Hormonal Harmony Nutrition & Supplements

My Biggest Challenge Eating Real Food

Today I ask myself a tough question that I often ask my clients after they complete a 30 Day “Whole You” program.

What has been my biggest challenge eating a real food diet, and how did I overcome it?

There was a time when I had this nagging feeling that I needed to be “lean,” with a very low body fat percentage, to truly epitomize a real food diet “success”. I finally realized that health is the REAL truth-teller, and the body must be loved and appreciated for wherever real health brings it. There was nothing to be gained from giving old food neuroses a new disguise; or from allowing old insecurities to manifest themselves over and over again through different types of food. I had to forgive myself all those mistakes! I’m grateful to have come through that internal battle, because it has shifted my perspective entirely and allowed me to appreciate my body and my food in ways I never thought possible. But it wasn’t an easy mind-set to relinquish.

A Favorite, Quick, Real Food Lunch!

I would love to hear what challenges you have faced eating a real, whole food diet (paleo or primal diets). Please comment below to share your experiences with others and me. Thanks! 🙂
xxx, Amber

Nutrition & Supplements

Advice For Those Wanting Extreme Leanness

If you want to get extremely lean, that’s cool. Just make sure you realize that it will be difficult and it might not be the healthiest thing for your body long-term. If you do want to achieve this level of leanness, make sure you:

1. Do your research and find a great coach who will listen to your wants and needs.

2. Are being honest about your priorities. Whether you prioritize getting lean, being healthy, or achieving a high level of performance, this will help mentally prepare you for any consequences (goor or bad) of what you’re doing.

3. Recognize what you’re truly looking for. If you think being extremely lean will bring you happiness/respect/self-esteem/a significant other, you’ll be extremely lean and sorely disappointed.

4. Aren’t afraid to ask your coach questions. If they try to intimidate you or don’t listen to you, don’t be afraid to fire them. They work for you.

5. Don’t do/take anything that makes you uncomfortable. Listen to your body. It knows best.

Finally, please remember, this is your life and it’s your decision. If it’s something that you want to do, more power to you. But please, please, please take the advice of the people who have been there and done that.

Nutrition & Supplements

What is a Real Food Diet?

What is a 30-Day REAL Food Diet?

Basically it is a 30-day real food diet is designed to reduce inflammation, improve digestion, strengthen metabolism, identify food sensitivities, reduce allergic reactions, boost energy, regulate blood sugar and normalize weight, by eliminating certain suspect foods. Food is powerful medicine. No other therapy – natural or otherwise – can come even remotely close to accomplishing all of these goals.
It’s essential that you commit to making these changes for at least 30 days – without cheating. By removing the foods that most commonly cause problems, you allow your body to rest and recover from whatever symptoms those foods have been provoking. Just one cheat could trigger a whole new cascade of reactions. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
After the program, you may be able to re-introduce some of the foods on the “avoid completely” list, such as dairy (especially cream, butter, yogurt and kefir), white potatoes, white rice, alcohol (in moderation), white rice and buckwheat. But for now, it’s best to eliminate these foods to see if they’re causing problems.

What Foods Can I Eat?

Stuff to Eat liberally:
• Meat and poultry. Emphasize beef and lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, duck and wild game like venison, ostrich, etc. Organic and free-range is always preferable, but is especially so during this program.
• Organ meats (especially liver). Liver is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. If you don’t like the taste of liver, one good trick is to put one chicken liver in each cube of an ice cube tray and freeze them. Then, when you’re making any meat dish, dice up one chicken liver and add it to the meat.
• Bone broth soups. It’s essential to balance your intake of muscle meats and organ meats with homemade bone broths. Bone broths are rich in glycine, and amino acid found in collagen, which is a protein important in maintaining a healthy gut lining.
• Fish. Especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. Wild is preferable. You need to eat three 6 oz. servings of fatty fish per week to balance your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
• Eggs. Preferably free-range and organic.
• Starchy tubers. Yams, sweet potatoes, yucca/manioc, taro, lotus root, etc.
• Non-starchy vegetables. Cooked and raw.
• Healthy fats. Ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, palm oil, lard, duck fat, tallow and olive oil.
• Olives, avocados and coconuts (including coconut milk). Canned or packaged coconut milk is a good choice for most people. However, if you have digestive issues, you may be sensitive to the guar gum used in these products.
• Sea salt and spices.

