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

Nutrition & Supplements

Eat A Salad Every Day

Today, I’d considered myself the queen of the BAS (i.e. Big-Ass-Salad) when years ago–before I started competing in bodybuilding and fitness competitions–I would hardly touch vegetables. And now it’s all about stuffing my face with a huge BAS with lots of yummy protein, veggies, a few nuts or cheese sprinkled on top (maybe a some pieces of bacon, really whatever my heart desires) and my life is now richer because of the BAS, aaaaaaand I am eating way more veggies than ever before. I even had a restaurant which I frequented, name a salad after me, because I wanted everything on the food line mixed in it. So, today I want to share my love of the BAS with you all, and I have listed two of my favorites below. Hope you get a chance to try them and enjoy them as much as I have. Or maybe just create your own. 🙂 And remember, “Just eat a BAS salad every day” and you can’t go wrong. Hope you have a great week!



Asian  Chicken  Salad

• 2c. spinach, cabbage or any other leafy greens

• 4oz-6oz chicken breast cubed or sliced

• cucumber

• 1⁄2c. broccoli,

• 1⁄2 red and/or yellow peppers,

• 1/8c. small amount of carrots,

• 1 tbsp cilantro

• 1 tsp sesame seeds

Combine first 6 ingredients. Top salad with chopped cilantro. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Top with 2 tbsp dressing of choice (I use balsamic and olive oil, with lemon). Makes a single serving.


Shredded Salad *This supports liver function, detoxification and optimal estrogen metabolism.

• 1⁄2 head red or purple cabbage, finely shredded

• 1⁄2 red onion, minced

• 1 avocado, diced

• Handful of cilantro, chopped

• Handful grape tomatoes

• 2 chicken breasts, chopped

• 1-­‐2 TB olive oil

• Juice of 1 lemon

• Pinch sea salt

• Black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Makes 2 Servings

Nutrition & Supplements

What is the Paleo Diet?

So you may have heard people saying they are eating “Paleo” now. And you probably think great, but what does that mean? What is the Paleo diet? So, today Im explaining in a very simple way, what it means to eat Paleo.

First, it is based upon the idea of eating the foods our bodies were designed for through thousands of years of evolution. These foods were available to early people through hunting and gathering [meat and fish, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables]. During modern times, advances in technology have made other forms of food available for consumption [grains, dairy, and processed foods], which are not as easy for our bodies to digest. The foods recommended in the Paleo diet generally provide our bodies with more efficient, long-lasting energy that also aid in burning fat. The Paleo Diet is considered to be optimal for digestion, blood sugar regulation, metabolism, and sleep.

So you may ask, what types of food are included in the Paleo diet?

We Paleo practitioners eat a wide variety of meats, poultry, fish, eggs, colorful fruits and vegetables, Healthy fats from coconut, avocado, pastured fatty cuts of meat, grass fed butter, olive oil, and some nuts and seeds. The options are endless, and our plates are always filled with something new and interesting to challenge our palates!
And the foods we try to avoid at least 80% of the time are all grains, pasteurized dairy, soy, legumes, refined sugar, and alcohol (particularly beers, unless they are gluten free or ciders).

For more information on a Paleo Diet, check out these links:
Weston A. Price Foundation:
Chris Kresser:
Robb Wolf:
Mark Sisson:

Nutrition & Supplements

Where’s My Energy?

Wheres my energy

Hey man, where’s my energy?

Life – often it’s a ‘less than ideal’ scenario.  There are nights when sleeping for eight plus hours doesn’t happen and days (or weeks) when stress is a constant companion.  There are periods of time when you might go through training/exercise phases that are – shall I say ‘not the best’…   This could mean way too much, way too little, or just a whole lot of the wrong type.  And then there’s that whole eating thing.  It’s common practice to turn to food for an energy boost – and most often the foods that we turn to are more ‘energy suckers’ than ‘energy infusers’.

All of these variables put together are the making of a “Perfect Storm”.  It’s times like these when that ‘dragging’ feeling is all too familiar.  You know, the one where the minute you get out of bed – the only thing you can think about is how you can’t wait to get back in about 15 hours; or when the clock strikes three, you’re ready for a nap or an IV drip of caffeine.  It’s the days and weeks when you feel like you’re walking around in a permanent haze that just won’t go away.  Well, there’s hope!

