The Best Mindset Shifts for Better Body Image

True story. During my senior year of high school I gained 15 pounds in 2 months.

How in the world did I let that happen?

Well, it kind of went down like most things that catch us off guard when taken for granted.
I grew up playing sports; basketball, softball, football in the front yard, travel teams and competition leagues. You named it - I played it.

I never had to deliberately think about working out to stay in shape because it was built into my everyday life. But then senior year happened.

My entire focus was on getting into a good school and ending my grade school years on a high note, so in order to focus on that I decided to downsize my distractions.

I needed a break between being a student athlete and the craziness that comes with the first year of college, so I quit the varsity basketball team 3 games into the season, and didn’t go out for the softball team that Spring.

It was magnificent! The 8 hours of practice and 6+ hours for games I usually spent each week were mine again for the first time since the 5th grade.
I had the space I needed to focus on class, pour myself into the college application process and hunt down scholarships.

In every other regard of my life I kept doing what I was doing, like eating as though I was still an active athlete. In as little as two months, THAT showed itself.

One day at a senior class social a friend took a picture of us and posted it on Facebook. When I saw that picture on Facebook for the first time, I was disgusted at the image I saw of myself.

Is that really me? Oh my God, this picture needs to come down right now.

I had ballooned from a lean and fit 137 pounds, to a plump and frumpy-looking 152 pounds.
It really didn’t dawn me how much weight I had put on until I saw this photo of myself muffin-topping my jeans and my sports bra fitting like I’d stuffed my chest into it at gunpoint.

At that moment the body shame switch flipped in my head and I started to compare myself to other girls.
When I ran into old teammates in the halls I noticed how fit they looked. They weren’t spilling over the top of their jeans and still had muscle definition in their arms and legs.

I started to look at myself and think,
“Wow - my body is not like those girls anymore. I’m not as strong or fit as they are anymore. I’m not as pretty as they are anymore.”

That last part was the worst; no longer believing I was pretty because I had gained weight.

I started to think of myself as less than while putting them on a pedestal; not because they were thinner, but because they were fit and strong and all of a sudden I was convinced I wasn’t.

The shame I had about the way I looked hindered me from really enjoying life. I turned down just about every event and activity where I thought people might take pictures.

I shied away from fully participating in my life at a time where I should’ve been cherishing the opportunity to make memories.
At the time I just didn’t realize how big of a deal that was.

Thankfully, things got better before they turned worse.
During my first year of college I made friends with a couple of gym rats who sucked me into what became my anxiety reliever; the gym.
It was my newfound replacement to running bases and basketball courts.

The girl who had gained the freshman 15 her last year of high school, dropped it all by the end of first year at UVA.

I’m sharing this story with you to let you know I get what it feels like to not truly know your self worth and have an ugly opinion about yourself.

You don’t have to allow bad body image to just happen. You don’t have to stop making memories nor avoid fully participating in your life.

The mean things we think about ourselves stem from a poorly used imagination - because they’re not facts. It’s stuff our brain makes up and our subconscious believes. What it takes for us to stop believing those lies is a mindset shift.

To shift my mindset about myself from negative to positive I used 3 tools:
self love, purpose, and selective inspiration.

Self Love

It’s actually work to be positive about the things we dislike about ourselves. In order to start showing self love, we can begin by seeing the simple everyday actions that exemplify it.

Eating well is a form of self love, and gratitude for what our body can do right now nails self love right on the head.
Self love also includes not worrying about what you can’t fix, but having grace with yourself to focus on what you can positively affect at the present moment.

For example, you can either read this blog post and go on about your day thinking no more of it, or you can pick out 1 thing from it that you can start to positively affect right now.

Purpose

Have a direction you want to move in and don’t blindly following someone else. The best advice I have ever been given about how to set personal goals is to first figure out the specifics for what I need to improve, then go about searching for solutions to those specific things.

For example, in my early twenties I struggled with hormone imbalances that made it easy for me to pack on the pounds.
I could’ve gone into the gym and “fitnessed” harder to keep those extra pounds in check – but instead I researched and practiced methods that helped me balance my hormones.

Both directions would’ve brought me to the same conclusion, but can you see which one actually fixed the problem versus the one that only fixed a symptom?

When creating your plan make sure your actions line up with your specific needs and choose the actions that are the most sustainable over the long haul.

Know that having no plan to give your purpose a direction is a recipe for repeatedly starting back at square one.

Selective Inspiration

When faced with something difficult we automatically resort to comparing ourselves to other people rather than automatically brainstorming how we can work through the difficulty – just look at how I initially reacted to weight gain!

We aren’t meant to follow everything that appeals to our eyes.

When we decide to pay attention to people or brands, and even specific schools of thought, it’s essential we draw the line between being inspired by them versus comparing ourselves to them.

Specifically with people, we have to consider the actions they take to have what they have or look the way they look. If drawing the line doesn’t stop you from comparing, put your blinders on.

It doesn’t serve you to beat yourself up about the person you are or the way you look.
You are more than adequate right now. If there is something about your appearance and health you don’t like, find a healthy upbuilding way to change it.

I used those 3 tools when I worked out.

  1. Taking out the time to work on me was an act of self love.
     
  2. Having a plan for what I wanted to accomplish was exercising purpose.
     
  3. Instead of working out to look like someone else, I visualized how I wanted to look, feel, and think as the best version of myself. That was my way of selecting my inspiration.

If I’ve ever done anything that seamlessly wraps up these tools of self love, purpose, and inspiration into one neat package for someone other than myself, I did it with the #GymlesslyFit strength program.

In my mind, it is THE answer to the complaints I hear from women about needing to work on themselves, get stronger without living in a gym, and infuse confidence in their effort to change their body in a way that they’ve never been able to achieve before.

#GymlesslyFit is my 6-week online strength and conditioning program. On a physical level this program isn’t meant to help you “tone”, but designed to help you build physical and mental muscle.

You will rapidly up your current level of fitness by performing shorter high quality workouts (in the ballpark of 35 minutes), that will enhance your body shape by defining your frame.

The best part is if you don’t get down with running (like myself) it helps you to work on your cardio-conditioning without using treadmills and ellipticals!

If you’re worried about “bulking up” in an unattractive way doing this program, don’t be. Instead you will be taking up space in the most gorgeous of ways.

Gymlessly Fit opens to the public June 9th. You can register right now using the sign-up form below.

I’ll end with saying this;
This is your life to live so go ahead and fully live it.
Be a calculated type of crazy.
Don’t hold out because right now is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again.

 

Why Low Calorie Eating Won't Help With Weight Loss

The topic I want to talk about with you all today is why skimpy low calorie eating won’t help you lose weight. The reason I want to cover this particular subject is because over and over again whether it be from friends, prospective clients that I have discovery calls with, or even family members – there is this ongoing believed dogma calories in vs. calories out, and the only legitimate way to lose weight is to simply eat less calories.

This belief is so far from the reality of the matter; the human body is too complex to function in such an rudimentary fashion. In fact, you'd be more accurate to think along the lines of calories in vs. calories stored

I feel the only way to break this cycle of belief is to simply introduce accurate knowledge into the rotation.
You, and people like you who struggle with weight loss issues really deserve to know that there are more efficient, realistic, and sustainable ways to drop unwanted pounds that isn’t restrictive, that doesn’t tell you to just cut out foods, and also that educates you on the fact that more goes into healthy eating than just eating fruits and vegetables.

