In Honor of Jack LaLanne

I was first introduced to health and exercise when I joined a Jack LaLanne Health Spa at 16 years old.  In looking back I really don’t know what made me do that but it did start me on the path to health I have been on every since. 

Over the years I would reflect on Jack and his teachings.  As I have gotten older I have tried to motivate other people in considering to choose health as an alternative way of living.  I had dreams of teaching health in corporations in hopes that people would see that eating well really isn’t that difficult and yet the rewards are great.  I even emailed Jack LaLanne last year to see how he inspires others.  I was told to just keep on the path.

I was struck, in going to his website at that time, by how he essentially was preaching the same basic nutrition advice 50 years ago that is still true today – eat real food and exercise regularly.  Times really haven’t changed in what is healthy for us and yes it does take discipline but is so worth it!

So in honor of Jack and a life filled with the desire to motivate others to live a healthy full life, I salute him.  Here are just two videos showing just how amazing he really was…

Spinach & Emmenthal (or Swiss) Frittata

With the coming of a new year, often we set new goals.  One that I would like to inspire you to set is eating a healthy breakfast.  Research shows that when we start our day with protein, rather than carbohydrates, it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aids in stopping the cravings. 

Typically a breakfast of cereal or toast means that you are getting fairly simple carbohydrates which break down quickly into sugar.  This sugar will affect insulin production and consequently you will start on the highs and lows of blood sugar.  In turn, this will cause you to want something sweet within a few hours of eating; hence the morning ‘donut’ break.  This of course starts you on a cycle that can last the entire day!

To avoid this, eat protein in the morning.  Protein not only will stabilize those blood sugar levels but will actually aid in increasing your metabolism.  A higher metabolism means you burn more calories!  How can you go wrong?

The recipe I am giving you is a fantastic way to get that protein and fill you up; satiating yourself for hours. Not only that but it is so FAST and EASY that you have no excuse!  Once you try this, play around with a variety of combinations of vegetables (I’ll give you a few at the end of the recipe that I like).


1 TBSP               Butter

2 Cups               Fresh Spinach, washed and chopped or sliced

¼ -1/2 Cup      Emmenthal or Swiss Cheese, grated

2                          Eggs

1-2 TBSP           Milk, ½ & ½ or water

Celtic Salt and Pepper to taste


Turn on broiler.  In a small sauté pan that can be put in the oven, melt butter over medium high heat.  Meanwhile scramble eggs with milk, celtic salt and pepper.  Mix the cheese into the eggs.  Set aside.  Place spinach in the pan with the melted butter, stir and cover until the spinach wilts.  This will only take a minute or so.  Once the spinach is wilted, add the egg mixture and immediately place under the broiler.  Broil until the eggs are just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes depending on your broiler.  Remove and eat!

Serves 1

As I mentioned earlier, there are many variations on this.  Here are a couple of my other favorites.  Instead of the spinach, try these:

Sauté minced shallot and shiitake mushrooms.  This will take a few extra minutes to cook but worth the time!

Sauté minced garlic and swiss chard.  You can add some fresh rosemary if you have it.  This is as fast as the spinach!

Use whatever cheese you have in the house for a variety.  I especially like fresh grated parmesan.

Going Green for Your Carbohydrates

Suffer from joint pain?

Do you have chronic inflammation?

Want to lose a few pounds?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions then you might want to read on…

If you have read any of the articles in my blog, chances are you know about how I feel about carbohydrates – especially simple ones.  By ‘simple’ I mean those items that have been processed to create a product such as scones, pasta, breads, cookies, cakes, and more.  Let’s face it, these aforementioned foods are yummy and addictive!  I know as I go through periods of time when I crave them just like the rest of America.

Usually I am pretty good at avoiding them on any regular basis but occasionally I slip.  This last weekend was a perfect example.  I was visiting my mother in California for a long weekend.  She has been recovering from Ovarian Cancer and is doing amazingly well for an 89 year old woman – has regained 23 pounds, is back to all her social events, going to the gym and even walking her ‘old 2 mile route’ that she did for years.  Yes, she is a trooper!

While in California, at the 1 mile marker of her ‘route’ lays a small town called Sierra Madre.  On the main drag is a coffee shop called Bean Town.  Well, they have the best cranberry scones ever.  Of course a visit to see mom always involves a day of going to Bean Town but this time it got out of hand.  We ended up going there all three mornings in a row!  Now I did vary one day and have their cinnamon coffee cake instead but… well you get the picture.

By starting each day out this way, lead to wanting more carbohydrates throughout the day.  Consequently I ended up eating bread as well as crackers rather than just the usual huge salads.  I even had a cookie one day!  This is a lot of these types of food in a very short period of time for my body.  Normally having one of those things every week or two wouldn’t really make a difference but the quantity and frequency played havoc on me and it got me to thinking how this has such a huge impact on peoples’ health.

By the time I got home late Monday evening, my joints started screaming.  By Tuesday morning, when I did my usual hike up Mt Sanitas, my knees were so cranky it took the pleasure out of the hike.  At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on but then it hit me… all those simple carbohydrates!!!  I had already started back to my usual eating habits of vegetables and protein so was on the right track yet it actually took until this morning (Friday) to start feeling normal again.  So let’s look at what happens…

First, simple processed carbohydrates are acid producing.  By this I mean that when they are broken down in the body, they create ash that is of an acid nature.  Not only is all disease found in an acid environment but so is inflammation.  Our bodies are always healthier in an alkaline environment and yet our tendency is to eat foods that are acid producing including all the refined foods I’ve already mentioned.  Now the foods themselves do not cause the inflammation but rather it is our body’s response to them when they are broken down.  Foods that have a high glycemic index and consequently convert into sugar quickly alter our body’s normal hormone balance.  This imbalance can result in an overproduction of such things as C-reactive protein (CRP); a protein designed to be produced during acute stages of trauma, infection and inflammation.  Although we need CRP produced in acute phases we certainly do not need it to be continually produced.  Just this one protein has a huge impact on the health of our cardiovascular system.  And this is just to name one of the many negative results of eating refined foods.

