Posts for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

How to Healthfully Navigate Back-to-Back Holidays

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, and Katie Delaney, RD, Take Control Health Coaches

The holiday season is fast approaching, which may lead to overindulging on holiday treats, and challenge your health-related goals. Instead of veering off course, we challenge you to implement some or all of the 10 tips below to navigate the season a little easier, and stay on track.

Tip #1: Don’t deprive yourself with impossible restrictions around holiday foods. Instead be smart and focus on fueling your body with good foods through the holiday season while still allowing some of your favorites. Swearing off foods usually spells disaster, so instead, make a list of the foods you look forward to every season and plan for them.

Tip #2: Come prepared. While we all have traditional dishes we make, try adding in a few healthier side dishes to bring to a party or at your home. That way you can embrace tradition and your health goals in a great way that all your friends and family can enjoy as well.

Tip #3: Beat temptation by eating a protein-rich snack prior to a party. Focus on filling up your plate with fruits and vegetables, and analyze the rest of the options. This goes back to not depriving yourself, but finding balance. If you find one of the foods on your favorites list, go for it! Then enjoy some healthier options to help you stay on track.

Tip #4: Set realistic weight goals. If you set monthly weight loss goals, consider setting a goal of simply maintaining your current weight during the holiday season. That, in itself, is a huge accomplishment for the majority of us. Or, try reducing your weekly or monthly weight loss goal to help you feel on track without setting yourself up for failure. We all want to meet our goals, but we also want to acknowledge the ebb and flow of life, which helps us create healthy and sustainable change.

Tip #5: Find fun and unique ways to stay active through the winter months. For example, use things in your environment like chairs, soup cans, or other household items to create a home gym for cold, snowy days. Focus on 10 minutes a day to keep your habit going.

Tip #6: Celebrate yourself and what you have accomplished each month, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Holiday season often brings stress, fatigue and “winter blues.” Make sure you hydrate, rest, and practice stress management to keep yourself healthy through the cold season.

Tip #7: Don’t skip meals. If you find yourself saving up for a big holiday meal by skipping all other meals for the day, you will likely overeat in the end. Instead, focus on eating balanced meals every 3-4 hours during the day, like a usual day.

Tip #8: Be cautious with liquid calories. From eggnog, hot chocolate, to your favorite rum toddy, holiday beverage treats should be thought of as just that, a treat. Do not deny yourself, however, be mindful, even though it is liquid, it still has calories. If you are going to fill up on a holiday drink, cut back on holiday desserts.

Tip #9: Take the focus off food. Instead of making cookies and other holiday treats, plan to make or create holiday crafts with family and friends. Or how about volunteering at a local organization to help them prepare holiday gifts for those in need? Some families like to create holiday memories with family skiing or sledding, ice skating, or other active events.

Tip #10: Practice healthy holiday cooking and treats. Prepare your favorite holiday dishes with these healthy suggestions:

  • Pumpkin: not only for carving, but a great option to use as a substitute for fat when baking or cooking. Use canned or pie pumpkins, not field pumpkins. Save the pumpkin seeds and roast for a nice snack.
  • Baked apples: instead of the usual chocolate treats, try baking some apple slices.
  • Gravy redux: refrigerate gravy until hard, and skim off the fat. This could save you up to 56 grams of fat per cup!
  • Turkey: remove the skin to save about 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.
  • Green bean casserole: use fresh beans or frozen (not canned) and add chunks of potato instead of cream soup, top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.
  • Mashed potatoes: use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic and garlic powder along with parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
  • Quick Holiday Nog: four bananas, 1 ½ cups skim milk or soymilk, 1 ½ cups plain nonfat yogurt (could use Greek), ¼ teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth, top with nutmeg.
  • Desserts: Make crustless pies, substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Intuitive Eating

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Have you heard of intuitive eating? Intuitive eating is essentially what we learn as babies and children: eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are full. It’s listening to your body’s internal cues, and knowing what to feed your body.

Intuitive eating is an important part of leading a balanced lifestyle. Being able to eat what your body needs, and not too much or too little, is a huge accomplishment. Learning to do this after dieting is hard, but not impossible.

