Sunday, August 30, 2015

Slow Down to Rev Up Metabolism

As a society, it is fair to say that we are pretty weight obsessed.  The U.S. weight loss market totaled $64 billion in 2014, according to Marketdata Enterprises, a research firm that tracks the industry. We obsessively count calories, eat boring, so called “healthy” food and are always on the lookout for the next fitness craze. Not to mention all the weight loss supplements on the market, yet the obesity rates are skyrocketing.
With all the things we do in an effort to “speed up” our metabolism and lose weight, we most likely have overlooked the simplest and best way to promote optimum metabolism…just slow down! In today’s modern world, we are constantly on the go and in many respects society prides itself on our fast paced lifestyle. It often feels like a competition to see who is the busiest and who can multi-task the most. If you are like me, you eat your lunch at your desk, all while checking email or surfing the web. Or maybe grabbing a few bites of food as you are chasing your kids around the house.
Life is inherently stressful and our bodies are designed to deal with periods of stress. When we are exposed to a threat, there is an automatic chain of chemical and physiological reactions that are set off. This is called the “Fight or Flight” response or the stress response. In a stress response, our adrenals release hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, which increases our breathing and heart rate, pumping oxygen and glucose to our muscles so we can get away from the threat, while other less vital functions decrease in activity (i.e. digestion).After all, are we really focused on digesting our lunch when we are being chased by a bear? Once we get away from the threat, we return to a period of relaxation, which allows our body to recover and replenish. However, all this daily go-go-go actually puts the body in a constant, low level state of stress, often without the benefit of a relaxation phase, which can have detrimental long term effects on the body.
If you believe all the TV ads, there are tons of products out there to speed up your metabolism and control appetite. However, many of the things we are doing are actually having the opposite effect. We kill ourselves with punishing exercise, which often adds even more unnecessary stress to the body or we hype up on caffeine and other stimulants. One of the best things we can do for our body to promote optimal digestion and calorie burning is to find ways to reduce stress, slow down and relax. I know “easier said than done,” but there are a few simple things you can do:
Just breathe!
Before you begin a meal, take 8-10 deeps breaths. Breathing is a quick and easy way to slow down the body and to quickly promote relaxation. Relaxation puts the body in a state where optimal digestion and assimilation of nutrients happens.
Slow Down and Listen to Your Body
How many of us mindlessly eat? I know so many people who literally shovel a sandwich and chips in their mouth at lunch in under 5 minutes and then they wonder why an hour later they are still hungry. Your mind did not even notice you ate! Not to mention the fact that you will likely eat past the point of being full. It takes your body about 20 minutes before your stomach registers the feeling of being full.Take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal. Really tune into how your body feels and when you start to feel full.
Be Present
Many of us love to multitask, especially when eating. Next time you sit down to eat, make the meal the main event. Turn off the TV, stop reading emails and actually enjoy your meal. Limiting your distractions while eating not only helps you to be present, but also many of those distractions are inherently stressful. Food should be pleasurable and pleasure promotes relaxation, which in turn supports optimal metabolism.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bad Day? Go For A Walk!

