Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cleanse after the holiday feasting

I've had a number of food-loving friends say they know they will be feasting during the holidays and want to learn more about a cleanse. So I'm doing a guided 7-day cleanse in January for anyone who wants to start the new year "fresh." Yes, lots of fresh fruits and veggies and learn how to eat more fiber during the cleanse. No starvation or calorie counting--just learning to eat more clean and wholesome food. Register now so you can join in on our bonus class and coaching by going to the Embody Health website.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Farmers Market Deals

Some of you might assume that farmers markets are more expensive than shopping at the grocery store. I say, take a moment to enjoy some fresh air, and try it out! If you want apples, they should be organic (conventional apples have one of the top loads of pesticide -- see my write-up about the "dirty dozen"). And if you look at organic prices at your neighborhood grocery store, and compare it to the Farmer's Market, guess what? There will be some stand that will offer it for $2.00 or less a pound compared to the more expensive and less fresh versions at your grocery store. Here's a link to your local Los Angeles Farmers Markets. Even if you don't buy much, you'll feel healthier having taken the walk at your local market.

Side note: I went all over New York City looking for my organic apples at the Farmers Markets to make my "famous" apple cider, apple, vegetarian stuffing. Californians, you will be proud to know that our farmers markets are bigger than ones elsewhere and it's easier to eat local and organic here!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Top 5 Things Needed for Healthy Weight

These are the top 5 things you need for healthy weight management and surviving the stress of the holidays. Almost everyone I know gets at least a little moody as December approaches and the New Year brings self-reflection to new heights.

1) SLEEP -- Getting regular and good amounts of sleep is important for the body to repair, unwind, and regulate its hormones and other functions. If you're having trouble sleeping, you should check out my blog post on getting better sleep. If these strategies aren't enough because you're too wired, consider supplementing with L-tryptophan, a natural amino acid in combination with other vitamins to encourage your body to sleep well.

2) STRESS MANAGEMENT -- Do you meditate? Do you practice deep breathing or belly breaths? Are you going through tough times like a divorce or death of a loved one? Perhaps you need to get help from a support group, a coach, or therapist, in addition to scheduling some down-time to take care of you, rather than the usual workaholic schedule? A yoga class with meditation component, or a meditation class, or a web-based meditation video or self-study course can help you! Other ideas: Call a reliable supportive old-time friend. Play with a friend's dog or kid and exercise being "fully present."

3) NUTRITION -- Are you eating nutrient-dense low-glycemic meals and snacks? If you don't know what that means, do a keyword search on this blog and you'll find some good recipes. If you're overweight, and possibly insulin-resistant, that occasional donut might do you more harm than you think.

4) EXERCISE -- Cardio exercise is important but NOT enough for weight loss. You need to include flexibility training to protect your joints and allow for stress relief. But most importantly, STRENGTH TRAINING builds muscle so that you can BOOST YOUR METABOLISM. If you contact us with your request, we'll send you links to some FREE mini-videos of sample exercises you can incorporate into your routine.

5) SUPPLEMENTATION -- It is nearly impossible to eat all the nutrition we need for our high-functioning, demanding modern life. Minimally, you need a good multivitamin that you absorb, omega-3 for mental function and heart health, calcium+magnesium+D supplement. If you have been overweight for a while, have had any heart risks/episodes, or family history of heart issues, diabetes, cancer or other diseases, you will want a more focused individualized approach to address your wellness concerns.

If you want to find out more about healthy science-based weight management, you can read more about the Transitions Lifestyle System and contact us for individual or group holistic health coaching.

New Spin on Spanish Tortilla

Here's a new spin on a Spanish Tortilla -- otherwise known as a flourless quiche!
Great for breakfast, on-the-go snack, or party hors d'oeuvre.

I brought my healthy vegetarian, low-glycemic creation to a foodie event last night, and one of my friends says "are you sure there's no meat in here?" I say that's a great compliment! It's the heartiness of the sweet potatoes and the muskiness of the wine-soaked mushrooms that made it feel so filling that my foodie friend had to ask that question.

What you need:
8" skillet with 2-3 tall height, and a lid
separate sautee pan for prepping the veggies
30-45 minutes for a dish that can last 8-12 servings

Please note, my recipes are approximate and depend on what I have around the house. To make it easy on yourself, you can substitute herbs based on what you have available or what you like! (Thyme vs rosemary, still very tasty.)

