Food is medicine: Not all the same prescription.

This is part 3 of a 3 part series where I connect some dots about our collective health. In part 1, I run down a few things about our microbiome – like some current applications and research that make me think our non-human cells have serious control over our health. In part 2, I chat about all of the innocent victims. Part 3 relates our food choices to our gut health and mental health. Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here.


Observation #3: Food is Nourishment and sometimes Food is Medicine – not necessarily the same prescription for everyone.

There are so many dietary camps out there, with strong voices in each attempting to convince the masses that their way is THE way.

These days, if you’re eager to label your dietary approach, you can choose to be:

  • Vegan – eat no animal foods
  • Vegetarian – sort of Vegan + some combo of eggs and dairy
  • Flexitarian – mostly Vegetarian with self-permission to eat meat/fish once in a while
  • Macrobiotic – Grain-heavy approach with emphasis on quality local foods, intuition, and balance
  • Paleo – grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, seed oil-free – hunter/gatherer type approach
  • Primal – Paleo + full fat dairy
  • WAP (Weston A Price) – sort of Primal + traditionally prepared grains
  • Low-carb – high fat, med-low protein, maybe 50 – 100 grams of carbs per day
  • Very low-carb/ketogenic – maybe 20-50 grams of carbs per day
  • and oh-so-many-more

There are hundreds of dietary approaches out there. The people who are proponents of any specific approach like to classify the typical western diet as the ‘SAD’ approach (standard American diet). So even if you opt out of sticking your approach in a box – someone has done it for you. Awesome.

But I digress.

First of all, there ARE health benefits to having a dietary approach – no matter what it is. For example – if you really BELIEVE that the foods you choose are health promoting – if you have awareness and any reasoning as to ‘why’ you’re eating what you are – chances are you’re health conscious and indeed - you’ll reap some benefits. <<< This is fascinating. And also probably a super important piece to the health puzzle. I mean, on the contrary, if you just know that you’re ruining your health by the food decisions that you make, well, you probably are. Food guilt is a huge stressor.

You’ll hear people claim that sugar is killing us or that fat is killing us or that animal food is killing us or that all carbs are killing us… (seriously – you can’t win – it’s really the stress of worrying about this I think)…

But also – let’s not only look at what we’re eating, but who exactly we’re feeding (re: We are not alone).

There’s some great research on this right now - but it’s all in it’s infancy as far as I can tell. We’re still defining exactly who is in our microbiome, what is a healthy balance, who are the ‘bad guys’, how we can alter it etc… but watch this space, because I firmly believe this is the future of medicine.

What is it that our microbiome needs to thrive?

IF the root cause of autoimmunity and metabolic disease is related to an imbalance of your gut community, then we’ve got to figure out how to re-balance it. Right now – we’re hearing about the importance of a high fiber / high resistant starch diet for feeding a thriving gut community. There’s research that increasing resistant starch in your diet improves blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity. Maybe this is due to the increase in abundance and byproducts of certain gut bacteria.

Your gut flora munches on fiber from whole foods to create a short chain fatty acid called butyrate – which does you HUGE anti-inflammatory favors. (FYI – you can also get butyrate from… butter. Eat your butter.) That’s right – your gut bugs turn plants into fat – and that fat reduces inflammation. This is how herbivores – like cows – can get the nutrients that they need just by eating grass. This is probably how a human who chooses not to eat animal foods can thrive – they have the right microbiome to create the nutrients that they require. (That and there’s probably a serious contribution from insect protein in their diets – but again – that’s a story for another day. <<<< speculation.)

Anyhow – so far we think healthy, beneficial gut bacteria thrive on carbohydrates/fermentable fibers/resistant starches.

Do they eat fat or protein? I think so – but there’s a lot we still don’t know. A diet rich in fat and protein supports a very different gut flora than a diet rich in fermentable fiber… but is one diet any better or worse for our health?  That is the question that the Human Food Project aims to answer.

So do you simply go ahead and introduce more fermentable fibers into your diet to re-balance your microbiome if you are sick? Maybe, maybe not.

This is where a low-carb approach might actually be therapeutic.  Or a ketogenic approach - in an extreme case. These low and very low carb diets may be useful in starving / rebooting an unhealthy gut microbiome. I say therapeutic for a reason – for many people, this means it’s a great temporary approach.

[Aside: It also turns out - that if you live in northern climates - and you strictly eat seasonal foods - you'll likely be eating more carbs in the summer months and fewer (if any) carbs in the winter months. So too will your microbiome change seasonally.]

Part of a microbiome reboot/rebuild could then include fermented foods to introduce a variety of bacteria to your body for your physical and mental health. This is a tenant of the Weston A. Price / Primal / Paleo / traditional foods approaches. This along with playing in the dirt, removing unnatural personal care products, responsible use of antibiotics, eating more foods from the Earth, avoiding toxins… sleeping, destressing, finding a passion in life so you don’t obsess about food… Clearly – there’s a lifestyle shift involved with rebooting your microbiome.

