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Being Sick, Fat and Miserable was Easy Until Now

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Americans love being being sick, fat and miserable. We like the idea of good health but we prefer having someone else to blame for our inability to be healthy. We spend $68 Billion dollars a year on weight loss activities that statistically have a 10% success rate, Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act to ensure all people have access to health care yet 28 million people are uninsured and a vast number of those who have it can’t afford to use it, 45% of all Americans suffer from at least one form of chronic disease and the number is growing. 37.7% of Americans are classified as clinically obese. 100 million people have diabetes. BUT less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Soda is the #1 item purchased at the grocery store and to make us even less accountable, being fat is now officially as of 2012 formally classified as a disease. Why do we love being sick fat and miserable when it couldn’t be easier to be healthy?  

Health is easy thanks to the wonders of the digital age! Incredible mission driven millennials, smart devises like Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Pinterest as well as countless instagram and Youtube fitness stars guarantee it if as the consumer we are ready to take responsibility for our health. Do we as the consumer even realize we own our own health? News Flash: YOUR BODY YOUR BUSINESS! We drive the bus regardless of what our doctors might say or think. 

As of yesterday I officially ended a three year journey to resolve chronic pain. Finally I can bend over and touch my toes with out pain shooting up my back no thanks to three different insurance plans, three physicians, two physical therapists, two chiropractors and an acupuncturist.  For three solid years I sought medical support-traditional and alternative to treat pain in my hip and lower back. And prior to February 2018 all my medical providers said I had to accept pain as a part of aging, that it was in my head, that I needed to further develop core strength and lose weight. None and I repeat NONE ordered an X-ray or an MRI or blood work. As a nutritionist and personal trainer, my diet and core were just fine, what wasn’t fine was my hip and lower back. I am by no means slamming the medical field but spending 10 minutes with me one time doesn’t make my doctor an expert on me but living 40+ years in my body does. I am now pain free thanks in no short order to an awesome app that helped me pinpoint my pain, new insurance, a new doctor, hip surgery and a cross country move. I didn’t give up. Pain was not an option, anything short of great health was a total fail.

I mentioned previously Obesity was  officially labeled a disease in the 2012 DSM 5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Classification for Mental Disorders by the Psychiatric Annals. As a nutritionist and the daughter of two psychiatrists, I can assure you being fat isn’t a psychiatric disorder its the outcome or side-effect of the underlying issue such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorders or any number of other equally serious mental health issues. If you’re clinically morbidly obese or obese you are fat not because you’re mentally unwell but because you like it. Because it serves you in some way. No one made you fat but you and if inclined to do the work you can unmake it too. Not everyone needs to be a size zero- I sure as shit am not but our bodies don’t naturally gravitate toward obesity less a serious metabolic or endocrine issue so let’s stop pretending they do. Aside from the huge biological and financial toll all that excess adipose tissue takes on your body like producing excess estrogen, guaranteeing multiple chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, increased health care costs for all of us, lost productivity at work and let’s not forget the social stigma, you get something out of “being” fat or obese. There can’t be any other answer because there is so much support in the world, weight loss is inevitable.

Why as Americans to do we actively choose to be unhealthy when health is so easy? 

Enter the digital health platform. The more I research this, the more I believe it is the answer to improving population health, better health care, and lower costs. Sure we fear Russian hackers, reprisals from insurance companies and the idea the Big Brother is always watching but the benefits far outweigh the minus’s. A former client of mine has just recently launched a new consumer health platform called propelhealth.net  Her platform is AMAZING! It allows a person to monitor and track key biometrics and share that data with family members or care givers far and wide to monitor for changes in health and well being. This is genius! Although I live in CA, I can monitor my parents health in Pennsylvania and check in accordingly or encourage they seek medical attention when appropriate or intercede when necessary.  Tele health is my new favorite form of health care. I can speak to a doctor from my bed for $5 at 6am and avoid a $75 co-pay, parking expense and fighting for an appointment. The Calm App can be downloaded to my smart phone and support stress reduction, sleep and meditation. Thank God for the IPhone, because the iPhone makes health quick and easy! As Americans, we love a good quick fix! 

We live in an amazing society where things can be obtained very easily. But anything great and worth having takes effort and sometimes a lot of it. If we gain weight we can take a pill, have the fat sucked out or frozen and subsequently pee it out (yes really for a few grand you can too). By taking these steps, we think we are being proactive if we can just live with the side effects. Western Medicine tells us they work and we believe they will. When they don’t we give up. The truth is, as awesome as western medicine is, the health system isn’t really equipped to eliminate the root cause or heal a problem, it just puts a band aid on it. 