Click here for full recipe.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Want to keep your teeth for a long time?

I remember as a kid, I saw grandpa needing to use his fake teeth and sometimes he just didn't bother and tried to eat with just his gums.

Well, I have a health goal to keep my teeth and gums healthy as long as possible because I love food and can't imagine trying to eat with just my gums. Which means, I ought to floss to keep my teeth healthy but I hate having bleeding gums.

What most regular dentists may be not understand about my unusual case of bleeding gums is that I don't fit the normal profile for unhealthy gums. I have a very healthy exercise and low-glycemic nutrition profile, yet somehow my gums are sensitive and seen as "pre-peridontal disease."

What I learned from a holistic dentist is that some of us need an extra boost (because of genetic predispositions etc) with the help of a supplement like CoQ10. I did some research of my own and ever since I've been taking CoQ10, flossing is not so much of a bloody experience. Plus, this antioxidant is needed to help fight inflammation in all of your body, especially good for your heart health too!

If you need help learning more about your dental health, this holistic dentist has a great website to help you pick the right toothbrush, and he offers wellness seminars in Long Beach, CA.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Staying Cool with Healthy Nutrient Dense Foods

What's your personality when's it's hot?

When the temperature causes you to sweat while sitting still, some of us have very little motivation to chop your vegetables and turn on the stove to get a good home-cooked meal. So before you forget to eat well, use your blender and you can open a bag of mixed baby greens to start a salad. That's right, you can put together a great protein fruit smoothie (frozen berries blended with protein/fiber powder) to go with a healthy green salad with nuts and other favorite toppings! And you can do all this without chopping if you don't want to (think cherry tomatoes if you don't want to chop).

If you're at a loss for recipes, check out the latest from Eating Well magazine for yummy food that is good for your skin! What's your favorite summer recipe?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gourmet on a Budget

As a big foodie coming of age in Berkeley with the influences of ethnic cuisine and chef Alice Waters, the concept of eating fresh, local, and organic is not only a political and health mindset, but one of the tastebuds!

This week, I took advantage of the Gelson's mailer coupons--and saved $2 off a $10 deli purchase. What did I get? My favorites of smoked salmon and prosciutto. With the $2 I saved, I put that towards stuffed grape leaves.

At the 99 cent store, I was hunting for my bag or basket of organic salad greens and noticed a display of cactus tortillas known as "nopaltillas." If you adhere to the low-glycemic load lifestyle of eating, you probably know that corn by itself is a high-glycemic load food. So this cactus tortilla was really exciting to me-- I love nopales (part of mexican cuisine) but don't know how to cook it. The fiber and calcium from the organic nopales make the tortilla even better, with higher nutrient density and tasty all-in-one!

What yummy food creation does this create? I melted thin slices of some spanish sheep's milk manchego cheese in my new food discovery of nopaltillas, and used my kitchen scissor to cut them into quarters. Then I draped slices of my discounted but gourmet italian prosciutto on top. I also pulled out my leftover bok-choy sautee from my local farmer's market lady who has no-pesticide veggies to add more greens to my meal.

Wow! Mexican+Spanish+Italian with a side of Chinese. That's world traveling all in one meal.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Try a healthy dessert instead of ice cream

Craving something cold and sweet?

Greek yogurt is creamy and has high protein to help you slow down your absorption of sugars. Add fruit and honey to your low-fat greek yogurt and it's a great substitute for ice cream! If you don't have fresh fruit, add some frozen blueberries, or a tablespoon of natural fruit preserves (be sure you quit the preserves that have high fructose corn syrup).

Summertime seems to call for ice cream--and if you want to splurge on fatty sugary ice cream, have it after dinner when your body has a mix of lean proteins and fiber to help you slow down the high level of sugars in the ice cream. Timing your dessert AFTER a meal helps you stay to the low-glycemic load health habits. Also, you can choose brands of ice cream that have 5 simple ingredients and not so many additives.

I love ice cream, and you should see a childhood picture of little me smiling the biggest smile with my ice cream cone. And since I love ice cream so much, this greek yogurt option is a nice way to tame the cravings!

