Self-Fulfilling Predictions

If you think the years ahead of you will be better than the years behind you, they will be. On the other hand, if you expect your health to decline as you age, you may actually encourage that to happen. How? Because that’s adopting a why-bother mentality. This is especially true about staying fit and active.

I encourage you to beat the odds. Stay active, no matter how old you are—39, 59, or even 99—which is an age we should all aim to reach.

Studies have shown that at least 40% of all people who are age 65 and older don’t even get the absolute minimum of 30-minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity. You need a lot more than that if your goal is to regain or maintain good health and fitness. On the other hand, it doesn’t take hours a day at the gym to stay reasonably fit. The average person can do it by walking just 30—60 minutes five days a week. You can do it in 30—60 minute chunks or in 10—minute slices instead. If you get out around town during the day, you might even see me out walking. Actually, you’re more likely to see that than me behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

There’s also a secondary payoff to exercise:

  • Activity is a natural mood booster!

Staying active is a valuable asset as we age. Our years of experience plus deep friendships we’ve developed over the years will feel even more rewarding if we’re able to stay vital and active.

Another way to stay positive is to avoid those gloomy folks who seem to always complain about everything, especially their health and getting older. If only they’d learn to check that attitude at the door and put on their sneakers, they’d find a whole new outlook on life!

For more strategies on how to stay younger, fitter, healthier, longer, contact Bodies@Work today!

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Why “I Don’t Have Time” is Nothing But An Excuse

Cleaning_Big_Ben

How many times have you heard the phrase: “I just don’t have enough time?” I hear it all the time! It’s a term that is used when life gets busy. Mostly it’s a phrase that is used when we don’t want to feel guilty about missing something:

  • If we don’t have enough time to prepare healthy meals, because it’s easier to order take-out of an unhealthy meal or use the nearest drive thru window.
  • If we don’t have enough time for exercise, because we’re willing to accept being out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs.
  • If we don’t have enough personal time for chores, because we can justify dirty laundry or a dirty house/apartment.
  • If we don’t have time to make new connections, because we’d rather complain about not getting new business or not making new friends.

Read on to learn how to erase “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary!

Time_dog-ate-my-homework

It’s simply not a priority for me…

When asked, the average over-weight, out-of-shape person will say they are so busy that they don’t have time for anything else.

Liar!

The rest of this article might sting a bit, but I am going to challenge you right here and now… Ready? You are no longer going to use the phrase: “I don’t have time.” Instead, I challenge you to substitute the phrase: “It’s simply not a priority for me.”

This is something I gleaned from a Wall-Street Journal article. My clients and I have found this has made a huge difference in our mind-set. Let me give a quick example how quickly you can shift your perspective when looking at life’s challenges this way:

  • I’d love to eat healthier, but I don’t have time to cook” becomes “eating healthy simply isn’t a priority for me.
  • I’d love to exercise, I just don’t have the time” becomes “exercising simply isn’t a priority for me.”
  • I don’t have time to take a vacation” becomes “a vacation simply isn’t a priority for me.“

Suddenly, the excuse of not enough time becomes an incredibly weak argument, doesn’t it?

The Real Truth

What’s going on inside your head right now—assuming you’re still here and haven’t left in disgust—after reading my provocative challenge? What justifications are running through your mind? What arguments are you making for me, right now? Is it something like: “Coach, these things really are a priority, but there just isn’t enough hours in the day.”

J.D. Roth, from the Get Rich Slowly website, writes: “It’s not what we say is a priority, but what we actually DO that’s a priority.”

He goes on to write: “I used to say, ‘oh I LOVE reading, I just don’t have time for it.’ In reality, I was just putting everything else before reading: watching TV, staying up late surfing the Internet, you name it. Once I realized how I was prioritizing my life, I started analyzing where my precious time was going.”

It all comes down to how you choose to spend your time and define your priorities. I spent all of 2013 saying that I wanted to revamp my business, but I never seemed to find the time. The reality is that it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough time, it was because I never made working on my business a priority! After lying to myself for a year, in 2014 I started taking action and things have really started to turn around—including my own personal nutrition and exercise programs.

What are your priorities?

Every one of us has 168 hours (24-hours times 7-days) in each week. Time is our most precious resource. Your priorities, whether you say so or not, are where you choose to spend those hours. Make the most of them! You can not get them back once they are gone. You will be amazed—I know I was—how much time you can find when you cut back on the things that aren’t important to make room for the things that are.

