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Monday, June 28, 2010

Think Before You Drink

Drinking high quality water is vital to our health and wellness. A gallon of high quality water costs about three times as much as a gallon of gasoline. However, many people show more concern and spend more on what's going into their cars than what's going into their bodies.

When it comes to finding the cleanest water, many people fail to realize that not all waters are created equal.The four BEST brands are Evian, Ice Age, Biota and Fiji. What makes these waters different? A small number on the back of the bottle listing their "Total Dissolved Solids" (sometimes listed at TDS) which is over 300ppm in just about all four brands. Total Dissolved Solids reflects the amount of trace minerals in water. The higher the number of trace minerals, the healthier the water. These trace minerals give your body vital nutrients that are essential for your hydration, digestion, elimination and even brain function. In comparison, softer waters such as Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead are extremely low in TDS, and fail to hydrate us as efficiently as higher quality brands (in fact, many people complain that they can drink and drink Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead without ever truly feeling hydrated). Other brands, such as Aquafina, have even been proven to be nothing more than bottled tap water....who wants to pay to drink that?

Of course drinking bottled water is a touchy subject when it comes to being environmentally conscious, so if you have access to reverse osmosis water (such as a reverse osmosis filter in your home or grocery store) it's much healthier to avoid bottled waters altogether. But if I had to choose between drinking bottled water and drinking tap, I'd take bottled water in a heartbeat, and here's why:

A recent Associated Press investigation recently proved that particles of pharmaceutical drugs including antibiotics, anti-psychotics, sex hormones and mood stabilizers have been found in the tap water of major cities. Although utilities insist that the tap water is safe to drink, scientists fear the long-term results of drinking water containing particles of drugs ranging from ibuprofen to birth control on our long-term health….and so should you!

So, how do drugs get in the water?

The answer is simple. While some of the drug gets absorbed into the body, the rest of the drug is flushed down the toilet and eventually ends up back in our drinking water.

The Associated Press surveyed the drinking water of the nation’s 50 largest cities and found:

In Philadelphia, there were 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problems. Sixty-three pharmaceuticals or byproducts were found in the city's watersheds.

In Southern California, anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications were detected in a portion of the treated drinking water for 18.5 million people.

In Nothern New Jersey’s drinking water they found a metabolized angina medicine and the mood-stabilizing carbamazepine.

In Arizona, three medications were found in drinking water, including an antibiotic.

And what about in San Francisco, where the argument is consistently in SUPPORT of drinking our tap water? A sex hormone was detected.

So what’s the solution for finding clean water to drink? Stick to the four brands I listed above or only drink water from a high-quality reverse-osmosis filter.

Water Dos and Don'ts:

1. DO store water in a dark, cool place and in a glass bottle if possible.
2. DON'T purchase water from smoky plastic containers as these containers leak all sorts of chemicals into your water.
3. If you DO consume water out of a plastic bottle, make sure to keep it out of the sunlight at all times.
4. DO consume water at room temperature, especially when exercising. Cold water will sit in your stomach until it reaches body temperature (creating a very uncomfortable workout).
5. DO drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you are a 200 lb male, drink 100 oz of water daily.
6. DON'T drink water out of re-usable plastic bottles such as Nalgene Bottles. Although durable, they have been found to release harmful chemicals into your water. Stick to glass bottles whenever possible.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sleep Your Way to A Better Body

Learn how early sleep promotes weight loss, muscle gain and relief from chronic stress.

Getting to bed early is one of the best ways to burn fat, tone up, strengthen your immune system and decrease stress in your life. Although many people think that their body gets stronger and leaner while they are working out, the physical changes from working out actually kick into gear when the body is at REST. Unfortunately, the mainstream fitness industry frowns upon the concept of rest, favoring a "no pain, no gain" philosophy where the importance of sleep is rarely examined. Yet as a nation we are more tired than ever, living in a world of over stimulation where caffeine, sugar and carbohydrate addictions are actually considered normal. In fact, we are so over-tired that fatigue currently rates as the number one health complaint doctors hear daily. What does that tell you? We are quite literally a population of people working OUT and never taking time to work IN. And just as important at it is to work out for optimal health and vitality, if we aren't working in and taking time to refuel our bodies and minds, any attempt at getting in shape and feeling physically and emotionally better becomes that much more of a challenge.

