What does weight loss and a fit body mean to you?

Over the years, this definition has greatly changed for me. In my late teens through my late twenties, it was all about calorie counting, restriction, extreme willpower, lack of joy around food, control, and fear of being in social situations where there were a lot of food temptations. It was about being obsessive and it involved a lot of emotional pain. I often want to forget my relationship with food and my body during those years in my life. But it brought me to where I am today and my new definition of a healthy and fit body.

Today, I abhor diets, needless dietary restrictions, and calorie counting. For me, weight loss and achieving healthy body composition is NOT about going on a strict diet for a certain number of weeks or months, using all your willpower to stay on the diet, feeling deprived and like crap while on the diet, and feeling stressed about food.

Healthy weight loss IS about eating healthy and delicious foods that make you feel energetic, clear headed, and less bloated. It is about addressing underlying health issues such as nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, and chemical toxins that slow down metabolism, fat burning, and affect appetite and even food preferences. It IS about experimenting with foods to see what foods give you the most energy and which foods actually slow you down by causing joint pain, brain fog, depression, and digestive distress. It IS about figuring out why you might be stuck in certain patterns and addressing those issues that are keeping you stuck, even if this creates some discomfort. It IS about finding joy when you eat, being comfortable in social situations involving foods, listening to your body, and trusting your body to give you signals when you are headed in the wrong direction. A healthy and fit body includes a healthy relationship with food.

My cleanse program “21 Day Cleanse and Revive” is the perfect opportunity to EXPERIMENT with new foods and figure out what foods make you feel good and what foods make you feel bogged down. My program addresses underlying health issues and support safe detoxification of chemicals and other toxins that slow down your metabolism and cause you to hold onto fat. Take 2 to 3 weeks to slow down a bit and really listen to your body. Discover a new way of eating that brings you long term health and a fit and energetic body that includes peace of mind.

I would love to hear what a fit body means to you!

Walking and eating my way through Italy!

After a lot of talk, saving, and planning, my boyfriend and I finally made it to Italy. Italy (especially Tuscany) had been on my vision board for years. The plan was to visit some cities and towns on our own, and then join a group called Backroads for six days to hike around Cinque Terre (on the Italian Riviera) and the Chianti region of Tuscany.

I fell in love with Italy on our first day in Rome. The history, the language, the narrow cobblestone streets, the piazzas where everyone gathers, eating outside, and the FOOD. There were NO dietary restrictions for me on this trip. Of course, I had to eat pizza while in Italy at least a couple of times, indulge in several fresh pasta dishes, and savor gelato every evening (after all, it was really hot!) My green tea ritual in the morning became an espresso ritual, cured meat like prosciutto and fresh mozzarella cheese were a staple in my breakfast menu, and wine with dinner was a given. And wine sometimes accompanied lunch too! Although it was in the 90s (really hot for San Francisco people) and we were either walking the cities all day or hiking the backroads with elevation gain, I felt great and my new Italian diet really agreed with me.

Our meals by the sea in the region of Liguria were filled with fresh seafood like octopus, calamari, anchovies and mixed fish dishes with lots of grilled vegetables. Of course, there were always pasta options and pasta with pesto was very popular in this region. White wine was the color of choice and indeed the grapes of the Cinque Terre are used to produce two locally made white wines. And we got to hike through the actual vineyards! And of course, gelato for desert!


Heading inland to the Chianti region our meals shifted to “antipasto” of cured sliced meats and thin slices of lightly toasted bread spread with chicken liver pate, pasta with wild boar sauce, rabbit, Tuscan beef stew and the Bistecca Fiorentina (the largest
T bone steak I have ever seen!) and more vegetables. My favorite dish was the rabbit, with the Tuscan beef stew coming in a close second. Red wine was the color of choice here, and we fell in love with the Brunello di Montalcino. And of course we didn’t pass up the Chianti Classico!!

In the six months leading up to this trip, I met so many people that have been to Italy and who shared their stories with me. Of course, talk of Italy eventually includes Italian food and I found that these same questions often came up:

Why can people who are gluten sensitive in the US tolerate wheat products like pasta in Italy?

Why do people who have dairy intolerance in the US do just fine with gelato in Italy?
Why can a person drink wine in Italy and not get headaches but get terrible headaches here in the U.S. after a glass or two of wine?

And my own questions:

Why is their olive oil SO much better? We have lots of olive trees in this area of the country…

Why are their tomatoes so much tastier?