Do you have an appointment calendar? Do you keep a food and exercise journal? Do you get enough sleep? Do you meditate? Do you eat clean and healthy? Do you find time for stretching and movement throughout your day? Just where do you spend your time every day?

Keeping and putting everything into your appointment calendar and/or a journal—like personal time for reading, sleeping, eating, exercising, or meditating—can be eye-opening. Try tracking your time over the next few days in 30-minute blocks. How much time do you spend on the computer, watching TV, etc.? I bet you’ll be surprised.

  • Suddenly… you find plenty of space for productivity!
  • Suddenly… the 10 hours of TV the average person watches each week becomes less important.
  • Suddenly… the late nights the average person spends on the Internet, Facebook, Instagram, etc. becomes glaringly apparent.
  • Suddenly… the unproductive hours spent sitting at your desk, “working” without actually WORKING become clear.

I’m not saying what you do isn’t important to you or that you are not as productive as you think… What I am saying is it’s not what you SAY that’s important to you, it’s what you DO that’s important to you. For instance: I know that with some simple planning, you can prepare a week’s worth of meals in the same amount of time it takes you create just one. I have plenty of great exercise program that can be completed in 10 to 20 minutes, that are efficient and effective. This is why I refuse to accept ANYBODY telling me that they don’t have time in their busy schedules to fit in the Bodies That Work System for Optimum Performance.

Once again: I challenge you—starting right now—to stop using the phrase, “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary. Substitute the phrase, “it’s simply not a priority for me.” Then I want YOU to decide what you actually want your priorities to be.

Let me know how this works for you. Start with just ONE thing you’ve been saying is a priority, but hasn’t really been. Then what ONE step you’re going to take RIGHT NOW to make that thing a real priority?

When you’re ready to put the Bodies That Work System for Optimum Performance into your lifestyle. Contact me through my website at: http://www.coachingwithcory.com.

Eating Fit While on the Road

You can travel for vacation/work this summer and still eat right. What if you could also manage to improve your body composition (fat to lean ratio) at the same time? This time of year, many people ask some variation of the following questions:

Coach Cory, I’ve been following your nutrition program consistently all year, but not I’m getting ready to go on my summer vacation. I don’t want to regain all the weight and body fat I lost these past months.” <OR> “Coach Cory, I travel a lot for work. That makes it difficult if not impossible to eat right and stay on a healthy program like yours.”

In the past, I’ve spoken to groups about healthy living on the road. I think this is a perfect opportunity to revisit this topic here. Working professionals who travel a lot and people traveling on extended vacations share the same challenges when trying to stay healthy.

First off, YES, it is absolutely possible to make great progress while traveling. I have one client who managed to lose 30 pounds in his first year working with me, while at the same time traveling for work. He was on the road for 2 weeks every month that year!

So whether you are a road warrior or just a travel junkie, if you spend more time in an airport than at home or the office, my Bodies That Work System for Optimum Living can work for you, too!

Eating Right

It seems like everyone I talk to thinks that just because we are traveling it’s OK to chuck any idea of healthy eating out the window! So many people work hard all year, focusing on better eating habits, only to throw it all away as soon as the holidays roll around or they take a trip someplace. This is just another variation on yo-yo dieting. Taking an entire week off from eating healthy makes getting back on track when you return a whole lot harder.

Your best bet is to simply tread water while traveling, so as not to lose all the momentum you’ve built up. You can do this by focusing on a few goals while traveling:

  • maximizing protein consumption
  • limiting liquid calories (repeat my mantra, “never drink your calories”)
  • eating vegetables

…and my favorite rule from yesterday…

  • never miss 2 in a row

Maximizing Protein
Protein builds muscle. It is also filling. Make sure every meal has a protein source. When traveling, aim to eat as much of it as possible. This is a better alternative than filling up on empty calories like bread.

Limit Liquid Calories
Once again, repeat my mantra… “never drink your calories.” Oh sure, I know there is a good chance that alcohol will be involved—even if it’s just wine with dinner. The point I’m trying to make is that we need to be extra diligent with meals so the alcohol doesn’t throw everything off completely.

Eating Vegetables
Vegetables are our friend. Like protein, I always try to eat as many vegetables as possible; and you should, too. Vegetables are full of nutrients, while being light on calories. One last comment on vegetables… catsup and fried potatoes are NOT vegetables. Stick to raw or roasted.

