Author Archives: kristinacu

Falling off the wagon.

It’s happened to somet-rex of us, especially around 8 weeks into a diet program. We promise “this time will be different”, “I can exercise every day” or “I will make this the year I make it happen” For some it is the year and you do exercise daily but for many, we slip up and fall off the wagon.

Finding out why we allow a slip to derail us is key to any goal we set out to achieve. Whether your goal is weight loss, fitness or any other lifestyle change, slip ups will happen. But how we react, adapt and take action is what sets the people that achieve their goals and the people that don’t.

Any lifestyle change is hard, hard work and stumbles and slip up should be looked at as a good thing not as a deal breaker. We are humans and not machines, mistake will happen, a lot. Learning from the mistake and avoiding them in the future is what the journey is all about.

If you fall off the wagon, don’t panic. One piece of cake should not be the undoing of days, weeks or months of hard work. Acknowledge the mistake, ask yourself was it worth it? Most of the time it’s not and eating when we are emotional, bored or mindless takes huge effort on our part to overcome.  But also be honest with yourself and allow yourself to indulge every now and again.

Once the mistake has been made, move on. Dwelling on the incident does nothing productive and in some cases can allow you to stay in a rut. Be done with it, kick it to the curb, walk away, I think you get the idea.

If you continue to struggle and if you are off the wagon more than you are on, consider a food journal. Writing down when you eat, your emotional state at the time, what you eat may show a pattern that you were not aware of and may prevent future mistakes. If you have a problem with talking yourself out of working out consider making a big workout calendar and post it on the fridge or bathroom mirror as a gentle reminder. If you do skip a workout, write out the reason on the calendar and be honest with the reason.

Finally, remember your goal. This weight loss wagon is taking you on a journey to a happier, healthier and more balanced lifestyle. Enjoy the ride!

Be Well,



You Say Tomato, I Say Health!


Tomatoes have so many uses. Made into soups, sandwiches, stews, and sauces, the tomato is more than just a fruit, it can be an essential ingredient to good health. Tomatoes are very rich in antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids and carotenoids, especially lycopene. Lycopene is a substance which is naturally found in tomatoes. Not only does it give the tomato its bright red coloring, but it also protects the fruit from the effects of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Considering how it protects the tomato, scientists conducted research which proved their theory that it can also protect the human body. Lycopene is concentrated in the prostate gland, and is used as a preventative against prostate cancer. It has also been shown to protect the body against mouth, lung, stomach, pancreas, bladder, colon, and rectal cancers.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, in fact is it 100% more effective than the well-known free radical scavenger, Vitamin E. It is also 56% more powerful than beta-carotene, one of the ingredients which make carrots healthy. Antioxidants are known for their power to neutralize oxygen free radical molecules, which are the highly reactive and toxic by-products of biochemical reactions which occur during cell metabolism.

Exposure to smoking, pollutions, and other damaging influences of the environment can further aggravate this condition. We will have to contend with these free radicals for as long as we live. The impact that they have can be greatly reduced by antioxidants, which help minimize the damage that that is done when the number of free radicals in the body overwhelm its capacity to deal with them.

The bio-availability of this beneficial, fat-soluble carotenoid can be greatly improved when the tomato is cooked into a sauce. The levels of lycopene in both the blood cells and immune cells are raised when tomatoes are cooked. With that in mind, it is reasonable to say that even eating small amounts of the cooked tomato can help to protect the immune system. Oriental nutrition suggests that the tomato can do even more. The fruit is said to moisten the body by building the Yin fluids, which will relieve skin dryness and thirst. Tomatoes also strengthen the stomach, cleanse the liver, purify the blood, and remove toxins in the body according to this ancient nutritional knowledge.


Be Well,




  1. Page, N.D., L., Healthy Healing – a guide to self healing for everyone. Traditional Wisdom, Inc. 2002.
  2. Porrini, M., Effects of Processing on Bioavailability of the functional components in tomatoes.
  3. Kucuk, O., Evidence for reducing the risk of prostate cancer – a clinical trial. 90th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. 1999.
  4. Pitchford, P., Healing with Whole Foods – Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Books, 1993.