The human body is an AMAZING machine capable of endless miracles given the opportunity to thrive. Yet too many of us purposefully deprive ourselves of this opportunity. The solution is not in any one of a number of diets or pills or surgeries which only perpetuates the problem but rather lies within our understanding our individual health and what is driving our choices. Are people truly so hopeless or so completely disconnected from their core self? I find myself asking these very questions as I sit glued to the TV watching My 600lb life on TLC. Maybe so but I am an eternal optimist and believe otherwise. No one wakes up one day and is  like today I want to be morbidly obese and be confined to my bed.

Health is sexy, Health is sustainable, Health lets you eat what you want when you want, Health doesn’t require a co-pay or exorbitant deductibles or even a strict organic nonGMO diet filled with wheat grass and kale (though they are delicious.) At what point will poor health become too expensive? When will we choose to stop being complicit? I would argue that good health is only one app away for just $1.99. We as consumers need to change the story, We need to use our power for good. It’s time to choose you, It’s time we own our health.


What Would You Pay for Good Health

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Being in Good Health versus Bad Health Two Blue Road Sign with text Good Health and Bad Health with sky background 3D Illustration

Not long ago I was asked to give a presentation on any topic I wanted to a panel of interviewers at a national health care company as part of the interview process for a position I was keenly interested in. Having not read the informational email thoroughly in advance of the interview I realized the expectation exactly one hour prior. The email had requested that I send any corresponding power points at least one day in advance. Seeing as I was exactly one hour out this was clearly not an option. So after a brief panic stricken moment I cobbled together a few seminars I had taught in the past and settled on the topic of the Value of Health. With a one page 5 bullet point outline and no handouts I was on my way. A ballsy move for sure I was later told-lecturing a large health insurance company on the value of health-who does that? BUT it was a topic I was massively passionate about and believed with every fiber of my being they were doing all wrong.

How much would you pay for health? I asked. “How much money would you pay to ensure you had great health to live the life you want”. One million dollars I asked? Can you afford the health that you want? Does your health afford you the life you want to live?  Would be willing to make 2 small changes in order to answer yes to all these questions I asked. No one answered-Just six pairs of eyes staring straight at me while eating their lunches of diet coke and pretzels. Not possible someone finally said. Then I asked, what if I told you I could guarantee you great health and it was available to everyone-Would you be interested? Not particularly lucrative for an insurer but everyone was interested just the same.

The cold hard truth that the consumer or average American fails to realize or perhaps acknowledge is that health insurance isn’t about health or medical care, its also not about the consumer- its about insurance. Much like insuring a car or driver or a boat, insurance companies are trying to hedge their bets on sick people. The medical industry isn’t about health either by the way. The medical field is about curing disease and there are lots of tests and medications they can offer to treat disease and they would be happy to order them for you if allowed by the insurance company. Health is something entirely different and I often ask myself do people really want to be healthy? Have we become so reliant on physicians and insurance that we believe our health is not our problem but rather someone else’s? 

Today nearly 45 % of Americans suffer from chronic disease. What is Chronic Disease? The 5 major forms of chronic disease include: 

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer 
  • Stroke
  • COPD 
  • Diabetes (aver $7900 per year per person)

Let’s not forget 

  • Obesity- Only recently formally labeled as a disease

All of these are largely preventable and entirely within our own control if we own our health and make three small changes.

We as American’s bitch and complain that our insurance is not affordable, the cost of medical care is crazy expensive and we wine on and on about the need for health care reform. News Flash folks, if you were healthy, you really wouldn’t need expensive medical care less extreme and or emergency situations. You would be cycling a century or climbing the Eiffel tower with your grand child or just walking around the block without being winded. Health is SEXY People and everyone can have it regardless of your lot in life.

What is Health and how to get healthy is all over the news, there are literally 1000’s of books all about how to be healthy, skinny, diet, get strong, get fit, eat, live longer, live happier etc…. But people don’t seem to want to do the work. OR do they? It appears that the vast majority of Americans have adopted the belief that someone else knows more about their health and what is going on in their bodies than they do. As amazing as many physicians out there are, there are limits to what they know. How do I know this… I was reading one of my nutrition texts not long ago on a topic related to anatomy and neurons and one paragraph in the text ended with and I quote “after that we just don’t know why it does what it does.” WTF!