Therefore, today I’m going to walk you through the reasons why long-term low calorie eating is not good for a person trying to lose weight, and why it’s especially heinous for women. We’re also going to cover what sorts of problems crop up for people who aren’t intentionally trying to cut calories, but under eat in for the demands their lifestyle puts on their body.

Low Calorie Eating and Active People

Let's start by clarifying two things.
First, I want to make the connection that cutting your calories is not automatically linked to your body going into survival mode. This is a widely taught philosophy that simply isn’t true. I even used to believe this and would tell my clients to eat 5 and 6 meals a day to stop this process.

Survival mode is the line of thinking that basically if you skip a meal or drastically reduce the amount of calories you eat, your body automatically thinks,
“Whoa! I need to hang onto every single morsel of fat and calories you eat because I have no idea if/when you’re going to eat again”.

Secondly, Intermittent fasting (IF) is not eating low calorie or under eating. IF is defined as a period of time where food isn’t eaten alternated with a period of time when food is eaten. It can be in the style of fasting for a day then eat normally, alternating in that way, or it can be where you fast twice a week. This is all just to say there is more than one style you can fast in.

Caloric restriction on the other hand is a form of eating low calorie.
Caloric restriction is a diet in which total caloric intake is reduced to anywhere from 60-80% of you maintenance level of calories without a reduction in nutritional requirements.

A lot of people think they are practicing caloric restriction when they go low calorie, but unfortunately the last little piece of that, the “not reducing nutritional requirements” piece, gets thrown out the window with the bathwater, so to speak, because so often people have a hard time really dialing in their nutritional requirements on a day to day basis.

Things That Can Cause You To Not Feel Hungry

With that said there are some things that can cause you to not feel hungry and inadvertently eat low calorie.

  • Emotional and situational factors like stress, anxiety, and depression can cause neurotransmitter issues which signal to your body hey I’m not hungry - I’m not in need of any nourishment right now.
     
  • Eating extremely low carb and low calorie simultaneously.
     
  • A robust gut flora. Having a robust gut flora is awesome at monitoring the right hunger signals. This could mean that if you have a healthy gut flora population it can cause you to under eat because it’s looking at fulfilling your needs at the current time and send the signal that you’re not hungry.
    Now with that said I’ve haven’t met very many people with a healthy gut flora population...
     
  • A very active lifestyle. A person who walks a lot to and from class or work, people who Crossfit 5 and 6 days a week, people who are just active in other ways under eat because they haven’t found the balance between the calories they’re putting into their body in correlation with the amount of energy their body requires to fuel their activities.

I know firsthand what this feels like.

When I first started Crossfit I was eating very much so a low carbohydrate higher fat diet. It’s part of the Primal Blueprint model of eating that was working very very well for me.

I didn’t have energy crashes, I had no brain fog, I felt stimulated without the need of coffee, I was well rested when I woke up in the mornings, I didn’t have a hard time going to sleep, etc.

This worked well when I was only doing things like my own personally programmed lifting routine 3 days a week and going on long walks, with the occasional mountain biking day. Essentially, a few intense lifts each week with a lot of low and slow aerobic movement.

But when I decided to take up Crossfit, the cardiovascular demands put on my body were a shock to the system, and the way I was eating at the time didn't support it. So it pretty much felt like I’d run face first into a brick wall.

The first few weeks of the workouts during the metcon portion I felt pretty inadequate.
A bit of that had to do with the fact that I was pretty de-conditioned for Crossfit. I felt like I’d go from super strong during the first round of an AMRAP to feeling gassed after the second or third round of a 10-minute AMRAP.

After a workout I felt completely drained. I had a hard time recovering – meaning I felt sore for multiple days after a session – much longer than I was accustomed to feeling.

It all really boiled down the fact that I needed to up my caloric intake as well as the amount of carbohydrates I ate; going from eating roughly 90 grams of carbs a day to eating about 160 grams of carbs a day.

My simple cup of butter coffee for breakfast morphed into cooking up a few eggs, some bacon, and a side of paleo hashbrowns if I wanted to feel physcially prepared for a 9am Crossfit class.

That simple change in carbs and calories on the front end of my day made all the difference. My body immediately adjusted to this increase and I was able to perform well again.

What Happens When You Go Low Calorie

Crazy Moods

My initial Crossfit flop leads me into my first point about why low calorie eating is a disservice to your health.
You’re susceptible to crazy moods. Basically when you don’t eat enough, your frontal lobe, the part of our brain that performs the functions of rational thinking and decision making – goes completely out the window.

For instance, have you ever heard of the term hangry?
It’s an urban dictionary term that refers to when you’re easily angered or are extremely irritable because you are hungry!
Being hangry is a consequence of your frontal lobe not being able to function properly because of hunger.

Think of the last time you were starving while grocery shopping, and it seemed like every item in the store had made its way into your cart. Again, your frontal lobe wasn't allowing you to exercise self control. It’s the first cognitive function that bottoms out when we allow ourselves to get hungry.

Stalled Weight Loss

Another issue that comes up when you go too low with calories is your weight won’t budge...which is kind of sad if weight loss the main reason you decided to eat low calorie in the first place.

Why does this happen?

Your body wants to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is when your body looks for a balance between what you put in and what you need to function. If you didn’t know this already, your body doesn’t like large drastic changes. It will do all that it can to make sure this doesn’t happen, such as modify functions like your thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones to reduce your overall output if your input is not adequate enough to fulfill your needs.

These changes all result in the the increased likelihood of your weight stalling and you storing more body fat, along with a lot of other negative side effects on your health that go beyond weight loss.

Issues Sleeping

Most people don’t understand the correlation between low calorie eating and not getting a good night’s rest. One of the most common reasons for waking up all hours of the night, tossing and turning, and not being able to fall asleep and stay asleep is because not enough blood sugar in place to do the work it needs to do during the night.

While you sleep your blood sugar level naturally drops. For you not to fall into a hypoglycemic coma your liver must release glycogen, the stored form of glucose, to keep your blood sugar level steady until the next morning when you eat your first meal.

If you’re constantly not eating enough and along with performing calorie demanding workouts, your liver just won’t have the glycogen it needs to keep your blood glucose levels stable. So in order to fix this problem, your body releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in order to create its own glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis.

If those stress hormones get high enough in order to carry out gluconeogenesis they can actually wake you up in the middle of the night. Hence, why many people have a hard time getting good sleep while eating low calorie.

Missed Periods

This point is specifically about why going low calorie is especially heinous for women; missed periods. Or if you prefer the more scientific term, hypothalamic amenorrhea.

What’s worrisome about having missed periods caused by chronic caloric deprivation is that it can leak into bigger issues like struggling to get pregnant.

I’m so happy to say I’ve never had a client who struggled with this particular issue, but it is a prevalent problem especially in women who have a history of dieting for weight loss.

How Much Should I Eat?

One thing that I very strongly stand behind is not having clients get bogged down with counting calories. More often than not when clients simply clean up their eating with healthy foods, eat when hungry, and stop eating when satisfied, that’s usually more than enough to satisfy their needs.

But for the sake of being thorough and clear about what’s not eating too little and what is not eating too much, I will give you some guidelines to go by.

First lets cover overall calories.
The easiest way to figure this out is to take your current weight and multiply it by 10-12. This should give you a rough range estimate of the overall calories you should be eating in a day minimally, to maintain homeostasis, to fuel metabolic functions, etc.