Anyone can try intuitive eating, as long as you understand that it may take time to learn your body’s signals. It isn’t eat anything, in large quantities until sick. It is allowing yourself to live without food rules, and focused on eating to feel your best. It is trusting your instincts, without rules, restrictions, or guidelines to tell you what you can or can’t eat. For many of us this is a foreign concept, and somewhat scary. We have learned so many food rules over our lives, and we’ve learned to restrict our eating.

If intuitive eating is something you wish to try, here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Practice asking yourself what you are hungry for. By thinking more about your food choices, you start to see what you truly want. Sometimes that may be a salad, and sometimes that may be a cookie. With intuitive eating, both of those things fit and are included in a balanced lifestyle.
  1. Practice recognizing fullness. Set the timer, or work to extend your meal for at least 20 minutes. Focus on eating and enjoying the meal you have in front of you. Turn off distractions like the TV, and put away your phone. By focusing on your meal, you can truly tune into hunger and fullness more easily.
  1. Practice eating a food you don’t normally allow yourself to eat. Work on having a healthier relationship with whatever food that is. For a lot of people it’s a carbohydrate like bread. When we demonize a food, we make it more tempting, and feel guilty if we eat it. By finding ways to incorporate food you enjoy in a healthy way, you will end up eating less. When it is no longer a food you have to give up, you are no longer obsessed with it. It simply exists as part of your life.
  1. Be patient. Just like any skill or habit, we have to repeatedly work at it.

If you think you may be ready to try intuitive eating, mention it to your health coach, or check out the resources available at  It’s a tool that can help you work toward creating a healthier relationship with food.

Lighten Up Your Comfort Foods This Winter

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Fall and winter are wonderful seasons, and cooler weather brings out our craving for comfort foods. But comfort foods can be heavy, and combined with our tendency to be less active, the danger arises for winter weight gain.

Instead of giving up your favorite comfort foods, try modifying your traditional recipes to reduce the calories. It’s a great way to still enjoy your favorite foods without risking weight gain. Make some slight alterations to lighten it up and try something new.

Try these six tips to lighten up your current recipes:

  1. Cook broth-based soup instead of cream-based soup. Or substitute broth for part of the cream in certain recipes.
  1. Use pureed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes. This works great on dishes like Shepard’s pie.
  1. Substitute skim or 1% milk in place of whole milk or cream.
  1. Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Great for Mexican dishes, like enchiladas, or tacos. It adds more protein and less fat to the dish.
  1. Add extra veggies to soup and other dishes. Pureed cauliflower in potato soup; diced zucchini, carrots, peppers in chili; add green beans to your stew.
  1. Try pureed veggies to thicken soups instead of heavy cream. Pureed cauliflower in place of heavy cream is one way to thicken a soup and keep it lighter, but still feel hearty.

In you’re not interested in changing your recipe, then simply focus on portion size. Pair your classic dishes with a plate of raw veggies, or start your meals with a side salad. By being mindful of portion size, you can achieve your health goals. Serving size for a casserole or combination dish should be around 1 cup to start. If you are still hungry after having one serving plus veggies, then go back for ½ cup or less. By taking your time, you can really assess your hunger and prevent overeating.

Another way to enjoy comfort foods in the winter is to add one new recipe a month, or every other week, to create more options and ideas. There are a ton of great recipes out there that are both lighter, and comforting.

In addition to altering your old recipes, and trying new recipes, make a commitment to move more! We often let colder weather keep us from being active, so make a plan to stay active. This will help combat winter or holiday weight gain.

Need some meal inspiration or lighter recipes? This article from Cooking Light has some great ideas.

Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here’s why:

  • It influences our body in many ways, both mentally and physically
  • Eating breakfast lowers the stress hormone cortisol
  • The satiating effect of breakfast impacts appetite for the rest of the day (it reduces it)
  • Mental function is improved for people who eat breakfast
  • It provides physical energy to move and exercise

Planning ahead for quick breakfasts will make eating breakfast easier. We’ve put together some ideas using a few kitchen staples to create a variety of options.

Oatmeal – a common kitchen staple, and very versatile. It can be made quickly, and different toppings can change the flavor to fit almost any preference.