Resolutions Revisited

peaceful winter

New Year’s resolutions come and go and for the cynics and skeptics they are a waste of time. According to Aristotle “the unexamined life is not worth living”. If Aristotle is right the time we spend on contemplating, strategizing and taking action to improve ourselves and our lives may be what makes it worth living altogether. Then why do so many of our resolutions go unresolved? Simple answer maybe that we spent so much time thinking about what we want or how we want to be and not enough time thinking about our real why. What is your real motivation? For you and me it may be several layers deeper than what we really think. Let’ take for example the all too common weight loss goal. Do you truly want to lose weight? Maybe, Maybe not.  If so, why? What does the number on the scale represent to you? Failure? Loss? Scorn? Judgment? Or perhaps as far back as you can remember you weren’t good enough to someone for some reason.

A second reason why this resolution may not be realized is that you are likely trying to fit a new goal into an old dysfunctional way of living. Often without letting go of what already occupied that space. Sort of like trying to put the square peg in the round hole. Looking at it another way it is our way of attempting to put more stuff into a bag that is already full or overfilling our bathtub. Use whichever analogy you like. So if you really want this what else needs to change? You won’t change your reality until you change your way of thinking about it.

Whatever your goal is, it’s important for us to connect with your real reason for why you want it. Get down to the real truth. Peel back the layers of the onion. What really strikes that nerve for you to want this change? And what is going to strike that nerve for you to place this at the highest priority in your life? If you can’t reach that nerve perhaps this goal isn’t ready yet. In which case it is either destined to fail or it should be responsibly put to the side until we are ready to get to its roots and deal with it.

Please chime in on this blog. Is your goal already been abandoned this year? Are you willing to look deeper at it? What is your goal? What is your why? Be brave. Let’s engage in this conversation.

By Garrett Stangel, MA, HFS, CPT

Balance Fitness

The Pessimist’s Guide To Gratitude


Your mother was right–say thank you.

Scientists have now proven what your mother always knew–it’s good to be grateful.  Being grateful is more than just politeness; it’s actually good for your health and well-being.

In a study by Robert A. Emmons, of the University of California, and Davis and Michael E. McCullough, of the University of Miami, people who kept gratitude journals showed higher levels of health and well-being than people who journaled neutral events or counted hardships.  After 2 months, the people who journaled their gratitude felt more optimistic and happier than their control counterparts. They reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out.  People with neuromuscular problems who did the same thing fell asleep more quickly, slept longer and woke up feeling more refreshed.  Even their spouses noticed the difference!

How can you cultivate gratefulness even if you’re a glass-half-empty person?

The first step for pessimists is to fake it.  Write down what you’re grateful for, even if you don’t feel it at the moment.  Eventually the habit of finding life’s gifts will change your outlook.

Keep your gratitude list simple.  Write down 5 things you’re grateful for every day.  Use short, simple sentences, but be specific.  “I’m grateful for my son” is less effective than “I’m grateful my son snuggled next to me before bed.”

Carry a traveling gratitude journal.  Buy a mini-notebook or use a note-taking app on your smart phone.  Count the things you’re grateful for as they happen.

And finally, write a gratitude letter.  Send a letter to someone who influenced your life and tell them how much you appreciated their support.  You’ll feel happy and you’ll make them feel happy.

The trick to building gratefulness is to do it often and regularly.  While the end of the year is a good time to celebrate gratefulness as a holiday, take the habit into your everyday life.  Soon you will notice that you feel lighter and happier.

Be Well,


Chinese lunar New Year–A Second Chance to get your New Year’s


year of the snake


 It’s about a month into the New Year. Do you already wish you had a do-over for your New Year’s Resolutions?

If so, you’re in luck. You do.

February 10th is the Chinese lunar New Year. The celebration of the New Year, the Spring Festival, is China’s longest and most important holiday. Because it is based on a different calendar, it falls on a different date between January 21 and February 20 every year.


You can think of Spring Festival as Christmas and New Year all rolled into one. Just like our holiday season, it’s a time of celebration, visiting family and friends, giving gifts and preparing for the next year.


Chinese Lunar New Year: Spring Festival

In China, there are many New Year’s traditions during the 15-day Spring Festival. Many people clean their homes to sweep away the past year and usher in the next. Oftentimes family members travel home for a visit.


Children receive red envelopes, called hóngbo in Mandarin, filled with money from their relatives. 


People hang red lanterns outside their homes to bring happiness and good luck. On Chinese New Year’s Eve families gather for a huge meal and enjoy “lucky” foods together. And, of course, there are fireworks.