Anyway – from a lower carb approach – a re-seeding with a healthy balance of gut bugs – one might work to increase their whole food carbs, starches, fruits, veggies to feed their new symbionts such that they thrive.  I understand that women in particular may require more carbs for hormonal balance.

However, many people – thrive on low carb diets and are as healthy as can be (see: Inuit and Masai… and Jimmy Moore). Their gut microbiome must be successfully adapted to their natural diet.

But introduce westernized foods, and all bets are off.

I suspect that the key is natural food here. Maybe seasonal and local food to - because maybe there’s a change in the available microbiome depending on your geographic location on Earth. If you’ve ever traveled – you may have noticed that your digestive system can be off even if you eat the same foods <<< local bugs may be your culprit.

Of course, I love to believe that our guts hold the answers (see dogma: Part 1). I’m open to other ideas as they develop, but for now, I’m watching this research with serious interest. I’m keeping my kids just barely clean, I’m letting them walk around outside without shoes, I’m encouraging them to eat from the garden, and I’m trying let their own food instincts rule (within the limitations of what I bring home from the market to be honest), I’m doing a lot of kitchen science – fermenting sodas, kombucha, sauerkraut, even chicken feed… bottom line, I’m trying to cultivate some family microbiome here.

It seems to me that while we can’t put a finger on just one thing that’s causing our ill health today, an unbalanced microbiome keeps popping up as a potential culprit, that once addressed, seems to help.

I hope you’ve clicked through a few of these links… or maybe you’ll bookmark this series and come back to play sometime. If you’re still with me – please let me know in the comments… because you really rock for sticking this out.

We nuked our friends.

This is part 2 of a 3 part series of me connecting some dots about our collective health. In part 1, I run down a few things about our microbiome – like some current applications and research that make me think our non-human cells have serious control over our health. In part 2, I’ll chat about all of the innocent victims. Read part 1 here.

Artwork by Claudia Jean

Observation #2: Before we understood its presence and importance, we effectively nuked our microbiome.

Consider the following… (I’m speculating some here)

I should plug this book here – called An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Disease by Moises Velasquez-Manoff. This guy is a science writer – he’s not claiming to have the answers – just observations – and personal experience.

So, maybe we have taken sanitation too far? I mean – there’s a place for a sterile environment… it’s for immune compromised humans – who ironically – may be less immune compromised if they were allowed to cultivate their microbiome in a not-so-sterile environment (that’s my speculation).

What about cancer cells? Are they just a fraction of everyone’s microbiome that are allowed to grow out of control, hi-jacking some niche left behind where once healthy cells have been compromised by our blind trust in personal care products or industrial food preservatives or artificial colors or herbicides or our chronically stressed and exhausted states? (again – thinking out loud here)

So my point here is this. We are not alone – yes… our microbiome is important to our immunity & health – yes… and we are getting sicker & larger these days the farther away we get from our natural environment – yes…

Now that we have some clue that our microbiome is a key feature of our bodies… what can we do to keep it healthy or to re-balance it? Besides playing in the dirt more, eliminating synthetic and anti-bacterial personal care products, eating organic whole foods from the Earth, reducing our overall toxic load, using antibiotics only when truly necessary, relaxing, de-stressing, and sleeping…

More in part 3.

We are not alone.

I’m about to use this space to unburden my brain from the thoughts and ideas whizzing around in there. This’ll be Part 1 of 3 of such unburdening. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 3 here.

I’ve been learning about health & wellness for a few years now… like immersed in it. I follow podcasts, I read everything I can get my hands on, I track down references and draw my own conclusions from data, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking… (time to start doing, but that’s a topic for another day). I do this in the name of curiosity and wonder and amazement and improvement and now… service to others.

But I have to admit, when you get thisclose to the health & wellness dogma out there  - conventional or otherwise – it’s easy to blur the lines between was is actually fact, and what is actually just so strongly believed. I’m using these posts as a place to sort some stuff out. I’m talking out loud to my peeps here.

[Aside: I found this photo the other day - it's a classroom in my high school - probably my senior year. The banner across the top of the chalkboard caught my eye... ]

Can Entrenched Ideas Be Altered By Facts?

This is the danger any human faces when they are seeking answers. We are pretty strongly wired to want to know what’s right, and then to decide what’s right based on our own experiences, and then to let everyone else know how wrong they are – because clearly, they haven’t figured out the right way. I do my best to be objective and scientific… but it’s really difficult to resist drawing conclusions ahead of the evidence sometime.

I say this as fair warning my friends… because I’m about to stitch together a story that’s been developing in my mind. A story about our ill health, our diet and lifestyle, our environment, and some likely ways forward. I’ll reference where I can – and let you know when I’m speculating. It’s my vision of what’s going down with us here in the developed world. This story takes place as a series of observations & interpretations, ’cause that’s how I roll.

Observation #1: We are not alone.