While you’re waiting for the fog to clear there are a few things you can do from a nutrition standpoint that may help boost your energy:

  • Stay hydrated.  Dehydration leads to tiredness and brain fog!  (It’s not just the carbs sometimes!!).
  • Stop with the caffeine!  It’s a short term fix and in the end will leave you in an even deeper energy black hole.  It’s also a diuretic and may contribute to dehydration.
  • Mix it up!  Make sure that you are choosing a variety of proteins, veggies and fruits instead of the same things over and over again.  This will ensure you’re getting all of the nutrients your body needs to keep the motor running.
  • Don’t overdose on fruit. Turning to fruit for a quick ‘pick me up’ will do you no favors in the sustained energy department and may leave you craving more sweet food later.  When you do eat fruit pair it with some fat and/or protein to slow the digestion and prevent energy peaks and valleys.
  • Got post-workout fuel??  Another thing that may help is incorporating a post-workout meal on the days that you exercise, especially if you are doing long and/or intense workouts.  Within 30 minutes of your activity add a meal/snack that incorporates some starchy, vegetable based carbohydrate (sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash, roots and tubers) along with some animal-sourced protein.  This will not only help restore energy, but will enhance muscle recovery.

Stay the course, try these things to help ‘weather the storm’.  Know that with time and/or lifestyle modifications life will settle down, the fog will clear, and there are bright skies ahead!!

Nutrition & Supplements

Does Cereal Make Us Fat?

Does Eating Cereal Make Us Fat?

Does eating breakfast cereal make us fat? Well, that’s what I want to discuss today.The reason Im talking about this is that I came across a news article that was entitled “Breakfast Cereal Tied to Lower BMI for Kids.” BMI is body mass index, and it’s a measure of how fat you are, pretty much. The higher your BMI, the worse offs you are. Anyways, just right at the beginning, I’m just gonna read you the first couple paragraphs here. I think it’s pretty hilarious.“Regularly eating cereal for breakfast is tied to healthy weight for kids according to a new study that endorses making breakfast cereal accessible to low-income kids to help fight childhood obesity. One in every four American children lives in a food-insecure household where breakfast isn’t a sure thing, lead author, Dr. Lana Frantzen told Reuters Health.”I quote here: “Cereal is an excellent breakfast choice. It’s simple and gets those essential nutrients that children need, especially low-income, minority children, who tend to be hit hardest by childhood obesity and related health problems, said Frantzen, who is employed by Dairy MAX, a regional dairy council in Prairie, Texas.As soon as I saw that, the alarms went off in my head. I was like, what is this Dairy MAX thing all about? Dairy MAX is an affiliate of the National Dairy Council, which is a huge lobby group for the promotion of consuming more dairy.I don’t know if we’ve really talked about this specifically, but dairy is very problematic for human health. You can argue with me all you want on this. People say raw milk is good, all this stuff. Okay, raw milk is better than pasteurized milk; that’s fine. If you wanna do that, that’s up to you. But when you look at the composition of cows’ milk, it’s very difficult for the human body to digest and assimilate. It’s also correlated with the development of type 1 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and so forth.As far as I’m concerned, we really should not be consuming dairy, let alone every single day. The occasional whatever is fine, but on a daily basis to depend on it is very, very, I think, problematic.

When I saw that I was like, this is interesting. I need to read on, because they’re basically saying, first of all, that cereal is a good thing for kids, and then milk, obviously, which goes with cereal, is tied in with that. I thought it was very clever that Dairy MAX positioned it in the way that, “Let’s encourage people to eat more grains, and let’s tie that in with milk as well,” because, obviously, the two go hand in hand.


Let’s look at some stats here. Actually, the stats don’t even matter. The funny thing is that…I’m just going through some of the stuff here in the study, and statistics don’t really matter because they’re pretty insignificant here, but what stood out for me was that the cereals that were most common breakfast items included in order of significance—so, the highest ranked and kind of descending from there—is, I quote: “Frosted Flakes”—which we all know is a terrific cereal for kids—“Cheerios, and then Kix.” Those are the most common breakfast items.