Never Miss 2 in a Row
Anything is better than nothing. Avoid compounding one mistake by making another. Just because you had one Margarita too many yesterday, does not mean that your eating program is ruined, you’ve blown it, and now you might as well give up because of one lapse. That is a losing mentality. If you eat poorly for one meal or even one day, just make your next meal a healthy priority. You’ll be right back on the horse with only a small blip in your program. No excuses.

Now, your are mentally prepared to eat right. Get out there and enjoy yourself. 

Staying Fit While on the Road

You can travel for vacation/work this summer and still not miss a workout. What if you could also manage to get in the best shape of your life at the same time? This time of year, many people ask some variation of the following questions:

Coach Cory, I’ve been working out consistently all year, but not I’m getting ready to go on my summer vacation. I don’t want to lose all the hard work I’ve put in these past months.” <OR> “Coach Cory, I travel a lot for work and that makes it hard to workout and stay on a healthy program like yours.”

In other venues in the past, I’ve written about healthy living on the road. I think it’s time to revisit this topic again. Working professionals who travel a lot and people traveling on extended vacations share the same challenges when trying to stay healthy.

First off, YES, it is absolutely possible to make great progress while traveling. I have one client who managed to lose 30 pounds in his first year working with me, while at the same time traveling for work. He was on the road for 2 weeks every month that year!

So whether you are a road warrior or just a travel junkie, if you spend more time in an airport than at home or the office, my Bodies That Work System for Optimum Living can work for you, too!

Let’s Get Started

The biggest challenge for people who travel a lot is having the right mental attitude. For those of you who travel, we start with the Mind-Set before anything else. Don’t worry about how you are going to eat healthy or find a gym. Your first step is to get your head in the game. Once you’ve worked on creating that positive mental attitude, we’ll be able to build the rest of your program quickly and easily.

Most people worry about missing workouts and eating only fast food. Instead, I want you to focus on how you’re going to get fit no matter your location. Before you head out the door and begin your trip, convince yourself that health, fitness, and vitality are inevitable, even when we’re in unfamiliar surroundings.

Before you get going, here are 3 simple rules that will make your traveling better…

  1. Make a Commitment to Yourself. If you know you’re going to be traveling a lot, instead of telling yourself “I won’t have time to exercise,” tell yourself, “I WILL NOT MISS A WORKOUT!” This may mean that you’ll have to workout very early in the morning, very late at night, or cram a workout in halfway through the day. That means you’ll find space in a gym if you can. Otherwise you can use parks, playgrounds, hotel rooms, etc. The idea that “I don’t have time,” is a big fat lie.
  2. Make Exercise Your One Constant. Traveling to new or different environments can be full of uncertainties. By making exercise into a “constant,” you’ll be more grounded. This will make you calmer and more confident, which can come in handy when you find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings or you have a big presentation in front of a new client. Life is more controlled when you can rely on familiar routines, like eating right and working out.
  3. Never Miss 2 Workouts/Healthy Meals in a Row. I know everyone’s life is busy. I know that “stuff happens.” I wasn’t born yesterday and I’ve had my share of traveling for work, too. By added this rule however, you can stay on track both personally and professionally, despite a hectic lifestyle.

I apply rule #3 even at home. What do I do when the holidays roll around, the summer barbecue season kicks off, or when ComicCon comes to town? Holidays, seasons, and civic events can interfere with your routine whether you join in or not. Things like these can be a bit too much fun. If you like to party, you’ll find yourself exhausted, with no voice, and very little extra time. What I’ve learned is that if I miss even one day of my workout program, then skipping another day gets even easier. If I eat too much at one event, I just get back to my eating program by the next meal.

So, when traveling for work, going on vacation, or attending a local civic event, I NEVER miss 2 in a row from my regular schedule.

Here’s just 2 good examples to illustrate this point and really bring it home for you…

  1. When traveling for business, I usually fly out on a Monday. That’s also an important workout day. Now due to my travel schedule, I’ll have to miss it. My program is flexible enough that I can workout on Sunday, then again on Tuesday.
  2. When traveling to a new place and I’m not sure if I can follow my eating plan and may have to eat fast food, then my NEXT meal that same day suddenly becomes the most important meal of my life, and it has to be healthy. Thanks to the Internet, you can do a quick search and be back on track in no time.

