Really, it’s not what you think. Well, maybe it is. But the point here is that I’ve been studying Hormone Health through Institute for Integrative Nutrition and it’s been fascinating. It’s pretty amazing how the endocrine system works to keep everything in balance, but if one things gets out of balance, it has a big impact on the rest of the body.
So why hormones? Why now?
My focus as a nutrition and lifestyle coach has been helping women take control of their health optimizing nutrient balance and lifestyle changes. Every client is different, so the approach is different and tailored to specific goals. The common theme is hormones. Stress and sleep impact cortisol and adrenaline levels which can then impact the metabolism and cause weight gain. Thyroid hormone imbalances are common amongst my clients, and that impacts weight management as well. In today’s busy life, stress has become the norm, as have late nights, early mornings meals on-the-go, and work taking over as the number one priority.
How do I get started?
First, you need to take a good hard look at your nutrition and lifestyle. Are you choosing a lot of processed foods, quick meals on the run, or eating out a lot? Do you exercise? How’s your sleep? The quality of food, your activity levels, and your sleep habits all factor in to your hormone balancing act.
Are you feeling tired and worn out? Are you constantly fatigued? Are you having mood swings? Are you suffering from depression and anxiety? Are you putting on weight even though you’re on a restrictive diet? These may be signs of a hormone imbalance.
Over the next several months I will be rolling out some programs to help guide you with nutrition and lifestyle tips to restore balance to your body. Reach out if there’s something specific you have questions about.
I’ve been wanting to write about readiness for a while, from both the client perspective and the coaching perspective. So here goes…
Navigating change can be exciting and terrifying at the same time, but like all things, you get out of a given situation what you put into it.
When I first start working with clients, we establish an understanding of expectations. Clients make a commitment to be coachable, to be open to new foods, concepts and exercises, to eat nourishing foods, to finding a balance between work and play, to give gratitude, and so forth. I commit to them that I will provide guidance, encouragement, and accountability in addition to information. Seems like a fair deal.
Sometimes people just aren’t ready. You need to be ready to change some things. When someone comes to me for weight loss, but doesn’t want to make changes, you have to just ask, “So how has what you’ve been doing been working for you?” I will be honest with people, that they have to put in the work to reap the benefits. And that the rewards don’t come overnight. What I offer are recommendations for small, sustainable changes, that can be incorporated over a six month period of time, or longer if needed. Expecting overnight results just isn’t realistic, and if someone is promising that, I’d seriously question what they are offering.
My clients who have made the most progress started off ready for change. They understood expectations about doing the work, about setting goals and working towards them, about digging deep to understand the “why” of their goals, and to honestly look at their nutrition and lifestyle to examine where opportunities for improvement exist. So yes, you need to be ready to commit to do the hard work.
The second part of this is my readiness as a coach. I’ve now completed my full year curriculum with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I have embraced this program fully from the start and am proud of my accomplishment of sticking to my goal of graduation and having actual clients that I can nurture through change. My initial “why” for doing this was two-fold: 1. I wanted to share everything I learned through my own health journey and help people begin their own path. 2. I wanted an exit strategy from my day job to be a full time health coach.
I am accomplishing the first goal by providing support to family and friends, through my own surgeon’s bariatric support group, and with my own clients – all of which who have blossomed before my eyes in such a rewarding way. The second — well, I decided I am not quite ready to make the leap into full time. I spent sometime over the past few weeks reflecting on what I have learned through education and through my work as a coach. Right now, working with several clients at the moment, I am fulfilling my goal to help others. My plan to continue working at my day job is partly due to fiscal responsibility, but it also seems like I am striking the balance I want. I’m making a commitment to put off retirement for the time being (this will be a newsflash to some!).
In other news, I am continuing my education by embarking on a new certification in Sports and Exercise Nutrition through Precision Nutrition, which is challenging and fascinating! I am learning all of the physiological and scientific information about nutrition, metabolism, digestion, absorption, and more! I’ll be sharing what I learn along the way and will be announcing some new coaching opportunities shortly!
Do you have a similar experience about your own readiness? Please share!
There’s so many resources about diet after bariatric surgery when you are post-surgery to about 6 months. Moving from liquid, to puree, to solid stages during weight loss comes with a lot of guidelines. What life looks like post-weight loss is not nearly as well-documented. I know when I was researching surgery, I followed so many blogs of people who were going through weight loss, and they all seem to get to a certain point and then stop documenting the journey. Even my own blogging has slowed down now that I have reached maintenance.
