Weight Loss, Anyone?

I am in need of a weight loss client, and I’m turning to you guys for help. A big component of my Weight Management & Sports Nutrition class is to conduct a case study with a client who needs to lose weight. We are studying metabolism in depth, and learning what can cause it to speed up or slow down. We will read a few different books on weight loss and apply some weight loss theories and strategies to our case study clients to help them lose weight.

Is anyone interested? Below is an overview of the process:

  • You must be willing to work with me for at least 5-6 weeks, beginning next week.
  • You do NOT have to live in Denver; we can do phone and e-mail consultation if you live in another city or state.
  • I will have you fill out my intake forms, which includes recording what you eat and other information about your health.
  • I will assess your diet and other lifestyle factors, and propose a menu plan for weight loss.
  • You will carry out the plan, and communicate with me on how things are going.
  • This will be FREE since it is a case study for a class.
  • I will not blog about you or use your name in class unless you give me consent – you will remain anonymous.
  • We will not only work on weight loss, but will go further than that to work on cleaning up your diet and incorporating foods that will be supportive of a healthy, happy body.

SO, if you are looking to lose some weight and are willing to commit some time between now and June 17th, please e-mail me (annpierce09@gmail.com) to introduce yourself and let me know why you want to lose weight. Anyone can apply – boys, girls, any age, any situation. I will choose someone by Wednesday or Thursday of next week, so please e-mail me soon! This is a great opportunity for someone to get nutrition counseling and lose some of that extra weight just in time for summer. Even though I am a student, I promise you I will be committed to your situation and work hard to help you achieve your goals. If things go well, we could continue working together after the class is over (throughout the summer). This will be great practice for me and I am very excited about it!

If you are not looking to lose weight right now, please pass this along to anyone who may be interested.

Thanks for your help, guys!

Have a great weekend,


Coconut Water & Coconut Milk

After reading yesterday’s post on coconut oil and its amazing health benefits, has anyone gone out and bought some yet? I hope so!

If you venture into Whole Foods, Safeway, or even your local yoga studio, you have probably seen cartons or cans of coconut water flying off the shelves. It’s easy for me to figure out new health food trends – just by sitting in class. We are allowed (encouraged, almost!) to bring food to class, and it’s where I get a lot of my ideas for what to eat or drink next! My classmates were drinking Kombucha tea and eating goji berries long before they became popular. The newest beverage I’m seeing around the classroom, though, is coconut water.

Coconut water is the natural liquid found in a coconut. It has many of the same health benefits as the coconut oil, but has no fat and contains sugar. However, it’s 100% natural if you buy the right kind. Ingredients should say “young coconut juice” or something similar. Coconut water is most often taken from a young coconut because these coconuts have the most liquids. As a coconut matures, the water is replaced by the meat, and a coconut becomes much denser and less liquid. Young coconuts are typically green, while the more mature ones are brown.

No preservatives, added sugars or other additives need be added to coconut water, so (again) read labels carefully. Some reputable brands include Vita Coco, Zico Pure, O.N.E., and Amy & Brian Naturals. Coconut water is full of electrolytes and is considered very refreshing and hydrating. This is why you see it in gyms and yoga studios. In some countries where medical saline is unavailable but coconuts are abundant, coconut water is used as an intravenous hydration fluid in hospitals.

Other health benefits associated with drinking coconut water regularly include: healthy immune system; intestinal health; increased metabolism; weight loss; supports those with diabetes or high blood pressure (and has even helped lower blood pressure); increased circulation; helps to break down kidney stones; and calming of an upset stomach.

Coconut water is high in potassium, salts and minerals, so it helps restore the body’s balance after vigorous exercise or in times of dehydration. It also contains the lauric acid I mentioned yesterday, which helps detoxify and protect the body. It is safe for children because it is 100% natural and does not contain any added sugars. It may be a good substitute for regular juice for kids. You can get coconut water in little cartons (similar to a juice box), and it is just sweet enough that they may love it!

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a mixture of equal parts of the natural liquid found in a coconut and shredded “meat” of the coconut, boiled together and strained. This is why coconut milk appears thicker and whiter than coconut water. Coconut milk is higher in fats and sugars (all good, natural ones though) than coconut water, and is often used for cooking or baking. My brother makes an awesome curry (which I hope he blogs soon for us!) and he uses coconut milk.

