Archive for the ‘Risk Reduction’ Category

“Help! My Motivation Is Missing – How Can I Get It Back?”

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Getting your motivation back couldn’t be easier.

It’s simply a matter of “choosing between what you want NOW, and what you want MOST.”

Do you believe that?

I read that quote recently, somewhere, but since I can’t remember where, I’m unable to give the author credit.

Anyway, I get it.

Yet even if you get it, too, you may be hard pressed to believe it’s that easy, or actually put it into practice. Especially now, when we’re well into 2016, and all of those intentions made eight or so weeks ago are gone.

Here are three ideas to get you back on track.

  1. Identify what you want most, more than anything, when you think about your long-term health. Is it. . .
  • Permanent weight loss?
  • Eradication, avoidance, or management of disease?
  • Taking no or minimal medications?
  • Aging strong – the ability to do anything, anytime, anywhere?

Whatever “it” is that you want most, that’s your decision driver.

  • Do you want the extra cookie or your clothes to fit better?
  • Do you want to stay up an extra hour or be able to get up and exercise?
  • Do you want to load up on sugar, fat, salt, and preservatives, or eat to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence?

You decide what you want most. You act with intention. You get the outcome you want most.

  1. Create a “Jar of Awesome!”

Awesome Jar

Jar of Goodness 1










I wrote in my January enewsletter about the “Jar of Awesome”. Essentially, take a jar (a BIG one), label/decorate it with “Jar of Awesome” – or something close – on the outside. For the remainder of 2016, every time you do something awesome for your health, fitness, or nutrition – write it down on a slip of paper and feed it to the jar. At the end of each month (or the year, if you can wait that long), dump out the contents and review all of your awesome accomplishments. Bam! Instant motivator.

3. Use a visible tool that speaks to YOU and works for YOU.

Donna Calendar








One of my clients came to the studio last week with this calendar. She fills out a sheet for each week, recording all of the actions done to support improvement in the areas of her life she’s working on: exercise, meals, balance, blood sugar testing. She found this calendar at Walgreen’s, for heaven’s sake! It’s not fancy, it’s not expensive, it’s not high-tech. . .but she knew it would work for her, because it spoke to her through its simplicity.

And there you have it. Three ideas to help you in “choosing between what you want NOW, and what you want MOST.”

I hope this helps – let me know if and how. I’d love to know about your successes!

P.S. Did you enjoy this post? If so, please share on social media! [Follow me: Twitter @cathylemanrd]



“Celebrating Sue Wilsey – NutriFit’s January 2016 Client of the Month!”

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Sue Wilsey knew that it was time to make the move to get healthier. Lots riding on her “feeling” better in her skin, and of course, improving her overall health; her daughter’s upcoming wedding, plus a “milestone” birthday for Sue, herself.

Read on to be inspired by Sue’s commitment to getting back to fit, and how we at NutriFit are privileged to play a role!

SUE Client of the Month

  1. What is your favorite exercise and why?

So happy that Emily put those pink boxing gloves on me. Great way to sweat and blow off some steam.


  1. What is your least favorite exercise and why?

I have a nagging knee issue that hinders my success at balancing exercises. I’m not going to give up on those however.


  1. What fitness achievement are you most proud of?

Beginning this journey. For the first time in my almost 60 years on this planet, I actually look forward to my workouts and miss them on my days off.


  1. What goals or challenges do you have set for yourself now?

To add at least one day of doing strength exercises at home, now that I’m getting the hang of them. I also want to add a day or two of yoga and more walking!


  1. What do you like most about NutriFit Personal Training?

Cathy and Emily really care and it motivates me and makes me accountable.


  1. Do you have any advice for prospective NutriFit Personal Training clients?

Don’t waste any more money on joining gyms you never go to or buying DVDs you never watch. I’m approaching this as a very valuable fitness education, one that will remain a part of my life forever. What is a better investment than in a healthier you?






“Closing Out Pink Awareness With A Nod To Red (Meat)”

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

As “pinktober” comes to a close, I find it ironic that the cancer focus has shifted to red. As in meat.

In the event you missed it, earlier this week the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, issued a press release highlighting its evaluation of the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Suddenly, headlines stating that red meat, hot dogs, sausage and bacon cause cancer were EVERYWHERE, and  comments and conversations ranging from “doesn’t everything cause cancer” to “who cares, we’re all gonna die of something” were being slung around the world wide web.

Here’s a link to the actual press release: World Health Organization Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat.

Essentially, the WHO reported a classification of the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans, mainly for colorectal cancer (with associations also seen for pancreatic and prostate cancer), and the classification of processed meat as carcinogenic to humans, again with regard to colorectal cancer.

FYI, red meat refers to beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat, and processed meat refers to meat transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, and smoking.

Here’s my take on this announcement. It’s not new information. The directive to eat a plant-based diet in support of cancer prevention has been recommended for years. And while the overall pattern of one’s diet vs. only single foods is a balanced way to view the impact of food choices, I see nothing wrong with calling out foods that potentially fuel cancer; information that is of particular importance for those who’ve been through a cancer experience.

People who make dietary choices in support of remaining cancer-free deserve to know about food and health associations in order to decide what they’re comfortable including or excluding from their diet. Good health is about healthy choices, and the more information to help cancer thrivers eat to prevent secondary cancers or recurrence, the better.


Friday, October 9th, 2015

I really wanted to like this product.











“Wild Ophelia”, an offshoot of the Chicago-based, woman-owned company Vosges Haut-Chocolat and the brand behind this particular chocolate bar is described as “the spirited younger sister of Vosges Haut-Chocolate”.  I mean, consider the things we have in common; Chicago is my adopted hometown, there’s a “sisterhood” of women biz owners, I’ve eaten Vosges products before and LOVED them, and dark chocolate holds ever-steadily at the top of my list of food must-haves. . .I really, really wanted to like this product.

