Life for me has been going at 100 miles per hour…or at least that’s what it feels like.  So many changes and so many new aspects of life to deal with…again, that’s what it feels like.  I’m not at all complaining.  Quite the contrary, I believe that’s where life is the most exciting.  A clip from the movie Parenthood sums it up best of all:

Reflections Of Paradise

My trip to Hawaii for my birthday was incredibly wonderful…and way too short…LOL.  I could have laid in the sun and swam in the ocean everyday for hours.  My good friend Dana and I stayed at The Modern Honolulu.  It was a beautiful hotel where luxury and guest satisfaction are a huge priority.  I would highly recommend a stay there.  Here is a short video of the gorgeous property:

I have to say that I felt really great on this trip.  Not only was I feeling in top health (knock wood), I was really enjoying how I was looking in my body.  It seems nowhere else does your hard work pay off than in a swim suit at the pool or beach!  I ate pretty much Paleo the entire time I was on vacation…with a few exceptions…I had an alcoholic beverage now and then AND I enjoyed a few wonderful desserts…after all, it was my birthday.  In spite of my indulgences, I kept everything in moderation.  I woke up each morning around 5:30am and worked out in the hotel gym for about 90 minutes.  It was a great way to start my day.

Most of our time was spent driving around the island and either doing a bit of sight-seeing or discovering cool beaches to plant our towels for an hour or two.  The rest of the time we we either at our beach near our hotel or poolside.  I may have turned 47, but I did notice that I was getting a few looks from some of the other hotel guest when I was sunning myself…that felt good.  I would laugh to myself and say, “Yep, daddy still GOT IT!.”  Below are a few pictures from the trip:

One of the two pools at hour hotel, the Sunset Pool at The Modern Honolulu...

The Sunset Pool at The Modern Honolulu…

No stress here...

No stress here…

A beautiful sunset dinner on Waikiki Beach...

A beautiful sunset dinner on Waikiki Beach…

I worked out every morning at 5:30am for about 90 minutes!  It was a great way to start my day!

I worked out every morning at 5:30am for about 90 minutes! It was a great way to start my day!

Dana surprised me with First Class tickets from SFO to Honolulu...Yes, that is champagne that we are drinking!

Dana surprised me with First Class tickets from SFO to Honolulu…Yes, that is champagne that we are drinking!

Feeling GOOD and trim in my board shorts / swim suit!

Feeling GOOD and trim in my board shorts / swim suit!

At a great luau called "Chief 's Luau."  Great food, great show and lots of fun activities...Yes, we made our headbands!

At a great luau called “Chief ‘s Luau.” Great food, great show and lots of fun activities…Yes, we made our headbands!

At the Moana Surfrider Hotel for breakfast.

At the Moana Surfrider Hotel for breakfast.

A panoramic of North Shore...

CLICK to see the full size! A panoramic of North Shore…

We rented a convertible to drive around the island.  We got upgraded, FOR FREE, to this nice red Camaro!

We rented a convertible to drive around the island. We got upgraded, FOR FREE, to this nice red Camaro!

Today is my birthday and I’m off for a few days in Paradise!  I’m flying with a longtime friend to Honolulu!  I promise a VER LONG post when I’m back next week.  However, I do promise to post status updates when I’m there!  Here I go NOW!….

Measuring Up…

September 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

Two things you should know about me:  First, I can cook.  Second, I rarely, if ever, measure.  This has proven to be difficult when someone asks me to share one of my recipes.  I usually say, “…okay, I’ll have to write it down and send it to you…” And then I go through the process of telling myself I need to make that dish again and actually measure the amounts I use in my assembly.  Most of the time (99.9% of the time) I never get around to making the dish again and taking note of measurements.  The truth is, I often change up my dishes a little bit each time.  I also really never make the same in dish in the same, well, dish.

I make several versions of my tasty brussels sprouts recipe.  I’ll share my baked brussels sprouts with roasted tomatoes and garlic.  It’s a very delicious side dish that is filled with flavor and nutrition.  I’m going to walk you through it via pictures and descriptions.



Brussels sprouts, whole
Homemade chicken broth
Chicken stock drippings (the fat retrieved from making stock)
Whole, roasted garlic
Button mushrooms, sliced
Fire roasted, diced tomatoes
Onion powder
Sea salt
ground black pepper

1. Start by place whole brussels sprouts in a baking pan or dish.  Do not cut the brussels sprouts or stack them on top of each other.  They should be placed side-by-side in a single layer.  Add enough homemade chicken stock to cover half of each brussels sprout as pictured below (i.e., to the middle of each sprout):

2. Next, place a healthy amount of roasted garlic (about 16-25 cloves) around and on top of the sprouts.  You can buy garlic already roasted at Whole Foods or you can roast it for yourself ahead of time:

3. Add six to ten teaspoons of chicken stock drippings.  Don’t leave this step out.  It adds an important depth of flavor and needed fat.  You could use organic ghee if you prefer.  I think it tastes better with the chicken dippings.  Add your salt, pepper and onion power at this point:

4. Add a healthy layer of sliced button mushrooms.  For convenience sake, I buy the pre-sliced mushrooms.  One package is usually just perfect for a pan this size:

5. Lastly, add your drained, roasted tomatoes.  Spread them out evenly over the entire mixture.  For a pan this size I usually use two cans of organic, diced, fire roasted tomatoes:
IMG_35206. Bake the mixture between 35 and 50 minutes at 400 degrees.  After 15 minutes, mix the ingredients up in the pan.  Do this at least two or three times during its baking time.  The brussels sprouts are done when you can slice through them with a knife somewhat easily.  You don’t want them so soft that they smoosh when you try to cut them:

ENJOY!  This is very delicious and good for you.  Even non-brussels sprouts eaters love this dish.  Great with any protein or just by itself.  It’s delicious eaten cold as well!

