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!

Mar 042013

If you’re struggling with your weight, put a magnifying glass up to the sugar you’re consuming. Studies show rats are more inclined to choose sugar than narcotic drugs when offered a smorgasboard of addicting substances! So don’t bash yourself for not having willpower–instead reconstruct the way you eat and you’ll be surprised at how much more control you have over what slides past your lips.

Sugar hides in places you wouldn’t imagine–spaghetti sauce, breads, crackers, cereals and other processed foods. I’ve read food labels and been stunned to see what lurks on the list. If sugar is near the top of the list of ingredients, there’s loads of it! Get food smart by reading labels and making and effort to reduce your daily dose of sugar, which can improve your health in more ways than one. You’ll miss the “high” you get from that insulin spike for awhile, but in the long run, you’ll have steadier energy and be less susceptible to binge eating and cravings for sugar-rich foods.

Try replacing cakes, pies, and candy bars with a piece of fruit. A slice of juicy mango or pineapple will put a burst of sweetness on your tongue and  provide your body with nourishment. So instead of finishing one simple sugar sweet only to end up desperately banging  on the outside of the candy machine an hour later, choose a snack item that will give you a steady stream of energy and allow your brain to focus on something other than getting your next “sugar fix.”

Are you still doubting you can do it? If you want to feel empowered, I urge you to challenge yourself to one week without candy, cakes, pies, cooking and puddings. Get them out of the house where they won’t tempt you to taste them and then embark on a low sugar diet. Remember, it doesn’t have to be tasteless–start trying new fruits and healthful recipes and before you know it you’ll find a whole new repertoire of healthy favorite foods. By the end of the week, you’re likely to find that you’re eating less and feeling better without sugar’s addictive disruption. Good luck! I’d love to hear your comments on how this goes :-)

Nov 162011

If you are the first one to correctly guess what I just ate (hint: it was delicious), I will send you a free copy of my DVD, Personal Best Stretch: Move Better Than Ever! Bring it on…

Oct 132010

Are you looking for something tasty and healthy to snack on today? Below are some of my favorites…

1) Red grapes with cinnamon (Miraval Fitness Supervisor Pam Trudeau shared this one with me)- Wash and then sprinkle with cinnamon so it sticks to the wet grapes. Delicious!

2) Cantaloupe shake – dice up cantaloupe and toss in the blender with some ice. Truly refreshing.

3) Yogurt Drink (served at many Indian restaurants) Pour a cup or so of plain yogurt, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and a few mint leaves into the blender. Nice and refreshing.

4) Yogurt Dip – Add a little salt to some plain yogurt and use it as dip for cucumber slices or whatever raw veggies you love.

5) Berry shake – Add a cup of frozen blueberries (or another berry favorite), a cup of almond milk and a half a banana into the blender.

6) Energy shake – If you need extra calories to keep your weight up, try a cup of almond milk, a banana and a half a cup of peanut butter.

7) Ginger snaps (Trader Joe’s are the best) – a little sweet and soothing on the stomach.

8) Sliced wheat pita and hummus – need I say more?

I hope you will ditch the chips and try one of my favorite snacks today. Happy munching.

Jun 152010

Far too often people cope with stress by reaching for a piece of candy or a cookie. Others can’t stop at one or two and end up eating the whole bag or box. Hardly ever are the foods people reach for to calm themselves healthy (when was the last time you reached for a carrot stick when your boss chewed you out?) Usually, people grab items loaded with salt, sugar and/or fat. Once the thrill of the binge ends, the net result is guilt and low self esteem. If this sounds all too familiar, below are some suggestions for how to reduce your stress level without expanding your waistline.

The first step is to put a halt to using food as a stress reliever. When you need to relax, try some of these other tools and stay clear of the refrigerator until you feel calm.

1 – Step outside for a long walk, preferably someplace quiet where you can feel in-tune with nature.

2 – Slip into a warm bath. Make it even better by pouring in some of your favorite bath oil, reading a favorite book or listening to music.

3 – Put on your gardening gloves. Touching the earth and plants can be very soothing.

4 -Write down your thoughts without worrying about grammar or punctuation or writing it so someone else would want to read it. Sometimes just unloading what’s on your mind without having to censor it can do wonders for your stress.

5 – Engage in a favorite hobby. Whether you like quilting, knitting, painting or working with clay, just indulge in some quality “me” time.

Adopting a different strategy to cope with stress may be difficult for awhile. The sacrifice will be well worth the effort, though. Once you get in the habit of using non-food methods to decompress at the end of the day, you will feel more relaxed than you ever did before. Not to mention that you will feel much more in control of your weight and your life.