Category Archives: weight loss

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,



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

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,


Living Gluten Free

During nutrition consultation I conduct, I often hear that people follow a reasonable diet and exercise plan but they still can not manage to loose weight. The usual suspect… gluten.

The damage gluten can do to those with an intolerance (celiacs) or even those with a sensitivity is vast. It’s known to cause hormonal imbalances, damage the gut and lead to wright gain through inflammation. Here are seven ways eating gluten can make you fat:

1. Leaky gut is basically when little openings (Intestinal permeability) occur along the intestinal wall and bacteria is allowed to pass through creating an immune response. Symptoms include fatigue, bloating, and these contribute to weight gain. Intestinal permeability is also increased in skin conditions such as psoriasis and atopic eczema.

2. Inflammation. Consuming gluten can trigger the inflammatory response in any tissue. As you may already know, chronic inflammation is not your friend. Besides contributing to nearly every chronic inflammation is known to contribute to every disease you can imagine. A few examples are, diabetes cancer, IBS and heart disease.This inflammation response can create a number of other problems that stall fat loss. Fatigue, high cortisol levels and poor metabolism just to list a few.

3. Insulin resistance. Yes, we have discussed this before. Many processed gluten-containing foods have a high glycemic load which will elevate blood sugar levels which inhibits your bodies capability of maintain insulin homeostasis, i.e. regulate blood sugar.

4. Leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that alerts the brain when you’re full. This means you’re less likely to reach for That second serving. But when you become leptin resistant, your brain doesn’t “hear” leptin’s message to put the brakes on the buffet, putting you at risk for overeating and weight gain. Those sassy sugar-binding proteins that cause insulin resistance, may also create leptin resistance.

5. Cravings. Ever find yourself uncontrollably eating a box of crackers or reaching for a third slice of buttered toast? Yes you say… well ironically, the foods you’re most reactive to are the ones you crave the most. How can this be? The body reacts to these intolerant foods by creating an addictive narcotic called opioid endorphins. Like a drug, it gives a feeling of euphoria when you eat these foods, and in turn you crave them. Then, you guessed it, you gain more weight!

6. Blocks nutrient absorption. Gluten in known to inhibit nutrient absorption. Gluten-triggered permeability inhibits your gut from absorbing nutrients and making vitamin B-12. In addition, the indigestible components in gluten and other whole grains are considered an anti-nutrient because they bind to nutrients and reduce their bioavailability.

7. Effects thyroid function. You can increase your chances for autoimmune disease when you constantly eat gluten. Why? Many people who have been unsuccessful at losing weight due often has issues due to thyroid disease. People with the most common type of thyroid disease have 12 times the rate of gluten intolerance as the general population does. Consequently, those struggling with their weight should consider a gluten free diet along with assessment of thyroid status.”

So now what? Are you ready to take the next step and see if a gluten free diet is the right choice for you? The only true way to test sensitivity is an elimination diet. Basically, you remove gluten in all forms, from your diet for at least 6 weeks. After this time, you may reintroduce gluten products and see how your body “reacts”. Personally, I’ve noticed a huge change in energy levels and digestive issues. When I eat gluten laced products I feel instantly ill. Headache, sinus congestion and digestion pain.

Here are a few links to get you started on your gluten free challenge.

Meal planning:
Eating Well Gluten Free Meal Plan


Vegan GF meal plan at Feed Me, I’m cranky

Gluten Free Goddess has amazing recipes

Great info on all things gluten free at

As with any diet, stick with whole foods, veggies, fruits and lean proteins. Use caution with grains as they may contain gluten. Aside from the obvious forbidden gluten foods, breads, cakes, cookies etc, I recommend avoiding all processed GF foods, GF mixes and fast food. Many processed GF products contain high glycemic starches which equal empty calories. Think “whole food”

Set your goals and record your progress!

In good health,
~ Sarah


10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight

Weight loss for many of us can be struggle. So when a friend texted me last night about a documentary airing on PBS, 10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight, I was interested. Since I’m constantly reading about nutrition and weight management, I was curious to see the scientific reasoning regarding weight loss quandary.

10 Things You Need to Know:

1. Don’t skip meals.
Skipping meals will increase your brain’s trigger to have the body search out high calorie, sugary foods. Why? Because your brain doesn’t want to starve! While this may be a primitive limbic response, it could be the deal breaker faulting your weight loss or yo-yo-ing. As a rule, I recommend my clients eat lean protein and good fats every 3 hours. *Bonus, this helps the body regulate insulin as well.

Moral: “starving” your body, i.e. your brain, is a diet no-no.

2. Reduce your plate size.
As a society, food and beverage portions just keep increasing. A simple solution is changing your plate from a 12 inch to a 10 inch. This alone will reduce your food consumption by over 20%. This habit will also let you recognize the feeling of being full sooner. If you’re dining out, have the waiter wrap half the food up before you begin eating. Many restaurants have lighter entrees to choose from rather than the enormous portions we are so used too.

