REAL Food & Fitness Blog

  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: March 12, 2014
  • Writen by:
Heart

Ladies and gents, today is a very special day indeed.  If you know a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) give him or her a hug, or a friendly high-five, . . . or knuckles, because it is officially March 12th, National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist day!  If you see me standing a little taller, smiling a little wider, and feeling a little nobler, be aware that I am an indispensable provider of food and nutrition services, committed to supporting clients as they dedicate themselves to nourishing and energizing their bodies to superhuman capacities, and . . . now it’s time for me to come back down to Earth.  Really though, I am very proud of my profession and for the great deal of science, academia and understanding of the human body and specific nutrient needs requisite to have become a credentialed and licensed RDN. I am grateful for the mass of chemistry classes, along with biology, physiology, business, and slew of nutritional science classes under my belt, and for the blessed 1,000+ voluntary hours spent as an intern, before I was eligible to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.  Then I was able to qualify for (and of course pass) the credentialing national RDN board exam.

I am grateful that there is enough to know in this expansive field of nutrition, with it’s diverse specializations, that my career is now requiring a master’s degree to practice, due to the level and standard of care that the profession upholds.  I am appreciative for my clinical and consulting work experiences and for the hundreds of clients I have been blessed to work with in providing nutrition guidance for health, wellness, sport, recovery and weight management goals.  And I am grateful for my opportunity to study sport’s dietetics and exercise sciences, in addition to numerous additional volunteer hours invested, working with athletes of all levels, working to step up performance, education and fitness.  I loved my practicum experience and graduate studies.  I love my area of focus, sport’s dietetics, and the opportunity I had to earn my master’s degree and certify as a specialist in sport’s dietetics.  I love what I do!

If you know a RDN, be sure to give him or her a shout-out today and keep in mind how cool they (we) are:

  • •  RDN’s are the food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical and real every-day solutions for living your best.
  • •  RDN’s have attained the highest level of nutrition counseling. Sure, anyone can call themselves nutritionist with a online certification, but only a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) has completed multiple layers of education and training established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and has the hands-on experience to apply the sciences directly to your needs, rather than just providing anecdotal and sensationalized advice.
  • •  As nutrition professionals, we offer personally tailored advice, which is never “canned” or one-size-fits-all diet planning, and we help clients and patients to prevent and/or manage chronic diseases along with feeling their best and energizing life.
  • •  When it comes to guidance with weight loss and weight management programs, RDNs always look at the long-term perspective and best habits with meal planning, grocery shopping, journaling, mindfulness, nutrition for performance, and overall well-being.  We don’t simply focus on calories, but rather balanced and healthy eating that nourishes and empowers the body.

Why work with an RDN?  

Why RDN 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the best!

Jessica

 

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: March 10, 2014
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NNM-2014

March is one of my favorite months!  I love it’s accompanying first signs of spring, promises of wonderful memories outdoors with the family working to rev up the garden and prepare for summer’s harvest, and of course, March is National Nutrition Month®. This is the perfect time of year to celebrate one of my deepest passions, eating well to nourish the body and fuel an energized life.  I am particularly excited about this year’s theme for National Nutrition Month®, “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” as it is so very complementary with what I love to emphasize to clients and fitness class participants.  Healthy foods can and should taste good.  Food choices should not come down to stringent rules and dieting rubric only geared to eating “clean,” just as choices should not always be bland and unfulfilling.  Fun with spices, various cooking methods, and new-to-you ingredients keep meal preparation exciting and delicious, all while enhancing the dining experience, slowing down the rush, and making meals a celebration.

As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has shared, consumer research has confirmed that for most of us, how our food tastes is more of a driving force for our food choices than nutrition alone.  While, of course, the social, emotional and health factors influence our food choices, we tend to lean toward more desirable flavor profiles and most of all, we want to savor and enjoy the foods we eat, rather than just checking the “nutrition box.”  Thus, with this month’s theme focused on combining great taste with healthy nutrition, what a fantastic opportunity to ignite, or even reignite, a love for healthy foods, feeling your best, and preparing meals in fun and new nutritious ways.

