Archive for July 2013

Wellness Wednesday: Fat-Shaming Leads to Weight Gain


I have long since known that people commenting on my weight, or rather my excess weight, very often translates into a desire to eat. It sounds counter-intuitive. You would think that negative comments about your weight would create enough shame and guilt to produce the motivation to want to fix the problem. However, the shame, guilt, anger, and resentment associated with such comments actually have a tendency to drive me, and similar individuals, further into the dysfunctional eating.

A recent study done at the Florida State University College of Medicine actually supports the above phenomenon. Overweight people who face weight discrimination and fat-shaming are likely to eat more, exercise less, and have a higher chance of ending up obese. The study found that overweight individuals, not classified as obese, who were subjected to stigmatization because of their weight over a four year period were two and a half times more likely to end up obese than those individuals that were not fat-shamed or stigmatized about their weight. The study also revealed that those individuals who were obese at the beginning of the study were also three times more likely to still be obese after four years if they were faced with weight discrimination.

The researchers suggested, “There is robust evidence that internalizing weight-based stereotypes, teasing and stigmatizing experiences are associated with more frequent binge eating.” In light of this new evidence, I believe it is important to look at how some public health campaigns focused on battling the obesity epidemic can clearly be interpreted as fat-shaming. The billboards above are a prime example.

I believe that as a nation we need to start finding the compassion necessary to help people who struggle with their weight. Clearly no one sets out to purposively become obese. Why would anyone knowingly subject themselves to a life of teasing, shame, and suffering? The obese wear the results of an overwhelming compulsion on their body. Would we be so quick to make fun of a person grappling with OCD or the struggling alcoholic?

Help get the word out about the detrimental effects of fat-shaming by sharing this blog or the link below.



Coaching Corner: Weighing in on the Paleo Diet

In recent months I have been getting a lot of questions about the latest addition to the high protein diet trend – the Paleo diet.  I always prefer not to focus on any specific diet plan, as over the years it has been consistently proven that ‘diets’ don’t work.  Whenever I hear somebody tell me that they are going back on ‘X’ diet because ‘that’s the only one that ever worked for me’, I ask them to think about the fact that they have to go back on it again, implying that it only worked as long as they were on it.  The difference in our program at Hilton Head Health is that we encourage lifestyle change and management, implementing an awareness of high quality, lean foods and sensible portions, combined with a healthy dose of exercise and relaxation techniques to improve mood, lower stress and enhance overall happiness in ones life.  We facilitate a change from poor nutrition and fitness habits to sensible, reasonable and practical life-long objectives.

That being said, we can take a look at some features of the Paleo diet and where it (and other high protein diets) may or may not meet the needs you desire in an overall healthy lifestyle plan. Keep in mind that each of the high-protein diets emphasizes different focus foods, but for purposes of this article we will concentrate on the Paleo diet.

The Paleolithic diet, also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years which ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and grain-based diets. In common usage, such terms as “Paleolithic diet” also refer to the actual ancestral human diet.  Centered on commonly available modern foods, the contemporary “Paleolithic diet” consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

The primary concern behind the Paleo diet is that it relies so heavily on things that are unproven.  In other words, the fundamentals of the diet are based on what historical experts believe our cavemen ancestors ate based on what little physical or documented evidence has been made available to us.  Essentially, the diet is based on a handful of historical studies of ancestral hunter-gatherer societies combined with conjectured theory.  The truth of the matter is that we do not truly have a fully comprehensive understanding of the caveman’s diet from where and how the food was collected, how it was prepared, and what specific foods were eaten and which ones were avoided.

There is really no way to pinpoint the exact “caveman diet”, since the individual diets of our caveman ancestors were no doubt highly dependent on their location and surroundings.  For example, it has been recorded that cavemen indigenous to European areas had diets that were dominated by meat and animal foods due to lack of plant availability.  Meanwhile, it has been noted that the diets of cavemen ancestors indigenous to African countries consisted of approximately 67% plant food and only 33% animal foods, which certainly differs from the diets of European cavemen.  Clearly, factors such as weather, animal life, plant life, and other external forces of different regions throughout the world influenced dietary patterns.  So, which do we follow?  How can we ascertain the “official” diet of a caveman?