And in support of my October breast cancer action to highlight food and nutrition to elevate health and optimize healing, good quality chocolate is a topic that fits right in – it’s flavorful, satisfying, and a source of antioxidants

Earlier this week I attended a conference where piles of this chocolate bar were available, serving both as a complementary snack and a clever marketing initiative to ~ 2,000 women.

Never mind that I was drawn to it as a treat for my husband.

I like my dark chocolate either straight up, or smeared with homemade peanut butter; he fancies the kick of chili pepper.

Perfect. I snagged a couple.

But as I examined the label more closely it struck me (and not for the first time), how consumers trying to make conscious choices for health – particularly my audience of women eating to elevate health and optimize healing in the fight against breast cancer – can easily be duped.

Notice the words “ALL NATURAL” stamped predominantly on the front. But flip the package over, scan the ingredient list, and you find “soy lecithin.”











Spoiler alert. The only thing natural about soy lecithin is that it originates (very early on in processing) as a soybean.

Hopefully, yet potentially not, a non-GMO soybean.

Here are two links to info on what soy lecithin is and how it’s actually derived from the soybean plant – the first, a quick read, the second, a deeper dive; 1., 2.

Essentially, soy lecithin is added to foods as an emulsifier to help prevent oil from separating from other ingredients while allowing the ingredients to bind or blend nicely together.

My concern with “natural” splashed across the front of so many food labels – you simply need to buy food to see hundreds of examples – is that it misleads people to believe that the food they’re eating is somehow “better or healthier” for them, when in fact that doesn’t always hold true. Here’s an article that speaks more to this issue:

Let me be clear. I’m not saying “DON’T EAT” this product. It’s strictly a personal choice to determine which ingredients (and how much of them) you’re ok with. Will occasionally eating one of these chocolate bars trigger illness or death (as some would lead you to believe)? Of course not. My goal is simply to educate my readers so that they can make confident decisions on their own.

Katrina Markoff’s initiative and mission behind “Wild Ophelia” is incredibly laudable,, and if my previous experiences with her product hold true, the chocolate bar is AMAZING (full disclosure – I haven’t tasted it). It’s simply my hope that small, “do-good” food companies such as hers will lead the effort in using food labeling terms responsibly and authentically so people can feel confident making food decisions for health.

I strongly encourage breast cancer patients and survivors to consider everything they put into (and on!) their body by asking themselves; does this support health, optimize healing, and support an internal environment inhospitable to cancer? Those questions can be game-changers; for both the woman, and food manufacturers.









Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Oct 1 sunrise

Welcome to October.

31 days of drowning in countless shades of pink while enduring a seemingly inescapable barrage of awareness messages.

You know what I’m talking about.

Some of you have heard this from me on countless occasions, but for the uninitiated, I’ll go on record.

We don’t need more pink anything (I hate pink, btw).

We don’t need more awareness.

We do need actionable behaviors aimed at prevention.

I’ve made it my mission to blog for the entire month of October about the power of nutrition and fitness in fighting the breast cancer beast.

Let’s begin with a question, shall we?

What if we could reduce the incidence of breast cancer from one in eight women to one in eight hundred women through the use of proven preventive lifestyle behaviors, and then, at the time of diagnosis, connect those women to a nutrition and fitness expert who would create programs designed to support their individual treatment plan to encourage optimal treatment outcomes, strong recovery, and reduced risk of recurrence?


“3 Reasons to Elevate Your Health”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015








I’ve recently fallen in love with the word “elevate”.

Definition: “To lift up, to increase the level of, to make higher”.

It’s not that I just learned the word so it holds new-word novelty making me want to say it over and over and over; that word would be onomatopoeia, which I learned at a recent Toastmaster’s meeting and truly can’t stop saying.

It’s simply that I’ve realized how perfectly “elevate” fits with the work that I do – and it has me a little giddy.

I help people elevate their health.

Which isn’t as easy as it may sound. You see, people must be READY to want their health actually elevated. And that’s not always the case.

Some people need to be convinced that it’s a good idea to take care of themselves.

Those aren’t the clients I work with.

I’m known for saying, “I don’t want to convince you to look after your health – but I do want to help you once you’ve decided that you value your health AND that your health (and you) is worth valuing”.

That’s where the magic happens. When people come to the realization that their health IS PRECIOUS and they’re ready to do whatever it takes get and stay healthy – look. out.

So if you’re on the fence – not really sure if taking better care of yourself is worth it or not – here are 3 strongly compelling reasons why you may just want to say yes.

  1. You’ll stay out of health debt. We all know we must stay out of debt in order to stay financially fit. You know, money in the bank, zero balance on the credit cards, contribute to the retirement fund, spend less than we earn. All sound advice. And easily applicable to health. When you sock away health riches, you simply have a bigger reserve to draw from when (and believe me, we ALL have a when) you need it, thus keeping yourself out of health debt. Your energy, vitality, stamina, strength, reserve, and your ability to recover and withstand medical treatments all hinge on how nutritionally and physically healthy you are.
  • Tweak your diet to be sure you’re fueling versus filling.
  • Exercise weekly for at least the recommended 150 minutes.
  1. You’ll stop bouncing in and out of exercise and weight loss programs. When you do something drastic, such as an extreme (or even not-so-extreme) diet and fitness program, you will not be able to maintain that level of deprivation and restriction long-term. So you stop and then you start. Again. Over and over and over. If you’re not following a nutrition and fitness program that SUPPORTS vs. RULES your lifestyle, you’ll continue to yo-yo. And that means you won’t make progress, and you won’t keep yourself out of health debt.
  • Focus on what you can shave or swap from your current diet versus focusing on what you need to completely eliminate or avoid.
  • Find an exercise that you LOVE (yes, walking counts) and do THAT. Not a runner? Don’t run. Hate swimming? Don’t swim. Seriously.
  1. Your body will respond in kind. You know how when you forget to water your summer flower pots they seem to wilt before your eyes? The vibrancy of the petals is dulled, the leaves begin to crinkle, the stems lose their perk. What happens when you finally give them a big, healthy drink of water? They perk back up right before your eyes, gifting you with the joy of color, vibrancy and vitality. Same thing happens with your body. Give it what it needs on a regular basis and you will be rewarded with vibrancy and vitality – which makes you want to keep giving yourself what you actually need, which helps you stop bouncing in and out of extreme exercise and weight loss programs, which in turn feeds your health bank account and prevents health debt. See? Magic.
  • Remember to eat every 3-4 hours.
  • Move your body in physical activity every, single day.