Exercise and Nutrition helps with anxiety, depression, and stress

Want to feel less stressed or worried?
Check out Dr. Mercola's comments on research reported from a June edition of Time Magazine. Join our hiking group, or register for a free 20-minute wellness/nutrition consultation. Exercise and nutrition can help you improve your brain chemistry. Why wait? Together, we can make exercise and nutrition easy and something that becomes part of your lifestyle today.

---excerpt from the doctor's blog---
Psychologist Jasper Smits is working on an unorthodox treatment for anxiety and mood disorders. The treatment is free and has no side effects. What is it? Exercise.

Research has shown again and again that patients who follow aerobic-exercise regimens see improvement in their depression -- improvements comparable to that of those treated with medication. Exercise not only relieves depressive symptoms but also appears to prevent them from recurring.

According to Times Magazine:

"Molecular biologists and neurologists have begun to show that exercise may alter brain chemistry in much the same way that antidepressant drugs do -- regulating the key neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tips for Keeping Lean!

I had great fun talking about the 4 S's that can help you focus on achieving a healthy leaner you.
Todd asked me to talk about moms who want to lose that baby weight, and the tips I've made easy to remember are good for any busy person, while tailored for moms. I talk about breathwork and posture to help you look instantly taller and leaner.

The 4 S's to help you stay focused on a healthy leaner you:
Stress Management -- How you manage stress can keep the pounds OFF! Stay away from the "flight or fight" mode.
Simplicity -- Create a routine for cooking/packing snacks so you can have what you need, instead of that long to-do list.
Smoothies -- Don't have time for breakfast? Get your nutrition in with a protein vitamin-packed smoothie!
Snacks -- Healthy snacks pre-packed and handy will help you resist temptations and keep you in a better mood.

Here's the link to the recording of the radio show. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Healthier Muffins

Check out these healthier cupcake, meatloaf, and muffin recipes.
When it's appropriate, I try to make it even more healthier by swapping out 1/2 the flour and replacing it with almond meal, which is easily found at Trader Joe's. It makes the recipe more dense and moist, so this method won't work well for every recipe. It works well with banana bread or other recipes that have a dense body to it. Muffins are a great way to have baked goods with portion control! I even like to use mini-muffins because sometimes a full muffin is too big for me as a snack, and mini-muffins bake faster!

Tell me which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Updated "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables

The Environmental Working Group has released a sneak peak at their updated "Dirty Dozen." These are the fruits and veggies you need to prioritize buying organic because the pesticide content you ingest is the worst if you buy conventional. Of the clean list, you can buy conventional and not worry about your health.

If you're watching your budget while shopping for organic produce, a great strategy is to go to the Farmer's Market 1 hour before closing to get great deals. For example, if you know the market closes at 2pm, go at 1:15pm and you'll start hearing "one dollar/pound specials." You might not get everything on your list because the selections might be slimmer, but if you're looking for apples, there should be plenty of apples to choose from.

Here's more with shopping tips on where I find my organic produce in L.A.

Can't download easily? Here's the Dirty Dozen list to prioritize organic: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard greens, potatoes, grapes (imported).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eat Healthier and Save Money with Beans and Legumes

Great report from Johns Hopkins about Beans and Legumes!

I've developed a no-brainer 3-bean chili with special guest of an extra vegetable serving of hidden and nutritious cauliflower.
Yup, that's right a chili with cauliflower--don't tell your dinner guests (or teenager) and they'll never know!
Yes, I did try this on my friend's anti-veggie teen. No questions were asked, no cauliflower was revealed!
3-bean chili and pumpkin lentil soup recipes coming soon!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

MamaStrength Workshop: Art + Mind-Body Movement

Check out our new MamaStrength workshop! For pregnant moms and new moms!
Creating the Life You Want as New Mom
Sat March 27 1pm-3pm in West LA.
I'm combining my mind-body movement expertise with art therapist Naomi Tucker.
Can't wait to see all the smiles and moments of "aha!" from the students.
RSVP today for your raffle to the door prize. Awesome door prize has goodies with a combined value of over $100!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy Women's Herstory Month

Stay tuned for tributes to women's health info, and tributes to historic women health pioneers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How to get your calcium!