Even if we could pinpoint the precise diet of our cavemen ancestors, there is no way that we can accurately replicate it.  Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced and cost-efficient society, we are at the mercy of modern food production mechanisms which are, to say the least, varied quite a bit from what cavemen would have consumed, or even have had access to.  Lets consider some of the most commonly purchased and consumed items from grocery stores: canned vegetables, canned soups, packaged butter, yogurt, and other dairy products, packaged pre-cooked meats, and scads of other items that are pre-prepared, pre-packaged, and loaded with chemicals, additives, preservatives, food colorings, and all sorts of other artificial ingredients that our ancestors had never even heard of.  Even many of the foods we think of as being “whole” foods are not always what they seem.  Our “farm-grown” mammals are raised on grass treated with artificial fertilizers, as well as a range of genetically modified corn and wheat products.  Plus, once the animals are killed, cut, and prepped for distribution to stores, additional hormones, salts, and other artificial flavorings are typically added.  This is often true even in the cases of meat that is labeled as “organic” or “free-range”.  Additionally, our “farm-grown” fruits and vegetables are commonly loaded with pesticides and other spray chemicals to help give them longer shelf lives in the stores, and several types of fruits and veggies are pumped with food colorings to make them look riper and more appetizing.  This is especially true for red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes and strawberries.  None of our cavemen ancestors would have encountered these elements in their foods, which needless to say, makes the idea of replicating their diet moot.

The Paleo diet really pushes protein – in the form of meat, meat, and more meat.  While it promotes leaner, healthier meats like chicken and turkey, it promotes the intake of very high amounts, which is inconsistent with the typical recommended amount of protein that the average individual needs each day.  In fact, it is said that without even consciously trying, the average individual already likely meets the daily-recommended intake of protein, which is around 46 grams for women above age 19, and 56 grams for men above age 19.  That can be fulfilled through 1 cup of 2% milk (8 grams), 1 3-ounce piece of chicken (21 grams), 1 cup of dry beans (16 grams), and 1 8-ounce container of plain yogurt (11 grams).  Clearly, it doesn’t necessitate extreme efforts to meet, or even exceed, the daily-recommended amount of protein.  The other important factor to consider is the serious consequences of severely restricting carbohydrates while overloading on protein.  When these circumstances are present the kidneys and liver work overtime producing high quantities of ketone laced urine, while the adrenal glands are stressed to the max.  When you excrete ketones, they take sodium, potassium and magnesium with them, which are vital to heart, muscle and bone health.  Additionally, passing up legumes (ex. beans, lentils, peas, peanuts) and grains (ex. wheat, rice, oats, corn, barley) results in missing out on a whole range of nutrients that fight cancer and boost immunity.

The Paleo diet is regarded as a great muscle-building diet.  However, one of the most critical components of building muscle is sufficient carbohydrate intake.  This, of course, refers to whole, complex carbohydrates, not simple carbohydrates like doughnuts and tortilla chips.  The Paleo diet considers glycemic fruits to be sufficient enough in carbohydrates, but the body needs more than that.  The two main reasons why carbohydrates are critical to building muscle involve insulin and glycogen.  Firstly, insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the body, and its muscle-building effect comes from the fact that it inhibits muscular breakdown and it synthesizes proteins within the muscles.  Glycogen, the other byproduct of carbohydrate digestion, is stored in the muscles and liver, and provides the body with a readily available energy source.  Your ability to train intensely is directly proportional to the amount of glycogen that is stored in your body – and glycogen is something that can only be acquired from carbohydrates.

