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Is Cereal a Healthy Breakfast?

The evolution of cereal is fascinating. There is an entire aisle in a 10 aisle supermarket dedicated to nothing but cereal. People refer to “my” cereal like my mom watched “her” show. Cereal is personal, and Kellogg, the inventor of the mother cereal, the cornflake, had some interesting ideas about why we all needed to eat cereal.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the Director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan opening in 1866, welcoming guests from all walks of life, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Amelia Earhart, who may have been looking for a “health tune-up”. The San, as it was called, offered holistic spa treatments from medical doctors to mineral baths. Kellogg, a Seventh Day Adventist, promoted well-being through a multi-faceted approach that involved nutrition, digestion, exercise, cleanliness, bath soaks, surgical interventions, electrotherapeutics, massage therapists, bakers, waiters, mental well being and a host of other practices and guidelines to help people become healthier versions of themselves. Many beliefs of The Seventh Day Adventists became part of his practice including nutrition, spirituality, mental hygiene, community and social interaction and physical movement. One of the inventions of Kellogg was, indeed, the cornflake in 1894, designed to provide maximum nutrients in the blandest form possible for his patients at The San. Kellogg thought the consumption of bland food would decrease masturbation, which he thoroughly frowned upon. Kellogg referred to his lifestyle as biological living, insisting on daily exercise, plenty of fresh air and complete abstinence from sex, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. I’m not certain how he would have mankind stay in business to consume his cornflakes, but seemingly, enough people only followed some of what he recommended.

Kellogg, a vegetarian, consumed many grains and found himself creating the cornflake which is a pretty famous breakfast food found in most all westernized civilizations. He encouraged everyone to chew each bite of food 40 times. (I’m not sure how to pull that off with cornflakes, but i see where he was going. ) Kellogg had lots of great ideas, and others that were a bit extreme, but I think he had the right philosophy to combine many aspects of health to lessen disease.

Unfortunately, I think his cornflake idea has morphed into what he would have seen as debauchery. Comparing The San with todays environment, we have The San with live music, educational health lectures, enough baths to put the Roman Empire to shame, outdoor trails for walking and meditating, sporting fields, bakers, cooks, and a medical staff and today’s health practices where getting a doctors appointment can be dictated by insurance coverage, foods are highly processed and contain many unnatural preservatives and little nutrients, many of us sit and drive for the better part of our day and get very little exercise or exercise is forced (a gym treadmill versus walking to the store), and misinformation and sound bytes regarding health and fitness. Is the cornflake to blame for all of our healthcare woes? Definitely not, but in my opinion, the cornflake was one of the inventions from Kellogg would could have done without.

Why I’m Against the Cornflake…

Kelloggs Cornflakes Ingredients:

Ingredients: Corn (88%), sugar, salt, barley malt extract, vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate), minerals (iron, zinc oxide).

2g protein, 24 g carbs per 1 cup serving, and not much else. The vitamins are fortified – added back in, as they were stripped out in the manufacturing process.

The corn of today is definitely not the corn of 1888. I stay clear of corn whenever possible because of the increased potential of genetic modification and Round Up pesticide in the crops, intentionally or unintentionally. Corn, without modifications, contains omega 6 fatty acids, and that makes it an inflammatory food. And, highly processed forms of corn (which are everywhere) break down very rapidly in the gut, spiking blood sugars, wreaking havoc on persons who have diabetes or other blood sugar control issues. Lastly, we should get fiber from vegetable and fruits, not from refined grains.

Most other cereals are in the same boat with the cornflake, offering little nutrition with a lot of simple carbohydrates that spike blood sugars and typically are stored as fat, even the ones that label themselves as healthy. Poor Kellogg, giving him the benefit of the doubt, was beyond well-intentioned, but could not imagine the future offspring of the cornflake. The other products available from Kellogg’s today now include Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes (chocolate or with marshmallows , Frosted Mini Wheats, Raisin Bran, Rice Krispies, Special K, Cereal Bars, Pop Tarts and more. None of these are good for you. None. In fact, quite the opposite. The chart below compares the main Kellogg products and a few other seemingly healthy cereal products. Most cereals, including the ones that tell you they are good for you are not the healthiest choices. Review the carbohydrates, sugars and fiber per serving as well as the ingredient list. If you must still choose cereal, avoid BHT, BTA, TBQH and choose cereals preserved with tocopherol (fancy name for vitamin E) The US allows food manufacturers to use these petroleum based and more harmful preservatives, and interestingly, Europe does not. Food manufactures have different recipes for exports to the EU. This is disgusting policy, in my opinion, and should be added to my list of why we should not eat processed cereals.

CerealProteinCarbsFatSugarFiber
Kelloggs
Frosted Flakes126010.5
Froot Loops2260.5103
Frosted mini Wheats (10 biscuits)7621158
Raisin Bran5471177
Rice Krispies229040
Special K7290.550.5
Cereal Bar – Blueberry2243123
Pop Tart2354.515.5
Other Manufacturers
Cheerios – General Mills320223
Puffins – Cinn – Barbara’s Bakery226115.5
Bob’s Red Mill Muesli423334

So, for obvious reason, I am against the cornflake, but taking one or two things from Kellogg, I invented my own cereal. I share most of his beliefs, but bland food treatment is one I definitely don’t wrap my head around – on several levels. This flavorful, nutrient dense cereal provides 11 g protein, 16 g carbs, 27g total fat 16 of which are omega 3’s, and 5 g fiber without any grain and hopefully no harmful ingredients (depending on the source of your berries and other ingredients). The total calories for this meal is 332 and chock full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, healthy fats and lots of flavor!