This we know. I’d say this is fact. We are not alone in our bodies – we share our bodies with our microbiome. In fact, there are estimates that 90% of the cells in your body are the bacteria, yeast, viruses, parasites etc… that make up your unique microbiome. We are just really scratching the surface in our understanding of this ‘forgotten organ’ of ours.

We know, for example, that fecal transplants – literally transplanting the poop from a healthy individual into an unhealthy individual – cure a C. difficile infection (a bug that wreaks havoc on your digestive system) 90-100% of the time – depending on the study group. This is really a slam dunk for the importance of our microbiome on our health.

People have experimented with particular bacterial communities (probiotics) to treat eczema. People experiment with parasites to treat neurological disorders and other autoimmune diseases. Researchers are now tinkering with drugs that alter a person’s microbiome to control blood sugar dysregulation. New science (on mice) suggests that the increase in metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors correlated to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes) is correlated to a microbiome that is out of whack. Researchers are making mice obese or lean by shifting and sharing bacteria from obese or lean humans into germ-free mice.

We think that our microbiome somehow trains, strengthens, or otherwise challenges our immune system (like a vaccine does) to keep us healthy. We think that our microbiome and their byproducts can help us to create neurotransmitters like serotonin that help keep us happy – and out of depression.

There is probably oh so much more that these invisible guys do. Respect.

But, this is a frontier area of research – with serious limitations today. For example, a gut microbiome sample measured by 2 different labs identifies 2 very different communities. Shit. Literally. The very collection, handling, and processing of these samples expose them to change. Oh, and how do we know what’s a normal and healthy microbiome in a population where it’s so common to be sick? How will this information be interpreted and used? Is it safe to monkey with nature in the form of drugs that alter your microbiome – when we haven’t yet figured it out? (Perhaps a rhetorical question.)

Why manufacture drugs when nature has figured this out for us? Should we all just close our eyes, rub ourselves together, and trust in nature? This is what happens at daycare facilities day in and day out.  Kids are exposed to viruses and like little vectors bombard their classrooms with it – leaving the healthy kids just a little stronger thanks to the immune challenge.

It’s clear that there’s something to this microbiome stuff… we are not alone – and we could stand to have some compassion for our non-human cells, maybe welcome a few more bacteria to the party once in a while to shake things up in there.

More on that in Part 2.


5 Reasons Why There’s No Time Like the Present…

I’m a health coach – I’m throwing my all into spreading some serious health around. I’m pretty passionate about what I’m doing these days.

I’m also aware of how my brain works. I’m one of those people with great ideas running around in my head – and I end up thinking that everyone can see those ideas for some reason.

For example: I’m giving a free health & wellness seminar that I call ‘Thrive’ (I really need a better name for it – I’m on that)… it’s scheduled from 4:00-5:30 on Friday, June 27th at Jules Pilates Studio in Madison. I’ve arranged it, it’s going to happen… and now of course people will know about it, because it’s going to happen.

I didn’t say I was a marketer ;)

So, let me tell you a bit more about it – and then I’ll get to the meat of this post.

5 Reasons That There's No Time Like the Present + FREE Thrive Health & Wellness Workshop | From This Day Forward Health Coaching

This workshop is during Dane Buy Local’s Independents Week celebration (June 27 – July 7)… It’s a workshop that walks you through some important phases that you’ll likely go through if you are about to seize the day – to begin your own personal health revolution… today.

  • Motivation
  • Open mindedness
  • Awareness
  • Where YOU begin
  • Food as Medicine
  • How to travel this journey

In this workshop – I’ll outline my own (ongoing) personal health journey – because I believe it’s a common story that goes something like:

  • girl thinks she’s fat
  • girl loses weight conventionally/restrictively
  • girl’s friends encourage her because they think she’s looking hot
  • girl loses health
  • girl’s doctor fails her
  • girl takes ownership of her body
  • girl’s head has to change/fight convention
  • girl finally begins to thrive…

It’s about a diet mentality gone very wrong, and thankfully I discovered the error in my ways – and I really want to share it with you.

I’ve also got an important exercise for you to do. Despite the baseline commonality that conventional health & wellness wisdom may be wrong about a lot of things, we all live unique lives.  We all have unique stressors: our support networks, our habits, our jobs, our environment, our perspective, our upbringing – all as different as can be. Our bodies are all informed by vastly different circumstances – making our starting points in this quest for health very different. In this workshop, you will see where YOU should start.

Finally – I’ve got a unique approach to human health, which is why I question a lot of conventional health advice. My background is in geology and paleobiology/evolutionary science. I am very interested in how the human species best thrives (you might be too)… I call my approach ‘ancestral’ – and I’ll talk about this more at the workshop.

In addition to the valuable information that you will take away from this workshop, I’m offering some crazy deep discounts on my group health coaching program for the duration of Independents Week.  Like, 2 for 1 – so bring a friend – bring your own personal support network – and the 2 of you can split the investment. Express your interest anytime from June 27 – July 7 – and your program fee is only $65 / month for 6 months.

