2016 Resolution #5: Work Out More

Work out more

Throughout January–the initiation month of New Year resolutions–the Be Well health coaches will be tackling their clients’ top resolutions for 2016.

It’s not always easy to follow through on the New Year’s resolution to exercise. Even with the best intentions, getting it done in the cold, dark months of winter can be especially hard! So many of our clients need some extra motivation. Here are a few fun ways to work out more in 2016!

1. Make It Social!

Rather than meet a friend for a cocktail after work, sign up for a workout class together! It would be rude to cancel plans, right?

2. Wear What You Love!

Remember as a kid when you had a new outfit for the first day of school? It might sound silly, but a fresh pair of sneakers can still put a skip in your step. If your budget is still feeling the holidays, just take some extra time to make sure your work out clothes are well-cared for and not stuffed in the bottom of a drawer! Make it easy to pull on your favorite color running pants or that tank top which makes you feel amazing. We’re all kids at heart!

3. Make a Date!

Not all dates need to take place over a meal or at the movies. Check your local listings for tons of fun classes, and ask that special someone to come with you! Break the ice with partner yoga or learn to salsa and dance the night away! 

4. Don’t Overdo It!

The goal is to be consistent with your workout schedule. If you push yourself too hard at the outset, you’ll most likely might burn out before too long. Choose a sustainable schedule and commit to a workout that’s do-able.

5. Try Something New!

Ever been rock climbing? Done acro yoga? Walked a tightrope? Local gyms and studios and meet-up groups offering all kinds of classes and activities these days. With a little bit of research, you’ll find more ways to move than you ever knew!

6. Get Yourself Outdoors!

Be a walker, if you’re not a runner. How about a nice hike? You don’t need to go far but find some nature nearby and look around while you walk around. Live in the city? Hop on a train or a bus and make your way out. You don’t usually have to go far to find some beautiful trails. 

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

4 Reasons to Avoid Cooking with Vegetable Oils

Vegetable Oil

When making dietary changes, adding more vegetables is a quick and easy way to get the ball rolling. Next, you might think, “I’ll add some vegetable oil, too,” for a few more veggie bonus points. So you pat yourself on the back, thinking you’re doing the right thing, but unfortunately, you’d actually be wrong, very wrong. Adding vegetable oil to your plate or skillet can do your body far more harm than good, so drop the “pure vegetable” oils like Mazola and Crisco, and listen up. It’s time to get them out of your life and here’s why:

1) Vegetable Oils Don’t Involve Vegetables

Now hear this: there’s no vegetable benefit to be gained from vegetable oil. Many consumers mistakenly believe that cooking oil, as long as it says vegetable on the label, is all good. In fact, the unhealthiest and most commonly used oils on the market contain no vegetables at all.

So-called ‘vegetable’ oils are actually made from tough seeds and legumes that were originally grown for industrial use, not human consumption. These seeds must be treated chemically in order to be processed into a pourable, somewhat more human-friendly liquid (and often deodorized too, to mask the terrible smell from the chemical processing).  

Among the industrial/vegetable oils to jettison: canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, rice bran and soy oil.  At the opposite end of the health spectrum are the good-for-you fruit and nut oils, including olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil, which are simply pressed to extract the oils, without caustic chemical processing.

2) Vegetable Oils Are Unstable – Causing You Damage

Another reason not to love vegetable oils? They’re unstable, which makes them inflammatory. Saturated fats are more stable fats because of their molecular structure. Unsaturated fats are less stable—and polyunsaturated fats are the least stable of all.

When a fat is unstable, that means it is vulnerable to oxidation—that is, to penetration by oxygen molecules. Oxidation causes fats to go rancid and to create free radicals: atoms with an odd number of electrons that can cause extensive damage to your cells. Any fat can be oxidized and create this damage, but because polyunsaturated fats are so unstable, they are the most prone to it.

Polyunsaturated fats like the industrial oils can become rancid simply from exposure to light through a clear glass bottle, which means that it’s basically gone bad even before you take it home from the store. Heat also oxidizes these types of fats, which means that if you eat anything cooked in an industrial oil, you’re exposing yourself to free radicals that can cause quite a lot of cellular damage.

