January Refresh Part 1: Clear the Clutter!

In need of a reset this holiday season? You’re not alone! Most people gain weight during the holidays, which can take over 5 months to lose![1] In the US, weight patterns being to rise around Thanksgiving and peak around Christmas and New Year. So are you ready to get a head start and not wait until Easter to bring it back to your norm or goal weight?

The first step begins with your surroundings and setting yourself up for success.

“Cluttered and chaotic environments can cause stress, which can lead us to grab more of the indulgent snacks - twice as many cookies according to this study that showed cluttered kitchens are caloric kitchens

When stressed out women were asked to wait for another person in a messy kitchen - with newspapers on the table, dishes in the sink, and the phone ringing – they ate twice as many cookies compared to women in the same kitchen when it was organized and quiet. In total they ate 53 more calories from cookies in 10 minutes time.

What also matters is your internal state and feeling of control, “Some of the participants were asked to write about a time when their life was out of control and others were asked to write of a time when they were in control.  The latter group entered the cluttered room feeling in control and ate about 100 fewer total calories than those who felt out of control before entering.”

“Although meditation, as a way of feeling in control, might be one way to resist kitchen snacking for some, it’s probably easier just to keep our kitchens picked up and cleaned up,” said coauthor Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.[2] Although a chaotic environment can create a vulnerability to making unhealthy food choices, one’s mind-set in that environment can either trigger or buffer against that vulnerability.

Why not become a superstar in both?? Join us this January 12th with organizing expert Maeve Richmond and Lifestyle Medicine Dr. Ingrid Edshteyn to set yourself up for success in the kitchen and in your life!

Early Bird & Primary Member Specials before January 6th: Reserve your ticket here




Taking the Lead on 2017: A Not-So-Secret Advantage

We've all been there, feasting for the holidays that begins on Thanksgiving, spiked with a few holiday parties, and the grand all out finale by the time New Year's hits. In between there's a streak of days with concerted effort to 'reform' from all these indulgences with a hard-core cleanse or two. Something really disciplined to bring us back in line and hopefully down a size by the 25th, or at least the 31st. Usually it involves some lovely form of caloric deprivation, whether soups, smoothies, or stews, and some extra spin sessions or HIIT classes.

And then January rolls around and it's time to really get serious. With a clean eating plan and lots of gym time. Early, really early in the morning. We can see all that extra packaging dropping off, revealing the real fit and lean version that's ready to take on 2017. 

But somehow we get stuck again, where it works well for a bit, we lose some weight with all the extra cardio and clean eating, but feel short-changed on the vision of the "New You." 

Well it's not a shocker - losing extra adipose poundage isn't easy. Our resting and non-resting energy expenditure decreases, and our satiety hormone - leptin - decreases, leaving us feeling less satisfied and more hungry. All the time. 

So are we missing something, a "secret ingredient," to our training? 

Well, we know that skeletal muscle is the primary organ causing the decline in our non-resting energy (NREE) expenditure. It gets more efficient as we lose weight. Say you were to lose 10% of your weight by eating less calories than you need. Your skeletal muscle just dropped your NREE by 75% This is a big part of why you can't go back to eating the same number of calories. Your body's energy expenditure went down, so less calories in to keep it off.

And say you decided to do a very low calorie diet (500 kcal/day) to drop those pounds. Well, may as well have done a low-calorie option (1250 kcal/day) instead, as the weight loss is similar. The authors of that article hit on a key factor to why we regain weight: because the calorie restriction is causing a loss of muscle mass! The % of muscle mass lost was associated with weight regain - as much as 8.8% muscle mass lost in that super low calorie group!

So why is this Not-So-Secret? Because we've already known for almost 30 years that strength training while reducing calories not only reduces weight as much as those who just diet, but also results in maintaining all that precious muscle! And we just saw how critical it is in preventing weight regain. Bottom line, if your "New You" training program is just cutting calories and not building strength, there's definitely an upgraded version available for your sustainable success. 

So as you get ready for the holiday feasting and fasting, here's to a slogan that can bring some bipartisan support for the #win in 2017

#makeamericaliftagain #strongertogether

Our Integrative Fitness Programs

The 3 P's of the Microbiome Diet

When I think about my top diet tip, I think about nourishing not just myself, but the 100 trillion microorganisms in my digestive tract, which is at least on the same order as the number of cells in our bodies.[1][2]

What do we need these microbes for? In addition to digesting food, they’re also playing a part in ensuring the integrity of our gut lining. If they’re doing their job, beneficial bacteria produce fermentation by-products, like short chain fatty acids, that are key in keeping the gut lining strong and the cell junctions normal - preventing a number of immune problems like asthma and arthritis, along with irritable bowel syndrome, weight issues and even depression. [3],[4],[5]

One very neat study, a microbiome transplant we’ll call it, showed that mice receiving bugs from a heavier body weight twin, ended up becoming significantly fatter than the ones getting the transplant from the lean twin. [6] This means our microbes may matter more than we’ve thought for our metabolic regulation. 

The strategy then is to start with a sustainably healthy microbiome, with prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols. Prebiotics are parts of plants and provide food for the beneficial bacteria in the colon (things like garlic, leeks, and onions), and polyphenols are the plant-derived chemicals that live in abundance in colorful fruits and veggies, especially berries.[7] A foundation of whole plant foods and a good probiotic source puts us well on our way to a flourishing microbiome and is the daily nutrition tip I live by since it’s made a substantial difference with my own GI health and energy levels. In combination with identifying food sensitivities for a personally optimized diet, those 3 P’s form the daily diet cornerstone. 

Find out more about our precision integrative nutrition program with Francesca Alfano!


[1] Tremaroli, Valentina, and Fredrik Bäckhed. "Functional interactions between the gut microbiota and host metabolism." Nature 489.7415 (2012): 242-249.

[2] Sender, Ron, Shai Fuchs, and Ron Milo. "Revised estimates for the number of human and bacteria cells in the body." BioRxiv (2016): 036103.

[3] Belkaid, Yasmine, and Timothy W. Hand. "Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation." Cell 157.1 (2014): 121-141.

[4] Campbell, Anthony Keith, et al. "Bacterial metabolic ‘toxins’: a new mechanism for lactose and food intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome." Toxicology 278.3 (2010): 268-276.

[5] Lam, Yan Y., et al. "Role of the gut in visceral fat inflammation and metabolic disorders." Obesity 19.11 (2011): 2113-2120.

[6] Ridaura, Vanessa K., et al. "Gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate metabolism in mice." Science 341.6150 (2013): 1241214.

[7] Cardona, Fernando, et al. "Benefits of polyphenols on gut microbiota and implications in human health." The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 24.8 (2013): 1415-1422.