The Cost of Getting Lean

John Berardi and Brian St. Pierre wrote an awesome piece about the cost of getting lean.    If this is something important to you;  you may want to give this a thorough read.

Images bombard us day in and day out with lean and athletic bodies, ripped abs, high and tight booties, flawless skin, hair and perfect looking bodies.

We are made to feel that unless our goal to become ‘smaller’ is not on the top of our list;  we are undesirable.   The problem with this type of marketing is that it never tells the truth.  The picture is inaccurate.  It’s fake news.

If getting lean is important to you;  know there is a cost.  There will be sacrifices in your future.  And big ones.  Know that you will think of nothing but food constantly and dream of cheat meals.  Food will be on your mind from your waking hour.  Obsession with food will most likely take over.

I’ve been around too many in the physique competition world to know it can get pretty ugly at times.  And very unhealthy.  Both physically and mentally.  Physically putting the body at metabolic risk.  Mentally creating an unhealthy relationship with food and the body.

Most of us will never fall in the category of athlete or physique competitor.  The pursuit of bodily perfection, ideal symmetry and shredded muscle is not a goal.  And that’s okay.  In fact, it’s more than okay.

For those who are in this camp.  That’s okay, too.  Just understand the cost before embarking on a restrictive diet, which involves carb cutting, intermittent fasting, and other meal manipulation.  Cranky and irritable will become your middle name.  No one ever really discusses the many problems associated with severe dieting.

Optimal health, feeling energized, building strength to do the things enjoyed;  these are worthy goals.  Even then, there are trade-offs and sacrifice.  We can’t have our cake and eat it too, all of the time.

Precision Nutrition published a phenomenal Infographic.  

It really speaks the truth about the cost of getting lean.

If you click on the link provided;  you can view a larger version of the Infographic, plus print off or download a copy.

Making better decisions,  creating a healthy body, and enjoying this one life we’ve been given.   These are things to strive for.


Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams!


Foods that promote a good nights sleep


–Whole Grain Bread
–Whole Grain Pasta
–Whole Grain Cereals (Steel Cut Oats, Old-Fashioned Oats)
–Brown Rice
–AVOID Simple Carbohydrates, such as white bread, sugary treats, cookies, pastry, white pasta or crackers which tend to reduce serotonin levels and do not promote a good night’s sleep.


–Low fat cheese
–AVOID high-fat cheese, deep fried anything, chicken wings.
–Lean proteins are high in the amino acid, tryptophan, which tend to increase serotonin levels. Fatty foods are just the opposite, and tend to take longer to digest, keeping you awake.


–Natural, no sugar added Peanut Butter
–Natural, raw Nut Butters
–Raw, unsalted Nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts)
–AVOID highly processed foods which are high in fat (snack chips, potato chips, french fries or other high fat foods, which will decrease serotonin levels.


–Herbal Teas (peppermint or chamomile)
–Warm milk
–AVOID anything caffeinated after 2 pm.


–These herbs contain chemicals that can reduce tension and promote sleep
–AVOID red pepper, black pepper or anything too ‘spicy’ as they tend to have a stimulatory effect.


–Low fat, plain yogurt
–String Cheese (low fat mozzarella)
–Low fat cottage cheese
–Peanut Butter smear on 100% whole grain crackers
–Pita Chips (100% whole grain, only)

Sweet Dreams!

#foodfirst #highground #sleep #goodnight #sleepwell #healthybody
#selfcare #naturalbeauty #antiaging #rest

source: Cleveland Clinic

Power Couples

Pictured: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in a scene from SWING TIME, 1936.


Power Couples

When you think of couples that seem so natural together; you can’t help but think of Fred and Ginger. They were nothing short of magical together.

Certain foods are natural combinations, as well. Peanut Butter and Jelly, Turkey and Dressing, Eggs and Toast, to name a few. We all have our favorites, healthy or not.

However, some foods don’t seem to pair together well at all. But, boy do they work hard together! These are the food pairings I’d like to share.

It’s called ‘Food Synergy’!

Food Synergy is a term believed to be coined by researcher David Jacobs, Ph.D, according to HuffPost Healthy Living.

The basic idea is that foods affect our health in a number of complex ways, and we may get even more bang for our buck when certain foods are eaten together.

Here are a few of these Dynamic Duos:

Tomato and Avocado

“A study from Purdue University explained that carotenoid nutrients, found in colorful produce like tomatoes, can’t be absorbed by the body unless they are delivered with a little fat. Tomatoes are well known for containing the carotenoid lycopene, which may decrease the risk of some cancers. To get all the disease-fighting benefits, pair them with about a quarter of an avocado, worth about 4 grams of absorption-boosting monounsaturated fats. Other nutrients in fruits and veggies, including vitamins A, D and E, are also best absorbed with a little fat, so it’s a smart idea to mix one of these healthy sources into your next salad.”

Oatmeal and Vitamin C (oranges, grapefruit)–

“Oatmeal is a well-documented heart helper, but eating oats (and other whole-grain foods) with a side of vitamin C can help stabilize cholesterol levels to keep arteries clear.”