My clients and fitness class participants know that I am a champion for vegetables, and I often tell them that if they don’t like certain vegetables, chances are they aren’t preparing them in the “right” way.  My father grew up hating asparagus because he only knew it boiled and “squeaky.”  Ha, ha.  Thus, I didn’t even try asparagus until I was a young adult; my first exposure was grilled and delicious.  I didn’t know fresh spinach until I was in college, believe it or not, and I had, up to that point, assumed it was always prepared to look like what is seen straight out of a can (Popeye had me going).  As an undergraduate at Utah State University I enrolled in a Culinary Basics course that opened my ideas to how much fun fresh and not overcooked vegetables can be.  I suddenly became aware that there were many more foods available to me, beyond those I had been raised on, which were great as well.  I just broadened my scope.  Now spinach and asparagus, along with Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and other deep green vegetables, along with many colorful and fresh varieties of produce are a mainstay in my diet, whether fresh, roasted, sautéed, grilled, or baked.  In fact, they are always the main components of lunch and dinner, and often are a part of breakfast via smoothies or paired with eggs.  I certainly did not know that with a sense of adventure I would learn to love beets, so many varieties of lettuces and squashes, and other fun forms of produce that grow straight out of the garden.

Check in and assess how you are doing.  Have you unleashed your sense of adventure and curiosity for new varieties of produce that have potential to boost your immune system, reduce your risk of disease, and broaden your flavor palate?

Let’s celebrate National Nutrition Month® by eating more real and fresh foods, being adventurous with our choices, and preparing them in ways that taste great.  Try a new cultivar of orange, like a blood orange or a tangerine, and experiment with steaming, sautéing, baking, grilling, roasting, and the best standby, simple and fresh recipes.  Add green or red onions to your traditional salad, and instead of the same ‘ole boring potatoes, experiment with purple potatoes, multi-colored broccoli, and different varieties of lettuce, with the colors for each representing amazing phytonutrients and antioxidants contained therein to support wellness.

Salads and fresh vegetables are a mainstay at our house, in addition to these family-favorite, nourishing and tasty recipes:

This month as you go out of your way to shake things up just a bit, adding in more nutrition and enjoyment to your food choices, my strong hope is that you will feel great about nourishing your body, rather than depriving.  Go for choices and portions that support “loving” your body and feeling well.

Keep the fun in food and “enjoy the taste of eating right!”

All the best!

Jessica

 

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* National Nutrition Month®  

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: February 23, 2014
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Shaping up kids and preventing childhood obesity has been a major focus over the last few years, particularly since 2002 when Action for Healthy Kids was founded.  Since then Michelle Obama has been a major advocate for better nutrition and more physical activity for youth, Mickey Mouse started encouraging kids to get up and do the “Hot Dog Dance,” and Cookie Monster surprisingly began to advocate cookies as a sometimes food in combination with a well-balanced diet.

This is great.  I love the positive momentum rolling forward in support of moving more and eating better.  But, how many parents are truly, in action not just word, on board with these better intentions?  There is such a disparity!  What are we doing in our homes and schools, despite better intentions on the part of some organizations?

I’ve taken well over a week to mull over our recent Valentine’s Day in my head.  I was excited to be available to help out in my daughter’s classroom this year and was able to head up a game that was active, silly and fun, but, again, active, because I knew the kids were going to be indulging in plenty of valentines.

You and I both know that Valentine’s Day is a fun time to focus on giving and showing love and kindness, but . . . holy smolees . . . the mass of sugar and crap those sweet little six-year olds received and inhaled in one hour’s time was overwhelming . . . for me.

Here’s the scenario.  Just after eating their lunches those cute little first graders came into their festively decorated classroom, ready to participate in fun activities, including a craft and two games.  They also each decorated and ate a large frosted sugar cookie.  Then, with great generosity some of the parents went on to provide each child with a Capri Sun drink, a large glazed donut, Danish cookies, and a bottle of “love potion” purple juice.  These gift-bestowing parents provided each child a loving 650 extra calories (almost 100% from sugar) before the children went on to line up and proceeded to drop twenty-one treats into one another’s’ decorated boxes or bags, before returning to their desks to discover their new loot.  For the last ten minutes of class they were encouraged to eat any of their candies while they waited for the bell to ring!  Sugar high anyone?  We came home and my daughter was so excited about all of her stash of treats that she continued to want to dig in to her swag until she complained of not feeling well and having a tummy ache.  Go figure.

Holidays are often an excuse to go overboard.  We all know it, but when it comes to our kids,

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: February 17, 2014
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Mood and Food.jpg.

My husband and I frequently talk about what a difference exercise makes in the way we feel.  There can be no doubt that I’m a happier person after a workout, and conquering a tough one is a definite mood booster.  After stressful events like a big project or an overwhelming day with the kids, you’re likely to see me out for a run or sweating it out at the gym, and it’s likely safe to bet that you, like me, are a much happier and better-adapted person after conquering a workout, with happy dopamine neurons and endorphins running through our veins.  However, have you ever considered what a difference your food choices make when it comes to your mood?

