You Can’t Out Exercise a Bad Diet

We need to talk about the elephant in the room, our eating habits.  Believe me, I’ve tried to exercise my way thin.  That alone won’t fix the problem!  After I took inventory of my eating habits and looked hard at my health, I came to realize how I got myself in this predicament.  Years of poor eating had taken its toll and I was going to fix it.   Problem is I hated vegetables.  Yes, as discussed last week I was slipping some into a breakfast shake, but that alone was not going to be enough.

After running, going to they gym, walking, biking and not losing a ton of weight, I decided to work with a nutritionist.  I walked into the first one and was shocked to see a less than healthy looking woman.  She sold me a bunch of Isotonic and handed me a piece of paper with a menu.  The Isotonix was OK, the menu was helpful in that at least I had a guide for the “What’s for dinner question” I faced every night.  I questioned some of the food choices on the menu as eating chips and chocolate cake, while appealing, was not really what I wanted.  My biggest learning in the month I spent with her was the concept of portion control.  In weighing my food to match the serving size indicated, I learned that I was eating way too much at my meals.

My second nutritionist was a beautiful, fit, healthy Doctor.  I was feeling better already when I walked in.  This lady practiced what she preached and her outer self reflected that.  She sold me a bunch of Paleo bars, shakes and supplements.  I wondered, does everyone want me to get my nutrition through powders and pills.  What happened to the food?  In my month with her my biggest learning was that people’s bodies interact with different food in different ways.  I was introduced to moving away from our dairy industries hormone laced milk and cheese.  I learned about goat milk and cheese products and how to make my own ricotta.

My third nutritionist was a beautiful yogi I met at my studio.  She is amazingly fit and knowledgeable about food and the body.  She actually did a lab test on me and found that my body doesn’t interact well with sugar.  I told her I don’t eat or use sugar.  I learned to better understand what was really in food.  What a surprise to see that sugar is in everything.  I learned how to read labels and understand what they meant.  She did sell me a bunch of enzymes and shakes and powders.  My biggest learning was I was going to have to be more selective about my food choices.  I also learned that the red wine I so loved was full of sugar and likely a cause of some of my issues.

My final nutritionist, yes I’ve been to many, took the approach I appreciated the most.  Fit and healthy and well versed, she didn’t sell me a single thing other than the fact that, “you can’t exercise away a bad diet.”  I learned the fallacies of carb free, gluten free and other fad diets, unless of course you have gluten sensitivities.   We did a complete work up of my lifestyle, health and food habits.  She taught me about different food groups and how many servings of each my body would need each day.  She told me I wasn’t eating enough!  Imagine that!  She also taught me it’s best to get your nutrients through food, not pills and powders. Finally something I can agree with.

I’m at the point now that I no longer need a nutritionist to tell me what I need to do.  I wish I could say I do it right all the time,but the reality is it’s a life struggle.

Our small step this week is to think about our portion size.  I used to think if I ate “one plate” with no seconds I was dieting.  When I weighed my food on a scale, I realized even though it was one plate, it was way too much food.  Use the idea of a typical frozen weight watchers or Jenny Craig dinner to visualize the size.  Typical serving size of meat is 4-6 oz for me.  One piece of filet mignon can feed both my daughter and I.  Typical pasta portion for me was 9 oz.  That’s not a lot, but using elbows made me feel like it was.  Typical fruit serving for me is once per day, one small Apple, 1/2 banana, 4 oz grapes, berries.  No, you don’t get to eat a whole huge bowl of fruit.  Healthy, but sugar level is high, albeit natural sugar.  Use the serving size recommended on the package label if you aren’t sure of portions.  Another small change I made was to eat on a smaller plate.  It truly made me feel like I ate more.  I was not hungry, so don’t worry. We will talk next week about eating throughout the day to balance our hunger.

Make one change this week, smaller plates and using a food scale.  These small changes will have big impacts on your journey.  Remember to journal it and share.  I’d love to hear from you.  Enjoy the week.

Here’s a great scale to use:

Information on serving sizes:

Click to access fgp_sizes.pdf

Putting Your Health First

This week we are going to talk about taking inventory of our current health status.

The first step on this crazy journey for me was understanding that I was causing my own problems.  In 2009, I constantly had flu like symptoms.  Most nights I had a low grade fever.  I had trouble staying awake past 8 o’clock, yet couldn’t sleep through the night.  During this time, I noticed I had a lump on my neck.  I went to get checked out and doctors found that I had a small tumor on my thyroid. I had to have a biopsy to rule out cancer.  Wow, what an eye opener that was.  Thankfully it was benign, but the scare prompted me to find answers as to why I was always sick.  After tests, I was diagnosed with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I was put on methotrexate, which is chemotherapy pills, and steroids.  I did feel better but the steroids caused me to gain weight.  When I learned about the long term effects of these medications, I was determined to get off no matter what it took.