“Keeping Your Fitness Edge As You Age”

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

At my personal training studio, we cater to the 40+ age group crowd. Yep, that’s our demographic and WE LOVE THEM!

If you’ve hit this milestone yourself, you may have noticed that the benefits you want from a workout have shifted pretty dramatically from simply losing weight and getting toned (not that it’s all THAT simple!) to any or all of the following:

  •  You want to FEEL better.
  •  You want to IMPROVE your balance.
  • You want RELIEF from low back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain.
  • You had a HEALTH SCARE and want to do all you can to position yourself to be physically and mentally STRONG, for whatever lies ahead.

These are all great motivators to get moving, yet now that you’re in that demographic group that we love, perhaps you’re wondering why it’s a little bit more difficult to actually do that.

A recent article on “Why Athletic Performance Declines As You Age” does a great job highlighting age-related changes and the body’s response to fitness. For example, as we age, our bodies don’t use oxygen as effectively, we experience age-related skeletal muscle limitations, and recovery following a workout can take longer.

But don’t you dare use this information as an excuse to sit on the sofa!

Here’s how you can actually keep your edge without going over it:

  • Train smarter, not harder.
  • Improve your sleep habits.
  • Plan your workouts for variety and recovery.
  • Actually take time to recover.
  • Add yoga and weightlifting as a way to cross train and maintain muscle mass and flexibility.
  • Engage in “active recovery”; i.e. swim or do an easy run on your days off.
  • Keep moving “outside” of your workout, hint, “Take the stairs!”

Hotel Stairs HIEP

“Salad Jar Daze”

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

You know it’s important to eat your veggies – a 3rd grader could tell you that.

Yet when most people think about adding more veggies to their day, bags of plain (boring) baby carrots and plates of (over) steamed broccoli often come to mind, squashing even the best of intentions. Even a devoted veggie lover like me can’t get excited about that.

If one of your goals is to “put more plants on your plate”, packing a salad (along with the dressing) in glass canning jars is a fun, creative, efficient way to make that happen.

Canning jars come in a variety of sizes, but the wide-mouth pint or quart sizes work well for this purpose. A pint jar holds two cups, perfect for a lunch or side salad, while a quart jar holds four cups – good for crowd or dinner size salads.

Simply pour salad dressing (1-4 tablespoons) into the bottom of the jar, then layer the veggies, starting with heavy, non-absorbent varieties like carrots, onions, cauliflower and cabbage, and ending with the lighter ingredients like spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc. on top.

Press down the veggies, screw on the lid, and that’s it! “Salad jars” keep will in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (yes!), making it super easy to have a ready-to-eat salad available at any time. When you’re ready to eat, just shake the jar to distribute the dressing, or simply pour the contents into a bowl and toss a bit with your fork.


Have fun mixing and matching ingredients and dressings, and congratulations on accomplishing your goal!

“A Lunchtime Tale of Love, Hate, and Obsession”

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

It happens every, single, workday, Monday through Friday. LUNCH.

I LOVE lunch, especially the lunches I make for myself (nutritious, delicious, and FREE!). I’m definitely not a lunch skipper; I’ve got to be on top of my mental game for afternoon clients, meetings or speaking events. Low energy and blood sugar, and foggy, sluggish thinking don’t allow me to do my best work, and that’s a disservice to anyone who entrusts their health and wellbeing to me.

What I’m definitely NOT a fan of, however, is actually making my nutritious, delicious, free lunch every, single, day. Truth be told, I hate it. When I get home from my office, I only want to decompress, eat dinner, and spend a little time with my husband before heading off to my crazy-early bedtime. See? No space for lunch making.

With no private chef or housekeeper to make my noon meal, I had to get creative to solve my love/hate relationship with lunch. Here’s what I came up with; prep once, eat 5 times.

The solution is pure genius, and involves three of my obsessions. I’ve outlined my approach below – I’m certain it will work for you, too.

Obsession #1 – I’ve become obsessed with Snapware®, the GLASS version. I use two large rectangular containers,


and on Sunday I pack them FULL of salad fixings. I haven’t measured the volume (the volume indicated on the bottom is in milliliters, which doesn’t translate well to cups of veggies), but I would say they easily hold 4-5 cups of chopped veggies. These two containers provide five generous salads, which means I only have to do all of that chopping ONCE!

Obsession #2 – A wide variety of fresh, “heavy-hitter” vegetables. I don’t want a salad that’s wimpy on quality nutrition, nor one that’s “just lettuce” – I’d be STARVING within 20 minutes of polishing it off!  Here’s a sample of what I typically include:

  • Carrots
  • Red or green onion
  • Fresh kale or spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Red cabbage



I top each salad with a sprinkle of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and raisins. Heaven!

Obsession #3 – Homemade salad dressing, which is ALWAYS tastier (and better for you), than store-bought. I have a few I rotate through, but here’s my current fav; (I use white miso). I make enough for the entire week – if there’s any left over, I take it home and use it up over the weekend.