The picture gets even more involved as those same yummy foods lead to an increase in weight.  When we eat foods that break down quickly into sugar our body MUST burn it off rapidly or it is converted into fat, especially belly fat.  This belly fat in turn causes an increase in the production of CRP by the liver and the inflammatory response is again increased.  As you can see it is a vicious cycle.

Unfortunately as our society gets more and more addicted to these foods our bodies become sicker.  We begin to become accustom to our joints hurting.  We think it is normal to carry around an extra 5 or 10 or 50 pounds of body fat.  We tend to accept all of this as a normal process of aging. 

Well for me, I don’t buy it!  When I am eating a healthy, high alkaline diet and staying away from process foods most of the time, I feel SO different.  I feel energetic and happier.  My joints don’t ache.  I don’t have an issue with excess weight because I am utilizing the foods I eat so they aren’t storing as fat in my body.  Overall I am more vitalized. 

You shouldn’t buy it either!  I hope you will consider altering your diet to see how all this affects you.  It won’t happen overnight if you’ve been eating poorly – even just part of the time – but it will change.  I encourage you to give it a good 3 or 4 months and keep a journal of how it has created positive changes in your life.

As for carbohydrates, think of using vegetables as your main source.  Vegetables, especially leafy green ones, not only contain a healthy amount of carbohydrates but they contain so many nutrients and antioxidants.  They are our vitality foods.  Our cells will be healthier, our hormones will stay more balanced and generally our bodies will stay younger.  Of course there is also the benefit of keeping your weight down by eating vegetables.  Just read Jim’s story here:

“I’m a 55 year old male. Since I was 25 I have worked out a minimum of five times a week for at least one hour per session.  When I was younger, that meant running 40-50 miles per week.  Now my workouts involve running three times a week and lifting weights 3-5 times.  My total mileage is 13-18 miles per week.  This has been my regime for the past ten years.  I never worried about what I ate as my workouts kept me at my high school weight of 168 pounds.  It’s true that the past decade has seen a pound or two increase in my weight each year.  New Years Day 2010 was my epiphany, as the scale read 180+.  I cut out all the non-vegetable carbs the first two weeks of this year and have limited my carb intake to less than 20 grams a day (all right so I cheated on Easter Sunday, I indulged with pastries at brunch and of course a Cadbury egg).  Today I weight 168.  I sleep better, my digestive system works much better and seeing the scale at 168 is a huge mental boost.”

So think about your diet and see if you too can’t offer your body the many benefits of eating foods that are more nourishing to your entire system.  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Eat a minimum of 70% of your diet from the alkaline side of the food chart.  For a copy of the chart, download this pdf.
  • Eat at least 80% of the time healthy; saving the ‘not so good’ foods for special occasions rather than daily. 
  • Make a journal or chart of not only what you eat now but how you feel so you can track the changes.  This is a great motivator when you are falling back into those bad habits.
  • Even if you think you eat well, you might be surprised just how often you ‘cheat’ and eat some of those processed foods more regularly than you ever thought.
  • Last, be gentle with yourself.  It is not an easy thing to change addictive behaviors and even easier to allow them back in.  When you fall off the health wagon, note it but don’t beat yourself up about it.  Simply get back on the right track and move forward.

I hope this has motivated you to make choices and changes.  You deserve it!

Agave Nectar Update

Agave Nectar

By Dan Butterfield

I received some interesting feedback from my article Agave-Health Food Fraud.  Some people were defensive or angry, others concerned or happy to be informed.  I stated that agave syrup was a chemically processed starch similar to the way high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made.  A number of people reported that Madhava’s agave syrup was not chemically processed.  Perhaps not.  The real issue is fructose, and what happens when it enters the body.  There continues to be more studies coming out implicating HFCS in heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and obesity. 

A recent human study compared two groups of people, one consuming glucose, the other fructose.  While both groups gained 3 pounds of weight, the fructose group also had elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and their extra weight was more abdominal fat than the glucose group.

When glucose is absorbed, it goes into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar and insulin to bring glucose to the cells for energy.  Excess glucose is converted to fat.  When fructose is absorbed, it goes directly to the liver and does not raise blood sugar levels.  It is touted as a low glycemic sweetener for this reason.

In the liver, fructose is converted to triglycerides for storage as fat through a process called glycosolation.  This causes glycation, or sugar damage to the liver and other tissues.  Glycation and oxidation are the two main ways that our bodies age.

Fructose is processed in the liver similar to the way alcohol is processed, creating some of the same side effects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the beer belly and can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fructose also raises uric acid levels, a cause of gout and chronic inflammation.  It also leads to weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL, increased LDL, and elevated triglycerides.  It is similar to drinking alcohol without the buzz.  This creates insulin resistance first in the liver, then throughout the body.  Insulin resistance causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimers and cancer.

While there are more and more studies on the negative effects of HFCS, there are no studies that I know of on agave syrup.  However, we do know the potential damage that fructose can cause.  HFCS is 45-55% fructose.  Agave syrup is 56-97% fructose, having almost twice the fructose as HFCS.

