Tag Archives: diet plan

How Awareness and Positivity Will Lead You to Lasting Wellness

photo remix: Yoga woman on exercise ball - flickr_enthusiast_rocks_Nilmarie_Yoga-001Whenever you start a new diet or weight loss program there is one important question to ask yourself: why? Don’t stop yourself at the simple answer “Oh, I want to lose a few pounds to fit in those new jeans” or “I don’t want to feel self-conscious in a bathing suit.” Dig deeper. Many people begin the journey to permanent weight loss and overall wellness because they feel that being healthier will make them happier. While being healthier does give you more energy and confidence, you can’t expect it to cure all of your unhappiness. In fact, in Deepak Chopra’s new book “What Are You Hungry For?” he argues that tending to your personal and emotional wellbeing as you begin your weight loss program is absolutely key to making the changes stick.

While no one can claim to be happy constantly, Deepak advocates that being in tune and aware of your body and emotional state allows you to better fill its needs. “It’s an infallible kind of radar,” Deepak says, “Awareness allows you to sort out what you’re doing, how you feel, what you fear, hope and wish for – indeed everything in your life.”

You are living an unaware life when you unconsciously follow habits and rote behavior without question. Do you often let others take charge of your life or feel emotionally trapped by those around you? Isolating yourself and cutting off your connections to close friends and family can be another sign that you are out of tune with your body and need to increase your awareness to make permanent change.

You can help gain awareness by including a yoga practice or meditation in your diet and exercise plan. “Peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self,” explains Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood. “This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation.

Being aware and working to keep a positive attitude will inevitably help keep you motivated as you progress towards your goal, and push you over hurdles or plateaus you reach along the way.

“Making any change is very emotional, so if you are starting this change from a negative, pessimistic place or allow yourself to go to that negative place, you won’t succeed.” Ginger Mallory of Sports Club/LA says. “However, if you vow to remain positive no matter what challenges may come with making this change, you will succeed! Your state of mind going into this will absolutely make or break you.”

But how do you find that awareness and keep that positive attitude? If you feel yourself slipping try these tips from Deepak.

  • Remember that you are both loved and loveable
  • Appreciate where you are – Even if you are just starting out, recognize the power in making the decision to make a change versus where you were before you took the first step.
  • Feel good about who you are – You are more than your shape or waist size. Remember that you are a worthy person and this process is only to make you healthier, not to change you in any way because you’re amazing the way you are.
  • Maintain loving and supportive relationships – Support will be key in this process. Stay close to those who inspire you, push you to be better and support you on the days when you can’t get to that place of positivity by yourself. Let them help hold you up.
  • Experience a deeper connection with a higher form of love – It doesn’t mean you have to prescribe to any specific religion, but connecting with a force or faith bigger than yourself can help you channel frustrations and negative feelings that arise out of your system. It can help buoy you during this transition and be another force to propel you forward.

This blog is part of our “What Are You Hungry For?” series with Sports Club/LA and to celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s latest book. Find out how you can win a copy of your own here and tell us what you are hungry for in the comments below. If you don’t want to wait for the give away you can purchase a copy of Deepak’s book today. 

photo by: adria.richards

Weight Loss Tip: Eat Your Dinner for Breakfast

GirlEatingDinnerFor many years, I operated a private practice as a naturopathic doctor in Southern California, specializing in the treatment of digestive diseases and side-effects of cancer treatment. Although weight loss support was never a service that I proactively marketed, it was an all too common issue that I found myself needing to address with my patient population. Really, this wasn’t a surprise to me, given that close to 70% of all adults in this country are overweight or obese. Every doctor, no matter their specialization, can likely relate to my experience – given the epidemic of overweight and obesity in our country, the need to treat these diseases is fundamental to successfully addressing the vast majority of other symptoms and illnesses plaguing our society today.

The weight loss protocol that I created was conceptually quite simple and consisted of two basic recommendations:

  1. Decrease reliance on packaged and fast foods and increase consumption of whole foods
  2. Make breakfast the biggest meal of the day, lunch the next largest and dinner the smallest

I consciously avoided complicated rules and trends such as those found in diets like “The Zone” or “Atkins”.  My goal was to create a mental shift in my patients from seeing a diet as a temporary thing to do to lose weight to a life-long way of approaching food in a healthy manner. Personally, I don’t have the time or interest to count calories, weigh my meals or eat the same frozen dinners over and over. Perhaps it was my own irritation with these trendy plans that played the biggest role in the advice I ultimately shared with patients.

To get started, I would often suggest a patient make one simple change: eat their dinner for breakfast and their breakfast for dinner. So, if they typically ate a chicken breast, green salad and slice of bread with butter for dinner and a bowl of cereal for breakfast, they’d just switch them up, simple as that. Although the idea of eating chicken breast and salad for breakfast was often a bit of a mental struggle, it was about as easy a change as you could make…no modifications to your grocery shopping list, no new recipes, no calorie counting.