What rounds out the meal is a good protein source, so I’ll add a week’s worth of hummus or bean-based soup. I also bring five pieces of fruit (typically oranges and apples), which serves as a sweet finish to my feast.

I also keep crackers and raw almonds stashed at the office; the crackers serve as a crunchy accompaniment to my salad, and the almonds are a satisfying side to my fruit.

Bring it ALL in on Monday, and essentially, you’re set for the week. So there you have it! My secret weapon in managing my love/hate lunch relationship. Pure genius.

“My VARI Happy Body”

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

I hate to sit.

If I could walk or run to every destination, every day, and only stand once I arrived, I’d be thrilled. Unfortunately time, distance, inclement weather, and the potential for countless awkward situations doesn’t allow that.

It turns out that sitting is a terrific thing to hate, because in case you haven’t heard, sitting has recently been labeled “The New Smoking”.

I don’t know about you, but anything that keeps me chair-bound; extended periods of writing, responding to emails, etc., makes me feel awful. My energy slumps, my lower back tightens and stiffens, and it feels like all the benefits of my morning workout are draining away.

So I’m launching my own “campaign against sitting”, and kicked it off by purchasing the office tool I’ve been dying to own; a “VARIDESK”.


I’ve tried a number of different ways in the past to raise my computer in order to be able to stand and work – none of them were safe, none of them worked.

Luckily, the VARIDESK is both safe and effective. A height adjustable standing riser that comes already assembled, the VARIDESK sits on top of your existing desk and allows you to move from sitting to standing quickly and easily. I’ve used the VARIDESK for three days now, and haven’t sat in front of my computer once. When I did sit down, it was to actually hand-write something, but even that could be done on the keyboard support. I’m doing a lot of computer writing this week, so it’s the perfect time to really give it a good test drive.


The positive? I don’t feel as fatigued at the end of the day, and my back and hips are less tight – I just feel more alive throughout the day, like all systems are GO! The negative? In order for my monitor to be at the correct height while I’m standing, I had to elevate it – see my book pile in the photo – which then requires adjusting the books if I sit down. But since I only sat down to work at my desk, not on my computer, that hasn’t been an issue, yet I could see how switching from standing to sitting frequently could cause it to be.

And finally, standing for long periods of time requires paying attention to posture – I’m learning how to stand without swaying toward the keyboard – but that’s simply awareness.

So there you have it. The declaration of my “campaign against sitting” is official – and I’m vari, vari happy to participate in the movement! STAND UP and join me, won’t you?

“October Means Halloween & “Breast Cancer Awareness”. . .Coincidence?”

Monday, October 6th, 2014

October OFor me, the month of October has two highlights – my wedding anniversary and Halloween. Other than being great ammunition for bad jokes, they have absolutely nothing in common.

October is also breast cancer awareness month, which compared with Halloween has absolutely everything in common.

I don’t know a single woman, myself included, for whom simply the thought of a breast cancer diagnosis is not terrifying.

A little over a year ago, following news of a cancer diagnosis for two people very close to me, I titled my newsletter “Too Much Cancer, Dammit!”, and received more personal responses than I ever had before or since.

There IS too much cancer, damn it, so much in fact that I would argue that even without a month devoted to breast (or colon, or cervical, or liver, or brain, or ovarian, or prostate, etc.) cancer awareness, our collective awareness would remain steadfastly high.

We’re not winning the war on breast cancer. We may be winning the war on early detection, better screening, and treatment; death rates from breast cancer have fallen 1.9% per year since 2002, yet rates for new breast cancer cases have remained steady for the past 10 years. (1)

The theme of my aforementioned newsletter was prevention. I’ve devoted my career to educating on preventive lifestyle habits, primarily nutrition and fitness. The data is overwhelmingly strong – the choices we make on a daily basis directly influence our health. It’s what I advocate for, believe in, and strive to live in my own life.

Yet, regardless of how staunch my position on prevention and cancer, there is no guarantee; for anyone. In no way (and believe me, I could win a gold medal for trying) can we control every aspect of our environment – an environment that is toxic in so many ways. While we all carry cancer genes, some of us (yep, my maternal relatives) have the added risk factor of genetic pre-disposition. Sometimes the deck is simply stacked against us.

I occasionally wonder what would happen if I were diagnosed with cancer (my secret fear, by the way). I wonder if it would change your perspective on taking care of yourself, as in, “Well, if Cathy Leman has cancer, there’s no hope for anyone – I give up.”

If that were the case, it would make me really, really sad.

We can’t forget to pull back and consider the larger picture. Cancer doesn’t appear as the result of something unhealthy you did last week, it takes literally years to develop (for example, colorectal cancer begins with a single mutation to a gene, yet it takes on average 30 years from that point for the cells to acquire several other DNA mutations they need in order to spread and kill). (2)

If I were to be diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I haven’t lived my entire life with the attention to prevention that I have in the last couple of decades. I can assure you, in my early twenties, breast cancer prevention wasn’t even on my radar; many of my habits during that time weren’t exactly supportive of good health.

At the time of a cancer diagnosis, it’s only human to wonder “what caused it?”, yet other than testing positive for the breast cancer gene(s), it’s essentially impossible to know. Excess weight, smoking, inactivity, and too much alcohol have all been implicated in contributing to breast cancer, but so has exposure to chemicals in certain plastics (who hasn’t experienced THAT?), and a dizzying collection of toxicity we’ve not clearly identified, yet couldn’t avoid if we tried.

That said, I maintain that practicing preventive lifestyle habits puts us in a position to fight back hard at whatever health curveball life throws at us – even a ghoulish, macabre cancer diagnosis. A healthy, strong body stacks the deck in our favor, perhaps by slowing the rate of disease progression, having a less invasive form of the disease, or giving us the ability to withstand treatments with fewer side effects and stronger recovery.