Nature may have made fructose fattening, rather than energy producing for good reason.  In temperate climates, almost all the fructose in the form of fruits ripen toward the end of the summer and fall, so that mammals that hibernate and humans and mammals that don’t, can increase their fat reserves to survive the winter.

Bottom Line: 

          –  Agave syrup, or nectar, is not a health food.

          –  It is not a safe sweetener.

          –  In small amounts occasionally, not daily, will likely do little harm.

          –  Companies that market agave pointedly note that

             overconsumption of any sugar is unhealthy.  So while they lay the

             blame on consumers for overconsumption of fructose, they

             continue to push agave syrup as safe.  Meanwhile,

             large amounts of agave are included in soft drinks, ice creams

             and other food products, and consumers are continually

             marketed that agave syrup is low glycemic, “gentle” or safe.

Using Food to Normalize Weight

By Dan Butterfield

This is not about a diet to lose weight, then go back to your regular diet.  This is about a relationship to food that we can be faithful to for life, that will keep us healthy and help maintain a normal weight.

What helps most to lose weight?  Diet or exercise?  Diet is the most important piece of the weight loss picture.  Exercise, while important for health, is less important for weight loss.  In other words, you can be inactive and lose weight.  But if you don’t have food working for you, it takes a lot of exercise to lose weight, and depending on how you exercise, it may actually cause you to lose more lean body mass than fat.  When we lose weight, we want that weight loss to be fat, not lean body mass.

Why are we fatter?  Not just Americans, but worldwide obesity is rampant.  There are a number of reasons; we eat too much; don’t exercise enough, our foods are denatured from industrial farming and food processing, our metabolisms are stressed and we’re too toxic to lose weight.

For now, I’m going to focus on one thing, the hormone insulin.  Our DNA, our anatomy, our physiology and our nutritional needs are virtually unchanged in the past 40,000 years.  If you compressed all of human history into one year, we’ve only been farming and eating grains for the past day.  We’ve only been eating vegetables oils for the past ten minutes.  We’ve not yet adapted to these foods.

Humans evolved in a carbohydrate poor environment.  The hormone insulin is designed to maximize the effects of the few carbohydrates that were available to enable us to survive.  Insulin helps us store excess energy as fat.  Now that we live in a carbohydrate rich environment, eating far more carbohydrates than were ever available to humans before, insulin still maximizes the effects of abundant carbs into abundant stored energy in the form of body fat.

There is only one teaspoon of sugar in our entire blood supply.  Our bodies maintain tight control over blood sugar, as a little too much or too little blood sugar and we will pass out and die.  So the pancreas secretes two hormones, insulin and glucagon, which have opposite effects, ideally balancing our blood sugar.

So when we have a breakfast of cornflakes with some sugar, two pieces of toast with jam, a big glass of orange juice and 3 cups of coffee or tea with a spoonful of sugar in each one, if those 20 teaspoons of sugar went right into our blood stream we’d drop into a diabetic coma then die.  But the pancreas secretes insulin to first carry glucose into any cells that need energy then converts any of the excess to storage as fat.

Most cells in our body have thousands of insulin receptors, in which a molecule of insulin is required to bring a molecule of glucose into the cell.  When there is a chronically high intake of carbohydrates, specifically sugars and starches, which turn into sugar very rapidly, insulin levels stay elevated, eventually causing insulin receptors to shut down, making it more difficult for the body to dispose of extra glucose.  This is called insulin resistance causing more bodyfat, and sooner or later high blood sugar, leading to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory disorders.

This is known as metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance is one of the main reasons that as we age, it becomes more difficult to lose weight.  Our cell walls are damaged.  Out metabolisms are damaged.

So what do we do to repair our cell walls and our metabolism?  As Michael Pollan says “Eat real food.”  But more specifically, eat foods that don’t stimulate the secretion of insulin.

A low fat diet really means a high carbohydrate diet, an insulin stimulating diet, putting our metabolism into fat storage mode.  The low fat fad of the past 20-25 years has stimulated the tide of obesity and diabetes.

Dietary fat does not cause an insulin response.  Protein causes insulin release, but a corresponding release of glucagon, insulin’s partner, which tells the body to burn fat.  Sugars and starches however do cause insulin release, and no glucagon release.  Dietary fat does not make you fat.  Carbs do.  To heal our cell membranes, our metabolisms, our organs, our bodies and minds, we need to give them the foods that our bodies evolved on.  That means moving in the direction of our ancestral diets, sometimes called the Paleolithic diet or Paleo diet for short, for the time in human evolution when carbs were scarce, or infrequent, keeping in mind that our nutritional needs are unchanged in 40,000 years.

So what does a paleo breakfast look like? 

First of all, if you don’t eat breakfast, or mostly carbs, you end up eating yourself for breakfast, especially your muscles and bones – also called lean body mass.  We all wish that we’d burn bodyfat if we skip a meal, but what we burn is lean body mass.  And to make it worse, the next meal we have after a skipped meal, the body doubles the insulin release, increasing energy storage, because skipping meals, especially breakfast, tells the body that food is scarce, better store more fat.

A paleo breakfast is protein and fat abundant, carbohydrate poor.  Eggs, sausage, bacon, free range of course, or grass fed beef, bison or lamb.  Fresh fish for breakfast.  This is the most important meal to have protein.  Fat and protein will elevate our metabolism and keep insulin low and hunger at bay.  If you are hungry between meals, that means your insulin is elevated.  Fat and protein for breakfast gives us more long lasting energy and stable blood sugar the rest of the day.  When we have a carbohydrate breakfast, or no breakfast, our blood sugar is on a roller coaster all day, and we are trying to medicate it with coffee or sugar and other carbs.

