Trust Your Gut – as seen on Women’s Health & Fitness

imagesLast night I dreamt that I was driving an out of control sports car at top speed and I could not slow down. Swerving into oncoming traffic I was somehow able to manoeuver the car out of harm’s way and eventually came to a screeching halt in a ditch. The door was completely jammed so my only exit was through the driver’s seat window that I was able to roll down.  As I crawled out of the window, my adrenalin was pumping like a heavy bass sound from an oversized speaker. Relief washed over me as I kissed the ground after such a wild ride. Is this what it feels like to stop counting calories?

In my dream I was the driver of the car. According to my not-so-scientific Google searches on dream analysis, if you are the driver of the car, regardless of the journey, it means you are making a conscious decision to move in a certain direction in your life and taking responsibility for your own actions.  Yes I felt out of control in the dream as I did when I stopped counting calories but in reality during my calorie counting of over a decade, I was never in control; I was the mercy of a sense that to be okay, I needed to deify an arbitrary number based on one or other historical moments and strive like hell to keep my nutrition within its parameters.  When I ate less than my calorie quota, I congratulated myself and when I exceeded it, I tormented myself by reveling in guilt.  You could show me any food and I could tell you the approximate calorie content – such is the deeply entrenched ritual and data instilled by repetition. I told myself it was fine because, hey, it’s not like I was starving myself. But in many ways I was; I was starved of the freedom to choose what I ate based on what I wanted to eat and what by body felt it needed; every food choice followed strict calorie criteria to ‘fit in’ my budget. The cruel part is that while sometimes I lost a little bit of weight, although not enough for anyone to notice, most of the time my weight remained stable despite my suffering. (That’s a no to impromptu parma night). Worse, I’m convinced that my most rigid arithmetic periods coincided with weight gain – perhaps because the calorie counting mentality engenders episodic overeating driven by both appetite neuropeptidies and the ‘last supper’ mindset that says ‘you’ve blown it, so you might as well’.

Calorie counting had its place in the beginning for me. I was eating doughnuts, bagels, cheesecake and super sized chocolate chip muffins washed down with sugary, milky extra-large lattes and my weight crept up. I didn’t realise how many calories, fat and sugar were in these foods and how they were negatively affecting my metabolism.  My mood, energy levels, and hunger signals were out of whack. All these foods had sugar in common. The effect of high-glycemic index foods, for which processed foods often qualify, is rapid release of glucose into the bloodstream and concomitant blood sugar drop, colloquially known as the ‘sugar crash.’  The corollary is cravings for more quick hits, perpetuating a vicious cycle. One type of sugar, fructose, has been found to bypass the satiety switch by sneaking past the fullness hormone leptin. Many obese people are leptin resistant, meaning they literally don’t have the built-in sense of when they have eaten enough (the word comes from the Greek word, leptos, which means to be thin).  For most of us, however such a glitch is likely caused by processed foods rather than flawed physiology, so in effect we are creating a self fulfilled prophecy that we can’t trust our bodies.  My preference for sugary foods led to weight gain and believing that my body was insatiable. When I learned the caloric and nutritional content of foods, I started making healthier choices and reducing processed foods. Calore counting was a useful training drill – not a long-term solution.

Eventually I got sick of counting because I was no longer enjoying my meals, as they turned from delicious nourishing sustenance to bland numbers. What’s the point of having taste buds and cooking delicious dishes if food only amounted to numbers? Being in control my calorie allowance was the grandest illusion of all because in the end I realised it was the calorie counting that controlled me. The energetic manifestation of not trusting my gut spread into other areas of my life where I ultimately felt out of control. Only when I made the conscious decision to stop counting did the windfall of all that head space I was using up to occupy my mind with arbitrary numbers help me to gain something greater in return.

One of my favourite quote is, “Insanity is doing the same thing again and again yet expecting different results.”  Could not counting calories have unlocked something that was dormant in me for so long?  I decided to continue my experiment of not counting to see where it led and the results were not as I had anticipated.  Changing the strategy completely changed my life – transforming it in other positive and unexpected ways.

