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My Healthy Journey: Find Time for Meditation

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

Sometimes, it feels like life is 5 steps ahead of you. At this time of year, I always feel it the strongest, as we launch this year’s websites and plans for 2017 and the holidays rush toward me.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of work, a move to Indiana, going remote with this job, a family trip to Phoenix, and huge holiday plans (like a trip to Philly) on the horizon.

I take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who sometimes feels like life is barreling ahead of me. My brother and sister-in-law bought an old house around this time last year and have completely redone it, which has taken them all year. I don’t know how they’ve had the energy to do it all.

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My Healthy Journey: Spring Cleaning Your Life

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

This last year has been a long and busy one, and I’m going to be pretty honest when I say I’m exhausted and not feeling very healthy. The good news is that while I feel that way, it’s not entirely true.

I started working a lot of overtime last May, and it didn’t end until December. And even when I stopped working extra, I was still very busy when I was on the clock.

More than 46% of Americans’ workplace stress is caused by their workload, so I know I’m not alone in putting stress on myself to get things done. And when your levels of this kind of stress get too high, you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart attacks, and other disorders, according to The American Institute of Stress.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: Spring Cleaning Your Life”

My Healthy Journey: New Year, New You?

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

This year has been long and tiring, and for the last few weeks, I’ve been left wondering what I could say about my goals for 2016. Honestly, I hadn’t been thinking about goals for the new year, I was too busy trying to get through the day.

Unlike last year, I don’t have a long list of the things I plan to work on. Instead, it will be a few important things that just keep coming to the top of my mind when I think about my life.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: New Year, New You?”

My Healthy Journey: Finding Time for Sleep

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

It’s been a busy year for my team at Health Alliance, so I hope you’ve been enjoying Nicole’s Chasing Health series while I’ve been too busy to post!

When life gets busy and stress takes over, the first thing that always goes for me is sleep. I’ve never been very good at getting a lot of it, even though it’s one of my favorite things in the world, especially when stress sets in.

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My Healthy Journey: Finding Healthier Alternatives

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I love a good steak as much as the next meat-eater, but changing to a healthier diet has also meant eating more vegetables than meat. Sometimes, that also means it’s a great idea to try eating vegetarian meals.

Rally has a challenge for just this, called Meatless Days. They ask you to “Skip meat for a day and explore tasty vegetarian protein sources such as tofu, beans, lentils, quinoa, and nuts. It’s good for you, easier on the budget, and eco-friendly too.”

When I went on vacation to Nashville, I’d tried eggplant for the first time. We’d gotten a free appetizer that was eggplant marinated in tomato sauce and other goodness. It was incredibly delicious.

Ever since, I’ve been wanting to learn to cook eggplant myself. This week, inspired by the eggplant recipes I ran on social media earlier in the month, and trying an official meatless day, I made Eggplant Parmesan for the first time.

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My Healthy Journey: Time to Sweat

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I’ve changed my diet, organized my life, and made healthier choices, so the last and biggest thing on the list is exercise.

I don’t like to exercise, as I think a lot of us don’t. I’m competitive, so I liked playing sports as a kid, but as an adult, exercising by myself is boring and hard work. If I had a gym membership and could read on a treadmill, it might be different. But as it is, it’s hard to make myself do it.

But if I can (for the most part) give up candy, completely abandon soda, and stop drinking coffee for a month, I can handle anything!

I started by doing a muscle-strengthening yoga routine every day, which was a great way to start for me. It wasn’t too intense, it was calming, and it really helped me regain some flexibility and balance I’d lost over the years.

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My Healthy Journey: Finally Settled

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I finally have something to sit on in my apartment! After 3 months, I’m mostly settled in.

Moving requires a lot of organization, and as I told you before, this was a rushed and unorganized move, which is probably exactly why it’s taken me this long to get settled.

You may not realize how much being organized (or disorganized) affects your life and even your health.

One study showed that you’re more likely to suffer from stress and depression if your house is cluttered and full of unfinished projects. (This was definitely my house for the last 3 months.) Long-term stress is tied to heart disease, digestive problems, poor sleep, obesity, and cancer.

