Grasping For Straws

IMG_4773.JPGSeptember feels like new beginnings. It all started with school clothes and classroom supplies, pencils and glue….

That feeling has stayed with most of us throughout the years, and as exciting as it is, I suspect that I’m not the only one who is kind of glad that I have never had to actually go to school with my kids!

Kids or no kids, September starts for all of us nonetheless. It brings with it a desire to get back to our routines, and especially to feel good about ourselves.

Yoga, cycling, walking the dog, golf, tennis, swimming.Watching the sun go down. Stargazing.

Ice cream, cocktails, seafood, farm stands, home baked berry pie, cheese and crackers, lobsters & butter, s’mores….

And now…grasping for straws

I think that we all want to enjoy the tastes of summer. I think that most of us should feel blessed that we have.

Almost ten years ago I stopped “dieting”.  I will share that I have never looked back. I have never been so free in terms of what I eat.Thinking about food 24/7 was a burden!  Lighten your load…Maybe this is the year that you make those small changes and stop trying the latest trend. Invest the time in figuring out what’s right for you and you alone.

We change with the seasons.You haven’t done anything wrong.  Be your best self and get back to what you love to do and eat now…keep it real, watch your portions…

(and maybe skip the ice cream)

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Travel Sized

IMG_3842A thirty day Sabbatical. Thirty days of travel to the West Coast and on to New Zealand and Australia with a little time in L.A. on the way back.

Thirty days with three meals a day out = ninety squares plus coffees, snacks and desserts. As a home cook, and a little bit of a homebody, I was skeptical- could I do it? In the past, even a five day vacation had left me wanting oatmeal in my own kitchen. But that was usually in the U.S. This time here is what saved me…portion size!

I was immediately reminded of the two years our family spent in Tokyo. A city where the smallest people get a coffee, a sandwich,and a dessert at Starbucks. Then they walk, eat small portions of salads, fish, and anything else they want to try. It is this way everywhere in the world but the good old USA. We just eat too much food.Our portions are  crazy & ridiculous.It’s embarrassing to defend. I say this because if you have traveled to another country, you know that strangers from other countries love to mention it.

One of the best weight loss programs I know of starts with food measurement. It’s an eye opener to learn just how much we’ve gotten used to. We classify our foods as “good” and “bad” and plan portions accordingly. We agonize about overeating. And then we serve portions that we overeat. Unfortunately, it is then that we go to no food. Are juices and shakes dinner? Is that what our children will do?

I remember ordering a beautiful seafood stew at a local restaurant on a first trip back from Japan. My meal was enough for our entire table. How much happier and lighter we all would have felt if we had shared. In New Zealand my Kiwi friends delighted in beautiful foods eaten in small portions. We, in turn, were treated to so many different tastes and treats because of the lack of obsession on their part. I wanted to scream out loud to my country – Free yourself and go small !

We restrict foods because we can’t handle them. How often have you said “I don’t keep (fill in the blank) in the house- I’d eat the whole box!” Have you asked yourself “Why?”. Why are we afraid of our foods? I want to be calm about food – and we can. Eat a variety of real foods that will satisfy you. Love what you eat. Love yourself.

It’s not hard to eat beautifully around the world. Maybe the next American food movement should be to be a culture that eats what it hungers for. And leaves it at that.

G & I came back relaxed, fit, and a little lighter. 30 days. Awesome.image

Love and Food

So, we went to a perfect wedding! And what does that mean? IMG_3282These two did it their way.

As the Beatles sang- “all you need is love”. Which you do… and food.

Integrative health encompasses the body & mind. All of the things that make us what we are. We can’t succeed in health goals without first taking into account all the things that support and defeat us as human beings each day. Food,fitness,  family, work,  learning, pets(which are family), jobs, challenges both physical  and emotional make us who we are. I say look at all of those influences and live life the fullest YOUR WAY….. all you need is love . And food.IMG_3254

The Daily Beet / Recreational Classes & New Wellness Programs

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Not to rush into fall, but today IS a rainy day, and thoughts turn to September. Around here that means Back to School!

For those of us who aren’t IN school, what is September all about? I tend to think that summer places are best in September, that we’ll stay on the shore, or enjoy the pool, but things just get busy. We tend to trade in those blissful thoughts for routines and sweaters. Maybe it’s living in the northeast, where the weather, seasonal activities, clothes, and foods are so much a part of what defines our year. Sometimes it seems that all we do is organize our closets! Today I’ll tell you about what’s happening here in September, then I’m getting back to my knitting and August in general!

