Why Eating Clean Isn’t Enough Anymore

I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for nearly forty years which either means I am very old or very wise; (I am very old.)

During that time I have survived the low fat, high carb craze, the long slow distance theory of fat loss, and countless wasted hours planted on a spin bike, stair climber, treadmill, all in the pursuit of a better, leaner, healthier body. The rub? I was taking a huge detour, but, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Going Paleo changed my life and my body.

Nine years ago I discovered a better approach to exercise, (variety), and changed my eating habits (Paleo) which finally helped put my body back in balance, helping me lose those last 10 lbs. At 50, I looked and felt better than I had in my 30’s! (I’d still just as soon be 30, with my life experience now, but we don’t always get what we want, right?)

Just as my slightly older friends had warned me, with age comes change; that not so subtle metabolic ‘clunk’ that signals another shift in your body composition, energy, and mobility.

You’d think after three hip replacements I might have a clue, but my persistently positive attitude always makes me susceptible to naivety.

Denial notwithstanding, recently, the reality of time’s passing has shown up in my ability to, well, MAINTAIN.

And I am certainly someone you might call pro-active! I eat clean, workout regularly, meditate and try to be kind to others. I practice gratitude, dammit! But all of those things still added up to this:  my back hurt,  I felt shitty, fat, stiff and old. Furthermore, I just noticed dimples on my biceps! WTF????

Of course, I am aware of the source: inflammation.

That’s essentially what aging is. As we get older, we “rust out,” sooner than later if we don’t watch our sugar intake, alcohol consumption, or choose to stop moving. Other things play a role too, like sleep, attitude, staying connected and engaged, and having a faith of purpose.

What I didn’t understand until very recently was also how much our environment plays a role. To be specific, I’m referring to the (literally) thousands of toxic chemicals we are exposed to daily.

The minute we step out of bed in the morning, the Toxic Party begins.

We wash our hair with them, brush them on our teeth, slather them on our bodies and apply them to our eyes, lips, and cheeks. Toxic irritants are present in most commercial shampoos, toothpaste, deodorants, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies.

Our food, air, and water supplies are also loaded with chemicals; chemicals largely sanctioned as “acceptable” by our governmental agencies; the same organizations that were designed to protect us.

In a 2003 study performed by The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, researchers found an average of 91 industrial chemicals, heavy metals, or other significant toxins in test subjects. These chemicals included PCBs, commonly used insecticides, dioxin, mercury, cadmium, and benzene. At least 53 of these are known to suppress our immune system.

In 2004 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) testing a much bigger sample of 2,500 people, detected an average 116 chemicals in subjects and finally, in 2005 a third study found traces of 287 chemicals in test subjects. These toxic chemicals create inflammation and disruption of our T cells, often setting us up for inflammatory disease and/or triggering an autoimmune response.

Autoimmune dysfunction is when the body gets triggered somehow to turn our own immune systems to “fight” and resist us.  This can affect one organ or multiple organs which causes a myriad of diseases.

The Bottom line? We feel bloated, stressed, wired and tired. That’s not the quality of life we aspire to.

So what can we do? Thankfully, there’s a lot. Here’s what I’m doing:

Eating clean. This means taking a closer look at what I have been eating and getting real about my protein sources and selections. I still avoid dairy, grains, glutens, sugar and processed foods, but have been a bit lax of late with my travels and eating desserts and drinking way too much. That’s gone, NOW. My belly is my reminder: Booze = Bloat and I ain’t digging it. I’ve also taken a look at my medications and supplement list and with the help of my Naturopathic doc, Alicia Johnson, I am taking only what I need and flushing the rest (more on this in another blog).


Moving More.  Truthfully my back has been a big hindrance to this. I know what you are thinking- how does a freaking Pilates instructor wind up with a herniated disc? I know! It’s bullshit. But it’s real and it’s cramped my style for several weeks. Thankfully most injuries of this kind tend to take care of themselves in time and that is the case with me. I have been able to return to teaching Pilates and Inversion Therapy, maintain my walking but need to add in some more 20-minute resistance training via weights and the reformer. All of these things I call “supportive” exercises as they provide variety and support instead of breaking me down.


Making Sleep a Priority. This has never been my strong suit but lack of sleep is a huge detriment to our health. Skimping on sleep not only affects our energy and the way we feel, it affects us on a cellular level. Sleep scientists say sleep deficiency is associated with problems with concentration, memory and the immune system — as well as with shorter lifespans. Caffeine, alcohol, stress and sleeping pills all undermine the quality and quantity of our sleep and therefore, our health.  I am not quite Benjamin Franklin, but I did ask Herb the other night if it was bad that we were in bed before the sun went down. His answer? “Nope.”


Toning down the toxins. This has been eye opening and truthfully, I never gave it much thought until recently. I’d been so focused on my diet and exercise that I must have thought I was somehow immune to the toxins I was ingesting and slathering on every day. I was wrong. Why would I go to all those lengths to detox my body and then simply ignore the toxins in my food, home, and makeup? This, after having to remediate my home for mold last year when Herb got sick with not one but two autoimmune diseases.  His sickness from mold toxicity triggered Lyme’s disease which had previously been latent.


All I can say is denial is a powerful thing.