Personally, I don't frequent fast food restaurants. Nor do I drink soda. But…..I found myself out with my mother and my 2 kids and we stopped for a quick lunch. I ordered a small unsweetened iced tea and they gave me a 20oz cup!!! I was shocked. I remember when 20oz was a large! Imagine, you could take a days worth of carbs in a soda!!! Crazy…


Moral: smaller plates = smaller waists.

3. Keep a food journal
The documentary suggested counting calories is key. While I agree with this, it's only a fraction of the weight loss equation. Calories, carbs, fats and portions are all vital to meeting your goals. Writing down foods BEFORE you eat them, rather than after, is important. Not only because most people only record 60% of their daily intake it will help you to decided if eating that dessert or bag of chips is really worth it.

Moral: Count EVERYTHING for success!

Ahhh how we love to blame others for our problems! No one forced you at gun point to super size your meal or eat that extra piece of cake. For the majority of people, metabolism is rarely to blame. Not following a plan or staying active is the reason for stalled weight loss.

Moral: STOP the blame game and take control!

5. Soups make you full longer.
This make account for all of those miracle soup diets! The research shows that if you consume the exact portions of food blended with water (think, thick soup purée) vs eating the exact same portions of food with purée soup keeps you full twice as long. Why? Drinking water with a meal means the water drains from the stomachs first which doesn't change digestion. When blended, the water stays, digestion slows and creates the feeling of fullness stomach longer.

Moral: purée soups can curb appetite

6. Lean proteins keep you fuller, longer.
In the film, they act as if the success of weight loss is stopping hunger. While controlling hunger is important, regulating insulin is key. Insulin is a natural hormone made by the body that is necessary for converting carbohydrates into fuel and fat.

The link between insulin and weight gain

When you take insulin, glucose is able to enter your cells, and glucose levels in your blood drop. This is the desired therapeutic goal. However, if the number of calories you take in and your activity level result in more calories than you need to maintain a healthy weight, your cells will get more glucose than they need. Glucose that your cells don’t use accumulates as fat.

Moral: control insulin by reducing carbohydrate intake by eating whole unprocessed foods, mainly plant based, and lean proteins in the form of fish, poultry, grass fed beef or lentils.

7. The more options available, the more you’re inclined to eat. It’s human nature!

Throughout human history, the urge for dietary variety has helped us stay healthy. People who ate different types of food each day were—and still are—more likely to obtain all their essential nutrients. But today, because of the array of unhealthy, processed, and fattening foods available, our attraction to dietary variety is no longer the asset it once was.

Katherine Tallmadge, author of Diet Simple.

Moral: Stay away from the buffet!!!

8. High dairy (calcium) May help you reduce fat absorption.
In a study conducted in Denmark it has been observed that the more calcium you include in your diet the less body fat you will have and the less you will weigh. Why? The more dairy calcium you include in your diet the less fat will be absorbed by the digestive system.
While the evidence seems promising I’m not a dairy fan for a number of reason but that’s another post.

Moral: Got Milk?

9. Exercise increases “after burn” effect.
Great news! Research shows regardless of the amount of calories you burn during a physical activity, your body continues burning calories up to 24 hours after exercise. Don’t skip those work outs!

Moral: a little exercise goes a long way and “after burn” is awesome!

10. Small Changes & Keep Active
Keep active throughout the day.
Taking the stairs, short walks or impromptu office aerobics will continue heart rates throughout the day which BURNS MORE CALORIES! Take each and every opportunity to throw a few more squats and lunges into your daily routine.

Moral: small changes can lead to BIG results !!

Watch the documentary online:

10 thing you need to know about losing weight

What are your weight loss challenges?

In good health,

DDPyoga….not your mama’s yoga

Recently on Facebook, I ran across a You Tube that many of us have seen. The video recounts how Arthur Boorman, who was severely overweight and unable to walk without assistance, turned his health around using only the DDP Yoga system. Wait, haven’t we been told that yoga alone isn’t enough exercise to affect weight loss? Even more curious, I had to find out more about the yoga program that helped Boorman so much.

DDP stands for Diamond Dallas Page, a former pro-wrestler turned fitness guru. Page’s interest in yoga began when he injured his back in the ring and went looking for ways to rehabilitate himself. He tried yoga at his wife’ suggestion and was amazed at how quickly he began to see improved flexibility and strength. He began to combine the yoga he was learning with therapeutic exercises for his back and, as his condition improved, added in slow-motion workout moves like crunches and push-ups. Page told me that he used to wear a heart-rate monitor while doing his cardio on the Stairmaster before moving to the mat for yoga. When he kept the monitor on during yoga, he noticed that when he strongly engaged his muscles, he could make his heart rate go up significantly. This was the origin of the technique that really sets DDP Yoga apart.