Did you know that NOT getting to bed on time can actually make you fat?

Hormonally, in the summertime we are programmed to eat more carbohydrates and store them as fat to prepare for the upcoming winter. In this way, if winter comes and you are still staying up past 10pm, your body will start to think that it is living in a state of eternal summer. As a result, you will store more of the food you eat as fat to continually prepare for winter, which creates chronic stress on your body as well as weight gain. To break this cycle, follow the seasons. As the days get shorter, go to bed earlier and sleep in a little later than you would in the summer (we require anywhere from nine to nine and a half hours of sleep in the winter as opposed to seven to eight hours in the summer).

In addition to weight gain, if you're not getting to bed by 10pm your body's ability to repair and regenerate itself is drastically reduced. This early sleep is so vital for health because between the hours of 10pm and 2am the body is in a state of physical repair, rebuilding broken down muscle tissue from exercise, strengthening the immune system and repairing the damage from a variety of environmental stressors. Closely following this process, from 2am to 6am, the body goes into psychogenic repair, aiding in the recovery and strength of the nervous and hormonal systems and processing the emotions and stresses of the day. In this way, not all sleep is created equal. You will feel and look much better getting a solid eight hours of sleep from 10pm to 6am than you will sleeping from midnight to 8am. So sorry folks, no amount of sleeping in will make up for not getting to bed early.

Here are some easy tips for naturally getting to sleep on time:

1. Lower the lights and avoid the computer and television before going to sleep.

2. Take a bath or shower before getting into bed and avoid using body products (such as lotions, body wash, etc) with synthetic perfumes.

3. Close the shades. Even a very small amount of light on your skin ignites cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for waking you up.

4. Avoid caffeine past 3pm.

5. Avoid sugary desserts and/or wine before going to bed. Sugar increases cortisol levels, which leads to disrupted sleep patterns.

6. Put at least two hours between the last thing you eat and when your head hits the pillow.

If you experience a lack of sleep or just can't get to bed at 10pm due to a hectic work and travel schedule, here are a few suggestions:

1. Get a massage from a person who does not talk during your treatment. This will help not only your muscles but will also provide the perfect environment for a distraction-free nap. I recommend this especially for those of you who work long hours and can't find enough time to sleep at night or for those of you with newborns.

2. Power nap during the day. A power nap lasts only about 10-15 minutes so make sure you set an alarm to wake yourself up before the REM process begins. Recent studies show that these 10-15 minute naps are worth as much as one full hour of early sleep, making them a great way to pay off your sleep debt.

3. Hire a CHEK Practitioner to help you address your sleep pattern abnormalities. Log on to to find a specialist in your area.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seemingly taboo tips for losing the weight and keeping it off for good

It seems like every time I flip through a magazine these days I’m bombarded with the newest and latest and (usually) celebrity-endorsed diet craze. Yet despite all of the information out there about diet and fat loss plans, four in ten Americans will become obese in the next five years. So what does that tell you? Diet crazes and workout fads simply do not work. It’s time to try something smarter, not harder, when it comes to your fat loss plan. So, here are some seemingly taboo tips for losing weight and keeping it off for good.

