why I’ve put together this last minute gift guide. I’ve compiled this list with both wellness and time in mind. It starts with some quick-ship options and ends with downloadable options perfect for your Christmas Eve “oh crap” moments. I hope you enjoy it and happy shopping!

Wellness Gifts with 2-Day Shipping

  • A weighted blanket is perfect for the cold winter weather, and it also helps with decreasing stress/anxiety. This blanket is on sale on Amazon and will arrive in 2 days with prime shipping!
  • A gratitude journal to help celebrate every day WINS (no matter how the rest of the day went). This written exercise helps facilitate mindfulness and helps with forming a permanent positive mindset. Order it on Amazon and will arrive in 2 days with prime shipping!

Wellness Gifts You Can Pick Up Today

  • A gift certificate to the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group. Gift the gift of wellness this holiday! We offer gift certificates for nutrition packages, or in a dollar amount of your choice. Our office will be open until Monday 12/23 at 7PM and Allison will be available to assist you with your purchase and gift certificate. (We can also ship a gift certificate to you if you place your order by Fri 12/20!)
  • A letter board for writing intentions, positive messages and important reminders. Pick up this one at your local Target.
  • A sparking water maker from Soda Stream. We love sparkling water brands like La Croix and Spindrift, but why not make your own? Not only will it help you save money and make your grocery haul easier, you will also cut back on waste. Pick up this one at your local Target.

Wellness Gifts You Can Download Instantly

  • eCookbooks authored by our Registered Dietitian and CEO Brittany Jones! All 5 of our cookbooks can be downloaded to your computer or tablet (even if it’s Christmas morning!)
  • A Spa Gift Card for some self care in 2020! If you are in Greenville, SC I love the Spa at The West End – not only do they have gift cards for specific services but you can also purchase a day spa packages which are *incredible* You can purchase, download and print your certificate instantly making it a perfect last minute gift.

Merry Christmas from the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group!

Maple Walnut Baked Pears

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During the holidays or on vacation, we often times change up our normal meal/snack pattern because we don’t have as much “structure” to our day. And that’s OK! That’s part of the fun.

However, we encourage our clients to still focus on eating a meal or snack every 3-4 hours to avoid getting overly hungry (a 1-2 on the hunger scale) which can result in either a binge, or overeating at dinner. Snacking is the key to your success this holiday season!

We’ve come up with a festive holiday snack for y’all  that only has five ingredients and is very simple to make. Just put together your ingredients, let it bake, and there you have a delicious Maple Walnut Baked Pear! This also makes a wonderful dessert.

Turn this recipe a breakfast meal by add a ½ Cup of Greek yogurt for extra protein to each serving. Whether you choose to make this recipe as a dessert, snack, or breakfast, we hope you enjoy every bit of its wonderful maple-y goodness! Happy holidays y’all.

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Maple Walnut Baked Pears

Servings: 2-4

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Pears
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons walnuts, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Greek yogurt, 0% plain

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉
  2. Slice your pears in half and spoon out the core where the seeds live and place them on a baking sheet
  3. Add equal amounts of the cinnamon, walnuts, and maple syrup on top of your pear halves.
  4. Bake your pear halves in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the maple syrup starts to bubble and the sides begin to golden
  5. Finally, top each with 1 Tablespoon of Greek yogurt and enjoy!

If you make our Maple Walnut Baked Pears, let us know! Share your creation on Instagram and tag @britanyjonesrd for a chance to be featured on our stories.

-Recipe and photography by Gabriella Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Group Intern

 

Let the Kids Eat Candy

 

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Are you shocked to hear a group of Registered Dietitian’s in support of Halloween candy? We understand why you might feel this way, but hear us out. We have partnered with Power Kids Fitness to teach kids that all foods fit and promote a healthy relationship with food. Yes, that includes candy!

The trouble with taking candy away during Halloween (or any holiday) is that kids learn that candy is associated with guilt, shame, and restriction. Studies show that children who have regular access to candy and treats tend to eat them moderately, while children who recognize them as forbidden foods tend to load up when available (even if they aren’t hungry). If we teach kids that treats are shameful, they will never learn how to manage them as adults. Keep reading for our top three tips on how to manage the Halloween candy this year.

