A New Approach to Health Coaching: Creating Affordability, Accountability, and Sustainability

It has taken me some time to get back into the flow of writing my blog again after putting out my first book last year, Heal Your Soul, Heal Your Gut. It has been said that writing a book is like having a baby and I can attest that this is quite true! Many of the same rollercoaster of emotions of the 9 months leading to childbirth such as anticipation, fear, excitement, and even a touch of morning sickness just about sums up my book writing experience.  Since the book release, it has been a busy year working with clients, doing speaking engagements and participating in health expos.

When I began my own health journey I, myself was a client and worked with a health coach.  Inspired by the experience, I returned to school and received my health coaching certificate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and now coach clients with a focus on improving gut health and autoimmune disease symptoms.  Through those experiences, I have come to many conclusions about what works and what doesn’t work to create long-term health.    For many, the current model does not allow for sustainability of healthy habits after the conclusion of their programs; many feel that they still need some form of support after ending their time with their coach.  Since the goal of health coaching is empowerment of the client, it would not be appropriate to create a co-dependent relationship where the client works with the coach on a long-term basis.  In addition, that sort of model, just isn’t affordable for many.  The new coaching program I am releasing offers a solution to these very issues and creates just that, affordability, sustainability and even accountability.  In addition, to releasing this new program, I will also be discussing additional programs that can meet you at whatever level of coaching you desire.  I will have programs that will offer options starting for free (yes free!) with levels all the way through individual one-on one coaching.

Working with my health coach was an incredible and life changing experience and brought me onto a path that permanently changed the way I approached my health.  However, I have found a universal problem within most coaching programs and that is the need for ongoing support after the coaching period has ended.  As the saying goes, “health is a journey, not a destination,” and for that reason, I feel strongly that creating a path for ongoing support is essential at the conclusion of any health coaching program.

As I went through my journey of health coaching school, one of the ideas that I found fascinating is the concept of, “the client heals the coach.”  Thats right, I’ll say it again, “the CLIENT heals the coach,”as explained by Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching School.  This notion really solidified my idea that ongoing support is crucial to the long-term success of any coaching program.   This is very similar to the concepts exemplified in the 12 -step plan of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  Those who maintain their sobriety are sponsors to others struggling with addiction.  The brilliance of AA is that being a sponsor, a mentor, is the key to maintaining one’s own sobriety.  I am convinced that this same concept absolutely applies to health coaching.  While ideally the best way for health coaching clients to sustain their healthy changes would be to become a health coach, I recognize that this is not realistic for everyone.  Therefore, I am proposing a solution to this problem with my new program.

In my new program I will offer a shared-mentorship program, where I will simultaneously coach two individuals who would like to work together.  While each session will be shorter than a typical one-on-one coaching session, the program will also be half the price. Each client will have individual one-on-one sessions to work on their own health goals.  In addition, each client will be trained in basic mentorship skills, much like a sponsor in the AA program.  I see my clients twice a month, so during the weeks where I am not meeting individually with my clients, those in a shared-mentorship program will be expected to mentor each other.  Once the program is over, these two individuals will be considered ambassadors of my health coaching program and would be encouraged to continue mentoring each other long-term.  Therefore, this new program would create affordability, sustainability and accountability.  I do recognize, that while this program solves many of the concerns within the current coaching model, it is not for everyone.  Therefore, I will continue to offer one-on-one individual coaching as well.

What if neither of these programs addresses your needs?  For some, the group coaching environment will provide the right kind of support one is looking for.  Recently, I conducted a free online coaching group introducing my 20-30-20 water challenge where individuals were taught how to incorporate 60 oz of water a day.  I was so inspired by the dedication and success of this group and look forward to offering monthly challenges approximately 6 times a year.  The next challenge will be a 24 sugar challenge where participants will receive education about sugar, how to read labels and will be challenged to keep their sugar consumption to 24 grams of sugar for 24 days.  While I intend to offer my online group challenges for free, there will be the option to pay a nominal fee for the month to receive daily check-in and more support during the challenge.

While it is said that raising children takes a village, I believe maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires ongoing support.  I am so excited to be releasing this new shared-mentorship health coaching program and would love to hear what you think about it!  The first two individuals to sign up for my new program will receive free copies of my book as well as a free joint supermarket tour!

