Sep 012018

I am officially a Regional Sales Director for Revo2lution Running, founded by leading running expert Dr. Jason Karp. If you are a personal trainer, running coach or a runner seasoned or new, this cutting-edge program can give you the competitive edge. You can attend a course to become a certified professional or as a runner. Courses are offered in most U.S. cities and many countries worldwide. There is also a home study course that makes it easy to learn during your free time!

Learn the importance of knowing your VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold in doing effective training. Learn how to create a running program for someone new to running, whether it be you or a client. If weight loss is a goal for you or your client(s), learn nutrition tips that will make this goal more achievable. And most importantly, learn how to run safely with less potential for injury. 65 percent of people to participate in running experience an injury over the course of the year, which can mean missing races, fun with friends, and interfere with weight loss goals. Why not avoid injury altogether so you can keep on running? Knowledge is power and Dr. Karp’s program will give you power with a capital P and so much more. To read about or sign up for a workshop, home study program, runner mentoring programs and more, check out the Revo2lution Running web site. For a 5 percent discount on your workshop fee, please use the code SUSANCOOK when you purchase.

Sep 032017

I’m a big believer in eating real food. A typical breakfast for me consists of organic oats – topped with sliced banana, blueberries, chia seeds and walnuts – and drizzled with whole organic milk. Favorite lunches are 1) plain yogurt blended with papaya chunks and 2)a plate of organic corn tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, salsa with avocado, and pinto beans. For dinner, I usually saute different varieties of vegetables with chicken or fish. I almost always cook with olive or coconut oils.

While I work hard to eat and find places I can buy an abundance of real foods, the food industry, media and general public continue to sabotage these efforts. Food companies know how to make food that stimulates your taste buds, often to the point that they lose a taste for real food. Food with excessive sugar, fat and flavorings tested to “addict” eaters is known as hyperpalatable.  Recognizing that many people are making an effort to eat healthier, food companies are producing products that sound healthy, but really aren’t. And the sad thing about this is that magazines are writing features that are nothing short of advertorials for these convenience foods. It feels to me like they have sold out. One feature I read recently even went as far as to insult a reader who chooses the “sit down bowl of oatmeal” over rushing out the door and eating a bar on the way to an appointment. Wow. I’ll take my bowl of oatmeal any day over bars that have xantham gum and “natural” flavors, which are not really natural at all and can contain a wide range of chemicals. Some of the foods mentioned in articles contain aspartame and sucralose, chemicals that I’ve established give me horrible migraines. How painful is it to get up fifteen minutes early so you can eat your meal at the table instead of in the car (and possibly feel a whole lot better the rest of the day as a result of this choice)? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

If grab and go is all that matters to you, then some of the “healthy” items in plastic packages that the fitness magazines boast about might do it for you. I’ll give them this much – they’re better than a greasy burger or a fake shake at a fast food restaurant! But I’m not interested in jumping on this convenience food band wagon that too many fitness magazines are pushing us to jump on. One reason I didn’t renew my subscription to IDEA Fitness Journal is that I was so turned off by the rash of nutrition features lately, which encourage fitness leaders to consume these packed foods, serve them to their families and spread the word about them to their class participants and clients. So many fresh food meals take only minutes to create and taste so delicious! As for me? I’ll continue to encourage everyone within my circle to eat as close to the source so they can reap the feel-and-look-good benefits this choice has to offer.

Apr 262017

I made another batch of Kitchari for tonight’s dinner. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to detoxify and restore gut health, kitchari is basically a vegetarian stew with moong dal (split mung beans with the skin removed), basmati rice and vegetables. A 1 cup serving is only 300 calories. It’s also packed with protein, dietary fiber, and minerals. Because kitchari is rich in dietary fiber, it gives you a sense of fullness that lasts so you’re not craving more food an hour later, which makes it a perfect food for people trying to lose weight. It’s also very easy to digest. If your belly is still bloated from that pizza that was served at today’s lunch meeting, a bowl of this will send you to bed feeling good instead of needing to pop an antacid.

