How to Build Good Habits: Tips & Tricks

How to build good habitsReaders, what are your tips on how to build good habits? Which healthy habits have you successfully started? Have you found that one healthy habit had a domino-type effect on other healthy habits (for example, getting to bed earlier)?

A few months ago, I started to get healthier by fitting exercise into my busy daygetting more sleep, and eating healthier. Although I bought a FitBit for points for my health insurance program several months earlier, I only recently started to use its tracking capabilities on a regular basis. I started by setting easy but meaningful goals, including how many days and minutes per week of activity. I made sure to enter all of my activities. To further motivate myself, I got a new bike. I started tracking my miles on two or three apps each day, as well as a legal pad, and set a goal of 100 miles per month. I also set reminders on my calendar. Looking back, I think it was about 4-6 weeks after I started that I realized that I was making exercise a priority and was consistently hitting my goals. I also felt healthier and my clothes fit a little better.

So let’s discuss some of the best tips on how to build good habits…

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The Best Teas: What to Drink to Wake You Up, Calm You Down, and Maybe Even Replace Your Wine

teas for busy womenI can’t believe I’m about to write these words, but they’re true: I’m getting into tea.  For years I have resisted tea, hating the “bitey” taste of green tea, and not seeing the appeal in black tea. The closest I came to “liking tea” was either with fruity blends of crushed/dried flowers and fruits (without any tea leaves in there) or “sick tea,” which is just hot water with honey and lemon.  But then I started reading about rooibos tea as a wine replacement on random Reddit threads from people looking to moderate their drinking, and I thought, huh, I guess I’ll give it a try.  And much to my surprise, I liked it — it didn’t have the bite from green tea, it didn’t taste like warm jello like a bad fruit blend, and it didn’t require a fresh lemon. It’s just a warm, comforting, drink.  Finally! I thought. I get it! (By the way, I think I’m giving up wine for 2017 (but not liquor or beer); I can write more on this if you guys want.) Back to teas for busy women — the whole experience made me realize that there’s a much bigger world to tea than just green and black tea.  So, today I thought we’d go through a few quick benefits of different teas, but I’d love to hear from you, readers — Do you drink tea? What kind of teas do you like best, and what purpose do they fill in your life? Do you drink tea to replace wine, or wake you up, or calm you down? Do you like the routine or ritual associated with teas? Which type, brand or blend is your favorite? 

What to drink to replace wine or for an afternoon routine: I have no idea why, but rooibos was recommended by a few places I looked on the Internet. It also has a lot of other supposed health benefits, including improving blood circulation, promoting healthy hair, being anti-inflammatory, and more. I also like that it’s caffeine free, and requires a long steeping time (5-7 minutes), so if you tend to get distracted the way I do, you’re OK if you leave the bag in too long. (According to this Eat This, Not That article it’s also supposed to curb hunger, but I feel like drinking any big glass of liquid before dinner will do that.)

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How Do You Use Your Instant Pot? An Open Thread for Busy Ladies

All right, readers — who’s a fan of the Instant Pot? Which are your favorite recipes; what are your best Instant Pot tips for busy ladies? 

Unless you’ve been living under an Instant-Pot-sized rock, you’ve probably noticed the hype around this really versatile kitchen appliance. (NPR just referred to its “viral word-of-mouth success” in a headline the other day.) Many of you — like me — probably either got one or gave one for the holidays and have been spending the last month experimenting (or listening to someone else talk about their experimenting). A reader recently asked for a post similar to the slow cooker recipes post but this time specifically for Instant Pot recipes, and so we thought we’d gather some helpful links and recipes today. Do you have an Instant Pot? What do you use it for?  As a busy woman, do you find that the Instant Pot is better or worse than the slow cooker (where, for example, readers have complained that it’s difficult to find slow cooker recipes with long cook times to allow for their work schedules)!

Whoa: Note that you can get decals, like this one from Etsy seller Emilia Sofia Boutique. I also like this Gosling-themed decal: “Hey girl, drink some wine while I make dinner” from Etsy seller Big Dipper Designs.

Instant Pot is designed to replace a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, etc., and its fans use it to make everything from chili to cheesecake. The company offers several models with different sizes and features — the DUO60, DUO50, DUO80, LUX60, and the IP-Smart Bluetooth model — but we won’t take up space here describing the differences because Amazon already has a chart that does that. (Scroll down on the page to find it.) (Here’s a post from Hip Pressure Cooking to help you decide, too.) The Instant Pot is currently Amazon’s #1 bestseller in the Home & Kitchen category, and the price range is $80-$180, depending on which model you choose.