This week in my health coach training, one of our assignments is to create a resource for my clients about clean eating. Do you need to recreate the wheel for bariatric patients? I think not.
Here’s some guidance from our curriculum:
Keep It Whole
Experiment with Home Cooking
Limit Refined Carbohydrates
Maintain Consistent Eating Times and Try Not to Skip Meals
Balance Your Plate
Let’s put the bariatric spin on this.
There are rules we have to follow as bariatric patients (and they may vary from surgeon to surgeon, so it’s important to follow YOUR program). First and foremost, we must take our vitamins and supplements. For me, this means a bariatric formulated multi-vitamin, calcium with vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and 60-80 grams of protein specifically from protein supplement. Since we’ve got through a major surgery to reroute our digestion, supplementation to ensure proper absorption of these nutrients is critical.
Emphasize Quality Over Quantity
This applies to your supplements as well as food. I have chosen bariatric formulated products to ensure maximum absorbtion. It is expensive? Not compared to feeling like crap and being 90 pounds overweight. It’s all relative. We have one body in this lifetime and we’ve already put it through a lot to get to where we are going, so invest in your health.
The same goes for the rest of the things we eat. We’re so limited on how much food we can intake. In the beginning, I was fine with 1/4 cup serving sizes for meals, but as I got more into my exercise program, I gradually increased to 1/2 cup per meal, and now that I am in maintenance, I can eat much more — depending on the food, but the quality of that food matters. Since we can only eat so much, nutrient dense food is the way to go. So:
Choose Whole Foods
When planning meals, think of choosing the most unprocessed food and keep it simple. I always include a protein source as my primary food and eat that first, followed by whole vegetables and fruits. I lean towards a plant based diet, so protein sources can include beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, or hummus but I will also include vegetarian sources like eggs, cottage cheese, string cheese, greek yogurt, or other reduced fat cheese. Occasionally I will eat chicken or fish, but try to choose organic and sustainably raised animal products when I do choose them. I will typically pair these foods with organic fruit or vegetables, usually fresh, sometimes frozen. Simplicity is the key. I will meal prep simple “lunchables” that are roughly the same quantities that I can mix and match over the course of the week and have prepped and ready to go to throw in my lunch bag.
Here’s a few examples:
Eggs with sliced tomatoes
Cottage cheese with sliced peaches
Tempeh with hummus in a lettuce wrap
Kale and red cabbage salad with beans or hummus
Roasted root vegetables with grilled chicken
You are only limited by your imagination.
2. Experiment with home cooking
Food prep keeps things fun and interesting. Typically I will find a recipe on Pinterest that I will make as an entree to have for lunch or dinner for the week, or I will find some kind of plant-based salad to make that can be paired with a protein source or just enjoyed as a snack between meals. My pinterest account has a collection of bariatric friendly and plant-based recipes that I will adapt based on my current nutritional needs.
I am still recovering from my kidney surgery, so I have had to adapt my portions and my food to a reduced intake due to reduced exercise quantity and intensity. Eating at home really helps me to control what I take in, reduce the amount of sugar, salt and carbs I eat, and the quality of food. And home cooking doesn’t have to mean elaborate meals. Choosing one or two recipes a week keeps things interesting, and helps keep things simple. Use herbs and spices and find homemade recipes for things like salad dressing to avoid any additional additives outside of “real” food. Once you find recipes that are easy, you can adapt them to fit your own nutritional needs and your creativity.
3. Limit refined carbohydrates.
Actually, really just leave these out. I’m not an “everything in moderation” advocate. For most bariatric patients, refined carbohydrates is what got us into this mess. Sugar, flour, rice, pasta and the like. There are some people who can work these back into their diets, but I know how easy it can be to go back to old habits. My recommendation is to steer clear of processed foods and find whole food alternatives to your favorites. Bariatric Eating is a great resource for recipes to help keep those cravings at bay.
I have been experimenting with whole grains, like millet, quinoa, and freekah. I find that I can use them as a condiment. I will add a tablespoon or two to a salad to provide some density and add fiber and protein. It’s satisfying enough, but doesn’t trigger any cravings for me. I am intentionally avoiding food like edamame or chick pea pasta, because I know if will be a trigger for me. I am a realist, and I see how quickly I can gain weight if not following the bariatric diet recommendations. I don’t want to be that person who gained all their weight back and more after gastric bypass. I’ve just worked too hard for that. Everyone needs to find their own tolerance level.