Stuff to Eat in moderation:

• Processed meat. Sausage, bacon and jerky. Make sure they are gluten, sugar and soy free and organic/free-range meat is preferable.
• Whole fruit. Approximately 1-3 servings per day, depending on your blood sugar balance and weight loss goals (if you have high blood sugar or want to lose weight, aim for the lower end of that scale). Favor low sugar fruits like berries and peaches over tropical fruits, apples & pears.
• Nuts and seeds. A maximum of a small handful per day, preferably soaked overnight and dehydrated or roasted at low temperature (150 degrees) to improve digestibility. Favor nuts lower in omega-6, like hazelnuts and macadamias, and minimize nuts high in omega-6, like brazil nuts and almonds.
• Green beans, sugar peas and snap peas. Though technically legumes, they are usually well tolerated.
• Coffee and black tea. Black, or with coconut milk. Only if you don’t suffer from fatigue, insomnia or hypoglycemia, and only before 12:00 PM. Limit to one cup (not one triple expresso – one cup).
• Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is especially well tolerated.
• Restaurant food. The main problem with eating out is that restaurants cook with industrial seed oils, which wreak havoc on the body and cause serious inflammation. You don’t need to become a cave dweller, but it’s best to limit eating out as much as possible during this initial period.
Avoid completely:
• Dairy. Including butter, cheese, yogurt, milk, cream & any dairy product that comes from a cow, goat or sheep.
• Grains. Including bread, rice, cereal, oats, or any gluten-free pseudo grains like sorghum, teff, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, etc.
• Legumes. Including beans of all kinds (soy, black, kidney, pinto, etc.), peas, lentils and peanuts.
• Concentrated sweeteners, real or artificial. Including sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave, brown rice syrup, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc.
eration:• Processed or refined foods. As a general rule, if it comes in a bag or a box, don’t eat it. This also includes highly processed “health foods” like protein powder, energy bars, dairy-free creamers, etc.
• Sodas and diet sodas.
• Alcohol. In any form.
• White potatoes. White potatoes are in the nightshade family and can cause inflammation in certain people. Yams and sweet potatoes are not nightshades and don’t have this effect.
Processed sauces and seasonings. Soy sauce, tamari, and other processed seasonings and sauces (which often have sugar, soy, gluten, or all of the above)

How Do I Do All of This?

I recognize this will be a dramatic change for many of you. The best way to do it is to just dive right in. Begin right now. If you procrastinate or delay, it just gets harder.

When Will I See Results?
The first few days can be hard. Your body will be going through withdrawal. Sugar and wheat in particular are addictive and you may notice symptoms like mood swings, strong cravings, irritability and fatigue as your body adjusts to life without them.
But at some point you will recover and start feeling better than you did before you began the program. Your energy will improve, your skin will clear up, your digestion will smooth out, your sleep will get deeper, your moods will stabilize and you’ll start shedding some pounds (only if you need to, usually). Aches, pains and mysterious symptoms you’ve had for ages will – seemingly miraculously – begin to improve.
This program has the potential to change your life. I realize that it’s difficult, I know how much work it is, and I remember what it was like to cut out all of these foods. I’ve been there myself. But I also know from my own experience and from supervising many people through this transition that the results are worth the effort.

What Are Some Common Pitfalls?