The next thing is protein intake.
Take your lean muscle mass and multiply it by the range of 0.7-1.0. This will give you the number of grams of protein you should aim to eat on a daily basis. This will help you to maintain the current muscle mass you have.

Carbohydrate consumption.
Eating 100-150 grams of non-fibrous carbohydrates (i.e. safe starches) a day is ideal. This is the essential bottom if you’re a woman who is active and not perpetually overweight.

Remember, in not all situations is cutting carbs going to benefit you. If you’ve tried it in the past and it didn’t work out well, give increasing your carb intake a go.

Finally, fat.
You all need to know I love fat. It’s such a major component in a healthy diet, weighing in at a calorically dense 9 calories per gram.

To get an understanding of how much fat you need it’s best to think of it as the gap filler between the amount of carbs and protein you eat in a day. Once you’ve figured out how much protein and carbs you should have, it’s really easy to figure out the percentage of fat you should eat.

On a given day as much as 55% of my calories comes from fat, and that works really well for me, but it may be different for you so please do your due diligence of figuring this out for yourself.

Key Takeaway

Allow me to end this by clarifying that eating low calorie when your situation allows it isn’t a wildly bad thing. It is a part of practicing caloric efficiency. Eating low calorie especially when you’re an active individual and doing it for the sole purpose of losing weight, on the other hand, is a plan that very likely will backfire.

Finally this is a reminder to not nit-pick about your eating, but to take a more well rounded account of your eating habits, and then make adjustments where you see fit – taking notice of the issues I’ve described here in your day to day life.

 

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7 Tips To Make Your Diet Changes Last


When you think about it, whenever someone decides to make diet changes to do stuff like lose weight, solve a stomach issue, or prepare for some major life event such as getting married, the hardest part isn’t getting started, but it’s finishing what they started.

Why is this?
I've found that it really just depends on the person. Some people fall back into old habits that they haven’t killed. Others are easily influenced and persuaded by the people who live with them. And still others simply struggle with adopting practices that are different.

A lot of times what's really needed to help people follow through with their health changes is a big picture.
A “in the grand scheme of things this is what I’m doing” sort of picture that draws a line from where one stands right now to where they want to be.

One of the ways I love to do this with clients is to give them referenceable lists. Lists that assure if they do a set of specific actions on a regular basis, they will accomplish whatever they set out to do. These lists work so well because they're like mental “blinders” that stop you from being pulled into the fad-diet distractions circulating the media.

I give to my clients referenceable lists for things like foods to avoid, for restocking their kitchen, even for individual daily nutritional commitments. Today you get a little taste of this because I’m sharing with you one of the most vital lists for when you need to make those diets changes stick for the long haul.

 

7 Tips to Make Your Diet Changes Last
 

#1 Don’t Look At It As A Diet

If you've gotten my 7 No-Fluff Steps to Never Dieting Again then you already know that thinking of any changes to the way you eat as a diet is a recipe for upset.
Operating from a diet mindset is centered around deprivation and is so draining. It causes you to feel like you're totally restricted from the foods you love and regularly has you stressed out over minor details like the size of a meal.

Instead of looking at your eating style changes as a short-lived diet, visualize the end result of what these changes will grant you. For instance, say you had a beloved bedtime sweets ritual. Every night before going to sleep you must have some cookies or a brownie. It's the ritual.
But then you decide, "I'm giving up my bedtime sweets ritual because I want to lose weight."

Think about it - how long is it going to last? You can desire to lose weight dozens of times during your life. Will simply losing weight be enough to lay that bedtime routine to rest for good?

Or would this work better? "I'm cutting out the bedtime sweets ritual because I want to have control of my habits instead of my habits controlling me, lose weight, and feel happy and confident in my body."
 

#2 Don’t Revert Back to Eating C.R.A.P.  

You know what crappy eating looks like. It’s from fast food joints, it’s deep-fried, and it’s highly palpable. Specifically, the CRAP food I’m talking about is defined as:

C - carbonated soda drinks
R - refined sugars
A - artificial foods
P - processed foods

My suggestion? Just eat the real food. Don’t cut corners. And yes – this is going to require you to get acquainted with a kitchen and cook your own food. I know, I know, you probably don’t want to hear that but how else are you going to know exactly what’s going into your food unless you select and cook it yourself?
 

#3 Cut Out Soy

I always get the shocked gasp when I tell people soy is horrendous for their health.
Little do people know, soy contains some of the same gut damaging anti-nutrients found in grains; namely lectins and phytates.

Soy also contains these things called goitrogens. Goitrogens are compounds that block your thyroid’s ability to use iodine. When your body can’t use iodine like it's supposed to it can lead to hypothyroid problems and cause symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, and mood swings.

Not to mention, fellas, that soy is also known to be super estrogenic. This means it causes your natural testosterone levels to drop leaving you with low libido, low energy, waist + stomach fat gain, and even man boobs – a condition known as gynecomastia.

For us ladies it can cause abnormal periods, hinder fertility, and even contribute to the development of breast cancer.
 

#4 Eat More Quality Fat 

If you want to control your weight you have to master controlling your hunger. The way to control hunger is to eat foods that satiate you for long periods of time (I’m talking 4-6+ hours long).

The two macronutrients that satisfy hunger for the longest period of time are high quality proteins and fat.

Contrary to everything you read and hear about low-fat = healthy, that is pure horseradish! A low fat diet is not going to benefit you. A diet high in healthy fats, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates (relative to your activity level) however, will be beneficial.

Why do you think I’m always talking about drinking butter coffee over on Instagram?!

#5 Eat Out Less

This relates to the point I made in point number two when I encouraged you to take over the kitchen and learn to prepare your own meals. You really don’t know what you’re eating when you’re eating out, and you don’t really know what mediums they use to cook your food (referring to highly oxidized organ-stressing seed oils like peanut oil and canola oil).

You don’t know if they've prepared your dish using a god-awful soy based sauce. Heck, you don’t even know if they dropped your half of chicken on the floor before putting it on your plate!

Okay, maybe that was a little much. I take it back.

But seriously.
Eating out often exposes you to  food toxins and preparation methods that you would not have to think about with a home cooked meal.
I’m not saying don’t ever eat out – just eat out less.

#6 Use the Right Cooking Fats

Do you know what primarily is behind issues like poor cholesterol, heart attacks, and stroke?I promise you this is still on topic so just hang with me.

Remember those highly oxidized organ-stressing seed oils I mentioned in the last point?
Yeah, we need to talk about those some more.

Industrial seed oils, aka PUFA oils, aka vegetable oils, are the byproduct of processing grain. Basically it's a waste product! And a subsidized one at that. These types of oils are highly unstable and when we cook with and eat them they oxidize, causing our organs to work in overdrive just to perform basic functions.

Over time this taxes out our organs. Not only do these oils cause free-radicals in the body (which directly contribute to cancer cells) but are directly linked to other problems like bad cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke. What's sad is that most packaged and bottled foods today contain these oils.

The oils you want to steer clear of are soybean, canola, corn, vegetable, peanut, sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, cottonseed, grape seed, and flaxseed oil.

Instead you should stick to cooking with fats like coconut oil, butter, pork lard, duck fat, beef tallow, even your bacon renderings will work. 

