Monika Nowak, Nutrition Coach

My name is Monika Nowak, founder of Power Nutrition LLC, Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, and food blogger.

My goal is to help you CHANGE your eating habits so that you NEVER have to resort to using fat loss pills, restrictive diets, weight loss scams, counting points, or wearing sweat suits AGAIN.

Break the cycle of yo-yo dieting & lose fat for good.

If you are looking for a quick fix, I'm not your coach.

But if you are READY to make changes & build HABITS that will last a lifetime, let's talk.
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Have you ever been caught sabotaging your own weight loss journey by making excuses, telling yourself you have no willpower or by simply surrounding yourself with unhealthy foods?
Have you ever put things on hold because "life" got in the way?
You are not alone.  
I'm... see more sure many of your are you familiar with the inner-dialogue of somebody trying to lose weight. Let's take a closer look at some troublesome thinking scenarios: 
"I'm going to have this cake because it's my birthday/his birthday/Christmas".
"I had a stressful day". 
"I really deserved this." 
"I'm going to get back on track right after my vacation".
"One slice of pizza is not going to kill me". 
"I just can't seem to control myself around chocolate/pizza/wine". 
"I worked out extra hard today so I could have this".
Any of those sound familiar? 
Sabotaging thoughts like this can not only halt your progress, they can break your spirit, weaken your motivation and destroy your focus. 
First step is to recognize those thoughts are ideas, NOT truths. 
Some of them may be true, some partially true while others may be completely false. 
Are they excuses? I'm not sure. Sometimes we really believe the statement to be true and see nothing wrong with this line of thinking, or with the consequences that it brings.
So, let's recognize that whatever we are thinking or telling ourselves is not always correct. 
Big part of being successful in losing weight, and most importantly, keeping the weight off, is being able to change your mindset from a negative place (where you suck at losing weight) to a positive place (where you know you can do it). 
What I want to teach you today is how to combat some of the most common sabotaging thoughts and change your mindset so that you can tackle weight loss in a more positive way. 
Sabotaging thought: "I didn't lose weight this week. I will never be able to lose weight again." 
Positive response: "I didn't lose weight this week but I will not let the scale define me and my progress. I have much more energy and my clothes are fitting better, so clearly I'm doing something right". 
Sabotaging thought: "I just hate being hungry".
Positive response: "Being hungry is normal. Being hungry means I'm creating a deficit NOT a surplus. I'm ok getting comfortable with hunger so I can better gauge my food intake". 
Sabotaging thought: "Eating healthy is so expensive."
Positive response: "Being sick is expensive". 
Sabotaging thought: "I've had such a long day. I really deserve to eat/drink this."
Positive response: "Every day has been a long day lately. I'm going to find non-food related ways to de-stress so that I don't reach for food every time something goes wrong". 
Sabotaging thought: "I want to lose weight but I don't think I have the energy to do what it takes right now". 
Positive response: "Do I have it in me to sit back and watch myself put on weight, or best case scenario, stay the same way?"
Sabotaging thought: "This is too much effort. This will never work for me".
Positive response: "I'm going to give it my best and see how it goes. What's the worse thing that could happen?" 
Sabotaging thought: "I just can't seem to stay on track. Life gets so busy and I have no willpower to stick to my goals." 
Positive response: "I can dwell on all the reasons why this is hard OR I can focus on why am I doing this in the first place. Being healthy is really important to me plus I've done this before so I know I can stay on track if I really want to."
Sabotaging thought: "I'm not going to be dieting while I'm on vacation. I want to have fun and not worry about the calories". 
Positive response: "I may not eat as well as I eat at home while I'm on vacation, but I will try my best to make healthier choices because weight loss is important to me. I can eat better than I would in the past and still have fun". 
Sabotaging thought: "It's my birthday so I'm celebrating".
Positive response: "It's my birthday today, office party next week, mom's birthday the week after. I can always find a reason to go off my program but right now there are more reasons to stay on the path. I'm going to find ways to enjoy myself while I reach my goals". 
Sabotaging thought: "I will get back on track tomorrow/next week/Monday/after Christmas"
Positive response: "What's the advantage of waiting? Why not start right now?" 
Sabotaging thought: "One cheat meal is not going to ruin my diet."
Positive response: "I've been feeling really good lately, why would I ruin it by cheating? Cheat meals make me feel good only for a little bit. Usually they are not even worth it so they leave me feeling guilty. I'm choosing not to feel guilty ever again". 
If you are struggling with a negative mindset or lacking motivation to stay on track, do not hesitate to contact me here. 
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You know that for most of us, food is so much more than just fuel. We eat for many reasons other than keeping ourselves alive.
Some of those reasons are healthy and positive. Some of them are less so.
For instance:
Some of us look for the comfort, soothing, and physical pleasure that... see more we aren’t getting from our relationships.
Unlike certain people, food is undemanding. It’s always there for us and it lives to give.
Overeating is often a welcome release in a life that is full of commitments, obligations, responsibilities, and demands from others.
Some of us try to protect ourselves by eating (or not-eating). Some of us “stuff” ourselves with food to help us “stuff” our emotions.
Eating can distract us from conflict or take the place of self-assertion and direct confrontation.
On the other hand, people overeat in not only stressful, but the happiest of situations.
You can easily fall into a trap of finding reasons to celebrate just so you can overeat and say "It's a special occasion, I can have this" or "I'm celebrating, it's worth having it". 
But we needn’t call a psychiatrist every time we catch ourselves with our hands in a cookie jar. The source of our disordered eating isn’t always pathology. Sometimes it’s just a matter of habit.
The good news?
We can address our past hurts and unmet needs. We can change our habits.
If you are unsure what's the difference between physical and emotional hunger read this. When you understand the difference between those two, you will be able to control it better. 
Then, try these 5 tips below and see if they help with your emotional eating. 
1. Understand that food does not solve problems. 
Having a tub of ice cream because you feel heart broken will not mend the heart.
Eating or drinking provides a temporary distraction and a dopamine (pleasure hormone) release but often leaves us feeling worse than before.
Dopamine's main goal is to make us pursue happiness, not to make us happy.
We often mistake the experience of wanting for a guarantee of happiness.
As humans, we find it nearly impossible to distinguish the promise of reward from whatever pleasure or pay off we are seeking.  
The promise of reward is so powerful that we continue to pursue things that don't make us happy, and consume things that bring us more misery than satisfaction.
Having extra piece of chocolate because you think that, that 9th piece is finally going to hit the spot, or fill the hole that the 8th piece quite couldn't. 
2. Work on finding non-food-related ways to deal with stress, and emotions in general. 
Life is full of stress and struggles. It always will be. If you are hoping to wait for the time when life will be less stressful so you can get on with your diet, you will be waiting for a loooong time. There is always going to be hurdles and new challenges to tackle. That's the curse but also the beauty of life. 
Some of the most effective strategies to relief stress are: exercising, praying, reading, listening to music, meditating, yoga, walking outside, spending time with friends. 
Some of the least effective strategies are: shopping, gambling, smoking, drinking, eating, stuffing the Web, playing video games, watching tv for more than 2 hours. 
3. Distract yourself. 
When you start to feel an eating/drinking desire coming in: leave the kitchen, go for a walk, go upstairs, cuddle with your pet, call your friend, pick an item on your chores list and do it. 
Put physical distance between yourself and the object of your desire. 
4. Set a timer. 
When that urge comes - set a 5 or 10 minute timer and wait. If the urge is still there, go for it. If it went away - right on. Even if you still cave in, you are more likely to eat/drink less than before, as your actions will be less automatic and more rational. 
5. Try meditating. 
Studies show that people who meditate have more self-control. Even 5-minute daily meditations seem to work very well to help people be more mindful when eating and drinking. 
Have more questions on emotional eating or building new habits that can help you overcome it - let me help you. 
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1. Lemons 





Everybody knows that lemons are a rich source of Vitamin C. Additionally, some of you may know that they are also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and pectin fiber. However, not a lot of you may know that drinking warm water with lemon juice first thing in... see more the morning can help you cleanse your liver, flush out toxins, aid in digestion and encourage production of bile (i.e. your digestion juices). Moreover, lemons have powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities preventing growth and multiplication of bacteria, helping reduce aches and pains (especially related to arthritis) and production of mucus.
 
2. Honey
 
Raw honey has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It's been a natural remedy for centuries, helping treat wounds, allergies and common colds. It's great for your body and great for your skin. All of those properties, though, are gone once honey is heated, i.e. pasteurized. Unless your honey says "RAW" on the label, it has been pasteurized and filtered before bottling, leaving nothing but sugar out of it's abundant benefits.
You may have already spent extra money buying raw honey, yet you may be still killing it's enzymes and healthy qualities by adding it to your hot tea or coffee, cakes, muffins and other hot dishes. If you want to get your money's worth you need to be aware of the temperatures you're exposing it to.
Also don't even think about buying store brand or other cheap honey. For those who are interested why, a really good article on honey sold in major supermarket chains (where honey isn't honey), it's origin and quality can be found here.
 
 3. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate
 
Let's get things straight from the get go. Milk chocolate is not chocolate. It's candy. Don't believe me? Read any label of milk chocolate bar. First ingredient on the list: sugar. No exceptions.
 
When you make a sauce and the major ingredient in your recipe is tomato, but second or third is basil, you don't go around calling it basil sauce, do you?
 
There is a lot more sugar and milk in your bar than there is chocolate, so next time you reach for one, don't lie to yourself calling it chocolate, call it what it is: a sugar bar. Still not convinced? By FDA regulations, a product having as little as 10% true cacao content can already be labeled as milk chocolate. Standard Hershey's milk chocolate bar has only 11% cacao. Guess what's the 89%. 
 
As I went to research further on the matter, FDA does not actually have a definition of what dark chocolate is or what it should consist of percentagewise. I do remember however, that when I went to tour Theo's chocolate factory (in Seattle) they said that most chocolates labeled as dark chocolate (Hershey's, Dove, etc.) have only about 30% cacao content (that's cacao fat and cacao solids). The rest of the chocolate consists primarily of sugar with other dairy and fat ingredients.
 