Today we are installing a new whole house water filter to decrease the toxins in our water; getting a small freezer so we can purchase grass-fed beef and afford it; replacing our soaps, shampoos, deodorants, detergents and other cleaning supplies with chemical free options; and buying organic ALL the time instead of MOST of the time- especially those fruits and veggies on the “Dirty Dozen” pesticide list.

Why I’ve Decided Not To Age

Recently Herb and I went out on a date.  We wanted to try a new, hot restaurant called 1900 so we made a reservation.  Good news?  We got in.  Bad news?  The only thing left open was at 6:00 pm.  Now that might explain what happened next, but it was still shocking, and unwelcome, and altogether uncalled for.

The restaurant tucked discreetly off the street, was beautiful and sophisticated, decorated in austere gray and white with floor to ceiling windows.  The elegant atmosphere was just quiet enough to make it seem extra special. We followed the hostess (who looked like she was twelve) to our table and sat down, grinning because we were so excited to be out together.

We giddily nodded as our waiter delivered water, took drink orders, and recited the specials, so we didn’t immediately notice where we’d been seated.  It was a corner table, one of the best in the room where we had a lovely view of everyone in the place.

It wasn’t the table that bothered us, it was the company!  It looked like we were dining in an upscale nursing home! Everyone in that room was OLD! 

I looked at Herb and asked, “Did we cross over to this status without our knowledge?  What’s with the all the raisins?”

He smiled and said, “Well, we are eating at 6:00 pm.”   Leave it to Herb to be positive.

Unconvinced, I looked suspiciously around the room.  This, I thought to myself, seriously sucks.  Then I had a drink.

This morning I woke up with a stiff back.  It’s been stiff for about three weeks, but it went rogue on me this weekend after a particularly shitty week.  Undeterred, I woke up at 5 am, thudded out of bed and stubbornly did my morning meditation.  Mind over matter, you know.

I then packed a bag to drive with Herb to the Mayo clinic for the third and final visit in three weeks.  It was to be a good day- at 2 pm he was scheduled to get his arm out of the straight cast he’s been wearing since having elbow surgery last month.

Living with the one arm bandit has had its challenges and we were both looking forward to his emancipation.

Although my back was killing me I was determined to be a good partner and make the six-hour drive. I packed my Yamuna balls, back support pillow, ibuprofen, ice packs, and favorite healing crystal to help me make the journey.

We made it as far as the county line before he turned the car around and brought me home.  “This isn’t going to work,” he said, ” let’s be logical.  You’re miserable and I can’t worry about you.”

So, I thought, maybe I am old. 

Tomorrow I turn 59 and that’s a number an awful lot like 60, which I used to think was old.  In fact, when I was a kid, my friend Duonna House told me her parents were 30, and I thought they were ancient.  I also remember watching middle-aged women put lipstick on in the bathroom at Putsch’s cafeteria, wondering why they even bothered.  Didn’t they know they were old?  Jesus, I was brutal.

Now, when I hear my kids talking about feeling old in their 30’s I want to laugh, but really, why should I?  Age, like time itself, is a construct, so who’s to say who’s “old” and who isn’t?

Age never bothered my client Rae Block.  A diminutive force of nature, Rae’s power as a woman only increased as she aged because she only grew more into herself.  She was funny; she was intense, she was smart, and she was irreverent.

I knew the moment I met Rae that I was in the company of a unique woman.  What I didn’t  know at that moment was how lucky I was that our lives had crossed.

One of the first things my new employer said to me was, “I hope you’re better than my last trainer.  All she did was walk me to get ice cream,” and she laughed that ornery laugh. “I knew how to manipulate her.  I hope you are going to be tougher on me than that.”

Classic Rae- being herself was never a problem.

Rae was bold.  She wasn’t about to take an ounce of grief from anyone and you knew it.  She had lived a life of her choosing and she took responsibility for it.  That’s why she abhorred anyone who didn’t do the same.  She did not suffer fools… or victims… or weaklings.  I loved Rae and I never wanted to disappoint her, so I learned to be someone she could respect and that helped me in my own life.

As the months and then years passed, my time with Rae became one of the highlights of my week.  She’d roll her eyes during wall squats, protest about the treadmill speed, feign weakness on the abdominal curls, but she was as lithe and energetic as a 20-year-old (she often looked like a 10-year-old rolling around the floor), and I marveled at her ability to be completely ageless in mind and body.

One day after training, Rae mentioned that she had a spot on her lung and that her son was taking her to the Doctor to have it biopsied.  I went cold inside. 

I said, “You’re going to be fine.  You feel great!” and she agreed.  She felt fine; she felt great.  Nonetheless, I asked her if I could call her after she went to the oncologist to see how it went.  I also told her she didn’t have to pick up (Rae valued her privacy), but that I would call anyway.

I was with friends for dinner but snuck away to the ladies room at the appointed time to call her.  I was relieved when she picked up.  I thought this was a good sign.

“Hi, Rae.  How are you?”

“Fine darling.  Fine.”

“How did it go at the Doctors today?”

“Well, I went, and David went.  And I have lung cancer.”

“Oh, Rae.  I’m so sorry.”

“Yes, well I asked the Doctor about it and it’s spread to several places.”

“Oh, Rae.  I’m sorry.”

“Well then I asked what stage it was, and the doctor said 5.  Then I asked her how many stages there were, and she said 5.”  (with humor!)