 

#7: Don't Be Restrictive

Finally, don’t be overly restrictive on yourself. There is no point in stepping into that deprivation role where you feel you can’t enjoy any food indulgences without a wave of guilt washing over you. Make your decisions about what you put in your mouth and be intentional about them. When you have the bigger picture front and center an occasional deviation from that isn't truly going to ruin the work you've done.

 

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What Is A Primal Health Coach?

Anytime I make a visit home to see family my little sister and I talk health.
You get us together over coffee and it becomes one of the topics we can sit and bond over for hours.

It’s kind of cool how it works - she keeps me “in the know” as far as music and pop culture goes (we’re 8 years apart mind you) and I enlighten her on food + how to make the most of her teenage energy.

It generally turns into a myth busting session where I verify or dispel the latest advice she’s heard dished out at a health blog, in class, or on Youtube.

I'm so happy she doesn't take for granted her health like many almost 20-somethings do, and she's not easily swayed about who to believe when it comes to nutrition and how to eat. 
However, one particular person in the online health space really gets under her skin.

I won’t mention names but she’s a blogger and Youtube sensation who is all about that vegan life. She has a ginormous following of young women who eat her stuff up like it’s liquid sugar.

Our conversations almost always turn to her latest vegan-centric advice.

My sister has a love/hate mentality towards this blogger's work because everything she says directly contradicts what I teach (she has no health science background), but my sister is on the dental hygiene track and the woman has some awesome DIY toothpaste recipes.

Although my little sis is well informed on living a healthy lifestyle, she sometimes ponders what she reads and hears on the internet because what people say can be so convincing no matter how off the way it may seem.

I mention this story because it’s a real life illustration of what’s happening on the internet.
People are getting behind an idea and calling themselves health experts and coaches, while gaining followers who subscribe to what they promote no matter how scientifically unvalidated it is.

If you go on Instagram and type in the hashtag #healthcoach your screen will instantly be flooded with over a million images of health food, people working out, nutrition advice, diet motivation, the whole gamut.

Many of the images are flat out beautiful, and the people behind them tell a super convincing story that their style of health coaching is far and wide the very best for your health needs.

They have a lot they want you to believe is trustworthy, but as I brought out in the post about sifting through health and fitness propaganda, how do you know who to pay attention to?

What makes each person and the knowledge they bring to the table right for you?
How do you know they won’t lead you down some rabbit hole or make your situation worse?

I don’t want you to have to play this guessing game with me and the information I share with you as a Primal Health Coach, so today I’m going to tell you what it is that makes a Primal Health Coach so unique.

I think the best place to start is by telling you what a Primal Health Coach is not.

As a PHC I'm not going to try and get you on board with the latest health fad or diet trend, telling you it's the way to weight loss success.

I'd be repulsed to push on you some sort of weight loss shakes, pills, or subscription based meal delivery service.

I won’t lead you to believe that eliminating entire food groups for extended periods of time is actually good for you.
And I definitely won’t encourage you to depend on willpower to break bad eating habits.

As a Primal Health Coach, I'll teach you the tried and true methods to help you live life in a way that actually serves you well.

I’m not going to say that what serves you well is always going to be super convenient or that it won’t take some getting used to, especially if the way you take care of yourself now is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Everything I share with you is completely based on how our bodies function at a biological level.

It makes sense right?
If your body was engineered to function one way, why would you fuel and care for it in a way that's contradictory to the blueprint?

As a PHC I know and understand how your body functions on a cellular level, and use that knowledge to give you guidance on how to live an optimal lifestyle. Not the latest and greatest diet trend.

I show you why teachings that tell you to eat whole wheat bread, drink soy milk, or go vegan, are all very very bad ideas.

You'll be jumping for joy because you'll never hear me tell you to eat a certain number of calories each day, or have you weigh and measure food before eating it.

I simply teach you to eat in an intuitive way based on what I help you discover works best for your body, so that everything you stick in your mouth is completely customized to your tastes and style of eating.

The diet industry's latest "get healthy quick" scheme changes every year.
How to eat as a human being however, hasn't.

If you’re interested in how a Primal Health Coach can be of service to you, they are able to holistically help you with a number of health-related problems including:

  • Inflammation (for instance acne + achy joints)
  • Autoimmune disease (like Hashimoto + Type 2 Diabetes a name a couple)
  • Brain fog and anxiety
  • Digestive issues (bloating + gas + stomach discomfort)
  • Disordered sleep
  • Low energy + poor mood
  • Fat loss
  • Athletic performance

I put full stock in the fact you can't argue with the science behind how we were created to function, including how to best eat and live.
Therefore the primal way is the only way to go, and the only way to show others how to do it as well.

The number of client success stories from eating primally grow everyday. 
If you think you're ready to be 100% done with dieting and are over dead-end health advice, learn more about how I can coach you to better health here, or contact me to tell me about your situation and needs. 

 

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Simple and Effective Exercise Tips for Knee Pain

After back pain, do you know what is the most commonly complained about body pain?
If you guessed knee pain, you’re right on the money.
Knee pain is that awful searing achy feeling that sits behind the kneecap that I describe as being “inside” the knee itself.

It can get rather debilitating and feel horrendous.

What Causes Knee Pain?

A throbbing knee is hardly ever as simple as just “getting old” and having bad knees. It can usually be linked to at least one of these four causes:

  • Old injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Joint inflammation
  • Tight quadricep and hamstring muscles

It’s often thought that there’s not much else that can be done for the pain after treating it for a long period of time with an ice pack, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and limiting activity to strictly the low-impact stuff. Thankfully there are more options to explore. Two of which I'm hashing out right here for you today.

How to Ease Knee Pain – With Food

If you have recurring or chronic knee pain it's usually linked to inflammation.
It’s on rare instances that it’s not.
Yes, there is such a thing as positive inflammation (like with exercise) in addition to the negative kind, making the topic one that can get extremely complicated and very contextual. So in this post, I’m going to be referring only to the negative variety of inflammation.

The first step to treating the pain with food is to remove the inflammatory foods from your diet.
An inflammatory eating style includes foods that are high in sugar, have highly processed carbohydrates, are excessive in omega-6 fatty acids, are high in gluten (like wheat), and are high in CAFO (animals raised in concentrated feedlots) meat.

It’s work, but the best thing you can do is start to remove these types of foods from your diet, and replace them with anti-inflammatory foods.

How to Ease Knee Pain – With Exercise

Sitting around will not help your knee pain.
Just like with back pain, if you sit around and don’t use it, the lack of activity will cause the knee to stiffen and become weak.

Your best option is to strengthen the knee using unilateral and bilateral activities that’ll grant movement of that leg + strength of your lower body as a whole.
When you have a gimpy knee, the last thing you want to do is focus all your attention on strengthening solely that knee. Doing that can easily lead to compensation issues causing pain elsewhere.

To start, begin by strengthening the muscles that most directly affect the knees; your hamstrings and quads.
Tight, shortened, and weak hamstrings and quads don’t “fire” when activated. Therefore when you go to workout use this systematic approach to prime them for activity; warm up, mobility work, strengthening exercises.

Step 1: Warm Up
Rule out tight muscles and prep the nervous system and connective tissue for activity with a warm up. There are 4 ligaments connected to muscle that integrate around the knee; the ACL, PCL, LCL, and MCL. 
When surrounding muscles are tight they causes these ligaments to pull the knee out of it’s groove in odd directions delivering the sensation of pain.
Loosening the muscles often relieves this chain effect.