Top 3 Halloween 2019 Tips:

  1. Develop a predictable meal and snack structure with nutritious foods for kids to follow throughout the week. The more structure kids have around their normal meals/snacks, the easier holiday treats will be for them to navigate. This will also help kids develop and recognize their hunger and fullness cues, which will prevent them from overeating treats, or any other foods.
  2. Make treats a regular thing throughout the year. This will make holiday’s like Halloween seem more normal, and it will prevent the risk of binging. Kids have an amazing intuition for their hunger and fullness, and the more we support them in developing these cues, the less likely they will be to over do it.
  3. Have fun the night of fun, and then save the rest for later. Enjoy your time sorting, trading, and eating candy -and then save the rest to have a couple of pieces as a part of your regular meal structure for a few days after Halloween.

To learn more about our work with Power Kids Fitness to end childhood obesity in Upstate South Carolina, check out their website here

How to Make Chia Seed Pudding

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Chia seeds are a pantry staple for the dietitians at the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group. We love them sprinkled on top of oatmeal, blended into smoothies, and even in homemade pudding! 

So what are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are tiny gray seeds that are nutrient powerhouses. The name “powerhouse” comes to mind because they are an excellent source of omega-3s, protein, fiber, and many other micronutrients. When added to a liquid, the seeds can absorb 10-12 times their weight in water creating a gel-like consistency. Because chia seeds can retain so much water, they actually help maintain body hydration. 

Because the seeds gel so easily, it makes them the perfect ingredient for a nutritious homemade pudding recipe. We’ve put together three yummy chia pudding recipes that are thick, creamy, and easy to make. Even better, each of these recipes uses only five ingredients or less!

Three Easy Chia Seed Pudding Recipes

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Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup 2% milk or almond milk 
  • ¼ Cup Raspberries
  • 3 Tablespoons Chia seeds 
  • 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder 
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple syrup

Directions:

  1. In any jar or bowl add milk first, followed by the chia seeds, cocoa powder, and maple syrup.
  2. Stir well with a spoon or fork. Let sit for one minute and stir again. This prevents clumping. Wait at least five minutes before eating for a healthy dessert, or place the pudding in the refrigerator to let sit overnight for an easy breakfast.
  3. When you’re ready to eat your chia pudding, stir and top with fresh raspberries. 

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Banana Nut Chia Pudding

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup 2% milk or almond milk 
  • 3 Tablespoons Chia seeds 
  • 2 Tablespoons Walnuts, chopped
  • ½ Banana, mashed

Directions:

  1. In any jar or bowl, add milk first, followed by the chia seeds, mashed banana, and walnuts.
  2. Stir well with a spoon or fork. Let sit for one minute and stir again. This prevents clumping.
  3. Wait at least five minutes before eating for a healthy dessert, or place the pudding in the refrigerator to let sit overnight for an easy breakfast.
  4. When you’re ready to eat your chia pudding, stir and top with fresh raspberries. 

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Strawberries and Cream Chia Pudding

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ Cup 2% milk or almond milk
  • ¼ Cup Sliced strawberries
  • ¼ Cup Plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tablespoons Chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Organic Honey

Directions:

  1. In any jar or bowl, add milk first, then Greek yogurt, chia seeds, cocoa, honey, and sliced strawberries.
  2. Stir well with a spoon or fork. Let sit for one minute and stir again. This prevents clumping.
  3. Wait at least five minutes before eating for a healthy dessert, or place the pudding in the refrigerator to let sit overnight for an easy breakfast. Stir before eating

Notes:

  • If pudding is too thick, add a bit more milk and stir
  • Add liquids first before adding chia seeds
  • To make warm chia pudding, heat it in the microwave or add it on the stove with a splash of milk

-Written and photographed by Gabby Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Group Intern

Gabby Childers is from Greenville, SC, and is a senior Food Science and Nutrition major at Clemson University. She plans to become a registered dietitian after completing her undergrad. Gabby gets excited about healthy eating, food photography, and cultivating community through nutrition.

5 Tips to Lose Body Fat

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Have you ever come across a product that says it will help you “lose 10 pounds in a week?” Maybe you bought that product, tried it, lost the weight quick, and then gained it back the 10 pounds that you lost PLUS two more. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to burn body fat. Extreme fad diets may last in the short term, but they aren’t sustainable and can actually hurt your overall health.