3) Vegetable Oil Inflames Your System

Vegetable oil doesn’t always have to be in liquid form to do damage. It also turns up in thicker, glue-like form, in vats of Crisco, margarine or tucked into thousands of processed foods. These products are made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or partially hydrogenated fats, aka., ‘trans fats,’ and are, not surprisingly, also horrendous for health. 

To make trans fats, manufacturers inject extra hydrogen into vegetable oils, which extends product shelf life, in some cases, indefinitely. Great for product shelf life but lousy for yours, promoting system-wide inflammation throughout your body and setting the stage for heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and cancer down the road.

Also keep in mind that ‘trans-fat free’ does not mean vegetable oil free, just that it’s free of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils – and in some processed foods both trans fats and vegetable oils will be present – truly the worst of both worlds. And a trans fat-free designation doesn’t mean that much either, because here in the U.S., any product can call itself ‘trans fat-free’ as long as there’s fewer than .5 grams of trans fat per serving. Sounds O.K. till you realize that you can still pile on the stuff should you grab an extra cookie (or three) or another handful of those ‘trans fat-free” chips. 

Pretty sneaky, eh? But, fortunately, not for too much longer. In 2018, 0 grams of trans fat per serving will be the law of the land, when the FDA ban (at last) goes into effect. Regardless, ditch the processed foods – they’re a significant source of trans fats and hidden vegetable oils, both of which bring with them a lot of heartache.

4) Vegetable Oil – Rich in Gut and Body Disrupting Toxins

Whether you’re shopping at Whole Foods or Wal-Mart, on those shelves you’ll find an enormous array of cleverly marketed, beautifully packaged, healthy-looking ‘industrial oils’ like canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, rice bran and soy oil.  (more…)

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 | 1 Comments

2016 Resolution #4: Cooking More at Home

Cooking More
By Be Well Health Coach Laura Kraber

Throughout January–the initiation month of New Year resolutions–the Be Well health coaches will be tackling their clients’ top resolutions for 2016.

Of the many resolutions we can make this year to improve our health, spending more time in the kitchen is one of my top recommendations. As numerous studies have shown, increased home cooking correlates directly with healthier dietary patterns. Thanks to the food industrys sugary, salt-laden, factory-farmed foods, home-cooked meals are almost always healthier than prepared and restaurant meals.

With our busy lives, reducing take-out and prepared meals can be daunting. Start by taking a few minutes to think about how you can carve out a bit of extra time daily or weekly to pack a healthy lunch or make a homemade dinner. Free yourself from gourmet expectations or restaurant-style presentation and instead focus on quality ingredients and enjoying your time in the kitchen.  Without completely changing your lifestyle, you can gradually shift your eating habits by adding one or two additional home-cooked meals each week, starting with whichever meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) seems easiest or most interesting to prepare yourself.

A meal plan formulais an easy way to get started. Make a list of 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners (and 3 snack options) which you already make for yourself or can learn to make. Many of us are happy to rely on a few tried-and-true favorites for breakfast or lunch but want more diversity at dinner. Others may be happy to eat a simple, repetitive meal in the evening but enjoy a restaurant lunch with colleagues or friends. To get you started, I have outlined a simple meal plan formula with recipes and suggestions to start your year off right.


  • If smoothies arent your thing, try making a batch of chia seed pudding, which can be portioned out in small containers for a grab-and-go breakfast.
  • Eggs, of course, make a great breakfast remember to eat the whole egg and layer with leftover cooked veggies or slices of avocado and/or top with a spoon of sauerkraut for a dose of probiotics.


  • Hearty salads packed with proteins such as chicken, salmon, tuna, steak, hard-boiled eggs,  feta or goat cheese are satisfying and energizing as a midday meal. Start with pre-washed greens to reduce prep time and find salad-making inspiration online until you find your own favorite formulas.
  • Pantry staples such as eggs and canned seafood can be turned into a meal quickly to eat at home or to take to work with you. Try one of these three lunch recipes which can easily be prepared in 5 – 10 minutes.


