Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin time! Weight loss cookies

It's near Thanksgiving and everyone is fearful of eating too much bad food. Fear not!
Bring your own healthy dish, and you can be assured you have something good for you--and if you're hankering for a healthy dessert, check out these pumpkin cookies in lieu of pumpkin pie.

These pumpkin protein+fiber cookies are low in sugar and butter, taste so great, have so many nutrients, that they should be called "weight loss cookies" because they follow the low-glycemic guidelines of the TLS Weight Loss program I teach. Oh, but being responsible with words, we don't want the word cookie associated with weight loss, so I'll just call them healthy cookies. Here's the recipe.

Many people are wheat-sensitive, or even allergic, and that is why we get the bloated belly or gut discomfort. Who doesn't want to have a flat belly? So let's deal with the prevalence of wheat causing weight gain or belly bloat and learn to cook/bake with gluten-free alternatives.

Gluten-free sometimes gets a bad rap, that these baked things don't taste good. I assure you these pumpkin cookies are a hit, with the egg and baking powder, and baking soda to give them rise and softness for excellent taste. Gluten-free flour sometimes seems foreign for newbies learning to cook healthy, but let me tell you it's quite easy to find gluten free flour these days. These are my favorite kinds: almond meal (high protein), garbanzo flour (high protein), millet (softer). While I don't know every brand, these are my tips: Almond meal is best found at Trader Joe's, and you can find the Bob's Red Mill brand online or at your local store. If you want to know more about gluten-free baking, I'm a healthy foodie chef and please email me.

Note: Online prices reflect a bigger quantity of flour than you might be used to seeing at the store. Also, when you eat healthier, you're investing in your health, instead of being on the path to sickness with genetically-modified foods kept cheap with political subsidies.

New office for wellness and nutrition consults

I'm so excited to build more collaboration with my colleague and friend Anita Lendach at her physical therapy office. We enjoy working together with rehab clients, athletes, and pregnant women so that we can teach better body awareness to empower them for a vision of wellness. Anita is so talented, with specialities you might not find at other physical therapy offices. Please check out her philosophy here!

As I start new students for their weight loss program, we'll be doing initial consults at this office. We also have a program for genetic analysis that help identify your personal risks for inflammation and vitamin metabolism, factors that can affect health weight and wellness. Contact us for a complimentary phone consult today!

Friday, October 12, 2012

New season, new allergies and sinus infections

As the new season brings new pollen into the air, I've noticed a number of people are having allergies and sinus infections. First, be kind to your respiratory system---before you can think, you must breathe well to get that oxygen to your brain and body. When there are allergies and sinus infections, your body is SUPER stressed, even if you have an antibiotic taken off some of the pressure. We don't want your body to be under chronic physical stress, because that feeds into your emotional stress management abilities. Chronic physical stress diminishes your optimal health, and for some people with weight loss goals, it limits their progress.

Let's find ways to work on the cause, instead of waiting to deal with symptoms.

3 EASY STEPS to improving your RESPIRATORY HEALTH: Clean up your air and your body!
1) Clean your air with a HEPA air purifier. You can find the best deals online (see the link) and even find deals with an app called ShopBuddy to monitor prices. If you are in a dry climate like Los Angeles, you might need a humidifier to keep the membranes of your sinuses healthy to block out the pollutants. If you live in downtown LA where it is the nexus of many cars and highways, you might want to keep your windows closed to protect from the soot.

2) Improve your indoor air quality w great air-cleaning plants. A few weeks ago, I stopped by Mickey's Plants near La Brea/Fountain and Mickey, the owner, was so helpful to find the air-cleaning plants that would do well with my indirect light. I got a peace lily on the right, and I forget the name of the other plant on the left (see photo). And spider plants are terrific! I planted the spider plant at the bottom of my rubber tree to make it prettier and more of an ecosystem. Set up your plants at home, and put at least one at your desk at the office. And if you live in LA, stop by and talk to Mickey to get his great advice for the plants that are best-suited for your environment!