Coconut milk also contains lauric acid (same nutrient found in breast milk) and has many of the same benefits as coconut oil and water. It is high in vitamins, including B-vitamins, protein, zinc, phosphorous and iron. Coconut milk can be a great ingredient to add to homemade baby food recipes, and is also great for kids. As with the introduction of any new food, give your baby or child a small amount of the coconut milk first to make sure they don’t have an allergic reaction.

I hope you all go out this weekend and buy some fresh, natural coconut water or milk! I find it very refreshing – about 6 ounces is enough to rejuvenate me after a long run or a pilates session. And if you can get fresh coconut water while on a tropical vacation, lucky you… fresh nutritious water from a newly picked coconut; lots of vitamin D… what more could you ask for???


Coconut Oil!

Sometimes the world of nutrition seems to be one trend after another, some good, some not so good, but all get a lot of attention and are tried by many. There was the low-carb Atkins phase, then everything became low-fat and sugar-free. Right now gluten-free is big, and we see food companies all over the place coming up with gluten-free breads, crackers and cookies.

Another big “trend” right now is coconuts. Not just real coconuts, but also coconut milk, coconut water, coconut oil, and coconut-flavored bars and cookies. Some of you may be wondering if this is just another agave-type craze: we all buy into the health benefits of coconut, only to realize a year later that it’s not as great as we were once led to believe (read more about agave here).

I have done a lot of research on coconut and I believe it really is a powerful food, particularly the coconut oil. Per tablespoon, coconut oil has 125 calories and 14 grams of fat, most of it saturated. Nothing else – no carbs, no protein, no fiber, no cholesterol, no sodium. Many of you are probably cringing right now at the fact that it’s full of saturated fat. Would you be even more shocked if I told you that coconut oil is often used (successfully) in weight loss?

The fats in coconut oil are mainly medium-chain fatty acids, which are digested, go into the liver, and are immediately available for our body to use as energy. Therefore, they are used up rather than being stored as body fat. The types of fats that can be stored as fat more easily include long-chain fatty acids as well as trans fats or hydrogenated fats. Coconut oil is much like olive oil in that quality is very important for maximum health benefits. Low quality coconut oil = refined fats, which means you lose the weight loss benefits. If you buy high quality coconut oil, it will be unrefined and free from bleach or deodorizers. Look for words like “virgin,” “organic,” and “cold-pressed” when deciding which coconut oil to buy. The oil should be a solid at temperatures below 75 degrees F. It does not need to be refrigerated.

So what makes coconut oil so great?

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which works wonders inside the body. Lauric acid helps rid our digestive tract of bad bacteria, yeast, viruses and fungi. It is the same type of fat found in breast milk that protects the baby from getting sick while they are so young. The oil is anti-microbial (similar to the raw honey) and makes our immune systems stronger. Anyone with digestive tract issues or discomfort, such as cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, may benefit from a few tablespoons of coconut oil throughout each day. It will help to restore the beneficial intestinal flora and rid your body of toxins and bad bacteria. When you first start using coconut oil, you may experience some diarrhea as the coconut oil detoxifies your intestines. The fats in coconut oil also increase your absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Replacing your refined vegetable oils with coconut oil promotes weight loss for a few different reasons. Coconut oil, because of its fat makeup, has fewer calories per gram of fat. The fats are treated like carbohydrates (because they are medium-chain) and used as energy rather than being stored, like the refined, hydrogenated or trans-fats of other oils. Coconut oil increases your metabolism, allowing you to burn calories more quickly. Also, since coconut oil cleans up your digestive tract and improves digestion and absorption of food and nutrients, your body becomes more balanced. This balance will lead to more optimal function of all of your organs and systems, which allows for weight loss.

An additional benefit of coconut oil is that it’s a very stable oil, so it can be used for cooking or baking without worrying about altering the fats such that they lose their health benefits. I use coconut oil for almost all of our cooking and I’ve used it in baking as well. And, it doesn’t make our meat and veggies taste like coconut. I know someone who doesn’t like the taste of coconut but has cooked with it and claimed he couldn’t even tell the difference between coconut oil and olive oil.