Posted by on Jan 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

How to Infuse Mindfulness in Your Workouts


We all know the importance of getting to the gym and working out.  Is showing up really 80 percent of the challenge? If so, why do so many people show up to their workouts but have not gotten closer to their personal fitness goals?  Does your workout look something like this: you’re on your phone reading or sending messages, your face is tense, at times you forget to breathe and hold your breath, you are speeding through each exercise to get it over with as quickly as possible, you stop when the movement becomes challenging.  If this sounds a lot like your gym experience you are not alone, but you may be hindering your ability to reach your fitness and health goals.

One of the most profound messages within a yoga practice is to stay mindful of the body and breath while you enter into each posture.  We are guided to explore what comes up when we face challenges, even though our first response is to tense up and try to avoid the challenge. If we breathe through it, however, and keep the mind still our exploration of the movement will continue. We might want to stop, but guiding ourselves through the movement is a powerful awakening of the spirit.

While this is true in yoga, I also believe it is true in all physical endeavors: lifting weights, running five miles, practicing a martial art or hiking in the mountains. There are opportunities everywhere to be in the moment and experience mindfulness without having to be on a yoga mat.  

When I started working with clients, I realized something interesting about their facial expressions. They all had intense expressions on their faces before, during and after they lifted. Sometimes I would notice people just touch a weight and exhibit the same facial expressions that a Strongman would have while trying to pull a 747 airplane 100 feet across the tarmac.  We’ve all been guilty of it.  But think about it; what does your face have to do with the rest of the bodies?

Let’s take a bicep curl as an example.  In an effort to tone the arms most people pay no attention to the face, grip or the position of their shoulders.  In turn, they usually grab too much weight and fling their bodies back and forth in an effort to complete the 10 or 15 reps. You should never try to work one part of the body at the expense of another.  The bicep curl is just as much a core and posture exercise as it is an arm exercise.  Executed properly, it resembles a person standing tall with their shoulders back, abs braced and legs straight. They then bend the elbow and pull the weight to the shoulders. When the weight is lowered, it is done slowly while resisting gravity’s pull on the arms, shoulders and core.

To do this properly, it takes complete attention to every part of your body, from the bottoms of your feet up to the head, along with relaxing the face and controlling the breath by breathing calmly.  Even when the resistance becomes so challenging that you want to stop controlling the mind, allow yourself to push further until you reach the desired outcome, being muscle exhaustion. (more…)

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

2016 Resolution #3: Sleep Better (and More!) This Year

Sleep Better
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

Throughout January–the initiation month of New Year resolutions–the Be Well health coaches will be tackling their clients’ top resolutions for 2016.

Many clients that we see in our practice are worn out, run down, and confused as to why they don’t have the energy that they used to.  After hearing these common complaints, we always ask them to describe their bedtime routine, including the amount of hours they get on average, the quality of their sleep (if they wake up during the night) and what time they are getting into bed.

9 times out of 10, there are big opportunities for sleep improvement, and we work together to create achievable sleep habits that will allow them to feel more rested and to give them more energy throughout the day.

With the New Year here, let’s resolve, together, in creating a better sleep routine with these most effective tips for a deeper, more satisfying night’s sleep.

Set a Bedtime

Getting up and going to bed around the same time everyday is the most efficient way to establish good sleep habits because doing so gets the body into a natural rhythm.  It is estimated that the average person needs about 7-9 hours of sleep per night, so depending on what time your alarm goes off in the morning, you might need to try getting to bed a little earlier.

Set a bedtime and make the commitment to get into bed at that time.  It might feel difficult at first (especially if you are usually up late), but trust that you’re body will adjust if you give it the opportunity.  If 8 hours feels intimidating, try to gradually introduce an extra 30 minutes or hour per week, allowing your body to ease into this new routine.

