How to Address Stubborn Weight Loss: Guest Post

My friend and respected colleague, Health Coach (and Business Coach/CPA extraordinaire) Jessica Mishra, of Beaming with Health, has some important things to say, particularly around a topic that her and I are both very passionate about: answering that omnipresent question of, “why can’t I lose weight? I am doing everything right…right?” I am honored to have her as a guest writer on this weeks’ post:

Jessica

Do you feel like you are doing almost everything right when it comes to your health habits? You are eating well for the most part and exercising regularly. For some reason, though, you can’t seem to reach the optimal weight you feel your body should be at. I have been through this myself, and I hear about this from clients. Let’s look at a few areas that are important to address when it comes to weight loss that do not directly relate to food or exercise.

Toxicity

Did you know that your body does this nifty little thing to protect you when you have excess toxicity in your body? It “does you a solid” by storing toxins in your fat cells. This is actually a helpful function that the body is performing, but it doesn’t seem so helpful when all you see is excess weight on your body. What can be done?

Well, basically anything that assists the body with the natural detoxification process. Saunas (especially far infrared saunas), clean eating programs, Epsom salt baths, and castor oil packs are just a few things that can be done to support the liver and the detoxification process. Teas like milk thistle or dandelion root also provide excellent support for the liver. Consistent exercise or movement will make sure your lymph system continues to move so that toxins can be removed on a regular basis.  Even if you can’t get to the gym, at least have some kind of movement every day (even a nice walk).

Pay attention to your body and see if you have some of the common signs of toxicity. If you have constipation, bad body odor or breath, fatigue, a coated white tongue, acne or other skin conditions, or headaches these can all be signs of excess toxicity. In the case that these symptoms persist, it would be good to work with a holistic practitioner such as a Naturopathic doctor, health coach, or integrative MD. Prolonged excess toxicity can lead to chronic conditions such as cancer down the line, so it is important to address it early on.

Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

Oh precious adrenal glands (small glands which sit on top of the kidneys) you have such a job to do. Especially when we are stressed! The adrenal glands produce cortisol. Cortisol is often known as the stress hormone. When we are stressed out or our bodies are undergoing a form of stress that perhaps we are not aware of, excess cortisol is produced. Do you know what excess cortisol in the body means? It means fat storage around the midsection. No thank you, we will pass on that please!

The adrenal glands can become fatigued over time when exposed to too much stress. This can come from regular stress (working too hard, worrying, anxiety), but it can also come from lack of sleep, poor diet, food allergies, and skipping meals. When adrenal fatigue has set in, it is almost impossible to lose excess weight no matter what we do.

So what can be done? The number one thing to heal adrenals is to remove the provoking agent. Easier said than done, but take your best stab at it. Try to incorporate stress management practices like yoga or meditation. Leave work early when you can. Address food allergies and clean up your diet where possible. Reduce alcohol, sugar, and caffeine because these items do not get along well with your adrenals. Eat regular meals. When you skip meals, your body produces more cortisol to get your blood sugar back up.

There are several key nutrients, which support the adrenals, but in the interest of not writing the world’s longest blog post—eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and high-quality meats, amongst other nutrient-dense whole foods. Finally, the best thing you can do to heal the adrenal glands, is to get more rest. That’s right! Sleep is so important. If you can get to bed around the same time every night and get 7-8 hours of sleep that will really help. Sleep in a bit, too, on the weekends when you can.

Emotional Considerations

The mind is a very powerful thing. It can even influence the way your body functions. Sometimes excess weight can be present as a form of protection or cushion from something you are afraid of. It can also stick around when something in your life feels stuck. Perhaps you are in a job that you hate, or maybe you need to leave a toxic relationship. It is amazing what can happen with your body when you push forward through a difficult decision that you have been resisting.

I also want to say that there are many things in life that nourish us besides food. Often when one of those areas is absent or we feel empty, food steps in to comfort us. Again this is easier said than done, but if you feel an absence in one of these core areas (i.e. spirituality, relationships, a social network, or a fulfilling career) take steps where you can to make this part of your life whole again. Call on others for support when necessary. You are the creator of your own life, and the first step is setting the intention to get what you want.