Black Pepper and Turmeric

“Black Pepper slows down the metabolism of curcumin, the anti-oxidant found in turmeric. Curcumin contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Adding pepper increases the absorption of curcumin. In fact, Melissa Rifkin, R.D. explains that using the two spices together “improves the bioavailability of curcumin by 1000 times!”

Broccoli and Tomatoes–

“Pair the cancer-fighting powers of lycopene-rich tomatoes with broccoli for extra protection against prostate cancer.” Two are better than one!

Apples and Grapes–

“The flavonoid quercetin, an antioxidant behind many of the health benefits of apples, and also found in berries, may help fight breathing problems and some cancers and keep memory sharp. But, when eaten in tandem with catechin, another flavonoid, this time found in purple grapes, the combo may inhibit blood clots and boost heart health.”

These are just a few of the many dynamic duos in the food world.
Put them together and they can provide even more nutritional impact than when eaten alone.

Eating a variety of fresh, whole foods, especially some of the ‘power’ couples, can boost help nutrition. Including delicious recipes in your week, taking advantage of Food Synergy can be yummy and beneficial!



HuffPost Healthy Living

How I Cut Carbs on the Weekend


Cutting Carbs.

The truth be known, I couldn’t tell you the last time I had Pizza. Not because I’m cutting carbs. Not because I’m on a diet. Not because I’m working toward fitting into those ‘skinny’ jeans. Nope, none of those. Pizza makes me feel horrible. Sluggish. Lethargic. Yucky. I’ve learned a long time ago to stay away from foods (refined carbohydrates) that don’t provide my body with the energy and vibrancy it deserves. Everyone is different.

Cut carbohydrates? No. Unless you are getting ready to compete in a physique competition; you should never cut carbohydrates out of your diet.  Ask anyone who has done so for any length of time, and they will tell you about the brain fog, irritability, lack of energy and other side effects of carbohydrate deprivation.

They are necessary for (glucose) energy, healthy brain function and fiber, just to name a few of the essentials

The key is to choose the right type of carbohydrates.

The healthiest sources of carbohydrates—unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients.

Unhealthier sources of carbohydrates include white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods. These items contain easily digested carbohydrates that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.

A few healthy options include:

-Whole grains
-Steel Cut or Old Fashioned Oats
-Whole fruit instead of fruit juice

Don’t be confused about carbohydrates, but keep in mind that it’s more important to eat carbohydrates from healthy foods than to follow a strict diet limiting or counting the number of grams of carbohydrates consumed.

Keeping a Food Diary is the perfect way to find out which foods make you feel good and which foods create negative effects.  Recording what you eat during the day can help you determine which foods to eliminate from your diet.  A pattern will begin to emerge that correlates between food and mood.  Pay attention.

Winter Superstars

The Gifts of Winter
The Gifts of Winter


The abundance of summer’s fresh seasonal produce is all but a memory, but not to worry; winter has its share of seasonal superstars, worthy of celebration.

Here are a few of the ‘Gifts’ of Winter:



  • Rich in antioxidants ( 3 times that of tea!)
  • Helps keep ‘free radicals’ from oxidizing ‘bad’ LDL Cholesterol
  • Abundant source for vitamins A,C, and E, as well as, folic acid
  • Contains antiviral, as well as, anti-tumor properties

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark Leafy Greens (Kale, Chard, Collard. Mustard Greens, Escarole)

  • Rich in Vitamins A, C, E, and K
  • A good source of Beta-carotene
  • Promotes healthy eyes, skin and hair
  • Helps prevent Arthritis

Citrus Fruits

Citrus Fruit (Grapefruit, Lemons, Limes, Oranges)

  • Excellent source of Vitamin C
  • Contains Flavonoids which boost ‘good’ HDL Cholesterol
  • Lowers ‘bad’ LDL Cholesterol
  • Lowers Tricglycerides

Assorted Potatoes


  • Good source of Vitamin C, B-6, and folate
  • Contains fiber (the average diet does not contain enough fiber)
  • Purple potatoes are a rich source of anthocyanins, which aid with inflammation
  • Rich in carbohydrates which provide energy

Winter Squash

Winter Squash (Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti)

  • Low calorie
  • High in Vitamins A, C, and B-6
  • Great source of potassium
  • Excellent source of folate and Vitamin K

Assorted Raw Unsalted Nuts

Nuts (Pistachios, Chestnuts, Walnuts)

  • Excellent source of healthy fats (unsaturated fatty acids)
  • Provide a good source of minerals
  • Great source of satiating Fiber
  • Delicious source of protein
Enjoy the Gifts of the Season
Enjoy the Gifts of the Season

Happy National Chocolate Day



As if Chocolate needed an official holiday!

In moderation, a bit of dark chocolate can actually be a healthy addition to your diet!

Let me define what moderation is:

One ounce of chocolate, eaten slowly, mindfully, a couple times per week. Allow that piece of chocolate to dissolve slowly, tasting its decadence and deliciousness!