BUT if you are ready to be crazy sexy healthy and live your fullest and best life, making small changes in the following 3 areas will guarantee it:

  1. Know and own your health! NO one and I mean no one knows your body better than you. If you have a weird scratch in your throat, if your poop suddenly changes in color or frequency or texture, if your stomach just feels off then something is no matter what your doctor says. Be your own Advocate
  1. Diet: The standard American diet is horrendous. As Americans we vastly over consume and are largely undernourished. Remember these three things and your world will change for sure!
    • Carbohydrates are good for you: if it grows in the ground or comes form a tree its a complex carbohydrate, the more color the better- EAT IT!
    • Fat is your friend: we need fat to burn fat, we need fat for brain function. EAT HEALTHY FAT!
    • Protein is the key to life: Eggs won’t kill you but not eating them might. EAT PROTEIN
  1. Lifestyle: 
    • We consume through all 5 senses so who we surround ourselves with, listen too, watch, look at all impact our stress and livelihood.
    • Move: the less we move, the more we hurt- We gain weight, develop anxiety, heart disease, stress, high cholesterol
    • Relax: Whatever that means to you-I Love to cook or take my dog on a walk. What do you enjoy? DO IT REGULARLY!
    • Meditate or Dance: Anyone can meditate it is as simple as sitting quietly for 30 seconds or longer. That is all no yoga pants required.

How much money would it take for you to choose illness over health? Is there any amount of money that would compel you to welcome being miserable unhappy and in pain? If there isn’t why does 45% of the population choose it for free? There is no secret to great health, it is available for everyone and it doesn’t require fancy insurance. On that day of my interview I spoke for roughly 45 minutes, delivering what was surely one of the best presentations of my life to date, culminating in an unexpected round of applause. The group manager pulled me aside after the presentation to discuss the opportunity further but not before stating that she initially had been rather concerned that I didn’t have a power point to share but had been so completely captivated by what I was saying she wouldn’t have taken her eyes of me even if there was one. She went on to say it was likely the best presentation she had ever seen in her entire career. I thanked her, truly grateful for the opportunity and for the unexpected accolades  and left only to never have heard back from them. 

It clearly wasn’t meant to be and that was ok. But what I took away from the experience was huge. Healthy people aren’t profitable. But for the consumer, health is.


How to Stretch a Dollar

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Eating Healthy on a Budget-YES YOU CAN!

How far can you stretch a dollar for groceries?
What tips or tricks do you have?
When the budget is tight what fresh foods do you purchase and how do you stock your pantry?

It goes without saying that for some folks, money is just plain tight. And in those instances these folks aren’t shopping at leisure at Whole Foods who some affectionately refer to as Whole Paycheck. No, they are working 2 and 3 jobs to make ends barely meet and in between running to the store to get bare necessities or visiting local food banks.

BUT I love Whole Foods! I love how beautiful the produce looks and all the great products they have and I love how I feel after I shop there with all my organic locally sourced and lovingly raised fruits vegetables, meats and sustainably fished fish-I LOVE IT! But things have been little tight as of late with just finishing school, working through an internship, building a business and looking for a job. SO what’s a Princess to do when her bank account is painfully low? Institute a budget? Implement a code red state of emergency? Call on the Bank of Mom and Dad? Hmmm. I say, GET CREATIVE! There is a lot you can do with a can of beans or bag of lentils and lots of great places to shop.

Tips:
-It goes without saying but PLAN PLAN PLAN:Plan your menu for the week
-Reuse ingredients to limit waste and maximize nutrients and dollars
-Buy generic
-Consider dried, canned or frozen foods
-Be strategic in the fresh foods you purchase
-Cook once eat twice or more
-Cook for the freezer
-Prep for the freezer

Build a SMART Pantry:

Canned Beans: Look for Beans packed in water with NO or low sodium. Some canned goods use seaweed or Kombu to season in lieu of salt. This is a plus. The water and Kombu will break down the phytic acid in the beans causing them to be more easily digested when consumed. Canned beans are quick, easy and inexpensive. In some instances all you have to do is drain, rinse and add to a dish. They are low in saturated fat, high in fiber!! Great options: Chickpeas, Black Beans, Cannelini Beans, Kidney Beans, Black Eyed Peas, Lentils

Other Canned Foods: Tomatoes (stewed, whole, crushed), olives, artichoke hearts, Lentils, Tuna (in water) *A note on canned tomatoes, avoid tomato sauce, often times there are hidden sugars and you can easily make your own out of stewed or crushed). Canned tomatoes are usually canned at their most ripe and flavorful point so less spices and salt needed. So Delish, rich in antioxidants!!! BINGO!

