Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Transition

As promised in the last post, I am providing a link to the site I've been working on for several weeks.

Here it is:


WordPress has proved to be a major pain in my a--, but I'm hoping that the new format will be cleaner and easier to navigate, from the user standpoint.

My intention with the new site is to deliver information and resources - as I did in the Luscious blog - but also to weave in an important and critical topic that has become my life's work.

Please bookmark the URL above and join me at Tula Living (you have to visit the site to find out what the heck "Tula" is).

Namaste and warmest regards,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Business of Moving On.

I think that one of the greater accomplishments in life is the act of moving on, when it's time to do so.

In the last 10 years, here are some of the ways I've moved on:

I left behind my San Francisco single days for a quiet home life with a small child in Sacramento.

I also left behind a lucrative and insane career.

I entered a marriage and exited the marriage.

I held my child back in Kindergarten and then released him to the big world of elementary school.

I wrote a blog. Two blogs. Three blogs.

In the spirit of honesty, I'm not good at moving on. Moving on generally requires disappointment and sadness. But it also allows for closure, something we don't often get.

If you've read my other blog recently, you've found the story of the first six months of the 40th year of my life. Not pretty.

But it's a great account of how moving on served me well. The whole experience is remarkable to me, because I discovered that through moving on, great things were waiting for me on the other side.

And so I come to this - this blog that has been a great sounding board for my own personal journey through wellness.

It's time for me to move on from this space and create something that is more in line with my core beliefs. A place that supports my values. One that is less whimsical and more direct.

Indeed a new blog is coming. When I'm finished with the creative end, I'll post a link here.

I'll still be exploring the idea of wellness, but I'll also integrate a theme that has become integral part of my life in the last six months in my life.

There will still be luscious recipes, and general fitness tips to help my clients and my students move toward optimal health.

Please check back in the next month for more information.

And best of luck in your own life transitions you move on from people, places and activities. It's never easy but it's generally very rewarding on their other side (I'm living proof, I really am!).

Warmest regards,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Final Post On The 2010 Nutrition Program

I wrapped up my program with the nutritionist this week and I'm anxious to get this blog back on the "overall wellness track."

But first, here's a quick recap of what I garnered from 14 weeks of structured eating:

I had a great start on the program but found it difficult to maintain such strict eating "rules." Around the middle of the program, I started to make up my own guidelines and I found adaptations that worked well. I think that structure works fine for awhile, but it's important to also find your own threshold with various food groups.

Overall, I believe that a diet high in quality protein and fresh vegetables is the way to go. As far as starches and grains go, the "friendliest" foods for me were oatmeal and brown rice. Sweet potatoes too. Bread, pasta and baked goods are probably gone for good from my diet, and I'm okay with that.

Sugar has no place in my world and probably doesn't serve anyone well. My best days were the days that I went without any sugar, including "natural" sugars, such as agave. I found that my sensitivity to sweets is high and my tolerance is low. The problem that I found with sugar - even a small amount of it - is that a little bit created big cravings. It also doesn't support a steady blood sugar level, something I definitely need with days that include multiple transitions from clients to carpooling to clients to soccer practice.

Fruit was something that I grappled with. Low glycemic items - such as berries, melon and apples - were fine; bananas and mangoes and peaches were not. I'm careful now when I choose to eat fruit as it can have the same effect as sugar.

I get asked all the time about alcohol. I'm a wine lover. However, I found that the sugar content in wine was just too high for my body to assimilate to. Once I gave up sugar, a couple of glasses of wine would send me straight for the Advil bottle. So, instead of wine, if I have drinks with friends, I usually order a soda water with high quality vodka and a LOT of lime. People ask me, "Why not a vodka tonic?" What most people don't realize is that tonic is just like 7up, loaded with sugar. More bars should carry diet tonic; it's a great stand-in for regular tonic.

Another item that I've struggled with is dairy. We don't drink milk in our household. I don't like it and Ben doesn't seem to, either. For awhile we drank soy milk but the word is that soy is questionable, in terms of being a good alternative to milk. I use almond milk for smoothies but it's horrible on its own. I do buy high quality, high fat, organic yogurt for Ben. And I dip into it more than I should. I've never had a lactose issue but I've found that yogurt gives me an immediate stomachache. Which is too bad, because I genuinely do love it and I believe that the high quality stuff has great health benefits. Ben gets organic cheese but I only eat goat cheese. It's delicious and it's a good alternative to dairy cheese.