Nut and Berry Cereal

1/3 cup Walnuts, crushed

1T Flax Seed, ground

1T Hemp Seed

1 tsp coconut, shredded

1/3 cup blueberries

4 strawberries

4 oz Almond Milk

Alcohol’s and Fat Loss, with Bonus Cheat Sheet

I can only imagine how proud my Kinesiology and Nutrition professors at UMass would be to see me, part owner of my own gym, writing an article on which alcohol is the best compliment to a fat loss program. Anywho- here I am.  Go Minutemen!! 

Let me first start by explaining what this blog is intended for as to avoid any confusion.  The last thing I want is for anyone to start running around town telling everybody their trainer is recommending they up the boozing to get results.  That’s not what I’m trying to convey. This is simply a guide for you to use so that you can make an informed decision and understand how it can affect your results in regards to fat loss/gain.  If you’ve been told that alcohol is a death sentence when it comes to fat loss and any small amount will totally reverse your hard earned progress, I’ll tell you that’s probably not the case. All of us know that drinking too much can cause a whole host of problems not related to body composition, but I am not a doctor, and I won’t try to get into any of that.  I repeat, this is all about how different alcoholic beverages can impact results in regards to fat loss.

So what amount of alcohol is the best to achieve absolute maximal results?  Well, probably none. But the fact is that a lot of people drink (about 56% of American adults at least monthly) and when it’s consumed in moderate amounts it won’t completely derail or halt your progress.  One study conducted by Harvard University even showed light drinkers had a slightly lower BMI than non-drinkers over an 8 year period.  I can also say anecdotally, having trained hundreds of adults, and just recently attending a fitness summit with 1300 trainers (and an open beer/wine bar mixer) that even very fit people can have a drink here and there.

There’s no set rules as to how many drinks per day or week you can have and still achieve fat loss, so it would be unwise to make specific recommendations.  There are so many factors that need to be accounted for such as the food your eating, current body composition, activity levels, stress levels, sleep patterns, and so on, so you can see why specifics get tricky here.  Although I really dislike the phrase “everything in moderation” (is a moderate amount of road rage a good thing? You know, not a lot, just a moderate amount), this may be an instance where it is appropriate. My colleague and Registered Dietitian, Anne Rollins often explains to clients that if they have a drink or two a couple nights a week they can still get results.  If they up that to 3-4 nights a week they can expect less results, 5 nights even less, and so on. I believe the same is true for the number of drinks. As with anything related to fat loss, you need to find what works best for you. You need to consistently measure results, and when you’re no longer achieving the results you want, you need to make a change.

Without getting too far into the science and biochemistry of alcohol metabolism (I see your eyes glazing over already), here’s a super quick breakdown of how alcohol is processed in your body and its role in fat loss/gain.  In nutrition we talk about three nutrients your body uses for energy, the macronutrients; carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. There is actually a 4th energy source which is alcohol, or ethanol specifically. Our bodies are also very particular as to the order they break down and use those macronutrients when we eat or drink.  Let’s say you eat a hamburger. Your body first metabolizes all the carbs in the bun/ veggies/ condiments, then the fat in the meat, and finally the protein in the meat. Now let’s say you have a shot of tequila with the hamburger. Since alcohol is seen as a toxin by the body, it immediately jumps to the front of the line to be broken down and metabolized so it’s not sitting around in our system for long.  In essence, alcohol slows down the metabolization of everything else you consume. So now the next time you’re out to dinner with friends you can give them a quick science lesson on all the processes going on in the digestion of their meal… Just kidding, they won’t invite you out again.

It’s almost time to look at what options are better or worse for you to accompany your healthy lifestyle, but first a quick note on nutrition labeling for alcohol.  You might have noticed that most beers, wines, and spirits don’t have a nutrition label like food you find in the grocery store. The reason for this is because they’re regulated by the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and not the FDA, so they are not required to provide nutrition facts.  There has been a big push to change this over in the past decade and we’re even seeing some companies listing nutrition facts on their own usually to claim themselves as a healthier option.  In any sense it makes this whole thing a bit trickier for you to navigate, and for me to come up with the following list. This should serve as a good general guide, but you won’t see specific brands for the reasons above, and for the fact that I have no idea if they can sue me over that.  This is also not an all inclusive list as there are thousands of different drinks. If you are unsure of something, try to find a similar drink on the list to get clarity.

So now that we’ve discussed all the details, let’s take a look at how the different types of alcoholic beverages stack up against one another, starting with…

The Biggest Offenders:  Save for rare occasions

Super Sweet Mixed Cocktails: 

These are the drinks with tons of ingredients, tons of sugar, and a good amount of alcohol.  Think of the popular drinks at beach bars and asian restaurants. An average 9oz pina colada has about 500 calories and 64 grams of sugar, ouch!