I said nothing.  I couldn’t because she didn’t want tears from me.

“And so,” she continued,” I asked how long I had to live without chemo and I didn’t like that response… so I guess I’m going to have chemo.  We’ll just see.”

“Well you know I’m here for you.”

“I know that darling.”

I think she sensed I was going to say something schmaltzy so she interrupted, “But Dr. Holt called today, and I got some good news.”

“What was that?”

“My mammogram came back, and I don’t have breast cancer!”  and we both laughed.  That was Rae.  She died in 2009.

When I begin to feel sorry for myself because my back hurts, or my hip hurts, or my butt or face is drooping, I think of Rae. 

Because Rae never cared about age.  She never seemed like a woman of 75 or 80 or 82.  She was beyond it.  She was simply Rae and that example was only one of the magnificent gifts she gave me.

Thank you, Rae.

One Soul. One Source.

I’m guilty. Maybe you are, too.

When someone we care about is having trouble, we want to help them, intercede, solve their problem.  This presents itself in many ways- rescuing, enabling, justifying, or appeasing them.  Alternatively, it may be distancing, judging them, and becoming impatient. Either way, we forget one fundamental truth: each of us is fully capable and wholly responsible for defining the course of our own lives.

Instead of viewing this as the very essence of our time on Earth, a remarkable gift and opportunity for learning, we often choose to suffer, resist, eradicate or deny the issue.  This is what causes pain.

I’ve spent a lifetime wanting to help others.

Without hesitation, I offer advice, remedies, strategies, and solutions.  I see pain and I know how to fix it- why wouldn’t I explain how?

On a recent trip, I met a young woman who’d been in a horrible car accident several months before. She’d been near death, but not ready to die, had pleaded with God to return her to life.

Her wish was granted and she woke up to find her pelvis shattered requiring multiple surgeries, inscrutable pain and months of physical therapy. She was returned to life, but it was a much different life than before. 

When I heard her story, it was hard to believe she’d had to learn how to walk again because she looked completely whole.

On a day trip to Tikal, she quietly shared her worries about being able to handle the rigors of the day. She was apprehensive, and at that moment seemed fragile to me.  Aware of this, I worried about her as we hiked, climbed and ascended staircase after staircase to view the ruins. Many times I checked myself, wanting to ask her if she was all right, but I didn’t. I realized my worry was not required- in fact, it would have disrespected her experience that day.

Instead of hovering and reminding her of her challenge, I simply asked, “How’s your butt?”

As it turned out, her butt was just fine and we all had a magical day together in Tikal. As we sat in our circle the next day, telling our classmates about our adventure, my friend, near tears told the group about her surgery and concerns about going to Tikal.

She also told them how wonderful it was to discover she was up to the task, stronger than she believed, marking a significant milestone in her recovery.

As I listened, my eyes welled with tears. Her story not only inspired me but shed a huge light for me as well.  In the guise of helping others, I’d often overstepped my boundaries by either giving unsolicited advice, urging a certain outcome, or secretly judging, withholding compassion, and distancing myself.

It’s natural to want to help others. The issue isn’t the help itself but the intention behind it.  

Now when I hear myself giving advice or providing an agenda, I check in with myself to see if it’s triggering some need within me to fix, control or make the world right.

As a child, I learned early that pleasing was a way to feel loved, safe and accepted.  That meant being hyper-vigilant, always ready to remedy, repair, or make better. This wasn’t all bad as I’ve gone on to create a business centered around service and helping others. But as an adult, I also realize, it’s not my responsibility to fix, cure or change anyone else.

Who am I to think I know better what is best for someone else? The arrogance has been so well disguised I didn’t recognize it. When I give advice, suggest solutions, urge action, whose agenda am I really invested in- theirs or mine?

This isn’t just a boundary issue.  This is a spiritual issue.

And so, when I am triggered, I remember a long night when I was suffering, feeling lost and hopeless, desperately wanting to help someone who would not be helped. Crying, I heard a voice. The voice said calmly, “Stop. This isn’t yours. He’s fully capable. He’s able to choose. It’s not about you. Remember, ‘One Soul. One Source.’ ”

I took that to mean that we are all one Soul connect to one Source.  But each Souls journey to Source is entirely their own.

What is Source?  I think it is LOVE.  And Love simply IS.  

It has no need to attach, make right, insinuate or adjust.  Love is not attached to an outcome. Outcomes, agendas, judgment, needing to feel helpful… that’s something else altogether- that’s Ego, the real cause of our separateness and suffering.

Looking for Love in All The Wrong Places

The truth about body obsession, self- loathing, and longing…

As someone who has worked in the health and fitness arena for over thirty years, I’ve seen and experienced my fair share of body obsession and all its incarnations. By body obsession, I mean our endless pursuit of a better body, weight loss, and perfection, based on the misconception that once we lose that last 10 lbs we will somehow be “better” “more acceptable” “more powerful” or “more loveable.”

You might think this is ironic since as a trainer and fitness guru, I’ve spent my entire life talking about self-improvement via weight loss, exercise, and nutrition. 

We say want to “be healthy” to “feel better,” but really, what does that mean? I’ve seen clients lose and then gain hundreds of pounds, not because they were weak, lacked motivation or were unprepared.  Their heads were totally in the game- the part that was missing were their hearts. It’s impossible to take good care of yourself when you’re at war with yourself.  Fear, self-judgement, procrastination, apathy, sarcasm- these are just a few of the ways we sabotage, prolong, or deny ourselves true health, joy and happiness. 