The good news is that chocolate is good for you. The bad news is that only 70%+ cacao content chocolate is good for you. All those articles about benefits of eating chocolate (fighting free radicals, lowering cholesterol, fighting depression) do not refer to your favorite Kit Kat or Snicker's bar, or even your dark chocolate Dove pieces. 
 
4. Bread 
 
Traditionally, all you ever needed to make bread was flour and water. That's it. I've made ('grown') my own sourdough starter (that creates all natural and potent yeast) from flour and water mix and baked delicious home made bread using it. No added sugar, oil, yeast. 
 
Check this list out from Pepperidge Farm Sourdough Bread label: Unbromated Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, Yeast, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Natural Sourdough Flavor, Wheat Gluten, Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Soybean Oil, Wheat Flour, Salt, Rye Flour, Potato Flour, Monoglycerides, Lactic Acid, Calcium Propionate (to Retard Spoilage), Enzymes, Butter (Adds a Trivial Amount of Cholesterol), and Nonfat Milk (Adds a Trivial Amount of Cholesterol). 
For real?!
As a rule, I don't buy any bread product that has more than 5 ingredients on the list. This makes buying or, more like, not buying a lot easier. My favorite Ezekiel bread has exactly five ingredients: sprouted flours (different kinds), water, yeast, gluten and salt. Make your own if you can, it's worth it. 
 
 5. Sulfites 
 
Let's establish some facts before you turn down a bottle of wine because it says 'contains sulfites'. FDA estimates that 1 out of 100 people is sulfite-sensitive. Sulfites naturally occur in certain foods and drinks as a result of fermentation. Sulfites have been used as a food preservative for hundreds of years (approved in the US since the 1800's). Sulfites are inorganic salts that have antioxidant and preservative properties, preventing browning of foods, acting as stabilizers and conditioners, controlling growth of micro-organisms and most importantly preventing your wine from turning into vinegar. Organic, sulfite free wines still contain naturally occurring sulfites which can still trigger sensitivity (if you really have one). Before you blame sulfites from wine for causing you a headache, consider this: dried fruit, most processed foods, jam, French fries, deli meats, canned soup all have a lot more sulfites than your glass of Merlot or Chardonnay. 
 
 6. Brown sugar vs white sugar
 
Sorry to break it to you, and I'm as disappointed as you are, but brown sugar is not healthier than white sugar. Brown sugar is produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar. That's it. Nutritionally they both offer nothing. 
 
 
7. Gelato vs regular ice cream



 



I've always wondered what the difference is between ice cream and gelato, beside gelato being more expensive. 
Simply put, gelato has less fat than regular ice cream (3-8% vs. 10-18% milk fat) and it contains a lot less air thanks to being churned at a slower speed. Some claim gelato has more flavor than ice cream. Others swear by creaminess and fluffiness of the latter (high end brands have even more fat). In the end of the day, nutritionally, gelato is a better option because of having less fat and sugar, but like with anything else, moderation is key. 
 
8. Cacao vs. cocoa





Initially you may think that they are both the same and somebody just made a spelling mistake, but besides the price tag, there is quite a big difference between cacao and cocoa.
 
Since the Mayan and Aztec times, raw cacao has been used for variety of reasons such as drinking, spicing up foods, making medicine and was even traded as currency. 
 
Raw cacao powder is made by removing fat (cacao butter) by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. This process keeps the living enzymes, antioxidants and preserves most of its nutrients such as magnesium, chromium, calcium, iron among many others. Cocoa powder is obtained by doing the exact opposite, i.e. roasting at high temperatures which destroys most of its goodness. Additionally, cocoa powders and cocoa derived products have added sugar, preservatives, food colorings and artificial flavorings to improve taste and prolong shelf life. Next time you reach for Nesquik or hot coco, check out the label and correct me if I'm wrong.
 
Even though, there is no scientific research on what happens when you add raw cacao to your baking recipes and expose it to high temperatures, I still only use raw cacao only in everything I make, hot or cold. It's as close to the real thing as I can get.
 
9. Sugar 
Have you ever wondered why sugar is added to virtually everything these days? Sugar, just like salt, is a great preservative. High sugar/salt content produces an environment with high osmotic pressure where water moves away from bacterial cells leaving them dehydrated and unable to live and reproduce. Have you ever noticed that when you salt your onions before you sauté them, they will release a lot of water? Or when you put sugar on top of your strawberries you find a bowl full of juice the next day? That's water being pulled away from food (thanks so salt or sugar), so it is not available for other biochemical processes.
 
10. Nuts  





I've fallen a victim of this huge misconception that we can get a significant amount of protein in our diet from nuts. Well, what I know for sure now, is that nuts are a significant source of one thing - fat. 
They are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and that's what you should consume them for.
To prove my point, let's look at breakdown of calories according to macronutrient content (% of fat, carbs, protein) of nuts vs other foods.

Almonds - 15% carbs, 13% protein, 72% fat


Walnuts - 8.5% carbs, 8% protein, 83.5% fat


Whole wheat flour - 81% carbs, 14.5% protein, 4.5% fat


Oats - 70% carbs, 15% protein, 15% fat


Quinoa - 70% carbs, 15% protein, 15% fat


Lentils - 70% carbs, 27% protein, 3% fat


Mushrooms - 50% carbs, 37% protein, 13% fat


Broccoli - 71% carbs, 20% protein, 9% fat


Cauliflower:, 76% carbs, 21% protein, 3% fat


Turkey breast meat: 16% carbs, 70% protein, 14% fat


Salmon: 0% carbs, 62% protein, 38% fat

What you will quickly notice is that nuts are lower in protein content in terms of calorie density than most grains, legumes, and surprisingly, a lot of vegetables.
 
Due to the fact that nuts are so high in fat, they are a very calorie dense food and calories in a handful of nuts quickly add up.

1 cup of whole almonds: 827 calories, 30.4 protein.


1 cup of cooked cauliflower: 25 calories, 1.98 g protein


1 cup of cooked lentils: 323 calories, 16.44 g protein

When you look at the numbers, it's true that by weight nuts have more protein. But they also have a lot more calories. If you wanted to consume a caloric equivalent of 1 cup of whole nuts you would have to eat 33 cups of cauliflower (which would give you 2 times more protein) or 2.5 cups of lentils (which would give you almost 1.5 times the protein). 
 
By no means, I'm telling you to stop eating nuts. I love nuts and eat them everyday, but I eat them in moderation and don't treat them as my major source of protein.
 