Planning Ahead

When you get ready for a trip, do you have a checklist?

  • Toiletries/shaving kit/cosmetics
  • Socks and underwear
  • Business attire/casual wear/dress and casual shoes
  • Computer/tablet, notes, and files

Can you guess what’s missing from this list? It’s just a couple more things and won’t take much space, plus will not hold you up at security checkpoints…

resistancebandsexercisesWhen traveling anywhere, take along at least one sturdy exercise band, like the ones shown here with some example exercises. I know I can get a good workout whether or not I can find a gym. Bodyweight exercises, plus a band when I need extra resistance, and I’m good to go. With a resistance band, you too can complete 99% of your regular workout that you perform when not traveling away from home.

Those casual clothes on your checklist should include workout clothes as well as casual street wear. Don’t let an “Oops, I’m out of workout shirts,” be an excuse to not work out. Not having the proper attire and/or equipment is never justified, it’s just an excuse.

Next, add all your workouts into your Calendar—I use a Google Calendar. Make them complete with reminders of the days and times you need to exercise. Research—and personal experience with clients—has found that making appointments with yourself on your Official Calendar for good habits will add 50% to the probability of actually completing each item. According to an article I read in the Wall Street Journal, all successful business people have this habit of scheduling everything, including personal time. Do yourself a favor and follow what other successful people do.

I do the best I can to plan ahead on my meals. If I know I’m going to be spending all day in an airport, or on an 8—10 hour road trip, I see if there’s a way I can bring a healthy snack along with me so that I can tread water (and maintain momentum) until a healthier option presents itself. On the other hand, ANYTHING is better than nothing.

Whenever my schedule is so hectic that I only have 20—30 minutes to work out, I pare it down to just the essentials. A warm up is always called for, then I can follow it up with a 10-minute bodywork program I developed years ago for just such situations, then I’m out of there! The point is no matter where you are or how much time you have, there is always a few minutes available to so SOMETHING. Of course, planning ahead requires some thought. Just remember, that planning ahead also puts you in a better position to succeed.

Just remember the 3 key rules:

  1. Priorities. You can stay healthy and get stronger while on the road. Keep your priorities front and center. Eating healthy is a choice. Going to the gym is a choice. I don’t accept excuses—neither should you.
  2. Plan Ahead. Put your personal time, like eating healthy and working out in your calendar.
  3. Never Miss 2 in a Row. Whatever happens, whether at home or on the road, don’t let one mistake become two.

This concludes taking care of your Mind-Set when it comes to traveling for business and/or pleasure. Next time we’ll look at eating right when on the road, followed by the logistics of working out away from your home territory.

What are your biggest obstacles/challenges while on the road? What are your personal strategies to be happy and stay healthy while traveling? Let us know!

Prioritizing Exercise In Your Life

If it’s important to you, you will find a way to do it.
If it’s not important to you, you’ll find any excuse not to do it.”

~ Anonymous

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that exercise and a healthy body are important. Believe it or not, most people still find it difficult to fit exercise into their daily lives.

There is always some sort of excuse to prevent people from breaking a sweat–whether it’s not enough time, lack of motivation, or you fill in the blank. Whatever the excuse, staying inspired and motivated to start and then keep exercise in your life is not easy.

Even I’ve been guilty of neglecting exercise. That’s right… San Diego’s “healthy aging coach” and poster boy for a healthy lifestyle is not perfect. The truth is, no one is perfect.

You can lose weight, get fit, and live a better life, by just changing your eating habits. When I started out, I lost 35 pounds by eating right alone. Of course, that took over 2 years, plus it’s hard to maintain that weight loss over the long term without regular exercise to keep my metabolism up.

I learned early that in order to lose weight and then control it, I had to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. A big part of that was to make exercise a priority.

You, me, everyone wants to look our best. Exercise certainly helps. That’s just one reason. There are other reasons why exercising on a regular basis is a good idea. Here’s just 5 reasons—besides losing weight—that exercise is important.

1. Exercise Increases Energy

When you exercise on a regular basis, you improve your muscle strength, increase your endurance, and help your lungs and heart work more efficiently. Just ask your health care professional. All this adds up to more energy to tackle your day.