Overnight Oats: Also known as Mason jar oats, these fun, portable, recipes are designed to be made the night before, and grab on your way out the door. The basic premise is to mix oats, yogurt, and milk with a variety of toppings. The oats can be eaten cold or warm, at home or at your desk. Here is how to make them.

Crockpot Steel Cut Oats: Set it and forget it! Steel cut oats have great fiber content. They take longer to cook than other types of oats, so cooking them overnight while you sleep is easy and quick. Make the recipe the night before, and wake up to a hearty breakfast. We love this recipe by

Baked Oatmeal Cups: The muffin of the oatmeal world, oatmeal cups are another great option for grab and go. Make a batch Sunday, and you’re set for the week. You can also bake in large batches and freeze. The has a great recipe, and you can make variations on your own with the spices, nuts, seeds, or fresh fruit on top!

Traditional Oatmeal: Cooked in the microwave or on the stove, it doesn’t take long to prepare. It’s also great to keep on hand at work, for a backup breakfast or meal if you forget your lunch. Customize with nuts, spices, fresh fruit, or a mashed banana. If you buy flavored or instant varieties, look for brands that have lower sugar and higher fiber, or add some plain quick oats to the flavored packet to reduce the sugar content.

Eggs – A traditional breakfast food, at about .17 cents per serving, eggs are the least expensive source of high-quality protein. Besides being inexpensive, they are quick to prepare, and the variety of ways to prepare eggs can keep you from getting bored with breakfast. Below are some of the options that make them quick and portable.

Omelet in a Mug: Spray a coffee mug with cooking oil. Whip two eggs in a bowl and pour into the mug. Add your favorite toppings: bell pepper, onion, olives, other veggies, and some cheese. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, and you have a hot, easy breakfast. For even quicker preparation, dice your toppings on Sunday store in the fridge. Besides the mug omelets, you can use the toppings for salads or other recipes during the week.

Egg Muffins: Egg muffins are a make-ahead option that you reheat in the morning. Eat at home, or take with you out the door! We like this recipe from Customize it by using other veggies and your preferred cheese.

Hard boiled: Another make-ahead option, hard-boiled eggs are quick and easy to take with you. Have you ever heard of a hard-boiled egg cooker? Many people swear by them. I recommend taking the time to peel them after you boil them, to save time during the week. Pair with a piece of fruit and some nuts for a well-rounded meal. Hard boiled eggs are also great for a quick snack, or on a salad at lunch.

Traditional/Scrambled: If you have a few minutes in the morning to cook and sit down to eat, that is wonderful. Fried, poached, or scrambled, everyone has their favorite style. Kick it up a notch by adding spinach or other veggies for additional nutrients.

Other – If you’re not an oatmeal or egg person, here is a list of some other simple and easy options.

  • Greek yogurt (single serving container)
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Combine the first three items above for a great well-rounded meal
  • Whole wheat toast with avocado or nut butter
  • Green smoothie

Keep your breakfasts simple – it makes them more manageable, and more likely that you’ll follow through with starting your day on the right foot. Plan ahead (and make-ahead), is one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll have healthy meals ready to go – and that’s the best way to avoid being hungry and stuck in a place with poor options.

Remodeling the Tailgate

By Take Control Staff

Fall is in the air, and for a lot of people, that means football season. With football comes tailgate parties, and the food served at these parties is often the type that doesn’t fit will with your health goals. We’ve put together three suggestions to help stay on track with your goals. These “3 P’s” will show you how to both take part in the fun and still maintain your healthy goals.


If you’re hosting the party, look at your usual menu beforehand. Can you substitute wild game for beef? Grilled chicken for fried? If chips are a mainstay, try swapping the usual suspects for baked versions or vegetable chips. Take advantage of serving local produce widely available in the fall: apples, cantaloupe, and tons of veggies are available, often times fresh from your own garden. Cut up fruit and vegetables ahead of time so you don’t get rushed and settle for less healthy foods.


If you’re attending a party that someone else is hosting, eat a healthy meal before you go. If it’s a potluck, bring a healthy dish that fits your goals. Try the recipes below, or ask your health coach for some great suggestions. You can prepare and bring healthy finger foods to share. Fill up on healthy finger foods to help reduce portions on less healthier items. If you’re hosting, keep in mind that table placement plays a big role in how much we consume. Put fruits and vegetables front and center (and refill often) to increase their consumption. Place higher calorie foods in a more difficult location to naturally curb intake. (Few people want to reach around 5 people to get the Cheetos!) Early fall games can be particularly hot, so be sure to have plenty of liquids on hand, like water, iced tea, or diet soda.