I had that special moment today…the moment when time stands still and you realize that your life has changed…and it’s changed for the spectacular.

Let me back up a bit…

I Spin three times a week.  On a rare occasion (and I mean rare) I will Spin on Thursday nights during our 4:30pm class.  Yesterday I decided that I was going to drive in JUST for Spin.  So at 3:30pm, I left my house in Petaluma and drove to Novato.  I got to my office just before 4pm.  I set up my bike and waited for my instructor (Glen), and the other students, to arrive.  I remember looking at the clock…it read 4:20pm…students are here, but no Glen.  No Glen?!  This is odd.  Glen has never missed a since he started teaching this class over two years ago.  I feared that something happened…my fear was heightened given that Glen recently purchased a motorcycle.  My mind went a little crazy and I hoped and prayed that nothing serious had happened.  I asked Sue, one of my Staff Managers at the club, if he had called.  She said, “No.”  Even more odd.  Glen would have called if there was a problem.  The clock now reads 4:27pm…

I think to myself, “I’m going to have to teach this class…”

I duck into our orientation & therapy room and compose myself.  Forget that I’m about to teach my first Spin class TOTALLY unprepared…but I was completely worried that something bad had happened to Glen.  But now, there was no time for conjecture or panic.  I had a room full of students who were ready to Spin.  The clock on the wall reads 4:29pm…

As a health club manager, I just move into operations mode and handle the problem.  I’m not focused any longer on the fact that THIS will be my first class, I just have to make it happen and make it good.  I tell the class, “I’m not sure where Glen is, but let’s get started.  I have not prepared a program, obviously, for this class…but I will give it my all and I promise you a great, fun class…” Oh my God, why did I just say that?!  The clock reads 4:30pm…  Time to start…here I go now…

From the moment I opened my mouth on the bike…from the moment I spoke the first instruction…I was calm and focused.  All that matted was that I delivered a superior class.  My worries and fears did not exist and I refused to give power to something that is created out of thin air.  Before I knew it, the clock read 4:50pm…  Had twenty minutes passed already???

My energy was high on all levels.  As soon as I started I mapped out a program in my head.  I need to follow the program, keep my energy up, and watch my students for correct form and posture…all the while being aware if my form AND balancing my breathes so I could talk over the headset microphone.

I used some traditional moves and used some of my own.  I mixed it up and gave them something new.  I didn’t want to rest on what was easy.  I wanted then to love this class.  I didn’t want any of them to feel disappointed because Glen wasn’t there.  But I caught myself…I have no control over their reaction.  I only have control over my delivery and attitude.  I stayed focused and kept giving it my all.  The clock now read 5:15pm…and that’s when it happened…the moment it all clicked for me…

In the midst of my coaching, I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror…a glimpse of me on the Spin bike, coaching, instructing…thriving in the moment…  Who is that guy?…that thin guy?…that guy with defined, strong legs and that smallish butt?  Oh my God…it’s really me!  This is surreal…  The clock reads 5:23pm…  The class has seven minutes left…

My students…let me say that again…my students…were working their butts off…I could see how tired they were…the loads of sweat pouring off their bodies…  On the other hand, I was on fire.  My energy level was so high I thought I was going to jettison right out of my seat.  I smiled and realized I was going to finish hard and strong…and I was going to lead my class to do the same.  The clock now reads 5:25pm…the last song is coming on…

I tell everyone to take a deep breath…that we are going to ride this one out with fury and fun…we’re gonna give it our all…I tell them to, “…Focus on the beat of the music.  Ignore any tiredness.  Know that you are strong and will finish strong.  Know that you can achieve it if they focus on what they want…”  It’s now 5:28pm on the clock…only two minutes left…everyone is giving it their all…

Right now, I’m just a ball of energy and inspiration.  All I care about is the group finishing strong…praising them for their work, their commitment…I’m trying not to yell into the mic, but I can’t hold down my excitement…only a few seconds left…almost there.  The clock reads 5:30pm…it’s over…it done…my first Spin class as the sole instructor…My students sweaty, tired…and smiling…

I’m on cloud 9….no, more like cloud 27…

I completed the class with a few traditional stretches and some new ones.  My students all liked the new moves.  They came up to me and let me know they really liked the class.  They told me that i worked them hard and they like it.  I was beaming…

It turns out that the stars aligned for me to get the validation I didn’t even know I needed.  Here’s what happened:  Glen missed a class.  I happened to be there.  I taught the class.  I had not prepared.  I gave it my all.  I was good.  The class was happy…

If it had happened any other way, I would not have had the experience of how really prepared I was to teach a Spin class on my own.  I knew deep down I could do it…but I did have nerves…I had nerves because it mattered so deeply to me.  Being thrown into the fire without ANY preparation taught  me how strong I was.  It taught me that I have been ready for some time…more than ready…

I could not have done what I did if i hadn’t committed to transforming my body from the inside out.  My clean living and eating provided me with a body that could “do the work” and do it well.  Although far from perfect, I now have a body that acts like a well oiled machine.  It gives me the energy I need when I need it and can sustain coaching a 50 minute, intense cardio class…while talking no less!