Sleep

I touched on sleep earlier, but I want to say a bit more about it here. Let’s tie some of the above concepts together. When you are asleep, this is when your body detoxifies. If you do not get enough sleep, your body does not have ample time to remove toxins from your body. Hello fat storage (as discussed above).

In addition, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body looks to quick sources of energy in the form of caffeine and sugar. Thus, cravings feel much stronger when your body is tired, and it becomes more challenging to make smart food decisions. Further, when you are on what I call the “blood sugar roller coaster”, your metabolism takes a hit. You know what I mean, right? Coffee in the morning followed by mid-morning crash. Insert sugar or delicious baked good. Another crash mid-afternoon, more coffee or sugar, and then you feel depleted by the end of the day. When our blood sugar is constantly doing this rise and fall dance, our body goes into panic mode. Once again we get excess production of cortisol and fat storage.  The best thing to keep blood sugar balanced is to lessen things that spike and drop it like refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and alcohol.  It is also very important to eat regular meals. That means no skipping breakfast or lunch no matter how busy you are.

Thank you to Amy Griffith for allowing me to do a guest blog post. I would love to hear from you! Are there areas discussed above that you feel like you could use support with? Connect with Jessica.

Get Fit, Lose Fat, Eat Lots! Learn about it…

Stephanie Atwood, founder of Go Wow Team, is one of my idols. At just over 60 years of age, she is a wonderful inspiration to any woman as an entrepreneur, fitness coach and elite runner, mentor, teacher and human being.

Stephanie and I are excited about our second round of our program Get Fit Lose Fat Eat Lots! The first go around a few months ago was a lot of fun and very successful. We recorded a 15  minute teaser to give those of you interested more information, and we will be hosting an in-person information session on June 13 (please join the Meetup here to RSVP and for detailed info). We will be outlining the program before you have to commit (the program officially starts on June 20) and there will be snacks. At least come and eat with us!  :  )

From the great results that Stephanie and I have seen, Stephanie wrote the best selling first book in a series, Belly Fat Blowout on Amazon, which I consulted on and designed a 3-day cleanse for. Stephanie and I will be using this best seller along with our just published Belly Fat Blowout, Part 2, as our study guides for our upcoming group program.

In addition to the written material, the books offer links to educational handouts and templates, and MP3 downloads and links to weekly 30-minute recorded phone calls. For our group members, we offer additional support calls, three in person support group meetings, journal reviews, and a private Facebook Group Page, just for members to post their questions, concerns and discussion points.

This program isn’t some quick fix, deprivation driven diet plan (if you know Stephanie and me).  : )  It combines healthy eating (and wonderful recipes, some of which are pictured below) with moderate movement producing marvelous, lasting results.

chocolate tart

 

curry soup

img_9342

 

salmon salad

Here is what some of our past participants have said:

“I would give this program an A+ for the support, depth of knowledge of Stephanie and Amy and of course the results.” - Leti D

“an informative, eye opening, educational program that gave me the tools I needed to learn how to eat and workout for optimal metabolic health.” – Michaela R

All of you have access to the public group page at Facebook. The link is http://facebook.com/get-fit-success-team

Group participants will have access to a private group page, only for paid members, where Stephanie and I will respond to your questions and concerns, only available to our immediate group. We hope you can join us!

To good health and happiness,

Amy Griffith, Certified Nutrition Consultant and Health Coach, and Stephanie Atwood, Certified Coach and Trainer

rainbow+eat

To Naturopathic Medicine…and beyond!

Yesterday was a big day. For me. And sometimes we need those days…just for ourselves. Even if you have kids. Make time.