Examples: mai tai’s; pina coladas; strawberry daiquiris; rum runners; scorpion bowls; punches, frozen margaritas, etc…

Mixed Drinks with Soda: 

As with anything involving soda, these drinks contain huge amounts of sugar.  The only reason they might be a slightly better option than the drinks above is because they’re not always gigantic.  

Examples: long island iced tea; moscow mule; gin and tonic; rum and coke; whiskey and ginger ale; vodka and sprite; tequila and san pellegrino(soda not seltzer water); or any other combination.

Mixed Drinks with Fruit Juice: 

Similar to the previous two categories, these drinks are a combination of lots of sugar and alcohol.  They get a slight edge over soda based drinks because the juice is typically more natural and might have less sugar.  Note – if the juice is fresh squeezed by the bar it will be a better option that juice from concentrate that is loaded with extra sugars.

Examples: sangrias; screwdrivers; vodka cranberries (or Cape Coddah’s as us New Englanders say); gin and juice (shout out Snoop); margaritas from sour mix; or any other combination.

Hard Lemonades/ Iced Tea’s

These are beer alternatives that are loaded with simple sugars.  Usually seen as summer or beach drinks.

Examples: all major hard lemonade and iced tea brands as well as similar malt beverages

Sweet Ciders:

Ciders keep getting more popular so there are a ton available now, and thus a huge range when it comes to sweetness.  Unlike most alcohol on this list, ciders have to list nutrition facts (weird I know) so you can usually see how much sugar is in them.  I consider these to be the ciders containing 10 grams/ serving or more (this will be most of them.). If you can’t find the sugar content, the sweeter it is, the more sugar it has.

Examples: Usually the more widely available brands; the ones that are labeled as ‘sweet’ rather than ‘dry’.

Heavy Beers: 

Sorry beer connoisseurs, but these are the types of beers that my beer drinking friends tell me are the best as they laugh at American-made light lagers.  These are usually higher carb, higher calorie, and it seems to me usually bigger (when did 16oz become the new 12)? They get a slight edge over the other drinks in this category, because they contain less simple sugars.  Quick side note – having celiac, I’ve noticed a ton of new gluten free beers of all varieties. I would categorize them exactly the same as far as fat loss goes. The heavier gluten free options belong in this category.

Examples: most IPA’s; most pale ales; most craft beers; usually beers that fill you up quickly.

Slightly Better Options:  Proceed with caution

Lighter Beers:

My self described “beer snob” friends just stopped reading.  These are the beers that appear lighter (easier to see through), taste lighter (more watery), and could possibly even be labeled as a ‘light’ beer (but not always).  These are the beers that are found in Super Bowl commercials and college campuses on a Friday night, as well as the ones readily available at most any bar you walk into here in the U.S.

Examples: most big name American lagers, especially those listed as ‘light’; the easiest to find Dutch, and Mexican lagers as well

Less Sweet Ciders:

These are less readily available than sweet ciders, but can usually be found at places that sell craft options.  Less than 10 grams of sugar/ serving. Slight edge over beers because they are not grain based.

Examples: usually listed as ‘dry’; more often craft than the big name brands

Sweet and Semi-Sweet Wines/ Champagne’s

These can be either red or white.  Their nutrition facts will rarely be listed so it makes categorizing them tougher.  Many will be labeled as ‘sweet’ or ‘semi-sweet’ and taste much sweeter because they contain sugars that haven’t been fermented into alcohol.  Cheaper wines also tend to have a higher sugar content to enhance the taste.

Examples: moscato; rosé; port; dessert wines; shiraz; zinfandel; grenache; non-brut champagnes; sweet rieslings; madeira

Classic Cocktails with Sweet Mixers

These include the classic drinks that contain a sugary mixer, but are predominantly alcohol.  You could say these are the drinks that contain only a “splash” of the mixer as opposed to some of the categories above.  These drinks tend to be strong as well and therefore take longer to drink.

Examples: cosmopolitans; old fashioneds; any fruity martini; bloody mary’s; “skinny” margaritas with lemon and lime juices

Spiked Seltzers

Similar to ciders, seltzers have gained a ton of popularity over the past decade and are required to list nutrition facts, making them easier to navigate.  Choose the options without added sugar. Most will have around 1-2g of carbs per can or bottle and are typically lower in calories compared to beers and ciders.

Examples: most major spiked seltzer brands

Classic Cocktails without Sweet Mixers

Same as above, without fruit juice or simple syrup/ sugar.

Examples: manhattans; dry martinis; dirty martinis

The best options:  These can still be overdone

Dry Wines

Wine makes its way into this category because it’s one of the only drinks on here in which people will argue its health benefits.  For the record, I won’t do that but the Mayo clinic will (click here).  Dry wines are the ones in which almost all if not all of the original sugars from the grapes have been fermented into alcohol.  These can be red or white and often will be listed as ‘dry’. More expensive wines typically have lower levels of residual sugars.  European wines tend to emphasize dryness as well.