And because I’m incredibly interested in your success in this program – I’ll even let you try out the first session before you invest. For real.

Hey – if you happen to be reading this and thinking to yourself – “Damn, self, I’d love to hear what she has to say, but I’ve missed this opportunity.” Fret not. Contact me and I’d be happy to arrange a workshop for you and your colleagues.

And now, our regularly scheduled programming.

5 reasons why there’s no time like the present to invest in your health.

1) Your current life & health is the sum total of everything that has happened to you and your body since the day that you were conceived. Seriously. It’s taken you (insert your age here) years to build you so far. Small, consistent, daily shifts in your current routine will change your body & life. The sooner you start, the more life you can soak up down the road. There’s no time like the present.

2)  ”Procrastination is the thief of time” – I’m pretty damn good at this, and you might be too. “I’ll start tomorrow” is sort of a survival technique that many of us live by. Problem is, we don’t reap any rewards today – or tomorrow –  if we’re always planning to change at some point in the future.  There’s no time like the present.

3) We’re pretty comfortable in our routine, right? Which is why we often fail to see the bigger picture. It can be exciting to shake things up – to jump outside of your comfort zone where real change happens. Plus – there are SO MANY OPTIONS out there… gazillions of new food, ways to move, things to do, blades of grass to touch… abundance!  You’re robbing yourself of variety and quite possibly some great joy if you stick to the way things have always been done. Imagine the possibilities… There’s no time like the present.

4) Do you have minions kids in your life? These guys are so malleable, they literally soak up information all day long. Their lives and their bodies are on some sort of trajectory that is largely influenced by what goes on at home. You are one of their most important, if not the most important role models. They will learn their habits from you. Is there a new direction that you’d like to go? They’re watching… there’s no time like the present.

5) The monetary reason… right now – I’m offering deep discounts for in person group health coaching… designed to help you slowly and sustainably shift your life and health in a health gaining sort of direction. Money talks, I know. This small – proactive investment in your health today could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road. You can see this I’m sure. 75% of our health care costs today go toward largely preventable disease maintenance. There’s no time like the present to take control.

Let me help you to do this… you’ve already read this today, you have some interest and awareness – you’re on your way, don’t lose momentum.

You’ve got some serious assets there…

[I've just sent this post out via my monthly newsletter - and wanted some more eyes to see it, so here ya go]

You've Got Some Serious Assets There | From This Day Forward Health Coaching

Let’s pretend that the day you were born, you had a bank account with $200,000 dollars in it… all to yourself.

Two Hundred Thousand Dollars, born with it. Score.

So, you begin your journey in life… dipping into this account to buy clothes, to buy books, to buy food, to buy experiences… to assist you in living life. Actually, you feel pretty rich when you’re young, right?  I mean $200,000 is an entirely different game than the tooth fairy is playing.

But as you get a bit older, you realize this asset is finite. This bank account makes a bit of interest… but not nearly enough to keep you from eventually going bankrupt. You might consider investing some of this money to earn a higher return, you might even consider hiring a financial advisor to help you to grow this money.

Oh, and you’ll most likely work a job as part of your financial strategy. In fact, your entire educational paradigm might revolve around earning a stable income, because hey, money is where it’s at.

Fast forward a few more years and you might get creative or change your perspective with respect to money along the way. You might re-prioritize things. Asking yourself, “What do I really need this for?” or “What’s the best use for this money?” (This is something your advisor would definitely prompt you to do – in the name of planning).

Bottom line, it’s an asset. We generally know what to do with assets. We can grow them, we can maintain them, protect them, or we can use and deplete them. Sort of depends on your goals, your financial knowledge, your risk tolerance, your willingness to learn for yourself or to reach out for help…

Do you see where I’m going here?

We ARE born with our very most important asset. Our health. Without our health, we are less likely to be able to grow or maintain any other assets in our lives. The challenge here is that, while you can know exactly how much money is left in the bank, there is no easy way to measure the balance of your health – until you start losing it.

Young bodies are resilient, they can withstand a lot of abuse. In fact, in our youth, we constantly dipped into our very most important asset with very little re-investment… but to our young eyes, we still had a huge pile of health left. We required instant gratification, with little thought to any long-term strategy of growing or maintaining health, with little thought to our future selves.

Fast forward to a time when you may be ready for your body to create new life. These days, pregnancy has been delayed later and later in life – while we figure out our own relationships, wants, needs, responsibilities, and work to have monetary assets on hand to raise babies. I had my first child when I was 30 – and I know many families that didn’t welcome kids into their home until closer they were closer to 40 or even 50.

Ironically though, fertility begins to decline after age 30. So, when we’re finally ready, our bodies are saying to us, “yeah, f*ck you”.

My body told me this – loud and clear – we had to see a reproductive endocrinologist, a.k.a. the egg whisperer, to conceive our second child – and I was only 33.

BUT, if you’ve been managing your (health) assets properly, you are more likely to build healthy families later in life… AND to recover from childbirth more fully.