At War…

One of the most common expressions of this war is a pre-occupation and dissatisfaction with our bodies. We don’t  like our thighs, our bottoms are too big or too small, the skin on our belly and arms is beginning to sag. 

Tom, a friend of mine, refers to his body as a “Meat sack.”  A deeply spiritual person, Tom encourages others to simply appreciate the miracle of our body and cherish it as our physical home on Earth.  Our bodies and consciousness are deeply connected and yet, we act as if they weren’t.

When we lack respect for the body’s tireless service to us (despite our abuse and misuse), no amount of “application” (ie. dieting, exercising, and wardrobing) will change how peacefully or joyfully we live in them. Accepting and valuing our bodies, imperfections and all, is the first necessary step toward healing that hole in our heart; that pit we feed with our fear, shame and feelings of unworthiness. 

In her book, The Answer is Simple- Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit, Sonia Choquette writes about the body, “To love yourself, you must love your body as well- it comes as a package deal. No matter what kind of body you ended up with, it’s the only one you have, so you must live with it whether you want to or not. Realize how important your physical self to your life’s journey- not for the approval it wins from others, but for the service it provides for your Spirit. It’s your vessel, your carrier, your means of experiencing life. Like a car that gets from point A to point B, it’s your mode of transportation on Earth and will work much better for you if you treat it with a little respect and care.”



The Struggle is real…

As someone who has struggled for years with my weight, body image and self-acceptance, I was constantly looking for love in wrong places. This has included desperation dieting, over-exercising, obsession with perfection and punishing myself for my repeated “failures.” My only real failure was to deny the fact that I was already loveable, whole and okay. Once I set about doing the inside work, the impetus to care for my body fell right into place. That’s because mindset and motivation, like our body and spirit, are inseparable.. we can’t have one without the other.


Letting go to have more…

As I’ve gotten older I am learning more about my body and appreciating it more for the amazing home it is. It’s no longer about losing 5 lbs, or fitting into the size 2 or feeling “acceptable”; it’s about being able to cherish the moments of my life, doing the things that I want to do, with the people I love, in a healthy, strong, 59-year-old body.

It’s respect for the little moments which add up to the big moments which define the quality of this life I have. I don’t want to miss another moment because I’m feeling “fat” or “depressed” or simply “less than.”

That’s a decision- that’s an agreement that I no longer entertain nor accept. Life is short and amazing. I don’t have time to waste making choices that don’t support me, my dreams, my relationships or feeling freaking fantastic.

Come to think of it, none of us do.  So why not choose to celebrate?  It’s so much more fun.

Exercise, Calories and Fat Loss

fitness_101In our last T School Intensive discussion about the importance of keeping track of your food, exercise and sleep, one of our participants asked how best to record our exercise calories burned in the MyFitnessPal app.
She asked for a simple way to record calories burned through common activities, like walking, weight training, High Intensity Interval workouts, and our classes at Pilates 1901, etc, as there are no preset activities in the app to make this simple.It was a good question, so I followed up on her request. (Thank you Lisa K.) But before I continue, I need to preface my finding with two
pre-requisites.  When considering the effects of exercise, it’s important to not focus solely on the total calories burned during the activity, but to consider the overall metabolic effect on your body.IS IT REALLY ABOUT CALORIES IN AND CALORIES OUT?  NOT EXACTLY.

While more calories may be burned in cardio session than a resistance training session, the long term results of that resistance training session may have the greater impact on fat loss because you are building and maintaining muscle mass, your metabolic furnace.  The best fat burning workout option is interval training which combines cardio and resistance exercises performed at an intensity level that takes you outside of your comfort zone with periods of rest and recovery.  This creates what is called the EPOC effect.investment
Similar to how a car’s engine remains warm after being turned off, once a workout is over and you’re back in your daily routine, your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories than when at complete rest. This physiological effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Also known as oxygen debt, EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (called homeostasis). It also explains how your body can continue to burn calories long after you’ve finished your workout.

Your metabolism is how your body converts the nutrients you consume in your diet to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel your body uses for muscular activity. ATP is produced either with oxygen using the aerobic pathways or without oxygen relying on the anaerobic pathways. When you first start to exercise, your body uses the anaerobic energy pathways and stored ATP to fuel that activity. A proper warm-up is important because it can take about five to eight minutes to be able to efficiently use aerobic metabolism to produce the ATP necessary to sustain physical activity. Once a steady-state of oxygen consumption is achieved, the aerobic energy pathways are able to provide most of the ATP needed for the workout. Exercise that places a greater demand on the anaerobic energy pathways during the workout can increase the need for oxygen after the workout, thereby enhancing the EPOC effect.


The body is most efficient at producing ATP through aerobic metabolism; however, at higher intensities when energy is needed immediately, the anaerobic pathways can provide the necessary ATP much more quickly. This is why we can only sustain high-intensity activity for a brief period of time—we simply run out of energy. HIIT works because during high-intensity exercise ATP is produced by the anaerobic pathways; once that ATP exhausted, it is necessary to allow ATP to be replenished. The rest interval or active-recovery period during an anaerobic workout allows aerobic metabolism to produce and replace ATP in the involved muscles. The oxygen deficit is the difference between the volume of O2 consumed during exercise and the amount that would be consumed if energy demands were met through only the aerobic energy pathway.