Examples: merlot; cabernet sauvignon; pinot noir; chardonnay; sauvignon blanc; Italian pinot grigio; extra brut champagne

Spirits on the Rocks/ Mixed with Water

Any alcohol by itself or mixed with some type of water (plain/ seltzer/ soda water) will be one of your best options when it comes to maintaining fat loss and preventing fat gain.  These drinks are consumed slowly, in small amounts, and contain no sugar or carbs. Within this category, I’d say tequila(100% de agave) is the premium option because it is not grain based like most of the other spirits and it has the least impact on blood sugar.  Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime will add flavor without much of an impact on carb/ sugar content.

Examples: tequila(100% de agave); vodka; gin; rum; whiskey; scotch; bourbon

So that concludes my list.  I hope you can use this guide in some way to make informed decisions and keep you on track toward your goals.  And if you read this and came to the conclusion that you need to increase your drinking…RE-READ IT!!!!!!

Bye-Bye Back Boobs

“Mom, you lost your back boobs.” I can still remember hugging the hubby in a tank top when my girls made the announcement at dinner. My back wavered between a B and C-cup for nearly 3 decades of my life. So, how did I get rid of my back fat in my 40’s? I did a million toning classes…just kidding. Did I get cool-sculpting at a Medispa? Nope. Actually, I lost my back fat when I quit the the gym and stopped dieting. That’s right, I lost my back fat by cutting down my fitness classes and eating more food!

Let’s focus on the myths associated with getting rid of body-fat.

Getting toned is a made up phrase. There is no class that will tone your muscles. Burning fat and increasing muscle requires a holistic approach to fitness.

Spot training doesn’t work. One million lat pull downs will not get rid of your C-cup back boobs. 1200 tricep extensions will not get rid of batwing arms. Six millions sit-ups will not get you a 6 pack…but it could get you a trip to the hospital with a possible muscle strain.

You can not burn the fat off your body by cutting calories and adding more cardio. I am convinced that formula was the reason why I gained 40 pounds in my 20’s and basically hovered around that weight until I hit my 40’s and I lost 40 pounds. Overrestricting the amount of calories the body gets and increasing the amount of energy production usually sends the body into survival conservation mode, aka: not burning calories.

Hormonal shifts related to our age are not the reason we put on fat. This can signal our bodies WHERE to put the fat, but we are in control of the calorie surplus. However, years of engrained beliefs, dieting and poor habits can wreak havoc on your hormones and metabolic rate. The fountain of youth is real and comes from a healthy lifestyle.

THree best ways to get rid of back fat

Posture

Grab a bag of sugar (I know it will be hard to find in your kitchen) and sit it on the counter. Now, gently pull up on that bag of sugar and notice the difference. Does that bag look thinner? Bad posture can add the appearance of 15 pounds of fat in a second. Focus on improving core muscles and fix the posture muscles that are going slack with too much computer and phone time. Functional training, yoga and pilates are the best ways to support good posture. This is one of the fastest ways to see immediate results while having the additional benefit of helping with injury prevention.

HIIT Workouts

Tons of cardio will only add stress to your already stressful life. I was teaching a spin class, going for run, and teaching another spin class when my 39 year old photo was taken. I would keep my calories close to 1200 just to be in a calories deficit. I was always taught a 500 calorie deficit meant one pound a week of weight loss. Too many workouts without proper nutrition actually causes weight gain. Use targeted HIIT workouts (25 minute high intensity interval training) to challenge your body and maximize your time and effort.

Eliminate sugar

Don’t track another calorie if you want to lose fat! Our bodies need calories for energy. Limiting those calories can be dangerous to our metabolism. And sure, not all calories are created equal. Our body does not need the amount of sugar that is in average meal or drink. For example, a Chai Latte at Starbucks has 56 grams of sugar. This is too much sugar for anyone in a single day. It’s even scarier that many of us consider that Chai Latte a healthy cup of tea. Tracking and eliminating sugars is only a piece of the puzzle. Be careful when it comes to following grams of sugar on a meal-tracking app. Artificial sweeteners don’t show up on those apps which can be deceiving. Artificial sweeteners need to be managed for many reasons. I lost 5 pounds in one week when I gave up all artificial sweeteners.

Research shows that consuming artificial sweeteners leads to over-consuming calories from other sources. Leading the brain to think it is getting sugar, and then not handing it over creates a sugar seeking brain and an unsatisfied appetite. Adapting your tastebuds to less sweet flavors doesn’t truly take that long, and is healthier in the long run over artificial sweeteners – all artificial sweeteners. Even the ones from plants. Years ago, I would say that artificial sweeteners should only be used in the event someone could not manage blood sugars, in the case of diabetes (which is why these sugars evolved) but research, science and the nutrition environment has changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and I say without hesitation, that no one needs to be consuming an artificial sweetener. Work to get sugar out of your routine, and then once in awhile is fine. Some folks do not manage that reintroduction well and may need years of sugar free life before reintroducing it to be successful, but it is possible.

Anne Rollins MS CSSD RD LDN

Final thoughts

There is no quick fix when it comes to fat loss. Successful long term fat loss requires changing habits. The hardest part of changing habits is getting into the rhythm of success. Find a plan that works and stay accountable.

embody The Lifestyle.

Staying injury free after forty

“My back hurts. I need to take time off from the program.”

“I can’t run because of I have degenerative disc disease.”

