COVID-19 update: We have moved into a 100% online studio operation...

Despite their many potential pitfalls, fad diets are everywhere. These types of diets are easy to spot—they promote seemingly magical results with promises of rapid weight loss. Unfortunately, they also tend to be incredibly restrictive and not based in solid nutritional science. At best you might see a single study or a few anecdotal testimonials supporting claims of a fad diet’s success. Still, it can be tempting to try out a new diet if it promises to help you lose 10, 15, or 20 pounds in a matter of weeks. Here’s a closer look at why you should avoid that temptation.

Fad diets don’t promote long-term weight loss.

Juice cleanses, the Keto Diet, the Fenoboci Diet… these are just a few of many recent diet trends that have been featured all over social feeds, magazines, and other media. You may even know someone personally who raves about their results with one of these programs. However, they’re called fad diets for a reason.

Although there’s always some trending diet making headlines, the individual plans are never the same—that’s because they simply don’t work. Most of these diets rely on extreme measures like cutting out entire food groups, significantly restricting your caloric intake, or even fasting for long periods of time. These strategies don’t add up to long-term weight loss. Even if you see results on the scale initially, they aren’t likely to last.

You may experience dehydration, malnutrition, and serious health problems because of fad dieting.

Fad diets tend to rely on claims that cutting out key foods or combining certain foods will result in weight loss. However, when you eliminate whole food groups, you may not get all the vital nutrients you need for good health. For example, avoiding carbohydrates altogether could have you lacking fiber in your diet. Instead, it would be more beneficial to swap out simple carbohydrates for complex ones, such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice.

Following a restrictive diet plan, you may experience dehydration, fatigue, nausea, headaches, and constipation. The Keto Diet even warns followers of the Keto Flu, which may include symptoms of irritability, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, muscle cramps, and poor concentration—clear signs that the body is struggling to adapt to an extreme diet. Over a longer period, these effects may significantly damage your health and put you at risk for more serious problems.

Fad diets don’t provide adequate fuel for your workouts.

Because fad diets aren’t nutritionally well-rounded, you may be lacking the building blocks you need for cardiovascular and strength training workouts. Exercise is a key ingredient for weight loss, as it helps you burn calories, build lean muscle, and boost your metabolism. However, you need a solid foundation of good nutrition to get your body ready to exercise.

To ensure that your body is fueled for your workouts, you should focus on balancing what you eat. Add more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to your diet while working to avoid processed foods, added sugars, and high sodium foods. In addition, you should stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout your day and even more during your workouts. Pre- and post-workout snacks including protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates—for example, a banana and a handful of nuts—can help you quickly refuel and stick to your fitness plan.

You’re likely to gain all the weight back after transitioning away from a trending diet plan.

If you’ve ever followed an incredibly restrictive diet, you know that food cravings and temptations don’t simply disappear. It’s tough to stick to extreme fad diets, and most don’t even encourage sticking to the diet long-term. So inevitably, you’ll transition back to a different way of eating, most likely falling back on old habits. As a result, you will probably see weight gain, which can ultimately be even more dangerous. Yo-yo dieting can throw hormonal levels off balance, put stress on your cardiovascular system, and cause you to gain more harmful belly fat.

Focusing on sustainable habits is a formula for success.

Selecting the right diet plan isn’t always easy. There are lots of factors to consider, including your dietary preferences, your previous experience with different diet plans, and your individual weight loss goals. That’s why the lifestyle and nutritional coaching programs at Body Essentials are customized to your needs and include ongoing support from a dedicated coach. As part of our Flourishing Program, we offer 21 Day Nutrition Challenges every other month that include different food themes, live group coaching, & weekly educational video lessons. The purpose is to support participants while providing accountability to the varying nutrition needs of all participants. Our next challenge begins on Tuesday September 14th!

Before you commit to any diet program, schedule a one-on-one consultation with a lifestyle and nutritional coach at Body Essentials. Our online personal training and coaching services can help you fit nutrition and wellness into your busy lifestyle. We also provide on-demand fitness classes and personal training sessions, so you can stay fit and active throughout your journey. Call us today at 802-345-9644 or request a consultation on our website.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss has been a frequent topic of conversation within the health and fitness community over the last few years. But what exactly is it, how does it work, and how can it benefit your weight loss journey? In this blog, we look at the basics of intermittent fasting and how working with a nutrition coach can help you decide if it is right for you.

What Exactly Is Intermittent Fasting?

In a nutshell, intermittent fasting involves having periods where you are fasting and periods where you are eating throughout the day or week. Intermittent fasting is not a diet from a timing standpoint. We repeat, it is not a diet. It is a shift in your eating patterns to initiate changes within your body to aid in weight loss. Often, people hear the word fasting and immediately think of going without food for lengthy periods, and that is an option, but it is not the only way it can be done. 