3) Clean your body! Rinse your nasal passages with non-medicated saline rinse--to help lubricate the membranes for better blockage of pollutants and the rinse out the trapped pollutants. Improve your immune system to manage your body's inflammation triggered by pollution or bad air quality. Eat with the anti-inflammatory food pyramid which includes omega-3 fish oils, take care of your optimal health regimen, and take a high-quality superantioxidant that helps manage your histamine levels. High histamine levels, especially prevelant in evenings, causes the runny nose and unpleasant allergy symptoms. Benedryl and other anti-histamine drugs make my nose and throat dry, so I prefer using this preventative wellness regimen. I used to be allergic to the purple Jacaronda trees with sneezing from a block away, and now, I'm fine with no symptoms with a Jacaronda tree outside my kitchen window. Happy breathing!

P.S. Parents should know that children with allergies or asthma have trouble focusing at preschool or school, and the lost time being sick can diminish their educational outcomes. Here is what I recommend for kids: a good multivitamin that can help with mental focus, liquid omega 3, and children's version of the superantioxidant. I've gotten great reviews with parents whose kids have better attendance at school and no longer have swollen puffy eyes and nose. I'm happy to send these testimonials to you, if you contact me with your email address.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Green Cleaning

Cleaning products tend to have chlorine and other things that are not good for inhaling. Keeping your indoor air clean from toxic chemicals is important for keeping healthy breathing. For me, chlorine can burn my sensitive eyes, and especially bad when I'm wearing contact lenses!

If you are creative and have the time to figure out solutions, you can stick with a basic inventory of a few things that you combine from some internet research to clean everything from stove to bathtub: baking soda, Dr. Bronner's soap, alcohol, and vinegar.

However, most of us don't have the time to research and create different solutions and here is an easy kit of green cleaning products I recommend.

To emphasize the impact on your health (and sanity!): I had one student who had terrible disabling migraines, and after putting on our Sherlock Holmes' thinking caps for several months, we figured out that it was her laundry detergent when we found the pattern that she got her migraines on the days that she changed her bedsheets!

For me, I have sensitive skin allergies, so if there is fragrance and other chemicals in a laundry soap, that exposure on my skin gets me itchy and/or with sneezy nose or swollen eyes. I really recommend finding a fragrance-free laundry soap. This is my favorite because it's highly concentrated, uses the power of enzymes to get out your toughest stains, and does so many washes in a small little bottle that isn't too heavy to carry up and down stairs to my garage laundry room!

To take your green cleaning to the next level, you can research which plants will help clean up your indoor air. I love my "weeping fig", commonly known as a ficus. She's a little diva and insists on being next to the window, so I have to make room for that. Plants also give your eyes something to rest on when you need a break from the computer screen--another de-stressing tip!

Life and outdoor air pollution gives our immune system enough stress. Cleaning up your indoor air is an easy way to lessen the stress on your body and improve your health! It starts with getting rid of the bad cleaning products that are the pollutants. Don't try to use them up, just toss them to detox your home and protect your health now.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Know Anyone Ready for a Weight Loss Challenge?

You probably hear people complain about their frustrations with weight loss at work and in your community. Do they want help? If they register to start a weight loss challenge with me by tomorrow Saturday Sept 15th, they can compete for cash prizes! Or, they can simply join the next weight loss group with easy weekly phone coaching calls to keep them on track!

I coach weight loss students with a national program called TLS Weight Loss solution, where everyone loses inches, with a focus on body composition, with better results and more affordable than commercial programs like Jenny Craig. If you know someone who wants help, your help to spread the word is greatly appreciated!! If you know other health professional who want help with their weight loss students, they can tap into this great program and be a TLS coach too!

To me, it's a healthy weight + wellness program that I follow for myself because it covers a lot of nutrition education and helps manage long-term health risks like diabetes, because the focus is low-glycemic impact eating and blood sugar management. It's a total wellness program that covers stress management, sleep, nutrition, exercise, and optimal health.