As a foodie, I've got more ideas about food to get my calcium than your average eater might! My commentary to a list of suggestions below is highlight with ***

Leading wellness doctor suggests the following:
1) Calcium-fortified beverages like soymilk and orange juice (20-25%)
***I don't suggest orange juice on its own--please drink in combination with a low-glycemic meal. It's high in sugar and sometimes an irritant for various conditions.
2) Cooked greens like kale, spinach, turnip greens (9-12% of DV)
***Yes! Eat your greens!
3) Canned wild salmon with bones (15% of DV)
***In old Chinese home-cooking, there is bone soup, slow boiled so we get the calcium and nutrients out of the bones. Think about it, cheese and other dairy products didn't exist in Chinese food thousands of years ago.
4) Broccoli eaten raw (2% of DV)
***OK, 2% is really not going to make a dent in your nutrition goals...but a great way to promote broccoli.
5) Tofu (15-20% of DV)
***Now we're getting can make a miso soup and add tofu and lots of veggies, and sesame seeds and seaweed, and suddenly, you've got a nutrient-rich snack or appetizer!

***My foodie suggestions:
ALMONDS: A handful (1/4 c) of raw almonds has Calcium (8% DV) and Iron (6% DV). Also a great I can easily eat 2 handfuls a day, as I leave my bag of almonds next to my computer.
SOY YOGURT with granola--great way to get a creamy filling snack with the good nuts and oats of granola.
I'll come back with more as a do some research on legumes...

Ultimately, you can have the right calcium intake, but you need the co-factors of magnesium and vitamin D to help you absorb the calcium. So please, don't be taking those calcium chocolate chews or anti-acid tablets that don't have the supportive co-factors. Almond milk has vitamin D and riboflavin added...could be a yummy addition to your cereal or "(almond) milk + cookies"!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Antioxidants and injuries

When I hurt my ankle (really badly--the swelling was unbelievable), I had excellent attention from the physical therapists I work with. Beyond their treatments and icing, I knew I needed a strong anti-inflammatory program to calm down the inflammation surrounding the injury and my body's higher level of stress. My body needed more fuel and ingredients for the healing process. I didn't want to take any drugs that may have side effects, so I went the natural route of antioxidants and diligently took a therapeutic program of: OPC, Vitamin C, CoQ10, Omega-3, and Quercetin.

As you might know, the vitamin levels recommended as the RDA are not necessarily sufficient for optimal health. Rather, those levels are to set at rates to keep you from getting diseases like scurvy. Different wellness doctors recommend levels of vitamin C that would be tough to include in your food diet. Optimal health levels can be found in nutrition books like The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (a lit review by well-respected nutrition and health writers Shari Lieberman, PhD & Nancy Bruning, MPH). I really like this book because it does a thorough literature review, so you're not getting one isolated study that happened to hit the news. I could eat a lot of my favorite fruits high in vitamin C, like kiwis and strawberries, but when dealing with an injury, I wouldn't be able to eat enough fruit to get the therapeutic dosages I was looking for.

For your body to use vitamins well there are 3 factors:
1) Input -- Does the food or supplement have the vitamins and levels you want?
2) Digestion/Absorption -- Does your stomach/gut break down the pills, vitamins or food well?
3) Usability -- Is the vitamin in a form that your body can use it well? Do you have a genetic pre-disposition that doesn't use the vitamin well? If so, do you need more or a different form of that vitamin or mineral?

I personally don't like taking pills (nor does my stomach because there are some fillers and binders in pills that need breaking down), so whenever I can get a more absorbable liquid formulation, it means my body is absorbing and using more (factors 2 and 3). And when it is isotonic-capable, I'm absorbing up to 94% of what the label says, instead of the up to 40% in pill form. A leading wellness doctor used to give her patients IV vitamin therapy, and now she rarely uses the IV when there is the less expensive and very powerful option of a patient taking her vitamins daily--vitamins that are absorbed at the highest capacity.

* OPC=oligomeric proanthocyanidins which is the family of antioxidants including resveratrol (red wine extract), bilberry extract (cousin of blueberry), pine bark extract, and grapeseed extract

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kale with Garlic and White Wine: Quick Recipe

Don't know what to do with Kale? There are so many different kinds. My favorite is more tender--the curly red kale or a curly green kale. The other kales seem to have a tougher texture. If you have other ideas about the many varieties of kale, please send them in!