What does this mean? How do you manage your health assets properly? That is the $64,000 question. :)

Here are a few big ideas worth sharing.

Step 1: Awareness.

Seriously. And this is a challenge. Because most of us figure this out too late in life. We suddenly become aware of our health only when it’s deteriorating. Shit. If you are reading this, you need to forward it to someone young and invincible. Create awareness… let me be the bad guy if you have to. Why do we know more about money and material stuff and medicine than we do about the needs of our own bodies?

So, simply put – this is your what. We need to recognize that we have health to maintain, and that we have a pivotal role in that.


Step 2: Perspective.

Also a challenge. We sort of gain more perspective as we age, right? How do we cultivate perspective when we’re young? Oh there are so many ways. All of them require unplugging and observing real life. By experiencing real life. We can gain perspective by helping others… We can gain perspective by jumping out of our comfort zone, we can gain perspective by traveling, by meeting new people. We can lose perspective by doing what we’ve always done in the same place day in and day out. 

So, simply put, this is your how. We need to be able to see that what we do everyday - has consequences for our health outcomes decades from now.


Step 3: Self-love.

You can be aware, even have a great perspective, but without really caring about the person that you are, well – there go your chances of growing or maintaining health. Maybe this should be Step 1. It’s so important to cultivate this. This means that you can look at yourself – inside and out, and love what you see, love what you feel. This means that you know that you’re worth it, this means that you have empathy for your body and mind. That you have some extreme self-care in place, that you prioritize you, prioritize life.

So, simply put, this is your who & why. It’s you, because you love you – and that’s why.


Step 4: Curiosity.

Curiosity, flexibility, willingness to change or consider new ideas. An ability to hear a new idea and say, ‘Isn’t that interesting!’ rather than ‘No way, I don’t buy it.’ It’s pretty vital to your health to be able to cultivate your inner explorer/scientist AND to allow your instinct to have a voice. This skill is particularly important to counteract the pull of media and advertising, two market-driven forces that don’t necessarily have your best interest in mind.


With awareness, perspective, self-love, and curiosity in place, you will do the best that you can for yourself and your health. The one-right-way to manage your health is the way that is most true to you.

Do you have these things in play? Which piece is the most difficult for you?

I’d like to thank a new friend, Christie at Forward Fertility, for planting this analogy in my head the other day… if we only viewed our health the same way we view our financial assets, then we’d be more proactive about growing & protecting it.


You are so worth it


Want to be part of something big?

See, I have this thing… and I’m so passionate about this thing, and I know that this thing is something big.

And I want to share this thing with you, so badly.

It’s a project that is far reaching… I’m on a mission that could add quality years to your life, and tens of thousands of dollars to your bank account. I’m currently trying to quantify exactly what that would mean to you.

But for now, I can give you some rough estimates. I’ll use myself – 5 years ago to give you an idea of what I mean…

5 years ago, I was on 2 prescription medications: cabergoline for elevated prolactin & consequent infertility, and a beta blocker called nadolol for wonky heart beats.

I think that these were generic meds, and I had some insurance to help cover the costs – so my out-of-pocket cost was something like $10/mo ($120/year) for these prescriptions, I was pretty lucky. Without that coverage, I would’ve paid more like $300/mo ($3600/year!).

But the larger cost of taking those prescriptions stems from the fact that those medicines were designed to relieve my symptoms. And they did. My prolactin levels came down, I got my period again, and my heart stopped randomly flipping out. A fun side effect of both of those drugs was low blood pressure. No matter how hard I worked out at the gym, I could not get my heart rate up above 140 bpm. That was interesting for sure. I wonder what the long term effects of that would have been. Hmmmm.

My doctors were content with this drug solution – and I was too. Hell, it didn’t cost me much and my problems were solved.

Anyway, back to the larger cost. There was something going on in my body that was causing my prolactin to elevate, and my heart to flip out. And for sure, it wasn’t a cabergoline and nadolol deficiency. While my body was screaming at me loud and clear that something was wrong, I was busy trying to silence it instead of listening to it.

Here’s where I get to be arm wavy – because I know how this story really ends ;)

If I had stayed on that path of medicating my (not life-threatening but scary) health issues, I might have set myself up for some more serious health issues. If you can’t tell if your body is sick (because you’re treating the symptoms), then you sort of run the risk of actually having compound health issues.

But in my case, I had a wake up call. Somewhere between my doctor failing me and my instinct telling me that I wasn’t designed to be medicated, but I WAS designed to heal.

I also looked around me – observed the health issues that my family was tackling – and decided that the various thyroid diseases, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and gall bladder disease that is prevalent in my family – was not going to take me down. There must be things that I could do to decrease my chances of any of these diagnoses.

Because 75% of chronic disease…. it’s preventable.

AND $3 out of every $4 spent on health care are attributed to chronic disease management. Here are some estimates for the cost of chronic disease:

(I have a hard enough time saving for retirement – these numbers are scary)

So there’s a huge potential cost for our health care – and an even bigger cost to our quality of life down the road… that we have a whole lot of control over.