I am like a lot of people in that my eating habits (and drink habits…I love my wine!) are very much driven by my emotions. I work out regularly and that really does help keep me on track. I can have a horrible day, but an hour at the gym and I feel fantastic! All those great endorphins, not to mention the huge stress release.
But you can’ t workout all the time or what about rest days? I have a lot of friends who are really into yoga or meditation and I am true believer in their amazing benefits. I have tried both and have never been able to really stick with a practice for either. I always feel amazing after, but neither are something I really am motivated to do. Yoga I will occasionally get into the routine of doing – I have a Saturday morning class that I get to now and then. I have a rally hard time slowing down and in particular, “quieting my mind” – which is why I guess is why they call it a “practice.” But I know I am not alone in not being able to commit to this.
I have been having a rather rough time lately. I have a lot going on and I have been feeling rather stressed and overwhelmed. I even just had an amazing vacation and Day 1 back was a disaster! Totally killed my post vaca zen! HA! So this Sunday was a gorgeous day here in NY. Instead of going to the gym, I took a really long walk. Likely not the workout I would have had as compared to my normal Sunday spinning class, but mentally it did the world for me!
Even just walking, I tend to walk fast so I am sure I burned some calories and a little burst of endorphins is always a good thing. But more than that it just felt good to move, to get some fresh air and to feel the sun on my face. I listened to some great tunes and just got lost in my own world.
Walking for me is like meditation – I can totally get lost in the moment and can actually clear my thoughts when needed. Something I can’t seem to do with yoga or meditation. The other thing that walking really helps with, is that it allows me time (without distraction) to actually think about things. Whether it’s working out a problem or coming up with ideas, walking is my best time to do it. And in my own weird, type A personality…it is healthy multi-tasking! I work out my issues, spend time outside and get a bit of a workout all at the same time! I know that sounds a bit nuts, but it works for me.
The point being that I think we all have to find what works for us. I have spent years trying to make myself like yoga or meditation and I can’t say I will never do them or never enjoy them or that they will never one day be a part of my daily routine. But just like I will never be a marathon runner, it does not mean there are not other ways of meeting my physical goals or that I don’t occasionally like to run. Walking has become my “meditation” – it calms me, it clears my head and boosts my mood when I really need it. Even at work, it someone really annoys me and I am upset, I find if I can take 10 minutes away from my desk and just walk around the block, it sort of reset things. It really truly can be that simple!

We all have stress in our life and we have to find healthy ways to deal with it. For me, walking makes me feel good and also helps me to stick to my healthy habits. Before my walk on Sunday I wanted to lay on couch and each mint chocolate chip ice cream! After my walk, I felt energized and relaxed and actually craved veges and water!
So next time you have a bad day, put on those sneakers and walk it out!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Get Comfortable With Being Hungry

I am sure this sounds like an incredibly odd statement and I am by no means advocating starvation diets! The reality for most of is that we are constantly surrounded by food. Living in NYC, I can’t walk 10 feet without seeing a Starbucks or bakery or fast food restaurant. Add that to the fact that I work in an office which means people are “kindly” bringing in donuts and cookies and recently selling Girl Scout cookies! So my weakness….
I am like many people – I often gobble down my food while doing work, watching TV, checking email or sometimes while I am walking around my apartment doing things. It is very rare that I actually sit and just have the meal be my entertainment. In addition to not enjoying my meal, I end up eating more because I ate so fast my body did not even have time to know I ate! I make a conscious effort to slow down and I am getting better at this, but sometimes life just doesn’t make this easy.
I am also an emotional eater. A bad day and all I want is crap or wine. And when I do succumb to it, I just inhale (literally!). I have had times (thankfully not recently) where I stop mid-handful of Cheez-its (salty snacks are my true weakness) and think my god I have eaten half the box!
As I said I have gotten a lot better about this, but what I have noticed is that it is rare that I actually eat because I am hungry. I usually crave something in response to an emotional event or because I have 30 minutes between meetings so now is the time to have lunch. Many of us have completely lost touch with our bodies signals.
As I mentioned in one of my Facebook posts, I am currently doing this amazing 30 Superfoods Nutritional Cleanse. Yes I am eating less and losing some winter weight, but I am far from starving myself. However, in addition to how great I feel, the one thing I noticed is that I actually feel when I am hungry and eat the right amount.
I know this is not rocket science and intuitively our bodies know how to do this… However in this chaotic world we live in, many of us have lost this connection. I have to say it is really nice to actually feel hunger and then to feel appropriately satiated!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Not All Salt Is Bad…Go Pink!

