What a Workout Buddy Can Do for You

Let me tell you about an absolute transformation I’ve seen in my fitness over the past 4 weeks. See, I recently moved and joined a new gym and with it, I was given a killer deal on personal training. I’ve never been one to do training in the past. I’ve been witness one too many times to some poor sucker trying to balance on one leg while doing a squat and chest press at the same time, sweat dripping down his face and looking really uncomfortable all as his trainer looks on. No thank you, not for me!

But this deal I got on training is really good and it turns out that my trainer is also really fun and doesn’t liken contortionism to a good workout. Phew! But don’t get me wrong, she does kick my butt. She challenges me to put in more effort to each one of my workouts, pays close attention to help me tweak my form and gives words of encouragement when I finish my sets. And guess what, its paid off! I see a change in my body that I never would have seen if I didn’t have her alongside me as I work out.

It got me thinking that this is a lot like what I do with my health coaching clients. After we set goals for our time together, I help

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My Favorite Cooking App

When I hear my clients tell me that they feel like they are in a food rut, I can absolutely relate. It’s so easy to get going with the same list of ingredients that I pickup at the grocery store and the resulting same, tried and true, meals night after night. I want to share with everyone a website and app that has rescued me from my food rut and made it quick and easy to find healthy and delicious recipes on the go.

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The site is called Yummly and its one of the most comprehensive databases for recipes I’ve ever found. The thing that I absolutely love about Yummly are the photos of each recipe. I don’t know about you but I get turned on by gorgeous pictures of food! In fact, I likely won’t even try cooking a new dish unless I have a tantalizing visual beforehand. So lets dive in and see why Yummly is different from the other food sites that we’re used to:

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The Choice to Eat Meat Again

After following a vegetarian diet for nearly 14 years, I’m grappling with a choice to start eating meat again. I’m not taking the decision lightly. See, my decision to be a vegetarian wasn’t for animal or environmental reasons although I fully understand and respect peoples choices to do so for those very reasons. I decided to go vegetarian because I believed at the time that this was the most healthful way to eat. I stuck to my steady diet of brown rice, tofu and vegetables religiously and have never strayed from it…now, fast forward and after being slightly anemic for quite a while and recently learning that I have a B12 deficiency, I’m wondering if being vegetarian is the best choice for me.

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Hello and Welcome to Seta Health! You’ve landed in the right place if you:

  • Love to keep up on the latest information on diet and health
  • Have an autoimmune disease or chronic illness and believe (or want to believe) that you can be healed through your diet
  • Would benefit from the personal guidance of a health coach and want to learn more
  • Are looking for healthy and simple recipes for you and your family

I’m a certified health coach and I work with clients one to one as a trusted advisor to help them to overcome acute problems, make changes in their current lifestyle and develop long term habits that affect their health.

After  my story of healing from systematic lupus, my mission is to empower people to take control of their health through changing their diet. I hope you’ll join me!

Persian Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh-Zard) Recipe

Right now is one of my favorite times of the year as NowRuz (or Persian New Year) is right around the corner and with it come the warmth of family and of course, delicious food. One of my favorite dishes that I only really see this time of year is Sholeh-Zard, the word “sholeh” meaning flame and “zard” meaning yellow which is essentially a rice pudding flavored with delicious and highly prized saffron (a red stigma of a flower which turns a gorgeous golden color when added to water) and also rose water, pistachio and sliced almonds.

Saffron alone has been found to have so many health benefits dating back to Hippocrates writings when it was used for colds, coughs and stomach ailments. It’s also loaded (and I mean loaded) with manganese and also Vitamin C, Potassium and B 6. The dish is topped with cinnamon which has blood sugar lowering properties and is good for high cholesterol. But let’s be realistic, after all, the dish is made with white rice, about 2 full cups of sugar and butter.

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You May Want to Toss Your Multivitamin

Many healthy adults think of multivitamins as a nutritional insurance plan. If they are not getting the nutrients they need from the food they eat each day, the once daily multivitamin will cover them by providing 100% of the recommended intake of what’s necessary. Supplements are a multibillion-dollar industry and growing rapidly. Yet at the same time, the majority of people taking a supplement are not only (literally) peeing away their money but they are increasing their chances of dying prematurely.

Yes, you read it right! I was reluctant to accept it myself. But scientists have proven in a handful of different studies that too many nutrients from vitamin supplements can be really harmful. Look how the evidence stacks up:

  •  A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that men who were smokers and supplemented with beta carotene or vitamin E were more likely to die from lung cancer or heart disease
  • Another review of 14 randomized trails found that supplementing with Vitamin A, C, E and beta-carotene along with selenium taken to prevent intestinal cancer actually increased death.
  • Another study published in 2011 found that Vitamin E increased risk of prostate cancer.