During the month of October I encourage you to heed the recommendations for breast cancer awareness; know your risk factors, get screened, know what’s “normal” for you, and practice preventive lifestyle behaviors. . .like maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and limiting alcohol; then repeat – over and over and over.


(2) Spotting Cancer In A Vial Of Blood











“Travelling Without Unravelling Healthy Eating Habits”

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Out of all the reasons why I adore my clients, the fact that they are an adventurous bunch tops the list.

Whether for business or pleasure, they frequently hit the road chasing adventure and collecting new experiences. The downside? They’re inevitably thrown off their “healthy eating” game.

In my experience, there are three reasons for this:

  1. Limited access to healthier options.
  2. Out of their typical routine.
  3. Adopting an “I’m on vacation” or “What the he#%” mindset.

Being fresh off an end of summer get-away myself, I’ve shared a few of my away-from-home dining experiences, as well as tips for countering the issues listed above. Pack these ideas the next time you’re travelling – and wrap up your trip feeling as great as when you headed out.

Mine was absolutely a pleasure trip; destination, Breckenridge, CO. I was delighted to learn that locating restaurants with healthy options wasn’t nearly as challenging as I thought it might be, although my travelling companion and I had to be menu sleuths and actively seek them out. The operative word being “seek”, which leads me to my first tip.


Tip #1 – For options that fit your idea of healthy, you must do your homework. Read menus on-line, printed copies posted outside the actual restaurant, and peruse local restaurant guides for specific offerings. If you don’t see options that work with the way you want to eat, rather than compromise – keep looking!









Our first night in town, oxygen-deprived, peckish, and en route to an Asian restaurant, we stumbled upon “Relish”, a local spot featuring Colorado inspired cuisine. The posted menu listed options too intriguing to pass up, so we scrapped the Asian plan. We will be forever grateful for that split-second decision.

Quinoa, marinated and grilled Portobello mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and yellow squash “pasta” atop an ample portion of garlicky chimichurri  – an Argentinian sauce – was not only an original blending of textures and flavor, but gorgeous to look at (we eat with our eyes first!).


As for the starter, a salad of pea shoot leaves and tomatoes topped with fava bean puree, I couldn’t think of a better choice.

Paired with a spectacular glass of red wine, this was a very fine meal indeed with which to kick off our week – and it fit all of my specs for a healthy, “real-food” meal.


Tip #2 – You’re already out of your typical routine, so if a “must-try” restaurant offers options that meet your food specs, but not your dining “clock-time” preferences, move them around! Confused? Read example below:

Warming Hut








“The Warming Hut” completely warmed my heart (and palate). While we weren’t interested in the dinner menu options (reference Tip #2), the lunch menu, with its house-made Edamame and Quinoa Burger – sorry, forgot to snap a pic – got my attention. We visited this darling place at lunchtime on our last day, where upon our arrival we were met with such a packed restaurant, we decided to eat at the bar – always fun.

Not only was the burger delicious, the sweet potato fries accompanying it (of which I’m normally not a fan – not because they’re fried, rather, I prefer my fries “unsweet”) were impossible not to love – nor to stop eating until not a single one was left.

The best ending to this meal wasn’t even dessert, but the opportunity to meet and chat with the restaurant’s owner, Stacey – she warmed my heart, too.


Tip #3 – Yes, you’re on vacation (or an expense account), but I’m pretty sure that it’s not as if you NEVER eat out. Eating out, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks is no longer an occasional indulgence, so treat vacation restaurant dining – and choices – like you would at home (except at home no one hands you a menu, I know). Be selective, make choices based on hunger level vs. your eyeballs, and save splurges (see “sweet potato fries” above) for a couple of occasions during your trip rather than daily – or more.









Airports may be the last place where hungry, health-minded travelers can expect to get a decent meal, but Denver International, and “RootDown DIA” particular, is hell-bent on changing that.

I swear this restaurant was created with me in mind;At Root Down we pride ourselves on striving to solve the ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma.’ We have created a dining spot where all dietary needs will be accommodated, including vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten free. . .”

See what I mean? If you know me, you totally get it.

Spied by my trusty travelling companion on the return leg of our trip (hint: Concourse C), this island of culinary treasures was a jewel in a sea of the same old chain restaurants. We were promptly and oh-so-courteously seated by superbly-trained staff, just after returning our rental car. . .at 8:50 a.m.

Like my predilection for “un-sweet” fries, I’m not always in the mood for a sweet breakfast, so the edamame hummus platter simply screamed “Order ME!”  If this choice strikes you as odd, I can assure you, hummus for breakfast is absolutely delicious – smeared atop a whole wheat English muffin, it happens to be one of my standard at-home favs.


Paired with Medjool dates, real, not canned olives, nan bread, arugula salad that I swiped from my travelling companion, and a killer cup of coffee (with soy milk, no less) this meal made me happy, happy, happy.


So there you have it – a handful of ideas to help prevent you from throwing in the healthy towel crying, “What the he#%, give me the _________________________” (fill in with your favorite less-healthy menu choice).


If you stay focused on your goal – to arrive home feeling as good as you did when you left (if not better!), it truly can happen. . .deliciously.


Wishing you happy, safe, delectable travels.


“Irony Screaming in a Forest of Sugar-Sprinkled Trees”

Monday, July 28th, 2014


Recently I attended an event where I chatted with a woman who (once she learned I was a dietitian) began lamenting the fact that she eats too much sugar, and sugar, as in “really, I should work on cutting it out of my diet”, became her sole conversational focus.

I could tell she was just getting warmed up when a distraction came along that abruptly ended her continuing to share how awful it (actually eating too much sugar) was for her, and I went on to mingle about elsewhere.

I’ve come to accept (and 100% expect) that once people learn what I do for a living – trust me, I’ve considered lying – the question inquiring which is the best diet, true confessions about junk food consumption, and general comments trending toward “I bet you never eat _____________ (fill in with your favorite demonized food)” are simply as common as conversations about the weather.