I follow the recipe from Kate O’Donnell’s The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook. You can choose from a long list of recommended vegetables, but tonight’s concoction has cauliflower, spinach, leeks, and artichoke. After simmering the mixture, I warmed some cumin, coriander and fennel seed in ghee to add some spicy flavor to the stew. Now I’ll simply add a few sprigs of raw cilantro as a garnish, wait till my husband gets home and then we’ll sit out on the back patio and enjoy this simple and healthy meal. Preparing kitchari took less than an hour and is much more nutritious than anything we would get dining out.

Mar 312017

I am excited to announce the release of my new book, Fitter Than Ever at 40 and Beyond.

I know fitness and how the right balance of training, mindful exercise and good nutrition can transform your life. Rewrite your script of making resolutions and quitting them and start living a healthy lifestyle today. Fitter Than Ever offers an easy-to-follow activity and eating plan and is packed with Slim for Life Secrets to keep you on-track and motivated. This book will make your journey of losing weight, exercising and eating healthy fun and empowering.

The e-books are available now. A paperback print edition will be available by April 30.

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Fitter Than Ever at 40 and Beyond


Oct 152016

Many people open the medicine cabinet the instant a joint or muscle aches or the stomach hurts. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications  wreak havoc on the body. What helps your joint pain might make your gut scream hours later. Plants and herbs such at turmeric, ginger, and triphala, can offer relief without unpleasant side effects. I have been amazed how much better I feel now that I’m integrating them into my daily diet. Studies show they can improve health and reduce long-term suffering. It is very important to consult with your physician before taking herbs or stopping any current medications.

Three of my favorite herbs are turmeric (curcumin is the active ingredient), ginger, and triphala. I take triphala almost daily in tablet form and make tea with a blend of powdered turmeric and ginger.

Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory and can be taken in a tea or in warm oil when joint or muscle pain strikes in lieu of taking medication. Some studies have even shown it can help alleviate arthritic pain and is protective against cancer.

Ginger is the perfect remedy for an upset stomach. It can ease nausea, morning sickness, and even reduce the misery of motion sickness and menstrual cramps. People often report it reduces post-exercise muscle soreness. Studies show the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger often reduces painful symptoms of osteoarthritis when taken internally or a paste including ginger is applied to the painful area. Ingesting ginger regularly may also lower cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimers.

Triphala contains three fruits found in India: Amalaki, Bibhitaki, and Haritaki. It is a gentle bowel cleanser that helps improve digestion, reduce stomach discomfort and contributes to regular bowel movements. Because it helps with food absorption, taking it regularly while eating a well balanced diet can ensure the body is getting adequate nourishment. Many regular users of triphala report healthy weight loss once their digestive systems get to a state of balance. Triphala is also a powerful antioxidant, which helps protect the body from free radical damage. Triphala can be taken in a tea or in tablet form.

Before going beyond sprinkling some of these on your meals, consult with a trusted physician or licensed naturopath. That person can ensure whatever herbs you’re taking won’t adversely interfere with any medications your taking. Once you’ve been given the green light, you’ll find your body will respond much better to natural herbs. They improve health instead of simply putting a temporary bandaid on symptoms.

Jun 252015

Foods sweetened with aspartame and sucralose seem to be an ideal solution for minimizing sugar and caloric intake. The sad truth is both are harmful chemicals that wreak havoc on your system. Even people who routinely avoid artificial sweeteners should beware of where these insidious ingredients lurk. Most know they are constituents of low-calorie carbonated beverages, but they are also found in chewing gum, chewable vitamins, yogurt and even the pickled ginger commonly served with sushi!