I now find myself trying to persuade clients who have become convinced that they need to count calories to lose and maintain weight that this is not the case. Tellingly, even the most disciplined aren’t underweight and most are looking for answers – calorie counting is supposed to work. And it does. While it doesn’t promote sustainable weight loss or afford control over anything that matters, it is something consistent in an ever-changing world – and many people become dependent on that in the same way a chile drags a blanket around.  When I tell people that I don’t count calories and eat what I want, they look at me like I have two heads. Can you recall a time when you were a healthy weight and didn’t have to think about what you were eating and how many grams of fat, carbs or sugar it contained?

Science supports the case for swan-diving off the calorie wagon – both due to the physiological effects that occur when one eats fewer calories than their body needs and the psychological tumult of the starve-binge cycle.  In fact while I don’t want to promote intuitive eating as a weight loss method per se, abandoning my inner abacus caused me to lose weight because without the preoccupation – and I didn’t quite realise how much head space it consumed until I gave it up – I was able to focus on things that really mattered; and without food occupying a leading role, I was surprised to find myself stopping eating before I finished because despite what I believed while calling muffins a food group, I just knew when I’d had enough. What’s more, I did still say “yes” to office cake when I felt like it, which meant I wasn’t compelled to go on baked good benders.

If your goal is weight loss and you just want to free yourself from the limitations imposed by what is akin to a second job for the brainpower it demands, stop thing about weight and start thinking about healthy eating. Nourish your body, take care of it and truly love it, for it will love you back. As a result of not counting calories I healed my metabolism by eating foods my body needed and eventually got leaner, stronger, more energetic and my bloodshot eyes cleared up.  My mood improved and I started making conscious decisions about my life to move it a direction that I wanted.  In feeding my gut with as much fantastic and nourishing food as it so desired it thanked me and steered me in new and exciting directions no doubt my decisions were sharper without competing for brain space). I started trusting myself and I got outside of my head. In not counting calories I embraced being “uncomfortable” and achieved more than I ever thought possible.

I still have days where I over think what I have eaten and worry that I am overindulging. Old habits die-hard.  Ultimately what really matters is getting up and starting fresh every day.  New habits take time to form until they become ingrained, much like brushing your teeth.  Accomplishing this goal inspired me to motivate my health coaching clients even more with their personal goals.  Being in the present and enjoying my food was the first step in showing up for life in general.  There is no reason why you can’t do the same – although I know you won’t believe it until you do it.

Stephanie Siemion

Certified Health Coach

Demystifying Diets

imgres.jpgWe all do it. The holidays happen and before you know it you’ve creeped up a few pounds or your favourite pair of jeans doesn’t quite fit the way they used to. Perhaps you have to lie down to button them up and before you know it you’re Googling “waist training” only to find out that it has nothing to do with strengthening your abs. You come across the low carb and 5-2 diets only to get caught in the cross-hairs of high carb, low protein lifestyle.  First you need to stop eating carbs and then you are told to stop eating meat. It seems like you cannot eat anything. We are surrounded by an abundance of food only to feel guilty and shamed for eating it. How did we get here?

I won’t bore you with a summary of all the various diets you can go on, as well as the pros and cons because I’m just not going to go there. Why?  Because the second you start a “diet” are you already stuck in a mindset where an unhealthy relationship with food is starting to develop. Eat carbs, eat meat, don’t eat meat. Do it because that is what you want to do but not to lose weight. The second you do it to lose weight it becomes about the weight and not about your health.

They say if you have health you have everything. Why compromise it to fit in a pair of jeans? The minute you go on a diet your “change” in lifestyle becomes something that is temporary to get the fastest results in the shortest amount of time. You have to keep on doing the diet to maintain those results. Otherwise the weight creeps back, and then some.

The lasting change you seek in order to accomplish your fitness and weight loss goals has to be something that you can continue to do for the rest of your life – not just 6 weeks. Can you stop eating your favourite foods for life? Why would you want to do that? Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy what we eat?  I think we should, especially since so many people cannot. We just need to eat healthier and learn to enjoy those foods too.

You don’t have to achieve your goals without structure. Working with a health coach will give you the tools you need to develop your own structure without the diet and maintain that for years to come. Think of us as your personal trainers for the pantry.  Everyone needs one from time to time. I had one too and she inspired me to carry on coaching myself. I have helped a lot of people achieve their fitness and weight loss goals and I can help you too. Schedule a free consultation with me HERE.