Kale is great for detoxing, and I think of it is one of Mother Nature's wonder sweepers. That's right, it helps sweep your system clean! Even better- this takes less than 15 minutes to prep and cook. Organic Kale is encouraged to avoid pesticide toxicity.

1 Bunch Kale
2-3 tbl olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
fresh ground pepper
2-3 dashes of white wine or veggie broth

1) Strip the leaves away from the stalk. You can just tear away, as if you were tearing a piece of paper. Throw out the stalks (they are too tough for my tastes!). Rinse the leaves in water and strain. If the leaves are bit wilted, leave in water for about 5 minutes, allowing the leaves to plump up from the water.
3) If you like shredded leafy dishes, then you can take the leaves to the chopping board and chop them as you wish. I like to cook quickly since I'm usually hungry, so I just cook the leaves as I tore them.
4) Prep garlic--2-3 cloves chopped or as they are peeled.
5) Heat pan/skillet at high heat. When it's warm (about 30 seconds) a few dashes of olive oil will give a thin layer to the bottom of the pan. Wait 10 sec, then put in garlic to sizzle! Fresh ground pepper in the oil now helps gives a more roasty taste to the pepper. When the garlic is slightly brown, add leaves. Stir with spatula so that the leaves are thinly coated with the black pepper and olive oil about 20 sec.
6) Add 2-3 dashes of wine or veggie broth to bring out the veggie flavor. Wine helps make the kale sweet and you get some extra antioxidants!
7) Turn heat down to medium and cover to help cook the kale. Check the kale in 30 seconds-1 minute. It should be ready and a rich bright green with all stir fry, don't let the green veggies start going brown--take them off the stove as they are just wilted and know they continue cooking from the heat. You want the veggies barely cooked and brightly colored.

Other great kale recipes you can try can be found on this world's healthiest food encyclopedia site.

Yummy Halibut Recipe

From one of my favorites--- wellness doctor and author: Dr. Mark Hyman
A great halibut recipe that brings in a rainbow of veggies, low glycemic load, and a yummy lean protein.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get the good fats for a smarter brain and stronger heart health

Is your memory not as sharp as you'd like it to be?
Worried about cholesterol?
Did you know that omega-3 deficiency is the 6th biggest killer?

Get your good fats!
Hear all about it!

Get your good fats!
Tasty good fats!

Yes, essential fatty acids (omega-3) are needed for brain function and heart health and our bodies can't produce them. Here's an article summarizing a Harvard health study

I prefer to get my nutrients through food, but some days, I don't want to deal with possible digestive issues or a fishy breath (especially since I sing!). So on the days I know I'm not getting my omega-3 through food, I take an omega-3 supplement with my dinner--a fish oil supplement that has high quality control, and free of heavy metals because it is derived from small fish. Small fish don't get the metal toxification the way big fish do. You also want wild fish whenever possible, and not farmed fish that may have been fed corn and other unnatural feeds that actually make them sick. My favorite fish entrees are grilled wild salmon, or sea bass with herbs and mushrooms baked in parchment paper.*