4. Maintain consistent eating times and try not to skip meals
One of the most important things for me was to create a schedule/routine for myself around my meals. On a typical workday, I do a protein shake before my workouts, eat a small mid morning meal when I get to work, walk at lunchtime and then have a small lunch at 1ish, eat dinner around 6 and then have a shake before bed, or have my shake as a mid afternoon snack. This has worked well for me once I met my goal weight. I’m currently a few pounds higher than my goal weight which I attribute to being a limited activity, so I am reducing the number of snacks I have and really focusing on nutrient dense and lower calorie meals. It’s HARD, but sticking with the routine helps me from getting too far off the rails.
5. Balance your plate
I have always tried to have a good balance of protein, carbs and fat at each meal, but the fat typically comes from healthy sources like nuts and seeds, avocado, or olive oil. Carbs are never simple carbs – they are typically vegetables or fruit, and I stick with he lower glycemic fruit like melon and berries per bariatric recommendations. I do my food prep and thinking about variety and creating balanced meals. Very often food prep for me is just making sure everything is washed and chopped and ready to go for mix/match salads, stir fries, or snacking.
So there’s my bariatric take on the IIN clean eating recommendations. When working with clients, I stress that everyone has their individual needs and can typically figure out which foods work best for them, but I look forward with helping clients with those discoveries to encourage variety, simplicity, and health — whether they choose a plant-based approach or not.
Interested in setting up a free coaching session? Contact me and we’ll set something up. You will help me develop my coaching skills, and we can work to find some tips to help you achieve your health and fitness goals too.
Time flies when you are having fun. It’s the middle of August! How exactly did that happen? This means I am exactly a quarter of the way through with my Health Coach Training Program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This quarter marks a few important milestones in the program:
The first test! It’s been quite a while since I have had to take any kind of a test with a consequence. We’ll have 4 during the course of this program, and we have to pass 2 of the 4 with a score of 70% as a graduation requirement. I am happy to report that this overachiever passed with flying colors. Quite honestly, the content of the program has held my interest, and by doing the assignments and participating in discussions, it’s definitely helped with retention.
Health Histories. We’re getting into the meat of the program. Meeting with potential clients (unofficially, as we can’t take on clients until the 6 month point). I mentioned when I started this blog that I would be looking for people who are interested in being my willing volunteers to help me try out my new skills as a health coach. I’ve now had a couple of meetings, one via phone and one in person, with one lined up for next week. Graduation requirements call for us to submit 6 health histories over the course of the program, but it’s anticipated we’ll do many more than that – to the tune of 2 a week over the course of the next 9 months.
So…everything is going according to plan.
Yesterday I took my show on the road and discovered a great coffee shop in Woodland, Morgan’s Mill. It was such a great atmosphere to meet with potential clients (and quite honestly, I may go there for my telecommute days just to get a change of scenery.
Yesterday also marked a first for me — my first matcha latte! (I am so un-hip!). As a bariatric patient, I need to be very careful about wasted calories and excess sugar, so I scoped out the offerings ahead of time. An iced matcha latte with unsweetened almond milk and sugar-free vanilla syrup was the accompaniment for my coaching session (pictured above).
This inspired me to come up with my own bariatric version — protein-packed too!
Really, this isn’t rocket science. I looked up a few things for inspiration on Pinterest, ordered myself some matcha powder off Amazon, and came up with my own recipe.
In a mason jar, pour the hot water over the matcha and shake or stir well.
Using a blender (I used my Nutribullet), combine almond milk, the matcha mixture, protein powder, Torani, and blend well.
Fill the mason jar full of ice, and pour blended latte over ice.
The finished product has 29 grams of protein, 11 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat but is a satisfying and hydrating drink for these hot summer days. You can read more about the health benefits of matcha, high in anti-oxidants. Great way to start the day!
Again, this recipe isn’t rocket science, so definitely explore your own variations using your favorite protein powder or by modifying the liquid contents. Matcha is pretty strong, so you may want to start with a smaller amount and adjust for taste.
I watched the documentary Minimalism yesterday in an attempt to calm my nerves and expand my horizons.