We do want some carbohydrates at breakfast and every other meal as well.  We want low glycemic carbohydrates.  These are the above-ground vegetables.  Especially dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, chard, spinach and collards. 

What did I have for breakfast?  Two eggs, local pork sausage and kale, stir fried in coconut oil.   When we sit down to a paleomeal, our plate should be 3/4 produce, and 3/4 of that should be above ground vegetables, the rest root crops and fruits, but fruit must be restricted because of the sugar content, and most of our fruits should be berries.

The other 1/4 of our plate is protein, preferably animal protein such as grass fed meats, wild caught fish, and high omega 3 eggs.

How do we apportion our calories between fat, protein and carbs?  Just as this varied in the thousands of different paleo diets that human evolved on, depending where on the planet they lived, it will vary with each of us as well, depending on where we live and our individual needs.  But, if you need some numbers, 40-60% of our calories should come from fat, 20-35% from protein, and 10-20% from carbohydrates, as vegetables and fruit. 

This way of eating, reduces insulin secretion, and fat storage.  It encourages the body to use fat as fuel.

All of our foods should be nutrient dense.  That means more nutrients per calorie.  Above ground vegetables and animal and seafoods and fats are the most nutrient dense.  Brown rice? whole wheat? quinoa? Lots of calories as starches, few as protein or fat or other nutrients.

Here are some basic guidelines to use food to lose weight and maintain a normal weight:

Eat breakfast.  Eat protein for breakfast.  Eat three meals daily.  Have protein and fat at every meal.  Eat a high produce diet, mostly above ground vegetables.  Eat a low glycemic diet, avoiding sugars, starches and grains.  Don’t snack between meals.  If you are hungry between meals, you might not have had enough protein or fat, or you had carbs the previous meal, or as I said earlier, you are hungry because you are insulin resistant.  So if you become hungry between meals, first drink one or two glasses of water.  If you must eat between meals, make it protein and fat, such as a hard boiled egg, jerky, or nuts.  Avoid fruit juices and dried fruit as they are high in sugar.  And lastly, don’t eat before bed.

Let me make a few comments about fruit.  Fruit is high in sugar, especially fruit juice and dried fruits.  Fructose is readily converted to fat.  If you are trying to reach a normal weight, avoid fruit.  Keep it to one serving daily, and make that one fruit serving berries, especially blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  These still have some sugar, but are more nutrient dense than other fruits.  So keep this formula in mind – fruits equal sugar which equals stored body fat.

Here’s another formula to keep in mind – starches equal sugar which equals stored bodyfat.  So, chips, crackers, pasta, breads, cookies and grains of all forms, including whole grains, all turn into sugar, much of which becomes stored bodyfat.  Every farmer knows that if you want to fatten an animal, give it grains.

Fat and protein produce the most satiety, the absence of hunger, we feel like we’ve had enough to eat.  Carbs do not produce satiety.  That’s why it’s so easy to eat that whole bag of chips or cookies.  They never truly satisfy.

For most people, it is easier to make dietary changes gradually.  Begin by removing processed and packaged foods.  Day by day, reduce sugars, starches, dried fruits, fruit juices and grains replace these things with leafy greens.  Slowly increase protein and healthy fats.  Above all, enjoy shopping, cooking and eating.

Dan Butterfield is a regular contributor to the Health and Nutrition Experts blog.  To learn more about Dan VISIT HIS WEBSITE.  

This lecture was also recorded with additional questions regarding Glycemic Index / Glycemic Load and questions for the vegetarian.  I am hoping the podcast will be up here soon!  Come back and check. 

For more information on the Glycemic Index, check out THIS SITE.

Vitamin D – Myth or Miracle?

Vitamin D has been getting a lot of publicity for several months now because of the significant amount of health benefits being associated with adequate levels.  What do you know about Vitamin D?  Are you getting adequate amounts? 

Listen to this podcast by Dan Butterfield.  He will cover what Vitamin D really is, the latest research on health findings, how to determine sufficient levels and much more!

In his podcast he mentions the following for your records:

The Vitamin D Council

Life Extension Foundation for testing.  Either call 800) 208-3444 or visit their website!

Read more about Dan Butterfield on Our Associates page or visit him at Butterfield Wellness.

The Gift of Fitness

Cathy is a friend of mine that I have had the pleasure of learning from.  She has overcome something major in her life and I wanted to share her story with you as I find it very inspiring.  When you are struggling with health on any level read this article as it may help you take charge of your life!

The first thing members encounter when entering Iron Works Fitness during the day is a smile and a warm welcome from Cathy Grayell, the owner.  This is usually followed by a short conversation regarding the current goings on and any news worth sharing.  Cathy is always upbeat, and even looks the part of a health club owner.  She is fit, energetic, and is often found lifting weights or using other equipment.

There is more to Iron Works Fitness and Cathy Grayell than meets the eye. Fourteen years ago, Cathy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a progressive disease that slowly eats away at the nervous system.  Cathy’s doctor predicted she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 40.  She was also a mom with three young children to raise.  That was in 1992. Today, Cathy looks like a well-trained tri athlete.

Indirectly, Cathy credits her multiple sclerosis to opening her business. “Unless you are forced into new situations you might not do as much in life.  I probably wouldn’t have opened Iron Works unless I had already been pushed in different ways working with multiple sclerosis.”

“The concept behind Iron Works” says Cathy with an infectious smile, is “What kind of workout facility would you create in your own home if you had unlimited time, money, and space?” Another idea that helped form the approach of the facility was to allow 24 hour card key access.  “I’ve belonged to different clubs over the years” says Cathy, “And they always seemed to open too late, or close too early for my schedule.  If I did get in during regular hours, it always seemed that I had to rush to be done.”  The card key approach removes all those issues. “The members all really look after the place too,” she continues.  “They have taken ownership of the facility, which is great.  The members come in all ages shapes and sizes” she says proudly, “from elite cyclists to people in their late 60’s”.