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5 Real Foods to eat post workout

When I woke up yesterday morning, I was harshly reminded of how long it has been since I actually had a good workout. My body felt like it ha been hit by a truck and literally had pain in muscles that I didn’t even know existed. The previous day had been my first day with my new pilates trainer and although the acrobatics she had me doing on the reformer machine only felt moderately difficult at the time, I was now paying for it. As a nutrition coach, I always advise my clients to make sure they have a post workout “recovery” meal or snack ready to help their body restore lost nutrients and regenerate but as the old adage of “do as I say not as I do goes” I had failed to do that myself. Life, as it does, had me pulled in so many directions after my workout that I forgot all about nourishing my body. So now, I’m offering this advice to you as well as myself. Although its completely normal (and good) to feel sore after your workouts, by eating the right type of foods post workout, you can feed your muscles the nutrients they need to repair and build strength so that you’ll be that much stronger the next time. Here are 5 foods that do just that:

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Is a calorie just a calorie?

Anyone who has tried to lose weight has heard the notion of taking the guesswork out of weight loss by simply “counting your calories”. So long as you burn more than you eat, the weight should just fall off, right? Why mess with following a regimented diet of low fat, low carb, high protein. Eat whatever you like and keep it under a certain calorie count and viola–weight loss!

To prove that this theory would work, an overweight nutrition professor at Kansas State University went on the much popularized “twinkie diet” experiment eating only twinkles at meal times with oreos, sugary cereals and Doritos if he got hungry in between. The key was that he kept his calorie count below his recommended intake for someone his size, consuming 1800 calories instead of 2600 over a period of 2 months and guess what–he lost 27 pounds!

The takeaway from this experiment shouldn’t surprise you–a low calorie diet works. At the same time, the nutrient content and quality of the foods you are eating do affect you in different ways. When embarking on a low calorie diet for weight loss pay special attention to the source of your calories because what you choose to put in your mouth will ultimately affect:

Your appetite–high sugary foods will leave you craving more high sugary foods which will cause your daily calorie count to rack up quickly!
Your energy–protein and complex carbohydrates will give you sustained energy while candy and cookies will leave you wired and headed for a crash.
Your longterm wellness–your nutrient level, cholesterol, blood sugar and many other physiological factors are all effected by the foods you choose on a day to day basis.

So, if you really want to simplify your weight loss, instead of counting calories I recommend that you choose to have the bulk of your food be from fruits and vegetables which are high in fiber (so you’ll stay full longer), low in calories and high in nutrients and antioxidants. The rest can come from healthy fats and lean proteins. The point on any diet is that you will be able to stay on it to maintain the weight loss long term.

So although our twinkie guy was able to shed his initial weight, its easy to gather that he likely would NOT be able to sustain that  weight loss unless he ditched the snack cakes and adopted foods that would support his weight and his health for the long haul.

Smart ways to beat sugar addiction

As part of your New Years resolutions, if one of them was to eat better or to lose weight, you’ve likely found out by now that one of the most difficult things to overcome is that damn sugar craving. You know the one that comes after you’ve had a meal and want a sweet treat to finish up or when you tell yourself you will only have one corner of the cookie and wind up eating the entire thing?

Its no surprise since in all the ways you look at it, sugar is addictive. Just like any other addictive substance, having just a little bit has you wanting and craving more. At the same time, it causes withdrawal symptoms when you stop having it. Like if you’ve ever felt tired a few hours after you’ve had a sweet indulgence or in a down mood for no particular reason. Since every high high has a low, consider that each time you send your blood sugar skyrocketing by eating sugar, it will come back down equally hard.

Even if you’re not adding 5 packets of sugar to your coffee (or maybe you are) look out for other sources of sugar in your diet. Food manufacturers have gotten really good at concealing sugar in their labels: corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, glucose and fructose are just a few. Easier yet, you can just read the nutrition facts. Something that is seemingly healthy like a poppy seed Cliff bar has 21 grams of sugar. Or worse yet, an Odwalla Superfood Drink has a super dose of sugar at 37 grams per serving. To put this in perspective, a regular sized snickers bar has 27 grams.

Here are some great alternatives to help you satisfy your need for sweets in a healthier way:

  1. Eat fruit to get a naturally sweet taste. In the end, sugar is sugar and your body will see it as such. At the same time, fruit also comes loaded with antioxidants and fiber which will help the sugar absorb more slowly into your blood system.
  2. Eat sweet vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and squash. Again, think nutrients and fiber instead of empty calories.
  3. Drink sparkling water and add a small amount of fruit juice to liven it up.
  4. Bake your own desserts and treats using natural sweeteners.

If you’de like more guidance and personalized attention to get rid of your sugar craving, as always, feel free to reach out to me.

Is your food causing inflammation?

One of my teachers at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Dr Andrew Weil, referred to inflammation as the “silent killer” and while the word “inflammation” made me think at the time of the type of visible redness that can be seen on the skin when its irritated. I soon learned that he was speaking of chronic low-level inflammation. The type of inflammation that is responsible for chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity.

If inflammation is the common factor in all these major illnesses including autoimmune disease, what the heck was causing it and what could be done to stop it?

Inflammation is caused by many factors in our lives. The first of which is diet. To start with, any food or drink that spikes our blood sugar and sends it back down on a roller coaster ride results in inflammation in our bodies. In most peoples diets, this usually comes from baked goods, soda, or any type of refined sugars. One way to keep our blood sugar stable is to eat lean protein at most meals and snacks and combine it with a complex carbohydrate like quinoa or potatoes.

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