There is something I have to tell you. And it’s what no one else in the weight loss, fitness or health industry is telling you. Why? Because it would mean the eminent death of the “big business” that is health today. Have you ever stood in line at the grocery store and read all the headlines for various health, fitness and weight loss magazines:
– “Lose Stubborn Belly Fat Once and For All!
– “Love Your Lower Body – Lift & Tone Your Way to Shapely Legs”
– “The 5 Day Diet – The New Foods Plan to Help You Lose Weight FAST”
– “Slim for Life – 7 Secrets for Lasting Weight Loss”
Or gone to your local bookstore and been bombarded with the countless number of diet books that all claim to be the be-all, end-all “scientifically-proven, only way to lose weight and keep it off”? Sound familiar? I have to say, I pity the writer who has to constantly come up with these “hot new stories” every month or write the newest diet fad, must be exhausting. But let’s be real – if these mags, books or other media sources didn’t make these catchy claims, would you buy it? Why did you decide to read this blog I am writing? Because of the title? In truth, every media headline and corresponding article like those written above, every marketing claim made on packaged food, every “guaranteed” solution to your fast weight loss is a farce. And in most cases, a flat out lie.
For all my clients [past, present & future], friends, family and everyone I know – I want you to able to make the best, most well-informed choices for your health, so in order to do so, I want to provide you with the knowledge. And you can only have knowledge if you have the whole truth – the big picture. Moving your body and what we eat is definitely important. The food we eat literally becomes our body – our blood, our cells, our tissues, our organs, our skin, our hair and even our thoughts. In essence, your body is a compilation of everything you’ve taken in – all the food you’ve eaten up to this point in time.
But here’s the truth – even more important to health + happiness are the things that feed us on an emotional, psychological and spiritual level. Believe it or not, all the organic, non-GMO broccoli, kale and spinach won’t make a world of difference if you don’t address what’s going on in your heart and your life. The reasons why diets, weight loss plans and our best intentions to make workouts part of our daily life don’t stick is because they all fail to address the elephant in the room – the “WHY” behind what we do.
Anyone in the world who has [including myself] struggled or currently struggles with weight loss all have perfectly good and justifiable reasons for eating the way we do. And it’s not “the what” [FOOD] we’re eating that matters SO much [although it’s of course an important piece of the puzzle], but what’s making us eat the way we do that counts. And those “what’s and why’s” are all wrapped up in our individual lifestyle choices + habits, along with our emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being.Essentially – every diet, fitness or weight loss plan out there doesn’t address YOU. You in all your uniqueness, beautiful imperfections and meet you where you’re at in your life right now.
So the fact is, you can upgrade your food all you want, but it doesn’t feed your soul and it doesn’t make you happy. Don’t get me wrong – as a Board Certified Health Coach and ACE + AFFA certified fitness professional, I firmly believe and advocate that eating true, clean food [grown from the ground or humanely-raised on green grass in pastures] will definitely upgrade your life – increase your energy, help you lose weight and create a positive ripple effect into other areas of your being. But what stops those changes from “sticking” and what holds you back from achieving all the happiness possible for your life goes farther than fork to mouth.
There are many “food associated” factors that lead to weight gain – such as inadequate nutrition, chronic dieting, poor digestion and really, just consuming too much processed, chemicalized, toxic junk. But changing those doesn’t eliminate the stress, change your limiting beliefs, alleviate your emotional suffering. It doesn’t fill in for the lack of a fulfilling career, substitute for a spiritual practice, change lifestyle habits, create meaningful connection & relationships in your life OR help you find a form of movement you enjoy that works for your body. Upgrading your food choices can be revolutionary, but what makes those food upgrades life-altering is by actually addressing all the “lifestyle concerns” first.
Every BODY is different – we have different physical needs [fitness and food-wise]. We carry around different emotional “stories” that sabotage our progress and limit our potential for happiness; and we certainly all have different demands placed on our lives + time by various people and situations. And there is only one person who can truly know what works best for you – and that is YOURSELF! To me, that’s exciting. To some, it’s overwhelming [okay, it’s overwhelming to me sometimes too] – because it means that instead of the quick-fix, you have to do a little digging. You have to be a detective and you have to decipher through all the headlines and “personal stories of success” to figure out whether or not the healthy habit, fitness plan or way of eating serves you.
It ultimately means that you have to slow down and get to know you. It takes time, effort and sometimes, tough self-reflection and choices – which some people aren’t ready for…yet or maybe ever. But IT IS the weight loss secret that no one is telling you. My school – the Institute for Integrative Nutrition calls these essential lifestyle pieces your “primary food” – they are fundamentally the real food that will transform your life. Being fulfilled in your primary food means having [or at least actively working towards]:
– meaningful relationships
– a rewarding career
– a spiritual practice
– engaging in [almost] daily physical movement you enjoy
…and it’s where the magic happens – where your ability to lose weight is super-charged by your focus on figuring out what really makes you happy and being willing to address and let go of the real “life weight” that’s been holding you down. It my passion and life’s mission to support clients in finding this for themselves. And it’s my desire in wanting to help you too.