Now Go Love You,

Jill 🙂


My Dog loves Kale (how to get your kids to eat veggies too)

407AEDC8-3A28-4138-B398-51E7FE094085Our family loves having a dog!  While it may not be the right choice for every family to add a pet, having a dog has brought our family much happiness, fun, and good bugs to add to our gut micro-biome!  It is a great way to stay consistent with daily exercise as we walk our dog Coco twice a day.  In addition, our floor is soooo clean…. 🙂 especially when we accidentally drop kale onto the floor!  We have gotten a kick out of seeing which healthy foods our dog is willing to eat.  (There are of course many healthy people foods like avocado and onions  you should never give a dog, so please check with your veterinarian for a complete list).  Our dog loves kale, carrots, sweet potato, cucumber, salmon, chicken and of course meat.  For some reason, our pup will not go for zucchini which we find quite amusing given her very varied palate.  Why am I offering so many details about my dog’s love of veggies?  Well, one day I began thinking about the many ways my kids have come to eat and love veggies and interestingly enough, it is quite similar to how my dog has come to expand her palate.  While there are of course some differences between kids and dogs, I hope to offer you some new ways to begin incorporating veggies in your kids diet, even for you pickiest eater.

TIP # 1  SAY NOTHING, CREATE CURIOSITY.

What exactly does that mean?  Well, if I am sitting on my couch relaxing and eating a snack, it is inevitable that my adorable pup will make her way over to investigate what I am eating and try to get a nibble.  I can think of so many times I have had the same experience with my children.  How many of us have finally sat down to eat a meal, (the same meal our kids would normally reject), only then, to have them sit next to us and start asking for a taste.  Therefore, if you are trying out new foods yourself, don’t necessarily offer them to your kids right away.  Create some curiosity and let them come to you and ask “what are you eating?” and give them space to ask you for a taste.  Another way to “say nothing”, is to just cut up veggies and leave them on the table with a healthy dip. Again, I emphasize, SAY NOTHING.  On their own, the kids may take a taste as they walk by the table.  Even if they completely ignore the plate of veggies on a Tuesday, try putting them out again on a Thursday and just casually observe their reaction.

TIP # 2   EXPERIMENT  

Interestingly enough, although I said my dog won’t eat zucchini….it is not entirely true.  Apparently, my very fancy dog will eat a piece of zucchini if it has been cooked!  This brings me to my next tip of Experiment.   I’ve always been fascinated with how the same food can taste so different prepared in various ways.  For example, a carrot can be roasted, steamed, sautéed or eaten raw.  It can be really fun to prepare the same veggie 4 different ways and have the kids compare the different flavors.  You may find that they would never eat a veggie raw, but once it was roasted, this same kid becomes your biggest veggie fan.   Coming back to my dog’s favorite veggie kale, it is important to keep in mind that there is a big difference in the flavor of kale depending on how it was prepared.  Raw kale can often taste bitter and rough, however, chopped raw kale, massaged in olive oil or lemon juice, tastes tender and sweet.  Kale boiled then sautéed with a little garlic, oil and sea salt also has an entirely new flavor. Crunchy kale chips that have been roasted in the oven can be quite addictive!   For about 2 years one of my children only ate kale if it was boiled and sautéed, but now, this same child is grabbing bites from my raw kale salad.

TIP # 3   GET KIDS INVOLVED

As I have discussed in past blogs, getting kids involved in the food preparation process is a great opportunity for random tastes and nibbles.  In addition, when a child has been involved in the cooking process, it is often exciting for them to eat a meal they helped to prepare.  In addition, getting kids involved in the shopping process is also valuable.  If your kids are encouraged to pick out a new veggie at the store, they will usually be more likely to try it out at home.  The first time we tried this one of my children picked out a coconut!  Although it was not a vegetable, his enthusiasm about trying out something new was quite contagious, fun and memorable!