2. Exercise Reduces Stress

We all have our good days and our bad days. Have you ever felt overwhelmed at work? Did you know that a quick workout—say 20 to 30 minutes—can help you relieve stress? It doesn’t even have to be anything strenuous—just take a brisk walk. It could make all the difference in your outlook for the rest of the day.

3. Exercise Helps You Sleep Better

Exercise, along with plenty of fresh air, can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Just be sure you don’t exercise to close to bedtime.

4. Exercise Puts Spice Back Into Your Sex Life

It’s a simple mathematical formula…

Increased Energy + Reduced Stress + More Sleep = Yowzer!

5. Exercise Improves Your Mood

  1. Exercise reduces your stress
  2. Exercise increases your energy
  3. Exercise enhances your sleep
  4. All this means you’re sex drive is better

I don’t know about you, but that would put me in a good mood!

I think those are 5 pretty convincing reasons to include exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Yet… a lot of people still don’t exercise—even a little. So I started asking people what stops them from exercising. Would you like to know the top two reasons people don’t exercise?

They Don’t Have The Time

This is the number one excuse most people use for not exercising. I can understand and sympathize. We all live busy lives. I also know that when something is a priority, then we will make the time. That’s why I wrote the quote at the top of this post.

They Don’t Have The Energy To Exercise

Again, we all live busy lives. Our daily lives are stressful with responsibilities of home, work, family and social obligations, and friends. All that stress can disturb our sleep, making us tired from lack of proper rest. Generally, life can suck the energy right out of you. When you figure in the lack of exercise, it’s no wonder people are always sick and tired.

However, if you’re tired of being sick and tired all the time, exercising on a regular basis will give you more energy. Sometimes you have to give of yourself. That additional push can get you started. Once the ball is rolling, believe me, it does get easier.

How To Commit To Exercise & Make It A Priority

Starting a new habit will be not be easy. People are creatures of habit and don’t like getting out of their comfort zones—or off the couch in this case. Yes… it’s going to be difficult and uncomfortable at first. There will be setbacks. Even I find it difficult to fit exercise into my life. You’re probably wondering, “If it’s going to be difficult, then why bother?” I know from personal experience, plus the experience of all the people I work with on a daily basis, that when it’s really important for long term weight maintenance, then we make it a priority in our lives and just keep trying, never giving up. Here are some tips that have helped my clients and me in the past.

Be Realistic; Start Slow

My personal weight loss and fitness story has been a long one full of twists and turns, leaps forward, and setbacks. On a daily basis, it appears to move at a snails pace. I’ve learned that anything that works quickly never lasts long. It’s true what they say, “anything that lasts takes time.” I advise my clients to begin by setting small, achievable goals. When you set a goal where you can already see the end result, for instance, you’ll find that it’s easy to achieve. Small victories lead to more small victories. Several small victories add up to a larger victory. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m going to run on the treadmill everyday“, I’ll set a smaller goal of running twice.

Keep your personal goals realistic so they’ll easily fit into your lifestyle. For exercise to work, it needs to fit seamlessly into your life. If you have to rearrange your whole life just to work out more, it probably won’t happen.

Here’s another scenario: In January, most people who join a gym as part of a New Years resolution, only go once or a couple times, then never again. Their excuse is that after work the last thing they want to do is spend another hour of their already crowded life working out. Each year, thousands of people try to convince themselves they can make it work, but it never does. So they stop working out all together. Exercise needs to be an activity that fits around your lifestyle.

First, Get Exercise Onto Your Calendar

For many busy professionals, if something isn’t on their calendar it doesn’t exist. When you make an appointment—or date—with yourself and physically add it to your calendar (along with the time to get there and back), you have made an “intentional” decision to do it. Make it a priority. Hold yourself accountable. It’s a lot harder to just forget about exercise when the auto-reminder pops up.

Plan Ahead

Now that exercise is on your calendar, it’s much easier to plan ahead. Let me give you an example: If you’ve scheduled your exercise for Tuesday mornings, you know you have to put out your workout clothes, sneakers, and other exercise supplies (water, towel, etc.) the night before. Your time is valuable. You don’t want to keep yourself waiting while you search around for your sneakers. Just as you’d prepare properly before meeting with a client, you’ll be more likely to plan ahead so you can keep your goals moving forward. And business is not an excuse for skipping either. Clients understand if you’re booked between 8:00 and 9:00 on those Tuesday mornings. It’s none of their business what you’re doing, and they will respect you more and work within your schedule of openings besides the time you are working out. You wouldn’t cancel another client to accommodate another’s schedule would you? Why are you any less valuable than your customers?