Happy New Year to you all.



Top 5 foods for beautiful skin, hair and nails

Recently I noticed a friend of mine had extra radiant skin while she was visiting. She mentioned her consistent skin care regime and healthy eating. She is almost 30 and looks like she could be 25! It got me to thinking about how important it is to nourish your body from both the inside and out. You don’t have to get plastic surgery or a face lift to look radiant at any age. Why not try some foods that give your skin that natural glow without the plastic look. Enjoy my top 5 foods for fantastic skin, also great for hair and nails!

1. Carrots – High in Vitamin A and Beta Carotene, consuming them has sun protecting qualities because they increase the collagen, which is the elastic part of your skin that gets depleted with years of sun exposure and ageing. Please use sunscreen if you plan on spending more than 20 minutes outside. Unfortunately, carrots do not render your skin completely invincible to UV rays.

2. Leafy greens – Rich in Vitamin A, B, C and K, you can also add iron, fibre and calcium. As if there weren’t enough reasons to eat those dark, leafy gems, add gorgeousness to your list! Yes dark leafy greens are good for you for so many reasons! Look for the ones that are darkest for the highest vitamin content. Try different flavours and find your favourite. Mine is arugula or rocket as they call it in Australia. This bitter green is wonderful for cleansing your blood and lungs. You body converts the Beta Carotene found in greens into Vitamin A, which is responsible for turnover of dead skin cells, producing smoother looking skin. Try your salads with different toppings to balance the bitterness, such as dried cranberries, nuts, chopped celery, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes etc. The options are endless!

3. Fish Oil – Omega 3′s found in fish oils are anti-inflammatory, preventing loss of moisture in the skin. Eat that salmon, mackerel and tuna and you will reap the benefits of beautiful, lustrous hair and suppler skin. Fatty fish do tend to contain higher levels of mercury. If consumed in moderation, 2-4 times per week it is perfectly fine to have and it’s great for your heart as well! If you don’t like the taste of fish try odourless fish oil tablets sold at your local chemist.

4. Oysters – High zinc content nourishes your hair. Did you know that hair can grow anywhere from 1/4- 1/2 inch per month and in some people; I swear it grows about 3 inches per week! All kidding aside, what are these people eating that I’m not? Maybe the secret is visiting the oyster bar from time to time. Oysters are also rich in selenium which is considered a basic building block for healthy skin, hair and nails. If you are feeling squeamish about eating the little critters refer to the other items on this list. You don’t have to eat something you find unappealing just to look hot.

5. Kombu – This edible sea vegetable from East Asia comes in all different varieties such as miso, soup stock and seasoning for rice that is used to make sushi. Kombu is rich in, iodine, which is essential for normal growth and development. It is touted for its hair growth stimulating properties. Remember that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Kombu is meant to be eaten as a seasoning. Dousing it on every morsel will only lead to iodine overload, which could disrupt thyroid functioning.

At the end of the day, what really matters when it comes to beautiful looking hair, skin and nails is a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eating as many nutritious foods as you can that appeal to your taste buds will get you is where you want to go for health and beauty. Not only will you look better but you will feel better too.


Nutritiongal – AADP Certified Health Coach
Schedule a free consultation for your personal nutrition plan at

Cranberries, Cucumbers and More!

Here’s the scoop on some nutrition packed favorites and why you won’t want to leave home without them!

Let cranberries enhance your health!

These vitamin C packed berries don’t have to be pigeonholed as a side dish to a roast turkey dinner.  First discovered by the Native Americans, cranberries were used to fight infections and treat wounds.  Their high antioxident content helps fight cancer and prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s).  Cranberries contain a chemical called proanthocyanidins (PACS), which prevent bacteria, which cause UTI’s from adhering to the urinary tract.  Cranberries are not always easy to come by but you can find them in pill form at your nearest chemist.