Cavemen were a group of individuals who had no choice but to eat whatever was available to them.  They certainly didn’t eat to be “fit” or “healthy” or “skinny”.  They simply ate to survive and sustain themselves sufficiently.   We must remember that our cavemen ancestors didn’t live very long.  In fact, the recorded average lifespan of an individual at that time was about 32 years old, and you were considered incredibly lucky if you lived to be 40 years of age.

The biggest silver lining of the Paleo diet, however, is that it strongly encourages that one avoid any and all processed foods, which of course is always a healthy decision.

The bottom line…

Our bodies, our food, our ways of living, as well as our ways of growing, raising, packaging, and consuming foods have all evolved over the years far beyond the ways of our cavemen ancestors.  Regardless, our bodies simply require a set of nutritional needs that our cavemen ancestors clearly were not able to meet, which largely explains their early deaths.  We need a balance of complex carbohydrates, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, healthy sugars, and healthy fats – many of which are overlooked by all high protein diets.  The takeaway message here is to eat more naturally.  Avoid processed foods and pursue as many truly “whole” foods as possible.  The key to success in fitness and weight loss is not just to eat some foods that are healthy, but also to eat enough of a variety of healthy foods that satiate all of the body’s nutritional requirements.    When it comes to following a specific diet, there are always pros and cons and plenty of opinions for and against.  When in doubt, do your research!



Healthy Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Ham Fontina Frittata


Here is a way to add some flair to your breakfast!


6 each Eggs

1 ½  c. Egg substitute

¼ c.     Parmesan cheese

¼ tsp.  Salt

4 oz.    Fontina Cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes

2 tsp.   Olive oil

1 small Red onion, diced

4 oz.    Canadian Ham/bacon, low sodium

12 oz. Heirloom tomatoes/conventional tomatoes, cut into ½ inch slices

1 ½ T. Basil, thinly sliced



  1. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  Fold in fontina cheese; set aside.
  2. In the deep half of the frittata pan over medium heat, warm 1 tsp. of olive oil.  Add diced red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the egg mixture and cook, using a rubber spatula to lift the cooked edges and allow the uncooked eggs to flow underneath, until the eggs are just beginning to set, 8 to 9 minutes.
  4. In the shallow pan over medium-low heat, warm 1 tsp. of olive oil.  Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on top of the egg mixture.  Place the shallow pan upside down on top of the deep pan and flip the frittata into the shallow pan.  Cook, covered, until the eggs are set, 6 to 7 minutes.
  5. Uncover the pan and gently flip the frittata onto a platter.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then garnish with fresh basil.  Cut frittata into 8 slices and serve.

200 calories

12 g fat

18 g protein

4 g carbohydrate

1 g fiber



Compressed Morbidity: “Live Long and Die Fast”

Every once in while you hear or read something that has a profound effect on you. It makes you think about things differently. I had such an experience about 10 years ago when I read about the concept of compressed morbidity. You might remember this being discussed during one of your visits to H3, but in case you need it, here is a quick refresher. Morbidity is illness, so compressing morbidity would be to compress or shorten the period of, or the duration of illness. So the basic concept of compressed morbidity is that,  people who live a healthy lifestyle tend to live longer and die quicker, on the other hand people who live an unhealthy lifestyle tend to die younger but are sicker longer. By “living longer, but dying quicker” the period of illness and its impact on quality of life is reduced.

The reason this concept resonated with me is that unfortunately my father passed away at 67 from emphysema. A relatively young man whose quality of life was destroyed long before he died. Seeing him go through that gave me a greater appreciation of the importance of staying healthy as long as possible. Recently after discussing this concept in class, a guest shared with me this video (Seen above). It is part of a campaign in Canada to promote a healthy lifestyle.  While the phrase, compressed morbidity, is never used, it makes the point graphically and effectively. As you watch the video clip, you will no doubt agree that if you could plan it, you would want to be the man on the left side of the split screen. And while there are no guarantees, following the principles  of a healthy lifestyle; eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking, getting enough sleep etc. gives you the best chance of living the long, vibrant, chronic disease free lifestyle like the  guy on the left side of the screen.