TIP #4   MAKE IT LOOK APPEALING

What a blessing that fruits and vegetables are so beautiful and colorful!  There is something attractive about a plate with a variety of different veggies cut up looking like a piece of art.  Peppers come in many different colors of yellow, red, orange, purple and green.  Carrots can be orange, purple, or white.  Radishes have such a striking pink/magenta color that I just love!  Red cabbage which is really more of a purple shade also adds such beauty to a plain salad.  In our family, we cut up our veggies on a Sunday and have hummus and homemade dips readily available.  There are so many different flavors of hummus including roasted garlic, spinach hummus, roasted red pepper and olive hummus.  While it would be nice if we all had time to make our own hummus, this is not always realistic.  When looking for hummus to purchase, check out Trader Joe’s.  They have a variety of hummus with minimal to no preservatives or unhealthy oils.  Avoid preservatives like Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate and Phosphoric acid.  In addition avoid oils such as soybean, canola and corn which are almost always GMO (genetically modified) and sprayed with lots of pesticides.  Making your own dip is much easier than it seems.  I often take a small container of homemade or store bought mayo and add my spices directly into the container, mix them up and label the jar as a dip.  Some brands of mayo that I like include, Chosen Foods Avocado Mayo, Primal Kitchen Avocado Mayo, and Tessemae’s brand.                                                                        Please see below for a very simple dip recipe!

TIP # 5    DON’T ASSUME  

We were quite surprised when we saw our dog was such a veggie addict! The dogs our family had been exposed to would never eat any veggies.  Just because you personally do not like a particular vegetable, do not assume your kids will not like it as well.  Make a variety of veggies, even ones you don’t like, because your kids’ palate may be very different from yours. When choosing vegetables buying all organic is ideal, but that is not always within our budgets.  Use the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 as guides.  The Dirty Dozen is a list of veggies that are considered to have the most pesticides, so that is your list of veggies to try to always buy organic. The Clean 15 are those fruits and veggies considered to have the least exposure to pesticides.   Pesticides, known to be hormone disrupters, have been linked to many health conditions including reproductive disorders, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative conditions, certain types of cancer and much more.  In addition pesticides disrupt the good microbes in the soil that populate our gut micro biome, the home for a large part of our immune system.   (Please see below for the updated 2017 lists of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15)

TIP # 6     EXPOSE THEM YOUNG 

Ideally we want to expose our kids to a variety of fruits and veggies at a young age.  Your child can develop a diverse palate and eating veggies for that child can become the norm.  I wish I could say that I was that Mom who exposed their children to lots of veggies at a young age.  However, our family is living proof that all is not lost if your kids were not exposed to a variety of veggies at a young age.  This is coming from me, a now veggie addict, whose previous experience of eating broccoli was holding my nose and chewing to avoid the flavor.

TIP # 7    DON’T GIVE UP.

It takes time to enjoy new foods.  Studies show that it often takes trying a new food TEN times before we begin to develop a taste for it.  I know our family is still hopeful that even our dog will one day like raw zucchini!!

I would love to hear from you regarding your struggles and triumphs regarding veggies and children (and dogs 😉 )!!

Now Go, Love You,  Jill 🙂

Dip Recipe

1 Jar of Mayonnaise about 12 ounces (Primal Kitchen, Tessemae’s, Chosen Foods Avocado Mayo)

1-2 Tablespoons of Mustard

1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (water can be substituted)

Onion powder, garlic powder to taste

Optional:  1-2 teaspoons honey

Optional (pick one) :  Dill, Chives, Celery seed

 

The 2017 Dirty Dozen  (Preferable to buy these Organic)

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

The Clean 15 (Least likely to be contaminated with Pesticides)

  1. Sweet Corn
  2. Avocados
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

PLEASE NOTE:  SOME SWEET CORN AND PAPAYAS SOLD IN THE USA ARE GMOs , SO CHOOSE ORGANIC TO AVOID GMO VERSIONS OF THESE CROPS.

 


What??? My Fish Oil has Carrageenan… “Soy Vey”!!!

IMG_0433Food is medicine.  Like drugs, different foods can have various profound effects on the body.  For example, eating certain foods will create an anti-inflammatory effect on the body such as leafy greens, berries, nuts and fish oil.  Ingesting foods with an anti-inflammatory effect can be beneficial for various conditions such as autoimmune disorders, depression and anxiety, as well as diseases associated with cognitive decline.

A bit of time ago I had decided to purchase fish oil to add to my diet as a means to further decrease inflammation in my body.  I went to the health food store and asked to be shown the highest quality fish oil they had to offer.  I purchased the large and expensive jar of capsules and brought them home, confident that I had just added another calculated missile to attack my autoimmune disease.  I took the capsules for several days and then happen to read the ingredients.  To my absolute shock I noticed that the ingredient carrageenan was included.   So what is carrageenan you ask and why was this so shocking to me?