Cathy loves talking about her relationship with members.  It is important to her that she knows the members, and she really enjoys connecting with them.  “I am kind of like a bartender sometimes” she says laughing.  “We talk about everything.”

It’s a whole different world for Cathy than in 1992.  At the time of her diagnosis, she was working a high stress job.  On her Doctor’s advice, she quit. At first, she listened to her doctors, rested most of the time, and took steroids.  Her physical condition worsened.  She had so little energy she could barely get up and take a shower without returning to bed. She admits it was very tough initially.  When she first heard the diagnosis, she “steam-rolled through things” to deal with it.

About this time something in Cathy changed.  She realized she had to take control of her own health, and it was a turning point in her life.  She told herself  “This is small-potatoes compared to raising three kids.”

“You have two options when you look at your place in the world” Cathy continues.  “You can look at it as either something was given to you, or something was taken away.  I have chosen to say something was given to me.” 

She started exercising.  She started walking 5 minutes.  After some time, she increased to 10 minutes of walking.  She got to the point where she could walk easily for an hour.  She also started listening to her body during this period, and she says this was the start of her journey to wellness.   Believing that a healthy body and mind are synergistic, she enrolled at CU and finished her undergrad degree in English begun many years ago at Penn State.  Obtaining her degree in 2000 after six years of being a part-time student and full-time parent gave her an even greater sense of accomplishment, physically and psychologically. 

Cathy has lived in Colorado since 1978 and in Boulder since 1990.  “Living in Boulder”, she says with an amused look on her face,” I had access to lots of alternative methods of treatment, and I tried everything.”  She is a firm believer in eating unprocessed food (this is her “medicine”) and being very tuned into her body.  She will still have flare-ups if she is too stressed or too tired.  She is a big believer in exercise, and credits this with her wellness.  She lifts weights three days a week and her current regimen includes a goal of participating in at least one century bike ride this summer and continuing to build her strength both on off the bike. 

Cathy has a positive outlook on all aspects of her life. Her journey to wellness brought her an understanding of the importance of incorporating and maintaining fitness as paramount to coping with whatever life offers. Through the lessons she learned, and the many difficult tasks she faced, she also learned she had a great capacity to accomplish difficult goals.   

She believes life has given her an opportunity to be available to people facing physical challenges, and she is eager to share this gift of fitness with others.  That is why Cathy can be found most days at Iron Works Fitness where she helps hundreds of members along their own path to wellness.

Iron Works Fitness is located at the corner of Yellow Pine and North Broadway, in the Holiday Project.  You can learn about their facility at, or by calling Cathy at 303-539-9334.

5 Ideas for New Year’s Resolutions

We are always thinking of ways in which we can lose weight, eat better, exercise more, and so on. 

How often do we think outside of that box?  Here are some ideas for making our lives and the planet healthier!


1.     Change the Way You Eat

Idea #1 – Make it a point to sit down with friends and family for at least three meals per week.

With the change in schedules and the availability of fast food, our society has moved far away from the relaxing social meals of the past.  When eating with friends and family, we eat slower because we are talking and enjoying the conversation.  Not only will we feel better physically but we will be filled much more emotionally. 

Unfortunately it is not only our country that is compromising the way we eat.  In John Robbins book, Healthy at 100 he notes the following:

 “In almost every culture in the world, eating dinner together has been a place for families to strengthen bonds.  The French in particular have long cherished mealtime as a family ritual, so much so that children have traditionally not been allowed to open the refrigerator between meals.  But the days of sitting for hours around the table savoring small portions of several courses and relishing each other’s company seem to have passed.  Instead, it has become commonplace for the French to eat in front of their television sets, while talking on the telephone, and even alone.   As McDonald’s has become more popular in France than anywhere else in Europe, the average French meal, which twenty-five years ago lasted 88 minutes, has been reduced to only 38 minutes today.”

Idea #2 – Stop eating in the car, in front of the television, or standing at the counter.

Our digestive system is not meant to adapt under any of these circumstances!  When we sit down, relax, focus on our food, and breathe, our bodies are prepared to produce the appropriate amount of digestive enzymes and we get the most benefit (nutrients) out of our food.  Part of the reason we overeat is due to these unconscious methods of eating.  We hardly chew our food and inhale it at such a rate that our brains have yet received signals that we are actually full.  Consequently we overeat and feel bloated and gain weight.  The crazy part about the whole process is we have no idea just how much this type of eating has compromised our health.

If this is you, maybe one of your resolutions is to make the time to sit down, relax, and take a few deep breaths before taking your first bite.  Appreciate the amazing fact that food is our lifeline to health.  Enjoy it fully.

Although this has sounded crazy to most people that know me, even if I am alone at home for dinner, I actually prepare a delicious nutritious meal, pour a nice glass of wine, set the table, light a candle or two and really enjoy the time of eating a wonderful meal in a relaxed setting.  I   am sure this sounds off the charts for many of you but I encourage you to try it once or twice.  It is a great experience!

Idea #3 – Learn about Slow Food

 Slow Food is a movement that counters fast food.  It is about creating a way of eating and living that associates the pleasure of food with community and the environment.  There are many Slow Food movements throughout the world.  Here a some sites to learn more:

Slow Food USA

Slow Food CU

2.     Change your Shopping Habits

Idea #1 – Stay out of the middle of the grocery store!