“I have to put my membership on hold because I need to get an MRI.”

We built embody for these exact reasons, to help heal, and yet people want to put their membership on hold when they have pain. Should an injury create opportunity to revert to unhealthy habits. If your pain improves with wine and cheese while you watch Netflix, please let us know because we want to meet your doctor. We all want the same prescription.

As active fitness professionals finishing up our forty’s we have a unique perspective on living in pain. Personally we are never injury-free. A trip over an aggressive pine cone can lead to a knee injury which would derail most runners. A muscular imbalance that causes debilitating back pain might send most people to an MRI . How do we continue to train for our first 50 miler? We have the secret to feeling great in your forties and beyond.

You will get hurt.

The first moments, hours and days after an injury are important and what you do in that time can seriously impact the outcome. Keeping a sprained ankle totally immobile will absolutely prevent the sprain from getting worse. However, this will also likely lengthen the recovery period significantly. Ibuprofen, while decreasing the pain, will not allow you to know what a safe range of motion is for your injury.  If you can tolerate the pain, avoid the ibuprofen.   We are not fans of liberal pharmaceutical use, but take meds when it’s necessary.  But before we drive to a pharmacy we usually make an acupressure appointment for some much needed body work .

Pain is part of life.

Knowing the early warning signs of a strained muscle can be the difference between no injury and a MCL tear that sidelines you for weeks, months, or a lifetime. That little twinge when you go downstairs is something. Listen to your body. While the twinge is not likely serious, it is your advance warning signal that something is out of balance.

Understand the diagnosis.

A diagnosis is not a reason to get unhealthy. Most people over 40 have degenerative disc disease. If you start poking around with imaging you will find something. Understanding the source of pain is a reason to design a healing plan. Anything involving the spine is scary, and a disc disease sounds horrifying, but not moving will decondition your muscles, decrease your balance and increase the likelihood of a fall.

Nutrition

What you put into your body can greatly impact your outcome, as well. We have had, and seen many people with, significant injuries and one of the most important points to stress is nutrition. Eliminate inflammatory, increase anti-inflammatory foods. If you think that there is not connection, simply ask anyone who has followed an anti-inflammatory diet when injured. We are not sure why people think they can put a medicine into their bodies to be digested, metabolized and be delivered to an injury site in their bodies, but that foods would be handled differently.

Of course there will be an injury that requires rest, but pain or injuring yourself is not a reason to not get healthy. We have a unique perspective as wellness coaches completing our forties. Be an active participant in your recovery, and we guarantee the recovery goes faster. We are not special because we stayed fit in our forties.

“I hurt my knee. My physical therapist told me take time off from the program.” Statements like this are commonplace, and unfortunately, understandable. No one wants to be responsible for someone making an injury worse which could happen if you overexert an injury, even stretching it too far. So while, stretching and mild movement is great for an injury, there is too much room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation for a medical professional to give that advice. The safe answer is to rest and take ibuprofen. While this answer isn’t wrong, it’s not right.

Check in for guidance with a licensed professional and see if someone can explain what might be some safe movements for you to do instead of keeping the area immobile and stiff. Don’t limit your focus to just the injury because spot healing(intense focusing on managing the pain without focusing on the entire body) will just lead to more injuries. Heal the entire body with fitness, nutrition and restoration.

Sure there are some injuries, that usually involve broken bones, that require stability, but most muscles, ligaments or tendons would appreciate some TLC.

embody includes an intense restorative program for a reason. Take advantage of the embody 30 minute Stretch and Core Class. Enjoy a special Spa Yoga Class. Commit to balance with Tai Chi in the fall. Don’t miss a functional training session. Finally, food is medicine! Nothing heals like a healthy lifestyle.

Yours in health,

Anne and Nicole

Getting healthy after vacation

I just celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. My husband and I are almost 50 years old and at our healthiest as a couple. We climbed two mountains over 8000 feet combined in less than 24 hours. In addition to our age and the fact, our marriage lasted, what makes this story interesting is our journey up to those mountains. My husband is recovering from a blood clot in his leg and I am living with lupus and MS. My husband was in the emergency three months ago(weighing 20 pounds more) and I am the middle of training for a 50-miler and haven’t missed a day of training.

How did we beat the odds? How did my husband lose 20 pounds in three months and recover from a serious medical condition? A healthy lifestyle. How do I maintain a 40-pound weight loss and manage chronic disease while training for a 50-miler? A healthy lifestyle. It is hard to stay motivated and vacation can derail anyone. I am sharing my plan to get back to my healthy lifestyle after vacation. I am not worried about the 5.8 pounds I gained on vacation because of my concrete plan to get back on track.

Define the vacation. The first thing I do is define the vacation. Is this a one-time vacation experience, or is the vacation an extension of my current lifestyle? Traveling for my 25th wedding anniversary is a one-time-only experience that I won’t get back unless I get divorced and remarried and even that will take another 25 years. If I was visiting our family’s summer house that would be a different vacation and plan.

Defining my vacation helps set the rules for my time off. A one-time vacation means I go off the plan completely. I had wine every night and ordered for the experience of trying different things. A family vacation is a recurring event that requires a minor deviation from the plan. I will have an extra night with wine and chocolate but stick with my healthy habits. I make most of the meals at home and order with a plan at a restaurant. I would not expect to gain 5.8 pounds in 5 days.