Food ideas:
1) Smoked herring dill dip (easy can from Trader Joe's or any specialty food store)
~~~ approximate recipe~~~
* 1 can smoked herring
* 1 ripe avocado (optional--get it creamier and you get your other omegas from the avocados!)
* 1 cup greek yogurt (more protein and thicker than regular yogurt, but feel free to use regular yogurt)
* 3 tblspn chopped fresh dill
* freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
* optional squeeze of lime
This can make a great dip for snacking with sweet potato chips (more fiber than regular potatoes!)
If you like sardines, you can use the dip recipe idea above. I personally can't get myself to like sardines because they are muskier in taste and found the smoked herring is just more my style!

2) If you're eating pasta or mac and cheese--add smoked herring.
Ends up tasting like tuna casserole. Use fresh herbs like lemon thyme or italian parsley to lighten the taste of the canned fish. Always find an opportunity to sneak in more vegetables like peas or chard into your entree.

More ideas about herring can be found on Wikipedia. It's a less expensive alternative to wild-caught salmon.
Read about an omega-3 cookie from an older post: walnut pumpkin cranberry cookie recipe.
*baking an entree in parchment paper in my toaster oven lets me not work for my dinner and let's me multi-task and check my email while dinner is quietly and cleanly cooking in its own juices inside a parchment paper. easy dinner!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

VISION HEALTH: More news about anti-oxidants

Tired eyes from the computer? Seeing fortieth, fiftieth birthdays around the corner? Take care of your vision!

When people lose their vision, it gets harder to keep up your cardio exercises and maintain good posture for your spine.

Another great article from Eating Well magazine, with great explanations on which foods have what nutrients and how those work with your body, from a nutrition professor at University of Vermont.

Summary here, with my commentary

1) Up your antioxidants
Vit. C food ideas - citrus, kiwi, broccoli
Vit. E food ideas - nuts, avocados
Lutein and zeaxanthin: leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards
If you need ideas for healthy recipes, search this blog for some easy recipes

2) Eat (whole) eggs
And I say, get the free range omega-3 eggs--these chickens were fed with omega-3 grains including flaxseed! Eggs boiled or scrambled make a great breakfast and starts your day right.

3) Help yourself to more “see” food - get your omega-3 fatty acids and zinc
Eat at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week. Inexpensive small fish like sardines and herring can be tasty as a dip. Smoked herring with greek yogurt, dill, and fresh black pepper makes such a yummy omega-3 and protein packed appetizer dip! If you eat salmon, make sure it is wild-caught and not sick farm-raised. If the restaurant menu does not say wild, it is not wild.

4) Consider a supplement
As much as I like to cook, I honestly don't have time to get fresh wild caught salmon every week, and I don't get my omega-3 fatty acids regularly. I don't like spinach enough to eat 3 cups of it every day. I don't like taking too many pills, and excited to find a line of supplements that I can drink as a healthy cocktail: antioxidants, multivitamin, and vision health. Omega-3 supplements are best carried with Vitamin E in a gel capsule form, so I just have to swallow this one.

5) Keep your blood pressure—and your weight—in check
If you live in LA, it is a driving town and you need to schedule in your cardio workout and you can't leave it up to chance. If you have a walking lifestyle already, give yourself some new challenges because the brain "adapts" to habits and you need to give yourself some changes to get the brain and body working smarter. With the great weather, why not sign up for one of our fitness hikes? Walk as much as you can--park your car farther from your shopping destination. Walk to support your local merchants and meet your friendly neighbors for a better sense of community. Need help losing weight or addressing specific health concerns? Sign up for a F.R.E.E. 20 minute phone consultation to learn more about wellness programs.

Feb 22 UPDATE: More commentary about antioxidants and vision health from the Johns Hopkins Health Alerts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cut the sugar, get rid of some unhealthy weight

I'm happy that a food magazine like Eating Well is posting this article about sugar for us. All these years we were misled to think that low-fat diets would be the answer, while processed food companies got us addicted to sugar.

Simple tip: If you can cut down processed food and cook your own food, you'll automatically cut down your sugar. I tried to find a frozen entree I could keep as backup for the nights I'm too tired to cook dinner. I spent a good 20 minutes in the grocery aisle reading the boxes of Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Marie Callendar's and more brands I can't remember. I'm sorry to report I could not take advantage of any of the frozen food sale items of what I used to think were healthier options. Instead, I'm now resolved to pack my leftovers as my personally designed "frozen food."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Easy ways to sleep better

Ok, some of you workaholics just won't be able to get *more* hours of sleep. However, you can sleep better for the hours you are dedicating to sleep.