Warming up is easy. Take a brisk walk or hop on a bike for a few minutes to get your blood flowing and start to raise your body heat. You don’t need to be pouring sweat for it to be a good warm-up, so don't push it that far.

Step 2: Mobility work
Follow your warm-up with dynamic movements that take your legs through their full range of motion. I always think of track and field here. Movements like  long walking strides, walking high-knee pulls, slow walking front kicks, butt-kicks, and Romanian deadlifts are all perfect mobility movements.

Step 3: Strength exercises
The strength training doesn’t have to be long or complicated – it just has to be effective. Here are 4 exercises that time and again have helped my private clients strengthen their knees while giving them the power to live life sans the pain.

Exercise 1: Squat Pause

The squat is a workhorse movement and by far one of my favorites to practice. A squat pause is great to get all the lower body and core muscles firing while finding the bottom position of the squat. I love this exercise for teaching what good squat form feels like.

To get this done is very simple.

  • Grab a planted pole, the TRX straps, or other nailed down object out in front of you.
  • Open your stance so that your feet are a hips-width distance apart.
  • With an upright torso, lower into the bottom of the squat. Tush to turf if possible.
  • Hold the pole only for support keeping your chest upright.
  • Sit in the bottom of the squat for 10 slow seconds, then stand up.

It won’t be very comfortable in the beginning but it does become easier. Just breath.

Exercise 2: TRX or Pole Assisted Squats

An assisted squat helps you to get into the squatted position more effortlessly while maintaining good form, and grants the ability to practice the movement in a scaled way so that as you get stronger you can make it harder.

An assisted squat is set up the exact same way as the squat pause you did above.
Remember that as you lower yourself down, push your hips toward to the wall behind you while simultaneously bending your knees like you’re going to sit on a chair.

Grip the pole or TRX straps out in front of your body and use it only as much as you need to lower yourself.
Again, my rule is tush to turf. Go as deep into the squat as you can.
Fix your eyes on a spot on the wall and go through the squat controlled and with intention.
When you get to the bottom of the position, hold it for a 2-second count then explode up to the standing position with force.

Do not let your knees collapse in toward one another. Be sure that they are tracking over your second and third toes the entire time.

Start by doing 3 sets of 5 reps (3x5), working your way up to 10 reps (3x10) as you gain strength over time.

Exercise 2: Banister Assisted Lunges

Lunges are one of those exercises that is known for building great thighs and a solid backside, but they also get their fair share of complaints of pain from people who do them wrong.

Let’s right that wrong now.
The 2 most common form faults when doing the lunge are:

  • narrow foot position when stepping forward
  • not stepping forward far enough

A narrow foot position is when the feet are too close together when stepping forward. For someone not skilled in the movement, when their feet are super close together they tend to contort their body in order to keep balance.
This poor form combined with weak knees are a recipe for pain.

The way to fix this is to visualize standing on railroad tracks instead of on a balance beam, keeping the feet hip-width apart.

A short step puts unnecessary pressure on the kneecap and makes your knee surpass your toes. This isn't to say that your knees jutting out past your toes is a bad thing – because it's not. But when dealing with knee pain it's a good spot to keep in mind to scale back until better strength and mechanics are won.

The way to fix a short step is to step forward far enough so that when descending into the lunge, the shin stays vertical and behind the toes. Think 90 degree angles at the ankle, knee, and hip.

Work toward performing a free-standing lunge by starting next to a banister, using it for support until gaining strength to lunge unassisted.

Start by doing 3 sets of 5 reps on each leg (3x5), working your way up to 10 reps (3x10) as you gain strength over time.

Exercise 3: Heel Tap Downs

It can be noted that if you have a problem at one joint of the body, you can look at the joints above and below it to start figuring out a solution.
That is why I’m suggesting heel tap downs. They help you learn how to isolate and control hip muscle contraction and movement.

Start by standing with the leg of the affected knee on a 45-pound plate or other surface that’s 2-4 inches off the ground.
With a straight leg, arch the non-standing foot up toward your face.

Find your balance and slowly bend the knee of the foot that’s on the elevated surface while simultaneously shooting your hips back to the wall behind you, allowing your torso to gradually lean forward.
Slowly lower yourself until the heel of the arched foot touches the ground, then power yourself back up to the standing position.

Start by doing 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg (3x10), working your way up to 20 reps (3x20) as you gain strength over time.

Try these tips out for about 2 weeks if you’re experiencing knee pain to see if they make a difference for you. Then come on over to my Instagram page to share your what your results!

 

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How To Make A Great Workout In 4 Simple Steps

A well known figure in the the physical therapy and Crossfit community, Dr. Kelly Starrett, states that, “all human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.”

Kelly is flat out right. I’d like to add on to that by saying every person should be able to put together a basic workout for himself that is cohesive, effective, and actually has a point.

Are you the person who goes to workout with good intentions, but find yourself bouncing around from one exercise to the next without any real rhyme or reason?
I’m writing this for you to hopefully provide some direction.

The following is a 4 step breakdown of how to create your own personalized workout session. The best part? You don’t need a gym to do it!...Unless you want and have one of course.

Have you ever stopped and paid attention to someone who moves through a workout as though it’s been planned out?

They start with some movements that prep the body for work followed by a series of exercises that focus on their strength or conditioning. And finally, if they were smart, would end the session with some more movements that wind-down the body and takes advantage of the heat the exercises beforehand produced.

Nine times out of ten that person has experience working out or they planned ahead. Here I lay out those parts in detail so that whether you’re tagging along with a friend to the gym or you just want structure to your home workouts, you have a game plan.

Part 1: Mobility

Traditionally, the beginning of a workout is referred to as the warm-up.

Many personal trainers and group fitness instructors will have you do some sort of cardio related exercise like jogging on the treadmill or have you hop on a bike, which isn’t entirely bad, but it fails to address all the components needed to prime your body for more strenuous activity.

A good warm-up not only gets your heartrate and core temperature up, but provides some stretching, preps all major muscle groups for work, and allows the practice of essential exercises. That is why I like to start workouts focusing on mobility.

Mobility isn’t just another word for flexibility. It is being able to do a functional movement while having core strength, balance, and coordination to do so without any restrictions in your range of motion (ROM).

Flexibility makes us better at mobility.

I like to take my clients through 3-4 movements that take up 8-10 minutes and are based on what we will work on during that session.

Here are some great mobility moves to learn:

  • Lat stretch + Thread the Needle
  • Hip Flexor Plank
  • Overhead Squat into Up-dog
  • 3-Point Lunge

Part 2: Skill Work

Skills and movements in which you aren’t the greatest are best to tackle early on in the workout while you’re still fresh. Therefore, after mobility is an ideal time to practice skills or to work on movements you want to master.

For instance, with a band new client I will have them practice plank variations as their skill work to build their core stability, or hip hinges to build a base for activities like deadlifts and kettlebells swings down the road.

A further progressed person may choose to work on strict pull-ups or activities that help them get comfortable with being upside down.

Part 3: Strength & Conditioning

The strength and conditioning portion of your workout is where you can mix together every variation of squats, push-ups, sit-ups, dips, pull-ups, planks, jumps, handstands, lunges, bridges, running, rowing, etc., in as many ways as creatively possible.

This is where I personally try to make things fun for the client by working on their weaknesses while also playing to their strengths.

My advice here: don’t make this part long or overly arduous.
Go intensely but listen to your body. When it says, "I don’t want to push anymore", call it a complete workout and move into your cooldown.