Now that you know that fad diets and fat burning supplements aren’t the trick, what methods actually work? The Registered Dietitians of the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group are here to answer your questions with science based knowledge! First, let’s talk about what fat is. Fat is stored in the body when the number of calories consumed is higher than the number of calories burned. It doesn’t matter if it’s protein calories or fat calories or carbohydrate calories, if more energy is entering the body than leaving, the body stores extra energy as fat. 

Losing body fat and being able to sustain that new body fat percentage takes time and hard work – but it’s doable! 

Incorporating healthy habits into your every day is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Start slow, reach out for support, and give yourself grace during the process. Here are some habits to incorporate into your healthy routine that will promote sustainable fat loss. 

Lift Weights

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to solely do cardio to burn body fat. Strength training increases muscle mass. Muscle mass needs more energy to maintain its size, and when you have more muscle mass, your body needs to burn more calories (muscle mass is metabolically active vs. fat which is not). Aim for 2-3 strength training sessions a week incorporating all the major muscle groups. Functional movements such as deadlifts, squats, bent over rows, and bench presses, are excellent exercises that work many muscle groups at the same time. 

Move More, Sit Less

According to a 2008 Vanderbilt University study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the average American spends 7.7 hours a day sitting. To put that into perspective, that’s 55% of waking hours spent sitting down. Weight lifting is great for building muscle, but to maximize your efforts, be sure to stay active outside the gym! This is your chance to gather a team to play volleyball, take a walk after dinner with the family, or ride your bike down the street. To increase activity in your everyday routine, try taking the stairs, parking further away, or taking a 5 minute walk and stretch break at work.

Eat A Nutrient Dense Diet

Fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and lean proteins are all foods found in a nutrient dense diet. Looks for foods as close to their original form as possible. For example, veggie chips seem to be nutrient dense. I mean, “veggie” is in the name, so it must be healthy, right? Not necessarily. Real vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and broccoli are going to be a more nutrient dense option. Veggie chips have been broken down, dehydrated, and have unnecessary added sugar and salt. Diets with high sugar and salt intake can be inflammatory causing the body to hold onto extra water weight and fat. A good tip to keep in mind is to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. That way you know you’re getting fiber and nutrients in every  meal. Focus on lean proteins like lean meats, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds. 

Our Registered Dietitians take an all foods fit approach in our practice, and there’s no reason to completely cut out your favorite fun foods such as cake on your birthday or a drink with friends. The key is to focus on nutrient dense foods most of the time, and occasionally have those fun foods. A healthy lifestyle is not about deprivation and we want to help you to focus on fueling your body without restriction. Celebrations and social events are important for your well-being too!

Drink More Water 

The body uses water to regulate internal temperature, transport nutrients to cells, digest food, and flush out waste. It seems so simple, but drinking more water can actually help burn body fat. The more hydrated the body, the more calories it is able to burn at rest. A dehydrated body slows down the metabolism to compensate, and a water-starved body will not be able to burn fat effectively. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces (ex. a 150 pound person should aim for 75oz water per day). Find a water bottle that suits your style and take it with you wherever you go. Having water with you at all times will help you increase your water intake and decrease the risk of dehydration!

Make Sure You Are Eating Enough 

Cutting too many calories too fast can actually do more harm than good, and unfortunately this is something we see frequently. Extreme restriction puts your body in starvation mode. It recognizes that it isn’t getting enough fuel, so it slows down the metabolism in response to conserve energy. It holds onto body fat because it doesn’t know when the next serge of fuel will come. Work with a Registered Dietitian to learn more about your personalized energy needs, and learn to listen to your hunger and fullness cues. 

Cutting body fat takes work, but if you incorporate these healthy habits into your routine, your results will last a lifetime! To lose body fat, focus on eating a nutrient dense dense diet, moving your body, and drinking lots of water. Incorporating healthy habits into your routine may not give you results as quickly as a detox tea, but the outcome is healthier, more sustainable, and less risky!

Interested in cutting body fat? Our Registered Dietitians can help ! Click here to set up your free 15 minute discovery call.