Wellness Wednesday: Measuring Progress Off the Scale



Written by Kelsey Bowman, Program Intern

So you’ve been going to the gym consistently for a couple months and sticking to a healthy diet, but you haven’t stepped on the scale because you’re too nervous to see what that dreaded number will say. So you decide that you’re going to weigh in and see if all your hard work, dedication, and commitment to changing your lifestyle is paying off. You step on and wait for the blinking to stop and the number pops up and it’s not what you expected.  Thoughts and questions start racing through your head…how could this be? I’ve been working out and eating a healthy and clean diet for months? The scale has to be wrong? I am so disappointed, should I just throw in the towel? What’s the point if my body is not changing? I am sure we all have had these thoughts race through our mind when we don’t see the number we want to see on the scale.  So, in addition to weighing yourself, you should measure other indicators of progress.  Here’s 4 to get you started:

Tips that you can use to help judge your progress other than the scale:

  1. Take progress pictures. You are your own worst critic when it comes to your body and you see it every day. You may not see change from a day-to-day basis, but if you take pictures from the beginning then you can go back and actually see the change. I suggest you take 4 pictures. Front view, both side views, and a back shot. Also try and wear the same outfit so you can truly compare.
  2. Every single one of us has one pair of pants in the back of our closet that is just a little too tight. After a solid couple months of exercising and resistance training  whip those out and try them on. You’d be amazed on how they fit. If for some reason they don’t fit the way you want them to don’t go straight to a negative mindset, but flip it into a positive by working even harder. I call this method the “Barometer Pants Method.”
  3. Find a scale that has biological impedance. This determines the electrical impedance or opposition to the flow of an electric current through the body tissues which can calculate an estimate of total body water. Total body water can estimate fat-free body mass and, by difference with body weight and body fat. So if you step on the scale and it says you’ve gained 2 lbs check and see if your body fat percentage has gone down, if so you’re gaining muscle and losing fat!!
  4. Keep a journal and write down how you feel each day before and after exercising. Having a journal may sound dumb to some, but writing down your thoughts and feelings can really help people during their weight loss journey especially when they have good or bad days so there is always a reference to look back on and to see how far you’ve come!

So the next time you step onto that scale, think about all this and these tips and don’t let it define who you are or how hard you’ve worked. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you can change your mindset you’ve overcome what so many people struggle with every single day.



Coaching Corner: Happiness Is A Choice



This past weekend, while preparing my lunch after a challenging Crossfit workout, I was looking for a good movie to watch on Netflix. While scrolling through the documentary section, I came across a film entitled “Happy”. The story of the film is;

“HAPPY takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion.”

After reading this, I was sold. I was interested to find out how the happiest people in the world were living their lives. According to researchers in the “Positive Psychology” field, there are three leading contributors to happiness. Those contributors are; Genetics, Status, and Life choices. In studies using identical twins, it was found that 50% of happiness comes from genetics. Obviously, as many of us know, genetics is something that we cannot control. The good news is, there is still a whopping 50% that we CAN control about our happiness.

Status, which includes, financial success and popularity, only accounts for 10% of happiness. Financial success refers to having enough money to take care of your needs. The positive psychologists found in an epidemiology study that the happiness difference between someone who earns $5,000 and someone who earns $50,000 was very dramatic while the difference in happiness between someone who earns $50,000 and someone who earns $50,000,000 was little to none. In fact, in some cases, it was found that those with too much “stuff” were actually less happy. In this context, popularity refers to how “up to date” people are with things, such as being fashionable and having the latest gadgets.

That still leaves another 40% of contributors leading to happiness which involves life choices. This documentary categorized “life choices” with things such as; having strong social connections, being a part of something greater than yourself, partaking in physical activity, creating variety, and finding flow.