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My Healthy Journey: Me Time

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I feel like I have spent the last month drastically overhauling my physical life. And I have.

While I’m giving you advice on how to succeed at Rally challenges, I’m kind of doing them all at the same time. For the first time since high school, I’m exercising every day. And for the first time ever, I have radically overhauled my diet. Like I’ve said the past few weeks, I’ve been cooking at home every day and am eating more whole grains, fruits, and veggies, and I’ve cut out caffeine, processed foods and sugars.

So although there are still plenty of food mission posts to come, so you can use my new experiences to help you succeed, in my head, these are a little bit like old news. Been there, conquered that.

But as you can probably guess, now that I’ve settled into a rhythm, this isn’t actually what I spend all day thinking about. As a matter of fact, not focusing on this stuff is exactly how I got so unhealthy.

Now that healthy eating is more of a habit for me, though, I’d like to talk about something that feels more like real life to me. You know, the stuff that occupies my mind all day.

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My Healthy Journey: Flexible Living

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

As I told you last week, I’ve been making some radical changes.

I’ve eliminated soda, coffee, alcohol, and pretty much all processed foods. (I don’t think the coffee is going to be a permanent change after this month. I’m warning you now.)

I’ve also changed my diet in pretty big ways.

But that’s not all! I’m not participating in any challenges from work, but I’m still working out every day. That’s right everyone! I haven’t been this active for 10 years! So the truth is, even if it’s been a decade, there are ways to start getting active.

That’s not to say I started running 5 miles every morning. I’ve actually started doing yoga in the comfort of my own home. The gradual build is important to me.

I know I’m not the only one in the world who doesn’t want to put her struggle on display, but there are ways to start without witnesses.

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My Healthy Journey: Eating Mindfully with Rally

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

Eating Mindfully

I’ve recently started a new diet (which you’ve seen some pictures of if you follow me on Instagram). I am doing a cleanse of sorts with it, and I will eventually be taking some supplements, but the point is really about developing a better relationship with food.

That is what the eating mindfully challenge from Rally, our wellness tool, is really all about. It asks you to stop and think before you eat that morning donut from the break room.

So, the rules of what I’m doing food-wise are pretty simple. I’m eating breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and I can have another evening snack if I need it. (As a person who was eating maybe two meals a day and can’t really have dessert, I pretty much never need it.)

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: Eating Mindfully with Rally”

My Healthy Journey: Reading and Writing for Your Health

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I’ve said it before on here, but I’ve always loved reading, and I’m not always very good at making time for it. I read a lot of news but not that many actual books anymore. Funny, because I don’t have any furniture in my apartment, besides the books on books.

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My Healthy Journey: Rally and My Fitness Binder

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

My move is complete! While I have no furniture outside my bedroom (partly from a very trying, calorie-burning, failed attempt to get a couch through my front door) all of my things and my dog have successfully made the transition.

A new kitchen and plenty of living room space for yoga (because falling down is a lot easier in a room with no furniture) have made it time to refocus on my healthy journey.

Right now, I’m working on small steps. I’ve bought some running shoes, and now that the weather has finally gotten up out of sub-arctic temperatures, it’s time to take action.

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My Healthy Journey: Another Year, Another Move

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

My roommate just got a big job promotion and skipped town on me, which means that while I am thrilled for her, I am once again moving.

I have moved 13 times since I started college in 2008. I went to school in Chicago, and so each year, I moved all my belongings up in the fall and then back down in the summer. Then my senior year, I moved to Manhattan… and then back to Chicago. And since I’ve been back in Central Illinois, it hasn’t been much better.

So you would think I would be a pro at the nomadic life, right? Wrong.

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My Healthy Journey: TV Bingeing

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

Instead of telling you all about how healthy I’m being (although I am cooking and eating better!), I have a confession.

I binge on TV shows.

Actually, I binge on all types of media. I binge on social media (a hazard of the job really), movies, and especially television shows. And when winter hits, especially after getting all new bedding for Christmas like I did this year, all I want to do is curl up in my comfy bed with my dog and Netflix. And this year has been no exception.