Written by Brittany Jones, MS, RD, LD and Gabby Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Intern

 

Meet Our NEW Registered Dietitian: Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM

I am very excited to announce Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM as the newest member of the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group team! Christie offers nutrition counseling in packages of three or six sessions in our Medical Nutrition Therapy program. Keep reading to learn more about her background, her favorite food, and the #1 that she wants her new clients to know.

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Q&A with Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I am originally from Atlanta, GA. I grew up in a family with 2 younger sisters and parents who loved all things sports. I played Varsity Tennis all through out high school. When I graduated high school it was off to Clemson University to study Nutrition!

Q: Why is being a Registered Dietitian your dream job?

A: I struggled with being overweight and my relationship with food when I was younger. I went to Clemson University to study nutrition to learn more for my own benefit and to help others. Years later, I love helping others learn to love food, and how it can help them (and not hurt).

Q: You also are a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), what made you want to specialize in diabetes?

A: I first started practicing as a dietitian in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina, which has one of the highest rates of Type II Diabetes in the country. I worked with a Registered Nurse who was also a CDE to create and implement a Diabetes Self Management Program to help better meet the needs of the patients in that community. The more people I saw with diabetes, the more I wanted to learn about this disease. I then began to pursue getting certified as a Diabetes Educator myself!

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Veggie pizza or roasted potatoes…oh and PICKLES!

Q: Take us through your typical day.

A: One of the things I love most about being a dietitian is every single day is different. Most days of the week I wake up and go to Orangetheory Fitness Greenville for my favorite HIIT workout. I started 6 months ago and I have loved seeing the progression in my endurance and strength! Other mornings I might walk my golden retriever Barkley around the neighborhood. For breakfast, I almost always have a Berry Protein Smoothie and some hot tea. I also work for the Business Health Department for Prisma Health where I get to meet with employees of the hospital as well as other companies in the area. My days are mostly filled with one on one appointments with clients for Prisma Health and/or the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group discussing weight loss and chronic disease management, or teaching group classes on various health topics. It is such an honor to work with people who are making a conscious decision to put their health first!

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Greenville, SC?

A: My husband, Michael, and I absolutely love to try out new restaurants in the area. There are so many! We also really enjoy biking or walking the Swamp Rabbit Trail as well.

Q: What would you like your future clients to know about working with you?

A: I am all about Progress NOT Perfection! When you come and meet with me please don’t feel like you have to change everything in your life overnight. I love to help people make small, sustainable changes until they are confidently doing them regularly. Having a healthy and balanced eating pattern is a continuum, and I am going to meet you exactly where you’re at, with absolutely no judgement at all!

Click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call to discuss your goals and book an appointment with Christie today!

How to Host a Chill and Healthy Dinner Party

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As we head into the third weekend of the #COOK75 challenge, it’s a great time to talk about alternatives to dining out with friends. Why not host a dinner party instead of going out to eat?

If hearing the phrase “dinner party” stresses you out, don’t worry! I am not a super formal person myself, and a dinner party doesn’t have to big this big ordeal with invitations, and seating charts. You can simply invite friends over for dinner without having all of that stress!

I’ve broken hosting a chill and healthy dinner party down into 5 easy steps. Not only will you save money by eating/drinking at home, you will likely be eating more healthy whole foods (and less processed foods) and won’t have anyone waiting for your table. You can stay and enjoy yourselves for as long as you would like!

5 Healthy and Chill Dinner Party Tips

  1. Don’t make the invite list too big. A dinner party is more intimate than a party-party, and 2-6 guests is a good starting point. You can feasibly cook for 4-8 people in a “normal size” kitchen without having to batch cook, and also have enough plates, silverware, and glasses for everyone.
  2. Ask your guests for food allergies/preferences before choosing recipes. After you send out your invites (and yes this can totally be a text – we’re chill, remember?) the next step is to ask what kind of food they want to eat. This is the time that the guest will typically mention a food allergy or preference. You can then start looking for recipes, and if you’re not sure if it fits within their allergy/preference don’t hesitate to run it by them. You don’t want to make anyone sick, so it’s always better to check if you’re unsure! When I’m in need of some culinary inspiration, I always browse the Blush Nutrition Recipe eBooks for ideas.
  3. Opt for a one pot or sheet pan meal. Make it easy on yourself with a meal that seems fancy, but is in fact very easy to make. If you want to have separate dishes because of food allergies or preferences, try making the meat/veggies on a sheet pan, and then serving a grain on the side. An example of this would be making the Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan with Italian Veggies from my Winter Recipe eBook and serving whole wheat pasta or cauliflower gnocci on the side. Make sure to test out the recipe first! Don’t let your party be the first time you try something – take notes on your first round to make it easier on yourself on the day of the party. If there are steps that you can prep in advance (like chopping veggies or cooking grains) you can do that a couple of days before as well.
  4. Collaborate! While some more formal blogs/books might tell you that a dinner party host/hostess must make every dish at the party, we are living in 2019, and you do you. If your guest asks if they can bring something, and you feel you could use the help, say yes! Ask them to bring an appetizer (like a cheese board with crackers and nuts) or a dessert (like berries and dark chocolate).
  5. Add fresh flowers to the table. Skip the stress of name cards and fancy place settings, and spruce up your table with some simple fresh flowers! I always have fresh flowers from my garden on our table, and I find it elevates the table while also sending a welcoming feeling.