What a great evening!  I’m still on a high.  I was smiling all the way home.  I was smiling in the shower and doing little happy dances.  It was like I was in love…that feeling when your falling in love and everything is new and fresh and you are smiling all day long just at the thought of the other person…that’s how I feel right now…right at this moment…

The clock reads 12:11am…  I am in Spin in less than six hours…Time for sleep…

Yes, I am in love…with my life…and all the possibilities…

Mark-Before-and-After-090913I have to be honest, when I woke up this morning and stepped on the scale I was very disappointed.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I had gained a pound in a week.  This was the first time in four months that I hadn’t lost any weight in a week’s time.  Just before stepping on the scale, I thought to myself; if I only lose one pound, that would be okay…but the way I feel, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost two or three pounds.  I even entertained the possibility that I could even have hit 189.  I knew it was a stretch, but I had been working sooooo hard, I thought it was in the realm of reason.  So again, I was shocked when the scale indicated that I had gained weight.

I got off the scale and started to contemplate; Had I done anything different?  Had my food changed?  Had my exercise changed?  Nothing pointed to any lax behavior which would cause the gain…and then it hit me…I had to have gained muscle.  I had lost fat and gained muscle.  In the last week my clothes were fitting looser.  I could see the definition in my upper legs emerging from cycling at least 15 miles…everyday.  My waist seems smaller and my pants were looser.  In four months I have gone from a 40″ waist to a 32/34.”  But, even with this realization, I still wasn’t embracing the big picture.  I was still focused on the one pound gain…until I took my 120 day pictures…WOW…what a reality check.  Looking at the AFTER pictures, I could really see how my body has transformed, not only in the last four months, but in the last 30 days.  It’s for this very reason why it’s so important to take before, during, and after pictures as you lose weight, gain muscle and move towards a healthy lifestyle.

People are walking up to me and calling me “skinny.”  In relationship to what I was four months ago, I guess I am skinny.  It’s hard to believe that I could be called skinny at 195 pounds…but then again…it’s all relative.  It’s not as though I’ve been sitting on the couch consuming an unhealthy liquid diet without exercise (hello, can we say Optifast?! Gross).  On the contrary, I have been committed to exercising and building a better body through exercise, daily!  It doesn’t matter how much I weigh, it matters how much my percentage of body fat is actually decreasing…and that is going down steadily.  Again, the pictures don’t lie.  My closes fitting looser don’t lie.  Measurements don’t lie.

Yesterday was a busy day (as so many of them are these days) and the sun was beginning to set when I went for my usual daily bike ride.  I try to go early in the morning, but it doesn’t always work out for me.  My commitment is daily exercise, and I’m open to however that shows up in my life.  It could be a bike ride or a walk with a friend.  It could be a run or a friendly tennis match.  It could be a 30-minute swiss ball workout or a hike with a colleague…However exercise show up is just fine with me as long as I stick to my commitment of choosing it daily.

So far daily exercise has not been a problem.  I look forward each day to working out and exercising my muscles.  It’s become a tad bit addicting.  I’m not so much addicted to the endorphin rush as I am excited about how, at 46 (47 in less than 30 days), my body is performing better than it has been in some time.  I feel like I’m in my twenties…seriously, I do…and I was in good shape in my twenties.

So back to last night and my late bike ride…I had a definite moment of clarity that moved me emotionally.  As I rode back towards home, the sun was setting beneath the rolling hills of Sonoma County.  I was riding fast and the wind was whipping past me.  My legs were a bit tired but my exhilaration of the experience kept me focused on having a great ride.  I loved being on my bike and didn’t want to end quite yet.  I felt free and alive and was so incredibly grateful for the life that I’m experiencing…living…right now.  And then it suddenly hit me…this new attitude…this new way of perceiving exercise…it was a joy…a privilege…something that was a gift to myself and not an impediment of my day and time.  It was a new way of living…and it literally took my breath away…

I had never experienced such a feeling.  I’ve been active all my life (sometimes more than others), but I have never embraced exercise as a gift and privilege…I always perceived it as a necessary nuisance to achieve good health.  Exercise, for me, was the price you paid for the chance of living a quality life.  It never occurred to me that being able to exercise is the evidence of living a quality life.  It has become clear to me that exercise–the harmonious moment of your body–is a gift to yourself…a symphonic-like reminder of the incredible machine that you are.