Now, I don’t doubt this woman truly believed she needed to pay more attention to her diet, surely she’s her own best monitoring system. And yet, I was absolutely incredulous when later I watched her LIGHT A CIGARETTE as she left the event.

Yep, you read that right. Not slurp from a 32 oz. “big gulp” soda or gnaw a chunk off a super-sized candy bar – but actually light up a cancer stick, I mean, cigarette.

When it comes to lifestyle behaviors, there’s not much that surprises me. I mean, I work with clients who have extremely unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. But the irony of this sight left me scratching my head.

I thought about it again this weekend, as I biked along the Illinois Prarie Path toward my favorite lake spot – cycling past streams and forests and trees. And while drinking in the view of those streams and forests and trees, here’s the conclusion I came to.

Without a doubt, this was your classic forest and trees experience.

Clearly this woman couldn’t see the forest for all of the sugary trees. And I desperately wished it had been appropriate to run after her and ask, ever so gently, “Um, the sugar you were telling me about? Do you think it would be possible to work on that later, after you’ve worked (really, really insanely, desperately, mind-crushingly hard) to stop smoking?”

But of course that wouldn’t have been appropriate. She wanted to know how to stop eating sugar – not stop smoking.


Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 23

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Who knew? Well I knew. Sort of. It is really a challenge to blog DAILY! That was my goal for this project, but since I’m already three days behind. . . .

Here’s a recap of days 25, 24, and 23. I actually can see how this “realistic” blogging around my very real life carries some important messages. Bonus :).

Message #1 (Day 25): I will go to my grave saying that the best way to make exercise (and eating well) consistent and a priority is to plan for it. You absolutely cannot let your schedule take you by surprise (i.e. not looking at your upcoming schedule for commitments) if you want to stay on track. There will always be last minute issues that come up, but when you plan, and plan some more by looking at the big picture, those last minute glitches will wreak less havoc. That said, on Wednesday I did my usual strength training workout – chest and back exercises, with a few light exercises for legs. Since Thursday was a running day, I didn’t want to overdo it with lower body.

If you’re wondering how important strength training is for running a 1/2 marathon, consider that for 13.2 miles (for many of us, in excess of 2 hours!), you’ll be holding your body upright as you power along at your running pace. If your upper body and core are weak, you’ll fatigue much faster. Cardio endurance, as well as lower body strength are of course, important, but strengthening your upper body is a must.

Message #2 (Day 24): Thursday was a running day; indoor, on the treadmill. I did 5 miles (following a 1 mile walking warm-up) and felt amazingly strong and pain-free. This, is a really, really good thing, particularly this close to race day. When you come back from any type of running injury, you quickly learn that you don’t want to ever (if you can possibly prevent it) get injured again. Continuing to do the exercises and stretches recommended during your recovery will keep you injury free and running strong. Although they take extra time, and I often flirt with skipping them. . .I don’t. I’m too terrified to find out what will happen if I stop. So don’t neglect them. See if you can find a way to work them into your warm-up/cool down routine, because prevention really is the best medicine.

Message #3 (Day 23): Today was a planned rest day that I really didn’t want to be a rest day. Huh? For my husband’s birthday, I surprised him with Chicago Blackhawks tickets. Unfortunately, the ONLY game I could get us in to where we could actually sit down was on a week night. I honestly don’t like attending events during the week; I’m too tired from getting up so early, and, there’s always the possibility that my next-morning workout will become a victim of that late night event. Sure enough, those pesky Blackhawks tied the St. Louis Blues, went into overtime, and resolved the entire ordeal with a shootout. . .that they LOST. Sigh. Hockey isn’t even my favorite sport.

Since I got to bed too ridiculously late to even consider getting up at my usual early hour, and I needed to be at the office relatively early, I skipped my workout. And I am ok with that! Here’s how to know that it’s ok. Ask yourself: “What workout did I do yesterday (and the day before)? What workout do I have planned for tomorrow (and the day after)”? If the answer to all of those questions is NOTHING, then you are seriously behind in your workouts. Go ahead and get to the office (or wherever you need to be), but see if you can fit even 10-15 minutes of activity into your day, and be sure you get in a solid workout the day after. If you’re sandwiching that “day off that you don’t want to be a day off” between several days of activity – IT’S COMPLETELY OK!

Pesky Chicago Blackhawks

Pesky Chicago Blackhawks




Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 26

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

One day closer to the race, and one day closer to running the FULL 13.2 miles.

Because I was traveling today, I took a planned rest day. One-two rest days each week are super important for increasing your chances of crossing the finish line of ANY race injury-free. Your body needs time to heal (not from injury, but from training), to replenish, to rest (duh), and to adapt to the demands of training. Continually stressing the body with no relief places too much demand on the body, so it has less opportunity to get stronger.

If you don’t build in rest days, you may experience reduced energy, power or strength during your workouts. And if you’ve made exercise a consistent priority in your life, why not get the most out of it, right?

If you typically take one rather than two days off, try doing a light workout on that 6th day – Vinyasa yoga, a stretching/core routine, even just going for a long walk. . .something different from your usual cross-training routine will keep your workouts fresh and your body refreshed; a recipe for injury-free, healthy running!

Chicago Birthday Run

NOT By Any Chance A Rest Day – But A Fun Pic!

Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 27

Monday, April 1st, 2013

27 days from now, I’m running my second 1/2 marathon. As a way to maintain my commitment to blogging regularly, and to serve (hopefully) as a bit of inspiration to others working toward a fitness goal, I’ve decided to chronicle my last few weeks of preparation. If you’ll indulge me in sharing a bit of background. . .

I was registered to run this race in April 2012, but due to an injury sustained while training, I was forced to defer. Luckily deferring was an option; after a note to the race director, a letter from my doctor, and an additional processing fee (grrrr).