What Are the Different Methods of Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?

Overnight intermittent is really the easiest method for those who are not breakfast haters or skippers. With that method you eat your meals in 12 hours and then nothing but water or whatever for the overnight 12 hours so 6am-6pm food and nothing again for another 12 hours. Truly sustainable for the long term. 

The next method is called Eat-Stop-Eat. This method is closest to the type of fasting some people imagine when they think of intermittent fasting. With this method, you would fast for a full 24 hours once or twice a week but eat as usual the rest of the week. The fasting period can begin at any time of day.  

Finally, there is the 5:2 diet. This method involves limiting caloric intake to only 500-600 calories two days out of the week while eating on a normal schedule on other days. Your limited intake days don’t need to be taken consecutively.  

No one method is the best intermittent fasting for weight loss. We suggest working with your nutrition coach to determine the method that is the most sustainable for your lifestyle, as well as your dietary and exercise needs. 

What Are the Advantages of Intermittent Fasting?

We mentioned that intermittent fasting causes changes within your body that facilitate weight loss. These changes include increasing growth hormones within your body to help burn fat and increase lean muscle without stringent calorie reductions. Fasting also triggers the release of the hormone noradrenaline, which is a fat-burning hormone. You’ll also lower your blood sugar and insulin levels, which makes it easier for your body to use up stored body fat and reduce insulin resistance. All these changes combined can result in an increased metabolism. In short, you are burning more calories than you are consuming, so you are likely to lose weight. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Intermittent Fasting?

The most frequent concern with intermittent fasting for weight loss is extreme hunger resulting in binge-eating. After 16 hours with no food, hunger is normal. A common strategy to limit hunger is to eat protein-rich foods for dinner, which will help sustain your body until your first meal in the afternoon. However, without careful planning, you run the risk of overeating later on. Even though intermittent fasting is not a diet, you still want to be mindful of the calories you are consuming during your eating period. The people who are the most unsuccessful at using intermittent fasting for weight loss think that 16 hours of fasting gives them a free pass to eat all they want in the afternoon and evening.

It’s also essential to plan fasting around your exercise schedule. If you work out first thing in the morning, your might feel sick or fatigued. This is because working out on an empty stomach leaves your body with little fuel for your workout. Your body needs some glucose before workouts and protein afterwards and, with intermittent fasting, you are not getting either of these. If you work out and are interested in intermittent fasting for weight loss, work with a nutrition coach to discuss the best options for you. 

Ultimately, the biggest disadvantage is that there is minimal research about intermittent fasting. There are some studies that have been conducted, but there is just not enough research to say definitively if this is the best weight loss option available. 

Intermittent fasting may not be beneficial for everyone. You should consult with a health professional before starting intermittent fasting, especially if you have a history of eating disorders, fluctuating blood sugar, diabetes, low blood pressure, or taking medications. Women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have menstruation issues should also seek medical advice before fasting. 

Body Essentials offers lifestyle and nutritional coaching to support you in your weight loss goals. So, if you’re interested in intermittent fasting for weight loss or discovering other nutrition plan options, call us at 802-345-9644 or set up a consultation online

This week last year at Body Essentials (BE), we wondered what would become of working out in person! We spaced people out on bikes in Spinning class, altered our training sessions and other classes for more space and less equipment and fully disinfected each piece of equipment before putting away after every single workout each day. We even prepared for possible zoom or face-time workouts. Who knew we would be HERE now 1 year later!

The studio was ordered to close down on Saturday March 20, 2020 within an hour of having closed for the weekend after the morning classes! I was on my way to the studio to workout and clean when I heard the news from Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, while listening to public radio I quickly alerted all of our members and invited them to come and borrow equipment so we could workout together online while we waited out the pandemic. Little did any of us know at that time, we would never move that equipment back in because the pandemic kept dragging on but also because we enjoyed the convenience and ease of working out online! Less than 24 hours after closing our doors we all gathered for our first online workout, Mindful Movement. We needed that  quiet stretch that day and to figure out the Zoom setup. NONE OF US knew what we were doing, we just gave it our best shot and have never looked back.

On Business.......

Over the last year we have mirrored what we did in person online thru zoom, maintaining the same group fitness schedule and training schedule, we simply increased the size of our semi-private groups from 2-3 to now 4-5. Jumping so quickly into Zoom was not only a matter of survival but a means of community and service and connection during a period of time that was 100% uncharted territory for all of us. It would have been easy to be all doom and gloom about how bad virtual training was and that is what the outcome would have been but my mindset is that anything is possible and awesome if you engineer it that way and that was what we did. 5:30am online workouts all of sudden offered us more sleep because we did not have to commute. All that equipment we bought in years past, thinking we could workout at home on our own, all of a sudden came in handy and driving to the gym after work and not getting home until 7pm to still have to make dinner no longer happened. We engineered a schedule and system that increased the wellbeing for all of our clients.