Carrageenan is extracted from some red seaweeds, and is used by the food industry as a thickening, gelling and stabilizing agent.  It is often added to foods such as almond milks, energy bars and other foods as a thickening agent and to extend shelf life.  It is also used by scientists to induce inflammation in mice during experiments, specifically ulcerative colitis, the exact disease I was trying to diminish!!!   As a matter of fact, Europe has banned carrageenan in baby formula because it causes intestinal distress and upset stomach including diarrhea.  Carrageenan has links to cancer and hundreds of people have come forward to report that their migraines and intestinal issues improved or were eliminated by removing carrageenan from their diet.

The irony, that this particular fish oil (not all fish oil brands have carrageenan),  that I purchased to decrease my inflammation, actually contained a substance that could induce inflammation and create intestinal upset in my body, made me so angry!  So the question I have is why would a company put carrageenan in any food (especially fish oil, a substance many people use to decrease inflammation)  if there is evidence that it can induce these harmful symptoms?  One answer can be that carrageenan is inexpensive and it extends shelf life.  Therefore, if a company is going to include an inexpensive and potentially harmful substance in their food, their number one priority is a profit, which means their number one priority is NOT you the consumer.  If your health were their number one priority over profit, then their products would contain high quality ingredients that are universally deemed safe.  As a matter of fact, the National Organic Standards voted overwhelmingly to completely ban carrageenan in all organic foods.  The USDA will order its final ruling on this matter in November 2018.

So what do I have to say about all this?….. “SOY VEY”!  “Soy vey” is my catch all phrase, (derived from the yiddish term “OY VEY”) when food companies decide to throw an ingredient in food that serves no nutritional purpose, is low quality, highly processed or potentially harmful.  So why am I picking on soy?  As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I personally DO eat modest amounts of soy as long as it has been fermented.  Fermented soy such as tempeh, tofu, natto and miso are the traditional ways that soy was ingested in Asian countries; the form of soy that brings health benefits with links to longevity.  However, the US food industry is infamous for taking a research study,  such as “people who eat soy live longer” and going to the extreme with this information.  Instead of delving into the specifics of the research on the type of soy linked to the health benefits, the food industry hears that soy is healthy and then decides to put it in EVERYTHING……… and then call it a health food!  This can be especially problematic for those with soy allergies as soy is one of the “big eight” foods that can cause immediate hypersensitivity reactions.  Not only is the soy that is placed in so many foods NOT the healthy fermented version, they are often highly chemically processed versions of soy or the waste products produced after soy processing.  Some examples include soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, and textured soy protein (TVP).  Last but not least 93% of the soy in the USA is GMO (genetically modified) which adds another layer to further diminish any health benefit soy could have to offer.  Diets excessive in soy have been linked to hormonal disruption in men and women since soy has estrogen-like compounds, can cause decreased libido (soy was used to intentionally decrease libido in monks), and thyroid disease.  If you are interested in reading further about this topic please take a look at a book called “The Whole Soy Story”, by Kayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN.  So after what the US food industry has done to soy,  making it unrecognizable compared to its original healthy version,  and putting it into food that was never, ever meant to have soy…….all I have to say is “SOY VEY”.

Carrageenan and processed soy are not the only inexpensive and potentially harmful ingredients that the food industry likes to put in food; many which are banned in other countries.  Some others include, MSG, artificial colors like yellow 5, 6 and red 40, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), trans fat/hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and preservatives such as BHA and BHT.  This is only a very short list of ingredients posing potential harm but unfortunately there are many more.  Michael Pollan, known for his documentary on Netflix,  “In Defense of Foods,” has several great tips to encourage us to eat real food.  One is to “only eat foods that will eventually rot,” and another is “don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize.”  If you don’t already read the ingredients of what you’re eating, start making a habit to do so.  If you don’t know what an ingredient is, I challenge you to do some research and look it up.  You may be very surprised at what is lurking within your food and YOU may start saying, “SOY VEY”!

Now Go Love You,

Jill 🙂

P.S. Not to worry, I have since found many fish oils without carrageenan!


The 5 P’s in a Pod method: 20 min meals

IMG_0370Many of us live very busy lives.  Sometimes we feel like we are always running on a treadmill at 4.0 and we just can’t get off.  We run from one activity to the next.  We have obligations to family, friends,  careers and/or volunteer work.  Whatever it is that occupies our lives, sometimes our health ends up on the bottom of the list.  Lack of time and lack of energy from our treadmill life, leads us to grab an energy bar, a muffin at the local coffee shop or we just skip a meal and the cycle continues.  This leads us to be exhausted and cranky. Our immune systems suffer leading to constant colds or even worse chronic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases.   This was my life years ago, where a bagel with butter and coffee with cream and sugar started off my day.   I usually skipped lunch, was starved by 4:00 pm and grabbed anything to satisfy my hunger.   Then somehow I managed to put together a meal for the family.  I went to bed, woke up in the morning and hit “REPEAT” and the cycle continued.  I have no doubt that this, oversimplified description of my life, years ago, exasperated my many illnesses.