Can you think of a few people whom I could help with their wellness and weight loss? Please share this post with them and I would be happy to talk with them. They can get started by contacting me for a complementary 20-min intro phone consult: embodyhealth @ gmail.

Please click on the link to my website below to learn more. To get started, a student would register with either the course fee or the deposit so I can order and send the course supplies. Looking forward to seeing more TLS Weight Loss graduates who become health leaders for their families and community!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Healthy Deals

Some people worry that being healthy costs more money, but the truth is, you can save money because 1) you're not eating out as much and 2) you can find deals at your local stores with smart grocery shopping.

If you're in Los Angeles, you might know of the 99cents store. They get overstock items from Costco (so I've heard from one of their corporate staff) and other places. And I've been shopping there for 5 years, so I can testify that the quality is good, if not excellent! Sometimes they have big bags or tubs of organic greens for salads, and this week I found organic blackberries which definitely cost more than a dollar elsewhere! This photo shows the healthy deals I found at the 99cents this week.

If you take a look at the Environmental Working Group's list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15, you can decide what is safe to buy conventional. For example, squash and romaine lettuce and broccoli are not on the Dirty Dozen list, so it's ok to buy the 99cents store version of these. They are very fresh, and you can see I couldn't hold back from eating 1 of the 2 heads of "artisan romaine" lettuce.

Other goodies: Nopaltillas are organic corn tortillas made green with nopales for higher fiber and nutrition. We should stay away from eating conventional corn tortillas anyways, and here you have a nutrient dense version that's actually good for you!

If you move and exercise, your muscles produce lactic acid and the magnesium from Epsom salts help your body recover quickly. I regularly buy Epsom salts there instead of at a pharmacy because you get 2lbs for a dollar, whereas CVS charges over $3 for a 4lb bag. So I save at least $1 for every lb of Epsom salts. Recommended bath treatment for relaxing body and tight muscles: 15 min soak in bath tub with at least 2 full cups of Epsom salts. Add essential oils, other bath salts, or baking soda if you like. PS if you don't have the option or don't like baths, you can also get your magnesium with this terrific calcium supplement.

Also, if you ever did a vitamin analysis of your food log, you'll realize you don't eat enough potassium, which also helps in muscle recovery or resolving muscle cramps. Coconut water is something I recommend for everyone, and occassionally you'll see pure coconut water at the dollar store, but this week, I found a mango fruit blend. Juices are high glycemic, but ok to have with a protein and fiber rich meal. Every athlete needs this superior fat-free sports drink of coconut water made by Mother Nature.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fly with Summer Fruits

Summer fruits found at the Farmers Market right now are so tasty! Berries, plums, apricots, peaches, OH MY! My friends went cherry picking last weekend, and it seems to be the end of cherry season, so if you haven't gotten the fresh cherries this week, go get 'em now! Here's my little friend flying. I tried to get as many colors of the rainbow from my summer fruit collection. I had so much fun giving my fruity bird the perfect minty hairdo. If you haven't figured out a healthy breakfast to jumpstart your metabolism, here are some breakfast ideas. My latest favorite is a berry+mint protein+fiber smoothie. Email me for the recipe. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Meditation for Beginners - Belly Breathing!

I've found that a number of people who come to my hikes or meet me in their physical therapy appt have trouble with breathing or meditation. As babies and dogs are easy to find their happy belly breathing, somehow we adults get challenged with stress and forget how to belly breathe. If it's hard for you to find your belly breath, check out this article from Daily Om.