Part 4: Cooldown

The final part of your workout, the cooldown, is exactly what the title suggests. Many people skip the cooldown which is such a huge disservice to the recovery process.

The purpose here isn’t to stretch out every muscle in your body (unless you need it), but is to take advantage of the heat your body produced during the workout to tend to your tightest muscles and most immobile joints.


Many people deal with tight thoracic spines, tight hamstrings and lower back, and shortened hip flexors from living a predominantly seated lifestyle.
Therefore, do a self check. Figure out where you have the least range of motion and start by spending 45-60 seconds mobilizing and stretching it out. If you’re tight on time, use a foam roller. 

I hope these pointers help the next time you go workout. If you're looking for a workout program that's like this but personalized to your needs, check out my online fitness coaching.

Be well,
Jasmine

5 Tips For Hiring The Best Personal Trainer

If you haven’t noticed already, the obesity epidemic in America is at an all-time high making the demand for personal trainers, health coaches, and nutritionists go through the roof. Therefore everybody and their mama is getting in line to become somebody in the health and fitness industry.

The issue with this is not everyone is qualified to be a fitness professional. Don’t get me wrong, I have deep respect for passion players; people who embark on a career in an industry they love.

Unfortunately, many who jump into roles like that of a personal trainer do so without adequate knowledge or experience.

Since a client’s well being is at risk there is little room for rookie experimentation and the screw-ups that come with being a newbie trainer. To give you a helping hand in making the decision of who to work with, this is a rundown of my top 5 tips for hiring the best personal trainer to fulfill your needs.

Certification - Do they know what they’re doing?

I was once told by a client’s very wise wife that, “You have to know just as much as the person you’re hiring if you want the job done right.” She couldn’t have been more right!

The first step to hiring a personal trainer is to know the scope of their certification. There are at least a dozen personal training certification companies out there, and not all of them are created equal.

The majority of certifying companies don’t require the trainer to have practical application before handing them their certificate of completion.  That means they buy a textbook, study it, and either attend a weekend workshop or sit for a 2-hour exam to earn their certification. That’s it. Many have never been physically shown how to cue a client through a movement or simply correct form.

Most top ranking personal training certifications that serve the general population require the individual to have a degree in kinesiology, sports physiology, exercise science, or something similar.

For example, NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) has 11 specializations in addition to their Certified Personal Trainer certification to help a trainer work with anyone from those needing a weight loss specialist to those who work with seniors.

Depending on your needs these are my top 7 suggestions for personal training certifications are:
NASM, ACSM, Crossfit, Onnit, MovNat, Z Health Performance, and FRC.

Specialization - Do they “specialize” in multiple areas?

Does the personal trainer you’re looking to hire claim to specialize in strength training, weight-loss, women’s fitness, corrective exercise, men’s fitness, youth fitness, along with 4 other fitness niches?

Believe it or not I’ve seen multiple trainers claim to have that many specializations in my town of Charlottesville, VA.
To specialize in something means to spread your knowledge and energy between 1 or 2 skills and be extremely good at them.

Think about it like this, how would you feel if your plumber also specialized in interior design, stone-cutting, and landscape? Would you feel as confident in his knowledge to deliver you non-sewer water as you would if he’d just stuck to water and pipes.

Figure out your needs and shop a professional trainer accordingly.

Programming - Do they have a plan to get you to your goal?

Programming or planning out the phases of how a client is going to be progressed to their goals is THE centerpiece of a client-trainer relationship. Without a direction to work in, what the heck can you expect to achieve when you show up for each session?

Maybe it’s the planner in me, but if the personal trainer you’re looking to hire can’t give you a breakdown of how they are going to build your program and how it will progress, you shouldn’t slide your VISA card across the table.

In order to plan out a proper non cookie-cutter program they have to get to know how your body works through a series of assessments. At the very least a personal trainer should assess your movement patterns, your strength (or lack thereof) in push and pull dominant movement, trunk control, hip-dominant movement, and finally knee dominant movement.

The personal trainer should able to make an educated guess at how long your program needs to be to achieve your goal, and bookend your program with a date.

Experience - Are they fresh out of that weekend workshop?

A personal trainer’s experience becomes more important as your list of needs grow. If you simply desire someone to provide structure to the workouts you’d already planned to do, then that fresh out of the weekend workshop trainer might be just the ticket.

But if you suffer from lower back pain, have a shoulder injury that limits overhead movement strength and stability, or have a heart condition history, someone with more training hours under their belt (and a solid continuing education background) would be more suitable.

For instance, I want to begin work with neuroplasticity training - the rewiring of the brain to break limits in movement. Do you think I’ll hire the trainer who has no idea what neuroplasticity means?

Social Proof- What do their clients say about their work?

A lot can be learned from the experience of other people. Why do you think companies like Yelp exist!

Seek out testimonials from this trainer’s previous or current clients. Look for things like what problem did the trainer help solve? How large or small of a goal did those clients have in relation to your own? What was the customer experience like?

More than anything you want to make sure you like the person. Time and again I’ve had clients tell me they’ve done decent work with other personal trainers but in some way or another they just didn’t like the time spent in the presence of the person. Either the trainer was too quiet, lacked energy or encouragement, didn’t do much to educate them, or simply  ignite the fire to keep going.

Follow these five simple steps before you commit to a personal training program and you’ll be sure to not only be successful in meeting your goals, but you’ll enjoy the process as well.

 

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How To Get Back On Track Without A Detox Diet

The other day I ran across a young woman on a digestive health forum who felt horrible about herself.

She had been opting to order take-out most nights of the week instead of cooking, and  wasn’t exercising at all.
Essentially she had stopped caring; wholly losing touch with her health.
She felt the only solution was to hit the reset button by going on a food detox diet.


It’s understandable why thinking a detox would seem like the next logical step to take anytime we’ve defiled our health and feel like a whole heap of crap.

But let’s be real. Doing a “detox diet” is stressful and quite useless for a number of reasons.

Here I'll cover for you why a “detox diet” isn't the best answer when feeling guilty about how you've been eating and not exercising, and 5 ways to get back on track health-wise without doing your typical food detox diet.

The Problem With The Detox Diet Approach

If you've ever looked into a detox diet before you’re probably familiar with its claims to cleanse your body of food toxins that live in your colon.

However, when I check in with my ol’ pal Webster (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), I’m informed that a detox is the removal of a dangerous substance from the body.


detox /dē-ˌtäks/
: special treatment that helps a person to stop using drugs or alcohol


FYI, food isn’t a dangerous substance...just in case you were wondering.

When someone is being detoxed it is generally for a specific substance (drugs, alcohol, lead, overdose of a vitamin or mineral, etc), but the majority of the detox diets you find on the shelf in a store aren’t targeted at the removal of a particular substance or detailed set of symptoms.

It’s marketed at people who feel guilty about how they’ve eaten.

This brings me to my first point that detox diets “cleanse” you of toxins that either don’t exist in the colon, or that your body is capable of handling by itself.

On the occasion that you actually do need a detox your body has a built in way of giving you one: your liver.

Now that you remember the liver is the body’s detox organ, we arrive at my second point; any detox diet you do would have to help improve liver function.
And there are ways to do that!...it just doesn’t come in the form of juice fasting and raw kale.


5 Ways To Help Your Natural Detoxifier + Get Back On Track Health-Wise

 

  1. Adopt a moderate carbohydrate eating style, not going off the reservation in either extreme direction (100-150 grams of carbs a day is pretty good).