Dried Beans or Lentils: Like canned Beans dried lentils and beans will last A LONG time in the cabinet and great in a pinch when times are tighter than usual. Be sure to soak your beans or lentils in water for 5 hours-overnight, before cooking. You will want to drain and rinse the beans or lentils and add them to fresh water for cooking. This way you will slightly sprout the bean or lentil releasing healthy live enzymes while at the same time breaking down the phytic acid produced by the beans enabling them to be more easily digested.

Herbs and spices: Garlic/Dried Garlic Powder, Oregano, Sea Salt/Mineral Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Turmeric (great for memory and brain health by the way), Cumin, Cayenne, fresh or dried Ginger ( great for upset stomach-try sliced fresh steeped in hot water). Consider growing Fresh Rosemary and/or Basil and thyme in a small jar or pot in your window or yard. These herbs grow easily and fast- as a side note if your tight on cash at the holiday’s who wouldn’t love to receive a rosemary bush- just plant a clipping in a mason jar, wrap a ribbon around it and waalaaa! Avoid spice blends and make your own.

Frozen: Frozen fruits and vegetables are terrific and will last a few months if closed tightly. Consider fruit like blueberries, pineapple, strawberries and Vegetables think Spinach, Peas, Carrots or whatever is your favorite and on sale. Frozen fruits are prefect baked into desserts, or breads or baked goods. Frozen vegetables are well suited to be cooked into soups, casseroles, and stews

Dry goods: Oatmeal!!!!!, Brown Rice, Quinoa, There are a bazillion things one can do with Oatmeal. It’s gluten free too. You can use it as a breakfast cereal, you can grind it to make flour and mix into cookies for a healthier version, you can make granola, you can bake into bars or you can use it as a topping for a fruit crumble-just to name a few. And oh by the way you can do the same with rice and quinoa.

Fresh Must Haves:
Onions (Rockin cancer fighter!)
Garlic (basically a nutritional powerhouse!)
Apples
Eggs (A perfect protein and only 70 Kcal per egg-eat the yolk)
Any form of Dark leafy green if you can.

Plan Ahead:
So you planned out your menu, shopped accordingly and are good to go What next?
If chicken is on the menu, buy a whole chicken, cut up the pieces or have the butcher do it, when you get home, repackage according to what you will eat together. After cooking, remove the meat from the bones and keep the bones. Store in an airtight container in the freezer not much longer than a few days then use chicken carcass, onion, garlic, celery and carrots if you have them and make a chicken broth. The broth can be frozen for months in air tight containers and pulled out when needed. This will save $2-3 per container of broth at the store. And beside, bone broth is the “in” thing right now, if you make your own your trend setter!

Try to repurpose your left overs into new meals. Left over Salmon from Sunday could be made into Salmon burgers for Tuesday. Make one large pot of Chickpeas, make three different kinds of hummus and keep in the freezer until your ready to eat.


Eat More Weigh Less

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G1-02

Its no secret that if you eat less you will lose weight right? WRONG!!!

Here is the 411 short and sweet -If you eat too little your body will hold on to the adipose tissue, you will not lose the weight you are hoping for and will instead burn muscle for energy. YES it goes a lot deeper and gets more complicated i.e. Ketogenic diets, Paleo, South Beach-But do you really care or do you JUST want to know what to eat and how much? One major truth is undeniable-the quality of your calories matters! For weight loss think healthy fats, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. You need fat to burn fat. DRINK LOTS OF WATER and limit sugar.

Have a healthy meal 3x a day, drink water, workout (the higher the intensity the more water you will need and consider following your tough workouts with a protein shake or meal), avoid snacking (snacking throughout the day will spike your insulin levels and force your body to burn sugar for energy and not fat). Protein will help the body repair the muscle after a workout in a leaner more efficient way. Weight lifting or strength training is important because it helps build and maintain bone density which is especially important as we age. Go easy on the weight if your just looking for general health and weight loss but enough that you feel like you worked out when you wake up the next day. Think 2-3 sets of each exercise with 15-20 repetitions plus 30-45 min of cardio (daily cardio is even better). This type of program will build bone density, lean you out and provide some muscle definition. No you won’t end up looking like a body builder-promise- you will however start to feel better.