Biologically they are classified as a fruit but regardless of what you call them cucumbers are your friend.  They are 96% water and contain silica, which helps hair, skin and nails stay radiant.  Cucumbers are great to apply topically to the skin or ingest internally to reduce water retention and swelling.  If you are suffering from a kidney infection, cucumbers help flush toxins out of your system due to their diuretic effect. They also contain an enzyme called erepsin, which assists with protein synthesis in the kidneys. They are delicious in salads or on their own.  Try my favorite tzatziki recipe to get some extra cucumbers into your diet.

Creamy, delicious tzatziki!

Tzatziki Sauce Recipe


  • 2 (8 ounce) containers plain yogurt
  • 2 cucumbers – peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled


  1. In a food processor or blender, combine yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill and garlic. Process until well-combined. Transfer to a separate dish, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for best flavor.

Serve and enjoy!

Schedule a free consultation for your personal nutrition plan at


Nutritiongal – AADP Certified Health Coach
Find your bliss. Find your balance

Missed a Nutritiongal newsletter?  Find them all on My Nutritiongal blog.

Natural Ways to Increase your Calcium

Build a strong foundation to support your body through the years with calcium.

Did you know that Fosamax, a popular drug used to increase bone mass in individuals who have been diagnosed with low bone density, has been linked to increased cardiovascular health risks?  Several studies have claimed that taking Fosamax can lead to blood clots and irregular heartbeat.  A study of 719 individuals taking the drug demonstrated an 86% increased risk of irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) versus those who have never taken the drug.  Because osteoporosis can seriously decrease the quality of life and Fosamax has shown to be effective in increasing bone mass, doctor’s caution that risks need to be assessed before the drug can be prescribed.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just pop a pill for any ailment without negative side effects and never have to eat a vegetable again? I am waiting for the study that says that french fries help you loose weight!

Because we don’t live in a perfect world we need to come up with ways we can fight the odds of losing bone mass.  Your body stops building its calcium stores by the time you reach the ripe old age of 30.  The bank account has reached its limit but you must replace what you withdraw to reap the benefits of having strong bones or your account will have a negative balance.

Whether you are a Fosamax user or not everyone can benefit from Nutritiongal’s top 7 ways to increase your bone mass.

1.) Do weight bearing exercises at least 2-3 times per week.  You don’t have to start taking protein supplements and bench pressing 200 Lbs to increase bone mass. Simple resistance training such as doing push-ups, using a kettle ball or elastic band will help. You can Google resistance exercises or check in with your personal trainer to get a fitness plan designed especially for you.  It’s never too late to start and you will be amazed at how easy it can be!

2.) Decrease caffeine intake.  Did you know that caffeine depletes your body’s calcium stores? If you take vitamins be sure to take your calcium supplements after you have had your morning dose of caffeine.  Better yet, swap out your usual caffeinated beverages for decaffeinated beverages.  If you choose to drink decaf coffee be sure to look for Swiss Water Decaf, which is decaffeinated with water rather than cancer causing nitrates, found in standard decaf coffees.

3.) Increase your intake of leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and asparagus are the most popular cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetable and leafy greens are loaded with calcium and decrease acidity in the stomach.

4.) Decrease your intake of animal products such as dairy and red meat. Contrary to popular belief, high consumption of animal products results in higher acidity in the stomach. Your body must deplete its calcium stores in order to balance this acidity.  The alkalizing nature of vegetables means that your body isn’t depleting its calcium stores to balance the acid in your stomach.

5.) Eat Almonds.  Almonds are not only delicious and versatile but they are loaded with calcium and essential fats to help regulate your body’s metabolism. Cook them in couscous, or add them to cereals and yogurts. Almond butter is a wonderful spread to add to sandwiches and desserts. Make your own creamy almond milk at home or buy some at the store to add to cereals and smoothies.

6.) Sardines are your friends! Did you know that canned sardines contain 688 mg of calcium per 80g serving? That’s more than twice as much calcium as a hunk of cheese?  Not only are sardines delicious but they are also rich in Omega 3’s which are essential for heart health.  They are great in Greek salads or on toasted bruchetta.  You can get creative with this canned gem.

7.) Try Figs! Remember those dried, purplish vegetables in the snack section of your nearest grocery store? Time to stock up if you enjoy the flavor.  Just four figs contain 500 mg of calcium!  They also contain potassium which is great for maintaining sodium balance in the body.  Whether you like them dried or fresh, figs are delicious in most cereals, yogurts or just by themselves.