The most natural and healthy foods are found around the periphery of the store.  You will find the most nutritious and least processed foods in this area.  Not only is the food more processed as you wander down the aisles but can be more expensive.  Plus the amount of packaging adds to the increase in waste products in our landfills. 

Idea #2 – Take a list and Do NOT go when you are hungry!

I realize that neither of these ideas are new yet can save you a lot of money and keep you on a healthier track of food.  Think about what you would like to make and jot down the ingredients you need.  Make it an intention to get only those ingredients.  Of course if you see some great sale on fruit or vegetables you might want to get extra while you are there.  The main thing you want to avoid is picking up that junk snack food that you know isn’t good for you and yet is so tempting when you are hungry and just mindlessly wandering the aisles of the store.

Idea #3 – Change one/two buying habits into healthier choices.

 Although eating organic and antibiotic free meats can be expensive, in the long run it is cheaper than eating a bunch of junk and ending up sick!  Besides, by watching for specials in the produce, meat and fish section of the stores, you can find deals that are worth the purchase.  For example, not too long ago the Whole Foods in Boulder had grass fed ground beef on sale at an amazingly cheap price.  Now I don’t often eat ground beef but at that price it was worth purchasing it and keeping it in my freezer for that unexpected time I might want to make something with it. 

The same goes for produce.  Although you can’t necessarily store it, there are certain foods that I (now) only buy organic.  The reason being is that certain plants are sprayed much more with pesticides and the produce absorbs more of it.  Two examples are strawberries and spinach.  I only buy these if they’re organic! 

So start with one or two things that (you feel) are easy to change in your diet.  Maybe it is organic produce or antibiotic free chicken, whatever it is, it will have a positive impact on your overall health over time.

3.     Become a Part-Time or Full-Time Locavore!

What is that you ask?  The term Locavore started in the San Francisco area not too many years ago.  The premise was to encourage people to only purchase food that has been grown within a 100 mile radius of where you live. 

Eating local foods is a great step towards saving our planet and increasing our health.  When you purchase food that is grown within 100 miles of home, you are helping the environment.  It requires much less fossil fuel to get it to the store!  In addition, the food is much fresher as it is picked when ripe, thus allowing time for all the nutrients to get into the food.  You are also eating foods that are in season; something we are designed to do.

Although this might not always be easy, start with your local Farmer’s Market.  You will meet some great people – the farmers and ranchers.  You will find you have a much greater connection to the person growing your food, the food will taste amazingly so much better, and you will feel a greater part of the whole food chain.  If you are in a cold climate where this is only available in the summer, start there and get to talking to the farmers.  Chances are that many of them will be able to provide you with food in the winter months as well. 

I have found a local organic farmer, Jay Hill Farm that grows greens and various other produce all winter long.  I just have to email her and it will be picked the following morning and ready for pick up after 11am.  I have made salads with her mixed greens and arugula for many friends and family.  I always get the same reaction, ‘wow this is the best salad I’ve ever had!’  In so much as I would like to think it is my amazing ability to make a salad, I know better.  The main difference is the fresh and vibrant taste of the greens!

Want to learn more about the ‘locavore’ movement?    “The “locavore” movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to grow or pick their own food, arguing that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locavores also shun supermarket offerings as an environmentally friendly measure, since shipping food over long distances often requires more fuel for transportation.”

Read this for a full description from Oxford.                                                                                                                                 

For ideas of the closest Farmer’s Market and where you can find local ranchers, here are some websites:

Local Harvest is a great source for finding food grown close to you.

This USDA site might offer you some farmer’s market information. is your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.  You can go here to find ranchers in your area.

If you can’t find one, the U.S. Wellness Meats in an alternative place to get grass fed meat and more.

4.     Change your Water Drinking Habits

 Idea #1 – Purchase water in larger quantities and fill your own bottles.

To begin, water is life.  Without it we will die and yet we don’t drink enough.  Many people are walking around dehydrated and don’t even know it.  For more details on signs of dehydration and more on the benefits of drinking water, read this article.

Meanwhile there are many more people drinking water-like products than ever before.  First, many of those are processed and have various types of sugar and more.  Rather than purchase these expensive products drink good water!  Second, realize the environmental consequence of using all those bottles!  Here is a very dramatic slide show revealing the tragedy of the plastic bottle on our environment.

Watch this slide show –  water-disaster !

Last, if you do not have good water available in your area, purchase a water filter.  There are many types on the market and are worth the cost.

Idea #2 – Purchase a healthy reusable bottle for your water.

BPA is a chemical that is found in hard plastic.  It is very toxic and has been proven to cause major health problems.  Although more companies are aware of this and changing their bottles, not all are there yet.  If using a plastic bottle, look for one that says, “BPA Free.” 

One of the companies that have taken on this change is Nalgene.  I really like their bottles as they have a variety of designs to meet everyone’s needs.  If you cannot find them locally, here is their website

The second option is to use one of the Swiss made bottles.  They are stainless steel on the inside so no worries about the plastic.  Again you might be able to find these locally but if not, here is their website.   

5.     Find Ways to Help Sustainability and Decrease your Carbon Footprint 

In addition to the aforementioned, here are some relatively easy things you can do that have a positive effect on our environment. 

Idea #1 – Decrease the amount of animal products you eat.

One of the ways we can have the greatest impact on our planet is to change our diet towards a vegetarian one.  Now I am not proposing that we all give up animal products.  I personally cannot imagine doing this and yet I am very impressed by those that have.

What I do realize is that even with eating grass fed and antibiotic free beef, cage free and natural chicken, and non-farmed fish, we are still using a great deal of the resources available on our planet.  According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, “Livestock production is responsible for more climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world. In total, it is responsible for 18 percent of human induced greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.”