Sources and additional reading: 
http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/
http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Fe-Ge/Food-Preservatives.html
http://www.superfoodliving.com/raw-cacao-powder
http://www.healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrition-gelato-compared-ice-cream-2157.html
http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy731
http://www.winefolly.com/tutorial/sulfites-in-wine/
http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/cheers-to-drinking-warm-lemon-water
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/chocolate/high-percentage-cacao-chocolate.asp 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24276-2004Jun8.html
http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=163 
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Ahead of tomorrow's celebrations are you already wondering what's more worth it: pie or wine? Are you planning your post-Thanksgiving workout? 
Follow these 5 easy steps to make the best out of your Thanksgiving feast without feeling guilty or worried about weight gain. 
1. Eat your veggies... see more first, protein second, then if you still have room, go for whatever you want. There I said it. Enjoy every little bit. 
2. Before you eat or drink anything pause for a second and ask yourself: "Is this food/drink going to make me feel better, or worse, than when I started?" 
If you always overeat and then feel like crap the next day, or get gassy and bloated, maybe it's time to change things up a bit. Remember that food is suppose to be about feeling good, not being good. Finish your meal feeling better than when you started both physically (without belly aches) and mentally (without the guilt or regret).  
3. Drink a TON of water. Aim for at least half of your body weight in ounces, more if you plan on drinking alcohol. Hydration helps with digestion of both food and alcohol. Also, the day after, it helps with getting rid of what you just consumed. 
4. Go for a walk before dinner - I know it's a busy time for everybody but how about spending some time with family outside, playing ball with your kids or taking your dog for a brisk walk. 
5. If you want to drink, drink. Don't ponder about it. Often times, indecision causes more frustration and stress than anything else. Have a glass of wine or beer, enjoy it and move on. Same goes for food. Just remember a few too many drinks plus second serving of pie guarantees a 2-3 am wake up call. 
On that note, Happy Thanksgiving everybody! 
P.s. If you need a Post-Thanksgiving Green Smoothie recipe - check out this one https://www.powernutritionct.com/single-post/2016/1/20/Postthanksgiving-immune-boosting-green-smoothie 
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Cravings are a lot like an ocean tide. 
They come and go, they ebb and flow. They can rise with an incredible force, but if you're able to wait it out, they will eventually subside.
When you're facing a craving but you're mentally able to refocus – say by eating something healthy and... see more on your plan, or focusing your mind on a challenging task – the craving will go away. 
The more you can refocus and move through the craving, the more in frequent ear cravings will become. By the same token, the more you give in to a craving, the more frequently others will arise. 
One of the most effective techniques to stop cravings and improve your mindfulness is urge surfing. 
Urge surfing is a lot like riding the waves on the surfboard, only you're doing it in your head.
When a craving hits, notice it and don't try to immediately distract yourself or argue with it.
Surf the urge rather than fight it.
Let it come, and then write it until it subsides.
Accept the craving – Just don't act on it. 
You can compare this concept of urge surfing to the practice of meditation. Your thoughts, feelings and emotions will come and go as you meditate, but the purpose is not to try to stop them, or shut them down, or act on them. The purpose is to recognize that they are what they are, and let them go. 
In addition to urge surfing you can enlist the number of tactics that I've written about in THIS article. 
Do you need help getting started? Has everything you've tried failed? Let me help. Shoot me an e-mail and let's talk. 
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One way or another, all of us have experienced bloating at some point in our lives. Some of us, especially women, experience it pretty regularly, making it an unpleasant part of our daily routines. The big question is: can we prevent it, or at least minimize it? The answer: absolutely. 
This... see more article summarizes natural ways to prevent and deal with bloat (that is not a result of a medical condition or disease).
Please note that any lasting bloat, recurring constipation and severe pain in the abdominal area should be taken seriously and consulted with a gastroenterologist immediately. 
Some of the biggest culprits that can result in bloating are: big meals, fatty, processed and salty foods, stress, fizzy drinks, sedentary life, menstruation, menopause, depression, diabetes, alcohol, antibiotics, dehydration, parasites, poor gut micro biome, yeast overgrowth (candida), birth control pills, pregnancy, medications, constipation, too little or too much fiber, Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, inflammation of the colon, IBS, Crohn's Disease, and hormonal changes. Often times, combination of factors will lead to bloating and gas so keep reading to learn how you can prevent it. 
Follow these guidelines and natural ways to prevent, or at least minimize, bloat: 
Avoid fatty meals, which slow down stomach emptying and increase chances of acid reflux. 
Eat small, frequent meals - overstuffing your stomach can lead to reflux which brings on bloating.
Try not to lie down after meals (especially big) - gravity helps prevent acid reflux. 
Finish all your meals before it gets dark - digestion slows down once the sun sets. Good rule is to "breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess, and dinner like a pauper". 
Limit eating out, and if you do, make it a lunch on a brunch date so you have more time to digest your food before you hit the bed. 
Exercise regularly to promote regular bowel movements. 
Reduce consumption of processed foods which lack nutrients, fiber and are loaded with salt, preservatives and added flavors. 
Avoid acid blockers - while they may be safe to use once in a while, overtime acid-suppressing drugs can cause bloat and change the pH of your stomach (from acid to alkaline) turning  it into a good environment for bacteria to settle and multiply.
Minimize occurrence of aerophagia (swelling air) by eating slowly and mindfully, not drinking during meals (drink before or after), avoiding carbonated beverages and spitting out gum. Also, quit smoking, which beside being detrimental to health (causes inflammation in the lining of your stomach and intestines, and kills beneficial gut bacteria), leads to inhaling and swallowing a lot of air. 
Drink at least 2 liters of water a day and consume water rich fruits and vegetables. Monitor your urine color - your pee should be clear to light yellow. 
Minimize caffeine, dairy and alcohol - they can worsen reflux and bloating. 
Go easy on salt (processed, pre-packaged, long shelf live and restaurant/take out meals are highest in salt) - salt can cause water retention, making you look and feel bloated. 
If you do have alcohol, make sure to drink lots of water between drinks to help flush the alcohol out of your system and prevent dehydration and bloating. Also, try to limit consumption to no more than one drink a day, avoiding binge-drinking. 
Minimize or eliminate carbonated water and other fizzy drinks. 
Avoid artificial sweeteners at all cost. Studies show artificial sweeteners increase insulin levels, as insulin is released as a response to sweetness not calories, creating more sugar cravings. Researchers have consistently found a correlation between drinking diet soda and being overweight. 
Moderate consumption of sugar alcohols (mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)) often added to low-carb or sugar-free products such as protein shakes and nutrition bars. Excessive intake can cause bloating and diarrhea. 
Ginger tea has been proven to have a soothing effect on the digestive system, helping reduce gas and bloating. 
Warm water with lemon drank first thing in the morning has been proved to help move things along, and having a detoxifying effect on the liver. 
Safeguard your liver - main detoxification organ - by avoiding medications such as acetaminophen and tricyclic antidepressants. 
Aim for 25 to 30 g of fiber a day. Be careful of eating large amounts of fiber in one sitting (especially before you go to bed) - spread your intake throughout the day and try to keep your fiber intake the same. Additionally double up on your water consumption to prevent clogs. 
Although very healthy and potent cancer-fighters high fiber foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, beans and legumes can cause gas - if you are not used to eating them, start with a small amount, and slowly build up your tolerance; when serving them add lemon juice to them to stimulate digestive enzymes; additionally soaking beans overnight before cooking helps too. 
If you feel your bowels are getting backed up, and start to become really bloated, try a liquid diet for a day, drinking primarily water, green veggie juices and bone broth. 
Avoid antibiotics. 
If an antibiotic is necessary, request a narrow-spectrum one, which will minimize damage to your micro biome by targeting a narrower range of bacteria. 
Always take probiotics during, and at least one month after, an antibiotic treatment. Take the probiotic dose at a time as far away from the antibiotics as possible. 
Eat probiotics foods to support your gut bacteria - foods high in fiber and resistant starch are especially important when on antibiotics. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi feed your gut bacteria as well as provide additional live microbes themselves. 
Eliminate sugary, starchy foods - yeast species love sugar, causing yeast to thrive and lead to test infections and contributing to microbial imbalance induced by antibiotics. 
Minimize inflammation in your body (including colon and intestines) by eating the best-quality food you can afford; aim for organic produce to minimize exposure to pesticides, responsibly farmed animal protein and wild caught, sustainably harvested fish and shellfish. 
Consume lots of anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines), flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts as well as green leafy vegetables, bok choy, celery, beets, broccoli, tomatoes, olive oil, and fruits (especially berries, tart cherries and oranges). Sip on bone broth and add turmeric spice to your recipes. 
Lactose intolerance is a common reason for gas and bloating - try avoiding any dairy for 2 weeks and see if your symptoms improve. 
Manage your stress levels. 
If you have any questions about how to make appropriate dietary changes to minimize bloat, don't hesitate to contact me here. 
Reference: 
"The Bloat Cure - 101 Natural Solutions for Real and Lasting Relief" by Robynne Chutkan, M.D., FASGE 
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The goal of this article is to provide you with key points to be aware of when it comes to perimenopause and menopause so, in a natural way, you can prevent, or at least minimize, some of the negative issues and experiences that can arise during this challenging time.
This article has been... see more written as a collaboration between myself and Ari Karp - owner and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Train 2 Xcel. 
Key points on menopause: 
Official menopause (ovaries stop producing eggs, hormone fluctuation is over; estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels are low) is marked on the 365th day from the date of your last menstrual period. 
In the U.S. about 85% of women will have entered menopause by age 52.
Menopause symptoms include, but are not limited to, hot flashes, heart palpitations, cardiovascular disease (CVD), osteoporosis, acne, hair loss, wrinkles, weight gain, moodiness, irritability, brain fog, loss or irregularity of periods, vaginal dryness/infections, incontinence/urinary tract infections, decline in sex drive and insomnia.
Bone loss and risk of cardiovascular disease are two of the most significant threats resulting from decreased estrogen. 
Increase in abdominal fat in perimenopausal women has everything to do with dropping estrogen levels. Dropping estrogen will not only decrease metabolism and increase appetite, it will also cause weight gain, with that weight tending to stick more around the waist. 
Drop in estrogen can also lead to sleepless nights and elevated stress levels which do not help with the fat storage situation. 
Every woman’s experience of menopause is unique. Symptoms can be influenced by many factors such as cultural, social, regional, ethnical, genetical, reproductive, lifestyle or diet related. 
Symptoms of menopause start several years earlier. This transitional period is called perimenopause and it starts between the ages of 35 to 45.
Perimenopause is characterized by uneven rises and falls in estrogen levels, that can lead to up to a 3% loss of bone mineral density per year. It is crucial for women as early as their late 30’s to not ignore any symptoms, and start taking preventive measures against osteoporosis. Protecting yourself by prioritizing good nutrition, exercise and stress management. 
Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, smoking, hysterectomies and living in higher altitudes can lead to an earlier onset of perimenopause and menopause. 
Average length of perimenopause is 4 years.
When natural ways of dealing with symptoms (exercise, diet, herbal supplements, acupuncture, stress management) are not effective, for those with significant and debilitating menopausal and perimonopausal symptoms, doctors may recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy.Talk to your doctor to find out more and share your symptoms as early as they arise. 
Nutritional and lifestyle applications:  
Don’t wait to make dietary changes before it’s too late - women get affected by hormone fluctuations as early as in their 30’s. 
Consume a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs that will provide you with optimal amounts of vitamins and minerals needed for your body to stay healthy. 
Consume foods from the allium family (onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives) which can protect against CVD, protect bones and inhibit cancer development. 
Eat regular meals. 
Make sure you eat enough protein to maintain and/or built lean mass and help control cravings. For women exercising regularly (especially strength-training) I recommend 0.8-1g per pound of body weight. 
Consumption of cruciferous vegetables tends to help with fluctuating estrogen levels.
To preserve bone mass upon menopause get adequate sunlight to attain vitamin D and incorporate foods rich in bone building calcium such as green leafy veggies, legumes and nuts/seeds. 
Get your blood checked often to monitor for any other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 
Moderate intake of meat, poultry, fish, dairy, alcohol, caffeine and salt. 
Avoid processed foods, refined grains and added sugar - beside providing no nutritional value, they can lead to a decrease in bone health, increase in systemic inflammation, result in mood swings, fatigue and immune function decrease, between many others. 
Drink plenty of water and herbal tea. 
Manage stress and try to get as much sleep as possible. 
Avoid these hot flash triggers: stress, coffee, spicy foods, alcohol, sugar, citrus fruits, large meals. 
Don’t smoke.
Keep your weight at a healthy range, high BMI can not only be a trigger for hot flashes, it can lead to a development of insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome which further elevates the risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 
Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels - naturally occurring and cardioprotective estradiol declines as women age and put on body fat, putting us at risk for CVD. 
Yoga, acupuncture, massage, meditation and general exercise can help to relieve symptoms of hot flashes. 
Talk to other women - you would be surprised how many women are willing to share their experiences and ways of dealing with their symptoms. It's very important to have a strong network of female doctors, friends and family members who can support you through this difficult time. 
Training applications:  
Aim to exercise at least 5 hours each week - increasing exercise volume can help with fluctuating estrogen levels, beside improving your general health, well being and body composition. 
Performance against great loadings and jump exercises, that is strength training and plyometrics have been shown to have the highest potential for increase in bone mass. 
Progressive load is necessary for new bone growth - make sure yore lifting heavy enough - aim for loads that are higher than those of everyday life. 
Combine strength, plyometrics, cardiovascular and balance training in order to decrease risk factors, symptoms, and prevent falls.  
Don’t underestimate the power of brisk walking as a way to bring down stress hormones and help you burn fat.  
Intense exercise can be a trigger for a hot flash so monitor your symptoms and adjust the intensity accordingly. In other words, listen to your body.
Train to decrease body fat while maintaining (or gaining) lean muscle mass - strength/resistance training supported by proper nutrition is the best way to achieve that. 
Keep in mind that although swimming, cycling and rowing are great for cardiovascular health, they don't do much for bone health. 
Allow your body to fully recover between training sessions. Overtraining can cause stress hormones (such as cortisol) to hike as well as increase inflammation in your body making it harder to lose weight, sleep and manage your symptoms. 
And lastly, and most importantly, participate in activities that make you happy. 
If you have any questions regarding menopause and nutrition, don't hesitate to contact me (here). 
If you have any questions regarding menopause and training, contact Ari here. 
Additional reading:  
http://www.menopause.org 
http://www.aem-sbem.com/media/uploads/12_ABEM585_miolo.pdf
https://www.girlsgonestrong.com/blog/hormones/managing-menopausal-symptoms/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-menopause 
http://strengtheory.com/menopause-and-fitness-sex-differences-part-3/ 
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I know I write a lot about developing healthy eating habits for sustainable fat loss but today I wanted to talk about habits that lead to weight gain.
On one side, this post may be helpful for those of you who are trying to put on weight, or most likely, lean mass. Adding mass can only... see more happen when you are in calorie surplus situation i.e. you eat more than you burn. 