Don’t “save” all of your calories for the game. Start your day off right with a nutritious, filling breakfast. If you are a guest at a tailgate party, step back from the food and look over everything before filling your plate. This will help you to decide what foods you really want to have. Take only those you will enjoy the most, filling your plate just one time. Try half portions or sharing with a friend or family members. Balance is the key. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. All foods can fit into your nutrition plan if you make sensible choices all day long. For tips on how to reduce alcohol consumption, check out our prior post 10 Ways to Reduce Your Alcohol Intake


Boneless Buffalo Wings

Spicy Blue Cheese Dip

  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream                 • 2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar           • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk sour cream, blue cheese, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wings & Vegetables

  • 3 Tbsp. nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)            • 3 Tbsp. hot sauce divided
  • 3 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar, divided       • 2 Lbs. chicken tenders
  • 6 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour                          • 6 Tbsp. cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper                             • 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 2 cups carrot sticks                                     • 2 cups celery sticks

Whisk buttermilk, 2 tbsp. hot sauce, and 2 tbsp. vinegar in a large bowl until combined. Add chicken; toss to coat. Transfer to refrigerator and marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk flour and cornmeal in a shallow dish. Whisk remaining 1 tbsp. hot sauce and 1 tbsp. vinegar in a small bowl; set aside. Remove chicken from marinade and roll in flour mixture until evenly coated. (Discard remaining marinade and flour mixture.) Sprinkle both sides of chicken with 1/2 tsp. cayenne. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half chicken, placing each piece in a little oil. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to serving platter. Repeat with remaining 1 tbsp. oil and chicken, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Transfer to the platter. Drizzle the chicken with the reserved hot sauce mixture. Serve with carrots, celery and Spicy Blue Cheese Dip.

 Nutrition- Serving-2 “wings”, 1/2 cup vegetables & 2 tbsp. dip = 256 Calories; 10 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 83 mg Cholesterol; 12 g Carbohydrates; 31 g Protein; 2 g Fiber; 353 mg Sodium; 248 mg Potassium   (1 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 3 1/2 lean meat)

*Tip-No buttermilk? Make “sour milk”: mix 1 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.

Food and Sleep

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN

If you have trouble sleeping, it is worthwhile to examine your nutrition and eating habits. How do sleep quality and nutrition impact each other?

When we are overly tired, we tend to think less clearly. It’s easy to lose mindfulness in our food choices, and we end up eating something quick and less nutritious. These poor choices can add up over time, and lead to weight gain. Lack of sleep also impacts your stress level, which can lead to hormone imbalances, making weight loss more challenging, and weight gain easier. Either way, sleep plays an important role, not only in weight maintenance, but also in your overall health.

What impacts sleep quality? Stress, your nightly routine, and the food you eat before bed can all have an impact on sleep quality. Overeating at night can lead to indigestion, upset stomach, and heart burn, all of which can interrupt a good night’s rest. Caffeine late in the afternoon can also impact your ability to sleep at night. Switching to decaf and limiting caffeine after lunch can help improve your sleep.

What foods help you sleep better? Chamomile tea, honey, nuts like almonds and walnuts, calcium-rich foods like milk or cheese, and foods rich in vitamin B6 such as tuna or Kale may all help you sleep better. They provide important nutrients that help the body produce melatonin, which aids in sleep. By choosing evening snacks wisely, you can potentially improve your quality of sleep.

How can you sleep better?