Strong Social Connection:  Some of the happiest recorded cultures in the world have a very close-knit community. For example in Okinawa, Japan, (the longest living average population in the world) whenever a member of the community passes away, everyone stops what they are doing and comes together for a ceremony. Along with that, the ashes of their deceased are all mixed together in one location to represent that they are all one big family.

Part of Something Greater: Very commonly, these happy cultures also feel a very strong spiritual connection, whether that be a religion, or a connection to something greater than themselves (God, Universe, Nature, Higher power, etc…).

Physical Activity: Not only does physical activity in it of itself release “feel good” hormones, but for many of these cultures, physical activity is “FUN”. This could involve playing sports (social connections) as well as hobbies. In this film there was an example of a man who loved to surf because it made him feel like he was one with nature (part of something greater than self).

Variety: Many of the happiest people recorded in this film enjoyed spicing up their life with variety. This did not necessarily mean they would stop what they were doing and travel the world. Sometimes it just meant simply changing the running route to add variety into their life.

Flow: In the context of this film, flow refers to performing activities that you enjoy so much that you forget about the world around you. For some people this could be having a “runners high”, for others it might be playing a musical instrument. Maybe you are great at your job and find flow at your job. Flow is a state of being that makes you feel like life is worth living.

This is just a small snapshot of what is to be taken away from the documentary entitled “Happy”. It is very inspiring to know how much influence we have over our levels of happiness. Life is filled with choices, happiness being one of them.



Healthy Recipe: Spiced Peach Orange Smoothie

Spiced peach and orange smoothie

This simple smoothie is perfect for a summer time snack!



2.5 cups Peaches, frozen

.5 cups Orange juice concentrate

.5 cups Yogurt, plain, fat-free

1.25 cups Milk, skim

1 T. Sugar

1/4 tsp. Vanilla extract

pinch Cinnamon, ground





  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.



Number of Servings: 5

Serving Size: 8 oz

Calories: 130 calories

Protein: 5 gm

Carbohydrates: 29 gm

Fat: 0 gm

Fiber: 1 gm



Fitness Friday: 3 Simple Stretches to Alleviate Low Back Pain




Lie on your back with your feet flat and knees bent. You may notice there is a natural curve in your spine, so flatten your lower back completely onto the floor. Pull one knee toward your chest with your hands and relax through your hips. You may feel this stretch in your hamstrings and glutes, but it also helps stretch the lower back. If you are more advanced, you can straighten your other leg to the floor. To really take things to the next level, bring both knees to your chest. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch legs and repeat on the other side.

 THREE-PART HAMSTRING STRETCH– You’ll need a strap or belt for this one.

Part one: Sitting on the floor, bend your right knee and place the strap beneath your right foot. Carefully lie down on your back, straightening your right leg toward the sky. Keep your left leg flat on the floor. You will feel this stretch in your hamstrings.

Part two: This move will stretch your inner thighs. Remaining in the same position, stretch your left arm directly out to the side. Keeping your right leg straight, slowly drop your left leg to the right as far as you comfortably can.

 Part three: Bring your leg back to center and switch hands so your left hand is now holding the strap. Straighten your left leg and pull your right leg across the midline of your body to the left side, with minimal twisting in your spine.

Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat all three moves on the other leg.



Lying on your back with knees bent, cross your left ankle over your right knee. Lift your right leg off the floor and place your hand behind your thigh, pulling your leg back toward your upper body. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat on the other leg.





pastries at work

Back-loading calories…what does that mean?  What does that look like in a typical day?  This usually entails eating the majority of your calories and food in the later 1/3 of your day.  Prime example:  Breakfast is coffee on the run with 1 packet of sugar and a splash of half and half.  Lunch is not until 1:00 in the afternoon and hunger pangs have set in, but you tell yourself you should stick with the salad and grilled chicken and vegetables (dressing on the side).   You’ve got a meeting at 4:00 and pastries or cookies are served as a kind “gesture.”  Two cookies later and you are now exhausted after a long day at work and the thought of working out goes down the drain.  Dinner consists of going down the street to the nearest Chinese restaurant where portions are extreme, but it is hard to “save the rest for tomorrow.”  All of the to-go white boxes are empty by the time they hit the trash can.  It is now 10:00 pm and most of the food and calories consumed throughout the day was at 4:00 pm and later.  Back-loading calories and food.