And then children who didn’t eat cereal but did have breakfast reported having foods ranging from scrambled eggs, white bread, and sausage, to granola bars, tortillas, and breakfast tacos. I understand what they’re trying to do here. They’re trying to really promote “healthier” food choices for low-income families because they understand that they don’t necessarily have the most money to buy the healthiest foods, but I think it’s very, very irresponsible that Frosted Flakes is being promoted as a suitable breakfast.

It doesn’t matter if you have money or you don’t. It’s amazing that in spite of kids eating Frosted Flakes and even Cheerios, that they had a lower BMI. The whole argument here is that by eating cereal, you’re getting more vitamins and all the fortified stuff that they’re putting into these grains; you’re getting more of that compared to eating less cereal.

Essentially, the more cereal you ate, the healthier you are, more or less, versus eating less cereal. That was essentially the proposition in this study.

It’s problematic because, let’s just look at, I really don’t understand how this works. If you look at Frosted Flakes, it is loaded with sugar.

Frosted Flakes—unfortunately, I ate quite a bit of Frosted Flakes growing up too, and that didn’t serve me very well, but let’s look at the ingredient list.

All right, we have, first ingredient, milled corn; second, sugar; malt flavoring; high-fructose corn syrup. So, now we’ve got three sugars in the first four ingredients. Amazing. And we also know that corn is probably genetically modified. Salt; sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid; niacinamide; iron; pyridoxine; and some other fortified nutrients. Total sugar content per three-quarters of a cup is 11 grams of sugar.

Again, Frosted Flakes is not the best. Cheerios is not that much better either. Let’s just look at Cheerios as a comparison.

Let’s not look at Honey Nut Cheerios. Honey Nut Cheerios has…Honey Nut Cheerios is basically the same thing in terms of sugar content as Frosted Flakes, but that’s not what I was looking for. Cheerios is touted as this whole grain, it’s amazing for your heart, lowers cholesterol, blah, blah, blah. Cheerios is a little bit better; 1 gram of sugar per one-cup serving, so that’s obviously a lot better.

Again, the problem is that it’s not only the cereal, but it’s what you’re putting on the cereal, ’cause when I was young, I would eat Cheerios, but I would load it up with sugar. I would put two to three tablespoons of sugar on top of it; plus, who knows what kids are putting on their cereals nowadays. And, most likely, they’re putting in cows’ milk as an adjunct to the cereal.

Cereal, in this study, was found to promote lower BMI in kids who are eating more of it. That got me thinking, Let’s actually have a look at the study and look at who funded the study, ’cause that’s always interesting to learn about. It was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you ever wanna go into this kind of research, you can search for these journals, and you can look at specific studies and you can look at Statements of Potential Conflicts of interest or Funding and Support Statements, which are usually at the bottom of the studies.

So, for this study it basically says, “Dr. Frantzen is employed by Dairy MAX, a regional dairy council founded by American Dairy Farmers. This research was completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of doctor of philosophy…” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Funding and support: This work was completed with funding form the National Institute of Diabetes”—which is actually pretty ironic, considering that Frosted Flakes and a lot of other whole grain cereals are not necessarily the best for stabilizing blood sugar—“and kidney diseases/National Institutes of Health.”

Breakfast Cereal

does cereal make you fatAgain, there’s a lot of big companies behind these types of studies. Let’s look at another study. I decided why don’t we look for a review of the literature, which looks at all sorts of studies and compiles it into a distilled overview of what everything else is showing?

I didn’t come across one of those, but I did come across something that was interesting. It was published in the journal Obesity in 2005, and it was entitled “The Dietary Intake of Whole- and Refined-Grain Breakfast Cereals and Weight Gain in Men.” Now, this was really interesting. I’m just gonna give you the results very quickly.

“Whole and refined-grain breakfast cereal intake was inversely associated with a body-weight gain over eight years, after adjustment for age, smoking, baseline BMI, alcohol intake, physical activity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and use of multivitamins. Compared with men who rarely or never consumed breakfast cereals, those who consumed more than one serving per day of breakfast cereals were 22 percent and 12 percent less likely to become overweight during follow-up periods of 8 or 13 years, respectively.”