I started reading about these diagnoses and discovered there is a strong connection between nutrition, lifestyle and autoimmune diseases.  I also began to notice just how many people were struggling with the same issues.    I learned there were other approaches to treatment that did not involve medication.  I decided to wean off steroids and began looking at my eating habits.

The first change was the elimination of all those fast food choices.  Dinner in those days was usually found in the phone book.  I purchased some cookbooks and a Vitamix.

I am the worst eater, always have been.  As a kid my favorite food category was pasta, twinkies and ring dings.  But, I was always super skinny.  As a middle age woman, my diet consisted of pasta, pizza, wine, fast food.  But, thanks to middle age and steroids, I was no longer skinny, or healthy.

So you ask, how does someone who hates vegetables get them in her diet?  My Vitamix was my secret weapon and worth every single penny.  You can’t compare it to a blender as it really breaks the food down. Even coarse food like broccoli. Every morning I started my day with a green shake.  I used spinach, kale or broccoli as a base.  Add to that a small handful of berries, blueberries or blackberries.  Add some Almond milk a scoop of organic whey protein or half an avocado, flax seed and tsp of coconut oil and blend.  I drank these every morning in place of a muffin, bagel or sugary cereal. One simple change and I was able to add vegetables to my diet.  A true first for me. I only ate corn! I noticed my energy increase pretty quickly.  I noticed my skin improved.  I noticed there were indeed ways to get vegetables in my diet! I could do this and so can you

Of course, I had more work to do, but like I keep saying, one small change can lead to big results.  So, for this week’s task on our journey, take a moment to reflect on your food choices.  When I first worked with a nutrionist, she told me to write down every single morsel of food I put in my mouth.  At the end of the day, reflect on how you feel. Did you have high energy, or feel sleepy at around 3 o’clock?  Did you snack a lot in the afternoon, or evening?  Any cravings?  Write this down too.  You’ll be surprised just how much you can learn about yourself from doing this.  You’ll also be surprised how one small change, like drinking a healthy breakfast shake will impact you.

I’d to hear what you notice if you journal this week.  Feel free to email me.  Have a great week and make one healthy change this week to your eating habits.

Great reads:

Keeping My Memories

I Wish She Knew Whose Hand She Holds

imageMy grandmother, Maria, suffered from Alzheimer’s.  As a young mom I used to bring my babies to visit her in the nursing home.  It was so sad to go there.  Such hopelessness all around.  Each time she would beg me to find her mother and please take her home.  Now, my mom is suffering from the same terrible disease.  My dad kept her home as long as he possibly could.  None of us wanted her in a nursing home.   Unfortunately, it was an unavoidable decision.

Watching these two women that I love slowly slip away has been one of the most painful journeys I’ve had to walk.  It got me wondering if this was my predetermined destiny, or if there was something I could do to prevent it.  I started reading and researching more about Alzheimers.  Everything I’ve read points to the possibility that food choices and exercise could possibly help decrease  my odds of developing the disease, or at the very least delay its onset.  While not a guarantee, why the heck wouldn’t I try.  I’ve witnessed the ravages of this disease and certainly don’t want to get it.  What have I got to lose?  Nothing.  What do I have to gain?  Everything, but most of all the ability to keep my memories with me til the end.  The ability to recognize my beautiful daughter and sons when they visit me.  The memories of my life well lived and family well loved.

So, the first part of this journey to reclaiming my health, if you are joining me, is taking stock on your eating habits.  Are they like mine were?  Massive amounts of fast food, carbs and chemical laden?  I recommend that you keep a journal for at least one week and write down every morsel of food, or drink, that enters your body.  If yes, commit to making one change this week.  Start to buy organic produce and grass fed hormone free meat and dairy products.  Do the research on why this is important.  Taking in nonorganic means you are taking chemicals and hormones into your body.  Your body is your temple.  You wouldn’t drink poison, so why would you willingly eat it?  If you can’t afford it, then research which fruits and veggies are most important to buy organic.  Make one change to avoid a disease like Alzheimers and reclaim your health. This was my very first change.

Start small and together we can make big changes.  Great read to get started –



Starting Over

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Those who know me know I’ve been on a hard fought journey to reclaim my health. I’ve had some medical issues that made it hard for me to exercise. After my ankle tendon surgery, I had trouble walking properly for a year! After a lot of physical therapy and hard work, I’m on a good path now. I have a very high stress job and in the past would make terrible food choices to soothe myself when coming home.  During the day I’d grab anything that was available, including candy.  I worked with several different nutritionists and have learned to make healthier food choices, well most of the time. Lol. Anyway, I’m putting myself out here and sharing my photos in the hopes it helps someone else who is fighting the fight. I’ll be sharing my struggles, successes and the changes I’m making with you all.  If you care to join me on this journey, reach out and email me.  I’d love to hear from you. Looking forward to continued health. Hope you join me and get moving.