And where do you find a gelato in this area that tastes like Italian gelato? If you know the answer, please let me know!

Of course, there have been various explanations for all of these questions. I have heard folks claim that there is less gluten in Italian wheat products, less added sulfites in their wine, and less preservatives in the gelato. Well, all wines contain sulfites because they are a naturally occurring by product of fermentation. And European winemakers DO add sulfites to their wine, especially if it will not be consumed within a short amount of time (to prevent the wine from spoiling). They just don’t have to add the warning label that their wines contain sulfites!

Perhaps the answer is when you are vacationing you just digest better because you are less stressed and you take time to eat your meals and really enjoy them! And maybe when you drink wine in Italy you are drinking wine with big hearty meals over a longer period of time and then walking it all off afterwards. I prefer to leave it a mystery and enjoy the magic of it all when I return!! Maybe we can learn something from Italians when it comes to eating and enjoying our food!

P.S. Several folks in our Backroads hiking group had dietary restrictions (gluten free, red meat free, vegetarian) and were served plenty of fresh food alternatives that were delicious! And a large percentage of Italian restaurants now serve gluten free pasta.

Please join me on my Facebook page next week as I post my photos on eating my way through Italy!

To eat gluten or not?

For years I have debated whether or not I should completely eliminate wheat/gluten from my diet. I eat gluten free at home and mostly stay away from it when I go out to eat.  However, I am not so strict that I only go to certified gluten free restaurants.  And I don’t always check with the chef if the sauce used in a recipe is gluten free. And yes, I do partake in a few bites of desserts every once in awhile that are not gluten free!  Years ago I did testing that indicated that I was not genetically predisposed to get celiac disease.  I have also tested for blood, saliva and stool antibodies to gluten which resulted in very little reaction. But technology for testing gluten sensitivity has advanced dramatically within the last five years or so… so I began to doubt the sensitivity and accuracy of the results of my previous tests.

I finally broke down and shelled out a significant amount of cash to do the Cyrex Laboratory Array #3 test. To date, this test offers the most comprehensive analysis available for determining gluten sensitivity. It shows the reactions to several gliadins and other wheat proteins. This test has set new standards for assessing gluten sensitivity.

You see, wheat is made up of many proteins and peptides. In fact, it has been discovered that wheat is made up of more than 100 different components that can cause a reaction. Gliadin is a class of proteins present in wheat and several other cereals within the grass genus Triticum. Gliadins and glutenins are the two main components of the gluten fraction of the wheat seed. Most labs test for alpha gliadin, but not all the other gliadins! So you might not respond to alpha gliadin, but instead react to one or more of the other gluten proteins.  Make sense?

I was very eager to receive my test results once I did the blood draw. Test results finally came in: Twenty four markers tested and I did not react to one!  And I did expose myself to gluten in the month before the test several times so that I would not come back with false negatives. It should be noted that I have completely eliminated gluten in the past (I was really strict for 2 months) and did not notice any difference when I added gluten back into my diet. Maybe that was why my test results did not surprise me.  I received my test results right before the holidays. I had a free pass to enjoy all those glutinous holiday treats!  Or did I?

Although I must say that I did enjoy a few gluten containing holiday treats in December, I knew that I would go back to limiting gluten in my diet. Gluten is just difficult for the digestive system to break down. Its difficult-to-digest qualities are due to the high levels of disulfide bonds it contains. And my digestive system needs all the help it can get!

In addition, most foods containing gluten are processed and completely devoid of critical vitamins and minerals (unless they have been added back in). And add to that the “anti-nutrients” found in grains such as phytates, enzyme inhibitors, etc.

And to top it off, most gluten containing foods are going to be high in simple carbs!  I don’t know about you, but I need to watch my carbs to maintain my weight and regulate my blood sugar!  Avoiding gluten for the most part over the past years has done something else for me: it has lowered my intake of carbs and processed foods. Which is a good thing… even if my test results show that I can tolerate it!  🙂

Special Note: Even the most advanced testing can sometimes produce false negatives.  The best way to assess food sensitivities is to do an elimination diet.  When completely eliminating a food (like gluten containing foods for example) from your diet, it must be completely eliminated!  For example, if you go to a restaurant during your elimination phase, you need to make sure that the restaurant is not using the same pans to cook gluten containing foods and gluten free foods.  Cross reactivity occurs; and even tiny amounts of gluten will set off an immune system reaction!  If you are interested in learning more, please apply for a complementary strategy session.