Higher intensities require ATP from anaerobic pathways. If the ATP required to exercise at a particular intensity was not obtained aerobically, it must come from the anaerobic pathways. During EPOC, the body uses oxygen to restore muscle glycogen and rebuild muscle proteins damaged during exercise. Even after a HIIT workout is over, the body will continue to use the aerobic energy pathway to replace the ATP consumed during the workout, thus enhancing the EPOC effect.


In an extensive review of the research literature on EPOC it was concluded that resistance exercise produces a greater EPOC response than steady state cardio exercise. For example, one study found that when aerobic cycling (40 minutes at 80 percent Max HR), circuit weight training (4 sets/8 exercises/15 reps at 50 percent 1-RM) and heavy resistance exercise (3 sets/8 exercises at 80-90 percent 1-RM to exhaustion) were compared, heavy resistance exercise produced the biggest EPOC.


At this point, we are not able to share set kcal burn for different workouts in the myfitnesspal app, but you can each individually import the estimated kcal burn in the attached “cheat sheet” that I created.  Please keep in mind that this is just an estimate of kcal burned as I used the following parameters to run the calorie burn calculations:
The participant is female, 50 years old and weighs 145 lbs.  To get a more accurate count for your personal workouts you will need to visit one of the calorie calculator sites listed below and enter your personal stats.

You will notice the greatest number of calories might come from cardio and interval training classes but all resistance training (ie Mat, Ball and Pilates equipment workouts) are helping you build and maintain muscle which determines your ability to burn calories not only during exercise but at rest.  Further, over training, or doing too much exercise in the name of burning more calories undermines your ability to maintain muscle mass and may actually sabotage your best results.


The other thing that people are tempted to do when looking at calories burned by exercise is to think they can add them to the total number of calories they consume per day.  This is incorrect and most folks only slow down or sabotage their fat loss goals by “eating them back on.”  Do not make this mistake; instead look at the exercise calories your burn daily as a way to propel your progress and not simply a way to justify eating more food.

To calculate your own kcal burn doing different types of exercise, explore the following resource links:


facebook_Happy Woman jumping shutterstockTHE BOTTOM LINE
It all comes back to journaling about the kind of exercise that you LIKE and WILL DO, and HOW YOU FEEL after doing it.  Consistency in your habits, including the foods you choose to eat daily, the movement you engage in and the commitment to getting quality sleep is what matters.

Your body isn’t a math calculation and although it’s important to have guidelines to work within, your awareness and connection to your daily choices is what will transform your body, body composition and your life.

The Truth About Fat in Your Diet

Many thanks to my friends Michelle Davidson and Joel Nichols for welcoming me every other Thursday morning to discuss what we can do each day to be proactive, healthy,  and happy!   I am so grateful for the opportunity to share!


Is Eating Fat Bad for You?

Over the past thirty years, it seems dietary fat has been demonized as responsible for leading to heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.  But is that assessment still accurate?  Fat is a macronutrient that we, in fact, need in our bodies for optimal cell function, nerve function, brain function, healthy skin and hair, joint cushioning, and the transport of fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K.
So why the bad wrap?  Take a moment to learn more about the benefits of eating fat and the real health costs of eating one type of fat in particular:  Transfats.

To take a closer look at the risks of eating fat, it’s important to know there are different kinds of fat: Healthy, Bad and Benign.

“Healthy Fats”

include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats which often come from plant-based sources and are generally liquid at room temperature.  Walnuts, avocados, olive oil, and peanuts are examples of monounsaturated fats;  Flaxseed, vegetable oils, fish oils (in salmon), almonds and seeds provide us with our poly unsaturated fats, which contain heart-healthy Omega 3 and Omega 6’s.


“Saturated Fats”  found in animal products like milk, meat, cheese, lard, and butter may also be found in plant sources like coconuts.  Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature and have been credited with increasing our risk for heart and cardiovascular disease.  That’s because the research showed that eating saturated fats increased our blood fats and cholesterol which was associated with greater risk for heart disease.
But what the research did not show was that it focused on TOTAL Cholesterol rather than examining the ways it affected both our “bad” cholesterol (LDL- low density lipo proteins) and our “good” cholesterol (HDL-  high density lipo proteins).


Further, scientists have discovered that our LDL lipoproteins come in two sizes and consistencies, small and dense and large and fluffy,

Small dense particles can pass through arterial walls easily and contribute to plaque build up and coronary artery disease.  They also are easily oxidized which raises the risk of disease.  But the large molecule LDL is large and fluffy and are too large to pass through cell walls and is therefore benign.

Low carb diets higher in saturated fats help enlarge the LDL particles and low fat diets have been linked to increased small particle LDL. This research shows that saturated fat does not have the same detrimental affect on blood lipids as it was thought in the past.  That said, you shouldn’t make a steady diet of bacon and steak, but there is now evidence that saturated fat is not as bad as we once assumed.  In fact recent studies have show that diets high in protein and saturated fats can increase our HDL (the “good”cholesterol) and increase the production of large density (rather than the riskier small density lipo proteins) associated with risk for heart disease.