When you start your fitness routine, remember, muscle is heavier than fat so you may not see a change in the number on the scale but you will notice how you feel and how your clothes fit. Remember, choose those types of exercise that you enjoy and are passionate about-Walk, Swim, Yoga, Bike, Strength Train, Dance, Pilates, take the stairs. Bring a friend, its much more fun!

How do you know how much to eat-well its far more simple than you would think. While I am not one for counting calories, total caloric intake is important especially when portion control is not a concept you are familiar with, you have a particular goal in mind or you regularly consume the typical standard American diet. We all have a basic amount of calories that we need to consume just to sustain life-its called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) this is the amount of calories that your body burns at rest-like when you wake up in the morning and are lying in bed, you need this much.

Here is how you calculate it using the Harris Benedict equation:

BMR (Basil Metabolic Rate): The # of calories your body burns at rest.

Women BMR = (4.35 x_______ wt (lbs)) + (4.7 x _______Ht (in)) – (4.7 x _____Age (yrs)) + 655

Men BMR= (6.23 x______wt (lbs))+ (12.7 x_______Ht (in)) – (6.76 x ______Age (yrs)) + 66

Total: ____________

Activity Factor: __________ (see below for multiplier)

Little to no exercise: 1.375

Light Exercise  1-3 days per week: 1.55

Moderate Exercise 3-5 days per week: 1.725

Heavy Exercise 6-7 days per week: 1.9

Total Calories needed to maintain weight: (Total BMR x Activity Factor) = ____________

Subtract 300-500 from that number above to come up with total calories to consume each day for weight loss of 1.5-2 lbs per week. This would not apply if you are pregnant or have special nutritional needs due to a particular illness or medical condition in which case please consult your doctor or medical professional.

Protein needs are determined by multiplying your weight in Kg by a multiplier (this is total grams of protein not weight of protein)

Adults 19+: .85g/Kg

Pregnant and lactating: 1.1g/Kg

Endurance or Strength Training Athlete: 1.2-1.8 g/Kg

Moderate to Severe Stress: 2.0-2.2 g/Kg

Once you determine the amount of protein you need think 1 Tbsp of healthy fat per meal such as olive oil, flax seed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil. (Stay tuned for more intel on Fat in another post because we need fat to burn fat not to mention convert much needed vitamins.) Everything else should be vegetables and more importantly not the starchy ones (think roughly 50-60% or 2 cups). Make sense? Initially the number might surprise you but remember that is per day not per meal. The number will change as you change. Definitely, absolutely don’t forget to give yourself a treat meal once a week. (NOT a treat day-JUST a meal) That’s right if you want chocolate cake for breakfast with a side of ice cream, so be it. You will feel awful later but ENJOY!. If you know you can eat what you want when  you want you will be less inclined to feel as if your diet is restrictive and want to binge on food that doesn’t serve you. Eat with your goals in mind. Trust your body, its smarter than you think


Fear the Egg?

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images

Nutrition as a field of study is evolving at record speed. Friends and strangers alike tell me all the time that I am on the cutting edge of a new industry and it’s so exciting. It is, it really is, I love the study of nutrition and am passionate about sharing with others how minor “tweaks” in diet can profoundly improve one’s health. But with so much information available to us on the internet, on TV and in magazines and so much of it unsubstantiated and over inflated by the latest craze some important facts are lost or just plain left out of the equation. For example, today’s topic of discussion The Egg.

As a personal trainer many of my colleagues are insistent that they and their clients need only to consume several egg whites for breakfast in order to get the necessary protein to build muscle and drop fat. TRUTH folks, don’t fear the yolk!!! Its true, there is lots of protein in the white but do yourself a favor, do your client’s a favor- Eat the YOLK!

The Egg in it’s entirety is a perfect protein containing ALL amino acids required by the body. One egg is 6g of protein and is ONLY 70Kcal! I gather folks fear the yolk due to it being rich in cholesterol. Here is the thing though, we NEED, ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE cholesterol to survive-our bodies in their infinitely perfect design manufactures it. There is a wonderful book written by Dr. David Perlmutter called Grain Brain (2013) in which he provides recent and compelling research supporting the value of cholesterol to support brain health which is becoming increasingly important with Alzheimers overwhelmingly on the rise. The Yolk is rich in Choline which is terrific for brain health and the egg in total is an excellent source of Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin D, B6 and B12 not to mention rich in Antioxidants and very good for eye health.