More times than not, when I would see them at their next appointment, they had lost weight…amazing but true. With the idea planted (and some nice weight loss results as motivator), I would then work with them to find more suitable meal ideas grounded in whole food ingredients that followed the same approach of eating the largest meal at breakfast and the smallest meal at dinner.

Last week when I came across a study recently published in the journal Obesity that followed this same approach I was incredibly excited. I was even more excited when I read the results of the study that found significant weight loss as well as other improvements in fasting glucose, insulin and triglyceride levels in the treatment group. How wonderful it was to see this approach studied and to see it demonstrate such positive and measurable results.

I have often joked that I discovered the next diet fad and have even come up with a few potential names, “The Dinner-Fast Diet”, “Eat Steak but Only at Breakfast Diet” or maybe, “The Upside Down Diet”. Too bad I don’t have a publishing deal…it seems like I really may be on to something!

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5 Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips That Will Leave Your Body Feeling Brand New

Strawberry #2

As herbalist Kathy Abascal pointed out in a recent article with Spirituality & Health magazine, most weight-loss diets out there tend to focus on one thing (be it gluten, dairy, glycemic rating, etc) and are therefore ineffective. Weight does not exist in a vacuum, which is why isolating certain aspects of the diet for the purpose of losing weight simply doesn’t work. Achieving overall health through lifestyle changes is the only way to see the kind of results you want. And, according to Abascal, there is one extremely effective way of doing that.

It’s called the TQI Diet, which stands for “To Quiet Inflammation.” From her expertise in biochemistry and herbalism, Abascal discovered that inflammation was one of the most common symptoms associated with poor health and extra weight. Having struggled with her own weight issues and eager to make a change, she developed an anti-inflammatory diet plan that is responsible for remarkable results among its followers.

Here are 5 of the 10 tips Abascal shares with Spirituality & Health on how to reduce inflammation and start losing weight:

  1. Eliminate inflammatory foods, like those high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well as alcohol.
  2. Eat healthy fats like nuts, avocados, and seeds.
  3. Eat breakfast soon after rising.
  4. Eat consistent meals without grazing throughout the day.
  5. Eliminate bedtime snacking.

For the rest of Abascal’s tips, as well as her description of how she developed the diet and why it’s so effective, check out the interview in the July/August issue of Spirituality & Health magazine.

Have you struggled with inflammation in the past? What have you done to reduce it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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SH_JulyAug_CVR_lrgSpirituality & Health is a magazine for people who want to explore the spiritual journey and wake up to our capacity for self-healing, vitality, and resiliency. Read the entire conversation with Christine Northrup in the July-August edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! Get your first issue FREE here.

Would you like to win a FREE year-long subscription to Spirituality & Health magazine?

This month, Intent is giving away 5 year-long subscriptions to Spirituality & Health magazine. To enter, simply comment below with your favorite empowering quote. Be sure to include your name and email so we can contact you if you win.


Why Isn’t All This “Good Advice” Working For You?

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 1.02.00 PMEvery day you are bombarded by well-intentioned, “good” advice ranging from stress management to diet and exercise. Sorting it all out can be difficult, especially when it’s conflicting: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” versus “out of sight, out of mind.”  Some of this good advice is a mysterious secret which will be revealed if you buy the book, and some of it comes in the form of meditation and visualization tapes which speak to you personally – you and millions of others listeners. And this is precisely the problem: One size does not fit all.

If you tap into YOUR gut intuition, you already know:

  • What your healthy balanced meal plan should  include – which foods agree with you and which don’t
  • The specific daily exercises which work for you
  • How to reboot your natural rhythm
  • That stress is internally driven and based on your perception
  • The person you need to forgive
  • That getting a good night’s sleep is restorative and how you should proceed
  • That how you wake up in the morning impacts your entire day

For example, let’s look closely at this last point. I prefer to set my alarm clock five minutes early which gives me greater control to wake into consciousness. By easing into awareness I can set the tempo and focus necessary to begin my day. I believe that my daily awakening is so important that I prepare for it the night before with my own intention for the next day, like laying out my clothes for work in the morning. I prepare a phrase that I find from a poetic, philosophical or religious work and on many evenings I write my own words by reaching into my heart. I know what I need to tell myself to manage my day. Since seasons and conditions vary, my self-help messages will be different. I don’t need to listen to someone else telling me what to think or envision.

Bottom line: No one can motivate you. To generate will power you need to create “resonance”. Whatever you desire to achieve, whether losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, pursuing a higher degree or dating again, you need to reflect if what you wish is in harmony with your inner self.

The key question you need to ask yourself: Do I really want to achieve this goal? Or is this a goal that:

•I believe I “should” pursue

•My parents always wanted for me

•I feel pressured to achieve because of competition with friends and neighbors

When you are in harmony with yourself, you will be eager to complete any goal which you genuinely want because it is your heart’s desire. On the other hand, you lack will power because subconsciously you really don’t want to change the status quo. You might be getting some reward even from a bad habit. For example, some of us pity ourselves and enjoy playing the sympathy card. “Poor me, I can’t meet any good men as they all seem to be taken. I’ll just have to fill my empty heart with this rich, creamy ice cream.”