On the other side, this list can be useful in identifying some of the habits that may be preventing you from losing fat.  
So here we go. 
10 habits that make us fat: 
 1. Eating when not hungry. 
Hunger avoidance is one of the best strategies to put on weight. If you are never hungry, it's most likely because you are in calorie surplus (i.e. storage mode). 
2. Consuming large amounts of liquid calories. 
Best way to bulk up is to consume a large amount of calories in liquid form (which is not as filling as solid food).
Think shakes, juices, smoothies, sodas, alcohol. 
3. Sitting (and working) a lot.  
Sitting and sedentary lifestyle are not the only risk factors. Latest studies show that the amount of hours you work per week is directly related to the amount of extra body fat you carry. 
4. Eating meals that are high in carbs and fat, and low in protein. 
Think dishes like pastas, pizza, cakes, donuts, pastries, cookies. Lots of fat and carbs with minimal protein 
5. Drinking more than 1 alcoholic drink a day. 
Alcohol truly is empty calories. Drink a lot every day and it will eventually catch up with you. 
6. Eating fast.
Are you always the first one on the table to finish your meal? Do you never bring leftovers home? It takes about 15-20 minutes for your brain to receive a "full" signal, so slow down and enjoy every bite. 
7. Snacking....a lot. 
I've seen this numerous times where my client's snacks add up to be more than their meals, and they don't even know it. 
8. Adding sauces, cream, butter and oils to everything 
Fat is the most calorie dense (yet the least filling) macronutrient therefore it's the easiest one to overeat on. Cream in your coffee, coconut oil in your smoothie, fried eggs, dressing on the salad, mayo in the sandwich, handful of nuts, creamy sauce on your meat, roasted veggies with oodles of olive oil, all of those fat calories quickly add up. 
9. Skip vegetables at most meals 
Without vegetables which add a lot of bulk to the diet, you may find yourself more hungry and eating more overall. 
10. Eating out a lot 
Restaurant foods are designed to taste better so that we keep on coming back for more. Better flavor usually means more fat, more sugar and more salt. Perfect combos for weight gain.  
Can you think of any other habits that lead to weight gain? Share them with me via e-mail or Facebook - would love to hear your feedback! 
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Fall is here, and so far it's been a beautiful one. I know many of my clients and readers are still enjoying their hikes and putting in more rounds of golf. Skiing season is ahead of us and I thought this would be a perfect time to cover healthy snacks for all of your outdoor activities. 
Before... see more we go over specific foods to bring, here are three tips to keep in mind when planning & packing for outdoor activities: 
1. ALWAYS READ FOOD LABELS
Whole, unprocessed foods are always the first choice, but if you are going to go for something packaged, the less ingredients, the better.
Always check for added sugar, it's hidden everywhere these days, even in things that may not taste sweet.
Try to get your energy from naturally occurring sugars first such as those found in fruits, vegetables, nuts or plain dairy before you reach for other snacks.
For packaged foods & snacks, a good rule is to keep the sugar content below 5 g per serving.
Watch for fat content - too much fat will leave you feeling slow, heavy and sleepy, and may severely affect your performance and overall experience.  
2. ENJOY BALANCED SNACKS
You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by putting together snacks that balance out carbs with high quality protein, vegetables and natural fat. 
Natural fats in moderate amounts, such as avocado, walnuts and almond butter, are especially helpful for providing sustainable energy, reducing sugar cravings, and increasing satiation. 
3. BRING PLENTY OF ZERO CALORIE LIQUIDS 
For 0-2 hour outdoor activities water should be sufficient. Adding cut up fruit such as limes, lemons, oranges can add a ton of flavor without the extra calories. 
If it's really hot or humid, and you will be sweating for an extended amount of time, adding electrolytes to your water is always a good idea.
If you are trying to lose weight Smart Water is your go-to for electrolytes without the calories. But, if you want something with flavor, yet still low calorie, these Nuun tables will do the trick. 
WHAT TO PACK FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES 
fresh fruit, raw or slightly salted (if sweating a lot) nuts;
trail mix (avoid ones with cranberries and added oils);
greek yogurt with frozen or fresh berries and cinnamon;
shelf-stable protein shake such as Orgain Grass Fed Protein;
nitrate-free turkey, mustard, greens, tomato, cucumber sandwich on sprouted or whole grain bread such as Ezekiel;
peanut/almond butter sandwich with a sliced banana and cinnamon on sprouted or whole grain bread such as Ezekiel;
low sugar, high protein bars such as Garden of Life Fit Bar ;
hard boiled eggs with sliced veggies and/or fruit;
low sugar jerky or meat-based bars such as EPIC bar ;
fresh fruit with low-fat cheese sticks or low-sugar jerky;
Turkey & Quinoa mini quiches - recipe HERE 
homemade no bake Larabar copycat energy bars - recipe HERE
homemade Flourless Protein Shake Cookies - recipe HERE
WHAT TO AVOID
On the golf course: hotdogs, chips, most granola, snack bars and energy bars, candy bars, sodas, cookies, muffins, other baked goods, alcohol. 
While skiing: waffles, donuts, hot dogs, burgers, fries, cakes, pastries, chips, most granola bars, ice cream, candy bars, alcohol. 
While hiking: anything high in fat such as pastries, donuts, fries, chips. 
What are your favorites snacks and foods to bring when you are active outdoors? 
Share them with me and my readers by email or Facebook.   
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Fruit juices and smoothies have been flooding the supermarkets lately, marketed & sold as healthy options. But are they really? 
I'm going to share some tips on what to look out for when making or buying them, and how to make the best out of your liquid nutrition. 
Just to... see more clarify the definitions here, when I talk about juices, I mean blends that have only fruit, veggies or both in them.
When I talk about smoothies, I'm talking about blends of fruits, veggies or both, with a variety of other things added such as protein powders, yogurt, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, chocolate, cocoa powder, maca powder, etc. 
100% fruit juices, V8's, and other fruit blends
The biggest misconception about fruit juices (including 100% ones) is the fact that most people think they get the same benefits from blending fruits and vegetables as eating them in a whole form. WRONG.  
There are two most important differences:
1) when you blend fruits and vegetables you destroy their "fiber lattice"* which has a profound effect on blood sugar (more on it below); 
2) blending or juicing exposes fruits and vegetables to heat, and air - both of which lead to oxidation and loss of many valuable minerals and vitamins; 
*Fruits & veggies "fiber lattice" is composed of soluble and insoluble fiber that slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, blunting insulin (necessary for blood sugar regulation) and dopamine (reward hormone) responses. When you blend the fruit and vegetables, you shred that fiber lattice, leaving all that sugar free to hit your system as fast as a piece of candy. 
Fruits without their protective lattice are like Miracle-Gro for your fat cells.
Having said that, here's a list of tips for future purchases. 
Quick tips for buying or making fruit & veggie juices: 
avoid any pre-bottled fruit or vegetables juices (including 100%) that have more than 5 g of sugar per serving - always read the labels (fruit juice bottles usually have more than 1 serving so you must multiply the sugar grams x the servings size to get the sugar content in the whole bottle); 
if you get a juice from a juice bar, make sure they use cold-processingand drink the juice soon after you get it to avoid oxidation and loss of vitamins and minerals;
when ordering juices or making your own, stick to mostly veggies (ask for celery, kale, spinach, cucumbers, etc.) and one serving of low sugar fruit such as apples, lemons, berries versus bananas, grapes or oranges. 
Smoothies 
Guys, believe me when I say this, it's SO easy to make a smoothie that has 500-600 calories, even a 1000 calories.....
Just check out this "All-in-one breakfast smoothie" recipe from "Health" magazine.
This baby has 523 calories and whooping 77 g of carbs, most of them coming from simple sugars - that's more carbs and sugar than in 2 Snickers bars.
Not to mention that this smoothie has 22 g of fat - that's as much fat as in 2 McDonald's cheeseburgers. And only 9 g of protein so less than in 1 cheeseburger. 
The only way I can describe this smoothie is a calorie, fat and sugar bomb. 
Quick tips for buying or making lowest calorie, low sugar homemade smoothies:   
whatever fruit you are using try to use an equivalent of 1 piece of fruit, so 1 banana, 1 peach, 1 apple, 1/2 cup berries. You can mix and match but stick to the portion size as if it was 1 fruit only; 
don't add any other sweeteners such as honey, agave or even zero calorie sweeteners like stevia; 
add green vegetables if you can, spinach is pretty much undetectable; 
add protein powder or collagen; protein will slow down the absorption of sugars into the blood; 
for weight loss stick to water, green tea, black coffee, unsweetened plant-based milks as liquid; 
for weigh gain, smoothies are one of the easiest way to pack add more calories without feeling too full, so if that's your goal, you can add things like coconut oil, peanut butter, oatmeal, oat bran, sweet potatoes, etc. 
add super spices like cinnamon (helps with blood sugar), turmeric/black pepper (anti-inflammatory) or ginger (antioxidant). 
Looking for a healthy recipe? 
Click here for one of my favorite immune-boosting smoothies. 
Have more questions about any of this stuff? Let me know, I would love to help you out.
You can reach me via email or Facebook. 
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Have you ever been caught sabotaging your own weight loss journey by making excuses, telling yourself you have no willpower or by simply surrounding yourself with unhealthy foods?
Have you ever put things on hold because "life" got in the way?
You are not alone.  
I'm... see more sure many of your are you familiar with the inner-dialogue of somebody trying to lose weight. Let's take a closer look at some troublesome thinking scenarios: 
"I'm going to have this cake because it's my birthday/his birthday/Christmas".
"I had a stressful day". 
"I really deserved this." 
"I'm going to get back on track right after my vacation".
"One slice of pizza is not going to kill me". 
"I just can't seem to control myself around chocolate/pizza/wine". 
"I worked out extra hard today so I could have this".
Any of those sound familiar? 
Sabotaging thoughts like this can not only halt your progress, they can break your spirit, weaken your motivation and destroy your focus. 
First step is to recognize those thoughts are ideas, NOT truths. 
Some of them may be true, some partially true while others may be completely false. 
Are they excuses? I'm not sure. Sometimes we really believe the statement to be true and see nothing wrong with this line of thinking, or with the consequences that it brings.
So, let's recognize that whatever we are thinking or telling ourselves is not always correct. 
Big part of being successful in losing weight, and most importantly, keeping the weight off, is being able to change your mindset from a negative place (where you suck at losing weight) to a positive place (where you know you can do it). 
What I want to teach you today is how to combat some of the most common sabotaging thoughts and change your mindset so that you can tackle weight loss in a more positive way. 
Sabotaging thought: "I didn't lose weight this week. I will never be able to lose weight again." 
Positive response: "I didn't lose weight this week but I will not let the scale define me and my progress. I have much more energy and my clothes are fitting better, so clearly I'm doing something right". 
Sabotaging thought: "I just hate being hungry".
Positive response: "Being hungry is normal. Being hungry means I'm creating a deficit NOT a surplus. I'm ok getting comfortable with hunger so I can better gauge my food intake". 
Sabotaging thought: "Eating healthy is so expensive."
Positive response: "Being sick is expensive". 
Sabotaging thought: "I've had such a long day. I really deserve to eat/drink this."
Positive response: "Every day has been a long day lately. I'm going to find non-food related ways to de-stress so that I don't reach for food every time something goes wrong". 
Sabotaging thought: "I want to lose weight but I don't think I have the energy to do what it takes right now". 
Positive response: "Do I have it in me to sit back and watch myself put on weight, or best case scenario, stay the same way?"
Sabotaging thought: "This is too much effort. This will never work for me".
Positive response: "I'm going to give it my best and see how it goes. What's the worse thing that could happen?" 
Sabotaging thought: "I just can't seem to stay on track. Life gets so busy and I have no willpower to stick to my goals." 
Positive response: "I can dwell on all the reasons why this is hard OR I can focus on why am I doing this in the first place. Being healthy is really important to me plus I've done this before so I know I can stay on track if I really want to."
Sabotaging thought: "I'm not going to be dieting while I'm on vacation. I want to have fun and not worry about the calories". 
Positive response: "I may not eat as well as I eat at home while I'm on vacation, but I will try my best to make healthier choices because weight loss is important to me. I can eat better than I would in the past and still have fun". 
Sabotaging thought: "It's my birthday so I'm celebrating".
Positive response: "It's my birthday today, office party next week, mom's birthday the week after. I can always find a reason to go off my program but right now there are more reasons to stay on the path. I'm going to find ways to enjoy myself while I reach my goals". 
Sabotaging thought: "I will get back on track tomorrow/next week/Monday/after Christmas"
Positive response: "What's the advantage of waiting? Why not start right now?" 
Sabotaging thought: "One cheat meal is not going to ruin my diet."
Positive response: "I've been feeling really good lately, why would I ruin it by cheating? Cheat meals make me feel good only for a little bit. Usually they are not even worth it so they leave me feeling guilty. I'm choosing not to feel guilty ever again". 
If you are struggling with a negative mindset or lacking motivation to stay on track, do not hesitate to contact me here. 
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You know that for most of us, food is so much more than just fuel. We eat for many reasons other than keeping ourselves alive.
Some of those reasons are healthy and positive. Some of them are less so.
For instance:
Some of us look for the comfort, soothing, and physical pleasure that... see more we aren’t getting from our relationships.
Unlike certain people, food is undemanding. It’s always there for us and it lives to give.
Overeating is often a welcome release in a life that is full of commitments, obligations, responsibilities, and demands from others.
Some of us try to protect ourselves by eating (or not-eating). Some of us “stuff” ourselves with food to help us “stuff” our emotions.
Eating can distract us from conflict or take the place of self-assertion and direct confrontation.
On the other hand, people overeat in not only stressful, but the happiest of situations.
You can easily fall into a trap of finding reasons to celebrate just so you can overeat and say "It's a special occasion, I can have this" or "I'm celebrating, it's worth having it". 
But we needn’t call a psychiatrist every time we catch ourselves with our hands in a cookie jar. The source of our disordered eating isn’t always pathology. Sometimes it’s just a matter of habit.
The good news?
We can address our past hurts and unmet needs. We can change our habits.
If you are unsure what's the difference between physical and emotional hunger read this. When you understand the difference between those two, you will be able to control it better. 
Then, try these 5 tips below and see if they help with your emotional eating. 
1. Understand that food does not solve problems. 
Having a tub of ice cream because you feel heart broken will not mend the heart.
Eating or drinking provides a temporary distraction and a dopamine (pleasure hormone) release but often leaves us feeling worse than before.
Dopamine's main goal is to make us pursue happiness, not to make us happy.
We often mistake the experience of wanting for a guarantee of happiness.
As humans, we find it nearly impossible to distinguish the promise of reward from whatever pleasure or pay off we are seeking.  
The promise of reward is so powerful that we continue to pursue things that don't make us happy, and consume things that bring us more misery than satisfaction.
Having extra piece of chocolate because you think that, that 9th piece is finally going to hit the spot, or fill the hole that the 8th piece quite couldn't. 
2. Work on finding non-food-related ways to deal with stress, and emotions in general. 
Life is full of stress and struggles. It always will be. If you are hoping to wait for the time when life will be less stressful so you can get on with your diet, you will be waiting for a loooong time. There is always going to be hurdles and new challenges to tackle. That's the curse but also the beauty of life. 
Some of the most effective strategies to relief stress are: exercising, praying, reading, listening to music, meditating, yoga, walking outside, spending time with friends. 
Some of the least effective strategies are: shopping, gambling, smoking, drinking, eating, stuffing the Web, playing video games, watching tv for more than 2 hours. 
3. Distract yourself. 
When you start to feel an eating/drinking desire coming in: leave the kitchen, go for a walk, go upstairs, cuddle with your pet, call your friend, pick an item on your chores list and do it. 
Put physical distance between yourself and the object of your desire. 
4. Set a timer. 
When that urge comes - set a 5 or 10 minute timer and wait. If the urge is still there, go for it. If it went away - right on. Even if you still cave in, you are more likely to eat/drink less than before, as your actions will be less automatic and more rational. 
5. Try meditating. 
Studies show that people who meditate have more self-control. Even 5-minute daily meditations seem to work very well to help people be more mindful when eating and drinking. 
Have more questions on emotional eating or building new habits that can help you overcome it - let me help you. 
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1. Lemons 