In general, I do not add a lot of salt to my food. This partially grew out of the fear instilled in me that salt is bad! Salt plays a crucial role in our body’s functions. It is actually our most common source of sodium and chloride ions, neither of which can be produced by the body. Sodium is key to multiple functions, namely regulating fluid volumes, maintaining normal pH, as well as regulating the uptake of nutrients, transmission of nerve cells and helping with muscle contraction. Chloride is also important. Similar to sodium, chloride ions regulate fluid volume and pH, but they also aid in digestion.
But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. As most of you likely know, one of the key risks of too much salt intake is hypertension, or high blood pressure. Like everything else, salt is fine in moderation and a lot has to do with the type of salt you use. Although there is a lot of talk about how table salt which is iodized is beneficial because it a great source of iodine, table salt is highly refined and highly processed. Iodine is a key nutrient, but we can get iodine from other food sources like seafood, brussels sprouts and cabbage.
Processing of the salt does not change the composition of the sodium to chloride ratio, but it does process out other key trace minerals like magnesium, potassium, bromide, etc. When I use salt, my favorite is pink Himalayan salt. It contains a full spectrum of minerals and trace elements; 84 to be exact. In addition to sodium and chloride, Himalayan salt is relatively high in iron, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium and potassium, as well as trace amounts of boron, fluoride, zinc, selenium, copper and even iodine, all of which are crucial to the health of many bodily functions. And more importantly it’s raw and unrefined.
Want a special treat? Take a bath with it. Himalayan salt can be used to help detoxify the body.
For more info:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Lazy Cleanse

I have never been much for cleanses. I have never seen the point of starving myself, with only liquids to sustain me…all in an effort to clean out my system and “give the digestive tract a rest.” Does the digestive tract really need rest periods? I mean do animals in the wild cleanse? Honestly, there are mixed views on cleanses. I have always felt that you need to go with what works for you, so if the juice cleanse works for you, then have at it.

I have some friends who do what I call the “no” diet for a while after the holidays; no sugar, no dairy, no wheat, no alcohol, etc. I actually think that is not a bad thing, especially after all the crazy holiday eating and drinking. For me, I crave good, healthy food after the holidays or even after vacations. I look forward to getting back to normal. Eating too much of all those yummy holidays foods leave me feeling sluggish, slow and bloated. I usually opt for something much simpler. I just get back to basics; eating whole, non processed foods, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, more water, getting back into my regular gym routine or even upping it a notch, etc. Although I don’t entirely give up the alcohol, I do limit it to only weekends and to much less of it…LOL J

I hosted for the holidays this year and although I do like to cook, I get overwhelmed by it and I came out of this holiday season feeling like the last thing I wanted to do was cook more! So this year I am doing the “lazy cleanse”…or should I say I am eliciting help. I am a HUGE HUGE HUGE fan of this amazing delivery service in NYC. I often treat myself a few times a year to a week or two of their incredible food, but this year I decided this would be my post holiday detox.

Sakara Life is an organic food delivery service. They focus on whole, real, locally sourced food which is primarily plant-based. Nothing is processed; just fresh delicious real food. It is amazing to me how absolutely delicious healthy eating can be. It is truly a treat! I can honestly say I have never have had a bad meal! And it is so filling; no starving, no feeling deprived! It really makes you realize how good actually being nourished by your food feels.

Sakara Life is worth every penny, but as with all these convenient services it is never a cheap option. However, I would highly recommend it to anyone that was interested in trying it. A lot of people I know do those commercial juice cleanses like Blueprint or they splurge regularly at juice bars. Not that I think those are bad things, but none of these things are cheap. Sakara Life is definitely worth the splurge and I guarantee you, you won’t be searching for a snack between meals!

I literally crave their food and get so excited with every delivery to see what I get to eat that day! It’s like Christmas all over again! I also like the fact that they tell you all about the super food(s) that are in each meal, so you know what all this yumminess is doing for you.

Sakara Life delivers throughout NYC, Westchester, Long Island, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut and they just expanded to Boston and its surrounding areas! They have a variety of options, not only regarding the number of days, but they also recently expanded their meal combos; i.e. you can get all three meals, lunch and dinner only, breakfast and lunch only, etc. The dinner only and lunch only options are great too if you don’t have healthy options near work or like me, get home from work and can’t seem to rally to cook a decent meal. Or worse, are a take-out junkie!