Create a Bedtime Routine

When the sun goes down, our body begins to produce melatonin, which relaxes us and prepares us for slumber, but this natural process is often disrupted by all of the bright screens we surround ourselves with.  Establishing a few practices to relax the body the hour before bed can help you fall asleep more easily.  Here are some suggestions:

  • turn off electronics at least an hour before your bedtime (yes, this includes the TV, computer and phone)
  • focus on things that relax you, such as a cup of tea, a bath or some light music
  • dim the lights to encourage melatonin production
  • make time for some deep breathing or meditation

Eat at Least 3 Hours Before Bed

Going to bed with a full belly can be very disruptive to our sleep.  Not only does asking our digestive system to work overtime deplete energy, but things like indigestion and changes in blood sugar can keep us up, preventing us from getting a deep and restful sleep. (more…)

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 | 1 Comments

7 Feel-Good Habits To Embrace In 2016

Feel-good Habits

Change. Why is it that the changes we promise to make on New Year’s Day are so easily broken just a few days later? Why is it that sticking with new, healthy habits can seem like such a challenge? One reason might be that we’re not actually enjoying the process of making those changes. But what if they were fun? What if these healthy changes were more like treats that filled us with good feelings instead of resentment or cravings for old, not-so-healthy habits?  With this in mind – the idea that changes that feel fun are the ones that’ll stick – I’ve put together a ‘pleasurable plan’ for 2016. No resolutions to fail at or promises to break, just a short list of feel-good and good-for-you behavioral to-dos with positive effects on your health.  Simply add one of these new habits per week and by Valentine’s Day, you’ll have made big strides towards better health. Here’s where to start:

Happy, Healthy Habit #1: Send Yourself to Sleep School

Not feeling rested in the morning? Then use the long month of January to help you relearn the art of sleep. To brush up on your skills, try my 14 favorite tips for better sleep. If restorative sleep remains elusive despite your best efforts, kick it up a notch with a new mattress. Your mission: to find a healthy, comfortable, budget and eco-friendly mattress that will encourage restorative sleep. Take a look at options from makers like Lifekind.comDaxstores.com and HealthyChoiceMattress.com, and check out these tips on shopping for a healthier mattress.

Happy, Healthy Habit #2: Greet the Day Gently

The sound of a screeching alarm clock piercing the dawn can be a shock to the system, and a rather abrupt way to start the day. But how to ensure you’ll get out of bed on time, even on dark winter mornings? One gentler way is with a ‘dawn simulator’ clock to help wake you more naturally, with simulated sunlight rather than noise. If the dawn simulation method isn’t quite enough for you, then consider a progressive alarm, which gradually increases in volume, or try one of the not-so-jarring alarm options on the IPhone, like the ‘strum’ tone.

Happy, Healthy Habit #3: Quiet Your Mind

Everyone knows that meditation offers amazing benefits for the body, mind and spirit and yet many people still think they ‘just can’t find the time.’ I beg to differ – you don’t need to meditate for hours to reap the advantages (although that’s good too). Even just a few minutes each day will help quiet your mind before the chaos of the day takes hold, reduce blood pressure, anxiety and even stroke risk. Though meditation will confer health benefits no matter when you do it, if you’re new to the practice, you may find that a brief session first thing in the morning is the easiest time to fit it in. If winding down in the evenings makes more sense for you, meditate a few minutes before bed. It may also help bring on sleep. We recommend these meditation apps to our patients in my practice. For those seeking a more communal experience, signing up for a beginner’s course with a weekly meditation group is a great way to get started. (more…)

Posted by on Jan 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

2016 Resolution #2: Eat More Nutritiously

Eat More Nutritiously
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

Throughout January–the initiation month of New Year resolutions–the Be Well health coaches will be tackling their clients’ top resolutions for 2016.

To me a new year’s resolution needs to be positive and uplifting in nature! I ask myself question like: What do I want more of in my life? What will serve my body and my mental state the most? And what do I want to focus my attention on? If you’re going to be putting energy, time, passion and brain power into something – at least make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy and feel good about.

So, this year, instead of ‘quitting’ something or guilting yourself into making changes you deep down don’t really want to make (as in never eating chocolate again – who wants to do that?) focus on something you want more! For many of my clients – it’s MORE GOOD FOOD.