So what do we do about this?  Well, my goal is to start by having one day a week that I eat no animal products.  I will then work towards two days.  If each of us gave up one or two days a week, we would have a huge impact on our planet.  With this being said, I intend to put more vegetarian recipes on my website!

The Toronto Vegetarian Association has some good information for you.

Idea #2 – Change your lIghtbulbs!

As your light bulbs burn out, replace them with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs.  They are 75% more efficient and last 10 times as long. 

Idea #3 – Start unplugging what you are not using!

Unplug lights, stereos, printers, heaters, and anything else when not in use.  Even if the units are turned off, many of them continue to use energy.  The only way you can be assured they are not is to unplug them from the wall.  It only takes an extra second but can have a huge impact on our energy output.

Idea #4 – Recycle!!!

Make it a goal to have a minimal amount of non-recyclable trash.  Last year I made my goal to not have more than one (kitchen) bag of trash for two weeks.  So far I am there all but those times that I have a big party.  Once you get in the habit it is really easy.  If you have a local recycling program, learn about all that you can recycle.  If you are lucky enough to live in a place like Boulder, then you also have compostable recycling.  If not, get a bin and start composting.  Here is some information on how

Idea #5 – Buy products with the least amount of packaging. 

As mentioned earlier, if you stay along the periphery of the store, you will find the packaging to be at a minimum.  Even at this however you need to think!  I do see these plastic containers for spinach and mixed greens.  Don’t buy them!  Instead buy in the bulk. 

To support this concept even more, I just purchased some reusable vegetable bags.  I haven’t tried them yet but am excited to decrease the amount of plastic bags I accumulate.  Check out their website

Idea #6 – Use less paper products.

Two ways that are extremely easy is in the kitchen.  Rather than purchasing paper napkins, get some really nice cloth ones.  It is a much nicer feel on your mouth and hands and they last forever!  I still have the original ones I bought about 25 years ago!  (I use them for outside picnics and camping.)

The other easy change is in using dish towels rather than paper towels.  Dish towels or sponges are great and can be reused for a long time.  Of course we do still need some paper towels but not so many. 

Idea #7 – When purchasing paper products, buy recyclable ones!

You can avoid the bleaching process and save the trees!  “ If every household in the United States replaced one roll of virgin-fiber paper towels with 100 percent recycled paper towels, we could save 1.4 million trees.”  Source:  Care2

Idea #8 – See how you’re doing!

Calculate your Carbon Footprint now and then again every few months.  There are a lot of different sites to figure out this process, just search for carbon footprint calculator.  This one is pretty simple but a good place to start – The Nature Conservancy

If you have information or ideas that are along these thoughts, please share them!  I look forward to hearing from you and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Stress and the Benefits of Massage

Stress is just part of living.  Some stress is good.  This type of stress is called “eustress” and results in things like motivation, feelings of excitement and improving performance.  The other, more common type of stress  is “distress” which can initially cause the same response but over time plays havoc on our bodies.  (To learn more about this type of stress read, The Effects of Stress.)

In this prolonged situation of distress, we tend to hold our bodies in a tight or contracted state.  Our breath shortens and our muscles start to ‘hold’ onto that tightness.  Often we carry our stress in certain parts of our bodies.  The more common areas are shoulders/neck, low back and the abdominal area. 

At first we don’t really pay much attention to the fact that we are tightening that area.  It is at an unconscious level.  However over time those muscles that are continually contracted start to cause us pain or discomfort.  Hopefully this wakes us up! 

The cycle looks something like this: 

  • We become stressed out about something.
  • We then hold tension unconsciously in certain muscles. 
  • Those muscles are contracting for an extended period of time. 
  • The more they contract, the more waste products they produce. 
  • Meanwhile, when they contract, they limit the amount of blood that flows to them.  This is known as vasoconstriction.
  • Since there is a lack of blood flowing to the muscle, the waste products cannot be flushed out but rather accumulate in the tissues. 
  • This causes an irritation to the nerve endings and the result is PAIN.
  • Along with pain comes more tension.
  • Then the cycle continues to move beyond the original tight muscles into the surrounding muscles.  This is the body’s way of protecting itself.
  • Those muscles start to stay contracted and the pattern starts all over again in those outlying muscles.

As you can see, this cycle can go on and on.  In addition to pain, often we end up with other symptoms like headaches, numbness, fatigue, weakness, stomach aches, or shortness of breath; just to name a few.  Over an even longer period of time, say months or years, we start to develop symptoms that lead us to believe something bigger is wrong with us.  At this point it can be incredibly difficult to reverse this process and yet not impossible by any means.

This is where therapeutic massage comes in. 

Massage that works on a level deep enough to affect the tightness (without going too deep) can be very beneficial.  It assists in bringing fresh blood to the tissues thus allowing the waste products to move out while at the same time bringing nutrients to the muscles to help them heal.  It also works on a neurological level to affect the proprioceptors. 

Proprioceptors are found throughout our entire body.  The ones located in the muscles act as messengers to the brain to tell it to either shut off the contraction or to turn it on; depending on which proprioceptors we are talking about.  Those found in the tendons, near the insertion of the muscle into the bone, are called Golgi Tendon Organs or GTO’s.  Their work is specifically to help the muscles relax by sending messages to the brain to stop the contraction within the muscle.  This is just one simple example in a very complex situation.

In addition to the physical therapeutic benefits of massage there is the emotional.  Often along with stress comes a hurried life with little to no time to stop and take care of ourselves.  The more we push to avoid the situation, the more we create the havoc.  Therefore by allowing oneself time to rest and receive nurturing touch from a professional becomes a necessity rather than a luxury. 