• Cheating. I said it before and I’ll say it again. Don’t cheat. It’s not worth it. One piece of bread or one glass of milk could re-start the inflammatory process and throw your body back into the chaos that led you to this in the first place. If you can stick this initial period out, it will get easier. I promise you. At some point you won’t even miss those foods you think you can’t live without.
• Fat phobia. The biggest mistake people make on this program is not eating enough fat. You’re eliminating a lot of foods from your diet (bread, grains, beans, etc.), and you have to replace those calories with something. Healthy fat is that something. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Food toxins like wheat, fructose and seed oils make you fat. Fat is the preferred fuel source of the body, and should constitute about 60-70% of calories.
• Obsessing. Try to relax into this as much as possible. Don’t overanalyze what you’re eating. Enjoy your food. Make cooking fun and leave time to savor your creations. Find some recipes that look good. You’ve got real, delicious, nutrient-dense foods to choose from. Trust me, it could be worse.
• Lack of planning. If you know you’re going out to dinner with some friends this weekend, choose a place that can accommodate your needs. Call ahead and ask if they have gluten-free items on the menu. Pick a place that has meat and vegetable dishes, and order a salad on the side. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re starving because you haven’t planned in advance, and then eat a bagel with cream cheese because that’s all that’s available. If you’re going on a road trip, stock up on paleo-friendly snacks. This is all possible, but it does require some planning and foresight.
• Lack of support. No man (or woman) is an island. Making big changes is hard, and the more support you have in doing this, the easier it will go. See if you can enlist your spouse, significant other or a good friend to do this with you. (They may not be eager to join, but they’ll thank you later.) Have a “real food pot luck”. Invite friends over to cook with you. Connect with others online following this approach. Ask questions. Get help here by signing up for my “Whole You” 30 Day Program.

Hormonal Harmony

The Way You See Yourself

…is actually quite subjective 🙂 Like most things, when we quit all the mental aerobics, it just comes down to a choice. In fact, we are probably one of the worst judges of how we look because our insecurities make us biased. I actually like subjectivity as it applies to self-judgement, but ONLY if we can learn to judge FAVORABLY.

Besides, being a certain weight, circumference or dress size, without the personal biases we place on them, are arbitrary–have no meaning. We MAKE them mean something.

I remember talking to a client of mine a couple years ago, a woman who was in her early 40s and she told me that she “needed to get down to 119 lbs.” Well, naturally I was surprised at her specificity, and inquired about it. She said it was what she weighed AS A FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE. Here, over 20 years and 3 kids later, she was still desperately holding on to a number that meant something to her as a teenager, like it was some sort of magic pill for happiness.

Why? Why do we make it about a specific number? A random number. 119 lbs is not healthy if it’s skinny fat or done in a way that makes us miserable. I’d rather be a strong, healthy & happy 150 lbs than struggle in dissatisfaction for 20 years to reach a number that holds no real value except the one we made up in our head.

What is valuable however, is health, functionality and happiness.

As a fitness and nutrition pro, I don’t advocate just any weight as “healthy.” Obese is not healthy. But I do advocate LIKING YOURSELF in the meantime as you strive towards a healthier body fat percentage.

The two are not mutually exclusive. You can like yourself NOW, while also striving for more in the FUTURE. This is called “acceptance without resignation.” And despite the fact that we often think dissatisfaction is what drives us, most people are actually MORE motivated when they experience a sense of self-acceptance. Less mental effort used for self-loathing, therefore more mental effort available to help us stay on track with our healthy goals.

Ok, so let’s try this: Look in the mirror and say, “I’m ok.” Can you say it with conviction? Or are you faking it? Try, then try again. And again 🙂

Want more mindset coaching? Contact me to schedule an appointment to receive online or in-person mindset coaching to begin your journey to mastering your self-image and food obsessions.

Self Image

As always, let me know how you’re doing, and drop me a line.

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Nutrition & Supplements

My Favorite Way to Shake things Up!

There are few things in life that I enjoy more than a post-workout recovery shake to leave me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated! I am also known to have a bit of a sweet tooth and protein shake/smoothies hit the spot every single time. There are countless ways to make shakes and I love to mix it up and keep things interesting using new recipes and ingredients.
For most people whey protein is a great source of protein post-workout because of the body’s unique ability to quickly digest it and rebuild and repair muscle tissue. For some people with intolerance to dairy egg-white, pea or rice protein powders are better choices. Any of these can be used in the below concoctions. The optimum time to eat more higher glycemic index and continue living the fat-loss lifestyle is within 30 minutes of an intense weight training workout. Some of the below recipes include fruits like bananas, oranges and peaches that are not recommended for regular consumption when focusing on fat loss. When eaten immediately post workout and combined with a good source of protein these fruits aid in the recovery process and protein absorption and can actually help the body to build muscle and burn fat.