The Why:

  • Changing your mindset to focusing on something positive – feeding your cells! No more shame-and-blame games.  
  • Crowd out the crap. When you load your plate with nutritious vegetables, healthy fats and clean protein sources that you actually also enjoy eating, you are that much less likely to reach for cookies, crackers and crap an hour later. The concept of crowding out the less nutritious foods with the more nutrient dense ones is by far one of my favorites!
  • Diminish cravings. When you feed your body all the nutrients it needs in abundance, you’re less likely to crave empty calories for quick energy surges. Some cravings can be nutrient deficiencies in disguise and when we address those underlying issues, the cravings go away.
  • Freedom! That’s right. When you free yourself from the constricted thinking that all  calories are created equal, a whole new world of food options opens up to you and you have the freedom to choose the most delicious and nutritious food at any given time.
  • Conscious choices are better for all. Eating more nutrient dense foods means eating less processed food which is better for you and better for the planet.
  • More bang for your buck.  Sure, healthy food can sometimes seem more expensive, but not when you start comparing nutrient density! Whole, fresh foods are worth it.  


Posted by on Jan 08, 2016 | 0 Comments

How GMO’s Failed to Feed The World


One of the most compelling promises that the biotech industry makes to justify the need for their products  (genetically engineered crops and portfolio of chemicals needed to grow them) are that these ingredients are needed to feed the world.

Who can argue with that if it’s working?

But it’s not.  The United States adopted genetically engineered foods faster than any country in the world.  These products are labeled for 60% of the world’s population for their novelty, and not allowed in certain countries.  China’s government has even taken such a hard stance against them that Chinese seed companies are dumping their genetically engineered products in the U.S.

It all feels a bit backwards and upside down.

And here’s why: the promise of these products to feed the world is not working here in the U.S.  It’s tough to sell this when 45 million Americans go hungry and we throw away 40% of our food.  The problem has become so dire that a teenage girl stepped into it, built a model and developed a revolutionary technology to reduce food waste.  It’s a real solution to a very real problem.

Recently, there has been a lot of press frenzy around the announcement that the FDA approved genetically engineered salmon. The battle cry from the biotech industry was that this new salmon, regulated by the FDA as a new drug application as seen here, would provide better protein at a smaller carbon foot print to feed the world.

Who wouldn’t want that if it’s been proven true?  The problem is that it’s a promise, a forward-looking statement that has been used before and proven false.

Back when Monsanto was releasing genetically engineered soy, the same arguments were used: feed the world, better protein.

But according to Business Week, it turns out that “after millennia when the biggest food-related threat to humanity was the risk of having too little, the 21st century is one where the fear is having too much”.

It’s not just a domestic problem here in the U.S. It’s a global one.

In the U.S., we waste and toss out almost 40% of our food, racking up $165 billion in losses each year.

Let’s step back and think about this for a minute, not just from the comfort of our homes here in the United States, but as a global issue.

How could that food be put to better use? And do genetically engineered crops impact this issue? (more…)

Posted by on Jan 07, 2016 | 1 Comments

2016 Resolution #1: Lose Weight

Lose Weight
By Be Well Health Coach Courtney Blatt

Throughout January–the initiation month of New Year resolutions–the Be Well health coaches will be tackling their clients’ top resolutions for 2016.

As a health coach, almost every client I work with is concerned about weight loss. Even if their health is suffering on multiple levels, weight loss takes precedence. I help clients strategize lifestyle changes that lead to sustainable, healthy weight loss. We shift the focus from calories to quality of food. Here are my top strategies:

1. Cut Out Sugar

Sugar is the devil. Ever notice how once you start eating sugar, you can’t stop? It’s not because you don’t have willpower. And it’s not just that glucose and insulin keep us hooked.  It’s an incredibly addictive substance, more addictive than cocaine. In order to stop the sugar cravings, you must cut the cord and stop eating sugar. Commit for two weeks and you’ll be amazed by your increased energy, decrease in cravings and weight loss. Does this mean you can never eat sugar again? Of course not. Taking a break will give you a whole new perspective on sugar. It will help reset your palate, change your cravings and make you think twice before reaching for something sweet.

2. Eat More Fat

Yes, you read this correctly. You will actually lose weight by increasing your intake of healthy fat while limiting sugar and carbohydrates. Sugar and carbs are quick sources of fuel and unless you’re burning them quickly, they’re stored as fat.