Our food choices and how much of them we take in directly correlate to the levels of sugar in the blood stream and what our cells absorb.  If you regularly skip meals or eat inconsistently, including too much at once, those levels fluctuate greatly and the associated reaction of blood sugar highs and lows, and thus cell absorption highs and lows, can lead to energy level fluxes, making it harder for us not to fluctuate greatly in our moods.  Let’s be honest, some of us are not to be meddled with when we’re hungry.  Versus, when we’re fed just right, not too much, we are much more likely to be happy and energized.

What we’ve eaten also greatly influences hormones and chemical reactions in the body.  I have to note here that some of us are also sensitive to artificial chemicals, including colorings and flavorings, and these can affect our moods and overall how we feel, as well.  You may not realize how much of this fake stuff you’re getting, but it’s in many foods, from soda, cereals, yogurts, candy and treats, many brands of pickles, and snack foods.  Pay closer attention to ingredient lists on nutrition labels and nix this artificial stuff from your diet.  It’s for the best, I promise.

How do you know what you are sensitive to and how you can best set yourself up for a good mood?  Well, for starters, look at your foundation and be sure to get enough quality sleep, stay active, and maintain close supportive relationships.  On the food side, consider working with a nutrition professional.  Keep a food journal to check in regularly for recognition of patterns, taking note of how certain food choices and drinks affect the way you feel.  When are you at your best?  How about your lowest with mood regularity?

Check out some of the interesting findings from the Food and Mood Project Survey, in which researchers were determined to find out how dietary and nutritional interventions benefit emotional and mental health.  They surveyed 200 individuals, ages 26-55, with each participant completing a questionnaire in which strategies for self-help for mental health were indicated.  The strategies noted to be most frequently beneficial were cutting down on sugar and caffeine, drinking more water, eating vegetables, and eating meals and snacks at regular intervals.  Making these changes improved incidents of anxiety and mood swings.

Such simple changes were found to make great changes in the way individuals felt.  However, even simple changes can be really difficult to make when it comes to breaking habits and forging new ones.  It’s interesting to note that when participants

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: February 10, 2014
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Sochi Olympics

Oh, how I love the Olympics!  Not only because they are what brought my husband from California to Utah to work for the 2002 Olympics, but because the level of athleticism is so incredible, and it’s amazing to follow these athletes and their stories.  I love knowing that these incredible human beings who do super-human things, are still human like the rest of us.  They are mentally and physically strong and capable, but are still vulnerable.

What we see of Olympic performances represents just a moment in time, despite years and years of ceaseless training and dedication to strict lifestyle routines.  This is why an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Imperfect Bodies, Chasing Olympic Perfection,” caught my attention this week.  The premise is that “the best athletes in the world don’t always have the best physiques in the world for what they do.”

We obviously cannot change our genetics, and individual genetic variables do in fact shape the potential each of us has when it comes to excelling in sports.  Our genetics greatly influence strength, muscle size and fiber types (fast- and slow-twitch), cardiac and lung capacities, and flexibility.  However, dedication and the right combination of nutrition and training can and do, in some cases, make up the difference, even when it comes to winning a medal.

U.S. star Lolo Jones began training for bobsledding at 135-pounds, after competing in the summer Olympics in track and jumping hurdles, and needed to get bigger and stronger to be able to explosively push a 375-pound sled for her new sport.  To support muscle gains and an increased power-to-muscle ratio she began eating high-calorie meals every two hours to support gains in muscle and she dedicated herself to hard-core training in weight training, coupled with powerful interval bursts.  After ten months of training she was able to clean and press 200 pounds, could squat 240-pounds, and could broad-jump almost 10 feet.  These strength gains, in combination with her speed, have set her up nicely for bobsledding in this Olympics.

Height is an obvious issue for figure skaters, the majority of whom are not much more than five feet tall.  Smaller skaters are able to complete spins faster, even 10% faster than a competitor 20% taller.  Figure skaters do best with well-trained fast-twitch muscle and powerful exercise training, in combination with consuming adequate calories and carbohydrates, to allow them to quickly recruit fast muscles-fibers to thus leap and quickly rotate through spins.  Yuna Kim, a gold medalist figure skater competing for South Korea is 5-foot-5, yet she is doing exceptionally well, using her strength and power to her advantage as one of the tallest on the ice.