The real enemy in fighting fat is avoiding Transfats at all cost.  Trans fats are  man made hydrogenated oils that were designed to help extend shelf life of processed foods.  Trans fat is often found in margarine, baked goods, prepared cookie dough and biscuits, and commercially fried foods and snack chips
When you read a label and see the words, “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” please know that the fats in this food have been chemically altered by a high heat process which alters the composition of the fat in a profound and dangerous way.  Transfats drastically increase small density LDL and risk for heart disease, obesity, insulin resistance, belly fat and metabolic disease.

In fact the fat has been found to be so harmful that the FDA has put out a mandate that all trans fats must be out of all foods in America by the end of 2018.   But until then avoid transfats by avoiding processed foods and reading labels.

A simply way to stay on top of all this information is to remember, if it comes in a box and has more than five ingredients (or ingredients only a chemist could pronounce), it doesn’t need to go into your body!


Good Carbs Bad Carbs

Many thanks to my friends Michelle Davidson and Joel Nichols for welcoming me every other Thursday morning to discuss what we can do each day to be proactive, healthy,  and happy!   I am so grateful for the opportunity to share!

This week we talked about “Good” vs “Bad” Carb choices and why they really do matter to our waistlines and health!

We only had time to discuss a portion of what I wanted to say about carbs. Here’s what wasn’t on the show…


Carbohydrates, or carbs, are one of three macronutrients that provide the body with energy. The other two are protein and fat.   Carbohydrates job is to provide energy for the cells and body.

  • Sugars: Individual sugar molecules or short chains of sugar molecules. These include glucose, fructose, galactose and sucrose.
  • Starches: Longer chains of carbohydrate molecules that need to be broken down in the digestive system.
  • Fiber: Carbohydrates that the body cannot digest.


 Not all Carbs are Created Equal

  • Complex carbs: Carb-containing foods that are in their whole, unprocessed form. Foods in this category include fruits, vegetables and legumes.
  • Simple carbs: Sugars and starches that have been refined and stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients.


Health benefits of Complex Carbs

Complex Carbs Are Less Likely to Cause Blood Sugar Spikes. Fiber-rich, complex carbs take much longer to break down than simple carbs. This helps keep blood sugar levels steady, as sugar reaches the bloodstream gradually. Because complex carbs are digested more slowly, they provide sustained energy and help you feel fuller longer.

Simple carbs are digested very quickly, which causes a spike in your blood sugar. The blood sugar spike stimulates your pancreas to release a large dose of insulin, which often leads to a blood sugar “crash,” leaving you hungry and craving more sugar.

Complex Carbs May Reduce Your Risk of Some Chronic Diseases

Consuming complex carbs may help lower your risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. They tend to be high in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant compounds. All of these components play a role in disease prevention.

Furthermore, studies have found that eating whole foods high in dietary fiber may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as help raise “good” HDL cholesterol.

Complex Carbs Promote a Healthier Digestive System

There are billions of “good” bacteria lining your intestines. They’re known as your gut microbiota. They play a role in managing several digestive disorders and have been linked to various other aspects of health.

Soluble fibers found in complex carbs feed the beneficial bacteria and increase their presence in your gut. They also help the bacteria produce nutrients, such as short-chain fatty acids, which are beneficial for digestive health.

Complex Carbs May Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury. However, long-term inflammation can increase the risk of several chronic diseases. While sugary foods and refined flours promote inflammation, complex carbs help reduce inflammation.

Single-ingredient whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes contain fiber and plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Simple Carbs Can Be Detrimental to Your Health

Simple carbs like refined grains and added sugars are horrible for your body.

    • They contribute to overeating: Simple carbs break down quickly and cause a blood sugar roller coaster. Studies have found that these blood sugar spikes and crashes contribute to cravings, hunger and overeating.
    • High triglyceride levels: Large amounts of refined carbs can lead to elevated triglyceride levels, which increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
    • Increased heart disease risk: Sugar and refined grains increase heart disease risk. A study found those who ate the most refined grains were 2–3 times more likely to develop heart disease than those who ate the least.
    • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes: Excessive consumption of simple carbs can cause your cells to become resistant to insulin, which greatly increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
    • Sugar is addictive for some people: Similarly to recreational drugs, sugar causes the brain to release dopamine. For people that are prone to addiction, sugar can be highly addictive.
    • Increased chance of becoming obese: Simple carbs harm the hormones that regulate appetite, making them likely to contribute to obesity.


As a card carrying carb lover myself, I have learned to respect the immense power of my food choices not only on how I look, but more importantly how I feel and function.  Eat carbs because they are good for you!  But choose wisely because some are much better than others!

The Dangerous Effects of Sugar

You’ve heard it over and over: Sugar is bad for you.

The more you have of it, the more you crave it.   More than likely, the images that this statement conjures up include ice cream cones, candy bars and powdered donuts.  But sugar is far more deceptive than to just find it’s way into your favorite sweet treat.

The problem is sugar is hidden in many foods you would not think included it!  Here’s a recap of the show I did with Michelle Davidson and Joel Nichols about hidden sugars and their adverse effect on our health and well being.


Here’s more information about the adverse effects of sugar that wasn’t on the show.