I’ve been sidelined by injuries before – most notably, 6 years ago, by a nasty encounter with plantar fasciitis (on BOTH feet) that required months of physical therapy, orthotics, acupuncture, and finally, shockwave therapy. The first pain-free run I did post-rehab and recovery, I was in tears (of JOY!) – that’s how much I love to run. Luckily, until last year I’ve been injury-free, when as fate would have it, I was once again reminded that I’m really not invincible.

This training season (in progress since January 2013), I’ve been extra careful to avoid injury. So far, it’s working. I have new shoes that I broke in and adapted to s-l-o-w-l-y, I’ve been religious about strengthening and stretching muscles, tendons and ligaments in my feet, never increase my weekly mileage by more than 10%, divide my week into cross training activities, and take a well-deserved rest day (or two) each week. And equally, if not more importantly, I also pay close attention to training and recovery nutrition. . .the other piece of peak performance!

As it turns out, I’m starting my 27 day countdown in a hotel – which means my regular workout schedule is disrupted. Here’s what it typically looks like:

M, W, F – 20-30 minutes light cardio warm-up, 60 minutes strength training, 15 minutes stretching.

T, Th – 4-6 mile run, 30 minutes core and stretching.

Sat – OR – Sun – Distance run.

Last Saturday (March 30), I logged 11 miles. Since I’m travelling tomorrow morning and working in the afternoon/evening, I got my 4-mile run in this morning, on the hotel treadmill. I’m just grateful they had one! One of the lessons I learned long ago, is that when you make fitness a priority, you find a way to make it consistent. Planning ahead is the best way, and so far, it works for me pretty well.

Happy Monday, and thanks for reading along on my journey.

 Day 27 Hotel Run

Chickpeas Are Missing From Your Diet? Learn How To Add Them, Deliciously.

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

I am crazy about chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans). Especially BAKED chickpeas. And also especially, blended into hummus. Oh, and especially in a curry dish. I think you can get a sense of my especially strong devotion.

My adoration for this scrumptious and completely nutritious food is so strong that this blog post practically wrote itself. So here we go, ideas and a recipe to inspire you to add these cute little guys to your pantry – and your diet.

Chickpeas Dry vs Soaked

Raw, dry on left. Soaked overnight on right.

I like to cook my own chickpeas. They taste better, they’re less expensive, and because they’re not canned, there’s no worry about BPA Are Plastic Bottles and Containers Safe (overview of BPA). It’s simple to cook your own, you just need a couple of tricks to streamline the process.

I buy dried chickpeas from a local Mediterranean market. They’re prepackaged in large sizes and are extremely inexpensive. I typically purchase a 5# bag, which after cooking yields 21 quart freezer bags (holding 2 cups each) of cooked chickpeas! There’s no need to cook the entire bag at once, I just need to be efficient with my time, so cooking all 5#’s worked for me.

Chickpeas must be soaked about 8 hours before they’re cooked. An easy way to do that is to soak them overnight, say, on a Saturday – leaving you a leisurely Sunday to actually cook them. Dump the dried beans into a large stock pot, cover them by about 2 inches with cold water, and head off to bed. The work happens while you sleep! As you can see in the photo above, there’s a dramatic difference in size between dried and soaked beans. Next morning, drain and rinse the soaked beans, and pick out any that are discolored. If you can’t cook the beans right away, cover and store in the refrigerator – I’ve left them for up to 3 days.

Place the beans back into the stock pot and again, cover with about 2 inches of cold water. Add a 3″ piece of kombu (optional). Kombu is a type of seaweed that imparts minerals, nutrients and flavor, and helps soften the beans. It also aids in making the beans easier to digest.



Bring the beans to a boil, then turn down the heat and place the lid on top, slightly ajar. Take a peek periodically to be sure the water hasn’t reduced too much (add more if needed). After ~ 1 hour, check the beans; they should be soft and practically creamy inside. Once they’ve reached that point, drain them, and pour onto a jelly roll pan to cool (the 1 inch sides prevent the beans from escaping).

Cooling chickpeas.

Once they’ve cooled completely, it’s time to prepare them for storage. Scoop two cups into a 1 quart freezer bag, label, and store in the freezer. That’s it!

Bagged chickpeas (and black beans!)

Bagged chickpeas (and black beans!)

When it comes to using them in cooking, there’s no need to thaw the beans for dishes like soups or casseroles – just add them in. However, if you need to QUICKLY thaw for a salad, run the bag under warm water until it pulls away cleanly from the beans, use scissors to cut the bag open, and place the frozen chickpeas in a glass bowl (NEVER microwave in a plastic bag or container). Put them in the microwave for a short time using the “defrost” option, and check to see when they’ve thawed and are ready to use (all microwaves cook and defrost at different speeds).

Now that you’ve learned a couple of secrets for cooking chickpeas, here’s a fabulous recipe for enjoying them!


2 cups chickpeas

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl. Toss with the olive oil, cumin and salt. Transfer the seasoned chickpeas to a baking sheet in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until golden, about 35 minutes, tossing from time to time to keep from burning.

3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the chickpeas to cool. Store in a sealed glass container for up to one week (if they last that long!).

** Feel free to vary the seasoning according to individual preference; curry powder, garam masala, garlic powder, etc.


Avoiding the F-Word: Stoke Your Immune System With Nutrition & Exercise

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
Never Go Without.

Never Go Without.

Everyone knows the U.S. is caught in the steely grip of a flu smackdown. I’m not saying “epidemic”, because the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) stops short of calling it an epidemic; using instead, “widespread”. With New York’s governor Cuomo declaring a Public Health Emergency, and Boston experiencing a flu crisis, the media has us on alert – and like the spread of the flu itself, panic can quickly follow suit.

