Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"The Last Heart Attack"

Great news! The Last Heart Attack is now available online. It is about 45 minutes long and provides some insight in to living a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone!  The show, which features former president Bill Clinton and FOK’s Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, explores the signs, tests and lifestyle changes that could make cardiac problems a thing of the past.

A gradual progression of decreasing meat from my diet started a little over a year ago. I had meat every once in a while, but for the most part, I just preferred to pass. In December, I had kidney surgery with my third bout of kidney stones. I currently have kidney stones and my urologist suggested a more vegetarian approach. Diet plays a role in kidney stone development but only about 10%. My body is metabolically programmed to producing stones, it’s an ongoing battle. However, this was the push to considering myself vegetarian and to make a conscious effort to avoid meat, fish and poultry. These foods may lead to more stones as they increase the excretion of calcium in the urine, which is filtered by the kidneys, leading to a build up.

I just wanted to share this documentary as it covers cholesterol, atherosclerosis, diet, exercise, and varying views. Enjoy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Just wanted to share my world, in pictures, this past week…

My handsome (and silly) nephew, Ethan.
An afternoon at Ocean Beach and Farmer's Market with Mama C.

Portion distortion, anyone? (This should ALWAYS be window shopping...)

Love the Farmer's Markets in San Diego!

The view at Ocean Beach, 5 minutes from our doorstep.
The view at La Jolla Cove. I make this detour before I teach on Thursday mornings at 24-Hour Fitness in La Jolla. One of my most favorite places in the WORLD.

Another cucumber from our garden.

Nothing like reaping the benefits of hard work. I LOVE MY LIFE! Thank you, Lord Jesus...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

“I can’t eat THAT early…”

Mixed reviews on eating before an early workout session have been surfacing for quite some time now. In fact, I had the same mentality a while back of working out so early and not eating before the session. I didn’t want to work out while having food in my stomach. Pretty much negating all I was working for.

We have to fuel for our goal. If your goal is muscle building = more calories, testosterone, and volume. If your goal is weight loss = cardio, strength training, and a healthy, balanced, and clean diet. However, regardless of our goals, if we have no fuel in the tank, we use up our glycogen and then the body turns to protein for fuel, leading to muscle degradation. We would be ALL MUSCLE if we could tell our body what to use for fuel! We can "teach" our bodies to be more efficient utilizing one source to another, but we can't pick and choose one source to burn. How cool would THAT be, though? This has always been a favorite word of mine – gluconeogenesis. This is the process where our body synthesizes glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, which is what happens when we do not fuel before a workout. This is NOT the preferred state our body wants to be in with unappealing side effects (this is what happens to an individual on the Akins Diet).
Also, when fuel runs out, we enter a state of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which signals a stress response in the body and cortisol is released. Cortisol is catabolic in nature and works against us.
No fuel = No start.

In terms of per-exercise nutrient intake, aim for 30-60 grams of quick carbs that are low in fat and low in fiber (banana, 1 cup of low-fat milk, medium bagel) and 10-30 grams of high quality protein (eggs, whey, plant-based). This should be consumed 30-60 minutes before the exercise session. Be sure to intake adequate fluid throughout the day, as well, roughly half our body weight in fluid ounces.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Enough is ENOUGH.

I received an e-mail today that pulled on my heart strings a bit. The lengthy e-mail was a case study, which they usually are, but near the end, the individual wrote, “When I think about what I would like to do when I am thin, I think about running, martial arts, and swimming.” How can this not affect a person? How can you not realize that this person has so much they want to do, but can’t? It’s moments like these that make me realize and allow me to step back, and remember why I am doing what I do.
It breaks my heart to walk in to a clothing store and see that the sizes have increased. That overweight is the new normal. To see the horrid concoctions that is being created by food companies that contain enough calories for a full day. To see that alcohol is now being offered in some fast food chains. Looking at a piece of meat and realizing that it is NOT MEAT AT ALL. Seeing children that are obese at the beach.  Seeing parents not able to play with their children because of their weight. People and their novel of medications. This disturbs me and saddens me at the same time!
2 simple rules can solve this situation:
1.       Don’t eat junk.
2.       Move.

Let’s BE the change. Enough is ENOUGH.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Whole Living

10 Thoughts on Whole Living
1.   Allow yourself the chance to really savor each moment.
2.   Optimism isn’t just a shift in perspective. It’s an act of bravery.
3.   Only you can decide the path worth taking.
4.   Don’t wait for your mood to change; take action despite it.
5.   Approach gift shopping as an opportunity to honor the people you really love.
6.   Rather than search for a single miracle food, strive for a varied and delicious diet.
7.   You can’t grow without pushing your limits.
8.   Stop worrying about getting sick; focus on your health instead.
9.   Don’t believe what you hear. Life is good.
10.No one knows what the future will bring. Put your energy into now.
Enjoy the journey… -C

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Breakfast Sundae

Thank you, Runner's World...