By June when there was still a lot of unknown about COVID, but the slow down of life felt good as a human being I took another leap of faith and decided our studio would go permanently online maintaining our zoom virtual space indefinitely. Turns out it has been a great decision. Although I was still paying expenses on a physical location and then started remodeling an in home studio, I was by no means saving money but was very fortunate for the space at home to create a professional appearance. Our members did the same thing, leaning in to creating a permanent studio space or nook in their home and it has been so much fun to see how at home workout spaces have evolved!

There are so many highlights of creating a virtual studio from a business owner perspective. Being my own landlord is probably my favorite. It has allowed less headaches and 110% more creativity in programming and enhancing our mission beyond simply fitness. This time has allowed for reaching our greatest potential in nutrition and lifestyle programming especially as we have started 2021!

On Life.........

As March of 2020 turned to April and it became clear I needed to get comfortable at home finding a balance of running a business in the space that was also my place of respite. What I knew for sure and said out loud to my beloved husband, Tom was that this pandemic was (thankfully and optimistically) going to be a once in a lifetime OPPORTUNITY to shed what was not working in any aspect of life and make time for the things that I was seeking in all aspects of life. For me this meant slowing the hell down and figuring out how to create a healthier flow to work and life including getting more sleep, adding in more leisure time activities, working less on the weekends to just scratch the surface. Whether it is noticeable to any one else I have been able to accomplish more than I thought possible. I will not bore you with the details. What I know for sure is that we become conditioned to working far too much, sleeping far too little and letting trivial details clutter our head space when in reality and when willing we can cut all of it back to a healthier (literally healthier, like prevent risk factors for disease level) levels and accomplish more, doing less. Life is short, we must play hard and not wait until retirement to do all the things "we don't have time for" while we are working professionals.

On Fitness & WellBeing......

I consider myself a warrior of health because I wholeheartedly believe that only I am in responsible for my level of fitness and wellbeing, physically and mentally. In 2019 I made the switch to a Naturopathic Dr as opposed to a general physician. What a difference a Dr makes, focusing on health and not working from a place of illness. It even inspires me to want to do better. As such, this year I have increased my meditation time to 30 minutes per day because it truly helps me slow down my pace physically and mentally and be more fully present in everything I do in a given day. I have also spent the first part of the year cleaning up my nutrition which I can guarantee was not that "filthy" to begin with but was not as great in 2020. So that means now I practice 95% of my weekly nutrition being gluten, dairy, alcohol and added sugar free. The 5% means that I may have a beer per week or a toasted english muffin, or something else that would seem healthy to the average person.

Nutrition & exercise will always be the greatest form of medicine to me. I have never had so much clarity and energy and so little inflammation in my body as I have in the last month especially since upping my nutrition game and walking away from work when feeling frenetic, getting out in nature when feeling suffocated by working and living under one roof, and getting 8+ hours of sound sleep. There is no prescription medication that can make you feel as good as getting your lifestyle in order.

Perhaps some of this sounds preachy but I take the work that we do at BE very seriously and practice what I preach 100% but am on the journey just as much as our members are. Doom and gloom gets me no where and it is astounding to me that it took a global pandemic to create enough space to fully embrace the business and life of my dreams.

If you are skeptical about virtual fitness, I invite you to schedule a time to meet with me to find out how we are breaking all the rules about what it means to workout virtually. I say with confidence that we provide more extensive support, accountability, structure, programming and inspiration virtually than any in person gym in our local area does and beyond our local area. This post only scratches the story of the progress we as a collective community have made! Schedule a consultation on our website at

Cheers to a brilliant 2021 & surviving OR thriving thru a global pandemic!



Here we are three weeks from the end of 2020. We are all feeling different emotions of what this year was or was not but one thing we have to agree on if you are reading this is that YOU are going to survive! 2020 was not for the faint of heart and on January 1, 2021 we are not just going to flip a switch and go back to pre-pandemic life. If you struggled continuously or periodically in 2020 , you are not alone. This was a year that impacted absolutely everyone and we all had a choice of how we would respond to all the restrictions, changes, and cut backs. What was or is your coping mechanism? Blame? Anger? Grief? Relief? Curiosity? Something different entirely?