Check out this complete list of calcium rich goodies to add to your diet!
Schedule a free consultation for your personal nutrition plan at


Nutritiongal – AADP Certified Health Coach
Find your bliss. Find your balance
Missed a Nutritiongal newsletter?  Find them all on My Nutritiongal blog.

ORGANIC… The Hype… Is there a Message? Nutritiongal Newsletter Volume 13

Hello Everyone and welcome to Volume 13 of Nutritiongal’s bimonthly Newsletter,

A highly effective way of attaining optimal health is keeping chemicals off your plate.  A lot of people have been talking about the organic movement lately. It’s all over the place from food products to skincare remedies.   More and more people are becoming conscious of sustainability and environmentalism, which is just as important as your health.  There’s also the local movement where you have your farmers markets and locally grown produce sometimes at your fingertips at your favorite supermarket.  There are so many options to eat “healthy” and select something that may cost a bit more but contribute to the eco friendly movement.  How does one sift through the messages, the hype and the truth while still being friendly to your wallet as well as your waistline?  Let’s deconstruct the differences in order to help you make choices that will help save the planet, save yourself and your dough. These three things can occur together!

What is organic?  Where can you find organic products outside the supermarket?  What to buy and what to hold of on until your trust fund matures? 🙂 The term “organic” refers to a method of farming that works in harmony with nature and people to produce healthy (higher nutrient content, natural foods), sustainable (crop rotation) and environmentally friendly foods (foods produced with minimal pesticides and chemicals).  I have heard “experts” report that there is no difference in the nutritional content of organic versus non organic food, however I can’t believe that foods with more pesticides or ones that have been genetically modified (GMO) are as easily processed by the body as well as organic foods.  If  all else fails try an organically grown food and then try a non organically grown food.  I have noticed that the organic food actually tastes better.  Many people who are not even interested in this subject have reported the same to me.

Local foods are foods that may or may not be grown organically but they are from local, smaller farms, which are less likely to use as many pesticides or GMO’s as the larger factory farms.  Local foods are good for the environment because they are not trucked or flown halfway across the world to get to your plate. They are fresher because, for example, the produce are picked when they are ripe rather than before they are ripened.  You are basically eating something which is freshly picked off the tree that arrives to your plate with minimal transportation, thus less petrol/gasoline is used.

By eating local you are supporting local, small farmers who face challenges competing with factory farms.  Unlike local farmers, the factory farms are in the business of using any methods necessary in order to produce the highest quantity of food at its lowest quality for maximum profit. They are subsidized by the government and supply fast food enterprises such as McDonalds to make you sick.  Does that sound like and industry you want to support?

Since it is not likely that you will be able to completely replace your shopping list with organic or local foods I have listed the ones below that are worth going organic due to either the high pesticide content in conventionally grown methods or uncouth, hormone laden factory farmed foods.  For example items that have an outer layer that you can remove, such as oranges or bananas are OK to buy conventionally if one has to choose.  In a perfect world everything would be fresh and healthy but unfortunately this is not the case.

Without further ado, here is my list of organic/local must buys below.  This list is based on the book “Diet for a Poisoned Planet” by David Steinman.


-green peppers

-soy products
-peanuts & peanut butter


-white bread
-whole wheat bread
-rye bread
-raisin bran cereal
-all fruit-flavored, sweetened and puffed cereals

For a convenient guide on where to get organic foods in your local area check out the link below.

For those of you who don’t live in the US (AKA us peeps in Australia) check out the link below.

There’s also a great site which has organic products below. You may not be able to order organic produce from this site but there are organic packaged foods, as well as supplements that can be shipped pretty much anywhere in the world.  I have and order on its way to me as we speak.
$5 discount code -HEC204

Locate your local farmer’s market.

You can make a difference with your fork.


The Nutritiongal
Find your bliss. Find your balance

“I am currently enrolled at the Integrative Institute of Nutrition and will graduate as a certified health counselor in 2010. Fire the diet police and take back your health!”

Visit and fill out a health questionnaire for a free consultation today!

Missed a Nutritiongal newsletter?  Find them all on My Nutritiongal blog.