Ultimately, don’t give away your power. Hypnotize yourself! Self-help literally means self-help.

Breaking the SAD Cycle: Mark Bittman’s VB6 (Vegan Before 6:00) Diet Plan


I’m a Bittman fan all the way, but I admit my first reaction to the concept of this book was skepticism. In my experience working with patients, some of the worst nutrition decisions tend to be made at dinner (after 6pm). Could being vegan until 6pm and then opening the flood gates to whatever you want to eat really be a good approach? However, with more thought I became curious (plus I heard there were recipes in the book and Mark Bittman always has great recipes) so I bought a copy.

My curiosity grew as soon as I began reading. It’s ironic to me that the foreword to this book was written by Dean Ornish, MD. After all, Dr. Ornish is the doctor whose philosophy when I began reading his literature in the mid-90s was that drastic diet and lifestyle change were the best (and really only) approach to successful outcomes in the long run. Little changes didn’t provide results quickly enough to maintain a patient’s motivation. This logic stuck with me through my med school days as I worked with patients and saw firsthand what worked and what didn’t. Ultimately, I netted out that people are individuals and for some small changes are all that’s possible, for others, jumping in with both feet does the trick. It seems Dr. Ornish has come back to center as well as he states,

If you eat vegan before dinner and indulge yourself afterward, you’re likely to notice great improvements in your health and well-being without feeling deprived. As you start to feel better and notice how much healthier you are, you’re likely to find yourself in a virtuous cycle in which you may want to do even more.

This book is really a description of Bittman’s personal journey to find the bridge between health and his love of eating. It’s just the right balance of science, personal testimony, and practical DIY tips. As a doctor whose primary tool is food, I appreciate the time Bittman takes in this book to walk the reader through how we (collectively as a society) have gotten to this place of high-calorie, processed food that is largely absent of nutrition. Bittman’s description of the Standard American Diet (which he dubs “SAD” through most of the book),

…food that either contains no nutritious value whatsoever—like soda—or foods that are loaded with chemicals and so highly processed that even though they might contain some nutritional value, they bear little resemblance to their origins.

He provides the reader with a 28-day plan to get started and (thankfully for those of us who have all but given up hope of ever having time to cook on a regular basis) he provides a list of “wildcards” (page 120), super quick vegan meals that can either be quickly thrown together at home or found on the go in a restaurant or even in a pinch at a friend’s wedding reception.

To be a healthy vegan, a diverse mix of whole nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables and fruits is essential. Eating in this way quickly breaks down the confines of the Standard American Diet and provides a crash course in nutrition 101 as a result. If you’re looking for a way to engage with the power of food as medicine but are not sure you’re ready to swear off your go-to comfort foods, this book is an approachable guide told through a voice that’s done it and is living the benefits eating vegan before 6:00 can provide.

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8 Day Plan for Optimal Nutrition

In the spirit of Hanukkah and giving the gift of health to you and yours, I designed this 8 day plan to inspire and refresh.

For serving amounts, what counts as carb etc see the AKA menu worksheet at www.ashleykoffapproved.com

Day 1: Clean Up: get rid of any packaged foods containing high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, colors with #s by them (ex. blue lake #3), and msg (monosodium glutamate or autolyzed yeast.

Day 2: Aim to eat one serving of each of these colors (naturally, Skittles and Froot Loops don’t count); ideally organic! Red, blue, green, and orange – hint, frozen organic is a great option

Day 3: Eat 1-2 (1 for weight loss / low activity) servings of carbohydrate, protein, and 1 of healthy fat per eating occasion. Still hungry? Unlimited Vegetables (ex. Apple + 1 Tbsp almond butter OR palm size wild salmon + sauteed garlic spinach + fist size of rice or a bowl of organic berries with a drizzle of chocolate sauce)

Day 4: Beverage patrol / control: 1 cup of coffee or tea max for the day (hint green tea and oolong have metabolic / fat burning advantages). Go decaf the rest and no beverages with sugar – even if they say ‘just a Tad sweet’ ;)

Day 5: Treat Day! But a non-food treat that is :) remind yourself how great non-food gifts can be to give and receive. I LOVE my new Radius toothbrush made from recycled dollar bills and I always love a massage- what do you want to treat yourself too?

Day 6: Swop an animal for a vegetarian source of protein today – Nuttzo on an apple? A Sunshine burger? Nature’s Path Hemp granola or hempseeds on a bowl of berries? Hummus and veggies? Quinoa bowl with chopped walnuts, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and ginger?

Day 7: Swop high-fat dairy and less healthy animal fats for vegetarian sources (hemp, flax, olive, avocado) and wild fish (sardines, cod, salmon) or fish oil supplementation like Ascenta’s NutraSea (with Pure check) and New Chapter’s Wholeomega.

Day 8: Digest better with tools like Align probiotic, healingmovement.net cultured vegetables, Natural Calm, Urban Moonshine’s bitters, and spices like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and fennel seeds

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