I pray that I never forget that…and in not doing so…I celebrate every movement my body allows me to create until my last dying breath.

I can’t believe that it’s been almost two weeks since I posted last.  I just don’t know where the time goes.  I’ve been really busy with both my work at the health club and my graphics consulting.  I’ve been doing some film work in my design business which has moved me from my desk into the filed.  The good thing is that I end up burning a great deal of calories even though I don’t get a chance to complete any official exercise when I’m playing film director…and playing almost every other role there is to do in the filming process.  On location last week, I was bummed that I wasn’t going to get a chance to work out since I had a full of filming on location.  Turns out the next day when I weighed myself, I was down almost two pounds!  In retrospect, I had a FULL day of exercising.  I was setting up and tearing down film and sound rigs all day.  I literally was bending, twisting, squatting and climbing for eight hours…natural fitness in the best way.

Breaking Two Hundred

I officially broke the two hundred on the 18th.  After my weigh in, I held my breath because I knew my body could choose to do one of its little adjusting trick and pull me back into the two hundreds in a pinch…which it did…the following morning.  However, I was back under two hundred the very next day and started to slowly descend into the 190s.  I haven’t had the number “1” in front of my weight for almost 10 years.  When I was working out with Michael on a regular basis I had a little more muscle packed on than I do know and The lowest number I achieved was about 215…and I looked and felt good.  My body fat percentage then was about 23% (maybe a little lower).  I was eating well, but I was definitely NOT eating Paleo AND I remember always being hungry.  Right now, I’m 26.6% body fat.  I looking to get down to 15% body fat.  Now THAT will take some work, but I’m ready to take it on.

Seeing The Big Picture

I have to be okay will the weight coming off a bit slower now.  I may only lose a pound a week, or less,and I have to remind myself of the big picture and my longterm goal; to live a life of health, vitality and joy.  The game I playing is creating a healthy existence and not how fast can I drop the weight.  I need to remind myself to be present and acknowledge where I am now, which is a damn good place!  I look and feel good.

I have found myself recently looking in the mirror and becoming fixated at the little flaws…focusing on my “love handles” and thinking, “Oh, I want you gone!”  Then it becomes a slippery slope…I move on to dissect other parts of my body…I see how my inner thigh is not at tight as years gone by…I see how, in general, my skin is much looser…and I begin to feel unhappy and displeased.  Then I remember my own advice…in times like this, call on the person you used to be…imagine that person who was you four months ago at almost 260 pounds…imagine him standing in front of you…what would he say about you ranting and raving about your body…what would his two cents be?  It is then I can hear my heavier self chime in with extreme attitude…“Are you nuts!  Seriously, what is wrong with you?  Maybe you suffered hypoxia when you were Spinning or something because with that attitude I think you have some brain damage.  You look great and feel great.  Why don’t you focus on all that you have done right and stop focussing on the ridiculous fact that you have an ‘inch to pinch’ on your side.  I would give anything to look like you now.  So, go eat a carrot or something and shut up!”…Well, he told me, didn’t he?

The Same Thing In Reverse

In my experience, many people enjoy biking which leads them to maybe try a Spin class.  I did the same thing but in reverse.  I starting Spinning in October of 2011 and just this weekend bought a bike.

I remember my first day in Spin.  I thought I was gonna die.  The only thing more bruised than my ego was my butt.  How could anyone find this fun?  I kept up with it and it began to grow on me.  The advantage of owning the health club in which you attend classes is that you can make the class anything you want…so I worked with Glen (my very dynamic and fun Spinning instructor) to make the class great.  Almost two years late,r the Joy of Spinning at Healthworks is the most popular class at the club.  I am now a certified Spinning / Indoor Cycling instructor and will soon be teaching an advanced Spinning class in October.  I’ve come a long way baby…but I digress…

Did you hear about the Spin instructor that didn’t own a bike?  Yep, sounds like the opening of a great joke, but it’s true.  I didn’t own a bike.  I had one and I ended up giving it away years ago because it was gathering dust in the garage.  The last time I really rode was in 1998 when I bought a mountain bike so that I could ride in a race with my friend Nadine (Michael’s wife) in a race called, Bike Around The Buttes held in Butte County.  We did a 50 mile trek in both sunny weather and rain.  It was really fun because I was with Nadine but I wasn’t really into biking…I just liked adventure.  After the race the bike went into the garage and I never used it again. Several years later I gave it away to someone who needed a bike.  Flash forward to this past Saturday when I purchased a new bike at Mike’s Bikes in Petaluma.  Once a year they have an annual sale with 20-30% off all bikes and merchandise.  I promised myself in May that when (not, if) I dropped beneath two hundred pounds, I would buy myself a decent, but not expensive, bike.  The other part of that promise started long ago when I said I could allow myself to buy a bike once I passed a year attending Spin classes.  Well, I greatly surpassed that original goal!  Now I found myself under two hundred and it was time to honor the promise I made to myself.  I researched online and found that what I needed was a hybrid bike–one that could be used on pavement and light off-roading.  A hybrid is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike.


…hot and sweaty after my first bike ride with my new Specialized Crosstrail!