Get The People In Your Life Involved

This is huge. It’s especially important for busy moms. There are honestly times where setting time aside for strength or cardiovascular training is very difficult or downright impossible.

When kids are involved, get them included in your exercise. When a traditional workout is not possible, another way to get a good sweat is to put on your favorite music and dance. Trust me, kids will love this; especially if you get them involved, too. You can do more than just dance. Try doing jumping jacks, squats, sit-ups, running in place, anything that gets the heart pumping, and do it to the rhythm of the music. If weather permits get everyone outdoors for a walk, a hike, or to play kickball or soccer. It’s great for spouses, kids, pets, friends, everyone! The point here is to be active.

Get Creative With Inexpensive Equipment

In my studio, we often make the equipment we need by getting things from the hardware store and building it ourselves. We make our own mix tapes. If you can’t hire a fitness professional, join a gym, or don’t have a designated workout room in your home; don’t make that an excuse not to exercise.

Playing music to dance to costs you nothing. Rhythmic movements to the beat of the music can potentially help you burn hundreds of calories. You can purchase used exercise equipment if you have the space for it, but it’s not really necessary.

Maybe you’ll find exercise videos inspirational. You can find lots of them for very little expense at thrift stores, garage sales, or even on Amazon.com. Some public libraries might even have exercise videos you can borrow for free. There are also millions of workout videos on YouTube.

You might even get a good laugh with some of those homemade YouTube videos. The point is, you are only limited by your imagination.

What tips do you have to prioritize exercise?

Foods To Help Curb Diabetes

 stop-diabetes

When diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes, most people think it’s the end of the world or at least a boring life of limited and restricted foods. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you have Type-2 Diabetes, you can still lead an ordinary life, you just have to include the right food choices.

Once someone has contracted Type-2 Diabetes, other ailments will develop. Diabetes affects every organ in your body, including your heart, eyes, and kidneys. These are just some of the reasons to avoid the disease. If you already have it, you will need to learn how to control it. Just like with a lot of things, proper exercise and diet can make a big difference in controlling diabetes as well as any other complications brought on by the disease. It’s important to remember that the main thing that can lead to the onset of Type-2 Diabetes is a poor nutrition program along with a sedentary lifestyle.

Below are some foods that can help you to curb diabetes and it’s complications. As always, you should consult your Health Care Provider before making any changes in your food intake, exercise, or supplementation. The information below is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a treatment or cure for this or any other disease.

Beans

Containing vitamins, minerals (like magnesium and potassium), protein, and fiber, beans can be ideal for everyone and especially for people with diabetes. That’s because most people (and not just diabetics) are woefully lacking in fiber. Fiber makes you feel full longer, making it ideal for controlling appetite and controlling your weight. Cooked beans can be eaten alone, served in salads, or boiled in soups. Some types beans to consider:
•    Garbanzo
•    Navy
•    White
•    Pinto
•    Lentil
•    Black

Green & Leafy Vegetables

As if you need another reason to eat your veggies, here’s another… Green and leafy vegetables contain useful nutrients that make them great for diabetics. Vegetables are low in calories. They contain insoluble fiber, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C, all factors that have been shown to lower the risk of contracting Type-2 Diabetes. Five to seven servings (5-7 cups) of these veggies is the usual recommendation. Green and leafy vegetables to include in your nutrition program include:
•    Spinach
•    Mustard greens
•    Collard greens
•    Chard
•    Kale

Berries

Fruit contains lots of sugars (fructose). Berries, on the other hand, contain lots of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, plus natural sugars that surprisingly don’t have a big impact on your blood sugar levels. They can help you control your blood sugar levels. I like to utilize berries in the preparation of desserts because they reduce the calories, while satisfying the need for sweets. You can also include berries with your breakfast, eat them as a snack, or add them to side dishes like salads. Some of my favorites include:
•    Strawberries
•    Blueberries
•    Cranberries
•    Blueberries

Try to eat berries when they are in season, but you can substitute frozen berries for a sweet treat when they are out of season.