Even though this example may seem a little on the extreme side, too often individuals actually practice the concept of back-loading on a consistent basis.   Is this you?  Do you back-load your calories most days of the week?  What days are you typically eating most of your food in the later 1/3 of your day?  Here are some simple strategies to help you change this habit around:

  1.  Have breakfast within 1 hour of waking up.  We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day—we are literally “breaking the fast.”  Even if you are NOT hungry, try your best to get in some quality whole foods within that first 60 minutes.  This could be a hard-boiled egg, banana and small yogurt.
  2. Eat every 3-4 hours.   Whether this is a snack or a larger meal, make sure to have something to keep your resting metabolism at a higher rate throughout the entire day.  One reason guests are so successful here (when it comes to weight loss & weight management) is there is structure to the day—there is no thinking involved…they stick to the meal plan and trust it will  work for them.   Practice this at home, on vacations, during business trips, etc.
  3. Listen to your body and Honor your hunger.   If it is 9:00 pm at night and you are physically hungry (not emotionally hungry), feed yourself.   If it is 10:00 am and you feel starved and ready for lunch, ask yourself if you had breakfast and if it was enough?  Maybe you didn’t give yourself a protein source in the morning or maybe it was a low fiber breakfast??  Honor that hunger by having a snack such as plain greek yogurt & berries then wait another hour or two to have the lunch you pre-pared the night before.

Set yourself up for success by eating throughout the day.  Everyone at home has different schedules, lives and workout plans—everyone is busy in their own way.  However, find a routine that will work for you and remember the timing of your food intake can sometimes be just as important as what you eat and how much of that food is consumed.



Wellness Wednesday: The Importance of Daily Intentions

Have you ever noticed that on days when your feet hit the floor running upon getting out of bed the remainder of the day seems hurried and less productive? While days starting out with a bit of exercise, meditation, or prayer seem to evolve into easy-flowing days filled with more peace than frustration?

One of the reasons for this strong contrast might have to do with how you prepare your mind, body, and spirit each day. When we stop for a moment early in the day and reflect on how we want the day to play out, we set a particular energy in motion. Your thoughts and words create your reality so if you begin your day with a racing mind, then your day is likely to resemble a runaway freight train. If you begin your day with a specific intention, then the energy of the day will move in the direction of your intention. It’s like figuring out math in your head. When you write the problem down, you can clearly see how to work it out. Calculating a math problem in your head can get confusing and provide only a glimmer of the solution.

An intention defined is a course of action that one intends to follow. Setting a daily intention allows you to focus on a specific direction you would like the day to take. In doing so, you create a guide for your actions throughout the day. A daily intention doesn’t guarantee that your day will go exactly as planned but it can help you set a distinctive tone to your overall day. Here are some examples of daily intentions:


May I live in a state of peacefulness.

May I live my day with an abundance of energy.

May I tap into my creative gifts.

May I spend the day cultivating gratitude.

May I spend the day with an approach to clean living.

May I keep a focused mind today.

May my day allow for simplicity.

May I cultivate a quiet mind today.

May I live my day in a state of continuous joy.

May I seek out wisdom and insight today.

May I spend the day guided by my intuition.


At H3 we lead group meditations every Wednesday and Friday mornings that focus on a specific daily intention. Guests are frequently commenting at the end of the day on how useful the intention meditation was to the overall outcome of their day. Guests often tell me, “That was exactly what I needed.” Soul Coaching Oracle Cards by Denise Linn are a wonderful source for daily intentions.


I would love to hear your daily intentions over the next few days. Post them on the comment forum next to this blog. I can hardly wait to read them!



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