Drink your water.

Drink up! (It’s HOT!)

Summer’s here and the 100+ degree days have kicked in here in Northern California so here’s your reminder to stay hydrated! In the sunshine of summer, there’s nothing like an icy glass of water to quench your thirst. When it’s hot, you sweat and need to replenish your hydration.  Makes sense, right?

The human body is 70% water. Since you are made of water, your hydration levels can have a big impact on how you feel.  If you are feeling sluggish and lackluster, you may need to drink water to help energize your brain and feel more focused and present.

Drinking water can help promote weight loss in a number of ways. Prior to eating, drink a glass of water. That may suppress your appetite and help with portion control. Sometimes our brains can mistake thirst for hunger. If you’re not sure you are hungry, try drinking a glass of water. That may hold you over until your next meal and cut down your snacking.

Water is also the first line of defense when you feel a headache coming on. You may be a bit dehydrated. 

There are other sources of hydration besides water. You can get water in vegetables and fruits, and herbal teas. Another tip for hydration — skip the caffeine and alcohol. They act as a diuretic and can actually contribute to dehydration.

Fruit and Herb Infused Waters

I have clients that struggle to get their daily water intake and one of the things I suggest for them is to infuse water with some tasty herbs and fruit. There’s certainly no shortage of ideas out on Pinterest, but I thought I would share a few of my favorites, especially since delicious fruits are in season right now! Pro-tip: Freeze your fruit for extra refreshment on demand.

  • Basil and strawberries
  • Meyer lemon, cucumber and mint
  • Blueberries and basil
  • Citrus (lemon, orange, lime and grapefruit)
  • Lemon and ginger
  • Peach and mint
  • Watermelon and mint
  • Lime, ginger and mint

Do you have a favorite? Let me know!

Online coaching packages for busy people – Available now!

I am pleased to announce that I have received my Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification to add a new dimension to my health coaching practice. The beauty of this program and coaching methodology is that it can be applied towards anyone whether they are just starting on their health journey or an experienced fitness enthusiast. Everything is customized based on where you are today – and where you want to be in the future.

I now have openings for my 12-month online coaching package.

This program is for you if:

  • You are tired of the diet merry-go-round
  • You’ve tried everything to lose weight and don’t know what you are doing wrong
  • You’ve had it with counting calories
  • You’re sick of food rules
  • You want to eat better without dieting and feeling deprived
  • You are ready to take control of your health
  • You want to get more active but need some motivation

This program is for you if you want to become a better version of yourself.

If you’re ready to start making gradual changes and building new healthy habits, this online coaching program may be for you! Every day, new lessons will be delivered to your email box providing guidance for achieving sustainable health improvements. Learn new habits for mindful eating, time-management, self-compassion and self-care, and persistence and consistency.

Your busy schedule doesn’t have to get in the way. Spending just a few minutes a day can help transform your approach to health and wellness, with long-lasting results. Interested in learning more? Let’s talk!

 

 

IIN INHC Certification

It’s graduation season!

Major Milestone: Certification!

For the past year, I have been studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in their Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Program. In December, I received my mid-certificate, that allowed me to start taking on paid clients in my health coaching business. On Tuesday, I graduated and am now a fully certified holistic health and wellness coach.

Reflecting back on the last year, it’s been quite a wild ride.

I got into this health coaching thing for a few reasons. I wanted to help people and I wanted to keep myself on track. And it’s worked in both respects. This past year has also led me to another chapter in my lifelong learning adventure. Now I am working on a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification in sports and exercise nutrition.

PN1 Textbook

This textbook is so big, I can count studying as exercise.

This will give me a different edge on providing lifestyle and nutrition coaching for a wide variety of people and goals. Plus, the science of digestion and metabolism is absolutely fascinating — and I am a true nutrition nerd.

Thanks for following for this past year. I’m excited for what is yet to come!

Readiness, in 2 parts

I’ve been wanting to write about readiness for a while, from both the client perspective and the coaching perspective. So here goes…

Navigating change can be exciting and terrifying at the same time, but like all things, you get out of a given situation what you put into it.

When I first start working with clients, we establish an understanding of expectations. Clients make a commitment to be coachable, to be open to new foods, concepts and exercises, to eat nourishing foods, to finding a balance between work and play, to give gratitude, and so forth. I commit to them that I will provide guidance, encouragement, and accountability in addition to information. Seems like a fair deal.