Everybody knows that lemons are a rich source of Vitamin C. Additionally, some of you may know that they are also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and pectin fiber. However, not a lot of you may know that drinking warm water with lemon juice first thing in... see more the morning can help you cleanse your liver, flush out toxins, aid in digestion and encourage production of bile (i.e. your digestion juices). Moreover, lemons have powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities preventing growth and multiplication of bacteria, helping reduce aches and pains (especially related to arthritis) and production of mucus.
 
2. Honey
 
Raw honey has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It's been a natural remedy for centuries, helping treat wounds, allergies and common colds. It's great for your body and great for your skin. All of those properties, though, are gone once honey is heated, i.e. pasteurized. Unless your honey says "RAW" on the label, it has been pasteurized and filtered before bottling, leaving nothing but sugar out of it's abundant benefits.
You may have already spent extra money buying raw honey, yet you may be still killing it's enzymes and healthy qualities by adding it to your hot tea or coffee, cakes, muffins and other hot dishes. If you want to get your money's worth you need to be aware of the temperatures you're exposing it to.
Also don't even think about buying store brand or other cheap honey. For those who are interested why, a really good article on honey sold in major supermarket chains (where honey isn't honey), it's origin and quality can be found here.
 
 3. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate
 
Let's get things straight from the get go. Milk chocolate is not chocolate. It's candy. Don't believe me? Read any label of milk chocolate bar. First ingredient on the list: sugar. No exceptions.
 
When you make a sauce and the major ingredient in your recipe is tomato, but second or third is basil, you don't go around calling it basil sauce, do you?
 
There is a lot more sugar and milk in your bar than there is chocolate, so next time you reach for one, don't lie to yourself calling it chocolate, call it what it is: a sugar bar. Still not convinced? By FDA regulations, a product having as little as 10% true cacao content can already be labeled as milk chocolate. Standard Hershey's milk chocolate bar has only 11% cacao. Guess what's the 89%. 
 
As I went to research further on the matter, FDA does not actually have a definition of what dark chocolate is or what it should consist of percentagewise. I do remember however, that when I went to tour Theo's chocolate factory (in Seattle) they said that most chocolates labeled as dark chocolate (Hershey's, Dove, etc.) have only about 30% cacao content (that's cacao fat and cacao solids). The rest of the chocolate consists primarily of sugar with other dairy and fat ingredients.
 
The good news is that chocolate is good for you. The bad news is that only 70%+ cacao content chocolate is good for you. All those articles about benefits of eating chocolate (fighting free radicals, lowering cholesterol, fighting depression) do not refer to your favorite Kit Kat or Snicker's bar, or even your dark chocolate Dove pieces. 
 