As we all grow and learn, sometimes changing things about ourselves for the better can be difficult. I am judgmental of others and have looked deep within myself lately to answer “why”. Sometimes I judge others because of something that I fear about myself. And these are usually superficial things I judge. I have been trying to look inward to see how I might let the need for me to do this fall away. When I judge others’ for flaws that I don’t carry, however, I now try to think to myself, “I am not that person, I don’t know what it is like to be them, what they have been through in life, etc.” But I still also think, “Why aren’t they trying to be the best them they can be?” This is where I usually judge. So, I have made a decision to work hard to step back and really embrace people for who they are, for their struggles AND successes! And, if approached by someone to help them deal with these flaws through eating more healthfully, I can use my own strengths and weaknesses to relate to them, work with them and support them to find their best selves. Bottom line is, I am aware of it, and I am working on it. I am learning to EMBRACE people for who they are, find the goodness in them and in doing so, I hope to be a better friend, partner, family member, community member and health coach. The following really resonated with me and it’s WORTH THE READ:

From Deepak Chopra, MD:  “The Hidden Side of Judgment”

Not every person gets to the point in their life when they question the value of judging against others. After all, society depends upon a healthy regard for the difference between right and wrong. Many people, perhaps the vast majority, are content with a system where rules are meant to be obeyed, lawbreakers are punished, and so on. But the mechanism of justice is not the whole of life. When I was young, I was struck by a passing remark from the lips of a spiritual teacher: ‘Where love is not, there must be laws.’

At a certain point, a new and different kind of view begins to oppose our certainty that we have a right to judge others. Insight begins to dawn. It’s not the same insight for everyone, yet I’d guess that something like the following begins to make sense:

Judge not lest you be judged.

We condemn in others what we are afraid to see in ourselves.

Blame is the projection of guilt.

Us-versus-them thinking is destructive to both sides of the equation.

How would you label such thoughts? If you are a rigid adherent to “an eye for an eye,” these insights are corrosive; they must be rejected to keep your black-and-white moral code intact. But there’s a reason, despite the intricacies and cruelties of the system of law, why the spiritual side of our nature is attracted to non-judgment. We want to love and be loved. At a deeper level, we realize that all suffering is ultimately related to self-judgment. Seeing yourself as fallen from grace, you feel justified in treating everyone else as fallen, to one degree or another.

Yet at a certain, highly unpredictable point, the urge arises to move beyond self-judgment, and when that urge arises, the need to judge others begins to decrease. There is an evolutionary impulse in everyone, or so the world’s wisdom traditions teach us. We believe in our higher or better selves. We want to reconnect with the soul. The selfish demands of the ego wear us down and begin to seem pointless. Whatever the trigger, moving beyond judgment is evolutionary. A breakthrough is possible, after which a path opens up.

Walking this path transforms the entire person, over a period of time, and leads to many stages of realization. At one stage you may want to rebel against rules and authority. That can be a satisfying stance, but eventually it is seen as untenable. At another stage you may feel humbled and therefore more judgmental against yourself than ever before. That, too, is just a stage. Ahead are various roles we attempt to play—martyr, saint, ascetic, child of God, child of Nature, etc. It would be too ironic to judge against any of these steps in personal growth; they are convincing while they last and rather empty once they are finished. Whatever the way stations that you experience on the path, the goal isn’t the role you play; it’s fulfillment within yourself.

Fulfillment is all-inclusive, which is why it is often labeled as unity consciousness. You exclude nothing from your being; there is a common thread running through you and everyone else. At that point, when empathy is effortless, you have succeeded in something that is at once very desirable and very rare. You have transcended the war between good and evil, light and darkness. Only in that state does the war end, and the perplexing issues around judgment are solved at last. Short of complete fulfillment within yourself, you cannot help but participate in duality, because the entire play of right and wrong, good and bad, light and darkness, depends upon self-division. Your ego will persist until the very end in labeling A as good and B as bad, for the simple reason that duality requires choices. As long as you prefer one thing over another, a mechanism will sneak in that says, ‘If I like it, it must be good. If I don’t like it, it must be bad.’

Fortunately, even as the game of judgment keeps society running smoothly, constantly dictating our likes and dislikes, our loves and hates, human beings are born to transcend. We can go beyond the setup of society, the ego and judgment itself. In that innate capacity for seeking the higher self, every hope and promise offered by the world’s great spiritual teachers rests.”

I am writing this in response to my own reflection on yesterday, the big ME day. We all need a me day, and should not feel bad for taking one. I went to visit my dear friend Maureen in Sepastopol, stopping off in Petaluma to purchase seeds from The Seed Bank, (what an amazing place), then lunch at a scrumptious Indian/Mexican fusion restaurant where we shared a spinach salad with feta, tomatoes and veggie curry on top, followed by a seasonal special: fresh crab and pumpkin enchiladas – a warming and hearty dish. So tasty and an interesting combo.