Go out with BANG! On the drive home, I started designing my post-vacation meal plan as I was finishing a package of Twizzlers and ordering pizza. It was important for me to have no regrets because I am was going hardcore the next morning.

Don’t let the last supper become a habit that is harder to break. I threw away the last piece of pizza the next morning. I don’t even know where that last Twizzler went. My last supper ended with no regrets and no do-overs.

Weigh-in with no judgment. It will be impossible to measure my healthy choices without understanding my starting point. I gained 5.8 pounds in 5 days. I loved that massive double-sided pecan turtle. I devoured my favorite pizza. The scale will not be a surprise at my next doctor’s appointment if I step on it today. I have learned to have a healthy relationship with the scale.

I am excited about my weigh-in next week! My weekly weigh-in will keep me on track after 8 pm. After 8 pm is the hardest time for me to stay motivated and without accountability, I will just start shopping for pajama jeans at 9:30 and grab some ice cream.

Don’t abandon the best parts of a vacation. I slept eleven hours the first night. I meditated two times a day. I spent hours unplugged. We go on vacation to reset our button and that is something that will only help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I plan on adopting new healthy habits to continue managing my stress. Starting tomorrow I am eliminating any screen time while I eat for at least one week. I will continue meditating two times a day. I will add more daily vacations from life this summer by setting new fitness goals.

My commitment to restoration over the past year was key to a pain-free hike. I muscled through chronic knee pain for all my past hikes from the time I was eighteen. A big shout out to John my acupressurist. I have only missed one appointment in the past six months and that commitment paid off with my best performances on a mountain while training for my first 50-miler. I am pain-free thanks to a commitment to acupressure. I did not have a massage at the spa we stayed at but I can’t wait for my regular appointment with John.

My vacation was wonderful. I had time off from cooking and cleaning. I hiked over 8000 feet in two days which justified the homemade pasta with truffles for dinner. I am not sure it justified wine every night but years of disciplined eating did justify taking a break from my routine. My vacation would not have been possible without a healthy lifestyle.

I am excited for my hubby. I wouldn’t have been a great partner for my husband during his recovery if I did walk the talk. There is nothing more annoying than telling someone to eat healthy as you enjoy bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. We love cooking together and ran together for the first time in years.

I am sharing my reboot meal plan with the majority of the ingredients from the Farmers Market because a healthy lifestyle tastes delicious. https://embodythelifestyle.net/farmers-market-recipes/

Tips to Stay Motivated

So I am currently training for my first 50-miler and I was recently diagnosed with a severe nickel allergy. This weekend was a double whammy. It was hot and I was hungry. My options were limited because I am following a nickel free diet and I have a strict training schedule.

When you have MS the heat will aggravate symptoms so it is a great reason to stay in a room with A/C. The nickel content in most processed foods is very low. This weekend life would have been a lot easier to rent movies and eat pizza in the A/C. So, how did I stay motivated with all these great excuses?

Visualization is a key to managing temptation. How would I feel in 30 minutes after I finish that pizza. How would I feel if I woke up at a normal time and couldn’t run all day?

Commit to a schedule. If I am struggling with my nutrition, I pick a day to start eating better. My workouts are scheduled with a purpose which makes it easy to stay on track. I keep my goals realistic and attainable.

Support from the community. I announce my goals to the people around me. I look for friends and family willing to keep me accountable.

The only reason to be immobile is if we are concerned with risk of paralysis. Otherwise, you need to move. I can not think of a reason to eat processed foods, but I am sure I will hear some great reasons from members this week.

It is very easy to slip into bad habits especially with valid excuses. We should never put our health on the back-burner too long. Today is the perfect day to feel better.

Navigating A Night Out

Anne Rollins MS CSSD RD LDN

Summer is full of beach days, get-togethers and perhaps a bit more eating and drinking than usual.  This week I had a few extras: hours at work, extra days of work, a few extra hours on customer service calls, and a few extra hours of training, and the few extra added up.  After my long run yesterday, I sent out the ‘who’s available tonight because I’ll not be able to manage much more than sitting around chatting’ text, (and that may be weird and challenging by myself).

I have great friends who I met at a local restaurant, and who had prior to my arrival, ordered the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten.  Truthfully, this could have been anything since I had just finished a long run, but this was really, really good.   A fancy Philly Cheesesteak Taquito with horseradish sauce.  The beauty here, is that I didn’t order this dish, and was handed only the last few bites immediately upon arriving.  This is a great strategy that allows you to enjoy a dish that is a little less than healthy.   I should also add that we were in a scratch kitchen restaurant, so a taquito while still some type of fried yumminess, is way better than a taco shell from chain restaurant.