The new best friend!


“Why, yes…I am a very serious cyclist…”

So I attended the sale on Saturday and bought a 2014 Specialized Crosstrail…and I’m in love!  In all honesty, I don’t think I have ever been so excited about a bike…ever…even if I go back to my childhood…I think I’m more excited now than then.  You see, I grew up on a dairy ranch.  There were no flat, paved roads…only dirty, dusty, bumpy roads that didn’t go very far and didn’t lead anywhere…at least anywhere I was allowed to go…not so much fun for me.  This was a time way before mountain bikes were popular or as technologically advanced as they are now.  We had dirt bikes, but you felt every bump in the road…again, not so much fun for me.

So, I got my bike home from the store and I was ready to take it for a literal spin around the block when I realized that the sales person forgot to put my new helmet in the bag…Argh!  Now being the safety boy that I am, I got back into my Jeep and headed back to the store to retrieve my helmet…safety among all else I say!

So now I have my helmet and I’m off for my new bike’s maiden voyage.  Wow, how fun is this!  I decided to just try it out since it was getting late and I wanted to go for a real ride in the morning….which I did at 6am on a Sunday!  Now that’s dedication (or pure excitement) for you.


My Garmin Fit app helps to track my progress and makes the journey just that more fun!

Today I went for my second ride and went farther than the first time.  Going farther each time is a goal of mine as I stay committed to riding at least twice a week.  Today I went just over ten miles.  That might not be far for most people, but it’s farther than I have ever traveled on my own without someone to enjoy the experience with.  I used my iPhone and a Garmin Fit app to track my time and distance.  I really enjoyed going out and biking by myself.  I took several moments to acknowledge the journey I have traveled in a relative short period of time.  On my ride this morning I felt young and invigorated.  Am I really going to be 47 in just over a month? I can’t believe it…I don’t feel my age…that’s a good thing.  I look forward to pairing or grouping up with others for future weekend rides.  The idea of that is really exciting.

Oh, So Crunchy

My new favorite snack is Alive & Radiant’s organic and raw, Veggie Krunch.  It is very crunchy and very yummy.  If you are like me and have a tendency to be pulled toward the savory, crunchy and salty foods, you’ll love this product.  Sweets were never my downfall, but a bag of potato chips ALWAYS was my kryptonite.  Like many others, I could never have just a few.  Once a bag of chips was open, it didn’t survive the night.  It quickly ended up an empty, crumbled bag in the trash.  I don’t miss chips per se, but I do miss that salty-crunch factor.  Enter in my new discovery of Veggie Krunch.  The product is raw and dehydrated.  No oil is used and the product is not heated in any way.  It’s completely raw and healthy for you.  They have many flavors, but my favorite is the Cabbage Arugula.  Delicious!  It’s kind of expensive for what you get, but it’s high quality and you don’t need much to satisfy your craving.  It’s available at Whole Foods and other major health food chains.

I need to get payroll for the club going, so I’m going to end this post here.  I promise to be more frequent than once every two weeks.  My goal is at least twice a week, even if its short.  I welcome any feedback you have regarding what you would like me to write about or share.  I’m up for anything!  Okay, here I go now…Case-Veggie-Krunch_Arugula-2

IMG_3379First things first: It’s shortly after 90 days since I committed to a Paleo lifestyle and I have dropped 50 pounds!  Wooooow!  This is amazing!  I feel great and have lots of energy.  In the past couple of days, I have had a couple of people use the term “glowing” in terms of my skin (and they didn’t mean shiny).  It’s good to be healthy.

Okay, let’s move on…

If you are reading my blog, you most likely are already following a Paleo diet (or aspiring to do so). You have also likely experienced a tremendous shift in your health and well-being since eliminating (or at least drastically reducing) grains, beans, sugar and dairy. I know it takes a fair amount of commitment and willpower, especially in those early days, so congratulations to you.  Smooth sailing from now on, right? Not so fast.

Since beginning this lifestyle in May of this year, I’ve learned that there are pitfalls to the way many practice a Paleo lifestyle, as well as tweaks and customizations for the individual that must be considered if you truly want to thrive. Here are the top five that I’ve seen and what to do to guarantee a lifetime of “Paleo joy.”

Eating Too Much Meat.

When one first starts out eating Paleo, its pretty common to replace grains with meat as it’s the way your body can still feel satiated. Once the initial transition is made, it’s very important to limit your protein consumption to 20-35% of daily calories. According to Paul Jaminet, author of the“Perfect Health Diet”, the Paleolithic/Cannibal diet consisted of these macronutrient ratios:

  • Carbohydrates: 13-20%
  • Short-chain and medium chain fats: ~3%
  • Other fats: ~60%
  • Protein: ~15-25%

There are a several reasons why:

1. According to Jaminet, too much protein is toxic to the body: “At a protein intake of 230 g/day (920 calories), the body’s ability to convert ammonia to urea is saturated. This means the nitrogen from every additional gram of protein lingers in the body as ammonia, a toxin. Clearly, marginal dietary protein is toxic, via ammonia poisoning, at this intake level. A reasonable estimate for where toxicity begins is between 150 to 200 g/day.”