However, what I would like to share with you today is my 5 P’s in a Pod method that can help you to transform the way you approach food preparation.  I hope to help you get off the treadmill life and on a path toward healing and longterm health.   The 5 P’s are as follows:

  1. Plan
  2. Purchase
  3. Play
  4. Prepare
  5. Pray

 

PLAN

The first step in food preparation is to Plan.  Planning means deciding what you are going to eat for every single meal the entire week, three times a day.  Right now you are probably about to stop reading this blog and You want to throw something at me!!  If this seems overwhelming, then you can just start with planning dinners  or one dinner for the week.  Planning begins first with deciding what you are going to eat.  You then list every single ingredient that you are going to need for your meal(s).  Next you are going to decide what foods you can double and save/freeze for multiple meals.   For example, when I make quinoa or rice, I double it and save or freeze some.  When I make a spaghetti squash, I will freeze half of the one I cooked.  Lastly, when I sautée mushrooms and onions, I make a lot!  I try to see how many meals can incorporate these anti-cancer foods  throughout the week.  From omelets, to lentil stir fry, or a topping on my turkey burgers, the mushrooms and onions become an ingredient for 3 very different meals.

PURCHASE

Next, it is time to Purchase.   Purchase means that you shop and purchase the food in whatever method works for you.  If you like shopping directly at the supermarket, ordering online, or joining a local CSA, that is up to you to decide.  It may take time to come up with a method that works for you and within your budget.  I personally do a lot of online ordering from different companies that have the quality products I want and at the prices I am looking for.

PLAY

Before we get to the next step of Prepare, I highly recommend the step of PLAY.  To play means to find a way to set an atmosphere of fun prior to doing your preparation.  Music with a mini dance party and just being silly can be a great way to set a fun tone prior to preparing your food.  Listening to an interesting pod cast may be another idea. Using good aromas, like a scented candle or essential oils can also set a tone of happiness and fun.

PREPARE

You have all your food in your home ready to prepare for the week, and you have set a happy and fun tone.  Now it is time to PREPARE.   I highly encourage you to make food prep for the week a family affair.  Kids are much more likely to eat food that they had a hand in helping to prepare.  Even a 2 year old can rinse off a freshly peeled carrot and they will feel so proud to be a part of the process. You may even be surprised that your picky eater will pick up a freshly cut vegetable and start eating it for the first time, just because it is there on the cutting board.  An important message that is sent when the entire family participates in food prep is that kids learn early on to take responsibility for what they eat as opposed to waiting to be fed.  This is also wonderful bonding time as a family! It reminds children about how important it is to take care of themselves.  Prep time can involve washing all your greens for salads for the week, cutting up veggies and fruit, sautéing veggies to use later in the week, soaking beans, or making some rice.  Lastly when you have help from your family, preparing food for the week does not take over your entire life.  This ritual can then become part of your normal weekly routine in order to have an organized and healthy week.

Pray

Imbuing spirituality into the process of food prep and cooking for the week is something that can change your entire approach to eating.  When we decide to recognize that our bodies are like a holy temple created by G-d, food preparation becomes a spiritual event. Love is infused into the food since the family participated in making this nutritious sustenance available for the week.  Taking the time to say a blessing and have the awareness that these vegetables, proteins, grains etc will be putting energy in your body is powerful. We can then hope and pray to heal from any ailments we may be suffering from. This can deepen our appreciation for our food.

 

Please look at the top of this blog and see the picture of the Kale Beet Salad, 100% Grass fed beef chili with Quinoa and spaghetti squash.   This meal was made in 20 min.  The Chili (which can also be made Vegan), and spaghetti squash were in my freezer.  The quinoa was left over from the previous nights dinner.  The kale had already been washed and chopped on my Sunday prep day. All I did that night for this 20 minute meal was warm up the food, massage the kale with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and chop up organic beets that I bought pre-made, vacuum packed for freshness.  Making changes to improve our health takes time.  The 5 P’s in a Pod system was not created and instituted in a day.  The key is small sustainable changes.  What is one step of the 5 P’s in a Pod system that you can institute?  You don’t need to do all the steps at once or even in order.  For example, if you associate the kitchen as a stressful place, start adding some fun into your cooking time with music, a scented candle or something else you enjoy.  Plan ahead for one meal this up and coming week and do your prep on Sunday.  You could just start saying a blessing/be mindful about your food before eating.  All of these steps begin to set the tone that your health is important and a priority.  Small sustainable steps are the goal with progress over perfection.