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: February 3, 2014
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Your 100 Percent!

Self-complacency is fatal to progression, and as they say, life truly begins at the end of your comfort zone.  It’s so true!  This last week as I’ve taken some time to really reflect, pay close attention to my thoughts and what’s going on around me, and as I mentioned in my last post, it’s been an important time to “sharpen the saw,” I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how easy it is for us to get caught up in the motions of life, just living habitually, and all too often well within our complacent patterns of being.  Think about it.  How often do you find yourself just going through the motions, not venturing very far out of your comfort zone, avoiding and all-out shunning new opportunities for growth?

Do you eat the same foods, justify unhealthy choices day after day, and avoid opportunities for living a more active and healthy life?  What about being confident enough in yourself and your ability to do difficult things?

I have a dear friend who years ago, when we lived near one another, attended a few of the fitness classes I taught.  She admitted to feeling that she didn’t deserve to be fit and more active because mentally she wasn’t confident in herself and didn’t feel she “deserved it.” She had, up to this point, become complacent in her habits and had an epiphany of sorts that, of course she deserved to be more active, fit and healthy!   Fitness has since become and important and regular part of her schedule and her confidence in herself has bloomed as well.  She simply needed someone to help her booster confidence in herself, validating that yes, of course, she deserves to be, to look and to feel her best.

Another close friend has just suddenly had the realization of how poorly he feels when he continually overeats.  He had become so set in his poor, self-sabotaging habits that it took a real wake up call of stepping on the scale for the first time in years and realizing how much he’d gained and how poorly he felt as a result of all of that extra weight he was carrying, that he has suddenly moved forward in breaking his every day norms.  Breaking bad habits can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable, but now he is much more aware of how his bad habits were destroying him.  He is now making smarter choices with foods and portions.  Obviously there is much more to this picture, but the shock he had was just what he needed to break free from such chronic and habitual complacency from day-to-day.

Stay real and stay true to yourself.  It’s not about being perfect or appearing to be so, but rather about knowing oneself and never becoming complacent with bad behaviors that aren’t any good for you and your ultimate happiness.  Do what will ultimately bring you joy and will bring more vitality into your life, not just momentarily, and will be an investment in your personal progression and confidence in being able to accomplish what you set your mind to.

You’re worth more than the status quo.  Take this one shot at life and don’t waste it.  Do something today and start somewhere to make your tomorrow even more amazing!  What’s your story?  What drives you to step out of your comfort zone to be more.  You never know who you will inspire.

All the best,

Jessica

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: January 16, 2014
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Stretch

Today I am posting some thoughts on renewal and “sharpening the saw,” as Stephen Covey encourages as the seventh habit in his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  How often do you catch yourself essentially doing the same things, following the same habits day in and day out, somehow expecting different results the next go-around?

Consider Covey’s adaptation of this metaphor:

          Suppose you came upon someone in the woods working to saw down a tree. He is exhausted from           working for hours. You suggest he take a break to sharpen the saw. He might reply, “I don’t have             time to sharpen the saw—I’m busy sawing. 

In this metaphor it is obvious how essential it is for this man to take a break to sharpen his saw to thereby make his work more efficient and effective; however, how often do we, like him, essentially overwork and overwhelm ourselves without sharpening the saw and learning new techniques and finding more balance in our lives.  For example, if you consistently allow yourself too little sleep, fail to prioritize exercise, and don’t invest energy in nourishing your body with real, whole foods, you are missing out on opportunities for energizing your body, encouraging hormonal and metabolic health, and also reaping the benefits of a significant part of that hard work.

Too many of us take for granted how essential it is to allow our bodies time to rest and recover, and we are left to wonder why we are so tired, easily fatigued, and are possibly not seeing the results of our fitness regimens as well as desired.  This one thing, going to bed at a good time, consistently, can make a significant difference in your energy levels and ability to accomplish daily tasks at hand.  Remember that it is while you rest that you become stronger and your body is able to reset and regenerate the energy you need.

As for exercise, energy truly begets energy.  I am a big believer in this.  I am often asked where all of my energy comes from.  It comes from staying so active.  I guarantee that if you wake up early, after a full night’s rest, and you set aside sufficient time for a solid workout, you will be much more energized and invigorated to take on the day and whatever challenges come with it.  From my own personal experience, living an active lifestyle is a natural high with the amazing release of endorphins, along with a subsequent drop in stress hormones, including cortisol, and an increase in feel-good hormones that keep us happy and support feeling confident and empowered.