DON’T fear the egg, maybe consider a 2 egg breakfast with 2 cups of dark leafy greens and fried onions-leave out the bacon, sausage or toast. This will get you loads of calcium minus the dairy, lots of fiber not to mention Vitamin C and K and all those great cancer fighters. Current research shows that cholesterol in food does not raise blood serum cholesterol levels (SUGAR DOES! shhhh) contrary to what your doc might say. Oh and for the record, brown eggs and white eggs are both the same, the chickens are a different color. Opt for organic pasture raised over conventional when possible-the Yolks will be a richer more beautiful golden yellow.

PS: To my trainer friends who I love and admire, the nutrients in eggs are more bioavailable when cooked vs consumed Rocky style (aka raw)-Scrambled, over easy, poached, fried- you choose!

 

 

Resources:

http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/egg-101/

Rong, Y., Chen, L., Zhu, T., Song, Y., Yu, M., Shan, Z., … Liu, L. (2013). Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. The BMJ, 346, e8539. http://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8539

Fuller, N., Caterson, I, Sainsbury, A., Denyer, G., Fong, M., Gerofi, J., Baqleh, K., Williams, K., Lau, N., Markovic, T. (2015). The effect of a high-egg diet on cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) study—a 3-mo randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 101(4) 705-713 doi: 10.3945/ ajcn.114.096925

Fuller, N. R., Sainsbury, A., Caterson, I. D., & Markovic, T. P. (2015). Egg Consumption and Human Cardio-Metabolic Health in People with and without Diabetes. Nutrients, 7(9), 7399–7420. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu7095344

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/eggs-fats-and-the-new-dietary-guidelines/

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/03/06/518152471/unscrambling-the-nutrition-science-on-eggs

Perlmutter, D., (2013) Grain Brain. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company.


What’s Your Food Story?

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the early years

With my master’s degree freshly but thankfully behind me I am now able to concentrate on sharing my passion and new found knowledge with others. Do you ever really realize how much of a time suck school and work can be when pursuing or attempting to maintain a balanced life-Sheesh! I certainly didn’t. With so many things large and small filling my brain so that my cup runneth over, there is one topic that seems to stand out as a great place to start or restart my blog and it is the idea or concept of an individual’s food story.

Several months ago I went with a friend to a seminar about the benefits of a plant based diet which I believe definitely has merit depending on a number of factors. This particular event was opened by the host who started by sharing her “food story”. Then the next speaker came to the front and she also spoke about her “food story”. Interesting really. I have been a self professed foodie for years, followed by a nutrition nut and clean eating obsessed but never once had I thought about my food story. In each of the two instances the speakers shared very personal and sad tales of whoa as it related to their relationship with food, body image and a sense of self loathing.The expectation, at least that night, was that each of us in the room had our own unhealthy food story that had since pushed us toward enlightenment. This concept of a food story really resonated with me. What was my food story? Was it sad? Was it unhealthy? As a nutritionist, health strategist and personal trainer i really wondered what is it about someone’s food story that can either doom them to failure or guarantee their success in their journey to health?

Recently I began volunteering at a free clinic in Washington, DC. I am working with a wonderful group of ladies who are already really knowledgeable about food and dieting as every woman is by the time they are 13 but most are obese. When they asked me for the secret to weight loss I responded by asking them about their food story? Initially the blank stares were deafening-basically screaming “this over privileged white lady is just plain crazy!” But as we talked and I shared my story they began to share theirs.

The honest to goodness truth is that food plays a profound role in our lives and our individual food story is what weaves the foundational fabric of our life, our health and our family. Food is significant in every culture and religion, it solidifies friendships, builds community, it celebrates, it is an expression of love, of sameness, of respect for past present and future generations, it is comfort and it is life. Understanding your food story unlocks your beliefs around food and affords you the opportunity to make necessary and appropriate changes to support your health and lifestyle in a way that is respectful to the values you hold dear.