4. Bread 
 
Traditionally, all you ever needed to make bread was flour and water. That's it. I've made ('grown') my own sourdough starter (that creates all natural and potent yeast) from flour and water mix and baked delicious home made bread using it. No added sugar, oil, yeast. 
 
Check this list out from Pepperidge Farm Sourdough Bread label: Unbromated Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, Yeast, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Natural Sourdough Flavor, Wheat Gluten, Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Soybean Oil, Wheat Flour, Salt, Rye Flour, Potato Flour, Monoglycerides, Lactic Acid, Calcium Propionate (to Retard Spoilage), Enzymes, Butter (Adds a Trivial Amount of Cholesterol), and Nonfat Milk (Adds a Trivial Amount of Cholesterol). 
For real?!
As a rule, I don't buy any bread product that has more than 5 ingredients on the list. This makes buying or, more like, not buying a lot easier. My favorite Ezekiel bread has exactly five ingredients: sprouted flours (different kinds), water, yeast, gluten and salt. Make your own if you can, it's worth it. 
 
 5. Sulfites 
 
Let's establish some facts before you turn down a bottle of wine because it says 'contains sulfites'. FDA estimates that 1 out of 100 people is sulfite-sensitive. Sulfites naturally occur in certain foods and drinks as a result of fermentation. Sulfites have been used as a food preservative for hundreds of years (approved in the US since the 1800's). Sulfites are inorganic salts that have antioxidant and preservative properties, preventing browning of foods, acting as stabilizers and conditioners, controlling growth of micro-organisms and most importantly preventing your wine from turning into vinegar. Organic, sulfite free wines still contain naturally occurring sulfites which can still trigger sensitivity (if you really have one). Before you blame sulfites from wine for causing you a headache, consider this: dried fruit, most processed foods, jam, French fries, deli meats, canned soup all have a lot more sulfites than your glass of Merlot or Chardonnay. 
 
 6. Brown sugar vs white sugar
 
Sorry to break it to you, and I'm as disappointed as you are, but brown sugar is not healthier than white sugar. Brown sugar is produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar. That's it. Nutritionally they both offer nothing. 
 
 
7. Gelato vs regular ice cream



 



I've always wondered what the difference is between ice cream and gelato, beside gelato being more expensive. 
Simply put, gelato has less fat than regular ice cream (3-8% vs. 10-18% milk fat) and it contains a lot less air thanks to being churned at a slower speed. Some claim gelato has more flavor than ice cream. Others swear by creaminess and fluffiness of the latter (high end brands have even more fat). In the end of the day, nutritionally, gelato is a better option because of having less fat and sugar, but like with anything else, moderation is key. 
 
8. Cacao vs. cocoa





Initially you may think that they are both the same and somebody just made a spelling mistake, but besides the price tag, there is quite a big difference between cacao and cocoa.
 
Since the Mayan and Aztec times, raw cacao has been used for variety of reasons such as drinking, spicing up foods, making medicine and was even traded as currency. 
 
Raw cacao powder is made by removing fat (cacao butter) by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. This process keeps the living enzymes, antioxidants and preserves most of its nutrients such as magnesium, chromium, calcium, iron among many others. Cocoa powder is obtained by doing the exact opposite, i.e. roasting at high temperatures which destroys most of its goodness. Additionally, cocoa powders and cocoa derived products have added sugar, preservatives, food colorings and artificial flavorings to improve taste and prolong shelf life. Next time you reach for Nesquik or hot coco, check out the label and correct me if I'm wrong.
 
Even though, there is no scientific research on what happens when you add raw cacao to your baking recipes and expose it to high temperatures, I still only use raw cacao only in everything I make, hot or cold. It's as close to the real thing as I can get.
 
9. Sugar 
Have you ever wondered why sugar is added to virtually everything these days? Sugar, just like salt, is a great preservative. High sugar/salt content produces an environment with high osmotic pressure where water moves away from bacterial cells leaving them dehydrated and unable to live and reproduce. Have you ever noticed that when you salt your onions before you sauté them, they will release a lot of water? Or when you put sugar on top of your strawberries you find a bowl full of juice the next day? That's water being pulled away from food (thanks so salt or sugar), so it is not available for other biochemical processes.
 
10. Nuts  





I've fallen a victim of this huge misconception that we can get a significant amount of protein in our diet from nuts. Well, what I know for sure now, is that nuts are a significant source of one thing - fat. 
They are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and that's what you should consume them for.
To prove my point, let's look at breakdown of calories according to macronutrient content (% of fat, carbs, protein) of nuts vs other foods.

Almonds - 15% carbs, 13% protein, 72% fat


Walnuts - 8.5% carbs, 8% protein, 83.5% fat


Whole wheat flour - 81% carbs, 14.5% protein, 4.5% fat


Oats - 70% carbs, 15% protein, 15% fat


Quinoa - 70% carbs, 15% protein, 15% fat


Lentils - 70% carbs, 27% protein, 3% fat


Mushrooms - 50% carbs, 37% protein, 13% fat


Broccoli - 71% carbs, 20% protein, 9% fat


Cauliflower:, 76% carbs, 21% protein, 3% fat


Turkey breast meat: 16% carbs, 70% protein, 14% fat


Salmon: 0% carbs, 62% protein, 38% fat

What you will quickly notice is that nuts are lower in protein content in terms of calorie density than most grains, legumes, and surprisingly, a lot of vegetables.
 
Due to the fact that nuts are so high in fat, they are a very calorie dense food and calories in a handful of nuts quickly add up.

1 cup of whole almonds: 827 calories, 30.4 protein.


1 cup of cooked cauliflower: 25 calories, 1.98 g protein


1 cup of cooked lentils: 323 calories, 16.44 g protein

When you look at the numbers, it's true that by weight nuts have more protein. But they also have a lot more calories. If you wanted to consume a caloric equivalent of 1 cup of whole nuts you would have to eat 33 cups of cauliflower (which would give you 2 times more protein) or 2.5 cups of lentils (which would give you almost 1.5 times the protein). 
 
By no means, I'm telling you to stop eating nuts. I love nuts and eat them everyday, but I eat them in moderation and don't treat them as my major source of protein.
 