I ordered my favorite summer cocktail, Gin and Tonic with lime, and a basket of Truffle Fries to start.  I don’t have many rules in my life, but one is that if I am somewhere and they have Truffle Fries on the menu, I must ordered them.  Needing a few extra carbs post run, this was a win:win.  A bit about the cocktail.  I avoid drinks with sugary mixers because this add so many extra calories I don’t need, and I also find that I don’t feel so great the next day and not from excessive alcohol.  The metabolism of sugars from alcohol combined with sugars in juices and whatever else in in the mixer does not sit well with me.  So, I’ll choose tonic (some sugar), soda or on the rocks.  And, don’t let that bar fruit be a garnish! A squeeze of lime provides some Vitamin C.  Additionally, there is some solid lore that you should not drop your bar fruit into your drink, because who knows wear that fruit has been.

I shared the fries with everyone so not to over do it, (full disclosure, I ate most of them) and then noticed that a salad on the specials was sourced from a local farm.  I couldn’t say no, even though this may not have been my first choice.  The salad was a Blueberry Goat Cheese Salad that included candied pecans and radishes.  The radishes and the greens were from a farm in my town, and since we were not in my town, I was even more obliged.  I don’t eat much dairy, but if I do, I will have a non-cow product. 

My meal had been pretty light, but perfect for chatting with the girls and leaving room for a few bites for dessert.  Fortunately, the Honey Caramel Cheesecake was incredibly popular and had sold out, because I’m not quite sure I could’ve shared that offering very well.  The choices were narrowed down to a chocolate brownie a la mode sundae creation, and a berry mascarpone cream over blueberry ricotta cake combo.  The final choice was left to me, and I went berries.  Again, we all shared, and while the dessert was heavenly, a few bites remained. Feeling compelled to finish dessert is common, but a few bites of something sweet after your meal can sometimes be all you need to hit the spot.  Move on with some great conversation, and some water, tough as it may be. To be clear, this was no fruit salad because berries were involved. No justifying this. This is absolutely a calorically dense, sugary treat. Going out to eat can be challenging trying to find something that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated and guilt ridden.  Enjoy your choices of food, and while I indefinitely love food, I love the company of my friends and family more.  Place more importance on the people you are sharing the meal with, and take some of the pressure off the food.  Including the social aspect to your meal can be just as important as the foods you choose.

Oh, and the minute I start photographing my food the conversation usually turns toward nutrition. Intermittent Fasting was brought up (and not by me!) and I got to hear about what some folks are thinking and adding some new twists on an age old eating pattern. We are doing lots of investigating on the IF craze and the IF Challenge starts for us on August 1. Definitely not for everyone, our challenge is designed to help people walk through IF and see if IF would be beneficial for them, most importantly with some guidance and support on principles and how to implement them. Woohoo! Challenge!

Summary of Tips

  • Eat/taste your friend’s indulgences
  • Order what you love
  • Enjoy your company more than the food

Happy Dining Out!

I can’t eat another burger…

Excerpt from a blog post by Jamie Burgess, Boston University Dietetic Intern
Fun, flavorful and festive – Part 1 Appetizer With the start of summer and July 4th right around the corner, you may find yourself with an abundance of cookouts to attend and beach days to plan…but what can you bring that will please the crowds, provide a nutritious punch and be ready in less than 30 minutes all at the same time?  An avocado quinoa walnut salad might be the perfect appetizer.             Avocados are a good source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, and these micronutrients help you convert your food into energy, keep your immune system running in tip-top shape and support strong bones.  In order to stop your avocado from turning brown through oxidation, be sure to gently coat with lemon juice.  Fun fact – Lemon juice is high in Vitamin C and interacts with oxygen before it can turn your avocado brown keeping the beautiful green color.             Quinoa, (yes, it gets a bad rap) has naturally gluten free, high protein, whole grain.  Talk about a superfood! But why are whole grains better than refined grains like white flour or white bread? Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain- the bran, the germ and the endosperm providing more fiber and more micronutrients than refined grains. To bring this appetizer together, sprinkle on some walnuts.  Research shows that hose with a walnut rich diet have lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Woohoo!! Walnuts also pack in the fiber and micronutrients for a wonderful snack or addition to any salad!
Avocado Quinoa Walnut salad2 avocados2 cups quinoa2 cups grape tomatoes¼ c chopped walnutslemon juice (prevents the avocado from browning) Olive oil2 lemons, juiced

1. Prepare quinoa according to directions on package (making sure to rinse before using). Allow to cool.2. Dice avocado into bite side pieces and spritz with lemon juice3. Cut grape tomatoes in half4. Add in ¼ cup chopped walnuts.5. Gently stir and enjoy!  

Ah, My Back!!

Lower back injuries are about the most common complaint I hear, and the spring/summer season seems to increase the injuries as people start to garden, clean out garages, pack up cars for vacations and get things down from attics. We find ourselves in awkward positions on ladders, crouching in crawl spaces, trying to reach high shelves, and tend to use and overexert muscles that were not meant for that job. We hired the wrong muscle for the job, and it locks up or becomes strained causing us great discomfort, pain, and/or limited range of motion for a few weeks.
Most of us walk around chronically ready for this injury, and the extra reach, leaning over to pull out a weed, leaning over to wash dishes, picking up a heavy box or bag using your lower back muscles (unsupported forward flexion) is the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back.
WHY?This injury is most commonly caused by tight hip flexors that pull on and overstretch the glut and hip girdle muscles. This results in weaker glut and hip muscles. When you go to call on those muscles, they are unable to engage, and the weaker neighboring muscles jump in to help (low back) and that is the definition of having your kicker play on the defensive line – wrong job. Sometimes, people have a nuisance ache in the low back for years and then one wrong movement sends it into injury mode. I see this more and more with the increased hours of sitting in front of computers, increased driving and increased looking down at technology – headinphonitis.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWSBad news is that it doesn’t look like we are going to eliminate technology anytime soon. Good news is we can offset the poor posture and related injuries by stretching our hip flexors, strengthening our core, gluts and hip girdle muscles and being mindful of the way we move especially in forward flexion.
WHAT TO DO?TIPS to reduce low back injury