Personally, I am allergic to negativity of any type. This does not mean that I do not have bad days or have not suffered hardships. It is precisely those experiences that I wanted to be more resilient against that set me on a path to automatically moving to a growth mindset where I constantly ask myself what am I learning from this challenge and how can I improve because to me, any other response is a waste of my energy and does not take me in the direction I want to move in my business, my life or with the clients I serve

So you may be reading this and rolling your eyes, thinking that is such "pie in the sky," idealistic thinking and that is just fine but if you are reading this and thinking, I would love to get out of that rut of negative thinking and immersion that seemed especially pervasive this year, then I want to talk to YOU. Since March 22nd, our community has run entirely online with 13 live group fitness classes per week, and countless private and semi-private training sessions. As a personal trainer, coach and group fitness instructor it is imperative to go above and beyond 100% to be able to get the most maximum potential out of our participants and like so many businesses, when I made this pivot it was an act of survival so bringing over 100% energy and positivity to every hour of remote work was partially for myself and the eventual sustainability of my fitness community. Suffice it to say, it worked. We are thriving and feeding off one another's positive energy and each month, week and day that energy multiplies and creates great things like results, physically and emotionally and the vision for more possibility.

Body Essentials is indefinitely staying as an online fitness and wellbeing facility and now that we have mastered how to provide live fitness online well we can get back to other important aspects of our eight year mission to be the most comprehensive provider of fitness, nutrition and well-being services as we start 2021 and we want to serve you.

Here are some of the most exciting options coming up as soon as 2021 launches!

See what I mean by most comprehensive provider of fitness, nutrition and wellbeing services??

If ANY of this sounds compelling to you please e-mail me at [email protected] or text me at 802-345-9644 to set up an absolute zero obligation consultation so you can learn more about what it is like to workout at a virtual studio, so I can learn more about your goals and we can learn more about how we can collaborate to get you feeling better than you ever expected. Let me remind you, it will take work on your part!

And you are probably wondering about cost! It always depends on what training option becomes the best for you based on my recommendation. So perhaps it is less than $100 per month or up $300 per month. Is your health worth it? are YOU worth it?? If you are only concerned about the cost of services, we are not the studio for you.

Just contact me today to learn more. We have limited space in our live programs and the earlier you join our on-demand program, the more money you will save.

I cannot wait to meet you!

Christie Garofano

Chief Empowerment Officer

Can you believe that we’re talking about the holidays & the new year already?! I mean, I can. Honestly, I’m psyched. I have been waiting to watch Polar Express and Elf! The best time of year!

Today’s motivation is all about helping you find what healthy during the holidays looks like for you! Maybe you’re reading this and you’re like, yeah okay…. healthy during the holidays? That’s impossible! Yes I get you. BUT. After years of figuring out what “healthy” actually looks like to me, I’ve finally figured out that healthy during the holidays looks different for everyone, and I’m determined to help you find yours.

I’d like to say I’m a lover of all things health and wellness, with a side of Christmas cookies. Or rather, Dad’s mint pie (to die for!!!).

You're ready to hear all of the quick fixes and pro tips I have on how to lose weight fast before the Holiday's hit?

Okay here it goes...ready?? If you want to lose a quick 5lbs, workout like crazy, eat chicken and asparagus for every meal and completely restrict yourself. Yeah, sounds pretty miserable right?

I'm assuming you implement one of these two approaches people usually take with Thanksgiving and Christmas. One, you either have this "ALL IN" mentality. You eat and drink whatever you want, keep telling yourself it's the Holiday's and you'll start after New Years. You pack on the pounds and immediately following NYE you regret everything. OR you go into total restriction mode, fearing food or eating a damn carbohydrate, you go extra hard in the gym, track every morsel of food and ultimately dread attending Holiday parties because all you're thinking about are the calories you're consuming.

IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE THIS WAY! You can achieve balance with fitness and living your life. So for once, ditch your one sided mentality and try a different approach to get through the holiday season!

Here are a few tips:

1. Keep moving (try a holiday 5k with family, or bring a friend to the gym to keep you motivated)
2. Watch your portions (try grabbing a smaller plate. A full-smaller plate gives you the illusion that you're eating more food)
3. Lots of water (a glass when you wake up, & a glass before each meal)
4. More protein (whatever you put on your plate, make sure there is some protein! Protein will make you feel fuller for longer…perhaps room for only 1 dessert… no seconds!)

Most importantly, ENJOY yourself & the time spent with family and loved ones. Not only is this time of year stressful and busy, it is also cold and flu season! Make sure to continue eating healthy, working out regularly and hydrating with water throughout all of those holiday parties on your schedule. It is okay to indulge a little (within moderation, of course) to enjoy this time of year, but your body will support you better if you replenish it with what it truly needs to run at its best.

Happy Holidays!

I love food! And really who doesn't? What I do not like about food is grocery shopping and wedding thru food items that manufacturers are trying to sell as healthy when I do actually partake in a grocery shopping trip. I enjoy preparing food at home when I have ample time to do it in a manner that does not seem like I am just doing it to fuel myself (AKA rushing to put the healthiest thing together in the quickest amount of time) and obviously I enjoy eating food!