I have been a fan since the beginning and can’t say enough good things about both the food and the wonderful people who work there.

For more information, click here or email

If you do sign-up, please tell them Lauren Pelehach sent you – I like to throw support their way and I may get some free meals out it! LOL :-)  And most of all ENJOY!!!! I warn you it, it may become addicting!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year…New Year’s Resolutions?

So who made resolutions this year? I have never been one for resolutions. First of all, does it really take a whole year ending and a new one beginning for people to take stock of life and implement some changes? I feel like this should not be an annual event. We are perpetually evolving; there is no start and end date. It is constant journey…with all the progress I have made, I continue to be a “work in progress.”
Having said that, I don’t think it is a bad time to kick off some new habits or maybe just get back on track. I know for me, the holidays are filled with way too many social engagements, more treats than I usually have and of course lots of wine! I never go completely nuts, but still I am very much off my usual routine.
I must say, as much as I enjoy a bit of holiday splurging, a big part of me looks forward to my post holiday “detox”. I know you are all envisioning something like a juice cleanse or only smoothies as meals. Even the no dairy, no wheat, no sugar thing to too much for me. I try to keep it simple and stick to the holiday triggers that got me off track. For me it is focused on getting back to healthy eating, as I am pretty good at sticking to my exercise routine during the holidays. I go back to eating whole, real foods, cut out all the nighttime snacking, which is a HUGE weakness for me, and I limit myself to only having wine on the weekends. I am not a huge drinker, but I can often get into the habit of coming home from a bad day at work and having a glass of wine, which often turns in to 2 and by Thursday I am like “well tomorrow is Friday anyway, so why not?” and it just snowballs from there.
Set Reasonable Goals
I know a lot of people start of the year with massive goals – they feel like “this year will be different” and they set expectations so high that they are bound to fail. It is insane to think you are going to go from a burger loving, French fry junkie to someone who craves green juice, just because it’s a new year and don’t even get me started on the masses of new gym people who drive me insane…
Now I commend people who are jumping on the exercise bandwagon, but if you did not go at all last year, what makes you think you are going to go this year. Or similarly, people who never go to the gym resolve to go 5 days a week! How about trying to get there twice a week? Baby steps. Overdoing will only have a negative effect. If you are super sore and in constant pain or worse injured, you are never going to be able to sustain your motivation. Just like with eating. If you love meat, becoming a vegan because you think that is healthier or will help you lose weight will not work. Make choices and changes that feel good to you and are realistic.
Find What You Like And What Will Keep You Motivated
Maybe the gym is not your thing, maybe try yoga, or take a dance class. There are tons of ways to get moving and many do not involve a gym. It’s not only about finding an activity you enjoy, but also what motivates you. I hate working out in the morning, so planning to get up before work every day and hitting the gym is just self sabotage. What will work for you? Some people don’t go to the gym, because in the winter who wants to leave the house? Or some people hate the gym because they are intimidated by the gym or don’t understand how to use the equipment. If you can’t rally to go out to workout, is working at home an option for you? There are tons on apps, online programs and DVD based home workouts to choose from – many that don’t even require equipment.
But for some people, working out at home is not an option. I know for me, once I get home from work, if I do not immediately change my clothes and head out the door, I ain’t going no place. Once my butt hits the couch I am done! And for people like me who live in NYC, not only do I need to get off the couch and put those workout clothes on to workout at home, but I need to move half the furniture in my living room to create a decent workout space. I also need to contend with a cat who thinks he is helping when he sprawls out under my downward facing dog or sniffs and licks the sweat off my forehead when I am trying to do crunches! LOL!!  I need to go somewhere to workout.
Be Accountable And Find Support
Just as important as it is to find out what you like and what motivates you, you need someone or something that will keep you accountable. Do you have a friend or partner you can work out with? Or can you afford to hire a trainer? Hiring a trainer is obviously an expensive option, but I know for me, knowing someone is there waiting on me (or the fact that I am paying for it) makes me go even when I don’t want to.
Even if you can’t afford a trainer, there are other ways to get some support. Many gyms do offer a couple free sessions with a trainer when you sign-up, just to get you started or they have staff that will work with you to set up a program, along with tools to track your workouts and progress. They can also help you to get more familiar with the equipment.
Group classes are also an excellent choice. I know some people feel like they will be the only person in the class who is not in shape or who doesn’t know what they are doing, but in my experience if you go a little bit earlier, most instructors are happy to help you get set up and they often give you more attention throughout the class if they know you are new. And trust me, you will not be the only new person there and even the people who have been doing it for years still are not perfect. I have been spinning for years and I still have days I can’t get the damn foot cages on my bike!
There are also group programs that are offered through gyms or even in some workplaces that are a great way to keep you on track. Something about having a schedule I think really makes a difference. Even if you do not join a group program, like a boot camp or running group where there are set times that you are expected to be there, I find just making a schedule for yourself helps to keep you on track. I schedule my workouts for the month on my calendar, just like I would dinner plans or doctors’ appointments. Of course things may change, but whatever I change, I reschedule. So for example, I usually take a specific spinning class on Sunday mornings. Well this weekend I have brunch plans, so instead I have rescheduled spinning for Saturday morning. Having it on your calendar will not only remind you to go, but will make it part of your routine. There are also online tools and apps that allow you to track your workouts and often have associated user communities so you have others that keep you motivated.
Have Patience And Be Kind To Yourself
Whatever your goals are or whatever changes you want to make, be proud of yourself for taking steps towards achieving those goals. You didn’t gain 30 pounds overnight so you are not going to lose it overnight. Your love of pizza for lunch every day won’t magically be replaced by a love of salads. Change takes time, particularly long-term lifestyle changes. There are going to be bumps in the road and setbacks, but the key is to stick with it. And more importantly, identify when something is not working and change it. If you are taking a spinning class and dread it every time, then try something else. Love pizza, well you don’t have to give it up completely, maybe just have it less or have only one slice with a  side salad. It is amazing what small, simple changes can do. You are in it for the long haul – be that person who 2 months from now is still making progress, not the person who hit the gym religiously for a month and then called it quits. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Is Pasta The Enemy?