So, irrespective of the types of cereals they’re eating—they could be eating Frosted Flakes, they could be eating Mini Wheats, they could be eating Cheerios—it didn’t matter. This study was basically saying, as long as you had more than one serving per day of cereal, you would have a lower body mass index. I find this very trivial because this study was actually pretty large, looking at over almost 18,000 U.S. male physicians between the ages of 40 and 84. It’s very problematic because when you see this kind of research, the first thing you think about is, Okay, eating cereals is probably a really good thing for me.

But as we’ve talked about in the celiac episode, these cereals are all glutinous grains. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about Cheerios, Mini Wheats, Frosted Flakes; they all contain levels of wheat, gluten, genetically modified foods, corn, soy. These are very problematic foods. I still find it very, very amazing that starting your day with breakfast cereal is going to stabilize your blood sugar somehow, which doesn’t make sense to me, and potentially, obviously lead to lower weight gain over several years.

So, it got me thinking, Who funded this study? This study specifically, guess who was funding this one? Let me expose the acknowledgments. “This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants…,” blah, blah, blah, blah, the numbers of the grants, and a grant from the General Mills Corporation.” Well, there we go.

General Mills, as we know, produces or is the manufacturer or Cheerios and a number of other cereals. They’re a huge, huge corrupt food company. I don’t want this to come across as some kind of conspiracy theory of what’s happening ’cause it’s the reality. When you look at—it’s so funny that we put so much weight into scientific evidence nowadays, it’s like, “Where’s the research that shows this? Where’s the research that shows this?”

In a lot of cases, I’m starting to learn that’s it’s almost becoming less and less influential, I should say, in terms of the scientific data, because everything is funded, supported, influenced by some type of corporation. Well then, playing devil’s advocate, you might say, “Where do these researchers get their money from, then, to conduct these studies?” Well, that’s a great question. In some cases they have to look at other places.

However, a lot of university will give grants for research. Some of those universities might be tied into different corporations and so forth, so I don’t know, but when you see studies that are specifically funded by the National Dairy Council or General Mills, you really have to take it with a grain of salt because you don’t necessarily know what’s happening on the backend, and it’s not to say that the results are being confounded or influenced necessarily by where the money’s coming from, but there is a sneaking suspicion thatthose who want to put health claims on their food products are the ones supporting the health studies.

If I wanted to conduct or if I wanted some research to prove that my specific diet was the best, if I had the money, I would fund a study, and, ideally, that study would be set up in a way to product favorable results for my diet. And if it didn’t, then maybe I would slip a couple bills under the table and hopefully conjure up some different results.

Now, I’m not saying that that’s necessarily true, but there’re a lot of cases in which it is. For instance, with aspartame and the research on that and its effect on human health.

So, what I want you to get out of this article is that even though this research comes out showing breakfast cereals are tied to lower BMI in kids. Carb quality counts!

Not all carbs are bad, but then studies like this come out to influence people, especially those without a better understanding of how this stuff works—again, that would be typically the lower-income families, where lower-educated parents have unhealthier kids.

If you’re not a very well-educated person, you have kids, and you see something like this on the news that says “Breakfast Cereal Tied to Lower BMI for Kids,” well then, you’re thinking, “Great. You know what, little Johnny? Let’s go to the store and grab some Frosted Flakes or Cheerios, and let’s have that on a daily basis.” Now you’re getting your cereal, now you’re getting your milk, and now these big corporations are laughing.

The bottom line, the problem with these cereals is that, first of all, in most cases, especially the sugary ones, they’re gonna spike your blood sugar, which is gonna lead to hypoglycemic issues over time. Second of all, they contain wheat and gluten, which are very problematic in terms of what they do inside the human body. And, third, they’re tied in with consumption of cows’ milk in most cases, because most low-income families—and most families eating cereal, for that matter—are not consuming almond milk or alternatives like that.

That’s my take on this. I don’t believe cereal is a great way to start the day. It’s actually not very good at all. If you want a better breakfast cereal, I’m gonna give you my personal breakfast cereal right here. It’s called Blueberry Morning. You take about a cup of blueberries, shredded coconut, half a handful of walnuts—just kinda crumple them up in your hands—you can add in hempseeds, a little bit of ground flaxseed, and then throw on some rice milk or almond milk, and there’s your cereal.

