January 21, 2015

Sponsored: Little Changes to Keystone Habits Drive Big Results

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. I received a stipend to facilitate my purchase for my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Ever since moving to the suburbs from NYC, I will fully admit that my lifestyle is changed. You know that line in Old School, where Frank talks about his weekend plans?

“Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.”

I laughed at that line when I first watched that movie, but now, I’ll be honest – it does sound like a nice little Saturday! Admittedly, I do a lot more with my weekends than just running errands… but I also definitely have developed some “typical surburbanite” behaviors. For example, I like perusing the grocery store circulars that get sent to my house, and making my shopping list based on the sales. I know it is so totally dorky, but I get excited when I get a good deal! (It also helps me keep my food costs down and stick to my budget, which is especially important when I’m getting ready to buy a house.) And, this is probably the most embarrassing part of all, but my friend Heather and I have a running joke about how excited we get for “Double Ad Wednesday” at Sprouts, when they have two weeks of sale prices active. (You’d better believe I was there this morning before work, stocking up!)

For the last few weeks, one of Sprouts’ big sales has been on fresh blueberries – which were only 88 cents per six ounce container! Amazing. I recently learned from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council that while the domestic blueberry season runs from April to September, imports from Chile, Peru, and Argentina make it easy to find blueberries the rest of the year. 88 cents a container is definitely far less than I would expect to spend for fresh berries in the middle of winter!

Blueberries And Oats
These are from Chile, and dress up my normal morning oatmeal wonderfully!

I really love blueberries, and appreciate how easy they are to incorporate into my meals and snacks. Although I cook with blueberries sometimes (like in pancakes or in this awesome and unique blueberry pork tenderloin), I’m more likely to toss them atop my oatmeal or even grab a handful as an afternoon snack. I always get a little bit of an afternoon sweet tooth, and it’s great to be able to satisfy it with a handful of fresh berries instead of actually with chocolate or candy. (Much healthier than when I’m at the office and resort to a cup of hot cocoa, which my coworkers always tease me for having. Yes, I am a five year old in that regard, and in the afternoons I prefer it to the acidity of coffee.) Blueberries have tons of nutrients and only 80 calories per cup, so they’re a great way to satisfy my sweet tooth while still making a healthy choice that won’t derail my diet.

Kale Blueberry Breakfast Smoothie
When I’ve got a morning sweet tooth, something like this kale-and-blueberry superfood breakfast smoothie does the trick. (Recipe here, though originally sourced from running camp.)

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, a lot of people try to dream big, which on one hand is a great way to achieve something that matters. However, it’s important to remember that lots of little healthy changes can really add up – and that’s especially true when it comes to health-related goals. Little changes like drinking more water or incorporating more blueberries into your diet can be great ways work toward to living healthier in 2015 and beyond.

I’m still working on my new year’s resolutions for 2015, in large part because I’m trying to come up with changes that are measurable and specific, but also not overwhelming to achieve. (Expect a post on those tomorrow!) However, I’m pretty psyched about how my progress on my 2015 goals is already coming along. Like swapping out an afternoon candy bar for a handful of blueberries, I’ve found ways to reach my goals using keystone habits, where one action triggers another action from me that gets me closer to my goals. Don’t know what a keystone habit is? That Zen Habits link is a great start, but I’d also highly recommend reading Charles Duhigg’s awesome book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I read it in December 2012 but it’s still one of my favorite social psychology books of all time – there is so much to learn from it!

To give you an example of how I’ve been using keystone habits, one of my goals for this year is to engage more in learning new things – and specifically, to watch at least one TED talk a day. At first, I was forgetting to watch, but now I am working on linking the TED talk watching to something I do without even thinking twice about it – brushing my teeth. Instead of putting on Spotify top hits to get me energized while I’m getting ready for the day, I’m turning on my Kindle and working my way through my TED playlist of talks to watch later – and I’m finding those plenty inspiring and thought-provoking! After only a few weeks of doing this, it’s become fairly automatic for me to turn on a TED talk after I get out of the shower, so I’m achieving my goal without even having to stop and think about doing it. (Of course, the downside here is that on days when I am a complete couch potato and don’t get showered/dressed, I have to actively remind myself to watch a TED talk… but I’ll try to keep those days few and far between!)

If you’re interested in learning more about making little changes to drive big results, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is hosting a sweepstakes to win a trip for two to LA for the Little Changes Kitchen Challenge alongside actress, author and TV host Alison Sweeney. I love watching her host the Biggest Loser – she always comes off as caring about the contestants while still maintaining her neutrality as host! And she’s written some novels that are also really fun – I feel like she’d be really cool to get to know in real life. If you don’t win the grand prize, runners up may win one of four $500 Whole Foods or Lululemon gift cards for a refreshed pantry or workout wardrobe. The sweepsteakes closes February 16, 2015; you can enter here.

Stay tuned for the big reveal (okay, really not that exciting to anyone but me) of my new year’s resolutions tomorrow!

Disclaimer: The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council provided me with a stipend to purchase blueberries, as well as a promotional item as a thank you for sharing their sweepstakes. However, I have been buying berries for the last few weeks at my local Sprouts even before they contacted me – I love blueberries and they have become a really healthy and affordable way for me to satisfy my sweet tooth!


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