In my studies at Institute for Integrative Nutrition, we talk about primary food — the concept of nourishing all areas of your life, including career, relationships, spirituality, and physical activity. Home environment has been one element of my world that feels out of balance. Our 1974 house needs some work and now that we’ve been here for 17 years we have acquired a lot of “stuff.” It can be stifling.
I tend to get into nesting mode before surgeries (yes, I have had that many) and clean house from top to bottom, declutter, and get organized. It’s been almost a year since my gastric bypass surgery. I had set up my little recovery area in the living room where I planned to binge watch every Netflix series and a laundry list of movies.
Ironically, I am sitting in the same spot almost a year later and some of the same magazines and books are still stacked on the table. And of course more stuff has found its way to the coffee table along with more electronic devices and remote controls. Hmmm. That tells me something.
Last week on my personal blog, I revealed my recent cancer diagnosis. I am awaiting consultation at UCSF Urologic Oncology department and expect to have part of my kidney, along with the evil inhabitant, removed in the near future. It’s made me turn even more inside myself that I typically am. Thinking and thinking. I’m turning to my typical de-stressors to try to reduce the anxiety: journaling, medication, yoga, rest, sleep, and nutrient dense food choices. That’s only taking me so far.
So back to Minimalism. Watching that film made me thing about eliminating excess in my life. Yeah, obviously, less stuff. I know a massive declutter effort is brewing. But what else is excess? Drama, stress, things I feel like I have to do but are really a choice. We have one life to live on this planet, and this current threat to mine has made me more determined to find joy and focus on the things I am passionate about.
I was listening to one of my podcasts, Her Rules Radio, with Alexandra Jamieson and she walked through what she calls her Fuck-It List, which she defines as her approach to developing a personalized rule book for identifying the things you want to stop doing so you can focus on getting clear about the things you want to do. I downloaded her e-Book. This is the right time for me to take a hard look at my career, relationships with people, my spiritual practice, and to some degree physical activity and do some housekeeping. Adding this to my toolkit.
My mom died at 58, and I’ve always had that number in my head as something to beat. I took my health into my hands almost a year ago and got myself to a healthy weight and strengthened my body and my spirit. I have spent too much time Googling renal cell carcinoma survival and recurrence rates, and knowing I was diagnosed early gives me hope, but the fear of what I am reading makes living more fully the ultimate goal.
Welcome to Off the Plate, a health and wellness blog that will accompany my future practice as an integrative nutrition health coach. I recently started studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I am in the midst of my own personal journey to optimal health and wellness, and along the way, I realized that I can share my experience with others to help them achieve their goals.
In July 2016, I underwent gastric bypass surgery and my life was forever changed. I am now an obesity survivor — an obesity ass-kicker. This journey has been a long one, having been obese since I was in my teens (and literally on one diet or another since I was 11). When I decided to have bariatric surgery, I researched the lifestyle changes, I read books and blogs, and committed to making this change permanent.
Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and a variety of endocrine and metabolic complexities prevented me from losing weight, no matter how much I exercised, and despite following nutritional guidance from my doctors. Although the surgery radically changed my digestion and absorption of nutrients, it didn’t change my brain. I had to make those changes myself:
Adopting a more positive outlook on life
Identifying stress triggers and learning how to manage them
Incorporating a daily gratitude practice
Changing my self talk with daily affirmations
Practicing meditation and yoga
Establishing routine exercise goals
Building daily rituals to reinforce these lifestyle changes
In my quest to learn more about how food — a whole foods approach to nutrition — can impact weight loss and metabolism, I found this health coach training program and it was immediately apparent to me that I had found my purpose.
My goal is to inspire and support others on their health and wellness journeys to identify and achieve their goals, providing support for nutrition, but also providing support for the nourishment off the plate: nourishment for the body, mind, and spirit.
You’ve all heard the expression, “having too much on my plate.” How many times have you let the wrong priorities guide your life, depriving you of a healthy self-care practice? It’s time to get some things off the plate so you can start feeding the areas of your life that are the most satisfying. I can help you find your own approach to creating that balance in your life.
While I won’t officially be seeing clients for the first six months of this program, I am offering free guidance during this time to a limited group who in turn will help me refine my coaching skills, participate in health history sessions or provide feedback on pilot programs I would like to offer. If you are interested in this introductory coaching proposal, contact me at email@example.com.