If you have never experienced this type of massage I encourage you to do so.  If you have and yet do not make the time in your hurried life, I also encourage you to do so.  I have been a Certified Massage Therapist for almost 20 years.  To this day I am still amazed at the change is someone’s face, how they carry themselves (shoulders no longer up to their ears, for example), and the type energy they have after receiving a deep tissue massage.  I see them breathe more deeply and take a moment to sit and relax.  Often they seem like an entirely different person than the one that arrived!  Clearly we are not talking about luxury but something very important for our overall health.

I live in Boulder, Colorado where we are fortunate enough to have a great number of skilled professionals.  If you live in an area where your resources are limited, you might consult one of the following associations to find someone in your area.  

This is a gift to give to yourself or to those whom you love!

For more questions, feel free to email me at and I will try to answer your questions.

Flu Season? Shots? Learn the Power of Vitamin D!

This article comes to you from Dan Butterfield of Butterfield Wellness. 

As we move into another flu season the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is strongly urging Americans to get flu shots.

There are a number of reasons to consider not getting a flu shot.

The November 2009 issue of Atlantic has a very good article titled “Does the Vaccine Matter?”  The article looks at all the flu vaccine studies and concludes that there is little, if any benefit from flu shots.

A study published in the October 2008 issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that vaccinating young children against the flu had no impact on flu-related hospitalizations or doctor visits during two recent flu seasons.  The researchers concluded that “significant influenza vaccine effectiveness could not be demonstrated for any season, age or setting examined.” 

Additionally a group health study found that flu shots do not protect elderly people against developing pneumonia – the primary cause of death resulting as a complication of the flu.  Flu shots among the elderly increased from 15% in 1980 to 65% now, but there is no decrease in deaths from influenza or pneumonia.

There is some evidence that flu shots contribute to Alzheimer’s, most likely from combining mercury, aluminum and formaldehyde which are in flu shots.  Mercury in vaccines is a possible contributor or cause of autism for the same reasons.  There is up to 25 micrograms of mercury in a flu shot, making them unsafe for anyone under 550 pounds. 

Increased marketing of flu shots by the CDC and most physicians ignores the fact that a systematic review of 51 studies involving 260,000 children age 23 months to 6 years found flu vaccine to be no more effective than a placebo.

There is increasing evidence that influenza is a vitamin D deficiency.  It occurs as our vitamin D levels plunge as we go into winter.  Vitamin D releases our own antibiotics known as antimicrobial peptides.  A person with low vitamin D levels is more vulnerable to colds, influenza and other respiratory infections.

Vitamin D and Children

Dosing – according to Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council breast fed infants should receive l,000 IU’s daily, bottle-fed infants 600 IU’s as a starting point.  For older children and adults, 1,000 IU’s per 25 lbs of body weight each day appears to be a maintenance dose.  Individual requirements vary widely, so blood testing for Vitamin D levels is helpful in appropriate dosing.  Many doctors have not yet been informed of proper blood levels, usually measured in nanograms per milliliter of blood, or ng/ml.  The conventional notion is that anything under 30 ng/ml is a deficiency and anything over that is sufficiency.  However, as Dr. Cannell points out, we do not begin to receive cancer protection from vitamin D until 50 ng/ml and 70 to 90 ng/ml is an optimal level.  Toxicity has not been observed at levels under 200 ng/ml.

85%  of the population is Vitamin D deficient

99%  of African Americans are Vitamin D deficient

98%  of what we know about Vitamin D we’ve learned in the last 10 years.

We have 30,000 genes, Vitamin D regulates 2,000 of those genes.  Vitamin D has many uses in the body, we are still learning more.  It is vitally important for all of our organs and systems.

Dr. William Grant Ph.D found that 30% of all cancer deaths could be prevented by adequate D levels – above 30 ng/ml.  You can cut your risk of cancer in half by optimizing Vitamin D – between 50-90 ng/ml.

It is the one vitamin that will reduce your risk of death from all causes.

Vitamin D may be helpful in preventing or treating the following:

cardiovascular disease                


muscle pain    






macular degeneration







hearing loss                                        


It prevents 17 cancers that we know of.


Sunshine is the best source, but we only make it in our skin when our shadow is shorter than we are.  This is mid-day, April until September.

We make up to 20,000 IU’s in 20-30 minutes of sun exposure.

Blood testing is the best way to guide oral dosing –

          Lab Corp through Life Extension  1-800-208-3444   $47

          Quest Labs & Mayo Clinic are inaccurate.  Their results must be divided by 3/4.

Oral dosing guidelines about 1,000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight daily.

We probably use between 3,000 to 5,000 IU’s daily.

There is a 600% difference in absorption between people.  Obesity, illness, injury, and unidentified genetic factors may account for this wide range of absorption. 

Toxic levels of Vitamin D are very rare.

Elderly people have been given single doses of 600,000 IU’s with no side effects.  Healthy adults 40,000 IU’s daily for months with no toxicity.

Acute dosing at the onset of colds and flu – take 1,000 IU’s per pound of bodyweight for 3 days in a row.  For example, a 150 pound adult would take 150,000 IU for 3 days in a row.  This seems like a lot, but in the above study of a single dose of 600,000 IU had the effect of raising D levels to the optimum range, 50-90 ng/ml.  After another 30 days had passed those optimum levels had fallen into the insufficient range.

See The Vitamin D Council for more information.

To learn more about Dan read his bio here.  To contact Dan directly for questions or consultation, visit his website.