2. All meat is not created equal. The difference between a piece of grass-fed red meat with a nice marbling of fat and a conventionally-raised skinless chicken breast is BIG. Its important to have most of your protein come from the ruminants (cow, bison, lamb, etc), wild or organically farmed seafood and organic farm eggs to minimize polyunsaturated fat consumption and maximize saturated fat consumption (and also balance omega-6 to omega-3 ratios). Choosing organic, pasture-fed and ethically raised animals is crucial for your health, the health of the planet and the collective consciousness around meat-eating.

3. Too much meat can cause digestive distress and constipation if not eaten with sufficient fiber (ref). They say that life and death begin in the colon, and your body’s ability to move your food all the way through in a timely fashion is very important.

4. Meat is acid-forming in the body and many experts believe that disease can only live in acidic states. This doesn’t mean, like the vegan community would argue, to eliminate it. Grains, dairy and sugar are also acid-forming, so the answer lies in balancing your meat consumption with lots of vegetables and green juice, both of which are alkalizing to the body.

Not Eating Enough Vegetables.

In addition to keeping your body alkaline, veggies are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants that you simply cannot find elsewhere. The fiber and water in veggies helps keep your insides scrubbed clean and digestion moving. The color of your veggies is linked to the nutrients therein, so the more like a rainbow your plate looks, the better! Make sure to eat raw veggies with your cooked foods as they may provide enzymes to help breakdown cooked food and assimilate the nutrients. According to The Mayo Clinic: “some enzymes help digest food into simple substances that the body’s cells can use for energy. Other enzymes forge substances within the cells that are unavailable in the diet.”

Lack of Healthy Bacteria

Did you know that your body has ten times more bacteria than human cells? Isn’t that amazing?! There is a bacterial war being waged in your body at every moment. The enemy is fed by antibiotics, sugar, dairy, grains, chemicals and pesticides, while the good guys are fed by probiotics in supplement form and fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi. Having strong digestion is the #1 most important factor for good health as all the nutrition from your food is either converted to be used by your body or passed through malabsorbed.

Lack of Variety/Nutrient Deficiency

It’s too easy to get in a rut and be eating virtually the same foods everyday. Chicken and broccoli at every meal does not constitute a healthy Paleo diet! There are some foods that are a MUST to incorporate into your diet.

1. Organ Meats: Chris Kresser reminds us that organ meats are between 10 and 100 times higher in nutrients than their corresponding muscle meats, and a fraction of the cost. They are loaded with vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid and minerals such as copper and iron.

2. Homemade Bone Broth: I fondly refer to bone broth as “the miracle elixir”.  I make HUGE batches and drink it almost everyday!  I love it. In addition to all of the lovely vitamins and minerals, bone broth is loaded with gelatin, which is great for healing your gut, glycosaminoglycan (GAGS) for joint health and connective tissue health and repair, glycine for mental and emotional wellness and collagen for beautiful skin.

3. Farm Eggs: One of the most annoying myths being fueled by the mainstream media is that cholesterol, and therefore egg yolks, are bad for you. Eggs are super nutrient-dense and may actually protect your heart! One egg yolk provides all 13 essential nutrients, are an excellent source of B vitamins, which are needed for vital functions in the body, and also provide good quantities of vitamin A, essential for normal growth and development. The vitamin E in eggs protects against heart disease and some cancers; eggs also contain vitamin D, which promotes mineral absorption and good bone health. Eggs are rich in iodine, for making thyroid hormones, and phosphorus, essential for healthy bones and teeth.” It is important to note, however, that some people are intolerant to eggs. If you suspect you are, try an elimination diet for a couple weeks.

Ignoring Your Body’s Signals

I know that many of you have been trained to push through hard workouts, you know, mind over matter. Please don’t do that with your body as it relates to food. Even on a Paleo diet, there may still be foods to avoid, and others your body in particular thrives on. The best way to determine that is by checking in with yourself about 20 minutes after you’ve finished your meal and ask: “How is this making me feel?” Since you’ve already eliminated the grains, beans, and possibly the dairy, this won’t be as straightforward, but intolerances to eggs, nuts, citrus, nightshade veggies and shellfish may still be present (you can have intolerances to any food, but these are the most common Paleo foods). You should have energy and feel good when you’re done eating a meal. If you don’t, there’s still something to tweak.

Mark-Before-and-After-080613Well today was my three-month milestone.  I can really see a difference in my body at this point.  The change is much more noticeable from the side than straight on.  If I know my body at all (and I think I do) I’ll start to see more “thinning” out of my portrait stance than my profile.

I wanted to get this posted before I went to bed.  Its been a long day, so I’ll complete the update on this post in the next few days!  Until then…

The Next Ten…

August 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

I have about 10 pounds to lose and then I’m officially under the 200 pounds mark and into the 100’s.  Once I’m in the 100’s I’m going to start weighing in once a week.  I look forward to that at this point.  Days like this morning where I put on almost a pound in one day NEVER makes sense to me especially when I’m golden on my eating and exercise.  It always boils down to just three possible causes:  (1) Too much salt, (2) not enough fat, or (3) my body just doing some kind of adjustment.