  1. Schedule – Set a sleep schedule (and stick to it). Choose to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day – even weekends. The more consistent you are, the easier it will be to fall asleep and wake up at the right times. For some this may not be realistic, but if you haven’t tried it, then at least give it a try. You may be surprised with the outcome!
  1. Ritual – Create a bedtime ritual. Do the same things every night before you go to bed. A bedtime ritual will signal to your brain that it’s time to start winding down. Choose something that relaxes you, such as taking a warm bath, sipping a cup of herbal tea, or working on a crossword puzzle. Avoid anything stimulating, such as watching TV, surfing the internet, or spending excessive amounts of time on your phone.
  1. Environment – Make sure your room is sleep-friendly. If your room is too warm, too bright, or too loud, you’ll have difficulty falling and staying asleep. Make changes such as installing shades, wearing earplugs, investing in a white noise machine, getting rid of glowing electronics, or reducing the temperature. Try new things until you find the right environment for you.
  1. Avoid Stimulants – Watch what you eat. Don’t consume caffeinated food or drink in the afternoon or evening. The same can also be said for alcohol, nicotine, or overly large meals. Cut these factors out of your diet completely, or moderate when you have them, so they don’t interfere with bedtime. If dinner does runs late, then go for smaller portions to prevent feeling overly full before bedtime. You can also opt for lighter options, avoiding heavy foods that are deep fried.
  1. Exercise – Exercising more throughout the day can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. But be careful – exercising too close to bed can make it more difficult to drop off. Try not to exercise within three hours of bed to get the best results.
  1. Melatonin – Try eating foods that help produce melatonin and may promote sleep such as a soothing cup of chamomile tea with honey, a handful of walnuts or almonds, a serving of cheese, or a food rich in Vitamin B6 such as kale or tuna, to help put your body get ready for sleep.

What works for you? If you’ve successfully conquered sleep issues, comment below with what worked for you.

Getting Ready for the Hunt

By Shannon Jones and Laura Del Guerra, Take Control Health Coaches


Hunting season is right around the corner, and preparing yourself and your equipment for hunting season increases your chance of success. Dietary indiscretions and inactivity can catch up with you quickly out in the field. Like any athlete, hunters usually have their own pre-season rituals, but here are a few tips to consider before heading out this season:

Get in Shape

  • Start getting physically active and increase activity gradually with walking, biking, swimming or hiking. Hiking with a light pack is the best exercise, as it mimics the hunting experience. Walk in public hunting areas, state parks, and state and national forests. Go off-trail, walk up and down steep banks, jump creeks, and push your way through brush.
  • Stretching after workouts can be helpful with improving your recovery and helping to prevent injuries.
  • If you are stuck inside, run or walk briskly up and down stairs, lift weights, and get the best workout that you can. You can use the local gym, or invest in a pair of dumbbells, stretch band or fitness ball. Find an online workout routine that combines both lower and upper body exercises. com has 10 Great Workout Routines for Western Hunting  and has Your 12 Week Plan to Get in Shape for Elk Hunting Season

Fuel Up

  • There is no better way to start the day then with a protein and fiber. Look for healthy simple ways to include these into your breakfast. If you need ideas, has a great article called Healthy Breakfast Ideas and Recipes
  • Hydration is especially important, and even when you do not feel thirsty; consume at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water. Consider a Camelback or other hydration device to meet your needs in the field.

Prepare Equipment:

  • Make sure your hunting equipment is in good condition. Get your gun sighted-in, and practice with it. If you are a bow hunter, this should be a year around activity to keep the muscles used strong and limber.
  • Take your binoculars and spotting scopes outside and make sure they are still clear and fog-free. If your eyes have changed over the past year, or you have a different vision prescription, it can drastically change the way things appear through a scope or through sights. Sharpen and oil knives and other metal tools that you will be using when deer hunting.
  • Check to make certain that your hunting clothes and boots still fit. Place your hunting boots into a tub of water to make sure they are still waterproof.
  • If you rely on an ATV, check or change the oil, check tire pressure, brakes, and make other recommended changes and adjustments.
  • Finally, make sure your hunting license is up to date, and all stamps are in proper order. Double check your hunting property for permissions, etc. You should have scouted before season and have these things lined up well ahead of time, but if not get it taken care of as soon as possible.


Stress Management Exercise

By Linda Hogg, RD, LN, and Julie Walker, Take Control Staff

Stress is one of the biggest roadblocks that exists when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. It often keeps us from getting to what really matters in life, our health and wellness. We can try to exercise and eat right, but when we get overwhelmed with stress, we get distracted and tend to abandon any plans to put our energy into what truly matters: day-to-day action steps toward health and living well.