Now Go, Love You,

Jill 🙂


The “ME DIET” : The Diet That Saved My Health

I have been debating for quite sometime, how to go about sharing the dietary changes that led to the transformation in my health.  Part of the reason I was hesitant to jump right in and share my dietary changes in my blog, was because I wanted to get the point across that diet was not the only component influencing my health.  When other areas in our life are out of balance creating stress and anxiety, such as our relationships, career, lack of physical activity and spirituality, just eating healthy will never be enough.  In addition, I was also hesitant to share my personal diet without emphasizing that there is NO right diet.  What worked for me, may not work for you.  However, I hope that my experiences can serve as a spring board toward inspiring you to figure out what foods work for you, as well as help you to look at the other components of your life that may need balancing .  Whether we hope to loose weight, improve our energy level, minimize the symptoms of an autoimmune disease or improve our sleep, when we take the time to listen to what our bodies are telling us, we can learn so much about what we need to do to improve our health and ultimately change our lives.

I would be remiss, if I started off this blog without showing tremendous gratitude for my personal health coach that guided me through the process of discovering what I needed to do to heal my body.  What made the journey of working with my health coach so unique and successful is that within our sessions, she never told me what to do, unless I specifically asked for a suggestion.  Rather, my health coach provided a non-judgmental atmosphere where she supported, empowered and mentored me toward change.   She inspired a journey that helped me to find what I call, the “ME DIET”.   The “ME DIET”, is whatever a person discovers on their journey that works for them on a consistent and long-term basis bringing them genuine health and happiness.  So here goes,  this is my “ME DIET”.

Several years after my third pregnancy,  I started to become much more determined to find a better way to manage my ulcerative colitis.  In addition to continuing to have an unrelenting colitis flare after my daughter was born, my migraines became severe, now beginning with an aura, and keeping me in bed for 24 hours.  To control the colitis, I required several courses of prednisone, a steroid with very harsh side effects and was also placed on a medication called 6MP.  6MP is an immunosuppressant used for ulcerative colitis but it is also used to treat cancers such as lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.  Aside from the obvious, that I was on much harsher drugs now, 6MP caused me to be very tired and chronically ill with eye infections, strep, colds and stomach viruses.

Determined, I started doing a lot of research on what dietary changes have helped people with ulcerative colitis (UC), (despite being told by physicians that diet did not affect UC.)  All articles and books I read talked about going on a gluten free diet.  So I started making baked goods with gluten free flours,  replaced my noodles with brown rice noodles and started reading every food package looking for the ingredient of gluten.   After getting over the shock that it felt like wheat and gluten was in EVERYTHING, after about 2-3 weeks I did start noticing a  difference in how I felt.  I had more energy  and felt significantly less cramping and stomach pain.  I knew I was onto something, but still had a long way to go.  I also suspected that other foods may be aggravating my symptoms such as sugar, dairy, corn and caffeine.  To be honest, I felt very overwhelmed doing all this by myself without any guidance.  Maybe what I was experiencing was just a placebo effect? Was there even any science behind what I was doing?  Was I just falling for a fad diet with unrealistic hopes of a miracle cure?

Thankfully, just when I was about to give up, I happen to come across my health coach.  She was doing free consultations and I jumped at the opportunity to sit down and chat with her.  Finally, I didn’t feel alone and over the course of 6 months I really had the opportunity to experiment with foods, by adding in new ones, and removing suspected problematic foods.  Initially, I found that by removing all gluten and all grains, my injured gastrointestinal system had time to heal.  However in order for it to fully heal, I needed to nourish my body with what it was missing, healthy bacteria in the form of fermented foods, and A LOT of vegetables.  By switching to a plant based diet, heavy in leafy greens, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, my body was receiving nutrient dense foods known to decrease inflammation in the body.  In addition, I eliminated processed sugars and continue to stick with honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar as sweeteners .  I do my best to eat wild fish, organic poultry and eggs as well as grass fed beef, however I keep my animal protein portions small.  Beans are another source of nutrition for me, but I make sure they are well soaked.  I also eat nuts and seeds and stick with oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil.  I stay away from soy unless it is fermented (more about soy in an upcoming blog).  I also try to keep to one cup of coffee a day, have little to no dairy  and I drink a lot of water throughout the day.  Now I can even tolerate small amounts of gluten free grains.