More than you may realize.

My own health journey has me pretty fired up to share. So fired up to share that I’ve found new purpose in life.

Which is actually a huge positive feedback thing for me… and my health. HUGE.

Here’s where the something big comes in. I’ve started a group coaching program that I call THRIVE. It’s a program for women who are tired of feeling shitty. For whom conventional medicine & dietary advice is failing. Who have open minds and are ready to make change. For women who aim to gain health in a way that makes perfect sense.

And when you do gain health – and you’re ready to pay it forward – I have you covered too. For me, part of thriving means having more to give – and I hope to give back to our community in some way.

I know that life is expensive today. We all have lots of bills. This part of the reason why a group coaching approach makes sense. The individual investment is relatively low, and the rewards can be enormous.

And the community, support, and accountability – well, it’s super nice.

Right now, and through the end of April 2014, I’m offering 2 for 1 if you enroll in the THRIVE program with a friend. That’s 50% off.

It is currently offered in 2 locations in Madison.  The group at Jules Pilates Studio on the west side of town meets every other Wednesday from 5:15-6:45 pm, and the group at Chrysalis Hair & Body on the east side of town meets every other Sunday from 2:30-4:00 pm.

AND if you’d like to try it before you invest – just RSVP to me… I’ll set you up.

Bring a friend :)

You are worth any investment really… You are so worth it.





Just Leaping.

Leap with From This Day Forward Health Coaching

Most of us live in a box of some sort. The foundation for your box was made with support from friends and family, and the rest of this box was crafted by you with the things that you’ve learned and the resources that you’ve gathered.

And you made this box, because that’s just what humans do, we make boxes. From the moment you were born, to the day that you are reading this crazy message – you’ve been in the business of building, renovating, and re-decorating this box of yours.

There’s another name for this box. You can also call it your comfort zone.

And boy is it comfortable in there. Damn cozy. It’s got all of the niceties. It’s wired with all of the modern conveniences you’ll ever need to get by.  And as a bonus, you have complete control over who has access.

Let’s look at this comfort zone of yours from a different perspective.

How often do you peek outside it? Do you know who’s hanging around outside this box? What’s going on outside of those walls? Have you ever climbed on top of this place to see what it feels like up there?

I think it’s safe to say, opportunities in life, they are found outside of the box – outside of your comfort zone.

If you envision everything and everyone that has made you who you are today, I bet the biggest changes in your life have happened because of some leap that you’ve taken. A time when you’ve moved outside of your comfort zone.

Conversely, if you’re seeking major change in your life (ie. relationship, career, body image, health, fitness, dietary), you are quite unlikely to find it in that box of yours. Because, it’s business as usual in there so how will things change?

How do you move away from your comfort zone?  Think about standing in front of a giant, cold, swimming pool.  Are you the type of person who slowly inches in, or are you the just jump in and get it over with kind of person?

Me, I’ve never been a ‘just jump in’ person – always favored the slide-into-the-pool-and-freak-out-the-entire-time approach. <<<That right there is my comfort zone. And that right there is the reason why, I need to start jumping in with wreckless abandon.

Yes, there is fear involved. Sometimes what you need to do is to face that fear… and do it anyway.

I’m happy to let you into my brain on this one – because I’m in the process of leaping as we speak. I have a whole pile of fears, and I’m about to face them head on.

Meredith’s Comfort Zone: I’m sooo comfortable behind my laptop, writing, creating, virtually socializing… I can literally wake up in the morning and sit down in front of this machine and just go to work.

Meredith Wants Major Change: Yes, yes I do. I’m building a new business, and I want to make an impact on my local community. ^^^ Ergo, Meredith’s Comfort Zone is not going to cut it.

Meredith’s Leap: I realize that to meet my goals, I need to literally get out of my house and meet face to face with people, I need to run workshops, I need to offer classes, I need to get out of my jammies in the morning :)  This means networking events, this means figuring out how to market myself, this means just starting my group coaching program.

Leap with me!

Tell me in the comments – What is your comfort zone? What is the major change you’d like to make? How can can leap out of your comfort zone to make that change?





Cultivating Neurons.

I’m a big fan of cultivating things.  Soil, hobbies, knowledge, food snobbery… brain cells… health, you get the drift :)

From Merriam-Webster:

cul·ti·vate transitive verb \ˈkəl-tə-vāt\

: to prepare and use (soil) for growing plants

: to grow and care for (plants)

: to grow or raise (something) under conditions that you can control

I’m not about to go into gory detail about how to literally cultivate neurons, that’s a topic for another day.  But I am going to help you to figuratively cultivate some neurons today by explaining a bit about what “THEY SAY”.

Who are “THEY”?  You know who they are… THEY are the researchers, scientists, and academics that we opt to put our trust in, because it’s not our job to do what they do. How the heck could we possibly know enough to evaluate their science?