Stress roadblocks needs to be addressed head on. Otherwise, stress becomes common-place, never budging out of the way. Stress builds slowly, and since it creeps up on us, we may not see it building until it’s overwhelming. Before your stress builds so high that you’re paralyzed, use the following exercise to stay ahead of it.

Early in the morning, or by mid-day, make a quick list of today’s stressors. Divide a piece of paper into two columns: the first column is for things you have control over. The second column is for things you do not have control over. As you brainstorm today’s tasks, keep the process simple and quick. Examples of things you have control over include doing a chore, paying a bill, making an appointment – stressors where you can identify clear action steps, or that have simple solutions.

In the right-hand column, write down the things that you don’t have control over – only time could solve them, or possibly a decision or action by another person. The decision or action needed to make these go away would not be in your control. The uncontrollable stressors may consume your thoughts. They may even keep you up at night, when in fact, they need to be put to rest so you can focus on what’s controllable. If the list of uncontrollable stressors is overwhelming, take a moment to tear off that side of your paper, tear it up, and throw it away. Let it go for the day. Turn your focus to what can be wrapped up.

Ultimately, you need time to focus on what is controllable, and what actions steps you can take to chip away at those stressors. The practice of writing down your stressors makes them, well, less stressful. Often the list is shorter or more manageable than you imagine. If the list is larger than you imagined, take a moment to prioritize it. If you’ve over-committed your time for the day or the week, look for things you can reschedule or cancel.

When you take a few minutes to be pro-active with your stressors, you free yourself emotionally to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle habits. Eating healthy and exercising are two of the best ways to reduce stress. To get there, give this exercise a try. Take a moment each morning to inventory your stressors, and remove the roadblocks which build up if left unaddressed. From there, you can move on with what plans you have to make you more healthy!


Diary of a Take Control Appointment

By Julie Walker, Take Control Staff Member


If you’re new to Take Control, you may be wondering what you’re in for. The unknown can be intimidating, but we don’t want you to worry! Our program is designed to work with each person individually. This means that we’re taking each participant’s unique needs and goals into consideration.

Your initial appointment will be centered around identifying your needs and goals, and how you’re individually motivated. We’ll also try to identify obstacles and roadblocks to your goals. Once those things are established, you may get scheduled to meet with an exercise specialist and/or a dietitian. We’ve outlined the basic questions that come up with these types of appointments. They’re not scary or intimidating! Just another step on your journey to achieve your goals.

Exercise Specialist Health Coaching Appointment

Take Control lead health coach Shannon Jones explains the basics behind a coaching session with an exercise specialist. She says “our main goal is to build relationships with our clients so we can support them and their goals.” Shannon put together the following list to help you understand what to expect in an appointment with an exercise specialist:

  1. We will ask you about your current physical activity and exercise.
  1. We will not judge you, or have preconceived expectations.
  1. We will listen to you to find out how you feel about exercise, and to what level you already exercise, if any.
  1. We will ask you what you like to do.
  1. We will ask you what resources you have available, such as a gym membership, home equipment, a Fitbit, etc.
  1. We will ask you were you want to start, and help you take reasonable steps toward your goals.
  1. We will encourage you.
  1. We will help you make a plan that works for you, and that you can maintain.
  1. We will strategize and offer tools to help you make long-lasting, sustainable changes.
  1. We will evaluate your goals each month to make sure they are right for you.
  1. We will help you change your life, one step at a time.


Dietitian Health Coaching Appointment

 Take Control health coach Katie Delaney put together a similar list for coaching sessions with our dietitians. When people hear the word dietitian, it can sometimes invoke fear of scolding, judgment, or impossible standards. As Katie describes below, there is definitely nothing to fear! We are here to help, and to work within the parameters of what works for you:

  1. We will ask you about what you eat.
  1. We want to know honestly what your typical food day looks like.
  1. We will not judge you or have preconceived expectations.
  1. Knowing what you typically eat allows us to suggest possibly similar alternatives or improvements.
  1. You are free to take or leave these suggestions depending on your personal goals and preferences.
  1. We may talk calories, but generally our focus is quality.
  1. Keeping a food log can be a great tool to become aware of what you are eating.
  1. However, we are realistic and understand that a food log does not fit with everyone’s life.
  1. It’s important to ask yourself how your body feels, and learn to listen to the signals it gives you to identify what you really need.
  1. We will not suggest restrictive diets, cutting out food groups, or making impossible weight loss goals.
  1. We will give you facts and answer your questions.
  1. We have knowledge and resources to find accurate answers to questions to help determine fact from fad.