When I made these changes in my diet, the ulcerative colitis became so well controlled that I no longer needed the steroids or the immunosuppressant 6MP which was confirmed through a colonoscopy.  I had more energy than I could ever remember, and I was shocked to see that I had a drastic reduction in migraines.  3 years after making these changes, I also noticed that I no longer suffered from seasonal allergies.  As someone whose definition of eating vegetables used to consist of biting off the tops of broccoli while holding my nose, I now crave vegetables when I am hungry!

Several months ago, I attended a bar mitzvah.  I wished the elderly grandfather a “Mazel Tov” and said to him, “you should have a lot of nachas from your grandson” (nachas is a  yiddish word for being happy or proud for another’s accomplishments).  This very insightful grandfather full of wisdom began to quiz me and asked, “Do you know what the most important thing in life is?”  I started listing all the things I thought were the most important things in life like family, G-d, doing good deeds etc.  He corrected me and said, “the most important thing in life is your health; without it you can’t enjoy your nachas”.  After going through this experience of regaining my health, I can truly understand what this man of common sense was reminding me to always be aware of; What are we without our health?

How does what you eat impact your health?  What areas of your life other than your diet is impacting your health in a negative way? Do you have a “ME DIET”? I look forward to having the opportunity to helping you or your friends and family that could benefit from a health coach in the near future !

Now Go, Love You,

Jill 🙂

 


Being Present, The Fisherwoman within. (Reel Girls Fish)

IMG_0089A few mornings ago, my son and I got up at 4:30 am, went outside and waited for the sun to rise. We were on our yearly vacation with the family at Lake George, NY. Waiting for the sun to rise is a meditative event. You are staring at the sky, looking for the changes in light and color. You see bits of clouds moving so you know time is passing and it is getting closer. The anticipation is exciting yet relaxing at the same time;  you are focused on this moment and you don’t want to miss it! As you wait for the first second when you see the sun,  it becomes difficult for your mind to drift and easy to bring it back to focus on the sky.

A sunrise is an experience  that can only happen once a day and for most of us, we cannot experience this regularly. For me fishing is another activity that mimics this type of meditative event that clears my mind and brings me peace. As you cast out your rod and wait, you feel the wind, the sun, smell the smells of fresh air and wait for the slightest tug on your line. I am completely focused with my eyes on the water and my hands are waiting to feel the difference between the tug of a biting fish verses the gentle lake waves moving my line.

Our days are filled with our smart phones pulling us away from what we are doing. We live in a world of instant gratification where a DVR and Netflix eliminate our need to watch a commercial or wait until next week to watch a new episode of a TV show.  Activities like fishing force us to enjoy the moment, even if we go the whole day and don’t actually catch a fish. Being present and enjoying the moment regardless of the end result is something that can be quite challenging.

Being focused was not exactly a skill I have excelled at. Although my grades were good, from a young age, teachers would note that I lacked focus, lacked self control and would often fail to read the directions and just jump into the assignment.  Over the years I connected with activities that helped me stay more focused. Aside from fishing, tennis had also become a fun physical activity that also required attention.

Traditional meditation can be extremely powerful for many, but for me personally I always found it anxiety provoking. Connecting with a physical experience that also requires focus has been most effective for me. Tai Chi has been another activity, that gives me a calm and a focused mind. Because Tai Chi also incorporates breathing  and very particular hand and feet movements, it requires concentration on each individual position. If you make a mis step you just move on, let it go and continue with the movements.

There are many activities aside from the sunrise, fishing, and Tai Chi that can induce, a calm mind and the feeling of being present. Painting, taking walks, journaling and just breathing are fantastic activities. When we can improve on these skills we can be more in touch with our spouses, children, friends, work, and our spirituality.  We are more inclined to be a receptor for the deeper messages being sent to us by G-d, creating deeper meaning in our lives.

What keeps you present in the moment? When you go for a walk, what do you feel, see, smell? How do you reconcile your relationship with technology and your smart phone? I would love to hear from you on what you already do to be present!