Sometimes people just aren’t ready. You need to be ready to change some things. When someone comes to me for weight loss, but doesn’t want to make changes, you have to just ask, “So how has what you’ve been doing been working for you?” I will be honest with people, that they have to put in the work to reap the benefits. And that the rewards don’t come overnight. What I offer are recommendations for small, sustainable changes, that can be incorporated over a six month period of time, or longer if needed. Expecting overnight results just isn’t realistic, and if someone is promising that, I’d seriously question what they are offering.

My clients who have made the most progress started off ready for change. They understood expectations about doing the work, about setting goals and working towards them, about digging deep to understand the “why” of their goals, and to honestly look at their nutrition and lifestyle to examine where opportunities for improvement exist. So yes, you need to be ready to commit to do the hard work.

The second part of this is my readiness as a coach. I’ve now completed my full year curriculum with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I have embraced this program fully from the start and am proud of my accomplishment of sticking to my goal of graduation and having actual clients that I can nurture through change. My initial “why” for doing this was two-fold: 1. I wanted to share everything I learned through my own health journey and help people begin their own path. 2. I wanted an exit strategy from my day job to be a full time health coach.

I am accomplishing the first goal by providing support to family and friends, through my own surgeon’s bariatric support group, and with my own clients – all of which who have blossomed before my eyes in such a rewarding way. The second — well, I decided I am not quite ready to make the leap into full time. I spent sometime over the past few weeks reflecting on what I have learned through education and through my work as a coach. Right now, working with several clients at the moment, I am fulfilling my goal to help others. My plan to continue working at my day job is partly due to fiscal responsibility, but it also seems like I am striking the balance I want. I’m making a commitment to put off retirement for the time being (this will be a newsflash to some!).

In other news, I am continuing my education by embarking on a new certification in Sports and Exercise Nutrition through Precision Nutrition, which is challenging and fascinating! I am learning all of the physiological and scientific information about nutrition, metabolism, digestion, absorption, and more! I’ll be sharing what I learn along the way and will be announcing some new coaching opportunities shortly!

Do you have a similar experience about your own readiness? Please share!

 

Spring cleaning: makeover for your fridge

When you are ready to start making healthy habit changes, physical environment can be an influential factor in your success. When you open the fridge and see leftovers, expired jars of sauces and dressings, processed foods with long ingredients lists, or soda – it hardly inspires adoption of new healthy habits.

Out with the old. In with the new.

If you’ve already started your health journey, you may have already crowded out a lot of foods in favor of more unprocessed options.  If not, here’s a few places to start.

Crowd Out:

  • Soda or other sugar sweetened beverages. Instead drink water or iced herbal teas. Even if you are drinking diet soda, cutting that out can make a big difference in how you feel. Artificial sweeteners have been known to cause all kinds of issues depending on what studies you read. Your body doesn’t know the difference between real or artificial sugar, so you can be setting yourself up for various imbalances in your body by continuing your diet coke habit.
  • Yogurt with artificial sweeteners or sugar-sweetened fruit. You may think you are doing yourself a favor by choosing low-fat yogurts, but check the labels — there’s either a lot of artificial sweeteners or a lot of sugar added to make them taste better.  Instead, get some plain greek yogurt and add your own fruit – fresh or frozen works.
  • Expired or tired food. Everyone has that ancient bottle of mayo or a veggie crisper full of good intentions and wilted greens. Time to toss them both and start with a clean slate. When buying fresh fruits and veggies, have a plan in mind for how you will use them, and if you wash and prep them right when you get home for the store, they will be there ready to consume when you need them!
  • Prepackaged or frozen entrees. They have ingredients and nutritional labels. Can you pronounce the ingredients? What’s the sodium count? Making your own food is one of the best things you can do for your health, and you completely control the ingredients list. Also, did you know that calorie counts and nutritional info can be off by plus or minus 20%? That can add up over time. Whole, unprocessed food is the best way to guarantee you are getting the nutrients you need to support your healthy body’s needs.