    Overeating carbohydrates pushes the liver to develop fat (a process called de novo lipogenesis). When you develop a fatty liver it can’t function probably and thus leads to increased insulin resistance and diabetes.
     

  2. Limit your fructose intake (i.e. high fructose corn syrup).

    Fructose is fruit sugar and table sugar. This is not to say that eating fruit is a bad thing - because it isn’t. Just as long as you’re eating the skin and flesh of the fruit and not only drinking its juice.
     

  3. Limit Omega-6 fats and increase Omega-3 fats.

    Omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil (to name a few) and cause issues like cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes.

    Omega-3 fats are most abundantly found in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, and work against the issues caused by omega-6 oils listed above.
     

  4. Rack up on foods with choline, a B-Vitamin.

    Shrimp, eggs, liver, collard greens, scallops, chicken, turkey, tuna, and beef are all great options containing choline.
     

  5. Plan out what you will eat ahead of time, and don’t get caught hungry without a gameplan for how to feed yourself.

    This may be the most practical tips of all. Most often the reason we fall out of whack with our health is because we don’t prepare ourselves for what we know have to do: eat.

    It’s not because we decided to treat ourselves or haven’t quite figured out what style of eating works best for us that we fall off the horse. No, it’s usually when we are ill prepared to feed ourselves over and over again that we resort to bad habits that our health and emotions pay for.

 

Put these 5 tips into play right now to naturally help your liver do its job of detoxing your body so that you don’t have to.

Remember, dragging yourself through one of the often advertised water, smoothie, juice, or fasting detox regimes in the end isn’t going to do much for your body.


Stick with non-processed whole foods while applying the tips above and you’ll be well on your way.


Do me a favor and share this on your social networks and to your people via email so diet companies can stop getting rich off our detox dieting mistakes.

5 Tips For Eating Out

A huge issue many people have is how to eat healthy on the go. Or, how to eat healthy when dining out.

"How do I enjoy a dinner out with friends and family without undoing all the good I've done eating today?"

Here we will cover 5 tips you can use the next time you plan to have a night out on the town.

Tip #1: Cooking Method

One food myth that many people believe to be true is that fried food is unhealthy.
However the problem is really not how you cook your food, but rather the medium in which you cook it.
I say this to make the point that the medium in which you have your foods cooked, whether it be canola oil or olive oil, is the determining factor of how healthy your meal is.
Not the mode of cooking.

Since we've covered oils in The Most Hazardous Food In Your Kitchen post, you understand the damage seed oils can do. With that said, opt to have your meal prepared with olive oil, coconut oil, or real butter when eating out.

If for some reason it looks like this will be a problem, opt for a dish that is grilled or baked.
 

Tip #2: State Your Sensitivity Over Your Preference


Most restaurants you'll visit have a standard seed oil in which they cook all of the foods on their menu. It’s a safe bet to assume that oil is probably canola oil, soybean oil, or peanut oil if you’re dining at an Asian oriented restaurant.

Unless this place is all about customer service or are more on the upscale side, the waitress that you have is probably going to give you a snarky look and tell you “no-can-do” when you say you prefer for your salmon to be cooked in coconut oil.

So rather than ask with a preference, ask with a sensitivity. If you simply explain to the waiter you have a sensitivity to vegetable oils and need your food prepared in olive oil, he will be more willing to have understanding for you and work with your needs.

Tip #3: Know Your Go-To Options

When that menu slides under your nose and your roaring appetite is exposed to the abundance of sweet, savory, spicy, creamy, chocolatey, crunchy yummy options that lay before you (most often with drool-worthy photos), it’s pretty easy to let your eyes do the selecting.

9 times out of 10 you will go for one of the options that isn't so great for you.
To rule out the chance of you experiencing the negative effects of your blood glucose level shooting through the roof, follow this method.

Read the description of the options you'd like to have and rule out any options that mentions having 

  • a sauce
  •  a cream filling
  • a glaze
  • being breaded
  • being smothered in a rich...

Tip #4: Skip The Junk Traps

This tip may not win me any friends but my general rule is to skip the appetizers.
Appetizers have the tendency to be loaded with carbs, sugar, and empty calories.  With names like pot stickers, mozzarella sticks, and green-bean crispers, most appetizer options can be equated to adult junk food before dinner.

Instead of trying to tip-toe around the options and still end up making a not so healthy choice, skip the appetizer and sip on some water until your main dish comes to the table.

I would go into skipping dessert, but you can already imagine what you're getting yourself into there.

Tip #5: Stick To Hard Liquor

It goes without saying that anyone with diabetes should not be drinking soda of any type, not even the diet stuff (which is worse off than regular soda because of the aspartame artificial sweetener). With a quarter cup of sugar loaded into a small can of coke, I don't even suggest people who don’t have diabetes drink soda.

I understand that when you go out to eat you may want to allow yourself an alcoholic beverage. I say go for it, just avoid beer.

What tends to be forgotten is that beer is made from grains; usually barley. If you Google “how is beer made” you will learn that the 4 basic ingredients for beer are water, a grain, yeast, and hops. The entire purpose is to extract the sugar from the grains so that the yeast can turn them into alcohol and carbon dioxide, thus creating beer.

If you've read the Are Grains Bad For Me? post you will understand how grains are a no-go for your gut health nor your diabetes.

If you want alcohol I suggest you reach for the hard liquor. Liquor has none of the grain and hardly any of the sugar gotten from other alcoholic beverages, before the  juice is added.

A vodka mixed with a spritz of cranberry juice and a little seltzer water is great. My personal favorite is coconut rum and pineapple juice topped with a squeeze of grapefruit on the rocks.

5 Reasons to Eat Fat

Have you paid attention to how fat is a big deal these days?

All over the place you hear people talk about being fat, eating fat, losing fat, hating fat.
Everyone seems to have an opinion and rarely is it a pretty one.

Not too many decades ago the medical system led us to believe that all fats are created equal; equally loathsome, equally sickening, and equally fattening. That (false) teaching lead to a huge spike in the “fat-free” propaganda that we still see and an even larger spike in our waistlines for endorsing it.  

This line of thinking people had when I was a kid personally sucked. I hated being told not to eat the skin on my chicken, go easy on the bacon, and not be so heavy-handed with the butter.

Now in the 21st century not too much has changed.
Some fats are now deemed “okay” to consume like olive oil and canola oil*, but one thing remains the same: “Any eating of saturated and trans fats should be be drastically limited.”
Why?
“Because eating these fats will lead to high cholesterol and heart disease.”

At least now this line of thinking is only half wrong and no longer 100% wrong.
Yes, it is terrible to eat the man-made trans fat that you get wrapped, bagged, and sent to you through a window at fast food joints.
But eating the saturated fat that comes from animal meat and milk IS NOT BAD FOR YOU.

Why?

Because humans need saturated fat in a multitude of ways.
Let me fill you in on the details the “fat-free” propaganda-pushing people failed to mention.

Fat helps lower bad cholesterol.

I’m sure you understand by now that there are 2 types of cholesterol you need to know:
High density lipoprotein commonly referred to as HDL or good cholesterol  
and low density lipoprotein commonly referred to as LDL or bad cholesterol.