The Truth: The adverse affects of sugar on the body run much deeper and dangerous than addiction and fat accumulation.  While every individual is unique—meaning that the reason for your cravings may have to do with biological factors that are different for every person–what happens with sugar in the body follows a pretty basic formula:


When the body is constantly struggling to get this balance right, the demand for insulin release is TOO MUCH which ultimately results in our blood sugar dropping below normal levels. This is called hypoglycemia, aka…a sugar crash. We then consume more and the process starts again.

So you get it.  The damaging affects of sugar begin with things like food cravings, food addictions, sugar crashes, depressed mood, fatigue, and irritability.

What exactly happens with that extra sugar?? It doesn’t just go away. It gets stored as fat. Storing fat isn’t just about your pants getting tight.


Here is what you may not know:

Sugar is made up of glucose and fructose.  Glucose is cool because every cell in your body can metabolize it for energy.  Fructose is unique because only the liver can break it down.  There’s a whole lot more fructose hidden in the foods we eat than there is glucose.  This one organ is doing all the work to metabolize the overabundance of fructose in the diet!  It’s also the organ responsible for turning that unused sugar into fat deposits in your body.

WHAT’S BAD ABOUT THE FAT??  Excessive sugar causes the liver to make fat AND becomes insulin resistant!  Then the danger escalates. Insulin is a hormone and if it’s not getting used, it gets turned to FAT too!  Eventually, the pancreas stops releasing insulin because it can’t keep up with the demand either.

THEN WHAT??  Basically the body is in a state of crisis or chronic inflammation.  InflammationThe GOOD NEWS IS…what you eat has more power than just busting your sugar cravings and halting this vicious environment of inflammation.  What you eat truly HARMS YOU OR it HEALS YOU.

Those processed foods and too much sugar created a toxic environment in your body. So you signed up for T School and started the process of deoxing from sugar.  Just taking sugar away isn’t the only factor involved in reversing the toxicity.  It’s what you add in!

Food is your anti-inflammatory!  Did you know that every food has a pH value?

This is a speciaUnknownl scale created to measure how acidic or alkaline a fluid or substance is. It ranges from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline) with 7 being neutral. The more alkaline a food is, the more detoxing it is. Alkaline foods feed and regenerate the body instead of deplete it. In addition, they are packed with live nutrients that help detoxify the body.  You need both alkalizing and acidic foods.

It’s no surprise that the most highly acidic foods are sugar and refined, processed foods.  When you do a detox from sugar, you are consuming foods that are highly alkalinic.  The overly acidic environment is thus counteracted.

Here’s an awesome chart that shows what foods are alkaline or acidic!  Click here to print your copy!

Not surprising, most fruits, vegetables and nuts are alkalizing!  Some foods ARE really surprising!  Did you know a lemon is actually highly alkalinic INSIDE the body?

Your body was meant to maintain a pH level between 7.35-7.45, so with every bite of food, you literally change the chemical make-up of your body!  This will change depending on what foods/drinks you take in. Foods either maintain health(higher alkaline intake) or produce disease (higher acidic intake).

Wanna actually see your pH level?  Test your pee! It will show the pH level in your body! This level will change depending on what foods/drinks you take in.

To test, you  can actually buy Litmus strips at your local pharmacy or here.  You simply dip a strip in a sample of your urine! The best times to check is your first and second urine of the day.  Anything over 7.0 is alkaline. Anything under 7.0 is acidic. You should fall somewhere between 7.35 – 7.45 on the pH scale which is slightly alkaline. Yes, I’ve tried it and it works!


The best choice to maintain that healthy balance is to choose to eat real food!  Eating food in it’s most natural form means it isn’t pre-packaged or processed, so prepping for a meal takes a little more time and planning.  Some tips to get you started:

  1. Start with small changes.  Use a real food shopping list that you can simply check off the items you are going to buy for the week, like this one. Choose one day a week to prep food. Keep the prep simple like grilling chicken and chopping a few vegetables to add in salads and soup.
  2. Learn a few simple recipes.    Fewer ingredients and less cooking time is the way to go.  If it takes over 30 minutes, save it for a special weekend meal! One pot meals, hearty salads and grilling fish and chicken are great examples.
  3. Don’t get stuck in a food rut! You don’t have to eat the exact same thing at every meal. Try different herb seasonings or salad dressings, or add different vegetables to your favorite meals.
  4. Use what is convenient! If you don’t have time to chop vegetables, buy the pre-cut. Buy frozen vegetables instead of fresh when you’ve got less time for prep.  Trader Joe’s frozen riced cauliflower is a great example.  You can use it in so many ways, but don’t have to do the cutting. Take advantage of pre-made meals that fall in line with your clean eating plan, like Caleb’s Evolve Paleo Chef!
  5. Balance Your Meal!  The easiest way to ensure you are getting a good balance of the nutrients your body needs is to aim for one protein and two colors of vegetable with each meal!





Why Macro-nutrients Matter

Is the term Macro-macronutrients 1nutrients new to you?

Well, have no fear!  It may sound like a fancy new diet, but it’s actually the nutrients we eat every day. 

“Macro” means large. Macro-nutrients are the nutrients that provide calories (energy) that the body needs in large amounts for growth, metabolism and many other body functions.

There are 3 macro-nutrients: Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat.