This year I will be traveling in the late fall, so I am preparing for classes and signing up clients now- I’m ready for the “back to school” season so feel free to contact me by email at pamlillis.health@gmail.com Until then you can find me at the farmstand or the beach, remembering that this weather should be enjoyed…everyday of it!

To register for my evening classes at Wilton High School’s culinary arts room : https://www.wiltoncontinuinged.org/CourseCatalog/categoryView.asp?ID=459

The next session of ‘Navigating Nutrition’ Health and Wellness Program (4 or 6 week option) starts the week of September 1st. Get back to basics and reach your goals by Halloween!

  • Please note: *New offering- The “One and Done Session”.  See CLASSES on pamlillis.com for details
  • Food Lit Book Group meets Tuesday, September 1st 11am-12pm at Wilton Library. To register: http://www.libraryinsight.com/eventSignUpW.asp?jx=si&lmx=700076&bpx=&rea=

Beach Time

Yes, I know. Who wants to cook when the weather is nice? Not me, that’s for sure! But just like enjoying the summer while we have it, we should take advantage of all the beautifulIMG_3009 local fruits and vegetables that are here now. It’s the Northeast, you know!  I encourage you to OVERDOSE on the produce… remember February?

Here’s what I do: Stop for coffee. Hit the farm stand/ Farmers Market. (20 minutes give or take). Buy 3 lbs of the best looking native fruit or vegetable I can find. Bring it home (no closed up car for these beauties) *note to self: create “veggies on board” bumpersticker. Go to the beach, the pool, your porch. Whatever, your ‘happy place’.

When you get home do this: if its a veggie, wash, slice and dice. You can now sauté, roast or grill in foil later.  Put on music.If you get an invitation or a better offer than being on duty, freeze them in a single layer /in a plastic zippered bag (I’ve been cautioned on using name brands…not that I really believe that Johnson & Johnson will care).

IMG_3018If it’s a fruit : eat some, then macerate the rest with some sugar (not much) and fresh lemon.Cover and refrigerate. Leave 2 hours or 2 days. If it looks too delicious to do anything else but put it on whole grain waffles, brown rice,or yogurt just do it. If you want to eat these in the winter, make a jam, jelly,or compote – and can it! I’ve already made the most gorgeous Strawberry Jam with Aged Balsamic & Black Pepper, Blueberry Lemon Compote, and Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce with Raspberry Liqueur. Just small amounts of each. Probably not for gift giving.Or….. Strain the juice and make a Shrub which is refreshing in a cocktail, or the way I like it…with sparkling water.Now that doesn’t take much time, does it? Here’s the recipe I’m using from the book Shrubs- An Old Fashioned Drink For Modern Times by Michael Dietsch http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/06/cold-processed-berry-shrub-recipe.html

Kid Soup

IMG_1575My house expands and contracts.

Remaining flexible may be a key to longevity. I had to give up my expectations of perfection the day I came home from Greenwich Hospital with twins, a two year old, and a four year old. A family of six, with any luck, expands to include cousins, friends,and teammates.And it’s a lot of noise, food, laughter and tears.

Then it contracts… they grow up, they go out, they are at school, they move.

As the main person at home, these patterns require quite a bit of flexibility and change. Often times when we’re contracting I’m secretly wishing for expansion, and the opposite,when the opposite occurs. It’s not really nice to say I wish for contraction during expansion ,but who of us can say we haven’t?

Summer is usually a time for the expansion, so bring it on! And oh yeah…remain flexible!

Help! I need a Health Coach!

Yes, I’m eating in my car! Graduations, celebrations, travel… you know the drill. This time of year is a challenge for everyone! What does a Health Coach do when he/she needs a Health Coach?

IMG_1582I get back to basics. I remember the changes that I’ve made, and the things that I’ve tried, and I calm down. I think of myself first, and make sure that the things that are important to my well being don’t get overlooked. College kids back? Do they really mind if I go to the gym? I mean- are they even awake?  Visitors? Don’t they want to feel good too? What’s the worst they could say about you if you keep the food simple, real, and good? Time crunch? I like to make a list…then take at least one thing out of the equation.It’s a gift!

I’m a routine oriented person. Maybe you’re not. Just know yourself, and when you are feeling off balance think like an integrative health coach…..and start your day knowing that you will do the best you can, make the choices that are right for your unique circumstances, and feel good doing it.