THEY are the people who brought us such common knowledge / blanket statements as:

  • ‘saturated fat causes heart disease’
  • ‘keep your cholesterol below 200′
  • ‘eggs are bad’ or ‘eggs are good’
  • ‘GMO’s are not harmful to humans’
  • ‘you have to eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight’
  • ‘meat is unhealthy’
  • ‘dairy causes cancer’
  • ‘low-fat products are healthy’
  • ‘artificial sweeteners are zero calories and therefore are better than sugar’


Fundamentally, these claims are damn near impossible to support.  The first and foremost reason is that you can’t isolate one particular food or random isolated food element (cholesterol, calories) as being a cause for disease when we don’t live in a bubble. Our individual risk tolerance is dependent on everything from how healthy your grandma was to how active, non-toxic, rested, content, and mindful that you are today.

In fact, it is difficult to do nutrition research and draw meaningful conclusions at all, unless you do experimental studies.  These don’t happen too often, because that would require human guinea pigs.

We CAN get some IDEAS by looking at correlations in large populations.  This has been the standard for nutrition study.  There are some high profile studies out there, that you may know of, things like ‘The China Study‘  & ‘The Nurses Health Study‘ & ‘The Framingham Heart Study‘.  These studies are what is known as ‘observational’ studies, where data is collected from large groups of people, people are given questionnaires to assess their lifestyles, and are asked yearly or so to recount their diets over the past year.  And then the statistician comes in to find correlations in those groups. Things like ‘red meat is correlated to colon cancer’ pop out.

The problem with these studies, is that correlation can not prove causation. Here’s what I mean. Umbrella use is correlated with rain.  Makes sense, right? We tend to use them more often when it is raining.  But do umbrellas CAUSE rain?  Nope.  This same logic applies to observational studies.  Here’s a fun look at some other interesting correlations.

Not that all observational studies are a waste of time of course, you CAN make statistically significant correlations.  But, you can’t prove causation.  You’ll see words like ‘likely’ or ‘linked to’ in the conclusions.

That said – you DO have it in you to question and evaluate these claims further for yourself – and I’m going to give you a quick primer on just what to look for in the ‘science’.

Step 1: Read the claim.  If you come across an article that claims that eggs are unhealthy for you, like I just did, read it through with an open mind, as opposed to simply disagreeing with it right off the bat because you have some dogmatic view of what is the right food for humans.  I run across this a lot in my line of work.  There are a lot of emotions tied to food.

Step 2: Seek the references.  If you read an unreferenced claim, you have no way to know what sort of data the claim was based on.  You might consider googling this claim to see what references are out there – if you’re really interested.  If there are references attached to the claim then it’s time to locate them to see if they support the claim.  A lot of information is made available to the public online, in some cases, you’d benefit from having access to a University library system.  Pub-med is a great place to search – also Google Scholar.

Step 3: Identify what kind of study it is.  Is it an observational study or an experimental study ?… Note the size of the study – what is the data pool… and also if anyone has access to the data.  The China Study (which concludes that animal protein causes cancer) cited above, is an observational study of enormous proportions – they made the data public, so that anyone who was interested could evaluate it for themselves.  Others have, and have drawn different conclusions.

Step 4: Identify who funded the study.  Or do the authors have any affiliations that could create a bias?  This is important, because if – for example – a study is released that says ‘Nutrasweet is health promoting’ and the makers of Nutrasweet funded the study… then you might question whether or not the data was cherry picked to support the most favorable outcome.  Horrible yes, but this happens.

SO, yeah.  This health stuff, it’s hard to know what to believe – but be skeptical of health claims about individual foods, or food groups.  There’s not a lot we know for sure, and there’s a whole lot that we have yet to discover. My approach is to go back to basics, eat real, whole food raised/grown naturally… to listen to your body, to realize that anything can be toxic to your body if you eat too much of it, and to opt-out of our modern day science experiment.  It’s working for me.

Let me know if you’re in.



I’ve got some work to do…

I just returned from my first day at the Well Expo here in Madison – and I’m walking away realizing that I have some work to do.

But first – the goodness.  I’m so proud to be working with Julia McConahey of Chrysalis Hair & Body – Madison’s only non-toxic salon.  I watched her educate people – by having them educate themselves. Winning approach.  She had a ‘skin deep’ challenge, where she asked people to look up at least one of their own personal care products on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to see exactly how toxic the ingredients are.  This was eye opening to a lot of people… Lucky for them though, Lisa Brill from Qet Botanicals (right here in Cross Plains, WI) was close by to help them discover all natural replacements for their favorite bath and body products.

Yes – this is indeed goodness.

I had a chance to walk around the Well Expo and see who was there… it was a pretty busy place, full of vendors who are trying to make a living in the health & wellness industry. I couldn’t help but notice the that the ‘quick fix’ people were still out there – suckering women into buying their shakes or supplements to lose weight.  I guess there’s a market for anything.