 

Now Go, Love You,

Jill 😊

 


A Jew and A Catholic sit down to eat..

I  grew up in a Jewish family.  I went to a Jewish nursery school and then went to public school.  From 3rd through 7th grade, I went to Hebrew school three days a week.  While I excelled in public school, I spent most of the time in the office at Hebrew School for misbehaving.  I can still hear the Israeli accent of my Hebrew school teacher saying, “Jill get out of my class!!”  I usually tried my hardest to get kicked out of class as religion was not something I was interested in.  I did enjoy the cultural aspects of Judaism, such as our family Passover Seders;  those times were one of the highlights of my childhood that I remember fondly.  We did not keep Kosher or observe the Sabbath/Shabbat although I was somewhat familiar with these practices.  At my young age, religion represented outdated rules.  There was something about religion that did intrigue me.  I  had many friends in high school and college who followed the Catholic religion.  Spending time with their families I always admired how grace was said before eating and how the whole family went to church each week and prayed.

Coming into my first year of college in 1996, I was so excited to experience the freedom that being on my own offered me.   I did my share of enjoying parties, meeting new people, becoming  aware of the little bubble that I had lived within the NYC area.  As I completed my first year of college, I had the opportunity to stay for the the summer and become an orientation leader for the new incoming freshman students.  As that program began to end, our school sought to encourage us orientation leaders to continue leadership roles within the university.  The first place that I was recruited to was the Hillel House, the Jewish Life on campus.  I was actually very happy to be a part of something Jewish again.  Although I did not grow up as an observant Jew, I was involved in Judaism in various pockets of my life such as  lighting candles on Chanukah, going to a Shabbaton (a weekend where the Jewish Sabbath is observed with 100’s of other teenagers), or helping to lead a Jewish youth group in my local synagogue during high school.  I did feel like I was missing something during my very “Jewishless” first year away from home.

Something started to change for me that second year of college.  I read a book by Rabbi Harold Kushner, a conservative Rabbi, called “To Life”.  For the first time I stopped looking at religion as a bunch of rules and saw how these practices actually created a spiritual connection between me and G-d.  As I mentioned earlier, I had always admired how my Catholic friends said grace before meals as it always felt that eating was not just arbitrary, that it served a much deeper purpose.  I began saying a  jewish blessing  before eating, and began recognizing the depth of the experience of a meal.  Eating was an opportunity to nourish my body with food that was created by G-d, and by saying a blessing, I was showing gratitude.

After experiencing my own health challenges, and my mother’s illness, the excitement and connection to eating took a down turn.  I still said a bracha (hebrew word for blessing) before eating but it was often by rote.  After going through a period in my life where I did not care what I was eating, it was hard to genuinely make a blessing, knowing that the food I was placing inside my body was harming me.

As time went by and I began my healing process as discussed in previous blogs, I began experimenting with different aspects of food and began a physical healing process.  I learned about clean eating which involves eating food that is nutrient dense, with minimal to no processing, food without chemicals in its simplest form.  Now saying a blessing began taking on a whole new meaning.  Knowing that food, created by G-d was healing my body and giving me energy, made saying a blessing over food a very spiritual event.

When it comes to clean eating, I’m not saying that we should never have an energy bar, but striving to eat food in its simplest form, not made in a factory, but created by G-d in  nature is something to think about.  An energy bar is good as emergency food to keep with us as needed to prevent missing a meal when on the go.  However, when we eat a fresh salad with different color vegetables, and a protein of choice, we are nourishing our body with vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and proteins in a code that our body recognizes.  A piece of Kale is perfectly balanced biochemically just the way it was created with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamins A, C, K, fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and even omega-3 fatty acids.  To take an energy bar with some protein and add the previously listed vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids is NOT the same thing as eating a piece of Kale and our intelligent body will always know the difference.

Spirituality can be a very important aspect of physical and emotional healing.  A point noted is that the 12 step plan used to treat addiction makes the second step in the recovery process, “to come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”.   For me, delving into Judaism  began a process of self growth,  questioning and healing .  If you do not have a spiritual practice as of yet, I suggest exploring the religion that you were born into as a starting point.  If you already have a spiritual practice, are you doing things by rote?  When you eat, do you feel that the food you are placing in your body is nourishing?  Do you feel genuine gratitude for the food on your plate?

Our bodies are one of the greatest gifts we are given!

Now Go, Love You, Jill 🙂