HOW TO: Slice a banana over eight ounces fat-free vanilla yogurt. Mix with two tablespoons peanut butter and 1/4 cup high-protein, high-fiber cereal with at least five grams of protein and fiber per serving, such as Kashi Go Lean Crisp. Sprinkle with two teaspoons cinnamon.

HOW COME: A study in the journal Appetite concluded adults who eat high-fiber cereal daily feel less fatigue than those who eat cereal low in fiber. Bananas are full of potassium, which decreases muscle cramping. Yogurt contains calcium and lactoferrin, a protein that helps maintain bone strength. Peanut butter provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and research shows that daily cinnamon consumption can help fight diabetes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Installment #3 – Dr. Amen and the BRAIN

At IDEA, there is always an excellent and inspiring presentation with keynote speakers. This year was Apolo Ono, which was interesting and inspiring, and Dr. Daniel Amen on changing your life by changing your brain. Dr. Amen is a board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist. I love when speakers can be on stage for a minimal amount of time and give out the most powerful information that they have studied and researched. THIS is time well spent!
I wanted to share a few things that really stood out to me. Regarding alcohol consumption, the recommendations for men are no more than two drinks per day and for women, no more than one drink per day. Studies show that individuals who drink everyday have smaller brains. Bigger is not always better, but in the case of our brain, IT IS. We are happier, healthier, wiser, wealthier, and make better decisions with a bigger brain. Better decisions translate to life!
In terms of obesity, as an individual’s weight goes up, the brain size goes down. The brain’s functioning ability goes down if an individual is obese, with 8% less brain tissue and with the brain's “age” of 16 years OLDER.
Just a piece of useful random information, we can now see problems in the brain 30-50 years BEFORE there are any symptoms! WHAT?!? Yep. Alzheimer’s is one of the worst diseases known, because “you are there, but not really,” according to Dr. Amen. With brain scans, the disease can be seen on the brain 30-50 years BEFORE symptoms. THIS is amazing!
So, how do we keep our brain healthy and/or REVERSE the aging process?
·         PROTECT your brain. “The safest place for a football player is ON THE BENCH!”
·         FEED your brain. Fuel effects function. Lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids (large cold water fish, such as tuna and salmon, walnuts, Brazil nuts, olive oil, and canola oil) are essential to brain function.
·         Kill the ANTs. Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) aren’t just demoralizing and set you up for low self esteem, but they inflame the brain. Inflamed thoughts are associated with depression and anxiety. Positive thoughts have a calming effect.
·         WORK your brain. Learn and progress. Your brain is like a muscle, the more you USE it, the more you CAN use it. When you learn something new, new neural connections are made which also increase blood flow. Keep the memory fresh.
·          LOVE for your brain. Create long lasting relationships!
·         DEVELOP a “concert state” for your brain.   Optimal performance is best achieved when a "concert state" exists in the brain. This means "a relaxed body with a sharp, clear mind," much as you would experience listening to an exhilarating symphony. Achieving this state requires two simultaneous skills: deep relaxation and focus.
·         TREAT brain problems EARLY. The sooner the treatment, the better. Try not to deny there is an issue.
Sound Mind. Sound Body. Let’s keep it that way!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I took a fabulous lecture on supplements at IDEA. This was my first lecture of the conference and it definitely set the tone! Scott Josephson, M.S., R.D. is a genuine, passionate, and knowledgeable gentleman. I spoke to him on the phone today regarding more questions I had and he really is someone to FOLLOW.
I wanted to share some information that he gave regarding supplements. If you did not know, supplements have never been regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I am very weary of supplements for many reasons, but Scott added to my list.
Here are a few requirements when purchasing a supplement:
·         A USP label states accurately that the product has been tested for dosage, contaminants, and it dissolves.
·         Labels lie. PERIOD.
·         Products NEED to have an expiration date.
·         Dosages are labeled higher than required. (Why? So you will buy more.)
·         The studies for the supplement need to be scientific and NOT anecdotal. The studies need to be done on humans. The larger the subject groups, the better.
·         Consumer lab “CL” verifies an independent lab has checked dosage, purity, and absorption. Companies pay $7,500 per product. If a company believes in their product and KNOWS it works, they will pay this to have it tested and CONFIRMED. You can check on
·         Without FDA control are expensive brands better?
·         If you have allergies, avoid supplements with yeast, wheat, or gluten.
·         Sodium NEEDS to be listed separately. It lumped with other ingredients, it distorts the content.
·         “Buyers Beware.” There are lies and statistics, If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
Hope this helps when deciding to purchase the supplement with the ad of the guy who has veins popping out and ENORMOUS muscles, (that isn’t HOT!)…

Monday, August 15, 2011

Installment #1: Post-IDEA HIGH and N.E.A.T.