In the low carb/no carb era of dieting, pasta has definitely become a no-no. As someone who grew up in an Italian family, I will never give up my pasta! Although I could happily eat pasta and a load of fresh bread every night of the week, I realize that is not the best idea. High carb meals spike your blood sugar levels and they don't have the long satiating effect of more protein based meals. For me I have always given into my love of pasta by choosing healthy additions, like adding lots of veges and staying away from the cream based sauces and of course portion control.

However, there are some healthier pasta options. One I recently discovered and that I am a true fan of is mung bean pasta. Mung bean has a very neutral taste so it easily takes on the flavor of the sauce. It cooks quickly, easily made to be al dente, gluten free and chock full of protein!

1 serving of mung bean pasta equals:

25g protein
Only 17 carbs per serving
Rich in iron - 36% daily recommended dose
Low sodium
11g fiber

Although I have eaten mung pasta with a variety of sauces, even just plain marinara, one of my favorites is with avocado basil pesto - yum! Here is the recipe:

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 cups


  • 1 1/2 cups tightly packed basil
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup mashed avocado
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 to 2 cloves raw garlic ( I love garlic and always use 2 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water, if needed


Blend all ingredients together in a blender of food processor adding water as needed to reach your desired consistency. I usually add additional olive oil to thin it out. Adjust lemon juice and salt according to your tastes as well.
This is not my recipe and unfortunately I could not find the original link, but it is so delicious and super simple to make, that I had to share it! Lasts in the fridge for several days. Its also good on sandwiches or toast - I could eat it all day!