For me, food is always about celebrating-celebrating family, friends, life and love. It is how I give, how I show affection and I think for me tends to be particularly intimate and important because whatever I prepare and is consumed by others becomes part of who they are in the very truest sense-We really are what we eat. After many years of struggling with my relationship with food, I can honestly say that I don’t any longer and haven’t for some time largely because I have chosen to honor my food story and the role food plays in my life rather than limit and deny myself in order to follow someone else’s idea and the results have been liberating. I eat what I want, when I want and have no sense of guilt or self loathing. Some days I have chocolate cake for PInk cakebreakfast but most days I don’t and that’s  mostly because I live a really active lifestyle and need the energy that a well balanced meal rich in lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates affords. I come from a place where I honor the role food plays in my life and make choices that support the life I want to lead.

What does all this mean? If your reading this post it’s because you are most likely as interested in eating well and being healthy as I am. So I would ask you, what is your food story? Do you honor that story by the choices you make, do those choices support the life you lead or want to lead? If not why not? Almost anything in moderation is ok (except maybe fried twinkles-these are not good!) but finding ways to modify those recipes and dishes you hold dear in way that supports your life and your goals is key. Stay tuned for tasty and healthy versions of common comfort food dishes or email me for tips on how to modify one you love.


Save the Tatas with a Post It Note! Who Decides Your Health?

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Female Red Bra Isolated On White Background

Let me just say for the record, I have great boobs! (Highly subjective yes, a little crass maybe but I definitely got your attention! Wondering what boobs have to do with nutrition? As I have said before and will say many times again good nutrition involves all five senses and through The Regal Fig it’s my goal to educate individuals on how to nourish the mind, body and soul in an authentic and sustainable way. To that end I have a story to share which goes back a few years now but seems to be especially relevant as of late for a number of reasons. Read more


Have you Kissed Your Cow Today?

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happy cows

(The photo above comes from looking out my bedroom window. These are happy cows that graze all day long on the green grass in Loudon County VA. I have on more than one occasion been known to have a conversation or two with these ladies as I head out for a work out. Despite the odd look from one or two of them, I think I am starting to grow on them.)

Animal Protein isn’t for everyone BUT If you are a meat lover and a succulent steak or juicy burger is what you crave-don’t you want the best tasting beef you can find? Truth is, if you do love beef, your beef should taste grassy and flavorful and if you don’t already demand grass fed beef you will once you try it! There are many reasons to choose Grass-fed beef over their commercially raised counterparts not the least of which is that the flavor and quality is about 1000 times better.  Grass-fed beef is naturally higher in Omega 3’s, which are great for reducing systemic inflammation throughout the body, not to mention naturally lower in fat. Meat is muscle, muscle is intended to be lean. The marbleizing effect most restaurants pride themselves on is excess fat resulting from an over-weight, improperly fed, unhappy cow.  Your steak should have a grassy rich flavor. Cows are ruminants which means they were designed to eat a grass based diet; they have multiple stomachs designed to digest and absorb the nutrients which subsequently get passed on to you.

Food Prices BeefPerhaps you have heard of CAFO (Commercial Agriculture Feeding Operation). CAFO’s are the largest producers of beef as well as methane gas thanks to the massive amount of waste produced by the cattle. This same methane gas is also the largest growing contributor to the damage to our ozone layer and to environmental problems. Cattle raised in large commercial feeding operations are usually fed a diet of corn, animal by-products (i.e. dogs, cats, fish, chicken, pork and other cows!) and antibiotics. Why antibiotics you ask?  Corn (which is like crack to a cow) makes them sick, not to mention that living in their own waste along with thousands of other cows is bound to cause a need for antibiotics.  Although the grass fed movement isn’t highly regulated yet, do look for the grass fed symbol noted below. Grass fed cows are required to be pastured for at least the first 6 months of their life if not longer and to be fed a diet of grass and hay. In most instances cattle is fed a partially grain based diet in the last 6 months of their life before rendering. The corn allows the cattle to gain weight quickly subsequently adding to the marbling effect society holds so dear. When shopping at your local farmers market ask whether their beef is both grass-fed and grass-finished.