If you have trouble finding it sitting up, try lying on your back, with your knees bent in "active rest" position, so that you can let gravity help you feel your belly rise on the inhale, and flatten as you exhale. When I first learned to sing in a choir in college, I had lots of trouble figuring out how to not shrug my shoulders on the inhale, and I spent time lying on the floor to find my belly breathing. So, if you get distracted and need to focus on something while looking for your belly breathing, you can pick your favorite slow happy song and that can help you out! My favorite song for this exercise is the chorus from ABBA's "Dancing Queen." It makes people chuckle and yes, when you laugh, you find your belly too! BONUS: The more you use your belly breath, the more you can help waken your abs and tone them. Belly breathing is the easiest way to start to manage your stress and get started on meditation!

Friday, March 16, 2012

New tasty healthy foods

Since I have figured out that I am sensitive to lactose, especially with uncooked milk (it makes my stomach blow up a few extra inches!), I've been looking for a solution to my yogurt cravings. If I'm going to have milk products, I should really be taking my digestive enzymes which have lactase to break down the lactose. I like to carry a travel pack of the digestive enzymes in my purse for protecting my stomach while eating out, for the times that I can't avoid the lactose.

For those who are lactose-sensitive, yogurt is less irritating, but why have any irritation? I have newly discovered this brand of yogurt that has lactase in it so that it becomes lactose-free AND it has a good collection of probiotics! Happy tummy!

On other snack foods, I'm sensitive to the varying levels of vinegar found in most olives. Olives are so good for you, but it's simply easier for me to get them into my diet if they are already mixed in with something like hummus. You can find these pre-made at your local grocery store like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. This is a great substitute for those of us who like cheese and want a healthier low-fat savory snack.

And to satisfy my sweet tooth, I'm defrosting a cup of frozen wild blueberries. The wild boreal blueberries are smaller and have so much more flavor than its conventional cousins. With frozen fruit at my disposal, I can have tasty fruit year-round conveniently at less than 1/2 the cost of the fresh kind. I would prefer fresh fruits, but sometimes it's helpful to be easy on the budget and my shopping schedule!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ez, Tasty, Healthy Cooking Workshop

If you're busy and you need some easy, tasty, and healthy foods you can cook at home and use a on-the-go snacks, this is the cooking workshop for you! Want weight loss? Don't know how to eat more veggies in your week? I've got lots of ideas for you! The recipe for these turkey-veggie meatballs shown in the photo here got approved by an anti-veggie teen who is a picky eater.

Click on the event registration link quick so you can reserve your seat. It's a small class size so you can really learn. Tell your friends even if you can't make it, because this is a rare opportunity you get to see this foodie chef in action and teaching you how you can do it yourself!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to Exercise in Winter

Winter cold or irregular weather or allergy-provoking winds can really discourage us from exercise. Some of us have a block against the word exercise or think of some high-level of exercise perfectionism. What counts is that you get started doing SOMETHING and are physically active--and once you get moving, you want to move more!

IDEAS on how to be more physical and even exercise!
* DANCE BREAK On the TV show 30 Rock, Tina Fey leads her writing team to break down for a "dance break" with her favorite rap music. If you work from home, this is the perfect computer break! Oxygenating your brain will help you think more clearly and productivity rises! OR take this to the next level--make it your cardio workout by dancing to your favorite music mix or videos. As a teen, I used to dance with MTV music videos with my friend--being goofy or having fun is one way to get over that perfectionism.
* WALK AT THE MALL It was raining badly one time I was visiting my friend in Ithaca and I had just got off a 5-hour bus ride. There was no way I could sit more at her house and I needed to walk so I could avoid back and hip pain. My motivator? Pain-prevention and body ache. I asked her to take me to the mall. We did walking, making laps around the aisles of Target while we caught up talking. Yes, you can leave your credit cards at home and safely do brisk walks at the mall if you can't be outside. Make a rule, that if you're going to be on a long phone call with a loved one who doesn't mind your cardio-breathing, you can make that a walk and talk appointment. Some people even have long-distance walking buddies--a great way to catch up with loved ones and encourage each other to get in those brisk walks. Also, join my hiking group for inspiration--we take the opportunity to be local tourists and check out new parks.
* HOME STRENGTH I had a student in New York City with the smallest apt AND we were in the middle of winter with his plan to quit cigarettes (exercise is a great way to help smokers find an alternative to the breathing they miss from smoking). Nothing was going to stop us with his strength and cardio routine. We did so many exercises with JUST his body weight, the floor and a chair. We did martial-arts-inspired lunges (in every direction--side lunges are really great!) and deep squats and if you do enough of them without stopping, these strength training exercises become a cardio workout! Incline push-ups with a chair, legs on a chair with push-up arms on the ground, dips, side planks. Lots of pilates mat exercises can be mixed up with a chair or ball for variety. And on the days we were brave to bundle up and go outside, the cold air was refreshing and when we had enough, we would run back inside.

