Getting out of a rut

At least they are gluten free

I am constantly helping people get back on track, so, what happens when I hit a low point? I embrace my low points because I realize it is the only way to get back up.  

Last Thursday was particularly challenging. I let my family know it was a low point before I changed into my running clothes and strapped on my running sneakers. I tried to go for a run but instead I drove to Trader Joe’s(just walking distance from my house), bought my favorite chocolates, and cuddled in bed with Netflix. I had to text my husband because I couldn’t find the remote control. The good news is that there is an app I could download to watch Frankie and Grace in bed with my dream chocolates. I watched way too many episodes in my chocolate covered sheets. 

When my family learned about my tough day they all bought me the same chocolates from Trader Joe’s. When I finally got out of bed for dinner I realized my husband bought me my favorite ice-cream with hot fudge and caramel. So, instead of dinner I ate ice cream and tried to sleep, but the sugar kept me up until 2 am.  

Surprisingly, eating a lot of sugar did not provide a solution to my stressful day. I embraced my low point and at 2 am wrote down a meal plan and workout schedule for the following three days. 

My plan had one big obstacle…my work week was crazy. I might not have time to even get my first workout in, but I set my alarm for 4 am, and worked out at 5 am. I jumped over that first hurdle and I was back on a normal schedule.  

We are allowed to struggle and not feel good. We are allowed to choose a day and time to start to feel better. If we truly love ourselves then we shouldn’t punish ourselves for not being perfect. If we really care about our family then we should always choose a healthier lifestyle as soon as possible with no judgement for past bad choices. 

Please let our team hold your hand jump over those first hurdles. You are not alone in struggling.

Yours in health,

Nicole

No Treadmill for My Gym

On January 15th, we will unveil our new equipment. We are working towards creating our dream studio, slowly with input from our community. On January 1st, we were on the fence about a piece of equipment, and headed to a local gym to try out the fancy treadmill. We walked three floors of shiny equipment and were in awe. The facility was gorgeous! We saw cardio equipment lined up in front of the window facing a beautiful warm winter day.  I get it. If you sign up for the gym because of the amazing facility you are obligated to get your money’s worth. Even worse, if you sign your family up for a membership, everyone has to use the gym. You start making decisions like going to the gym to walk on a treadmill on a beautiful day. The fitness industry encourages people to drive around a parking lot to find the closest parking space, and limit more outdoor time so they can walk on a treadmill inside, or even worse go on an elliptical and watch Law and Order. 

While in Paris, I couldn’t help but research the fitness industry. Everyone was smoking and drinking as they walked past small fitness studios with very few people inside.I could barely walk or run the streets of Paris because they were so packed with pedestrians and bikes. I never saw a three story building filled with gym equipment. So why do I think people in France live longer? Well, I am not a scientist and have not done any real analysis but I do think the fitness industry in the U.S is not helping with our stress or helping us get healthier. There is no shortage of research on the French culture and their longevity.  “The French Paradox” was coined to describe this cream sauce eating, heavy smoking culture. Well, why I wouldn’t advise taking up smoking, I would like to point out my observations while in Paris. Parisians sit and eat and respect their meal (and themselves). There is no take meal in the car on the way somewhere. Parisians walk to markets and enjoy feeling healthy. There is evident pride in one’s health directly related to their meals and movement. I learned so much by being immersed in this culture. In fact, my first piece of advice for many new members at embody has always been to cancel all gym membership and stop working out so much. The advice works. Our members lose weight and feel better.

When we drove home from the exquisite fitness facility, we passed fewer people walking on the bike path on a perfect day than we saw in that facility. A lot of people set goals in January.  Exercise is a wonderful gift to give yourself, but don’t feel like it has to happen with fancy equipment under artificial lighting. If you hire a trainer remind them you are training to live an active lifestyle. Although the facility we toured was beautiful,  the bike path on a sunny day is far superior. The high end facility is not as healthy as walking to Trader Joe’s and preparing a meal with real food in your kitchen. We are more committed than ever to providing our members with a program that focuses on stress management and great doctors appointments.  We want to aggressively get the message out there.  

The fitness industry is frustrating but the only thing I am more frustrated with is social media rants with no real solutions. Here is definitely my rant, but also a solution. Here are some of my favorite outdoor activities in the area.  https://www.paddleboston.com/skitrack/skitrack.php  http://www.greatbrookski.com/  http://minutemanbikeway.org/ https://bostonfrogpond.com/

In addition, embody wants to help.  We have created a running group for our members that continues year round!   Also, if your friend joins embody during the month of January, you get a free gift from us. You get our favorite embody sweatshirt to wear on the couch after doing something fun outside. Also, we will support that outdoor activity goal.  Here are some ideas; 5k, cross country skiing day pass, outdoor skating, or downhill skiing, dog walking, walking to any walkable errand. Let’s celebrate your commitment to embody by using that body to be active. The only rule is that it has to be outside!  A gym needs to be place to train for your life and not a place to spend your life.

BTW Are we buying that treadmill? No, we decided that a running group would be a better investment in our members.  

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

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/