Add In:

  • Water or iced tea! Having nice cold water or some homemade iced tea with lemon on hand means you may drink it. Get yourself a cool pitcher or some mason jars to keep in the fridge so you’ll always have something cold to drink, especially as the weather heats up.
  • Seasonal fruits or veggies! Living in northern California, I’m lucky that I am able to buy fresh, seasonal and local produce right in our grocery store. Buying local and in season foods ensures that your food will have the right nutrients and taste better too. Mass produced food that has to travel thousands of miles to get to you may not have the same quality or even taste as purchasing local.  Pro-tip: wash and prep veggies right out of the grocery bag and even package into single-serving size grab and go containers to take for a snack or for lunches on the go.
  • Healthier spreads and condiments. Ditch the sugar sweetened ketchup or salad dressings and opt for fresh salsa, hummus, lime or lemon juice as a substitute for your jarred condiments.
  • Meal prep! Make room in your fridge for things you can cook in advance when you have time on the weekends or pick a day out of the week that works for you. Think about cooking once and eating twice as a practice, meaning cook to have enough for leftovers you can bring to work for lunch. Or make bulk quinoa, beans, or salads that can be used for a variety of meals during the week.  Once you clear out room in your fridge, stocking back up with easy to assemble meal options will help ensure that you will stay on track with your health food habits.

Have other pro-tips for keeping your fridge game on point? Let us know in the comments!

Quieting the churn

This year has been one of great personal transformation for me. I am about to wrap up a year long program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which has kickstarted a whole new passion and career as a health coach. It’s been busy and hectic, but manageable for a number of reasons.

First of all, I had a lot of support from my friends and family for pursuing something completely new. My main motivation was to keep me on track with my own wellness journey. I’ve maintained my weight loss from bariatric surgery for over a year now, with my second surgiversary coming up on July 5. So — mission accomplished there.

I’ve acquired a great deal of knowledge about coaching behavioral modifications and helping my clients find their own definition of health. It looks very different for each of them, and they all have different goals and different areas of focus.

One of the main reasons I got through all of this has to do with mindset. I am winding down my career as a government worker bee, so I have the motivation to be successful in this new chapter. But it’s not always easy. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for many years now, and while it’s a lot more manageable now post-surgery, I still have to work at it.

Meditation, not medication, has been my secret. Oh yeah, I am medicated too, but that’s not what has kept me focused. Mindfulness is such a buzzword these days, but it was my gateway to meditation.  I found the podcast 10% Happier in 2016 while contemplating weight loss surgery, when I was overcome with depression and grief after my dad died. The host, Dan Harris, is an ABC news anchor who had a panic attack live on TV which ultimately led him to meditation. I love his irreverence and skepticism about nearly everything, but the thing that sold me was his interview with the Dalai Lama. (Definitely check this out for all of the feels!) I didn’t actually decide to practice meditation however until I started my health coach training.

Journaling was an amazing outlet for me (we won’t talk about my office supply and journaling materials fetish) and I had already established a gratitude journal which really transformed my mindset. But I never really tried meditation because I figured I couldn’t shut that damn voice up in my head — that voice that is always churning. I started with some breathing exercises that I learned at a stress management training I took at work. Then when my Apple watch upgrade introduced some mindfulness apps I tried a few out. First it was Headspace, then Calm, then Simple Habit. After a bit of experimentation with longer form guided meditations on YouTube, I settled on Calm as the one I liked the most. Ten-ish minutes a day I can fit in. It quiets the mind, even mine with the spinning hamster wheel squeaking away.

I don’t get panic attacks very much, but over the past few weeks, I have been awakened out of the blue from a dead sleep with that horrifying chest tightness and heart palpitations which for me are a telltale sign that a panic attack is happening. It’s odd to wake up in the middle of the night to something so scary, so I am definitely looking into what that is all about, but it’s made me appreciate knowing that if I bring everything back to the breath, I can get them under control.

I’m normally encouraging people to step away from their phones and get some sunshine and fresh air, but this week, I thought it would be good to recommend something that really can enhance your health and get control of those damn hamsters churning away in your head.

Do you have any apps that have helped you on your health journey? Let us know what’s your fave!

Meal prep or meal planning?

Are you a prepper? Or are you a planner? Or a little of both?

I’m definitely a lot of both. But I like to keep things simple. First of all, it’s really important for me to know what is in the the food I eat. I would say that 95% of the food I eat is purchased and prepared by me or my husband. We rarely go out to eat (and actually prefer to make our own most of the time). But since I had gastric bypass surgery, I need to know what is in my food. I need to avoid added sugars and fried foods as those are an instant recipe for disaster and the need for a very close bathroom. There’s also some foods I used to eat, but my digestive system no longer tolerates.