First things first, the BEST thing to happen too Rutland, VT is the Hannaford To Go service. Being able to order my groceries online from the comfort of my home with the ability to check the fridge and pantry to assure I do not over look something is as AMAZING as it is to walk into Hannaford and get great customer service at the HTG check out area when I pick up my groceries. Lets face it, most of the challenge of eating well is in the plan and prepare phase. Hannaford has lightened the load in part of that process. The only redeeming aspect of physically doing the grocery shopping now is seeing any new products on the shelves that I may not have seen in the online grocery store BUT similarly the same thing happens when I shop online at Hannaford, I see things I may not have found walking around the store. Truly this is not meant to be a manifesto about HTG but it has been a game changer in my weekly schedule for over 2 years now!

In August I reflected on how 30 days of no alcohol made a difference in my life so in September I went on another nutritional journey and eliminated as much added sugar from my diet as I could. Added and processed sugar is a huge issue in the Standard American Diet (SAD). According to the American Heart Association (2009) Men & Women over 19 years of age average 18-25 teaspoons of added sugar per day. The recommended daily amount if no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men and 6 (25 grams) for women. Given that data was from 10 years ago, there could be some changes but they would not be improving numbers. If you read nutrition labels at all when you are shopping, you may see an added sugar total on some labels under the total sugar number. As of January 2020 this will be mandatory  on a majority of food items  with the date being expanded for others. So depending on your nutritional knowledge base, just because something says it has sugar, does not always mean it is added sugar, some are naturally occurring in the food product  such as some dairy and some grains. It can be confusing. I have a relatively healthy diet but it is not perfect and a month of looking a bit more carefully at this particular ingredient further enhanced the quality of my diet and overall health.

As I started my month of no added sugar the first two changes I made were that I only bought plain greek yogurt which was already a staple but I would allow a flavored yogurt as a snack (and I could write an entire post on the spectrum of bad to good flavored yogurts). I also stopped using maple syrup. Shhhh, do not tell my husband. Although maple syrup is all natural it is still sweet so I wanted to go entirely plain on my yogurt which is the only place I use syrup (aside from the occasional pancake, french toast or vanilla ice cream). These changes were relatively simple because what I found as I continued this process is that I really don't have a diet high in added sugar so the flavor changes were not huge for my palette. I did minimize bread intake which again I was doing anyway but even more so in September. I have a weird weakness for toast but months earlier I had switched from regular bread (cue the Klingers Jewish Rye) for whole wheat sandwich thins which have less than 3 g of sugar. One of my biggest learning came from my affinity for Cabot Cottage Cheese (great source of protein for snack). I had no idea some of the sugar was added sugar. No more cottage cheese which meant more fruit and plain yogurt. Next up was my love of lattes on any given day of the week and when one certain coffee shop in Rutland starts selling pumpkin lattes in September, the challenge is on. Thankfully THESE pumpkin latte's are made with REAL pumpkin, not that flavored sugar syrup of many coffee shops so I was in the clear especially since I prefer oat milk from Planet Oat which is low in sugar from the oats and no added sugar. Otherwise the challenge was in condiments which are not huge for me but when my husband does the cooking he is more likely to use BBQ sauce if grilling chicken and just loves sauce in general. AND of course, salad dressings. Unless you make your own salad dressing, you are accumulating added sugar even from locally made dressings. So I did some research when I was shopping (online of course) and ended up going back to an old favorite, Briana's French Vinaigrette. Any food not mentioned is because it is fresh protein with only fresh herb flavoring, fresh fruits and fresh or frozen vegetables so sugar was not an issue at most lunch or dinners. Moreover, staying away from things like ice cream and other sweets was quite easy. Now that October has rolled around, I got a bit more lax the first week but have stuck with most small changes I needed to make and the box of chocolates I just received are hidden and unopened!

Another area that I was unsure about was oatmeal but I was pleasantly surprised that I was in the clear here. So overall I was reassured the my diet was above average with no plan to change anything!

So if I have piqued your interest as to what are some big offenders when it comes to added sugar (aside from the obvious), here is a list of things that I talk about regularly when coaching & advising nutrition to clients:

-Boxed/Shelf Stable food items including boxed meals

-Processed food items from the shelf, frozen, food section, in the dairy section AND in the "healthy food section"

-Pasta Sauces


-Condiments (Salad dressings, BBQ Sauces, Ketchup etc)

-Bread Products

-Flavored foods (like frozen veggies with added sauce, or frozen prepared foods, or canned goods with additives).

-Flavored Coffee Creamers

-Dried Fruit

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, just some items that always shock people where other high sugar items are obvious including alcohol & most everything you can buy at a convenience store. The best strategy when trying to reduce sugar in your diet is to get things as plain and natural as possible and then added your own flavoring via fresh or dried herbs, prepare your own foods as straight forward as possible (AKA not from a box and with fresh or plain frozen veggies).