I picked up one of the freebie bags full of ads and samples from the vendors at the Expo.  There were a couple of things in that bag that I found particularly counter to good health.  Here’s one:

zero calorie fizzy 'water'

It’s called ‘Klarbrunn Vita ICE’, orange mango

(+ antixidants, 0 calories, + vitamins)

Wow.  It could also say + preservatives, +artificial colors, +artificial flavors, +artificial sweeteners… but I guess that wouldn’t help it to sound healthy.

Yeah, this stuff does in no way contribute to wellness.  Just don’t kid yourself.

Also, I received a copy of a magazine called ‘Nature’s Pathway’ – advertised as ‘Nutrition, Fitness, Organic & Sustainable Living, Balance, Wellness, Community’.  Sign me up!  It has a ton of health promoting words in it… with one egg-ception.

eggs are evil

This article warns that eggs are not healthy.  The author is stuck on their cholesterol content as a major negative. She cites that eggs may increase your risk for diabetes, that eggs have similar effects on your arteries as smoking cigarettes, that egg consumption is linked with heart failure, that they can be a public hazard, that they can increase a man’s risk for prostate cancer, and that they may increase mortality.  Yikes!

And not the advice that I would give – I would say most people have an egg deficiency – but that’s another story :)

This article is referenced –  I intend to check out those references to see what sorts of studies they are… I suspect we’re looking at correlations and food recall – which are not so much science as they are data massaged to come to a specific answer.  There is nothing that we can learn about causation from such studies.

Maybe I’ll write them and set the record straight(er).

It is very true that wellness is in the eye of the beholder – that we’re all at a different starting point – and that we need to question what we hear and what we read.


My Paleo, is more than Paleo.

My personal health gains began when I learned about and implemented a Paleo-ish diet.

Paleo is a funny word, with a lot of connotations attached to it. A Paleo diet has been misunderstood by people to be a carnivorous diet, even though the bulk of the Paleo diet is vegetables.

It has been ‘de-bunked’ as an approach that is somehow unachievable – because we no longer have access to the food that our paleolithic ancestors ate.  But, that’s not the point of this approach.

Paleo is sometimes seen as a re-enactment even. I suppose there are people who’d rather go back in time and live as our ancestors did, but we’ve got some pretty sweet advances these days… that have extended our lives significantly.

The media routinely puts Paleo through the mill for some reason. Maybe it’s just fun for them to do. It generally stirs up some excitement – and that makes good press.

But let’s sift through the BS, shall we?

There is nothing inherently dangerous about a Paleo approach – except that if everyone did it our grain-based economy would crash.

There is a lot that is inherently dangerous about our current industrialized food system, which supports our economy just fine.

Paleo has become a movement of sorts. A real food movement in my estimation. A real food movement with the added bonus of factoring in lifestyle. It’s about eating, moving, sleeping, and connecting in a way that is inline with our human-ness.

Here’s what I learned from MY Paleo-ish approach. I learned that our modern industrial food system is not designed to deliver fresh food to the masses. That most of the products in the grocery store are made with preservatives to make them shelf stable, artificial ingredients, to make them taste better to you, and refined seed oil (cottonseed, soy, corn, canola…) that is most likely oxidized.

I’ve learned that a lot of conventional produce is full of pesticides (see the Environmental Working Group for info on the safest conventional produce).

I’ve learned that GMO crops that are sprayed with Round Up ready herbicides incorporate those herbicides into the cellular structure of the plant.

Ergo, you consume preservatives, artificial ingredients, herbicides, pesticides, and oxidized fats… disguised as food. And a lot of people consume a lot of these things.

I’ve also learned that the 90% of your cells that aren’t human (your microbiome) probably don’t play nice with preservatives, artificial ingredients, pesticides, herbicides… we are crappy hosts.

I’ve learned (first hand) that you can make yourself sensitive to certain foods. This is interesting.  If you remove something from your diet long enough, and then reintroduce it, you’re likely to notice it.  Sometimes you’ll notice it in a big way.

I’ve learned a lot more about my body, I’ve learned to respect it more… and that’s been life changing.

I’ve learned to look at our modern world through an evolutionary lens and to try some different things, unconventional things.

Mostly, I’ve learned that we all have a choice to make when it comes to what we eat, how we move, how much we sleep, and how often we take a break and enjoy the company of others.  We can step back and view the human population from a broader perspective and learn a thing or two about the giant social experiment that we’ve got going on right now.  We can compare and contrast the human population at many different points in time, and speculate about how different foods and environmental conditions shaped them – and then try different things on for size.

While I credit the Paleo movement for shifting my perspective, I am not dogmatic about this… I’m always a skeptic… that’s the scientist in me.

I don’t follow anyone’s prescription for life – except my own.

If you’re interested in learning more about this Paleo movement and then personalizing this approach to fit you… I’ve created a 90-card deck of tarot cards called Teach Me How-To Paleo.  It’s full of resources that’ll help you get out of your own way, so your body can do what it’s supposed to do.

Let me know if you check it out!

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