I may have (definitely did) watched all 6 seasons of Lost in the last month, and 3 of those were in the last week. (Because I don’t have self-control!) Did I choose a show that encourages this with a million mysteries? Probably. Is it actually crazy that I did this? Yes!

I know I’m not the only one who does this, but I have to say that I feel awful now. Is this partly because I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending? Probably (sorry Lost lovers!). Is it because I stayed up ‘til 3 a.m. to finish it before work? Totally.

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My Healthy Journey: Beginning Fresh

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I don’t normally make resolutions for New Years. But this year, in the spirit of My Healthy Journey, I have made some that I both think I can succeed with and that would make me really happy for 2015.

  • Try yoga. It’s good exercise, and can help my back, which I have some problems with. Plus the meditation and stress relief would be great. Starting small with podcasts and free videos counts! I want to get comfortable doing it before I consider being seen by innocent people passing by.
  • Cook at home. I’ve gotten much better about this the last six months, but I want to keep it up, so it is definitely a big goal for 2015.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: Beginning Fresh”

My Healthy Journey: Fighting the Holiday Season

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

While I think most people find the Christmas season the hardest to stick to their healthy plans, I’m actually feeling really ready to kick of the new year the right way.

I haven’t exactly decided on my resolutions yet, I’m sure that is coming in the next few weeks, but I have found it much easier to stick to my guns now that the Halloween candy and Thanksgiving leftovers are out of my house.

I have also started using the MyPlate app. It asks you a series of questions, and then it calculates what is probably a healthy number of calories for you to be eating each day for your weight and your goals.

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My Healthy Journey: 30-Day Plank Challenge

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects

This time, for the 30-Day Plank Challenge, I’m going to give you all the exercises and the schedule up front so you can follow along every day, and then I can just check in.

The plank strengthens your core, a complex series of muscles that includes your entire body, minus your legs, head, and arms. It doesn’t take equipment, machines, or special apparel. All you need is a little motivation.

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My Healthy Journey: Progress and Prep for the Holidays

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

It’s that time of year when food is unavoidable. We’re just a week away from Thanksgiving, and a month away from Christmas. And while I have plenty of resolutions I could line up for the new year, there are a lot of things I’m trying to focus on to stay on a healthy track for the holidays.

It’s starting with healthier recipes. I love to cook, and I love the Thanksgiving classics, so finding ways to lighten those is definitely key. Luckily for me (and for you), finding those recipes on Pinterest is part of my job description. Check out our Holidays board and stay tuned on social media and on this blog all this month and in December for holiday food ideas. They can help make both lighter meals and menu planning easier.

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My Healthy Journey: Mixing Procrastination and Halloween

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

So, I know I’ve mentioned before now that Halloween candy is hard for me to resist, but I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned that Halloween is also my favorite holiday.

I did theater as a kid, and dressing up and doing fun makeup is my favorite part, but I love lots of things about Halloween.

I have enough candy in the house all month long to really damage a person’s insides. (There are candy dishes in multiple rooms of the house, and bags of it stashed in other multiple rooms.) I love caramel apples. I love Curtis Orchard, for you Champaign area residents, and their cider and donuts. I love the creepy and cute decorations. I love horror movies, even the bad ones.  I love seeing little kids in costume* all over the neighborhood, and I’m not normally a kid-person either, so that’s saying something. (I have an irrational fear that my arms will suddenly give out, and I will drop and kill any child I am holding.)

*If you too love seeing babies in costumes, you have to look at this blog post with our social media recap from last week. Have you ever seen a happier and cuter Chucky?

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My Healthy Journey: New Missions

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I have finished a mission people!

I finished the food tracking mission on Monday by completing 4 weeks of it!  Then it gave me the option to continue, and, while I still haven’t found a food tracking app I love yet, I decided keeping it up was probably a good idea.

My next goal with this is to start actually counting calories. As I suspected it would, food tracking shows what an inconsistent eater I am. Hopefully, if I can find a good way to start counting, I can actually see how bad my diet is for me.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: New Missions”

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