I write a lot about the heavy consumption of Zone bars in our house. I actually think that a Zone bar is the perfect "tide over" snack, in terms of calories, fat, sugar and protein. Ben eats one every night, right before bed and I try to keep one in my purse or gym bag at all times. It's the best bar I've found - in terms of nutrition and taste - and it's easy.

"Good" fat is something I'm still passionate about. I think that the world needs more flax oil and I'm just beginning to understand the health advantages of coconut oil (future post on this to come). I still eat handfuls of walnuts and almonds each day, and I have Ben eating a good half a cup of cashews daily, as well.

Vegetables are definitely becoming even more "center stage" in my diet. Before seeing my nutritionist, I probably averaged several cups of vegetables each day, with at least one cup being something green (spinach, mixed greens, asparagus or broccoli). At our last session, the nutritionist suggested that I increase my consumption of green vegetables to 4 to 6 cups a day.
That's a lot. Admittedly, shopping and prepping to meet that quota may be a little challenging.

Lastly, I wish that I could say that I gave up caffeine, but in all honesty, I'm more of an addict than ever! Short nights and long days make me grateful for multiple Starbucks locations. I really have no intention of giving up caffeine - ever. My own personal belief - which my nutritionist didn't support - is that caffeine is a great source of antioxidants and for many people, it is very well tolerated and perfectly fine to "wake up the system" at regular intervals during the day. I drink less than 4 cups a day (barely) and there are days where I wonder what I would do without it.

So, that's the recap on my 14 week nutrition adventure. In the end, I didn't lose any weight but I "swapped" nearly ten pounds of fat for muscle weight. And, consequently, my overall body fat dropped a few percentage points.

As usual, if you have any specific questions, please send an email or find me at the club. I'm always happy to share what I've learned.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weeks 13, 14, 15: Lessons Learned, Uphill Battles, The Shortest of Leashes

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of travel, lavish food, great wine, not-so-great road food, high quality vodka, low quality carbohydrates, late nights, early mornings, hard work-outs and not-so-easy lessons.

Three weeks of "doing whatever," relative to eating, has taught me that I'm no longer wired to "do whatever" and that when I "do whatever," my body is going to turn on me.

For starters, I made the uneducated decision to stop my endocrine medication. I believe that any decision regarding medication should be discussed with a medical professional. I'm not a medical professional and I don't know why I don't take my own advice more often.

But what's done is done and I learned that the endocrine medication needs to be with me probably for life. The symptoms of a faulty endocrine system are not fun and they do not go away easily. Combine complete disregard for nutrition with zero medication and the end result is hell. Self-induced hell, I might add.

What's very interesting to me - and to my nutritionist and to my doctor - is this incredibly unique scenario that I'm in. In an effort to boost my metabolism and encourage my thyroid to be more effective, I began a hard physical training program of strength training a month ago. Very little cardio, heavy emphasis on weights and resistance.

My nutritionist tested my body composition after four weeks of training. The results were amazing - I dropped nearly 10 pounds of body fat, and replaced each pound with muscle. On paper, it was a perfect scenario. Except for the fact that my basal metabolic rate did not change at all.

The basal metabolic rate for any individual is the amount of calories the body naturally utilizes on its own each day. When I began the program, my body was using 1,600 calories. Once my body composition shifted, I expected to see a sharp increase in caloric expenditure. After all, more muscle mass equals more caloric output. In theory.

In my body,that's sadly and simply not the case. My endocrine system is still too suppressed to allow my metabolism to shift into a higher gear. My basal metabolic rate was raised by a mere three calories despite the fact that I gained so much more muscle mass.

So this is going to be an uphill battle; one that will only be won with proper nutrition, thoughtful exercise and a good dose of Western medicine.

When I look back at the previous month, I can easily see that weight loss and overall well being is best achieved in my body through a high protein, controlled carbohydrate eating plan, with very little sugar, limited dairy and absolutely no wheat products.