Here are a few resources for the new Instant Pot user:

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Holiday Recipes Open Thread

Holiday Recipes for Working WomenWith the holidays almost upon us, I thought we’d have a holiday recipe open thread — what are your favorite things to make for family and friends? Have you gravitated towards certain recipes as a working woman (simple ingredients/short steps for easy weeknight dinners, slow cooker recipes you can start before work, etc.)?  For holiday recipes, do you like these recipes because they transport well, because they’re treats or more work than you’re usually willing to spend on food, because they’re best made in large batches, or for other reasons? (Does anyone have any great vegetarian recipes, or healthy fruit-related dessert recipes? Trying to add some of those to my wheelhouse.)

For my $.02 — yes to all of the above for why we choose what holiday recipes to make for family and friends!  I also try to make something healthy for larger gatherings, particularly veggies that I’m happy to fill my plate with.  For Thanksgiving in a few days, we’re planning to make a salad that we always call “Siggy’s salad,” after a restaurant that used to be down the street from our apartment but then sadly changed locations, moving farther away. I never seem to get to the actual restaurant in its new location, so we’ve duplicated the recipe as best we can — it can be a bit of work, so we primarily make it for larger gatherings. (The picture at top is from the restaurant’s website.)

Our recipe isn’t so much a “recipe” as “an approximation of the salad we remember” — the way it’s served at the restaurant the salad greens are about 50% of the plate, possibly even 40% — so the quinoa, olives, avocado, feta, and cucumbers all play pretty big roles in about equal percentages.

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Plants, Points, Portions, and More: A Diet Open Thread

corporette diet open threadI’ve seen a lot of commenter threads about different diets lately, and I’ve been looking into them myself, so I thought I’d start a diet open thread to collect everyone’s thoughts in one place. At the outset, I just want to remind everyone this isn’t necessarily about weight loss — some people try different diets as a way to eat healthier or break bad habits. If you aren’t interested in changing your diet, or if this talk is triggering to you, please skip this thread. In case it needs to be said: this thread is not about looking “perfect.” Bodies come in all shapes and sizes; please strive to love yours no matter what size.

But, for those of you who WOULD care to discuss it, let’s hear it, ladies: Have you tried to change your diet lately? What diets did you consider, what did you end up doing, what good habits have managed to stick with you? What’s your bottom line in gauging success of a new diet (like seeing the scale move, losing weight, getting rid of a food-sensitivity symptom like bloating or fatigue)? What role do expense, convenience, and rigidity play — as a busy working woman do you dismiss out-of-hand a diet that requires you to prepare everything at home or allows no wiggle room?

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Dining Etiquette: 10 Things to Know About Business Lunches

dining etiquetteHot on the heels of our discussion about how not to gain weight over the summer recruiting season, we thought we’d round up some of the readers’ top tips on dining etiquette, collected from our last discussion on the topic. Ladies, what is your top tip for dining etiquette? What etiquette mistakes do you see interns and summer associates making that you wish you could correct, and what mistakes did you make? 

  1. Don’t be the odd one out. To prevent awkward situations, e.g., ending up as the only person eating an appetizer while everyone waits for you to finish so they can have their entrees, feel free to ask your colleagues if they’re planning on ordering an app or starting with a main course. If they don’t order drinks, don’t order a drink. And, although it probably goes without saying, don’t make a habit of choosing the most expensive thing on the menu.
  2. Choose wisely. This classic advice is worth sharing: Don’t order something that’s hard to eat and/or likely to be messy.
  3. Avoid appearing “high-maintenance.” When you order, don’t ask too many questions of the server (remember that waitress scene in “When Harry Met Sally“?), and don’t make a zillion modifications to your meal.
  4. Don’t make a big deal about special dietary requirements. Meaning: a few questions or exclusions are fine — a 15 minute interrogation on different menu options isn’t. Check out our posts on eating gluten-free or being the only vegetarian at a business lunch where there’s nothing you can eat for more guidance. If you need to make a game plan, consider calling the restaurant ahead of time with your questions (so that you don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining your requirements and ordering your food).

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