Meal prep is now part of my weekly routine. But for me, planning comes first. I typically sit down on Friday or Saturday and think about what I want to prepare for the upcoming week. And then out comes Pinterest. I typically will make one or two recipes for the week, either a salad or soup, and then plan for roasted vegetables, and maybe a few Instant Pot recipes (lately egg bites have been in rotation and I sometimes make either quinoa or some kind of vegetarian recipe using beans or lentils). On the weeks when I am getting a farm box from Farm Fresh to You, I pick my box contents around what recipes I might make. Sometimes when I’m just not in the mood to cook, I just pick things I can prep and eat raw.

I have seriously memorized the layout of our local Nugget Market, so I make a list of all the things I need for recipes in the order they appear in the store: produce, then bulk items, then anything from the meat/seafood/vegan sections, frozen fruit for smoothies, almond milk, eggs. And that’s it.  I keep almost completely to the outer aisles of the store, where things have no packaging or ingredient lists. Whole food is my thing. Exceptions may be oats, spices, coconut milk, or Bragg’s ACV. Minimally processed.

In my planning, I like to honor meatless Monday, and I will often do a completely vegetarian week, if not vegan. Lately I have been looking for baked tofu recipes or something with tempeh, which I honestly could eat plain and uncooked and be a happy girl.

There are some weeks where raw foods work for me. There are some weeks when raw carrots or radish immediately give me an uncomfortable heartburn-like feeling.  I’ve learned to roll with it and just make sure I have options available for days when my digestion is tempermental. I also keep nuts like cashews and almonds on hand, either as snacks or as part of meals.

Once I get everything home, I follow somewhat of a routine too. Frozen stuff in the freezer, staples get put in the pantry, and then all the produce gets washed, dried, then prepped, either for recipes, or for snacking. I put things away in single serve sizes (I have these little Lunch Box containers which are the perfect portion size for a bariatric patient. They also stack easily in the fridge. And when they are prepared and ready to go, I know I will actually consume them and not just add them to the compost pile in the backyard. (Sound familiar?)

I do the same with my recipes. I either package up complete meals in single serving sizes or store them in bigger containers for assembly in the morning as I get ready for work. At the moment, I am doing 2 protein shakes a day, so one is typically in the morning mixed with chai tea or in a green smoothie with frozen fruit, a few handfuls of greens, and either chia seeds, or chlorophyll or some other supportive superfood supplement.

I’ve had clients ask me to do meal prep for them, and that’s actually fun for me, as long as they are eating in alignment with foods I already eat. My biggest problem is I can’t actually eat a whole recipe by the end of the week. I will either cut the recipe in half or freeze half in mason jars for future consumption.

I just chatted with a client this morning about meal planning. In recent weeks, she had asked me for tips on meal prep. Today, she told me that last week, she and her husband sat down and planned out all of their meals for the week, then stuck to the plan! She’s not big into the all-at-once food prep, but the planning worked for her.

My point here is that you really need to find what works for you, through trial and error. I have such a daily routine during the week, I need to have everything pretty much ready to go for me to pack and bring to work. And when I come home, the last thing I typically want to do is cook. So it’s all about assembly. Bio-individuality applies to daily routine just as much as it applies to food. They say one person’s food is another’s poison. I can’t dictate my routine to anyone, nor would I dictate my exact diet. Everyone needs to find that right balance on their own.

I’m curious to hear about other routines or suggestions for meal prep and planning. Share in the comments or on social media!

Use your words. Be powerful.

So much of creating a healthy environment for nourishment revolves around our own feelings of self-worth and positivity. How you describe yourself carries into how you live your life and present yourself to others.

This week, a fellow health coach shared an inspiring grounding exercise in a group coaching call. The demonstration of the power of words, language, and descriptors was perfect for a session when each of us was given the opportunity to tell our story. It’s really about creating a powerful affirmation mantra. Most useful for moments of self-doubt.

  1. First, write down 2 powerful words that describe your strengths. These are qualities you have, like compassionate, brave, influential, inspirational…pick your own.
  2. Next, pick 3 qualities you aspire to have. Something you may be working towards. Same kind of words.
  3. Now, in front of each word, write “I am grateful that I am…”
  4. Use these phrases as your mantra or daily affirmation.

I thought this was a simple yet beautiful exercise in visualization. The power of manifestation is real. Living your life as you envision turns aspirations into reality.

Many thanks to Tiffany from It’s Me, Lady G for the inspiration.

A fresh new look

Notice anything different? I decided to go to town and come up with a bit of a new look for my website. I’ve been refining things a bit. Things about me. Things about who I want to work with. Things about how I can apply what I have learned through my training and my own personal journey to my business.  Have any feedback, let me know!