For me, that means five small meals a day with oatmeal and brown rice as the carbohydrate mainstays and lots of green vegetables. I can get by with a small serving of fruit, provided that it is a low sugar choice (such as berries or cantaloupe).

I also think that oils really helped me get from meal to meal, without getting too hungry. Flax and coconut are my favorites. I love almonds, walnuts and cashews, along with all the nut butters, but I found that each are incredibly hard to digest. That didn't stop me from double and triple dipping into Ben's salty cashews each day.

Three weeks of straying taught me quite a lot; mostly, I learned that I am on an incredible short leash and that I have to work harder to stay on track and keep my endocrine system happy. It almost has to be looked at as a project, as much as I dislike how "high maintenance" that sounds.

In all honesty, I have been reluctant to get back to "brass tactics." But I need to. I can feel all the bad choices in my energy level. The gleam in my skin is not quite as noticeable. Afternoon caffeine feels like a mandatory sentence. My body has once again started to crave more protein, even though I have tended to give it sugar instead.

So, I'm back to it. After devouring white rice and a big piece of cake at a work function today, I knew I had reached my threshold.

In the spirit of sharing information, I'm being candid here because I think that other people - particularly women - may benefit from my experience. Many clients have come to me with weight loss challenges - they seem to be doing all the "right" things, yet the weight just won't come off. Sometimes a simple blood test can provide a myriad of answers, although the solutions aren't easy or quick.

I'm back to it today. Finding my own answers and feeling better.

As always, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me. We're all in this together!

Wish me luck as I take on my own project of wellness,

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Weeks 11 & 12: Anything Goes

On my way to vacation #2 with the kiddo. But before I go, here are the highlights of my nutrition program:

I stopped EVERYTHING last Wednesday to enjoy a week of great food, cocktails and not a lot of exercise. I tried to keep the sugar in check, at least.

Coming home, I eased back in very gradually allowing for more indulgences than usual. Feeding my body feels right, at least for right now. My garden is going crazy and I'm enjoying everything that's coming out of it. Still not much sugar, though.

I cut out my endocrine medication entirely. I didn't notice a difference without it. I do notice that if I eat clean, I don't need it. Yay for good food choices!

I've mainly been strength training at the gym. Not much cardio. I'm enjoying the challenge and the shift. My yoga practice feels stronger, as does my pilates practice.

Nine days on vacation with a nugget-loving child will certainly be telling. I haven't decided quite yet exactly what my own eating plan will entail. But it will, most certainly, NOT contain a nugget.

Freedom with choices feels good right now. Enjoying some of the most delicious food and wine of my life was so worth it.

More when we return.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Week 10: A Little Bit of This, A Whole Lot of That

A quick update on Week 10 nutrition...

I started integrating carbs back into my diet in a very controlled way. Brown rice was first - with no problem - and oatmeal was second. Also no problem.

Meals are way more frequent, and much smaller. I'm eating five times a day with small servings of protein (3 0z), brown rice (1/2 cup), and green vegetables (plain, unlimited). I start the day with 1/2 cup oatmeal, a half scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of flax oil or coconut oil.

My exercise program has completely changed. I eliminated all cardio except for 40 minutes of high intensity interval training one time each week. I'm focusing my efforts on weight training and taking a day off with yoga or pilates.

I feel good. The scale is down seven pounds (although it doesn't matter) and I'm down a dress size and even bought a child's size swim shirt last week. I'm pretty much ready to throw on a bikini for my upcoming vacation.

But I can't eat like this forever.

For one, it's boring. Rice, chicken and salmon are great. But four times a day? Not so much.
It's also time consuming. If I'm leaving the house for any length of time, I have to tote food with me. Cold rice and cold chicken and salmon are not good. I'm also cooking a lot of protein each day, just to have on hand for every meal. Too much work.

Once I'm home from vacation, I'll go back to something that resembles high protein, controlled carbs and more food options.

And no, on vacation, there's no way I'll eat like this. I'll definitely steer clear of desserts but I plan to fully enjoy yummy meals at every opportunity.

As for the exercise, I don't know when I'll make the switch back to cardio. I'm finding that I enjoy the weights much more.