A few of the benefits of dark chocolate ( 70% or higher of cacao, preferably Organic and Fair Trade)

Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and help repair damage. They can be found in a variety of foods, such as fruits and vegetables. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power.

Antioxidants are believed to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental contaminants, like cigarette smoke. If your body does not have enough antioxidants to combat the amount of oxidation that occurs, it can become damaged by free radicals.

Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.

Before you dash off to grab a Snickers Bar; let me explain that not all chocolate is created equal! Many of the commercial chocolates on the market are highly processed and do not contain health building flavanols. The more processed the chocolate is, the more these flavanols are lost in the process. Typically dark chocolate is superior to milk chocolate when it comes to health benefits. Do keep your chocolate ‘clean’. No need for caramel, marshmallow, or other gooey concoctions that quickly turn healthy into dietary disaster! Chocolate has enough natural fat, as it is.

Partially Unwrapped Chocolate Bar --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Partially Unwrapped Chocolate Bar — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat. You may know that saturated fats are linked to increases in LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.”

Cleveland Clinic goes on to explain, “Research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, neither raising nor lowering it. Although palmitic acid does affect cholesterol levels, it only makes up one-third of the fat calories in chocolate. Still, this does not mean you can eat all the dark chocolate you’d like.

Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate on occasion!

source:  Cleveland Clinic

Having Bacon Withdrawals?




processed-meatsHaving bacon withdrawals?

The recent headlines may have you concerned over your love affair with bacon, hot dogs or other deli-style meats. The study that was released on Monday by the World Health Organization announced that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer and that red meat probably does, too. While this really is not news and has been in scientific debate for decades, what is new is the bold conclusive statement that consuming processed meats probably does cause cancer. The American Cancer Society has been warning the public for years about the ‘link’ between colorectal cancer and eating ‘red meat’. While many more studies need to be conducted on this topic; one thing is for certain. These types of ‘meats’ are not considered high quality protein and should be avoided as a regular part of a healthy diet. They are loaded with fat, sodium and unwanted chemicals.

What is considered a clean, high quality protein? There are many delicious options. Here are just a few.

– Poultry with skin removed (chicken, turkey)
– Wild Caught Fish (Salmon, Cod, Tuna)
– Legumes (beans, peas)
– Quinoa
– Nuts / Seeds
– Eggs
– Organic Yogurt (plain)
– Oatmeal (walnuts on top)

All protein is not created equal. Things to consider are what comes along with the protein: healthy fats or harmful ones, beneficial fiber or hidden salt. It’s this protein package that’s likely to make a difference for health. Choosing more plant-based protein in your diet provides the body with many additional health benefits and a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed for optimal health.

My system utilizes expert nutritional training and background as well as individualized preference. For those who enjoy a vegan diet, or vegetarian diet, special consideration is provided.

I care!


Seasonal Delight


What if I told you that adding THIS little Ruby-Colored Gem to your diet would boost your Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Levels in an Extraordinary way?

It’s true! The Pomegranate is a healthy food in its own right. Dig a little deeper and find a hidden treasure inside! The Pomegranate Seeds are not only edible, but fabulously delicious and nutritious. I was so excited to see them making their annual appearance at the market! You can usually find the seeds pre-packaged during the Fall Season. Or purchase the whole Pomegranate. Although seed removal may be a bit cumbersome; it is worth it. Do take advantage of them!

According to, “The name for the pomegranate fruit is derived from Latin and literally means “seeded apple.” Only the seeds are edible and are found inside this large, hexagonal-shaped red fruit. An average pomegranate contains about 600 juicy seeds, also known as arils, which are encapsulated in white pith. The pomegranate fruit is low in calories, high in fiber, high in vitamins and high in phytochemicals that may promote heart health and help to prevent cancer.


The Arils (Pomegranate Seeds) are low in calories but high in Fiber. The average diet doesn’t contain enough dietary fiber, which can keep you satiated and help manage weight. Arils are scrumptious on top yogurt, salads, or oatmeal. They add color and fun to any dish.

My System adds Healthful and Seasonal Delights to Meal Planning to optimize health benefits and add excitement to Meals.

The Most Effective Beauty Products Ever!

Artwork / Photography credit: Tracy Sheppard

photography / artwork credit: Tracy Sheppard 

The most effective beauty products are the foods we consume.

What if I told you the foods we eat have a direct impact on how our skin, hair and nails appear? Anti-oxidant rich foods, such as dark, leafy greens, blueberries, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, like Salmon, all provide a protective benefit to our skin. Consuming yellow / orange fruits and vegetables, like apricots or carrots, provide the skin with natural beautifying properties. Did you know a bowl of oatmeal (old-fashioned, steel cut) contains an abundant source of silicon? Silicon is considered a beautifying mineral, which, among other benefits, can help restore the natural glow of the skin.

The best foods for our skin, hair, and nails also provide the body with the best overall health. A diet rich in vegetables, some fruit, nuts, seeds, lean protein and plenty of water, while minimizing consumption of processed foods and sugar, will help keep our skin glowing and naturally beautiful.


My System.  Thoughtfully Designed.  Powerfully Transforming.