Other great uses for coconut oil: used as a butter substitute in baking; spread on toast, baked potatoes or vegetables; mixed into smoothies; rubbed over cuts to prevent infection; or even rubbed onto your skin to relieve dry skin! Coconut oil can help with dry or aging skin – it’s fats help refresh the skin and it’s 100% natural so you don’t have to worry about toxins (I think coconut oil would rate very well on the Skin Deep website I talked about yesterday). It has also been used successfully to treat skin problems like psoriasis and eczema. Another great use is a hair conditioner – it can make your dandruff disappear in a heartbeat, or just use it as a natural conditioner if your hair is looking dry or brittle.

Have I convinced you yet that this should be a staple in your kitchen (or, bathroom)? I love using coconut oil and have experienced some of its benefits firsthand. One thing I will say is to be careful of what you find in the stores. Since it is such a big food right now, there are coconut oils popping up that are refined, not 100% natural, and not organic. I buy ours online, either from Amazon (South Pacific Trading Company brand) or from Wilderness Family Naturals, which is a brand my teacher recommended and allows you to buy in bulk to save some money.

Coconut waters, milk and other products are another topic for another day… maybe tomorrow?


Skin Deep Website

The more I learn about nutrition, the more firmly I believe that what I put into my body will reflect my health, for better or for worse. When I eat too much sugar, my skin looks bad. When I eat more vegetables and whole foods, I feel lighter on my feet and energized. It’s not rocket science, but now that I have studied it, tested it, and seen results, I know it’s true. I realize that other things like genes, stress level and exercise have a place in the health equation as well, but nutrition is something that we have the power to control, and it’s my focus.

However, “what I put into my body” does not only mean things that go through my mouth. Right now in Anatomy & Physiology we are studying the integumentary system. That’s skin, for those who haven’t had a science class in a while (which was me, until this class started a few weeks ago!).

Our skin is the largest organ of our body, which makes sense if you think about it. It has a huge surface area! And those pores, they are everywhere… taking things in, letting things out. When I started nutrition school I began to purge all of the processed foods, oils and condiments in our cabinets and refrigerator. At the same time, I began to evaluate my skin and body care products as well. Some things were easy to replace. I found a facial cleanser and lotion that I love from Mountain Rose Herbs, and I use coconut oil in the winter when my hands and feet get really dry. I love my organic body wash. I’ve replaced most of our household cleaners with all-natural products, so I’m inhaling fewer toxins whenever I clean. I even found natural hand soap that we like.

However, there are some adjustments I am finding very difficult to make. For example, I got an organic, natural shampoo last summer and my little sister Madeline (who was living with us at the time) used it to wash her hair before work. She stomped into my room 20 minutes later with a hairbrush in hand, hair dried but appearing very greasy, and said, “I DON’T recommend using that organic shampoo!” I tried it the next day and sure enough, it left my hair nice and greasy.

We’ve tried eco-friendly, natural dishwasher soap. The result? Brown residue on our dishes. We have a very powerful dishwasher and we rinse our dishes well. They should come out clean.

I’m not too keen on natural deodorant, but I use it whenever possible. During a workout, though, it’s absolutely necessary I use Secret Clinical Strength Marathon Fresh scent deodorant. It’s a courtesy to the people at my gym.

And natural toothpaste? Still undecided on that one. The taste doesn’t bother me but are my teeth really getting clean? And will they stay pearly white? I worry they aren’t, and they won’t. I’ll have to defer to my dentist on this one.

In class, we talked about a website where you can look up just how toxic your body and skincare products really are. It uses a rating system to evaluate a product’s ingredients on things like toxicity and environmental friendliness, as well as any links a certain product has to cancer, allergies, endocrine disruption, mutations and irritations. It also evaluates product ingredients to let you know if any of them are on the FDA’s “warning” or “hazardous” lists.

And yes, it’s upsetting. Very upsetting! For example, my favorite body lotion of all time is Jergens Cherry Almond scent lotion. I think I’ve been using it since high school – that’s 12+ years. My friends say the smell of cherry almond reminds them of me. I’ve made claims that it’s the only lotion that keeps my hands from drying out. And do you know what it’s rated? 7 out of 10. That’s bad. As stated on the website, “ingredients in this product are linked to… cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, violations, restrictions and warnings, allergens/immunotoxicity” and a list of about 10 “other concerns”.

How awful!

My perfume? Also rated a 7. My deodorant? A 5. My shampoo? A 7. And the list goes on.