Tucson-based holistic neurospecialist Dr. Timothy Marshall, one of the world’s leading experts in nutrient delivery systems, nutrient optimization and low-dose lithium therapeutics is all to familiar with the harmful effects of these powerful and dangerous chemicals having suffered symptoms from consuming them himself. He educates readers about the dangers of artificial sweeteners in his book, Think Smoking is Bad? Try Aspartame.

“Aspartame is composed of two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid,” he says in his book. The O-methyl group attached to the molecule breaks down into methanol with the remainder of the molecule generating the potent carcinogen DKP along with free-form amino acids that can harm the brain, eyes and nervous system. DKP, he goes on to explain, chemically resembles the tumor-causing chemical, N-nitrosea.

When consumed, the phenylalanine and the aspartic acid are highly stimulating, which keeps diet soda drinkers heading back to the refrigerator panting for more. Meanwhile, the methanol is in the bloodstream, reacting and eventually binding with oxygen. Once this compound converts to formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and formic acid, it goes on a rampage.

“Formaldehyde binds to DNA and proteins and interferes with their function in the body,” says Dr. Marshall. This process is especially damaging to the brain and nervous system. Formic acid isn’t body-friendly either. “The primary pain-producing molecule in bee or ant venom,” it is a biological irritant with neurotoxic affects.

World-renowned authority in natural medicine, Dr. Joseph Mercola states on his health and wellness web site www.mercola.com that aspartame is “the most dangerous substance added to most food today.” In a blog post, he states, “Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA.” Among those reports are instances of seizures and death.

Although the EPA established safe limit for methanol is 7.8 mg/day, a diet soda contains 18 mg of methanol. Considering the numerous individuals drinking two or more sodas daily, the harmful effects of such consumption are difficult to quantify.

In addition to the more severe side effects, formaldehyde poisoning may contribute to metabolic dysfunction, weight gain, loss of insulin sensitivity, depression, fibromyalgia and an increase in inflammatory markers says Dr. Marshall. Some studies indicate a strong correlation between aspartame and brain tumors.

Health conscious individuals should read labels carefully to ensure aspartame and sucralose (Splenda) are not constituents. Dr. Marshall suggests sweetening foods and drinks with safe sugar substitutes stevia or lo han.

Apr 152014

If you’re feeling irritable and exhausted, excessive sugar may be the culprit. Recording what you eat for a week or two can help you evaluate your diet so you can make better food choices that will improve how you feel and your overall health.

Your brain demands a constant supply of sugar and energy to function. If it doesn’t receive what it needs, the body reacts to this crisis by releasing chemicals in an attempt to regulate this whacky situation.

Sugar, often a major constituent of processed foods, can make you irritable by causing spikes and dropouts in insulin and blood sugar. Here’s what happens when you dump four teaspoons of sugar into your morning coffee and drink it down. Insulin, responsible for maintaining normal blood sugar levels, soars dramatically as blood sugar jumps up to sweep excessive sugar from the blood. Unfortunately, it tends to overdo this task and leaves you feeling lethargic, irritable and craving another sugar high (a doughnut, perhaps). This then triggers the release of adrenaline, a stress hormone that triggers the flight or fight response. So if you ever wanted to hurt someone after your drank that sugar-rich coffee or soaked your waffles in syrup, now you know why. In many cases, the chemical chaos that ensues leaches the body of high quality nutrients, throwing you further out of balance.

The best way to stabilize mood and energy is to eat sensibly. Avoid eating simple carbohydrates, especially without the support of other foods, to keep blood sugar more level throughout the day. Candy, non-diet sodas, juices, and cakes are all examples of simple carbohydrates. When you consume refined sugar or products where it is a main ingredient, you dump empty calories into your body that have no nutritional benefit and often can compromise your health.

 Remember, not all carbohydrates are evil. Ingesting healthier carbohydrate, such as fruits and whole grain products, will provide your body and brain with a steadier energy stream. If you must consume items containing refined sugar, dilute them with other foods, such as meats and low-fat dairy products. Protein and fat delay the absorption of sugar into the blood and take longer to digest than carbohydrates. A blend of foods is most likely to leave you feeling more level and energetic.