A side note on Dairy. The milk industry would have us all believe that milk and dairy is absolutely necessary in order to get the calcium we need to grow big and strong.  In fact, the USDA even made dairy its own food group. The reality is we don’t NEED dairy unless of course you are a baby cow and need to put on a quick few hundred pounds. Dark leafy greens will in fact offer up even more calcium without the fat! Just imagine a bowl full of glorious kale. I love ice cream and cheese just as much as the next person, despite being lactose intolerant. If you absolutely can’t live without milk, consider the organic option or consider milk sourced from your local farmer. The big stink over milk comes from our fears surrounding antibiotics and rBGH (growth hormone) residue in the milk. Many will argue this residue is destroyed during the homogenization process, and this decision is yours to make.  What I will tell you is that milk comes from lactating cows. Cows don’t lactate continuously throughout their life; as with humans, they only lactate after giving birth.  Milk cows are usually bread every 12-13 months. Commercially raised dairy cattle are impregnated more frequently and are often given hormones to increase reproduction and milk production.  For human moms, breastfeeding can help with the loss of baby weight and is super healthy for baby, but could you imagine being forced to do it for years on end on penalty of death? The cows are then milked by the hundreds via electronic milking devises with all the milk combined and stored together in large vats. So basically you are drinking milk from several hundred cows, not all of whom were particularly healthy or happy. Not quite the same milk Laura Ingalls came to love in that little house on the prairie.

If the information above isn’t enough to sway you, consider looking at it from a different perspective- all living beings are made up of various forms of energy and per the laws of physics energy is neither created nor destroyed. So when you consume food you are basically consuming the energy of the food your food ate.


Love It! Live It! Eat It!

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tbrflyerb1Love it! Live It! Eat It!

Every day we are bombarded with information about what we should eat, how we should look and if we tried any number of other things our lives would be so much better. And so the race begins. We are so focused on food that sadly what we eat drives how we live or don’t live for that matter and fundamentally affects how we love or don’t love first and foremost ourselves, our own body and those around us. This if you ask me is fundamentally flawed.

When you are new to cooking, more often than not, you follow a recipe in order to successfully make one dish or another. Generally speaking most people don’t know how to make a soufflé or roast a turkey right out of the gate without first working through a recipe or two. Many of us will try a family recipe, crack open a cook book or scour the internet to find one that sounds good despite the 100’s or more to choose from often with mixed results. Inevitably though, without that recipe, a first time cook would have no real sense of how to get from raw ingredients to a sumptuous meal. Recipes are like a road map and subsequently so is food.  If we aren’t clear on what we want our bodies to do and don’t know what we are capable of how can we do we know the right food to eat. We don’t.

 If we don’t first recognize we are innately awesome, capable of great things and love who we are, we will never be able to create and live life fully and achieve our greatest potential. If we are to create a life full of purpose and with passion whatever that means to you, we will passionately strive to consume and by consume I mean by all five senses, only that which fuels how we want to  live and by default becomes an expression of how we love. Honestly, if you love something or someone do you feed it garbage? Do you clean it with products you know over time will sicken, destroy or damage something you hold so dear-Um no.  Much like that someone or something our bodies are no different. In today’s society so much of what we consume via all five senses is that garbage whether we realize it or not. The food we eat has been depleted of much needed nutrients as a result of over farming, increased pesticides and genetically modified seed all well intentioned to create more food for a growing population. The music we listen to, the shows we watch, the activities we engage in separately and together dramatically impact our health and overall wellbeing.

Having reached a point of being completely annoyed with the messages we hear every day which almost always comeback in some way to being fat, unfulfilled  or not good enough-I created the Total Body Reboot program based on the premise of Love It! Live It! Eat It! Very simply :

Love who you are and what you are capable of.

Live from that place where your dreams are your reality.

Not only Eat but feast on a diet rich in the nutrients that will get you there.

According to author and TED presenter, Simon Sinek, we have to understand the why before we can understand the how and what in order to be truly inspired to change. There is an age old saying, be the change you wish to see in the world but I might add instead, be the why you want to see in the world.  Because the why behind the what is you.

Love it! Live It! Eat It!

Be a part of the Movement


Cooking with Oil: Knowing what to Throw in the Pan

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Cooking with Oil: Knowing What to Throw in the Pan

Many of us grew up in a house where the main fat used for everyday cooking was likely butter, Crisco, vegetable oil, the “healthy” alternative, margarine—or a combination of all of these. Over the past fifteen years or so, the promotion of heart-healthy oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, led many home cooks to switch up their cooking fat of choice. Despite the promoted benefits of cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil (and other light vegetable varieties), cooking with these oils isn’t as straightforward as it seems, at least it isn’t to me. I thought I was doing right by using extra virgin olive oil for cooking, but as time went on, I read more about how it could be working against me. Read more