1. Get off Your Low Fat Diet. Diets don’t work. If you really want to lose fat, it comes down to calories in, calories out and getting enough of the right kind of exercise. Many people wrongly believe that eating fat (even healthy sources) leads to weight gain; however, quite the opposite is true. When you eliminate fat from your diet you actually encourage your body to store fat for survival. In Debra Waterhouse’s book “Outsmarting the Female Fat Cell” she shows that upon dieting, a female’s lipogenic (fat storing) enzymes actually increase and her lipolytic (fat releasing) enzymes decrease, making it increasingly harder to lose weight. Regardless of gender, for the average person, trying to eat normally after dieting leads to weight gain (often more pounds than they tried to drop in the first place). So instead of trying that low-fat diet to lean down this summer, convince your body that you aren’t starving by eating meals that are balanced and healthy AND do the right kind of workouts. Which leads me to…

2. Stop attending aerobics class… Studies prove that people who strength-train have a dramatically faster metabolism and burn calories much more efficiently than people who do only aerobic exercise. The reason is simple. When you continually do aerobic workouts, you train your body to be more and more calorie efficient. But when you want to lose weight, you actually want to be calorie inefficient (think SUV, not Prius). If you want to see proof of too much aerobics making people hold onto body fat, just take a look at some aerobics instructors out there. According to a recent study conducted by the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, the average aerobics instructor has a body fat count of more than 20%, a very high percentage for an athlete. So, if you really want to get lean, ditch the aerobics classes and start an intelligent strength-training program. It will encourage your body to create muscle, which in turn burns through calories even when you are at rest, which is kinda as fun as making money in your sleep.

3. Be less frugal. Well, at least when it comes to your food. Being an exercise and nutrition coach, I’ve met many people who drive around in expensive cars but claim they can’t afford organic foods. I always tell these people the same thing: Drive an expensive body, not an expensive car! It’s my belief that eating high quality, organic foods is a form of health insurance. Regardless of your budget, it’s important to keep organic, high quality whole foods in your diet as much as possible. Remember, although cheaper foods might seem like a good idea at the time, there are hidden costs to buying cheap foods: overeating (because the food is devoid of nutrients), environmental damage to our lovely planet and increased risk of disease to name a few. If you’re really worried about saving, be resourceful and find ways to cut back without having to eliminate good foods from your diet (such as becoming a member of a local co-op natural foods store).

4. Focus first on Health, then Aesthetics: To me this tip is truly the most important. Yes, having a fit, toned body is a great thing. In fact, it’s why most of us go to the gym in the first place. But the number one mistake most people who want to lose weight make is focusing too much on what they look like and not enough on how they feel. How we feel throughout the day, whether it’s energetic, clear-headed and happy or depressed, groggy and sluggish, truly dictates our quality of life and the choices we make (especially when it comes to food). If you start to see working out as a means of improving your overall quality of life rather than a means to tone your biceps, you will be much more motivated to head to the gym and stick to your workout and nutrition routines. Why? Because you can’t lose weight to get healthy, you have to get healthy to lose weight. And once the number on the scale matters less to you than how you feel day to day, you will be much more motivated to get back to the gym…regardless of your biceps or abs look that day.

And remember, the best way to actually stick to your health and fitness goals is to get very clear on what it is that you want…whether your goal is to get a flat stomach or to climb a mountain, start writing down your goals each morning when you wake up and see how much easier it becomes to make changes in your daily life once you’ve set your intention.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Change Your Body in Four Weeks Flat

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that what you put into your mouth over the course of a twelve-hour day might have more of an impact on your figure than your 45-minute workout. While we all know that smart exercise programs are extremely effective when it comes to improving overall health and wellness, it's incredibly rare that you'll ever see the long-term results you're after if you're training hard but are still confused about what constitutes a "healthy" diet. So let me make it simple for you: if you want to look and feel good, you have to cut out the foods that cause inflammation in your body. Period. These "inflammatory foods" are the foods that can negatively affect how you look, feel and function without you even knowing it.

If you strictly follow these "food rules" for the next 30 days, you'll eliminate all of the foods that cause bloating, inflammation, fatigue, weight gain, insulin roller coaster rides, cravings, respiratory issues, headaches, digestive problems and that stubborn layer of bloat around your mid-section in one fell swoop. Once you cut out these inflammatory foods and start filling up on a healthy, organic, whole food diet, you'll have more energy, better workout performance, stable (and even elevated) moods, a flatter stomach and a lean, fat-burning body that is the envy of everyone at the pool party. Seriously. And you can tell everyone that you got that lean eating bacon.