Healthy fats digest slower leaving you satisfied for a longer period of time. Start by limiting all grains, processed carbohydrates and fruit while increasing your intake of healthy fats. Make sure to include small amounts of healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, or nuts at each meal.

3. Write Down What You Eat For 2 Weeks

A few small pieces of chocolate, a slice of bread, and other small indulgences add up quickly. Most of us don’t overeat because we are hungry. We overeat because of things like stress, boredom or some type of emotional turmoil. Keeping a food journal is a great concept to incorporate at the beginning of changing your eating patterns. It makes you accountable to yourself and forces you to think twice about what you eat. A journal will also help you identify patterns which may be sabotaging your goals. Commit to this exercise for two weeks and research shows it will double your weight loss success. (more…)

Posted by on Jan 05, 2016 | 0 Comments

A Conversation with Dr. David Ludwig on His New Book: Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, & Lose Weight

Always Hungry

For over two decades, Dr. David Ludwig has been at the forefront of research into weight control. His groundbreaking studies have contributed to new understandings of the relationship between diet, hormones, metabolism and body weight. Dubbed an “obesity warrior” by Time Magazine, Dr. Ludwig has fought for fundamental policy changes to support a healthier food environment. Professor at Harvard’s Medical School and School of Public Health, David Ludwig is also the Director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. He has appeared frequently in the national media, including New York Times, Time Magazine, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting System, Dateline NBC and The Today Show.

Q: I’m very excited about your new book and your take on the conventional wisdom surrounding diet and health. Your book does a great job of explaining complex metabolic processes and debunking accepted, (but misguided), ideas about calories and fat. How did you initially become interested in this area?

A:  I began my career in the 1990s, at the height of the low-fat craze.  The idea was that since fat has twice the calories as protein or carbohydrates, simply reducing intake of all fats as much as possible would lead to automatic weight loss. Remember the original Food Guide Pyramid of 1992?  It had grains at the base (up to 11 servings a day!) and fats at the top, to be eaten sparingly.  But I quickly discovered the frustrating reality of obesity treatment – that cutting back on fat and calories rarely led to sustained weight loss.

Fortunately, I had very little formal training in nutrition.  Medical schools are notorious for an intense emphasis on drugs while neglecting diet – even though most drugs used today are designed to treat the consequences of a poor diet!  My ignorance turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I wasn’t indoctrinated in the standard approach.  

I had decided to specialize in endocrinology, and began to think about nutrition in an entirely different way: Not as a delivery system for calories but instead according to how food affects our hormones, metabolism and even the activity of our genes.  This way of thinking has guided my career ever since, in the laboratory and in the clinic.

Q: Can you describe your approach to diet and weight loss and how it differs from conventional diet programs?

A: The conventional approach to weight control focuses on calorie balance.  We’ve heard it a thousand times, just eat less and move more.  It’s so simple that if someone can’t lose weight, it would seem that they must lack motivation or discipline.  But why did the obesity epidemic begin so abruptly around 1980?  Did the American public suddenly lose the ability to control themselves?

A 20-year line of investigation in my laboratory, and studies from other groups dating back a century, suggest a basic flaw in this reasoning.  Like other basic bodily functions (such as temperature and breathing), weight is determined more by our biology than our willpower over the long term.

When we cut calories the body responds, with increasing hunger and slowing metabolism.  The more we restrict ourselves, the more intensely the body fights back. This is a battle few of us can win.

That’s because the basic problem in obesity isn’t too many calories in fat cells, it’s too few in the blood stream and available to fuel the needs of the brain and other organs. In other words: Overeating doesn’t cause us to become fat. The process of becoming fat makes us overeat. From this perspective, we can see why conventional diets are destined to fail.  

The program in Always Hungry? targets the underlying problem – fat cells stuck in calorie storage overdrive. With the right diet (and other lifestyle supports) designed to lowers insulin levels, fat cells can be reprogramed to release their excess calorie stores back into the body.  When that happens, cravings vanish, metabolism speeds up, and weight loss occurs without the struggle.   (more…)

Posted by on Jan 04, 2016 | 0 Comments