I will say that the biggest rewards from being on 10 weeks of the program are the compliments from friends and clients. I definitely feel like I worked hard, harder than I thought I could, and it's nice to get a little validation from all the effort.

I'll check in during the first part of August.

Be well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week 9: Momentum and Intution

I am roughly nine weeks into my nutrition program and I'm feeling the effects of extreme deprivation and hard, hard physical activity.

When I think about the last nine weeks, I'm amazed that I've been able to keep pace and stay the course with this rigid plan. My momentum was, up until last weekend, pretty darn stellar. But as is always the case, momentum can be both good and bad.

Last weekend, it was bad.

I was at my sister's house and she had a whole spread of food. Never mind that she had stocked up on protein and veggies for me. All I wanted were the things I couldn't have.

So I had them. And I had a lot of them. I'll spare you the details.

I got sick. I was sick for two days.

I asked myself, "why?"

The thing is, the momentum that saw me through nine weeks turned on me, this weekend, and became the most slippery slope. I couldn't stop with the margarita and the beer. I couldn't stop with the chips and salsa. I couldn't stop after the cookie. But I had to stop after the pie.

And that is what deprivation will do.

There's a reason that cheating is encouraged on diets. It's a built in way of allowing pleasure. Because without pleasure, food is no fun. Admittedly, that's how it's been for me for too long.

Nine weeks is too long to go without a treat!

And nine treats are too many to have in one sitting.

Do you see the point here? I do. I see it oh-so-clearly and now I get it, too: Indulge periodically. It's OK."

So, that's my soapbox moment on momentum. Go with it, but give it a break now and then too. Otherwise, it will turn around and totally beat you up.

Now, on to the semantics of the program.

At Week 8, I checked my weight and it was the same as when I started the program. Up a few ounces, in fact. But if I've learned anything during this program, it's this: the scale doesn't tell the whole tale and it never will.

I had my nutritionist check my body fat and my lean muscle mass. Body fat was down to 19% (from 25%) and muscle mass stayed the exact same (which is good).

So, once again, I have a good reason to throw out my scale, because it just doesn't provide an accurate picture. Ever.

I am pretty happy at 19% body fat. I've been as low as 16% before and that's not the greatest look for me. I could stay at 19% and be quite happy.

It is likely that the nutrition program has helped "reset" my endocrine system and thyroid and also likely that I will come off that medication in the next month. I haven't had a migraine since the program started which is huge and my doctor thinks that there is also a correlation between my nutrition and my headaches.

All this is good.

However, I've been starting to do more strength training and less cardio. I'm tired. My body doesn't feel like it's getting what it needs - in the way of energy - to sustain moderate lifting at the gym and long pilates sessions.

This is not good.

I'm waking up hungry at night and I'm ravenous in the morning. Eggs aren't cutting it. Neither is salad. I can't get back in the "ketosis" zone. My body is definitely talking to me. I don't want it to turn on me again.

Meanwhile, I have another eight weeks on my current program and my nutritionist isn't "allowing" for modifications just yet. I hope she's not reading this.

A colleague of mine, who happens to be a competitor for figure competitions, and who has the body of a supermodel, took one look at me and said, "You're not getting enough carbs. You look tired."

I told her about my diet. She gave me some ideas. Basically, if I'm going to be lifting weights and doing some cardio, I have to have grains. She suggested eating every three hours. Five mini-meals a day. I have to re-calibrate my protein. Less at each meal. Three ounces. And only brown rice as a carb, with the exception of a half-cup of oatmeal in the morning.

So, now, instead of four eggs in the morning, I'm having two, with the oatmeal. Then, four small meals of lean protein and a little brown rice and some green vegetables. I'm also keeping the flax, since it such a great supplement, and the apple cider vinegar, too.

No sugar. No other refined carbohydrates. No fruit. Lots and lots and lots of water. With a few tweaks, my friends says I can continue "re-setting" the thyroid, but in a way that supports my physical activity and output, and allows for more energy (hopefully).

I'm taking a week long break from my nutritionist. We'll see how I feel in a week. While I'm not opposed to going carb-free again, I certainly don't feel like it's working for me right now.

My intuition has always been one of my most powerful tools. Having body awareness is a huge component of good intuition and it's served me well in the past. I trust that it will now, too.