Eating small meals with a mix of nutrients every three or four hours is another technique that works well to stabilize blood sugar. While small meals aren’t a chore to digest, very large meals draw so much blood flow to the stomach that you will feel lethargic.

Sugar induced weight gain and chemical imbalances, combined with an inactive lifestyle, can eventually lead to a host of health problems, including diabetes.  Tweaking your diet for the healthier can improve your energy level, mood and can positively impact long-term health.

Sep 252013

Many people embark on exercise programs with only one purpose in mind – weight loss. And when the pounds don’t melt off in a matter of weeks, they throw in the towel and say exercise didn’t “do me any good.” If that’s your philosophy, I’m here to give you some friendly advice…First, you didn’t gain the weight overnight, so it won’t come off that fast either. Second, if you’re only exercising to lose weight, you might not appreciate the other goodies that are part of the package!

I speak from experience when I say its easier to lose weight when exercise and healthy food are part of a wellness program to make you happier and healthier, not a punishment for overeating. Yes, I was guilty of dashing out for 8 mile runs when I was in college to “make up” for the previous night’s pizza fest, but most of the time, I found myself on a constant roller coaster of fasting and feasting and “punishing” myself with marathon workouts. Healthy isn’t a word that described my physical or mental state during that time.

In my mid-20s, I evolved toward a wellness philosophy. I threw the word “diet” out the window and bought some nutrition books. I cried myself to sleep the night I swore I would never again call Dominoe’s at 2 AM to order pizza (not really). Gradually, I phased out or reduced fried foods, sweets, junk food, and mixed drinks and added more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to my diet. And guess what? I lost a good bit of weight, but the other benefits thrilled me the most. And they’re the ones that keep me rushing out the door to the pool and the gym most days of the week. Here’s what else comes with that regular workout package…

1) Improved health. Activity and a clean diet can mean lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduced risk for a variety of illnesses and disabling conditions. Remember, you don’t have to lose weight to experience health benefits with exercise. Studies are demonstrating that.

2) Stronger bones. Regular activity (weight-bearing) will help you maintain bone density as you age and reduce your risk for osteoporosis.

3) Reduced Pain. Many people say they don’t exercise because they hurt too much. Always consult with your physician first, but in most instances exercise and an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce your discomfort. If you have arthritis, you will be better off avoiding impact activities. Warm-water exercise is also a great choice for people with a variety of painful conditions.

4) Improved Energy Levels, Mood, and Concentration. I have to say these three are the big ones that get me out the door and on my way to the pool or gym most mornings. I always feel such a sense of gratitude after a workout, being able to move and feel as good as I do and that carries me through the day, making it much more enjoyable. So if you feel tired, grumpy or can’t remember what you were planning to do next, it might be a good time to fit in a workout!

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to move. I’ll race you to the door!

Jul 212012

This morning, I read a staggering statistic over a cup of Chai. 63 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Not good news at all for any of us. On the positive side, if you become aware of certain practices in our society that make us fat, you can keep yourself from becoming part of this statistic or arm yourself so you can start moving the scale in a downward direction.

I recently drove with my husband, son and mother to Colorado for my brother’s wedding. The entire trip, I was bombarded by billboards with photos of sundaes and sandwiches and lines about all-you-can-eat buffets. At hotels, morning breakfasts consisted of food laden with calories (biscuits and gravy, eggs smothered in cheese and sour cream). And at restaurants in general, we were served monster portions that could have fed three instead of one. Is it any wonder that we are overweight, when everywhere we go, we are programmed to finish the three-person plate, go for the all-you-can-eat buffet, and indulge in food with so much sauce, you can’t taste the original food (and could almost gain weight smelling it, it’s so caloric). Have you ever noticed what’s on the children’s menus–pretty much never anything healthy–it’s always fried chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and pizza without a single veggie.