Not Your Mama’s Yoga

The thing that makes DDP Yoga different from “your mama’s yoga,” or anyone else’s yoga for that matter, is the use of a technique Page calls Dynamic Resistance. Resistance training refers to exercise, such as weight-lifting, where you use a heavy object, like a barbell, to create resistance for your body to work against. Dynamic Resistance is a kind of self-resistance. You preform the same actions you would when lifting weights, but without the barbells. Page often describes it as moving through clay, slowly and with a lot of control and effort. A simple poses can be transformed into a workout by engaging and using your muscles so much that you can break a sweat just standing there. Adding Dynamic Resistance allows your heart rate to climb higher than it would normally when doing yoga. DDP Yoga requires that you use a heart-rate monitor to track your own heart rate and keep it in the “fat-burning zone” for optimum results. Despite the obvious differences, there are some important aspects of your mama’s yoga that do make it into the DDP system, including a focus deep breathing and the encouragement to modify poses whenever necessary. Page repeatedly exhorts us to customize and “make it your own,” a sentiment that could only make your mama proud.

I have been using DDPyoga for 5 weeks now and the results have been spectacular. I’ve lost 15 pounds, my flexibility has increased 10 fold, and my insomnia is a thing of the past.   I could really go on for a while but I can’t say enough about how great this program is and how many people it’s helping. For people that want to lose some weight, increase flexibility or just improve your overall health it’s a great program. I’m extremely glad I started the program, wish I had known about it sooner.

If you are interested in looking into DDPyoga further please visit


Sugar and Weight Loss

Often I see people trying to reduce their weight by only focusing on fat and calorie restrictions. While those two steps can help (eliminating bad fats and increasing good fats…a whole different post) watching carbohydrates through sugars intake is critical to a healthy metabolism.

When I challenge clients to limit their diets to 60 grams of carbs per day I’m often met optimism. I usually hear things like “I don’t eat that many carbs” or “I eat really good foods” or “I’m a vegetarian”. Most think it will be smooth sailing until they start the first day count. When I contact them for their first coaching session, if they haven’t called, texted or emailed already, the first thing I hear is “DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CARBS ARE IN [insert random food]!!!” Yes. Yes I do.

The sad truth is many processed foods, including healthy products, contain large amounts of refined sugars. These sugars (carbs) are often hidden in many of the foods and drinks we consume every day without us even knowing it.

A few sugar facts

From a weight loss perspective it is very important to know a few facts about sugar and how to recognize it.

The following list details describes facts about sugar:

Labels. Read them!! Sugar comes in a variety of fancy names. It can be listed as brown sugar, palm sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose (dextrose), high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, (table) sugar (sucrose), syrup.

What ever it’s “called” doesn’t really matter. Sugar is sugar. All should limited or avoided.

The Evil Effects of Sugar

Simple sugars are EMPTY calories. On their own, have no nutritional value (no vitamins, minerals, etc). So why eat them?

Sugar Increases our blood sugar and insulin levels which can cause our bodies to begin storing and stop burning fat. This can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic system (ie diabetes)

Eating sugar frequently is the usual
culprit of those highs and lows of hunger. Eliminating sugar is the first step to normalizing cravings.

Sugar is known to suppress the immune system. Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system.

Sugar also known to:
-Disrupts the body’s mineral balance.
-Contributes to hyperactivity, anxiety and depression.
– Damage The kidneys .
– Increases the risk of coronary heart disease (#1 killer of women in the US)
– Contributes to diabetes.(insulin resistance)
– Contributes to osteoporosis.(eliminates minerals that support bond health)
– Causes food allergies.

You’re probably thinking, “But I don’t eat that much sugar”

That may be very true for some people but the vast majority of Americans do. Many people don’t realize is that most of the sugar in our diet comes from the processed foods that we eat, not the sugar that we add to our cooking and meals.

Ok. You want to lose weight by reducing sugar. What should you do?

– Eliminate. Learn to enjoy foods that are naturally sweet, without added sugar.

– Replace. when cooking or baking, reduce the amount of sugar indicated in a recipe. Use only 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup and replace omitted sugar with an equal amount of non-fat dry milk to increase the nutritional value. You may also experiment with products like stevia or fruit substitutes.

– Spice it up! Use spices and herbs to promote flavor often added by sugar. Aromatic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger will enhance the flavor of foods naturally.

– READ the labels!!! Take your time shopping and read labels!!! You will soon realize the amount of hidden sugar in processed foods. Remember to watch for those fancy sugar names!
When reading “Nutrition Facts” labels remember that 7 grams of sugar is equal to around 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Energy bars and drinks are a common source of hidden sugar – look for ones that have less than 12-15 grams of sugar per serving.

– Be Aware! “Diet foods” like reduced fat and fat-free products use sugars to often mask the loss of flavor when fat is removed.

– Coffee Breaks can be deadly! Read nutritional values on your favorite coffee chain drinks of choice. You’ll probably be shocked to see some drinks can meet your daily carb intake! Choose different options, light syrup or add the sugar yourself to control the carbs. I usually carry stevia packs with me to avoid this.

– ADD! Mix fresh fruit into plain yogurt. Many fruity yogurts are loaded with added sugar. Just remember fructose turns instantly to fat!

– Live and Learn. Switch from those high sugar fruits to those lower in sugar like grapefruit, strawberries and other berries. Choose fruit when it’s in season and it shouldn’t need any added sweetness.

– Avoid Artificial substitutes! They are bad. You probably already know that!

Be aware. Count your carbs. Change your life!

~ Sarah