Bad Breakup: Why I am letting go of diet culture

In my introductory post on my blog I briefly touched on the fact that since age 11, I had been on a diet. Obesity has been part of my life from an early age. I started off with Weight Watchers in the 70s where I learned about #3 and #4 vegetables, way before points, or whatever disguise of calorie counting have going on today. I spent my middle school years trying to get to a goal weight of 89 pounds, which, by the way, I never reached.

What did this do? Did it set me up with a knowledge of good nutrition and healthy weight goals? Nope. It set up a history of disordered eating — food as reward, withholding food as punishment, binge eating to drown out emotions, frustration with gaining and losing over the next few decades. Did I mention my father was the Weight Watchers instructor? All my life, I kept hearing that it’s “not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” and “nothing tastes as good as thin feels” and all the other marketing crap that was in at the time. Let’s just say that it didn’t do much for my relationship with my dad either.

Years went by, and while I did get really good at losing weight, I was never able to maintain my weight loss. In my thirties, I was probably considered medically obese when I found out I had a pituitary tumor. Although it was benign, it caused me to overproduce the hormone prolactin, so it had to be medically managed and monitored. I went to an endocrinologist who told me I needed to “eat less and move more.” So continued the compulsive hamster wheel of logging food, burning calories at the gym — but it wasn’t working.

Fast forward past a mounting list of co-morbidities ranging from arthritis, to high cholesterol, to high blood pressure, the pituitary thing and then a thyroid thing, and my weight at its highest shot up to 230 pounds. My primary care doctor gave me a tough love lecture and recommended that I look into a medically managed weight loss program, which was actually a VLCD (very low calorie diet) consisting of high protein shakes for months along with group behavioral counseling and weekly check-ins with a doctor. The good news is I had great success on this program and lost about 80 pounds, but I was never able to maintain the weight loss, even with the continued behavioral meetings and regular accountability. I was exercising — in fact running half marathons — and logging everything I put in my mouth and staying under 1100 calories and averaging 100-120 grams of protein. I was doing everything right. But I was still gaining weight.

Stress, anxiety, depression were all factors — but I was always sure there was something else going on. I felt broken.

In a moment of frustration, the doctors told me that there wasn’t much else they could do for me, as I tried all kinds of medications to support weight loss and to manage the accompanying anxiety and depression which I always associate with my weight and my lifetime of failing to lose and maintain. So they referred me for bariatric surgery.

I actually went to several orientations for different surgeons and did a ton of research about what was entailed and what would need to change after surgery. I chose my surgeon because during her presentation, for the first time in my life, I understood that it wasn’t my fault. I learned that obesity is a disease, that I probably had a genetic disposition for obesity, and that my body was fighting to maintain a higher weight. But also learned that bariatric surgery is a powerful treatment for obesity and related conditions. I knew it was right for me. I was approved for surgery (after a couple of denials and appeals, which is a story for another day) and I had gastric bypass on July 5, 2016.

Fast forward to 2017 – after the first six months of maintaining my goal weight, I came to the sudden realization that I, for the first time since I was 11, was not on a diet. I have rules to follow — I have to take vitamins daily, I need to meet certain macro goals, I cannot eat sugar or fried foods to avoid the dreaded dumping syndrome. My small pouch that replaced my stomach handles all the restriction for me, so I always feel satisfied after meals. I also have made serious adjustments to my thinking — I have learned how to tell when I have reached fullness, and I’ve also learned when I am NOT hungry, just bored or thirsty or some other emotion that I used to quiet by eating. Just the freedom of not being ruled by the scale, calorie counting, and calorie restriction is so empowering.

Diet culture is what set me up for a lifetime of disordered eating, feelings of failure, and a constant battle with the scale and with my own feeling of self-worth.

A few weeks ago, Weight Watchers announced they were going to offer free membership to teens and the Internet blew up. The hashtag #WakeUpWeightWatchers got some major Twitter screen time and the whole response really struck a chord with me. It brought me back to feelings of failure at 11. But it also made me realize how far I had come. My measures of success go way beyond the scale. And it helped solidify my mission to help people struggling with obesity to free themselves from diet culture and set themselves up with healthy lifestyle and nutrition choices. Progress, not perfection. Small changes, small victories, and big celebrations. Everyone’s journey is different, but being your best self is the best reward of a total transformation. And you get to define what that means.