The amount of calories, or energy, that each one provides varies.  Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram, Protein provides 4 calories per gram and Fat provides 9 calories per gram.  The only other substance that provides calories is Alcohol at 7 calories per gram.  Sorry folks, it’s not considered a macro-nutrient because we don’t need it for survival; according to some witty, stress-free, amazing dancer with perfectly normal relatives.  However, let’s be real here and sort out our troubled relationship with these essential nutrients (and that supposed non-essential one).


fat-versus-carbohydratesCarbs vs. Fat

Seriously, why do we keep pitting these two against each other?!?  Is it because we are scared that fat will make us fat? Is it the immediate gratification that packaged carbohydrates with their “low fat” promise provide? Probably.  Guess what? Fats and Carbs are not your enemy. The real devil is in the details, so let’s take a look at the details…

    • HIGH QUALITY FATS  play a key role in your brain development and health.  60% of your brain is composed of fat. 60% PEOPLE!  It  is necessary (are you catching on to its importance here?) for brain function, heart health, regulation of hormones, absorption of Vitamins A,D,E and K, decreasing inflammation throughout the body, growing muscle and even burning fat!


    • LOW QUALITY FATS play the opposite role. Basically what constitutes this category are man-made fats (think hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils) and refined seed oils. Think margarine, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. They aren’t just used to make french fries.  You’ll find them in nearly every crispy, crunchy packaged food on the market.


healthy fatsThen what fats should we eat?

Fats in their most real form. Some of the best sources are avocado, coconut oil, almond butter, wild caught fish, raw almonds and walnuts, ghee, and organic, cold-pressed olive and nut oils.

The truth is, these high quality fats are so nutrient dense that it doesn’t take much to fill you up! Even better is that they metabolize slowly, keeping you full longer.

Now let’s look at carbohydrates.

  • veggiesHIGH QUALITY CARBS are complex carbohydrates. They are the most nutrient dense foods you can eat as they are loaded up with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that protect you from sickness and chronic disease. Just like the high quality fats, they take longer for the body to digest, keeping you full longer. The best complex carbs are organic, color rich vegetables and fruits such as berries, oranges, spinach, carrots beets, and cauliflower.


  • LOW QUALITY CARBS are simple carbohydrates: Breads, pastas, cereals, sweet snacks, soda and alcohol and good ‘ol sugar.   Also known as instant gratification.   We all know this, but the pull of these carbohydrates is so strong, isn’t it?  This is because their simple chemical structure enables them to so quickly be utilized for energy by the body, leading to a faster rise in blood sugar. Then comes an increased demand for insulin leading to all the stuff we hate: weight gain, low energy, digestive disruption, bloating and inflammatory disease.  So much for that instant gratification. Obviously, refined sugar is by far the most nutrient void of them all and avoiding it is easier said than done!

“So, for real…. How do you expect me to avoid eating sugar?  It’s everywhere!


hiddensugarIt’s a no-brainer as to why you want to avoid sugar and it’s plague of problems.  There are as many ways to avoid it as there are products containing it.  Let’s narrow it down to a some easy strategies to avoid sugar:

    1. Crowd it out!  Don’t think, “I’m avoiding… or I have to take away…”. Instead, crowd your plate with vibrant, nutrient-rich greens mixed in with your eggs, toss a handful into your smoothie, and blend plenty into your sauces and soups. Crowd your salad with colorful vegetables, half an avocado and some nuts or seeds tossed on top for extra protein.  All those nutrient rich extras won’t leave room for sugar later. Why? Because your blood sugar levels will be running so steady, you won’t have that crazy 3 pm sugar crash.


    1. Eat Real, Be Real.  As real as sugar is with it’s sweet talkin’ taste, it’s promised satisfaction is fake. The food market doesn’t make it any easier as almost 75% of all packaged foods contain some form of sugar. That’s a lot of label reading. Pick food in it’s most natural form and you know exactly what you are eating and what you are not.


    1. Be Intentional.  Why are YOU avoiding sugar? Why did you join T School? Why do you want to be healthier?  Don’t just think about what you want. Know WHY you want it. Write it out and read it out loud every day.  It’s not that you can’t ever enjoy sugar, but deciding when to allow it and how it plays into your goals is essential to your health goals!


So, back to alcohol, you know, that NON ESSENTIAL for survival thing…

While alcohol does provide energy at 7 calories per gram, there’s plenty of debate about whether it’s truly useful for bodily functions.  But we’re not debating here.  We can all testify to it’s anxiety reducing, confidence boosting, dance producing effects. We also know it’s negative health consequences and after effects of getting smashed.

Again, what’s your intention?  One drink a day for women and 1-2 drinks a day for men is a typical recommendation. But, what works best for you? Does that align with your goals or is it more of a slippery slope? Are you actually enjoying yourself or avoiding your true self?



woman making up her mindClarifying your intentions is powerful!

We can talk about macro-nutrients and plans and recommendations but the reality is we all get to choose the foods we put into our bodies. the way we move and the priorities we make important.  Until we decide how to live from our deepest desires, all the information, education and suggestions are just words.

We all define our lives by our choices and our job as your T School coaches is to inspire you to live your lives according to the story you want to create with your life.

If you need help aligning your nutritional plan with your health and life goals, we are here for you.

Ask for more specific help from your accountability partner or one of our health coaches.  This is what community is all about- improving the lives of all through the shared vision of all.  And all of us want to live fully, healthfully and without regrets.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.