WOW! What a great conference, I learned a lot. What an incredible experience! Next year, it will be in San Diego for the 30th Anniversary. How exciting! Fitness professionals, July 5-9th.

Some myths and misconceptions were put to rest this year at IDEA, which is always exciting. I am a very skeptical individual when it comes to health and wellness, so seeing the research done to dispel various findings is what I LOVE. I feel EVERY health professional should attend workshops, lectures, seminars, etc. to keep progressing with the industry. IT'S IMPERATIVE!
Hopefully, we all can agree that sitting too much is hazardous to our health. For years, we have been focusing on following suggested guidelines of physical activity; which have been increasing in duration through the years, along with our waistlines. New research shows that even if individuals are getting their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day, they are still at an increased risk of mortality if they have a job where they sit all day. We are made to move and be active, not sit all day. The research concludes that while sitting, there is a dramatic drop in lipoprotein lipase, which captures fat from the blood for fuel leading to high levels of triglycerides. Too much sitting also lowers HDL-C*, our “good” cholesterol, and elevates cardiovascular disease.
* HDL-C is carried BY HDL which removes LDL from the walls of blood vessels to the liver for breakdown and disposal.
Dr. Len Kravtiz, Ph.D., is helping spread the word about NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).  I had the pleasure of taking Len’s lecture at IDEA this year, as well as in past years. He is an incredible wealth of knowledge, and comical too!
NEAT is a way for people to be more active throughout the day with small changes. For example, instead of sitting and talking on the phone, walk and talk. Every time you sit down, make the effort to sit, stand, THEN sit down and vice versa. When watching television, during the commercials, walk around, do a quick errand. These small changes have been researched and resulted in an additional expenditure of 325 cals/day (16 kg/year). HELLO!!
Moral of THIS story – make small changes in the way we think and live so promote LESS sitting. Even though we may be hitting the gym on our lunch hour, we still need to focus on being active throughout the day.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Squash "Chips"

I am all about cooking (…if it doesn’t take too long)! I made Squash Chips from our wild winter squash in our FRONT YARD. Yep!
Cookie Sheet
No-Salt Seasoning of choice (Mrs. Dash)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Begin by spraying the cookie sheets with PAM. Slice the squash, the thinner the slices, the quicker the squash will cook. Spread the squash on the cookie sheet. Spray the squash with PAM and sprinkle on the no-salt seasoning. Bake until crispy.

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the finished product. When I went back to take a picture, and grab seconds, my boyfriend had already devoured them. :)

1 cup serving contains:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Running Gear. CHECK.

I receive a lot of questions regarding my running gear and fuel, so here goes…
What clothing do you wear?
My favorite shorts are Nike Tempo Running Shorts. In regards to my tops, I never like tight fitting clothes. Period. So a tank with a little room to spare. I like Nike's Drifit, but any athletic top does it for me. I also usually wear a visor and sunglasses. Don’t forget the sunblock!
What shoes do you run in?

This is a LOADED question. I supinate (under-pronate) so I need a “cushion shoe”. If you over-pronate, you will need a “stability shoe”. Our gait cycles MIGHT be similar, might not be. If these are new terms for you, I recommend e-mailing the shoe EXPERT, my boyfriend, Palani.

My favorite brand is Asics. Hands down.

How do you know you found the correct shoe? When you don't think about your feet/shoes during your run.

BLISTERS.BLISTERS.BLISTERS. This could quite possibly be the most important information in this blog --> BODYGLIDE. I wish someone would have told me about Bodyglide before my first marathon training. This product comes in a deodorant container and is quite gooey. It works miracles for blisters and chaffing. It can be purchased at any sports store. Very cheap and very much worth it! (C's Tip: Out of BODYGLIDE? Use Vaseline.)

What about fuel?
I have a VERY sensitive stomach and had numerous episodes that sent me to doctor after doctor after doctor. All the docs had very different answers with no definite explanation.
A lot of my fueling was trial and error. Error + Running = VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. When in doubt, go with what YOU KNOW works for YOUR BODY. Don't try something new, unless you were in my situation where I had to play around with different foods.