Lipoprotein density is the most closely correlated marker of heart disease.
Eating a diet consisting of healthy saturated fats naturally increases the HDL cholesterol in the body over time, while leaving the LDL pretty much unaffected. (This may not be true if your weight isn't at a consistent state, i.e. you are losing weight due to better eating habits and exercise.)

I think that beats filling a prescription for statins any day of the week. Don't you agree?
And ladies, research has shown that women who have the highest percentage of their overall fat coming from saturated fats lost the most weight.

Fats help absorb nutrients.

Do you remember back in high school when you were taught the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins?
Well that wasn't just a bunch of useless science talk.

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble.
They can’t be used by the body unless they are ushered into your cells by fat!

Fish, nuts, vegetables; you do want the nutrients from those, right?

Fat helps fight sickness.

The fat found in butter and coconut oil helps keep your immune system sharp.
If you don't have enough saturated fat in your white blood cells it hinders their ability to recognize and kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

This is a note to increase and/or swap out the amount of carbs you eat with saturated fat if you find you catch colds and get sick often.Unfortunately stored fat doesn't magically go POOF by spontaneous combustion.

Fat helps you burn fat.

Saturated fat coaxes the liver to dump its fat content. Clearing the liver is the first step in getting rid of mid-body fat storage because it gives stored fat a route out of the body. 

Saturated fat also protects the liver by buffering the effects of alcohol and medications.

Fat helps build bone density.

When we are young we are told to drink our milk and eat our Kraft Singles cheese to get the calcium needed to build our bones. But did anyone tell you that saturated fat is essential for calcium to be integrated into the bone?

According to Mary Enig, Ph.D, a research expert in the field of dietary fats and human health, reasons that 50% of the diet of a person with osteoporosis should be made up of saturated fat to help make up for bone loss, as opposed to the 7-10% recommended by mainstream medicine.

With her reasoning, when you think about all the middle-aged women told they shouldn't eat saturated fat and instead to use vegetable oil, it makes sense they start to lose bone mass and density as the years wear on.

Dr. Enig wrote a book entitled The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle: The Simple Plan to Flatten Your Belly Fast. Be sure to check it out for more details on her research about fat as well as other human health findings. 

Footnote:  
*Olive oil you can eat to your heart’s content. Canola oil on the other hand, I do not condone the use of. Despite what we have been told, canola oil isn't healthy. 
In order for our human bodies to use rapeseed oil (which is what canola oil comes from), it has to be heavily processed to get rid of it’s uninviting taste and strong smell.
This whole process damages the oil and creates a man made trans fat.

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Are Grains Unhealthy For Me?

Often times I'm asked “Jasmine, why do you suggest I cut back on grains?
My doctor advises me that I should have whole grains daily to help me control my insulin and for fiber, and I need them if I want to have energy to get through my day.
What I see on the food pyramid suggests that they’re alright, so are grains actually bad for me?”


Sometimes the first response that pops into my head is, “if your doctor told you to drink ammonia would you do it?”

I’m slightly hyper at times when people ask me questions that to me have seemingly obvious answers.

But then I have to snap back to reality and remember that not everybody walks around with their head stuck in a book about food everyday like I can often be found doing.

So before I ever answer this question, I always try to get them to think about the effect regularly eating grains has on their body.

Do this exercise with me, won't you?

Let’s pretend this person’s name who asked this question is Linda.

The first thing I’ll ask Linda is, “how many meals do you eat in a day where some form of grain is involved?”

The answer usually goes a little like this:

“I’ll have either a slice of toast with my eggs, a bowl of cereal with some low-fat milk, or a small bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit on top.

For lunch I'll usually have something quick like a turkey wrap, with a whole grain or spinach tortilla of course.

And for dinner, I'll usually have some form of meat like chicken or maybe some fish beside a bit of couscous or pasta.”

Next I ask Linda how energetic does she feel throughout the day.

Linda: “Usually I feel okay, nothing spectacular like I'm revving to go...until I have my cup of coffee that is.”

Following that question I ask Linda how does she think throughout the day.

Linda: “If you're asking if I think clearly or not, I do experience a little brain fog where I have a hard time getting focused on a task or can't’ follow through on my thoughts because I forget them.”

Then I ask Linda how does her stomach feel after each meal.

“Sometimes I’ll have gas. I keep Gas-X tablets on hand. But the weird thing is I am always slightly bloated for hours after eating. I have this annoying pooch for a stomach that I cannot make go away no matter how long or hard I workout.

Finally I ask Linda how often does she have bowel movements.

“Umm, do I have to answer that?”

Most people don't like to admit right off that they do not have regular daily meetings with their household throne. Usually because they aren't proud of the fact that they have trouble going everyday.

The reason for this example food conversation is for me to bring out the causes behind the most common symptoms people fact with regular grain consumption.

Most negative symptoms from grains are brought on from grain’s 3 anti-nutrients; phytates, lectin, and gluten.
 

Phytates. People argue that cereal grains are needed because of their mineral content, but phytates makes minerals bio-unavailable. Meaning your body can’t access them to use them.

Lectin. Lectin binds to insulin receptors - you know, the little thing insulin needs to allow the liver to do its job and breakdown the glucose in your bloodstream.
Lectin also bind to your intestinal lining (that can’t be good) and causes leptin resistance.

Leptin unlike lectin is a good thing...when it works properly.
Leptin is the hormone that tells you ‘okay stop cramming food in here, we’re full.’

Gluten. Gluten is probably your worst enemy of all the anti-nutrients. Just because you aren't a celiac does not mean you escape the vengeance of gluten.

First you need to understand what gluten does to your body, then I'll tell you what your body does in response to gluten being an uninvited guest to the digestion fiesta.

Your gut has one primary job; to be the gatekeeper. Or as I like to refer to it, the bouncer.
It’s job is to be sensitive to all bad things passing into the body. Good nutrients make the list and get an all access pass to the digestion party while bad nutrients get roughed up and shuttled to the rectum for disposal.

Now when gluten comes onto the scene it binds to the lining of the gut and weakens it making it permeable, causing the gut to be less sensitive to the bad nutrients and therefore allow gluten access into the body (i.e. “leaky gut syndrome”).
 

You can think of it as gluten walking up to the bouncer and challenging him to an arm wrestling match - and winning that match. Then slips inside the party uninvited.


Gluten entering into the body is what causes you to have gas and bloating and all those other stomach discomforts.

Now that you know what gluten does, this is how your body responds to the uninvited guest.

Gluten is made up of the two proteins gliadin and glutenin.

Since these large proteins don’t belong outside the gut, when gliadin enters the body the gut dispatches an antibody called anti-gliadin IgA to fend off gliadin.

The only reason the antibody anti-gliadin IgA is released is when the body senses the impeding threat of gluten.

Besides the anti-nutrients, grains cause that sluggish non-energetic feeling because of their high carbohydrate content spiking your blood glucose levels. When blood glucose levels spike and don’t elevate and lower in a gradual manner, you feel the effects and often put on the weight.

 

At the end of the day I’m not telling you what to do here or trying to give you medical advice that will sabotage the way you eat.

I just want to help educate you on the risk of what you are doing to your body with what you are sticking in your mouth.

Grains have not proven to help anyone healthwise. Especially anyone who is diabetic, battling with weight-gain, has irritable bowel syndrome or any other digestive disorder for that matter.


If you don't see yourself being able to cut grains out of your diet, at least reduce it to a once a day thing, or limit it to a few meals that you allow yourself to have throughout the week if that will help keep you sane and the cravings at bay.