I’m not exempt from the panic, although I’m working to keep it low-grade. I confess, I didn’t get a flu shot. But then, I never have. One of my clients got the shot AND the flu; NOT fair.

Be that as it may, it makes sense to do all you can to bolster your defenses. There’s no guarantee, but there is interesting research supporting the benefits of stoking your immune system with nutrients and exercise in the name of evading the smack of the F-word. So add the following to your constant handwashing, antibacterial gel/wipe swiping, and avoidance of public places (that one is TOUGH). Be well!


  • Vitamin C-rich foods: Citrus, green and red bell peppers, strawberries and kiwi, and SURPRISE. . .potatoes!
  • Yogurt: The probiotics found in yogurt are “friendly bacteria”; actual superstars in the world of immune support.
  • Broccoli, mushrooms, and spinach: Antiviral and antibacterial compounds (diindolymethane) in broccoli, vitamin D, selenium and B-vitamins in mushrooms, and antioxidant vitamins A, C and E in spinach create a powerful (and delicious) immune defense trio.
  • Almonds: Vitamin E, the naturally occuring antioxidant found in these tasty morsels is an important nutrient for optimal immune function.
  • Garlic: Some research suggests that this odiferous member of the lily family can help prevent colds and/or help the symptoms go away sooner. Suffering a cold weakens your immune defense, so why not include a food that helps fight off what could be a precursor to the F-word?


Although the mechanism by which exercise bolsters immunity is not well understood, there are several theories:

  • Flushes bacteria out of the lungs.
  • Sends antibodies and white blood cells (the bodies defense cells) through the body at a quicker rate.
  • The temporary rise in body temperature may prevent bacterial growth.
  • Slows the release of stress-related hormones.



“The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods.” Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN





2013 Goal? Pay Attention.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
You Know Christmas Is Over When They Haul Away The Tree

You Know Christmas Is Over. . .
When They Haul Away The Tree.


Happy 2013.

It’s been 2013 for 8 days. If you’ve made a resolution to completely overhaul your eating and exercise habits, to generally “get healthier”, 8 days can feel like an extraordinarily long time. All that planning. All that measuring. All that logging, tracking and FOCUSING.

It would be so much easier if only YOU didn’t have to be responsible for all of the logistics. Actually, it would be so much easier if you didn’t have to think about it at all – if you could just press a button and presto, you’re eating better, exercising more, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, destressing and deep breathing.

Nothing that big is ever that simple.

However, making all of those changes can start with the simple act of paying attention. That’s the FOCUS part I mentioned above. Paying attention to the foods you buy at the grocery, the recipes you cook from, the restaurants you frequent, how much food you load onto your plate or your fork.

And that’s where an intesting gadget that gets your attention comes in; Are You Eating Too Fast? Ask Your Fork. With the exception of my Ipod, I’m not much of a gadget girl (if you can call an Ipod a gadget). But, many people like gadgets to help them over or around the hurdle of making those big food and exercise changes.

I’m all for tools that keep you focused. But if the vibrating fork isn’t your cup of tea, try putting your fork down between bites; even every 3 bites. It will slow you down, force you to pay attention, and shift the focus back to meeting the goal of overhauling your eating habits. Completely gadget-free.

A “Real Life” Biggest Loser

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I’m probably one of the few people on the planet that doesn’t watch The Biggest Loser. In fact, I’ve never seen the program; except that one night when I watched for about 10 minutes, but that doesn’t count.

There are a couple of reasons why I haven’t seen it. First, I really don’t watch much television. If I decide to watch something, the Food Network always wins. Second, I’m a nutrition therapist/dietitian and a personal trainer. Especially after a long day counseling eating disorder, weight management, and emotional eating clients, I need to flip that switch off. Watching The Biggest Loser at the end of a counseling day is like a judge coming home and tuning in Court TV (or trutv as it’s now known).

But I don’t live under a rock, and I do pride myself on my grasp and unique mental filing system of the pop culture-related information I have stored away (some of which is completely useless but stays firmly entrenched in my brain, regardless).

So, I get what the show is about. I know that there is a very serious personal trainer named Jillian Michaels in charge of the participants’ physical condition. I know (from the commercial snippets I occasionally catch) that people cry on the show. A lot. I know (from reading People magazine at the hair salon) that previous contestants have a strong tendency to regain some (or all) of the weight they’ve lost (People magazine occasionally profiles them). I know the food they’re fed, the exercises they perform, and the entire process of the show is contained, controlled, and managed while the contestant’s real life is put on hold.

I consider myself extremely well-versed in the area of weight loss – I don’t like to use the word “expert” because that means I know everything, and clearly, I don’t. I served as a reviewer for the American Dietetic Association’s position paper on weight management. I attend regular workshops and seminars on weight management and obesity. I read the research. I talk to other weight management experts. I can connect the dots surrounding the emotional component of excess weight or an emotional eating issue – my graduate work in health psychology consistently focused on those topics. I also know that a large majority of people who lose weight DO regain it. While it’s not inevitable, maintaining the loss requires focus, discipline, and yes, work.

All of that being said, I’d like to share what one of my weight loss clients repeatedly tells me. First, a little background. She set out to create her own personal Biggest Loser environment, without putting her life on hold. She juggles an extremely stressful, full-time job and realized that she would need a team. She found me, as well as her personal trainer through a referral from a friend. With her “team” in place, she jumped right in.

She and I are  working through the reasons behind her overeating, how the “junk” that she carries from childhood and early adolescent experiences prompts her to use food as a band-aid, soother, or reward instead of fuel, and she’s learning how to manage uncomfortable feelings while regaining the power of choice and intention. She’s lost 10 pounds, and on a regular basis says, “This is what you won’t learn on The Biggest Loser, but THIS is what we need.” She’s well on her way to becoming a biggest loser, and she’s making it happen in real life.