The Chinese zodiac has 12 years in its 
cycle, each one represented by an animal; 2013 is the Year of the Snake. Astrologers say that people born in the Year of the Snake are wise but enigmatic. They are very intuitive and size up situations well, but say little. 


Snakes are refined; they like to dress well and are usually financially secure. They are intense and passionate in relationships, but can become jealous and suspicious. Snakes prefer a calm, stress-free environment.


Recommit to Your New Year’s Resolutions

The Chinese do not traditionally make New Year’s Resolutions like we do in the west, however this is a good time to reflect on the goals you set a month ago. Are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions?

If you’re having trouble, maybe it’s time to take a lesson from the Snakes. Take a quiet moment and reflect on what is stopping you. Do you need to get serious? Do you need additional support? Are your goals genuine –do you want to do them or do you think you should do them? Why hav
en’t you kept your New Year’s Resolutions?

If your resolutions include improving your health in 2013, I can help you with that. Give me a call and we can arrange an appointment for anything from a tune-up to weight control to mood balancing.

If you need to make a deeper commitment to your resolutions, take a moment and think about what you need to do to keep them. Write down 3 easy action steps.


…and do them. Now.

Use the Chinese lunar New Year as a do-over. Commit to your New Year’s resolutions.

Gong Xi Fa Cái. Happy New Year. 

Which diet is right for you?


fruit ring

Frequently I am asked what diet do I recommend. With all the million of diets out there no wonder there is so much confusion. Carbs, no carbs, gluten free, diary free, weighing, measuring or counting calories. It’s mind blogging! 
Here are some simple steps to find out what diet works best for you;

1. Can you you sustain this diet as a lifestyle?  Any change in your diet should be for the long haul not just a week or two to fit in a new pair of jeans.

2. Do you want to count points or calories for the rest of your life? Many people want the structure telling them what to do every step of the way and that’s fine but many don’t.
3. Look at the food you will be eating. Can afford it, do you like it enough to eat it forever?  If you are eating gluten free just to loose weight but know you can’t give up bread, you may need to move to another diet.
4. Can you be on the diet while traveling or going out to dinner with friends? Again, this is a lifestyle change and traveling and eating out are part of life.
5. How many fresh fruits and vegetables, good fats, are in this diet? Getting away from the foods that caused you to become overweight and unhealthy in the first place need to avoided completely.  Even though there is a Fast Food Diet out there, we will not even consider that here. Understanding what” healthy food” means is vital in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 400 calories of Doritos is much different than 400 calories of fresh fruits and vegetables and understanding why is half the battle.

6. Is this diet something the whole family can participate in? If you are meal planning and cooking for anyone besides yourself, this will be an issue and probably more expensive. And to be honest do your children need the extra cookie, crackers and junk food in the house?

The key to any weight loss is again looking at it as a long term lifestyle change and not as a short term quick fix. Learning to pick healthy foods, drinking at least 64 oz of water daily, moving more is the foundation for any diet. Good luck and let either Sarah or myself know of we can help you in anyway.

Be Well,


The basics on Gluten


ImageGluten Free is the new trendy catch phrase you see everywhere. Unfortunately manufactures are putting “Gluten Free” on everything including a can of tomatoes of all places! With so much misinformation out there, I will attempt to explain the basics of why gluten is harmful.

What is Gluten?

Gluten (from the Latin gluten, “glue”) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including rye, spelt and barley. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it raise and keeps it shape and often gives the final chewy texture

Gluten is often present is beer and soy sauce and can be used as a stabilizing agent is more unexpected food products such as ice cream and ketchup.

Why is it so harmful?

A review paper in the The England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten. These include:


Osteoporosis                                       Irritable Bowel disease

Inflammatory Bowel disease                Anemia

Cancer                                                 Fatigue

Canker Sores                                      Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lupus                                                  Multiple Sclerosis

Many other autoimmune disease


Gluten can also be linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy and neuropathy (nerve damage).

Gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tracts and more.

Of course, that does not mean that ALL cases of depression or autoimmune disease or any of these other chronic issues are caused by gluten in everyone—however it is important to look for it if you have any chronic illness.                  

Gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tracts and more.

By failing to identify gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, we create needless suffering for millions of Americans. Health problems caused by gluten sensitivity cannot be treated with medication. They can only be resolved by eliminating 100% of the gluten from your diet.

So now you see, that piece of bread may not be so wholesome after all! Consider giving up gluten to find out if gluten may be the hidden cause of your health problem.

Be well,