Sources and additional reading: 
http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/
http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Fe-Ge/Food-Preservatives.html
http://www.superfoodliving.com/raw-cacao-powder
http://www.healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrition-gelato-compared-ice-cream-2157.html
http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy731
http://www.winefolly.com/tutorial/sulfites-in-wine/
http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/cheers-to-drinking-warm-lemon-water
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/chocolate/high-percentage-cacao-chocolate.asp 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24276-2004Jun8.html
http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=163 
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Ahead of tomorrow's celebrations are you already wondering what's more worth it: pie or wine? Are you planning your post-Thanksgiving workout? 
Follow these 5 easy steps to make the best out of your Thanksgiving feast without feeling guilty or worried about weight gain. 
1. Eat your veggies... see more first, protein second, then if you still have room, go for whatever you want. There I said it. Enjoy every little bit. 
2. Before you eat or drink anything pause for a second and ask yourself: "Is this food/drink going to make me feel better, or worse, than when I started?" 
If you always overeat and then feel like crap the next day, or get gassy and bloated, maybe it's time to change things up a bit. Remember that food is suppose to be about feeling good, not being good. Finish your meal feeling better than when you started both physically (without belly aches) and mentally (without the guilt or regret).  
3. Drink a TON of water. Aim for at least half of your body weight in ounces, more if you plan on drinking alcohol. Hydration helps with digestion of both food and alcohol. Also, the day after, it helps with getting rid of what you just consumed. 
4. Go for a walk before dinner - I know it's a busy time for everybody but how about spending some time with family outside, playing ball with your kids or taking your dog for a brisk walk. 
5. If you want to drink, drink. Don't ponder about it. Often times, indecision causes more frustration and stress than anything else. Have a glass of wine or beer, enjoy it and move on. Same goes for food. Just remember a few too many drinks plus second serving of pie guarantees a 2-3 am wake up call. 
On that note, Happy Thanksgiving everybody! 
P.s. If you need a Post-Thanksgiving Green Smoothie recipe - check out this one https://www.powernutritionct.com/single-post/2016/1/20/Postthanksgiving-immune-boosting-green-smoothie 
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Cravings are a lot like an ocean tide. 
They come and go, they ebb and flow. They can rise with an incredible force, but if you're able to wait it out, they will eventually subside.
When you're facing a craving but you're mentally able to refocus – say by eating something healthy and... see more on your plan, or focusing your mind on a challenging task – the craving will go away. 
The more you can refocus and move through the craving, the more in frequent ear cravings will become. By the same token, the more you give in to a craving, the more frequently others will arise. 
One of the most effective techniques to stop cravings and improve your mindfulness is urge surfing. 
Urge surfing is a lot like riding the waves on the surfboard, only you're doing it in your head.
When a craving hits, notice it and don't try to immediately distract yourself or argue with it.
Surf the urge rather than fight it.
Let it come, and then write it until it subsides.
Accept the craving – Just don't act on it. 
You can compare this concept of urge surfing to the practice of meditation. Your thoughts, feelings and emotions will come and go as you meditate, but the purpose is not to try to stop them, or shut them down, or act on them. The purpose is to recognize that they are what they are, and let them go. 
In addition to urge surfing you can enlist the number of tactics that I've written about in THIS article. 
Do you need help getting started? Has everything you've tried failed? Let me help. Shoot me an e-mail and let's talk. 
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One way or another, all of us have experienced bloating at some point in our lives. Some of us, especially women, experience it pretty regularly, making it an unpleasant part of our daily routines. The big question is: can we prevent it, or at least minimize it? The answer: absolutely. 
This... see more article summarizes natural ways to prevent and deal with bloat (that is not a result of a medical condition or disease).
Please note that any lasting bloat, recurring constipation and severe pain in the abdominal area should be taken seriously and consulted with a gastroenterologist immediately. 
Some of the biggest culprits that can result in bloating are: big meals, fatty, processed and salty foods, stress, fizzy drinks, sedentary life, menstruation, menopause, depression, diabetes, alcohol, antibiotics, dehydration, parasites, poor gut micro biome, yeast overgrowth (candida), birth control pills, pregnancy, medications, constipation, too little or too much fiber, Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, inflammation of the colon, IBS, Crohn's Disease, and hormonal changes. Often times, combination of factors will lead to bloating and gas so keep reading to learn how you can prevent it. 
Follow these guidelines and natural ways to prevent, or at least minimize, bloat: 
Avoid fatty meals, which slow down stomach emptying and increase chances of acid reflux. 
Eat small, frequent meals - overstuffing your stomach can lead to reflux which brings on bloating.
Try not to lie down after meals (especially big) - gravity helps prevent acid reflux. 
Finish all your meals before it gets dark - digestion slows down once the sun sets. Good rule is to "breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess, and dinner like a pauper". 
Limit eating out, and if you do, make it a lunch on a brunch date so you have more time to digest your food before you hit the bed. 
Exercise regularly to promote regular bowel movements. 
Reduce consumption of processed foods which lack nutrients, fiber and are loaded with salt, preservatives and added flavors. 
Avoid acid blockers - while they may be safe to use once in a while, overtime acid-suppressing drugs can cause bloat and change the pH of your stomach (from acid to alkaline) turning  it into a good environment for bacteria to settle and multiply.
Minimize occurrence of aerophagia (swelling air) by eating slowly and mindfully, not drinking during meals (drink before or after), avoiding carbonated beverages and spitting out gum. Also, quit smoking, which beside being detrimental to health (causes inflammation in the lining of your stomach and intestines, and kills beneficial gut bacteria), leads to inhaling and swallowing a lot of air. 
Drink at least 2 liters of water a day and consume water rich fruits and vegetables. Monitor your urine color - your pee should be clear to light yellow. 
Minimize caffeine, dairy and alcohol - they can worsen reflux and bloating. 
Go easy on salt (processed, pre-packaged, long shelf live and restaurant/take out meals are highest in salt) - salt can cause water retention, making you look and feel bloated. 
If you do have alcohol, make sure to drink lots of water between drinks to help flush the alcohol out of your system and prevent dehydration and bloating. Also, try to limit consumption to no more than one drink a day, avoiding binge-drinking. 
Minimize or eliminate carbonated water and other fizzy drinks. 
Avoid artificial sweeteners at all cost. Studies show artificial sweeteners increase insulin levels, as insulin is released as a response to sweetness not calories, creating more sugar cravings. Researchers have consistently found a correlation between drinking diet soda and being overweight. 
Moderate consumption of sugar alcohols (mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)) often added to low-carb or sugar-free products such as protein shakes and nutrition bars. Excessive intake can cause bloating and diarrhea. 
Ginger tea has been proven to have a soothing effect on the digestive system, helping reduce gas and bloating. 
Warm water with lemon drank first thing in the morning has been proved to help move things along, and having a detoxifying effect on the liver. 
Safeguard your liver - main detoxification organ - by avoiding medications such as acetaminophen and tricyclic antidepressants. 
Aim for 25 to 30 g of fiber a day. Be careful of eating large amounts of fiber in one sitting (especially before you go to bed) - spread your intake throughout the day and try to keep your fiber intake the same. Additionally double up on your water consumption to prevent clogs. 
Although very healthy and potent cancer-fighters high fiber foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, beans and legumes can cause gas - if you are not used to eating them, start with a small amount, and slowly build up your tolerance; when serving them add lemon juice to them to stimulate digestive enzymes; additionally soaking beans overnight before cooking helps too. 
If you feel your bowels are getting backed up, and start to become really bloated, try a liquid diet for a day, drinking primarily water, green veggie juices and bone broth. 
Avoid antibiotics. 
If an antibiotic is necessary, request a narrow-spectrum one, which will minimize damage to your micro biome by targeting a narrower range of bacteria. 
Always take probiotics during, and at least one month after, an antibiotic treatment. Take the probiotic dose at a time as far away from the antibiotics as possible. 
Eat probiotics foods to support your gut bacteria - foods high in fiber and resistant starch are especially important when on antibiotics. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi feed your gut bacteria as well as provide additional live microbes themselves. 
Eliminate sugary, starchy foods - yeast species love sugar, causing yeast to thrive and lead to test infections and contributing to microbial imbalance induced by antibiotics. 
Minimize inflammation in your body (including colon and intestines) by eating the best-quality food you can afford; aim for organic produce to minimize exposure to pesticides, responsibly farmed animal protein and wild caught, sustainably harvested fish and shellfish. 
Consume lots of anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines), flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts as well as green leafy vegetables, bok choy, celery, beets, broccoli, tomatoes, olive oil, and fruits (especially berries, tart cherries and oranges). Sip on bone broth and add turmeric spice to your recipes. 
Lactose intolerance is a common reason for gas and bloating - try avoiding any dairy for 2 weeks and see if your symptoms improve. 
Manage your stress levels. 
If you have any questions about how to make appropriate dietary changes to minimize bloat, don't hesitate to contact me here. 
Reference: 
"The Bloat Cure - 101 Natural Solutions for Real and Lasting Relief" by Robynne Chutkan, M.D., FASGE 
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The goal of this article is to provide you with key points to be aware of when it comes to perimenopause and menopause so, in a natural way, you can prevent, or at least minimize, some of the negative issues and experiences that can arise during this challenging time.
This article has been... see more written as a collaboration between myself and Ari Karp - owner and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Train 2 Xcel. 
Key points on menopause: 
Official menopause (ovaries stop producing eggs, hormone fluctuation is over; estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels are low) is marked on the 365th day from the date of your last menstrual period. 
In the U.S. about 85% of women will have entered menopause by age 52.
Menopause symptoms include, but are not limited to, hot flashes, heart palpitations, cardiovascular disease (CVD), osteoporosis, acne, hair loss, wrinkles, weight gain, moodiness, irritability, brain fog, loss or irregularity of periods, vaginal dryness/infections, incontinence/urinary tract infections, decline in sex drive and insomnia.
Bone loss and risk of cardiovascular disease are two of the most significant threats resulting from decreased estrogen. 
Increase in abdominal fat in perimenopausal women has everything to do with dropping estrogen levels. Dropping estrogen will not only decrease metabolism and increase appetite, it will also cause weight gain, with that weight tending to stick more around the waist. 
Drop in estrogen can also lead to sleepless nights and elevated stress levels which do not help with the fat storage situation. 
Every woman’s experience of menopause is unique. Symptoms can be influenced by many factors such as cultural, social, regional, ethnical, genetical, reproductive, lifestyle or diet related. 
Symptoms of menopause start several years earlier. This transitional period is called perimenopause and it starts between the ages of 35 to 45.
Perimenopause is characterized by uneven rises and falls in estrogen levels, that can lead to up to a 3% loss of bone mineral density per year. It is crucial for women as early as their late 30’s to not ignore any symptoms, and start taking preventive measures against osteoporosis. Protecting yourself by prioritizing good nutrition, exercise and stress management. 
Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, smoking, hysterectomies and living in higher altitudes can lead to an earlier onset of perimenopause and menopause. 
Average length of perimenopause is 4 years.
When natural ways of dealing with symptoms (exercise, diet, herbal supplements, acupuncture, stress management) are not effective, for those with significant and debilitating menopausal and perimonopausal symptoms, doctors may recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy.Talk to your doctor to find out more and share your symptoms as early as they arise. 
Nutritional and lifestyle applications:  
Don’t wait to make dietary changes before it’s too late - women get affected by hormone fluctuations as early as in their 30’s. 
Consume a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs that will provide you with optimal amounts of vitamins and minerals needed for your body to stay healthy. 
Consume foods from the allium family (onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives) which can protect against CVD, protect bones and inhibit cancer development. 
Eat regular meals. 