  • Stand and stretch every 20-30 minutes if working in a seated position
  • Take breaks while driving
  • Avoid letting your feet rotate out when seated, especially the left when driving
  • Intentionally tighten your gluts when standing for long periods of time (waiting in a check out line) to take the pressure off your lower back

STRETCH AND STRENGTHENFlexor Stretch – Runners LungeCore Exercise – PlankGlut Exercise – Banded Glut Bridge

Including the above into your regular routine can stave off back injuries and help keep you moving well. Detailed videos can be found on our new YouTube channel or on our member website. Check in frequently as we add more great videos to help you stay healthy!Search “embodyFitness” on YouTube or follow the link below. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuuezoJSmZwRSzg0RHYzeRA

Is Breakfast Really Important?

The well known phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” makes a blanket statement, but doesn’t tell us why or what some good examples of breakfast may look like. Is breakfast the most important meal? In most scenarios, yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Common answers about eating breakfast…1. I’m not hungry when I wake up.2. I feel nauseous when I eat breakfast.3. I don’t have time to prepare breakfast.4. I’m sick of eggs, and don’t know what else to eat.5. I just eat when I get to the office, whatever they have available in the break room.
When you wake up and begin to move around, you are asking your body to use calories. If no food is introduced relatively soon, the body slows your metabolism (the amount of calories you will use for basic maintenance – blinking eyes, beating heart, breathing, walking to the kitchen for coffee). If this happens regularly, the body decreases or stops the morning production of digestive enzymes – conserving resources. You won’t feel hungry, and if you do eat, you don’t feel well because no enzymes were readily available to digest food causing bloating, uncomfortability, lethargy and even nausea. Take 1-3 bites of an easily digestible food until your body recognizes the routine and starts to increase digestion. Slowly add to your breakfast over a few weeks time.
Breakfast doesn’t need to eggs, and it certainly doesn’t need to be pancakes, waffles, muffins or cereal. Breakfast becomes the hardest meal of the day if we choose chocolate chip pancakes with syrup. This meal, and similar grain based meals, break down very quickly, spike the blood sugar, and can set us up for a day long roller coaster ride of blood sugar and energy dysregulation. Think of balancing. If you can balance well on one leg, and then someone brushes by you disrupting your balance, you are more likely to regain balance if you were well balanced to begin with. If your balance is not great, and while you are on one leg, someone brushes against you, you will probably topple over – hopefully not getting hurt. Many systems in your body work like this – if you have a good foot hold, your body can better hold itself in healthier ranges – blood sugar, energy, etc. If not, these systems are more likely to get out of control quickly. Breakfast is your first lesson of balance. Eat a nutrient dense, non-sugary breakfast to start your day. No time to prepare? This is probably the most common issue I hear about breakfast. I have a gazillion breakfast dishes that can be prepared the night before or that take 1-4 minutes to prepare. Eating breakfast doesn’t need to look like a hot feast that turns your morning into a hot mess every day, so don’t let your perceptions of what a healthy breakfast is turn you away from making it happen.
Eggs are quick and simple, and if you are trying to get a system in place, can be an easy go to meal. However, many more foods in the world to eat besides eggs! Food can be eaten any time of day, so expand your breakfast palette to include foods you may only think of for snacks, lunch or dinners.
There are very few offices that have anything healthy kicking around. Perhaps, you are one of the lucky few with healthy mindful options, but I like to have a bit more understanding of my food and not leave it to chance. Always be prepared with your food, and only use office snack areas as emergencies – maybe like zombie apocalypse and there’s nothing else left.
Egg Crepe

1 egg1 T tapioca flour1 T water1 T coconut oil or ghee (depending on taste or filling)
Heat oil over medium heat in a saute pan.Mix all other ingredients in a bowl (use a fork-the more you whip an egg, the fluffier the product becomes)Pour batter in pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, testing the edges. The edges should pull away from the pan easily when cooked. Flip crepe over with a spatula or practice your fancy one handed flipping move, and cook another 30 seconds.Select a filling that adds nutrients and keeps the sugar content low. Today, I used diced avocado. I also love baby arugula with lime juice (and a little Franks or other hot sauce if you’re spicy)This is a great snack, too. Experiment with your fillings.
Non Egg BreakfastsBreakfast HashChia Seed PuddingNut and Berry “Cereal”Fresh Strawberries w Nut Butter and Cocoa Bullet CoffeeRoasted VeggiesAlmond/Coconut Milk SmoothiesThere’s a gazillion more…
Start your day off well! In a world of things we can’t control, control what you can, starting with breakfast!