Fish

Fish have many benefits when included in a healthy eating program. They contain Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) and are a good source of protein. You can substitute fish oil supplements if you can’t get fresh fish, don’t like the taste of fish, or are concerned with mercury or other toxins that some fish may contain. Cold water fish is your best bet. Try some of the following:
•    Salmon (wild Pacific varieties)
•    Sardines
•    Herring
•    Tuna
•    Mackerel
•    Halibut

Avoid fried fish. Healthy fish recipes include those for grilled, poached, or baked fish. Serve over brown rice or whole-grain pasta, and include it in salads.

Whole Grains

Speaking of whole grains, whether or not you have diabetes, you still need to include carbohydrates in your diet. Stick to products that contain the whole grain, like whole-grain or sprouted grain breads, brown rice, wild rice (a grass), or whole-grain pasta. Keep portions small, and you can enjoy these foods every day because they contain complex carbohydrates, which do not affect blood sugar levels suddenly. Whole grains contain folate, magnesium, chromium, and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Some research indicates that they may also help to reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The use of whole wheat flour, instead of all-purpose flour, as an ingredient in baked goods will allow you to include those items (albeit small portions) in your diet on occasion.

Nuts

Besides EFAs and fiber, nuts contain vitamins (like vitamin E), minerals, magnesium, and other nutrients that can help to stabilize your blood sugar levels. In general, diabetics are recommended to eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks. By including small amounts of nuts (usually 1 oz. per day), you can eat healthy and still enjoy a variety of food options. A little trick I learned from one nutritionist when eating nuts is to soak them in water overnight to help to release any enzyme inhibitors they may contain.

Olive Oil

What would any diet be without Olive Oil? I’ve researched all the oils and none compares with this ancient elixir. Olive oil is great for using in cooking, straight from the bottle/can over salads, and yes, even topically on your skin! Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, to decrease your risk for heart disease, maintain blood sugar levels, and reduce insulin resistance. Olive oil is a healthy choice for diabetics and anyone interested in controlling their weight. Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to contain more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Cinnamon

This spice is great for diabetics. Cinnamon improves your insulin sensitivity by controlling your blood sugar levels, plus it helps reduce cholesterol levels. Add 1-3 tsp (depending on your taste for it) per person of cinnamon powder to tea, oatmeal, chicken, or fish recipes. Of course, cinnamon is a healthy ingredient in many dessert recipes, too. It increases your insulin sensitivity and that helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady and reduce the incidence of diabetes.

Sweet Potatoes

I don’t know about you, but I was taught that diabetics should avoid starches in their diet. I have since learned that some starches are better than others. Sweet Potatoes contain beta carotene, an important antioxidant. They are also rich in vitamins like A and C, plus contain lots of natural fiber. They are low on the glycemic index, which makes them a carbohydrate food that in small portions, should be safe for diabetics. Sweet Potatoes can be baked or grilled with just a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Like other potatoes, most of the nutrients are in the skin, so leave it on. Serve it mashed, in salads, casseroles, soups, or whole as a side dish.

Onions

Onions are high on my list of meal ingredients. Their benefits include the trace mineral chromium, which makes insulin usage more efficient in your body. A chromium deficiency has many times been attributed toward the cause of diabetes. This can easily be solved by including onions in your regular diet. I like to use onions in most of the foods I cook. I personally like them cooked in stews and soups, or added raw to burgers and salads. Raw onions can affect your breath, so be sure to avoid raw onions if you’re going to be around people afterwards!

Tomatoes

This is one of the few fruits (yes, tomatoes are actually a fruit!) I recommend to people. Tomatoes are a source of iron, vitamins C and E, and fiber. I like tomatoes because they are beneficial in every form, from raw in salads, to pureed in a sauce. Diabetics can include generous amounts of this nutritious, low calorie food.

Beets

The beetroot is one vegetable that is not only colorful, it’s also good for you. It’s benefits include high in vitamin C and folate. Prepare them by roasting in the oven to bring out their natural sweetness. After roasting beets, let them cool before peeling the skin away. Add roasted beets to salads, stews, or alone as a side dish.

Brussels Sprouts

I saved my all-time favorite for last. Brussels sprouts are often miss-categorized as a smelly, mushy, foul vegetable. I think they are just misunderstood (as well as mis-prepared). They can be of benefit to diabetics because they are low in sodium, cholesterol free, and contain healthy phytochemicals. They taste best when sauteed or roasted in a little olive oil. I usually serve them as a delicious, savory side dish, but have been known to put them in soups, stews, and salads, too.