If you have any questions about any aspect of the Take Control program, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your coach or our main office are here to guide you and ensure you succeed!

10 Ways to Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Alcohol is such an overlooked area of excess calories and unhealthy habits.  It’s so easy to be out with friends, having a great time and before you know it you’re a couple drinks in with excess calories that don’t match your health goals and piling on even more with some unhealthy food choices. Social events often come with heavy foods and alcohol all around.  If your health goals include the reduction of alcohol, try these tips to keep yourself on track and still able to socialize with friends:

1. Go in prepared – Eat something before you arrive so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach and the alcohol will be absorbed into your system more slowly.  If you’re cutting back to 1 drink per party as a goal, decide when you’ll enjoy it that evening and take your time – enjoy it.

2. Plan how to say “no thanks” – it will often make others’ feel uncomfortable if you tell them you’re not drinking for the evening. Especially if you’ve been part of the drinking crowd in the past. Drinking is such an accepted social activity these days that others will often self-judge their drinking if one of you suddenly changes habits.  Plan your response ahead of time – “It just doesn’t sound good to me this evening” or “No thanks, I just ate and I’m just too full to take in more calories.”   Prepare a response appropriate for you at each occasion. After using that at a few parties your friends will get used to it and stop questioning you about it. Avoid using the ‘designated driver’ title as your polite way of saying no – that statement creates self-judgement struggles of its own that can place your friends in a defensive position as well. 

3. Set a goal. Plan ahead. When you know you’re headed to an event where alcohol will be served, decide how many drinks you’ll have ahead of time. Having a game plan and sticking to it allows you the ability to enjoy the event within your own sense of moderation.

4.  Be picky about the party – with seasonal events, birthdays, weddings, summer BBQs, etc., there are often many social opportunities where alcohol is served. Do a quick assessment before you go, and ask yourself if the event will be any better if you drink while you’re there.  Drinking doesn’t always enhance the experience, so be selective about which parties include alcohol for you. If drinking doesn’t enhance the occasion, let the drinking go for that one.   

5. Drink slowly. Sip your drink or have “drink spacers”—make every other drink a non-alcoholic one, such as water, soda, or juice. Place a lime, straw, or umbrella in it so it looks more like something you ordered to keep others from thinking you need a drink in your hand.

6. Keep track – it’s easy to lose track of how many drinks you have at parties. Slide a napkin or toothpick into your pocket each time you start a new drink as a way to keep track.

7. Keep your hands busy – for some reason our hands always need something to do when we’re at parties. We feel uncomfortable if they’re just hanging at our sides or jammed in pockets. Hold a non-alcoholic drink like a glass of water, juice or tea in your hands. Consider holding a sweater or scarf in your hands as you chit chat – it could come in handy if the room gets chilly later in the evening.

8. Volunteer to help the host – Since there’s always plenty to do at parties, volunteer to help as another way to keep your hands busy. It’s a great way to mingle with guests and enjoy them before turning your attention to eating and drinking. You could be there for several hours, keep busy with more than just food and alcohol.

9. Avoid standing near the bar or food table – standing next to the bar or food table is the same as subjecting yourself to suggestive sales. When we see and smell food or drinks it can be a trigger to drink and eat when you’re really not that interested. Just find a different place to stand so it isn’t so suggestive to you.

10. Watch for peer pressure. We all fall victim to peer pressure and may have even been the source of peer pressure to others on occasion. Just remember, you do not have to drink just because others are, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to accept every drink offered. It’s just a party – the purpose of being there is enjoying time with friends so make sure that is your focus.

Be persistent. Most people who successfully cut down or stop drinking altogether do so only after several attempts. Setbacks can happen, but the process requires an ongoing effort and a fair trial. If one approach doesn’t work, try something else. Cutting out just 2-3 beers each week can add up to 12 per month – that’s a lot of calories!