My favorite shake right now is the Strawberry Milkshake, but all of these are so tasty and can be made in less than 5 minutes with any blender. Enjoy! ox Amber

1) Peanut Butter Banana
1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein
8 oz Unsweetened Vanilla or plain almond milk
½ banana
2 tbsp. Natural Peanut butter or Almond Butter
1 tbsp. cocoa powder (optional)
Stevia/other sugar substitute to taste
Add ice and blend to desired consistency.

2) Pumpkin Pie
1 scoop vanilla protein
½ cup Organic Canned Pumpkin
8 0z unsweetened Vanilla or plain Almond Milk
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/8 tsp. Vanilla extract
Stevia/Other Sugar Substitute to taste
Add ice and blend to desired consistency

3) Orange Crush
1 scoop Vanilla Protein
1 small orange
8 oz Unsweetened Vanilla or plain Almond milk
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp sugar free vanilla pudding mix (optional)
Add ice and blend to desired consistency

4) Strawberry Milkshake
1 scoop Vanilla Protein
¾ cup frozen strawberries (or any other berry)
8 oz unsweetened plain almond milk
2 tbsp sugar free vanilla pudding mix
Stevia/other sugar substitute to taste
Cinnamon (as desired)
Add ice and blend to desired consistency

5) Peaches and Crème
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
8 oz unsweetened Vanilla or plain Almond milk
1 small peach (pitted and sliced)
2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla pudding mix
Stevia/other sugar substitute to taste
Cinnamon as desired
Add ice and blend to desired consistency


Why should workouts be based more on rest?

Rest and exercise are usually thought of as opposites, but they are actually complimentary and dependent upon one another. Just as night can only be defined in the context of day, exercise and rest are similarly connected. Rest is the single biggest determinant of exercise intensity. Without intense workouts, fitness results will be lacking and without rest, intensity will be compromised.

Think about it this way: a champion sprinter who attempts two 100-yard dashes immediately back to back with no rest will see a serious drop in stamina during the second race. The intensity generated in the first run would severely impede the performance of the second. With no rest between races, the sprinter could not physically or mentally muster the same effort. Resting between the two races is required to reset the body. Only with rest would the sprinter be able to push his body to its max for a second time.

The above scenario illustrates the concept of rest-based exercise. By focusing attention on rest during training, it is possible to reset both mental and physical capacity to achieve more than would be possible without it. A Rest-based workout is a new training philosophy developed by Dr. Jade and Dr. Keoni Teta, both NDs and CSCS ad founders of Metabolic Effect. It preaches that rest in a workout is not only a good thing, but should be the primary goal of any training program focused on delivering real results.

The more you rest, the harder you will push. The harder you push, the more you will have to rest. Rest and work in exercise are dependent upon one another and together deliver far better results than can be achieved with pacing.

The language I like to use is push until you cant, rest until you can. Some people take lots of shorter rests, while others prefer longer periods of rest. With rest-based training you use rest strategically to generate just the right intensity for your individual metabolic needs.

Push hard, rest hard and then do it again. Thats how you achieve the metabolic responses we want in our body to create a flurry of hormones which burn fat and build muscle.

Hormonal Harmony

What does status have to do with your fat loss journey?

Ever wonder why so many people feel compelled to argue with you, contradict ideas and be generally disagreeable? Because “STATUS” is one of the major needs of the human brain.

People do not like feeling out of the know and often subconsciously resist information others present. This is a telltale sign of insecurity since it is their perception not yours that creates the in-congruency in their mind. People would prefer to be at the same level or above others. This is why chat boards are often filled with negative and contradictory comments (and why people act the way they do on FB :-)).

The need for status can be so powerful in some that they will literally find something wrong in almost anything you present. Ever meet anyone like that? You write an incredibly moving passage and they will point out all the misspelled words. Formulate a well thought out argument and rather than agree they will find the one flaw in it, eat healthy and they will make sure to reprimand you for not having fun, take up exercise and they will tell you why your chosen form of exercise is not as good as their own. And on and on it goes.

Why do we bring this up? Because the process of body change is an individual endeavor and often takes a thick skin. Understanding why the people in your life act this way can provide new insight. We realize it is frustrating, but many of these people are simply being human and not all of us are equally secure. Realize that status seeking is a game they can’t help but play and rather than buy into it, continue finding your own solution. Try to let go of the subconscious need for status in yourself and don’t take it as personal when others do it. Focus on the honest pursuit of what works for you instead.