Do you have any dinner party questions/struggles? Send me a message here!

5 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease in Women

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Contrary to popular belief, heart disease is not a mans disease. In fact, heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the U.S. claiming the lives of every 1 in 3 women. This is more than all forms of cancer combined.

Research from the American Heart Association shows that 80% of heart attacks and strokes are PREVENTABLE with early diagnosis/treatment, a healthy diet, and exercise.

This year, I am honored to serve as one of the leaders for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.  As a private practice Registered Dietitian, the prevention of heart disease is one of my core values, and something I talk about with EVERY client that walks through my door.

how it works

What is atherosclerosis and what causes it? Hardening of the arteries. Causes of plaque build up and atherosclerosis include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking. All of these damage the inside layer of the artery. ATHEROSCLEROSIS IS REVERSIBLE!

How does cholesterol build up? LDL or “bad” cholesterol crosses into the artery wall, white blood cells come in to digest the LDL and this forms plaque. A heart attack happens when that plaque is inflamed and it can rupture

#LABGOALS:

  • Decrease LDL cholesterol “lousy”
  • Increase HDL cholesterol “happy”
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Decrease blood pressure

Here are my top 5 ways that you can prevent heart disease starting NOW:

  1. Start heart disease screenings in your 20s. This should include talking with your physician about your family history, and having blood pressure/cholesterol/glucose checks. Back in the day these screenings didn’t start until our 40s, however knowing your numbers now, and establishing heart healthy habits in your 20s will help decrease the chances of any complications in the future.
  2. Focus on cardio + strength. When you think of the best exercise for your heart do you automatically think of cardio? While aerobic exercise (running/biking/swimming) is definitely important in lowering your LDL and Triglycerides (bad cholesterol levels) and elevating your HDL (good cholesterol levels) – research has shown that adding in 20 minutes of strength training to your regular routine 3-4x per week can help lower your blood pressure (and keep it there). Blood pressure is known as the silent killer, and keeping it within normal limits decreases your chances of having a heart attack.
  3. Eat red meat in moderation. Sorry paleo/keto followers – if you have high LDL and Triglyceride levels (bad cholesterol) those fad diets are NOT for you! While I do support a lifestyle where all foods can fit, it’s important to focus on lean proteins the majority of the time (80% of your intake) to improve your heart health. Research published by the American Heart Association reports that swapping red meat for nuts/fish/poultry can decrease your heart disease risk by 19-30%.
  4. Fill your plate with produce! Did you know that adding just 1 more cup of fruits or vegetables to your day could decrease your chances of cardiovascular disease by 13%? Focus on making half of your plate non-starchy vegetables at each meal, and get bonus points for choosing a fruit or starchy vegetable as your carb!
  5. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. While a healthy diet and exercise are very important for preventing heart disease in women, research shows that if we don’t have an adequate amount of sleep per night those benefits can be diminished. Not sure how to get to that magic 7 hours? Try setting a bed time (and using your phone’s bedtime alarm to help you remember), establishing a caffeine cut off time, and put your phone on the opposite side of the room to eliminate distractions and blue light (which can make it harder to get to sleep).

February is Heart Month, and please join me in the fight against the No. 1 killer of women by clicking here to donate to the Upstate South Carolina – American Heart Association to continue to spread the word of prevention. Together we can beat this disease!