I cut back on my fat intake yesterday because I wanted to see a bigger loss on the scale this morning.  You think I would have learned that this is NOT the way to drop weight.  I know better, but that crazy idea that fat makes you fat still floats around in my head sometimes.  This is sooooooo not true.

The next time I weigh in will be Monday morning.  I’m going on a mini-vacation to Saratoga.  I’m going with a friend to see Gladys Night at the Mountain Winery which is a gorgeous venue.  If you live and the area, you must go see a concert there!  Until Monday!  Have a great weekend people!

One of the MAJOR criticisms about the Paleo approach is that the lifestyle advocates NOT weighing, measuring, or portioning food. While it’s true, this is an integral Paleo principle, it IS possible to adapt a Paleo approach to food selection and still weigh, measure and portion your food. Paleo is a lifestyle approach, a framework. In fact Robb Wolf, author of the Paleo Solution advocates the examination of Paleo as a “STRUCTURE” within which you need to pick and chose what works for you, not a diet that requires absolute adherence. Naysayers of the Paleo plan will say that it’s impossible to lose body fat while on the Paleo plan because you’re unaware of how much you’re consuming.

If you’re a Paleo, or looking into becoming a Paleo, the following are tips for achieving fat loss while making the switch!!!

1. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN. The old saying goes: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Have a realistic goal and set specific targets for your week to reach that goal, with regards to your nutrition. Part of the beauty of the Paleo approach is that it’s so OPEN–you can virtually have any lean protein source, fresh veggies, and fresh fruit. If you’re out to eat, or get caught in a business meeting or other engagement, it’s SIMPLE to make good, adaptive decisions that will keep you on your plan and not derail your progress. As long as you opt for plain grilled items, veggies prepared plain, salads free of dressings, cheese, condiments, beans and grains, and/or fresh fruit options, you’ll be FINE!! It’s virtually impossible to over-eat while being a Paleo because there are built-in defense mechanisms with the food options available to you. Fresh fruits and veggies are full of filling fiber and protein boasts the highest satiety of any macronutrient–even fat! Think about when you’re at your hungriest…how many tomatoes, baby carrots or chicken breast filets could you eat? Not too many I’m sure…yet given the same measure of hunger how many cookies could you eat? EXACTLY!  Stick to the rules of Paleo as your basic framework and structure a plan within that framework. Have no fear of overeating, it won’t happen!

2. GET MORE SLEEP. Sleep does more than help your body recover from a long day — it actually helps you fight fat. In fact, researchers at the University of Chicago reported that sleeping less than 7 to 8 hours can increase your appetite (forcing you to overeat), slow your metabolism (causing you to burn fewer calories) and make the body retain more abdominal fat. Lack of sleep also tends to increase our body’s response to stress, which has a domino effect on cortisol. The more sleep deprived we are, the more stressed we become, the more cortisol we release, AND the more cortisol we release the harder it is for our bodies to handle stress. Elevated cortisol disturbs our sleep, then we go into our day tired, which further elevates stress which further raises cortisol. You see the problem by now; disturbed sleep makes us more prone to stress, which raises cortisol, which suppresses immune function, elevates blood sugar levels, decreases sex drive and decreases insulin sensitivity. Whew, that’s one crazy chain of events! Once sleep gets out of whack, you’re REALLY in trouble. Think about it…for most of us, stresses that would otherwise be manageable become UN-manageable when we’re tired. Staying up too late, neglecting sleep quality, or not sleeping long enough can seriously affect your ability to handle stress. Here’s a fun fact: JUST ONE NIGHT OF MISSED or INADEQUATE SLEEP CAN MAKE YOU AS INSULIN RESISTANT AS A TYPE 2 DIABETIC.  Your physiology simply is not normal when you don’t get your zzz’s. Even if you work out and your food is pretty good, you can seriously undermine your health and add inches to your waistline by mismanaging the amount of hours you sleep each night. So try to sleep more.  Shoot for AT LEAST 8 HOURS of solid zz’s a night, and not on the couch with the TV on. Make sleepy time SLEEP time; dark room, quiet, no distractions, time for zz’s.  Need another reason to sleep more? Lack of shuteye is also associated with bad workouts. Do yourself a favor and get some rest. Your body will thank you.

3. KNOW HOW MUCH YOU ARE EATING. I know I know, this flies in the face of the Paleo (no need to measure) mentality but despite my making the Paleo switch I’m still an advocate of taking into consideration the calories in vs. calories out old school mentality. You need to know what your daily calories should be and if you’re hitting that mark (or close to). You don’t need to be a calorie zealot, within range is perfect, but for most of us, we GROSSLY underestimate the amount of calories we are consuming a day. Research has shown that most people grossly underestimate how much they are eating, sometimes by up to 50 percent! There are a number of ways you can track what you are eating, but whatever system you use the key is consistency and accuracy. I simply write it down in a food log which I made customized to my own needs (on my computer), but there are DOZENS of nutrition journals out there; both online and physical bound journals for writing down your daily intake.