I would love to hear from you on this topic. Please send me your comments and stories.
In good health, XXX-Amber

Nutrition & Supplements

How do you not give in to familial temptation?

How do you not give in to familial temptation (e.g., to have a second piece of pie or eat something you know is bad for you) this 4th of July or any other day we get together with family/friends?

Practice! Skillfully navigating pressure to eat and food pushers at family gathers and holidays takes confidence and a well- rehearsed response. Before the event, when you are alone, practice your “no thank you response.” Like rehearsing a play, the more easily it rolls off your tongue, the more you will be able to do it in the moment. It’s easy to persuade someone to have another piece when they hesitate. A confident “no” will convince them to back off.

Be sure to breathe. Take a few deep breaths when you are with friends and family. Oxygen to the brain helps you to think clearer and make better choices. It also helps to move your body into relaxation mode. You make better choices when your body is at ease.

Have a substitute. Stuff your pocket with a few stevia sweetened gum pieces or whatever “safe” food you choose. Pop it in your mouth to avoid the temptation to mindlessly pop their junk food choices in your mouth.

Distract. Move your family away from the kitchen table. Even shifting a few feet away from the table significantly decreases the chances that you will eat mindlessly. Or, bring old family pictures or outdoor games to keep them occupied and entertained. But, most of all be safe this holiday, really connect with your loved ones, and have FUN!

As always, in good health, Amber

Nutrition & Supplements

Why I Don’t Recommend Eating Soy?

Hi everyone! Today I was asked for about the 100th time if I am a vegetarian and if I eat a lot of soy products. I think I get the “Vegetarian Question” often because I’m in the health business and that people connect good health with eating a vegetarian diet. I’m not sure why this perception has been so hard to change, but until it does (with all my effort to change it), I will continue to explain to people that I eat what I’m made of….animal protein, healthy useful fats, and veggies and fruits for essential vitamins and micronutrients.

Next, I addressed the soy question. What irks me most about soy is it thinks it can be anything. Soy thinks it can be sandwich meat. It thinks it can be Chorizo’s vegetarian cousin, Soy-rizo. It thinks it can be cheese, milk and Bac-Os. (No, Bac-Os aren’t made of bacon.) But I call foul. Soy was once considered a fabulous vegetarian protein source, with the justification that traditional cultures across the world had been eating soy for centuries. Well, that’s true. But they haven’t been eating soy bacon for centuries. What I’m talking about here is that version of soy that’s used as a substitute, a binder, and as a fake animal product. It’s refined into Soy Protein Isolate and used as filler in processed foods. Here are five reasons I avoid soy as we know it today.

Reason #1: It’s almost always Genetically Modified. Over 90% of soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. This means its genetics are tweaked to make it, for example, “Roundup-Ready,” which has been blamed for breeding Roundup-resistant “super-weeds.” Mess with nature, and nature bites back.

Reason #2: it’s linked to scary health problems in animal models. Because we don’t generally run controlled experiments on humans, animals must fall victim to testing of these GMO products.

Reason #3: Unrefined soy contains goitrogens. Goitrogens are compounds that can interfere with thyroid function. When concentrated, as in highly-processed soy “meat” or “milk,” these goitrogens become much more likely to affect the thyroid.

Reason #4: Soy in people food is a by-product of soy in animal food. Most of the soy grown in the United States is diverted to the by-product animal feed industry. This means it’s feeding the factory farms and the confined animal feeding operations that prevent animals from eating their natural diets.

Reason #5: It’s just not as good as the real thing! Soy is used to replace other foods we were told were unhealthy: soy milk to replace cholesterol-containing milk, soy meat to replace animal protein, and soy oil to replace saturated fat. Now that we know that cholesterol, meat, and fat from appropriately-raised animals is actually a health food there’s no reason to make that switch!

With lots of love (and absolutely NO soy!), Amber

Nutrition & Supplements

Health Tip of the Day

Strong body, Strong Mind! Strong Mind, Strong Body!
Strong body, Strong Mind! Strong Mind, Strong Body!


Health Tip of the Day: Fun, joy and laughter create health. If what you are doing is not bringing you joy, find something else that will- Xo, Amber