I encourage you to look at the site and enter a few of your things. Again, I don’t mean to disappoint anyone but I do believe we all need to be aware, at the very least. Cosmetics are another big area for toxins and you can look them up on this website too.

So what do we do about it? I think we need to first and foremost, be aware of what we are putting into and onto our bodies. Some people may be more sensitive to these things than others, and if you do have any symptoms like dry, itchy skin, you may switch to gentler products. The goal is to work to reduce the toxins we are exposed to, whether they come from food or body care products. My approach is to focus most of my energy on the food, while spending some time trying new products and switching if I find something that I like, that I can afford, and that fits into our life rather effortlessly. Making homemade cleaning products or laundry detergent seems like too much work right now, so I’m not doing it. But, I have tried laundry detergents that have fewer chemicals because I do have sensitive skin.

Some people say that we should not put anything onto our body that we wouldn’t also be wiling to eat. This makes sense to me, and I like it, but I see it more as a vision than a concrete goal. Small changes are great and they are fun to experiment with: raw honey on open wounds instead of Neosporin, coconut oil on dry skin instead of a heavy cream, chamomile and peppermint oils rubbed on the temples to soothe a headache. I think some of these remedies can be especially beneficial for young children because their bodies are still so small and using natural approaches can prevent irritations or allergic reactions.

Anyway, click here to check out the website and see if you learn anything!


Guest Blogger Ed: Egg Salad Recipe

I am very excited to introduce today's guest blogger and my husband, Ed Pierce. Although Ed spends most of his time working, skiing, golfing, fishing, playing basketball, doing yardwork, and watching sports, he does venture into the kitchen from time to time and he is actually quite a good cook and grillmaster. Ed is consistently very patient and even enthusiastic about my new nutrition experiments. For example, last week he willingly took the Sesame Seed Test (more on that later), let me prick his finger to determine his blood type, and drank fresh coconut juice (with pulp) to prepare for a 5-mile race we did. Thank you, Ed, for putting up with all of this, and thanks for offering to guest blog today - you're the best!

I am taking it upon myself to brag about my wife and let you know that she has been blogging about nutrition for six months now. That is 130 blogs for the mathletes. I can tell you that she puts hours into each blog post. I would like to think we are all healthier from her efforts.

Considering the six straight months of blogging, I thought I would treat her to a day off on this ANNiversary.

I am going to introduce you to the delicate world of egg salad. Many of you are probably pretty intimidated to try a tricky menu item like this. I am here to assuage those fears with a straightforward and, yes, nutritious recipe.

Ann can tell you about all the healthy benefits of eating eggs from pastured chickens. I cannot. But, I did use them in this tasty salad. (Note from Ann: Read about eggs from pastured chickens here.)

Here are the ingredients:

  • 6 eggs from pastured chickens
  • 4 rings of pepperoncinis (from the jar)
  • 4 rings of jalepenos (jar)
  • 4 green olives with pits (great natural fats)
  • 1 big garlic clove
  • 6-7 pickle slices (I considers these veggies, but Ann firmly disagrees)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of stone ground mustard
  • Half a teaspoon of light mayo (I have tried extra virgin olive oil for a healthier approach, but it tends to separate from the other contents and sits at the bottom of the bowl in the fridge – not that appetizing)
  • Dash(es) of paprika (I have used cayenne before and I did not like it, because egg salad shouldn’t have too much kick). Please note that paprika has more vitamin C per ounce than lemon juice – cool.

First, place the eggs into a pot of water, bring to a boil and boil for four minutes. Let cool by draining the warm water. Now, shower the eggs with cold water. This approach makes them easier to peel.

Peel and cut up into chunks in a bowl. By the way, the less the eggs are cooked, the more nutrients they retain. If you are a Type O blood person like me, you need all that animal protein. Blood type will be a later blog by Ann……

Secondly, I mince the pepperoncinis, jalepenos, olives (once carved away from the pit), the garlic clove, and the pickles.

This is where you really have to pay attention:

Add these minced foods to the chopped eggs along with the mustard, mayo, paprika, and the sea salt and pepper. Stir and let a friend taste-test.

Amazingly, you are done!

I recommend eating with crackers. My brother Richie would recommend eating in a sandwich because Richie loves sandwiches.

-Ed (Ann’s husband)