So here they are, my top 6 food rules to change your body in four weeks flat:

No processed foods - this includes processed table salt, protein bars, protein shakes, etc.

No dairy - cut it out strictly for 30 days. Add coconut milk to your organic coffee or drink it black.

No grains - no gluten, corn, oats, rice, barley...I think you get the picture.

No sugar - that includes sugar substitutes such as stevia, splenda, etc. If you have to have something sweet, go for some organic berries or some organic dark chocolate.

No soy - eliminate all tofu, soy protein drinks, soy dairy substitutes, etc.

Only eat organic foods - This rule is especially important when it comes to your proteins. As for your produce, shop local and shop often. We're not interested in shelf life.

I can almost hear it now: "But I was walking through ______ and I saw a _________ and I really wanted it because __________. Nope. The sugar bomb cookie in your office's kitchen? Have some organic, grass-fed beef jerky instead. The stack of pancakes for breakfast? How about an organic fried egg and a side of nitrate-free, organic bacon. Be strict and don't break the rules... you'll be mad at yourself and feel like garbage afterward, complete with a headache, a bloated gut and zero energy for your morning workout. Push through the uphill battle of the first 30 days and you'll be amazed...once your pants start getting loose around your midsection, you no longer get that mid-afternoon headache, you don't need as much caffeine and you start to recover faster from your workouts, you'll be glad you stuck it out. Trust me, being a stronger, leaner, more energized version of yourself truly makes it all worth the commitment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is it Really Soy Delicious?

Walk through the aisles of any health food store these days and you’ll see a myriad of soy substitute foods, everything from soy baby formula to soy hotdogs. But how many people know what soy is really all about? Many people who want to get healthy and lose weight choose soy as a substitute food either because they are intolerant to dairy or because they are vegetarian and want (what they have been told is) another good source of protein.
Regardless of what advertisements tell you about soy, I’d like to alert all of you to the dangers of soy and encourage each of you to do some research before you consider it to be a healthy addition to your diet.

Soy Foods Block Mineral Absorption: Soy contains very high levels of phytates, which have been proven to block enzyme activity and cause digestive issues. Phytates are also mineral blockers and decrease the body’s ability to absorb essential minerals such as magnesium (a natural anti-inflammatory), iron, zinc and calcium, to name a few. As we all know, even small amounts of mineral deficiencies can lead to chronic fatigue, a weakened immune system and lethargy. The only way to decrease the level of phytic acid in soy is by soaking and fermenting it (which is why fermented soy products, such as tempeh, are the only soy foods anyone should be eat if they decide to add soy to their diet). Unfortunately, the majority of soy products on the market today are over-processed, cheaply made and do not undergo this long, old-fashioned fermenting process.

Soy Foods Contain Phytoestrogens: Unfermented soy foods (such as tofu, soy milk, etc) contain phytoestrogens that mimic female hormones in both men and women. In fact, a recent study carried out by Geo-Pie, an extension of Cornell University, found that soy formula leads to premature maturation in males and females as well as menstruation as early as six years of age in females. In fact, it is believed that one bottle of soy formula is hormonally equal to feeding a child up to five birth control pills a day. Because all of the hormones in our body work synergistically, setting off high levels of one hormone leads not only to early development but also to a wide range of diseases later in life (soy is often linked with leukemia, breast cancer and thyroid cancer). Everyone has heard of the dangers of phytoestrogens leaking on to foods from plastics, so why would you eat a food that is naturally loaded with phytoestrogens?

Soy Foods DO NOT Help People Get Fit and Lose Weight: Most processed soy foods contain very high levels of added sugars and actually cause weight GAIN, not loss. In addition, evidence suggests that the isoflavones in soy products suppress thyroid function, causing many people on high-soy diets to experience weight gain, decreased sex drive, increased irritability, anxiety disorders, memory loss and chronic pain syndromes.

I urge all of you to do your own research and decide if soy truly is the "health food wonder" the health industry claims it to be.
For a complete list of references used in this article, please contact