Source: American Heart Association, Scientific Statement on Dietary Sugars Intake & Cardiovascular Health (2009)

Three months ago we started tracking Lisa's progress publicly. Fitness & nutrition comes with many ups and downs as Lisa had experienced but we are so happy to report that she is back on track to the best version of herself after some hard work this summer and navigating all the challenges of daily life and not using social events and holidays as an excuse or not the right time to change. Read on for Lisa's own words.......

How did I get here, and by here, I mean 21 pounds lighter,  eating a whole food plant-based diet, and certainly stronger then I was three months ago? It’s not just the big change in my eating habits it’s the change in my habits period. At the beginning of the summer I was tired all the time. I started every week with a good nutrition plan only to have it fall apart by day 2 or 3 then just give up. I was avoiding the gym because my weight gain made everything so much harder. I certainly would have given in to my pain and come home gone to bed and never even considered a low impact walk to get some exercise in.

Over the past three months I have changed my habits a little at a time. It started with accountability. Weekly weigh-ins made me really think about what I was eating. This is where the support of Christie and the other trainers at Body Essentials became an important part of my journey. Their support encouragement and constantly pushing me to jump out of my comfort zone was key to my success. Toward the beginning of the summer we, as a group, hiked up Killington. I was slow and struggled most of the way up. One of the trainers stayed behind with me and encouraged me to take it a few steps at a time until we reached the cabin. I gave up at the cabin, a decision I regret. I have made a plan to go again mid-October, this time I am determined to go all the way to the top and can’t wait to feel the difference. Another change was just changing up my times to exercise. I exercise two mornings a week giving me some evenings to walk my dog, spend time with my husband or just do nothing (I rarely do this anymore). This, I believe, was an important change for me. Starting my work week off with a good day of exercise and some accountability made me think twice about every bite of food. Logging my food intake also was an important part of this journey. It is part of the accountability. I always reminded myself if I eat it and don’t write it down it was just hurting myself. Looking back every week to see where I could make changes no matter how little they were they made an impact.

Part way through the summer I got food poisoning. The bacteria I had was reportable to the health department. When the health department called to follow up all their question about my food intake were meat related. (By the way I could answer their question because I had my food logs I knew exactly what I ate 2-5 days before my symptoms started). I, at this point stopped eating meat. I was eating meat replacements, but no meat. About two weeks later I went to a talk at Body Essentials about anti-inflammatory diet, watched Forks over Knifes on Netflix and am now I have been eating a whole food plant-based diet for 14 days.

So, what have I learned through all this? One, if you get off track don’t give up. In the past 14 days I ate a piece of pizza I didn’t say to myself oh well I’m off track I might as well have two pieces I said how do you feel? I felt full and like someone had put a weight in my stomach. I felt hungry or maybe just a craving within 20 minutes of eating it. I wrote that down and have it on my desk at work to remind myself that if I make that choice again that is how I will feel. I learned vegetables actually taste ok. I learned it’s ok to live it up once in a while. I went out one night with friends and Christie was at the same restaurant and there I sat with a bowl of pasta, but I still lost weight that week because I had my pasta then I was 100% locked down on my nutrition the rest of the week. I learned I am strong. I learned it’s ok to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I learned I am the only one that can make the changes and do the work. Others can encourage and give advice, but I have to do the work. I learned not to compare myself to other people. I learned to start my week prepared. I learned to plan ahead for events. I learned a schedule is so important (I keep mine on a wipe off board). I learned how important it is to have friends and family encourage, love and support me. I, also will not ever forget that the support and encouragement Christie and the other coaches at Body Essentials gave me. They made this journey fun, challenging and possible. I am looking forward to continuing on this journey and ending the year at an all-time high (or low) with another 20 pounds lost stronger than ever. Thank you, Christie, Megan, Jacob, Julie and Sabrina.

Coaches Note: Lisa was not perfect or without challenges in this process but she stepped up to every difficulty and navigated it with 100% heart. If we had not been challenging her or making her accountable with record keeping and coaching check-ins first thing Monday morning, I am not sure she would be in the place. It is easy to not be accountable to yourself or talk yourself out of the right behaviors. At Body Essentials clients can only "hide" for so long before we pull them aside and say something is not working well, what is going on, we have to do something about it. The benefit of our clients working with more than one coach and in small groups is that everyone is holding everyone accountable for all the right reasons. Lisa is and always has been a leader in our community. She tried to slip to the back of the room for a little while but when she did not come back to the front of the classroom, we pulled her back to the front. We know she will reach her ultimate goal by the end of the year. It will only take 1 lb per week for most weeks and at the rate she is going with her new nutrition plan, she will reach her goal before Thanksgiving.