So I am writing this article to share the truth with you and perhaps shed some light on why your efforts to lose weight or find a maintainable healthy lifestyle haven’t been successful in the past. I encourage you to stop “waiting on the weight” to find your happiness and begin living your life. Instead, shift your focus to addressing your primary food and weight loss will become a non-issue…it just happens. Sometimes it happens right away – depending on where you or any of our the clients are at in his/her life and sometimes it happens months down the road. But like I said earlier – I want you to know the truth, to have the knowledge and the tools to make the best, most well-informed choices for your health. And that’s what our 2014 Momentum Challenge and all our programs are about was about and why we create them – and truly what ALL mine and Regan’s work is about – about you getting to know YOU and what works FOR you; while having our support and guidance in the process. And we’re learning right alongside you. I can tell you that I learn more from my clients every day than I ever could’ve imagined. We are in the journey together. So whether it’s via social media, coaching, in classes + training or through one of our programs, I hope this blog can move you away from “media-driven solutions” and towards a road of life-transforming self-reflection as you dig deeper into your own primary food.
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COCONUT CURRY BUTTERNUT SQUASH STEW
My favorite thing about fall is the return of weekly soups to my crockpot. If you don’t have a crockpot, my advice would be to get one – as soon as possible. I purchased my first crockpot in college at Target for $7; and it’s still running. Last Christmas I upgraded to a bigger one with a timer, but the point is – any crockpot works and you’ll love the food it makes! This stew, in particular, is a favorite of mine and clients who’ve done our 28 Day Nutrition Program.
Loaded with nutrient-dense foods and spices that aid in reducing inflammation in the body, this stew helps to give the immune systems a boost for the change in season (and increase in colds!). Enjoy!
1 medium butternut squash
6 cups coconut water (regular water is also fine or a combo of both; can add more water if needed/desired)
1 organic vegetable bouillon cube
1 cup adzuki beans, dried
½ cup quinoa, dried
Half (15 oz.) can Organic Coconut Milk
1 Tbls. each of: curry and turmeric
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. each of black pepper, sea salt and cayenne pepper (can do more/less cayenne based on desired level of spiciness)
1/3 cup organic peanut (or other nut) butter
Leaves from 3 stems kale, washed & stems discarded
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin horizontally & seeds removed
(1). Remove the shell from the butternut squash and slice into cubes [check out this video tutorial: http://ow.ly/pxQEs for guidance!].
(2). Place water, coconut milk, spices and bouillon cube in the bottom of the crockpot and whisk to mix.
(3). Add squash, beans, quinoa and peanut butter.
(4). Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8.
(5). Ten minutes before you’re ready to eat, add kale and bell pepper. Let cool before eating!
*If desired, you can also add organic sausage or free-range organic chicken breast (in step #3). We used kale and a bell pepper in this version, but feel free to use any other vegetables and leafy greens you have on hand! Some examples are chard, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli and even mushrooms!
I love spaghetti squash. And this smorgasbord of vegetables on top of spaghetti squash is pure delight. In the recipe, you use store-bought marinara sauce. I usually make my own, but sometimes it’s nice to just pour it pre-made straight out of the jar. Do you feel me? My new favorite brand is Mezzetta Tomato Basil, filled with all whole food ingredients and found in PCC, Thriftway and QFC Grocery Stores here in Seattle. Regardless of the brand, always check ingredients – buy products that contain only ingredients you’d use at home to make a pasta sauce (citric acid and “natural” flavors excluded). I’m talking tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, wine, tomato paste; get the picture? And you don’t have to include every veggie listed below. You can swap, exclude or add in any others you’d desire. And last — enjoy. Let us know how you like it!
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 whole carrots, peeled and sliced thin
3 celery stocked, sliced
2 zucchini, quartered
2 yellow squash, quartered
Florets from 1 crown broccoli, stem discarded
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed (or other desired bean)
2 tsp. each of: minced garlic, thyme, Italian seasoning
Pinch of sea salt + pepper
1 jar store-bought organic marinara sauce (check ingredients – no chemicals, artificial preservatives or additives; only real food ingredients you’d use to make a sauce at home!)
- Hold spaghetti squash standing up lengthwise over cutting board and use a large serrated knife to slice shell off squash. Once complete, remove stem, cut in half and use a form to scoop out seeds. Fill a large glass bowl with ½” of water, then place SS on top and cover with saran wrap. Cook in microwave for designated times, based on size:
– Small = 10 minutes
– Medium = 12 minutes
– Large = 15 minutes
- Meanwhile, cook carrots & celery in water (sparingly cover bottom of large sauté pan), covered and on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally & add more water as needed.
- Next, add garlic, seasonings, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and broccoli. Again, add more water as needed (always want a little on bottom to be able to steam the veggies). Cook, covered for another 8 minutes. At this time, add the jar of sauce + beans and simmer on low, covered for 5 minutes.
- Remove SS from microwave and carefully drain out excess water. Add vegetable primavera to the squash and stir to combine.