TV can also send you running for the kitchen (or dialing for pizza in 30 minutes or less). Just when you’ve finished dinner, you turn on the tube to see someone pulling a cheese-rich slice of pizza from a plate, sinking teeth into a juicy sandwich or sipping an ice cold beer. My solution for that is hit the mute button and go do a small cleaning task. The worst thing you can do for your diet is eat while you are doing another activity such as watching TV or reading. When you eat mindlessly, you can easily consume a ton of calories without the brain even processing that the food was consumed. So afterward, you don’t even feel satisfied.

Even the grocery store can send us on a path of destruction. All I can say, is don’t go there hungry! The store managers know how to put all the most costly convenience foods just where you will see them and the packages have images that will get you salivating and forgetting they pack more calories than nutritional punch. My advice is to just steer clear of the frozen foods aisles and head straight for the produce section! Make a point of trying one new food every week that is healthy so you can acquire a new healthy taste. The more you eat fresh food, the more your tastebuds will come to appreciate food that’s not packed with artificial flavors and preservatives.

So my message for you is to rethink all this. For one, why do we eat? Ideally, it should be for nourishment, not simply to satisfy some temporary lust for taste. The more you eat food overloaded with additives, the less you will be satisfied with foods that improve your health like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. They don’t have any flavor, people sometimes say. That’s because your tastebuds have become deadened to the taste of real food. Give them time and they will be satisfied with a hint of garlic or a touch of ginger, instead of five dollops of sour cream.

Part of my weight-maintenance and health program involves avoiding too many meals out. That way I don’t have numerous opportunities to eat foods over which I have no control. Few menus offer caloric content and I don’t know if my vegetables are steamed, sauteed in olive oil or some kind of trans-fat laden grease. I also sometimes ask people about my meal (like what is in that butter dish? butter, margarine, etc.) and if they can’t tell me, I never go back.

If every person demanded that restaurants serve smaller portions, healthier fare, and provide nutritional content, they would have to deliver. Instead, we allow them to take advantage of our gluttony and our senses, which lead us to make poor nutritional choices. Some people would rather not know how many calories they are consuming so it doesn’t inhibit the enjoyment of their meal. But this temporary enjoyment comes at a high price in terms of health not only for us, but for every other American. And anyway, I would ask you, do you really want to adopt a mantra to live by that is “ignorance is bliss?”

Sep 062011

Are you one of those people that still believe if you do 500 abdominal crunches each day, that flabby middle will evaporate? If so, you are not alone. Many people still believe that over-exercising specific parts of the body will enable “spot” toning or the dissipation of fat from a preferred part of the body.

The harsh reality is that it just isn’t so. Aerobic exercise and strength training help you to burn fat, but your body makes the bottom line decision as to where the weight comes off. Face it ladies, the first place where weight tends to disappear is from the bust line! It’s not fair, but unfortunately the adipose tissue on the abdomen, hips and thighs is usually most unwilling to say a final farewell.

Removing fat from the body is a function of calories in versus calories out, nothing more. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will add fat; if you eat less than you burn, you will lose a pound for every 3500 calorie deficit. The most efficient way to reduce your body fat is to eat a healthy diet, engage in at least 200 minutes of continuous or aerobic activity per week (low-impact or step aerobics, walking, elliptical, cycling or swimming), and follow a regular strength training program. During continuous activity, the body burns fat which facilitates weight loss and increases caloric expenditure at rest. Regular exercise stimulates activity in muscle tissues and reduces the loss of muscle mass during a weight loss program.

People often set unrealistic goals for their bodies, which can be destructive to self-esteem and body image. You will be most content if you learn to make the most of what you have, since each of us was genetically designed to be a bit different. Ladies, forget about the Cosmo cover models; and gentleman, its OK if you have to wear a shirt along with your Calvin Kline jeans. Remember to set your sights on a healthy weight, rather than a perfect body. And exercise regularly, so you will look and feeling the best you possibly can every day.