Before   (May 2019)                                                                                                      Today (September 5, 2019)

I have been a student of health & fitness since the early 90's, before you could find your desired dietary answer on the google machine. Academically, experientially, additional education, studying, reading and learning from other professionals has kept me active in enhancing my life. In the work we do with clients, nutrition is critical and we are constantly trying to debunk poor nutrition information. Personally, I am constantly working to optimize my nutrition practice not because I want to improve how I look or lose weight (those are just bonuses) but because I want to be healthy inside and out which to me is do what I can do to prevent disease and stay out of the Dr's office and because I want to have abundant energy to keep up with my life and be a good role model for others in my daily work. SO,  in August, I did the thing I said I could never ever do! I went an entire 30 days with no alcohol. I LOVE beer, good craft beer (and wine).  But lets' face it, there is no nutritional value to alcohol in your diet, end of story. It is calories, gluten, and more calories. So I just decided, after feeling like I had had my fill, that I just wanted to take a break and reset my body a bit without the influence of alcohol for 30 days. I have heard it 100 times over in my studio and have said it myself many times, I just could never give it up entirely.  I am here to tell you, you can!!! My level of resolve may be pretty well developed when it comes to behavior change compared to others but anyone can do it.  I am strong believer in not "leaning" your life to the point of no enjoyment. Cutting all the "good stuff" sucks the fun out of life. It also has adverse short term impacts the one time you put something in your body that is not "clean" after a long period of clean eating! So let me provide you with my top 5 outcomes of abstaining from alcohol for 30 days:

  1. Energy: This is not necessarily an area that I struggle with, but give me a beer or glass of wine and the day is over. In the absence of alcohol I never got sluggish. Alcohol is a depressant and always drained me no matter how much or little I had.
  2. Improved overall nutrition: It is well proven that drinking alcohol leads to less optimal nutrition selection especially when in social settings. So in the absence of alcohol  I saved  on empty calories and ramped up my nutrition density by not having that slip in choices and decision making no matter the setting.
  3. Improved overall healthy behaviors: If I was not making alcohol part of my life for 30 days, what was I going to do with that time? I got more rest, I read more, I wrote more, I enjoyed nature more, I managed my time better, felt less stressed and when my husband finally asked why I was not drinking (it took 2 weeks), he started reducing his own consumption.
  4. Reduced Body Pain: A number of years ago an integrative medicine Dr. told me that 100% of people who reduce gluten intake will feel better. Gluten is found in anything made from wheat, barley or rye. So cutting my consumption of beer for 30 days meant no gluten (no I did not cut gluten from other aspects of my diet) which also meant none of that full feeling and reduced inflammation in the body. Of course not drinking alcohol meant I was drinking a lot more water because if I am not drinking coffee, I am drinking water. I am not going to give up alcohol and start drinking something else  because that would be sugary beverages. One of my personal nutrition rules is don't drink your calories and do not give up one bad habit for another. So increasing water (GOOD OL' FASHIONED WATER) is always a great way to make your body feel better and reduce pain.
  5. Apparently I look Younger: So after my 30 days was up I celebrated with a beer (not what I preach to clients about rewarding yourself). I went to the beverage store in search of a Maine Beer Company IPA, found exactly what I was looking for and was immediately carded by the cashier and when I assured him I was plenty old enough he proceeded to make my day and maybe even my year by telling it me I look far younger than what my ID indicated. So yes, how I look to myself and others still matters in some way shape or form. I had not been carded in quite a while! That beer was very good but I think I was more satisfied by not drinking!

Consider for a moment how easy cutting alcohol from your diet is compared to other nutritional change. You do not need to read any labels or consider any facts. You simply need to say no. When trying to cut processed ingredients or sugar from your diet or reduce calories, you need to scan labels and perhaps do some google searching on different foods and understand terminology to make good choices. Alcohol is alcohol, you either consume it or you do not. SIMPLE!

Do the thing you have been telling yourself you could never do. Do it just because change does a mind and body good. Do it to see how you look, feel and how others respond to what you are "working on." Do it because you never know what will other great things will manifest in your life! Stay tuned as I am on to two other challenges over the next couple months!


(Picture Credit: Anchorage Brewing Company, AK Owned & Operated by a former Rutlander. This beautiful brew was enjoyed on our last day in Alaska in 2017 and has stuck with me as one of the best beers I have ever had aged in a red wine barrel with rose petals).