Make sure you eat enough protein to maintain and/or built lean mass and help control cravings. For women exercising regularly (especially strength-training) I recommend 0.8-1g per pound of body weight. 
Consumption of cruciferous vegetables tends to help with fluctuating estrogen levels.
To preserve bone mass upon menopause get adequate sunlight to attain vitamin D and incorporate foods rich in bone building calcium such as green leafy veggies, legumes and nuts/seeds. 
Get your blood checked often to monitor for any other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 
Moderate intake of meat, poultry, fish, dairy, alcohol, caffeine and salt. 
Avoid processed foods, refined grains and added sugar - beside providing no nutritional value, they can lead to a decrease in bone health, increase in systemic inflammation, result in mood swings, fatigue and immune function decrease, between many others. 
Drink plenty of water and herbal tea. 
Manage stress and try to get as much sleep as possible. 
Avoid these hot flash triggers: stress, coffee, spicy foods, alcohol, sugar, citrus fruits, large meals. 
Don’t smoke.
Keep your weight at a healthy range, high BMI can not only be a trigger for hot flashes, it can lead to a development of insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome which further elevates the risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 
Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels - naturally occurring and cardioprotective estradiol declines as women age and put on body fat, putting us at risk for CVD. 
Yoga, acupuncture, massage, meditation and general exercise can help to relieve symptoms of hot flashes. 
Talk to other women - you would be surprised how many women are willing to share their experiences and ways of dealing with their symptoms. It's very important to have a strong network of female doctors, friends and family members who can support you through this difficult time. 
Training applications:  
Aim to exercise at least 5 hours each week - increasing exercise volume can help with fluctuating estrogen levels, beside improving your general health, well being and body composition. 
Performance against great loadings and jump exercises, that is strength training and plyometrics have been shown to have the highest potential for increase in bone mass. 
Progressive load is necessary for new bone growth - make sure yore lifting heavy enough - aim for loads that are higher than those of everyday life. 
Combine strength, plyometrics, cardiovascular and balance training in order to decrease risk factors, symptoms, and prevent falls.  
Don’t underestimate the power of brisk walking as a way to bring down stress hormones and help you burn fat.  
Intense exercise can be a trigger for a hot flash so monitor your symptoms and adjust the intensity accordingly. In other words, listen to your body.
Train to decrease body fat while maintaining (or gaining) lean muscle mass - strength/resistance training supported by proper nutrition is the best way to achieve that. 
Keep in mind that although swimming, cycling and rowing are great for cardiovascular health, they don't do much for bone health. 
Allow your body to fully recover between training sessions. Overtraining can cause stress hormones (such as cortisol) to hike as well as increase inflammation in your body making it harder to lose weight, sleep and manage your symptoms. 
And lastly, and most importantly, participate in activities that make you happy. 
If you have any questions regarding menopause and nutrition, don't hesitate to contact me (here). 
If you have any questions regarding menopause and training, contact Ari here. 
Additional reading:  
http://www.menopause.org 
http://www.aem-sbem.com/media/uploads/12_ABEM585_miolo.pdf
https://www.girlsgonestrong.com/blog/hormones/managing-menopausal-symptoms/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-menopause 
http://strengtheory.com/menopause-and-fitness-sex-differences-part-3/ 
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I know I write a lot about developing healthy eating habits for sustainable fat loss but today I wanted to talk about habits that lead to weight gain.
On one side, this post may be helpful for those of you who are trying to put on weight, or most likely, lean mass. Adding mass can only... see more happen when you are in calorie surplus situation i.e. you eat more than you burn. 
On the other side, this list can be useful in identifying some of the habits that may be preventing you from losing fat.  
So here we go. 
10 habits that make us fat: 
 1. Eating when not hungry. 
Hunger avoidance is one of the best strategies to put on weight. If you are never hungry, it's most likely because you are in calorie surplus (i.e. storage mode). 
2. Consuming large amounts of liquid calories. 
Best way to bulk up is to consume a large amount of calories in liquid form (which is not as filling as solid food).
Think shakes, juices, smoothies, sodas, alcohol. 
3. Sitting (and working) a lot.  
Sitting and sedentary lifestyle are not the only risk factors. Latest studies show that the amount of hours you work per week is directly related to the amount of extra body fat you carry. 
4. Eating meals that are high in carbs and fat, and low in protein. 
Think dishes like pastas, pizza, cakes, donuts, pastries, cookies. Lots of fat and carbs with minimal protein 
5. Drinking more than 1 alcoholic drink a day. 
Alcohol truly is empty calories. Drink a lot every day and it will eventually catch up with you. 
6. Eating fast.
Are you always the first one on the table to finish your meal? Do you never bring leftovers home? It takes about 15-20 minutes for your brain to receive a "full" signal, so slow down and enjoy every bite. 
7. Snacking....a lot. 
I've seen this numerous times where my client's snacks add up to be more than their meals, and they don't even know it. 
8. Adding sauces, cream, butter and oils to everything 
Fat is the most calorie dense (yet the least filling) macronutrient therefore it's the easiest one to overeat on. Cream in your coffee, coconut oil in your smoothie, fried eggs, dressing on the salad, mayo in the sandwich, handful of nuts, creamy sauce on your meat, roasted veggies with oodles of olive oil, all of those fat calories quickly add up. 
9. Skip vegetables at most meals 
Without vegetables which add a lot of bulk to the diet, you may find yourself more hungry and eating more overall. 
10. Eating out a lot 
Restaurant foods are designed to taste better so that we keep on coming back for more. Better flavor usually means more fat, more sugar and more salt. Perfect combos for weight gain.  
Can you think of any other habits that lead to weight gain? Share them with me via e-mail or Facebook - would love to hear your feedback! 
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Fall is here, and so far it's been a beautiful one. I know many of my clients and readers are still enjoying their hikes and putting in more rounds of golf. Skiing season is ahead of us and I thought this would be a perfect time to cover healthy snacks for all of your outdoor activities. 
Before... see more we go over specific foods to bring, here are three tips to keep in mind when planning & packing for outdoor activities: 
1. ALWAYS READ FOOD LABELS
Whole, unprocessed foods are always the first choice, but if you are going to go for something packaged, the less ingredients, the better.
Always check for added sugar, it's hidden everywhere these days, even in things that may not taste sweet.
Try to get your energy from naturally occurring sugars first such as those found in fruits, vegetables, nuts or plain dairy before you reach for other snacks.
For packaged foods & snacks, a good rule is to keep the sugar content below 5 g per serving.
Watch for fat content - too much fat will leave you feeling slow, heavy and sleepy, and may severely affect your performance and overall experience.  
2. ENJOY BALANCED SNACKS
You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by putting together snacks that balance out carbs with high quality protein, vegetables and natural fat. 
Natural fats in moderate amounts, such as avocado, walnuts and almond butter, are especially helpful for providing sustainable energy, reducing sugar cravings, and increasing satiation. 
3. BRING PLENTY OF ZERO CALORIE LIQUIDS 
For 0-2 hour outdoor activities water should be sufficient. Adding cut up fruit such as limes, lemons, oranges can add a ton of flavor without the extra calories. 
If it's really hot or humid, and you will be sweating for an extended amount of time, adding electrolytes to your water is always a good idea.
If you are trying to lose weight Smart Water is your go-to for electrolytes without the calories. But, if you want something with flavor, yet still low calorie, these Nuun tables will do the trick. 
WHAT TO PACK FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES 
fresh fruit, raw or slightly salted (if sweating a lot) nuts;
trail mix (avoid ones with cranberries and added oils);
greek yogurt with frozen or fresh berries and cinnamon;
shelf-stable protein shake such as Orgain Grass Fed Protein;
nitrate-free turkey, mustard, greens, tomato, cucumber sandwich on sprouted or whole grain bread such as Ezekiel;
peanut/almond butter sandwich with a sliced banana and cinnamon on sprouted or whole grain bread such as Ezekiel;
low sugar, high protein bars such as Garden of Life Fit Bar ;
hard boiled eggs with sliced veggies and/or fruit;
low sugar jerky or meat-based bars such as EPIC bar ;
fresh fruit with low-fat cheese sticks or low-sugar jerky;
Turkey & Quinoa mini quiches - recipe HERE 
homemade no bake Larabar copycat energy bars - recipe HERE
homemade Flourless Protein Shake Cookies - recipe HERE
WHAT TO AVOID
On the golf course: hotdogs, chips, most granola, snack bars and energy bars, candy bars, sodas, cookies, muffins, other baked goods, alcohol. 
While skiing: waffles, donuts, hot dogs, burgers, fries, cakes, pastries, chips, most granola bars, ice cream, candy bars, alcohol. 
While hiking: anything high in fat such as pastries, donuts, fries, chips. 
What are your favorites snacks and foods to bring when you are active outdoors? 
Share them with me and my readers by email or Facebook.   
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Fruit juices and smoothies have been flooding the supermarkets lately, marketed & sold as healthy options. But are they really? 
I'm going to share some tips on what to look out for when making or buying them, and how to make the best out of your liquid nutrition. 
Just to... see more clarify the definitions here, when I talk about juices, I mean blends that have only fruit, veggies or both in them.
When I talk about smoothies, I'm talking about blends of fruits, veggies or both, with a variety of other things added such as protein powders, yogurt, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, chocolate, cocoa powder, maca powder, etc. 
100% fruit juices, V8's, and other fruit blends
The biggest misconception about fruit juices (including 100% ones) is the fact that most people think they get the same benefits from blending fruits and vegetables as eating them in a whole form. WRONG.  
There are two most important differences:
1) when you blend fruits and vegetables you destroy their "fiber lattice"* which has a profound effect on blood sugar (more on it below); 
2) blending or juicing exposes fruits and vegetables to heat, and air - both of which lead to oxidation and loss of many valuable minerals and vitamins; 
*Fruits & veggies "fiber lattice" is composed of soluble and insoluble fiber that slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, blunting insulin (necessary for blood sugar regulation) and dopamine (reward hormone) responses. When you blend the fruit and vegetables, you shred that fiber lattice, leaving all that sugar free to hit your system as fast as a piece of candy. 
Fruits without their protective lattice are like Miracle-Gro for your fat cells.
Having said that, here's a list of tips for future purchases. 
Quick tips for buying or making fruit & veggie juices: 
avoid any pre-bottled fruit or vegetables juices (including 100%) that have more than 5 g of sugar per serving - always read the labels (fruit juice bottles usually have more than 1 serving so you must multiply the sugar grams x the servings size to get the sugar content in the whole bottle); 
if you get a juice from a juice bar, make sure they use cold-processingand drink the juice soon after you get it to avoid oxidation and loss of vitamins and minerals;
when ordering juices or making your own, stick to mostly veggies (ask for celery, kale, spinach, cucumbers, etc.) and one serving of low sugar fruit such as apples, lemons, berries versus bananas, grapes or oranges. 
Smoothies 
Guys, believe me when I say this, it's SO easy to make a smoothie that has 500-600 calories, even a 1000 calories.....
Just check out this "All-in-one breakfast smoothie" recipe from "Health" magazine.
This baby has 523 calories and whooping 77 g of carbs, most of them coming from simple sugars - that's more carbs and sugar than in 2 Snickers bars.
Not to mention that this smoothie has 22 g of fat - that's as much fat as in 2 McDonald's cheeseburgers. And only 9 g of protein so less than in 1 cheeseburger. 
The only way I can describe this smoothie is a calorie, fat and sugar bomb. 
Quick tips for buying or making lowest calorie, low sugar homemade smoothies:   
whatever fruit you are using try to use an equivalent of 1 piece of fruit, so 1 banana, 1 peach, 1 apple, 1/2 cup berries. You can mix and match but stick to the portion size as if it was 1 fruit only; 
don't add any other sweeteners such as honey, agave or even zero calorie sweeteners like stevia; 
add green vegetables if you can, spinach is pretty much undetectable; 
add protein powder or collagen; protein will slow down the absorption of sugars into the blood; 
for weight loss stick to water, green tea, black coffee, unsweetened plant-based milks as liquid; 
for weigh gain, smoothies are one of the easiest way to pack add more calories without feeling too full, so if that's your goal, you can add things like coconut oil, peanut butter, oatmeal, oat bran, sweet potatoes, etc. 
add super spices like cinnamon (helps with blood sugar), turmeric/black pepper (anti-inflammatory) or ginger (antioxidant). 
Looking for a healthy recipe? 
Click here for one of my favorite immune-boosting smoothies. 
Have more questions about any of this stuff? Let me know, I would love to help you out.
You can reach me via email or Facebook. 
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Monika Nowak, Nutrition Coach
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