NIGHT before the long run (10+ miles), Palani and I, religiously, ate sushi. We discovered this, it worked, and continued... until my stomach turned on sushi as well. P then started to make spaghetti that is like NO OTHER RECIPE. He calls it Cross Continent Spaghetti. It's DELISH. Again, contact him for the recipe.

Focus on carbohydrate intake and fluids. We both aimed to drink a gallon of water throughout the day before a long run.

MORNING of the run was always a challenge as well. What can I fuel my body with that will last 10+ miles that I won't taste during the run? Graphic, but true. Most of the "energy" bars gave me acid indigestion. A quick-digesting banana with some almonds or a Lara Bar (all natural) proved to be the best for me. I would recommend to others - granola and yogurt, a banana and half a bagel, and if energy bars work for you, have at it!

DURING the run: I have tried everything - shot blocks, gels, gummy chews, fig newtons, sports beans, etc. The gels and shot blocks are CONCENTRATED carbohydrates (sugar). They should be taken with CARE. Consume small amounts every so often to prevent GI distress. If you intake a large amount, water rushes to the gut to dilute the concentrated sugars causing… The. Big. D. I am truly thankful I have never been in this situation, but TRUST ME, others have. One word: Google. The fuel during the long runs, for me, dwindled to a water bottle with half gatorade and half water and gummy chews. G2 requires less watering down, the higher sugar gatorade requires more, personally. Palani can handle Gatorade AS IS.  

There are many fuel belts on the market. We have tried a few, but the bounce of the water bottle is inevitable. For a few years, I used a cheap one I bought at Target which worked just fine. If your running route has fuel stops along the way (fast food joints, convenient stores, etc.), consider just the pouch (pictured at the top). Some runners prefer the Camelbacks. These are backpacks that hold fluid. Again, the bouncing is unavoidable.

After the run, aim for carbohydrates and protein to refuel the muscles and aid in recovery and repair. My post-run meal was an oats and egg white concoction of some sort. My friend, Jen Comas, has an excellent assortment of recipes to spice up the ol’ combo.

Your post-run might... let me change that, WILL include some aches and pains. I recommend ICE (frozen peas work great!) and/or, Biofreeze, and Ibuprofen. Use the ice OR Biofreeze as these therapeutic modalities are similar in terms of affects on the body.
Hopefully this sends you in the forward direction. Personally, I found the most expensive item when choosing running as a sport, is the entry fee to the marathons. Running is primitive and I feel the costs should mimic that as well. Let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. Happy Running!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What the SALT?

With conflicting studies, which is better – high or low sodium intake?
ALL studies aside, lower sodium diets PROVE to be more beneficial in preventing heart disease.
From personal experience, once I paid close attention to my salt intake, I was able to taste, see, and feel a difference.
Do you know how much salt you take in each day? Do you have high blood pressure? Do your rings fit one day and feel a little more snug around your fingers the next? Salt may NOT be the main culprit, but it can contribute to swelling, water retention, and bloating.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for Sodium (Na) is <2,300mg/day.
In this day in age, we have easy access to tools that allow us to calculate the macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that we intake daily. Food journals and applications online are EXTREMELY helpful! Personally, I use iPhone apps to assist in my nutrition goals, DAILY. I bounce between a few different ones for a change of scenery every now and then.

Currently, I am using My Fitness Pal. This one provides a breakdown of the macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that I consume in a given day.

Note to self: Every BODY is different and so are everyone’s goals. Different sports/activities require different nutrition, consult a Registered Dietitian for an exact breakdown of what YOU should be consuming for YOUR goals.
Sodium is an electrolyte and is essential, but our body likes to maintain a balance, homeostasis. With an abundance of salt in our diet, we may notice bloating, water retention, and swelling as mentioned above. "Water follows salt." With a large consumption of salt, water will be retained as well, resulting in the symptoms listed.
The ultimate goal is to limit our salt intake, by decreasing processed foods and eating out. However, who wants to never go out to dinner or indulge in possibly a sodium-rich holiday meal from time to time?! We can prepare for these occasions by counteracting the effects... with potassium.
Potassium has the EXACT opposite effect as sodium.
The RDA for potassium (K) is 4.7 grams/day (4,700mg/day).
Foods high in potassium include:
Lima Beans
Dairy Products
Suggestion: "Journal" your sodium intake for a few days. Evaluate. If you need to decrease, take small steps to achieve this - limit processed foods, eat out LESS, and try not to ADD salt to your foods. When your diet is lower in sodium, you will be more sensitive to the taste and you will IMMEDIATELY notice the high-sodium versus low-sodium foods by taste ALONE. I've done it - it works.