So today I did a 5k race in the women’s half marathon in Niagara Falls. I have come to this race 3 times in 4 years. The first was my first ever half marathon. I was at my lowest weight and had been training prior to the the race. I walked a majority of the race but finished strong. It took me a little more than 3 hours, but I felt great about it. The second time by the time I hit the 5k turn around which would be 2.5 km in my shoe broke, but I continued on. The race took me almost 4 hours, but I crossed the finish line with a blister that covered the entire ball of my foot. I hadn’t done much training, but I was strong so powering though was doable. This time I had to reduce my race to a 5k because I have gained weight and was not feeling as strong as I had in the past. I had a goal of under 1 hour which I was able to accomplish. The time walking alone was good. I was able to be in my own head and realize that I was doing a 5k because I hadn’t paid attention to my fitness. People running by me patting me on the back saying you got this made me sad and angry at myself. It also has given me more motivation to get back to where I was when I did my first half. I had moments in the race where I found myself crying because I was so disappointed in myself.

I am now three weeks of increasing my exercise and trying to improve my nutrition. I feel better and my clothes are definitely fitting better. I am still struggling and have good and bad days with my nutrition. Today I realized the importance of logging. I have been able to tell myself that I have been doing a good job with my nutrition but when an objective person looked at my logs it was obvious that I have not been honest with myself. That “in your face” accountability is a motivation. So, this week I intend to log both with paper and pencil as well as journal how I am feeling and what I am thinking every day.

More fodder on food in the spirit of National Nutrition Month.....

Not a week goes by, nope, not a DAY goes by that I do not hear I do not have time to eat, much less right......

There are two reasons I cringe when I hear that AND when I think it for myself. One is that I have always believed that there is always enough time in the day to do what we need/should/want to do. I am always checking myself on that and certainly in more recent years I have had to work a lot harder in prioritizing the things that I want to have time for, one being balanced food consumption, meaning nutritious and eating mindfully and not just for the sake of filling a need in my body. The second is that it really is not that hard to make time to eat well. More often than not, we are making food an after thought in the rest of our busy day and consciously choosing other activities over taking care of the one "house" we have to live in that enables us to do all of those important daily tasks (and many unimportant). For me, creating 5 moments in my day to consume a meal is not a burden (well yes at times, the last thing I (or my husband) want to do is make good "adult" food so periodically we just won't! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I feel like I have won the day on the mornings when I can sit at the dinning room table and eat breakfast!

SO here are 5 quick WHYS & HOWS to prioritizing food as part of your daily health plan!

1. Planning & Preparing meals and grocery shopping ahead of time takes the guess work out of your already busy days. Grocery shopping results in having what you need for up to one week worth of meals depending on how you shop so taking a couple extra hours to prepare some meals in advance with chopping, bagging etc saves time and head space each day and assures more balanced meals and perhaps eating schedule and less chance of becoming "hangry" and taking it out on someone else. And lets not forget if you have grocery shopping like I do, life has gotten much easier with online grocery shopping/pick up at store!

2. Taking an active role in knowing the best foods to eat and having them available at your disposable at home and work saves an otherwise excessive amount of calories, fat and sugar that most fast food and sit down restaurants offer despite your best intentions. Plus, if you have kids at home, it is good role modeling and education for them to learn about healthy eating. Obesity is at an all time high amongst adults and kids so we owe it to ourselves and our family to be more proactive about food.

3. Diabetes is sky rocketing so if you value your quality of life, vision, feet, and don't want to be married to medication, take control of your nutrition and exercise. It is admirable, loving your career and working hard but if you get diagnosed with diabetes and choose to nothing about it, you will be sidelined as time goes on with a whole host of issues above and beyond reduced/loss of eye sit and neuropathy. Love yourself and your family enough to prevent or at least properly manage diabetes. You can reduce your reliance on meds with simple lifestyle modification eating whole foods and exercise. Just food for thought!

4. Body Image issues are real among women and men but somehow we continue to abuse our bodies with excessive amounts of things we know we should not have like alcohol, high calorie "coffee" drinks and other sugary and fried food substances. Our sedentary jobs on top of poor diet can make it difficult to out exercise those calories, carbs and fat. Balancing out daily physical activity, structured exercise and balanced eating of carbs, fats, protein minus the liquid calories will make us more excited about looking in the mirror. Everyone has a six pack (not the beer in the fridge) it is just a matter of what is covering it up. So align your desires with the right behaviors to get the results you want and have a healthier mindset about your body.

5. This is your one life, and if you do it right, one is enough! An hour of exercise is 4% of your day that pays huge dividends day after day, month after month etc. Couple that with another two hours that it may take per day to plan, prepare and eat (preferably) 4-5 meals per day you still have 75% of your day left for work and play. It is just a matter of priority and not wanting to spend your time in the waiting room of your Dr's office, in line for prescription drugs, or on the phone fighting with your insurance company.

We could continue this conversation for 5 more reasons but it is not necessary!!! Love yourself and work on your food mindset to transform oh so many other aspects of your life. Food & life should be enjoyed not endured!

If you want to learn more we will be hosting two nutrition workshops later in March in collaboration with Jill Cerreta, Registered Dietitian of Live Well Nutrition. Stay Tuned!

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