With your nutrition choices “sharpening the saw” means finding balance.  If eating processed and convenient foods or drinking soda frequently, including diet drinks, is part of the status quo in your every day, and you are feeling fatigued or mentally not “with it,” re-evaluate and renew your dedication to eating better.  You will absolutely feel better as you cut out the processed junk and focus on a more balanced, less manufactured diet.

As Covey encourages, we should have a balanced plan for self-renewal in the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual facets of our lives.  As you reflect and create opportunities for growth and change in your life, sharpening the saw in any one dimension at a time, I am convinced that you will be stronger and more confident in your abilities to take on and handle the challenges that come your way.

All the best!

Jessica

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: January 15, 2014
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View More: http://melissasuephotography.pass.us/fitnessshoot

Days 8 – 14:

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: January 12, 2014
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you are wonderful.jpg

Flipping through the local Hometown Values Magazine today, hoping to catch a few good deals and coupons, I was amazed at the onslaught of ads geared towards fix-ups for our obviously flawed natural human states of being.  After looking at page after page and considering billboards I passed earlier today during a drive to and from Salt Lake City, I was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed at the messages again and again in my face.  Holy smolees, how blatant and even deliberate these ads and images are that businesses set up, strategically positioned to prey on our perceived insecurities!  While from a business financial pursuit they are quite brilliant, I find them to be disdainful, with subtle hints that we humans are just not good enough.  Cruel.  These ads seem to be craftily schemed to plant doubts that quite possible every one of us must have some flaw to be manipulated, contoured, suctioned, or otherwise corrected.

As a huge proponent of fitness and eating well, I am a advocate for making choices on a daily basis that add up to feeling empowered, energized and happy.  I realize that this message is often cliché to the general public and we are a society set on quick fixes and instant gratifications.  However, I sincerely believe that eating well and being active are foundational components to warding off diseases and keeping life fun and exciting, so that we can energetically look forward to new opportunities and adventures and really live life.  But . . . the messages I’ve seen all around me, particularly today with this blitz, have been deluging this idea that one should achieve a certain look, as though “the look” is a commodity and if you don’t have “it” you need to do whatever necessary at whatever price to achieve some sense of dolled up, skinny, and flawless perfectionism, whether the price is essentially starving, going under the knife, being contoured and augmented, getting injections, extending eyelashes, dying hair, undergoing hypnosis, darkening our skin at tanning beds, having makeup tattooed on our faces and permanently removing unsightly body hair.  Why?  Because it’s a new year, so who wouldn’t justify a new you, literally, with much, much more to it than what  eating better and investing in better fitness, health and wellbeing may have meant yesterday.

Check out the mass of coinciding ads in just this month’s edition of this small coupon magazine:

  • •  12 for facial lifts, rejuvenations, and body contouring
  • •  1 for breast augmentation
  • •  1 for photofacials
  • •  4 for liposuction
  • •  2 for HCG and diet plan discounts
  • •  2 for lash extensions
  • •  2 for “super fat burners”
  • •  1 for fat loss hypnosis
  • •  1 for tanning
  • •  1 for permanent makeup
  • •  2 for laser hair removal
  • •  Oh . . . and also 6 for indulgent treats

Sure, some of these procedures are justified and I’m all for investing in renewed confidence.  It’s fun to change up hair colors and styles and, let’s be honest, I look better with a tan, but . . . come on now . . . where do we stop when it comes to our lists?  Can we obsess enough?  When and how does one shut out so many industry and society standards for size, shape and specific colorings, and fashions, rather than conforming on and on?  How do you keep a practical sense of what is functional and what is not?

As a final note, I find myself reflecting on a conversation had one day in a course while I was in graduate school at the University of Utah.   About half of the class included students who were not originally from Utah.  We were discussing social norms and several students admitted to feeling shocked at the level of perfectionism they observed around them in Salt Lake City, from obvious work that people had undergone, to hair and make-up, clothes and shoes, and even perceived demeanors. As someone raised in Utah, but also having lived in Arizona, Texas, and Virginia over the last several years before attending graduate school, I found their comments to be very interesting.

What are your thoughts?  Are you okay with our societal standards for perfectionism?  Do we tend to conform to what is perceived as most desirable at any cost?  How do you stay real to yourself, confident and assured, despite the negative messages and brutal onslaught that encourages nit-picking and obsession with perfectionism?

Powerful message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epOg1nWJ4T8

Love unconditionally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the best!

Jessica

 

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