Terrific. It’s all raw, which is amazing. It contains the healthy fats from all those nuts and hempseeds and all that good stuff and it’s got some really, really good nutrition from the blueberries. You’re getting a very balanced approach of carbs—lower amounts of carbs, obviously, through the blueberries—but good, healthy protein and fats from those nuts and seeds.

A much better way to start the day, and you’re not getting into the whole sugary cereals and stuff. Believe me, I grew up eating cereal three, four, five times a day. Sure, I’m not fat but I wouldn’t consider myself…I would consider those foods as being at the root cause of a lot of the health issues I later developed.

If you’ve got kids, I really hope you’re not feeding them cereals, even if they’re supposedly healthy cereals. Believe me, there are much better alternatives out there.

I hope this sheds some light on this matter.

Nutrition & Supplements

Top 5 Ways to Cut Calories

If you’ve been consuming plenty of natural fats, protein and produce, you’ve taken care of the “what” part of eating, and your body will benefit for years to come because you’re eating for your body’s blueprint.

But if you still carry around a spare tire then cutting calories slightly is still the best way to lose. Here are the first 5 things you can do to make this change:

1. Replace fruits with vegetables.

Fruits contain sugar, which is fine in limited amounts. But fruits are simply higher in calories than vegetables, something many folks don’t know. Replace those fruit snacks with vegetable snacks for equal – or better – nutrition and fewer calories.

2. Cut meat portions in half.

I’m a huge proponent of plenty of protein – at a minimum, 100 grams daily. But often, meat portions are too big. This is especially true in restaurants, but  I have noticed the prevalence of gargantuan steaks and step-aside-turkey chicken breasts at the market these days, too. 3-6 ounces is plenty. Focus on source, flavor, and quality, not quantity.

3. Watch the nut portions.

Nuts are an amazing nutrient source – protein, fat, fiber, vitamins galore. But they are incredibly high in calories. A serving size is a handful, not a pack.

4. Drink only water.

To really lose weight, make sure you aren’t drinking your calories! (Unless those calories are replacing a bulk meal.) Limit alcohol and eliminate dairy and juices

5. Eliminate starchy vegetables.

If you are lean and healthy, things like yams and carrots are fine. But they do tend to have more calories than greens and cruciferous vegetables, so mind those starchy squashes and tubers if you want to lose a few pounds.






Nutrition & Supplements

Top Reasons Females Get Belly Fat

I have been getting a lot of questions about fat deposition in the abdomen.

When and why do women still store fat in their abdomens, even though they traditionally have more subcutaneous fat than men? These are the top four reasons: 

 1) Women store fat in the abdomen during menopause.

Women store fat in their abdomens during menopause fairly frequently. This is because estrogen levels are dropping sharply. Many women supplement with bio-identical hormones, in fact, and see their weight gain/ weight shift minimize. Another great way to mitigate this problem is to eat a diet consisting of whole foods (no processed, grains, legumes and dairy), which will minimize insulin spiking that can also contribute to abdominal fat gain, and which will also keep hormone levels fairly well-balanced.

2)  Women store fat in the abdomen when they are stressed out.

Cortisol drives abdominal fat deposition and breaks down fat burning muscle. This comes from stress as well as from any loss of sleep quality that may have occurred as a result of stress. When cortisol is high and insulin is too we’ve got a formula for increased fat storage in the abdomen.

3) Women store fat in the abdomen when they are insulin resistant.

Insulin resistant (IR) women experience more abdominal fat deposition than those who are insulin sensitive. Moreover, a woman at any single BMI can be insulin resistant, which means that thin women can have IR problems still and deposit fat in their abdomens. Insulin sensitivity in both overweight and normal weight women drives abdominal fat deposition.

4) Women store fat in the abdomen when they are particularly genetically primed to.

Some women naturally have more fat in their abdomens than other women do– that’s just how genetic rolls the dice. It’s okay, it really is. It does not mean you are unhealthy. Only blood tests might reveal that. Each woman has a different shape particular to her genetics and her history.

Hope this clears up why some women store fat in the abdomen, why it is so difficult for women to metabolize fat near the belly, and how to deal with body changes that come with aging, lifestyle and sometimes, our inherited genes.  🙂



Nutrition & Supplements

Creekside Fitness and Wellness Center

1419 Boardman Canfield Rd
Youngstown, OH 44512
(330) 758-0667