Keep in mind WHY you care about your health--whether it be your family medical history, your goals for travel, or simply keeping your brain sharp. If you are a smarty who hasn't really been athletic, this bookworm has some science for you! Reasons to do something physical, is not only to protect your physical health, but also your mood and your brain (this is excerpted from a mind-body medicine blog):
* In elderly men with poor physical function, increasing general physical activity may potentially confer a protective effect or delay the onset for dementia. (Taaffe DRet al., J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2008 and Ahlskog JE et al., Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2011)
* According to an NIH study, regular aerobic exercise can modify the brain environment in such a way that the neurons are protected and may help prevent brain damage from diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease. (Harry GJ et al., Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2011)
* Regular exercise increases mitochondrial numbers in brain cells, a potential cause for exercise’s beneficial mental effects. Mitochondria produce the power for our cells, and have a role in cell growth and death. (Steiner JL et al., American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, 2011)

Get physical and stay smart!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Staying healthy for the year!

Today is the first day of Chinese New Year, and we want to be vibrant and in good health as spring blossoms. While it is sometimes rainy or cold during the winter season, we all need to take extra care for good immunity and possibly extra B-vitamins for energy. For my vegetarian and vegan friends, it's extra tough to get enough B-vitamins to have the energy to excel in our fast-paced busy lifestyle. Whether you celebrate the solar or lunar new year, it's never too late to re-commit yourself to staying healthy and being good to your body!

For a new year of better health and better energy:
Activated B-complex offer increased energy, and helps you handle stress and improve your mood. If you're working long days or around people who might be sick, you need this to help protect your health for better immunity. I keep this around for when I need an extra boost.

The basics: a good multivitamin and Omega-3 fatty acids

I say that I see people sometimes take better care of their cars than they do of their body. You would never drive your car with no gas, or bad motor oil. I think of a multivitamin as a good baseline nutrition, to provide a good baseline even if your day goes crazy and you don't eat healthy. The fatty acids serve as your motor oil to help lubricate and keep your brain and heart and joints moving.

A good multivitamin: For all my menstruating or pregnant women, you'll enjoy the benefits of this activated iron in this lemonade-tasting prenatal vitamin. It's just the best women's vitamin around. Being balanced with your iron and not being low on iron, helps keep your energy up and protect you from frequent burger cravings.

For the post-menopause women and guys: This is the best multivitamin, while labeled as a "children's multivitamin," just take 2 caps for adult dosage, and it is excellent for your health because it also has the activated B-complex.

Healthy Omega-3 supplement: You see all kinds of omega-3 being sold at the pharmacy or health-food store. Do you know if they are from small fish (sardines/anchovies) that are more free from exposure to heavy metals? Please stay away from salmon oil--we eat enough big fish and don't need extra exposure to heavy metals. The vegetarian versions of Omega-3 (like flaxseed oil) still require one more step from the body to convert into usable DHA. I recommend a high-quality fish oil, where I only have to take 2 gelcaps instead of 4 or 6 to get to my preferred daily dosage. If you really don't like pills or have kids, there's a great-tasting children's Omega 3 to help support their healthy growth too. You can read about the benefits on the weblink.

May your year be as vibrant and colorful as my Chinese New Year's flowers.