4. SAY GOODBYE TO LIQUID CALORIES. This is the cold hard truth, most beverages out there in WaWa coolers and on grocery store shelves are chock-full of sugar, additives and other gross disgusting carbohydrate and calories.  In fact a recent study L done on 810 male/female subjects from Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Durham, and Portland found that liquid calorie intake had a stronger impact on weight than solid calorie intake. The results are going to be published in the April 1 issue of the American Journal of Clinical NutritionNow when I say GOODBYE to liquid calories, I also mean RELYING on liquid meal replacements as well. Stop with the grab and go protein drinks, the store shelf smoothies, ALL OF IT. Say goodbye. Goodbye to sodas, fruit juices and other forms of pre-made drinks. Liquid calories do not satiate as much as whole foods, nor are they as nutrient dense and satisfying. Void of fiber, one of natures built in “over-eating” defense mechanisms, its easy to over-consume when you’re consuming liquid calories. Cut them out, even if they’re PALEO friendly. Look to whole, natural, SOLID foods to sustain you!

5. MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE. All of us, even the BEST of us, need support in our fitness endeavors. We live in a society that makes it HARD to be healthy…that’s a fact. Announcing that you’re making a change to those around you and inviting them to be a support system for you can make a WORLD of difference in your success. If you don’t think you’ll get the support you need from friends and family, extend your radar. Reach out for a coach or nutritionist. Maybe a personal trainer a few times a week. Join an online forum; there are SEVERAL out there that are Paleo oriented! There are even more that are weight loss oriented!  Join one, join more then one, the more support you have the better! Having someone, or multiple someones to reach out to on rough days, to cheer you on when needed, and to offer motivation and inspiration can often times mean the difference between success or failure on a plan!

6. VARIETY IN YOUR WORKOUTS. As with food, variety in workouts is extremely beneficial. This is directly in line with the Paleo lifestyle.  For a high-impact workout that will kick up your metabolism in a short amount of time, try alternating cardio and resistance training in a circuit. For example, start with 5 minutes of cardio (treadmill, bike, elliptical) immediately followed by a dumbbell circuit of cleans, cleans and press, lunges, military presses and bent over rows, where each exercise is performed for eight repetitions. By using compound movements you’re recruitig total body co-operation for maximal burn.

7. EAT MORE FAT. Did you know that the Institute of Medicine recommends that a diet be made up of 35 percent fat? Turns out, high-fat foods like avocados and healthy oils can help you lose fat faster than other diet approaches. Fat from healthy sources such as lean animal fats, coconut oil and raw coconut (chalk full of MCT’s), seeds, avocados and healthy oils are EXTREMLY beneficial in improving body composition and stimulating weight loss. Just remember that peanuts are a legume NOT a fat and peanut butter is NOT Paleo. Cut it out. Look for fats with good balances of Omega 3′s. Keep in mind if you’re REALLY trying to lose a ton of weight that nuts should be limited to no more then 4 ounces a day as they can hinger your progress. However if you’re already lean, you can eat more nuts especially walnuts which have a favorable omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Macadamias, Pecans, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds are great. Olives and avocados are good too. Also look for olive oil, walnut, and flaxseed oil. It is my choice not to eat any nuts.  For one, I want to lose weight and I have found nuts to work against me.  For more information on this, read my post, “Are You Nuts…

8. EAT MORE PROTEIN. Protein helps you maintain lean body mass (muscle, not fat), and increases the thermic effect of your diet. In order for your body to GET energy from the food you eat, it must expend some of its OWN energy. This phenomenon is called dietary induced thermogenesis (D.I.T) and protein has a higher DIT then body carbohydrates OR fat.  This can subtly contribute to the “calories out” side of the energy equation. As a bonus, eating protein keeps you fuller longer, and researchers have shown that it can reduce how much you eat per day by hundreds of calories. Look for healthy, lean protein sources; farm raised, cage free, grass fed if possible. Those types of meat have healthy ratios of protein to fat, such as 80/20. Look for skinless turkey breast, shrimp, lean pork tenderloin, lean beef tenderloin, skinless chicken breast, sirloin, lean ground turkey or ground beef, Omega 3 eggs, egg whites, cod, halibut, haddock, salmon, tuna (in moderation due to mercury), bison, venison, etc….

9. BECOME A HEAVY DRINKER. No I’m not talking about alcohol. While there’s nothing magical about water, the process of consuming lots of liquid can trick you into feeling less hungry. What’s more, when you’re dehydrated you burn 2 percent fewer calories per day, says University of Utah researchers. So if you struggle to control your appetite, drink up before your meal. Then drink some more. You’ll be more likely to fight off fat. Adequate water intake also aids in digestion and in the absorption of nutrients. It helps your body to flush and dispel waste and toxins and it lubricates joints and muscles for exercise.

10. TRY INTERMITTENT FASTING. Intermittent fasting is considered one of the more controversial eating habits. Intermittent fasting combines long breaks from eating (12 to16 hours) with a shorter feeding period (8 to10 hours), or fasting for 24 hours once per week. While the behaviors might seem extreme, research indicates that this method not only is linked to healthy weight loss, but also preserves muscle mass.