Leave the bedroom area for relaxation. The brain really does associate space to tasks. One hour before you go to bed, stop the electronic stimuli. That means, stop checking email, texts, TV. Your eyes are tired and over-stimulated already by the bombardment of eletromagnetic stimuli from the computer and all that you do for work. Leave work behind and give yourself an hour to wind down. You can play mellow music, but nothing that you associate with work. Relaxing the eyes also helps to relax neck and shoulder tension.

Create a bedtime ritual. Start by planning backwards. Brush teeth, other bathroom tasks, decaf calming herbal tea, lotion/massage tired feet or crampy calves. Lavender lotions (preferably essential oils and not perfume) also have the benefit of calming.

Did you eat a full day's meals? Sometime you work so much, you forgot to eat lunch or dinner was too small. Don't eat right before bed, but check in with yourself in the evening after dinner to see if you need a small protein+carb combo snack. Don't make the mistake of eating crackers and feeling hungry in the middle of the night. If you eat dairy, try yogurt with fruit and nuts. Or try whole grain toast with almond butter. Or a small bowl of veggie soup (the fiber helps slow down the digestion and the warmth helps make you sleepy).

Did you know that 3 out of 4 American adults are calcium-deficient? Calcium-rich and magnesium-rich foods help relax the muscles so you can sleep better. Don't want to eat, but need a boost of calcium+magnesium to calm down the tense muscles? This is a calcium supplement that gets absorbed in 5 minutes on an empty stomach. Many of us also don't eat enough greens and are magnesium deficient, which not only shows up as tight muscles or maybe even headaches. You can take care of this deficiency with a magnesium boost. And if you've been flying between time zones or have had an irregular sleep schedule that needs to be re-regulated, L-tryptophan is really helpful -- well-loved by nurses who do over-night shifts or people who have had bad sleep due to allergies or noise disruptions. This formula of L-tryptophan really helped improve sleep and boost the mood of one of my weight loss students so that he had the energy to exercise!

4) RELAX THE BACK (and neck and shoulders)
Relax on a foam roller. This is the number one exercise toy I ask everyone to have at home. Every other exercise equipment you can use at the gym. This one is so popular, that the foam roller I lent a friend actually left town to go to his mother's house 2 hours away!
When you're too tired, the muscle tensions wound up in the day just find it hard to unwind. Used by physical therapists and Pilates instructors for core strengthening and spine alignment, all you have to do is take 2 minutes: 1 minute to lie on it (doing deep belly breaths) and 1 minute to lie on the mat to let your body feel supported in the newly relaxed position. The tension you carry into bed with you sometimes gets more wound up as you sleep, so why not let it go before you go to bed so you can sleep better!

I admit, sometimes my calves are tight, or my hip flexors are tight, and my stretching gives me some relief but it doesn't do the trick. Epsom salts to the rescue! I buy a big stash of Epsom salts to fill up my under-the-sink cabinet. You want to pour at least 2 generous cups of salts into your water to saturate your bath with Epsom salts (=magnesium sulfate)--so that you can absorb that Magnesium into your muscles, and all those hard-to-get places can loosen up. BONUS--if you've been stressed and constipated, epsom salts bath will also help relax your gut and move things along. Salts can be bought at the dollar store in LA, pharmacies everywhere, and if you have lots of storage space, I've heard the gardening stores keep them on stock to help tomatoes grow.

Worrying doesn't get work done. So leave the worries behind by writing it down. * By hand.*
Typing doesn't have the same release effect as handwriting your list of things you're worried about. Most things can wait for tomorrow. Turn off the "monkey brain"--yes that's the brain that spins its neurotic or repetitive wheel. Visualize a happy beach or park or your favorite relaxation spot. Your brain is powerful so go ahead and take command to train your brain to help you sleep better, more relaxed. You'll make smarter easier decisions when you are well-rested. Let your body reset well, and it's easier to be leaner and healthier.

More info on sleep is available from the National Sleep Foundation.

photo credit: Shoichi Shingu (

Restaurant Survival Guide

Here's a link to tips from Nancy Bruning, MPH on how to stay lean when eating at restaurants. Easy weight management/nutrition tool!
Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

On Nancy Bruning's Talk Show: This Thurs 2/4 9amPST/12pmEST

Valentine's Day is around the corner and we've got strategies for you to stay healthier while surrounded by sweets that can give you a few extra pounds. Avoid the sabotage, with our healthy living strategies.

Live radio show on Thurs February 4 at 9am PST, or listen to the recording at your leisure. We would love to hear your questions! You can call in with your questions, or email them to us in advance.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Hiking Group - Find out details on Meetup

So excited to hear from people that they want to go hiking! It's a great way to do cardio and get some fresh air and absorb some zen from the trees.

Join the meetup group to get the latest info.

Hikes are free. There is an optional 6-month membership that pays for personalized wellness consultation and 10% of proceeds goes to a non-profit arts school for low-income kids.