Looks like a regular ol’ bank, eh? LOOK CLOSER! Heirloom seeds galore!

So many optons. I am not a huge melon fan, but man…so many melon varietals! We got such amazing items as bulls blood beets, watermelon radish and the bitter lettuces…FUN!

Pumpkin and crab enchiladas – a lada it.

That afternoon, my friend Maureen had to work (she is an Ayurvedic Practitioner at The Dhyana Center in Sebastopol (more on that later)) so I went for a little drive out to Bodega Bay, watched as the thick fog stood in front of me as I meandered amongst some of the west coasts’ most beautiful farmland and made my way back inland after some quiet time in the fog.

Hanging with Mr. Seagull

The Dhyana Center is wonderful; a safe place to visit for Ayurvedic healing and other health sciences. Maureen referred me to a clinic session that evening, and offered a treatment session for massage with all kinds of intense goodness. Cupping, hot rocks, gua sha’s, etc. I didn’t know much about these tools or techniques prior to the session, but with numbness happening off and on on my left side and with everything that I have been learning in school, I was excited to learn more…and it makes sense to me. Read MORE ABOUT MAUREEN! http://www.dhyanacenter.com/dhyana-center/practitioners/mo-washburn.html. And yes, she is really IS just as happy as she appears in her photo.   : )

The morning view from Maureen’s room. It’s hard to wake up on the wrong side of the bed when you wake up to a view like this…

Needless to say, I didn’t really mean to book myself solid for so many healing sessions in one 24 hour period, but my day proceeded as follows:

  • Acupuncture at the Berkeley Acupuncture Project (a favorite spot…and so affordable!)
  • Appointment with my Primary Care Physician in Oakland to ask why I have been feeling crazy and tired in the morning after 8 hours of sleep, but awake in the evening after a long day filled with activity. Question: Why do I feel this way and what can I do to help it? Answer: Just get a bit more exercise. I feel for MD’s. They don’t have a lot of time to meet with each patient. It’s just not the model, I suppose. And I wanted to compare these two caregivers…
  • First appointment with Dr. Sara Knuth, 2 & 1/2 hours later she addressed me with, “So I think this is what is going on with you: adrenal fatigue. And I have some great tools to give you to try out…”  Your adrenals glands, above your kidneys, are chiefly responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress through the synthesis of corticosteroids such as cortisol (your stress hormone) and catecholamines such as epinephrine. Mine are apparently a bit tired and overworked. AS for Dr. Knuth, she was great. I felt listened too, and it was a great example of how a caregiver should mediate a conversation with a patient or client. I also highly recommend my deeply respected colleague Dr. Jennifer Strider (who has helped continuously with my care) of Simple Family Health, for all of you East Bay residents, and Dr. Elspeth Seddig or Dr. Laura Figoski if you live in San Francisco.
  • Time for bed, and to wake up to a new awareness of my gifts, my strengths and successes, weaknesses and failures, that will help me to be the best me, who can hopefully help many new you’s be the best you’s in the future through Embrace Health & Nutrition.

We are all works in progress, and we should be glad for this freedom to grow and evolve. EMBRACE THE MOST EMBRACEABLE YOU!

The RAINBOW Connection

Taste the REAL rainbow

Since there is a new Muppet movie out, I thought I would dedicate this short but sweet post about eating a RAINBOW of fresh, whole foods to our dear friend Kermit the Frog. I grew up loving the Muppets (I totally watched Muppets Take Manhattan a couple of weeks ago) and as I read the lyric, “Someday we’ll find it. The Rainbow Connection. The lovers, the dreamers and me” I think of how many wonderful natural foods there are out there to explore and make up new recipes with. The Frog knows his shizz.

Here are some of my favorite foods from ALL colors of the RAINBOW. Try to pick something from every color throughout your week!

Mother Nature rocks my world with those colors.

Antioxidants to the rescue!

Betacarotene.

Can’t BEET its nutrients

Add to water and its a great liver stimulant…

Nature’s butter…

Radishes. Very refreshing.

My favorite way to cook it? In moussaka.