Monday, September 22, 2014

Product Review - Nocciolata


Rigoni di Asiago asked me to do a taste review of their Nocciolata product. Have you heard of it?  Nocciolata is an organic hazelnut spread with cocoa and milk and it is delicious - very rich and creamy!

The folks at Rigoni di Asiago sent me this generous gift pack to sample.  They sent 2 of their 9.5 oz. jars of Nocciolata and several packets of small travel size squeeze spreads.  I really like the idea of the travel packets because they are perfect to toss in your gym bag, lunch bag, or backpack along with some fruit or crackers for a quick pick me up.  A real bonus is that opened jars do not have to be refrigerated.

Let me tell you a little bit about the product itself....  It's made with dark chocolate, Italian hazelnuts, brown sugar, skim milk and Bourbon vanilla extract.  It's a 100% organic product made with natural raw ingredients, no artificial flavors or colors, no hydrogenated fat and it's gluten free.  It's smooth and creamy.  And delicious!

 I like to use it as a dip with fresh apples and bananas because it makes for a nice snack at any time of the day.  I also like it on my home made crepes.  But you can also eat it as a spread on bread or toast, on ice cream, or add it to your favorite recipes for cupcakes, brownies, cookies, crepes or muffins.   They have a lot of great ideas for this on their website.

Nocciolata is smooth and creamy goodness in a jar - I give this product high points.  It's easy to use as is or to add to other things for additional flavor.  With my fast paced school and work out schedule, it's a great go -to item for a quick pick me up!

Please go over and check out their products and recipes on their website.

Check out their Facebook page here and see what they have on Pinterest as well.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How Far I've Come in 4 Years

Sometimes I look back on my journey and I'm amazed at how far I've come in just over 4 years.  It's been an amazing ride and I'm happy that I made a conscious decision to turn my life around.  Has it been easy?  No, it hasn't.  There were plenty of days when I wanted to eat cake instead of chicken, lay on my bed and watch TV instead of working out, or play video games instead of researching food content.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, then you know my story.  If you're new to my blog, take the time to check out the My Story Tab so you can read about my initial steps on this road to a healthy lifestyle.  Below is a photo of me when I was 16 years old......

And this is me now, at 21 years old.....

I am committed to taking care of myself.  I eat healthy meals with occasional cheat days where I do eat cake or ice cream or pasta.  I work out to some extent almost every day - I lift weights, I stretch, or I walk on the treadmill.  I take vitamins and cook lean meats, eat vegetables, fresh fruit and oatmeal.  I prepare all my own meals - my mom hasn't cooked for me in over 4 years.  And I'm going to school to become a dietitian - I'm in my junior year of college - and I hope to pursue a career in sports nutrition.

Making that decision to change my life has changed the course of my life.  I've proven to myself that I can reach my goals with determination and by staying focused.  

Now it's your turn....   Change your life, make the decision, go for it!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Causes of a weight loss Plateau part 2

 Decreases in activity

When our calories are low and we are losing weight at a steady pace our bodies eventually want to slow down that weight loss to ensure that we keep as much stored energy(fat) as possible in case of famine (going back to when our ancestors did not know when the next meal would be).  In order to conserve as much energy as possible we will subconsciously not fidget as much, walk around less, stand less, and reduce activity in general.  It may not sound like much but it can add up to several hundred calories per day. 

Solution:  Consciously make an effort to be more active and force yourself to expend calories.  Take the stairs, walk to the store, tap your foot, and just move around.  By being aware of the fact that your body is going to want to move less you can counter act this by increasing your activity on a conscious level.


The heavier the body is the more energy it requires to perform all activities.  When we lose weight the body has an easier time performing these activities so it does not require as many calories.  So, a person who weighed 250 lbs at the beginning of their weight loss journey may have needed 3000 calories per day to lose  1 lb per week due to his/her weight, but after he/she has lost 50 lbs the body may only need 2500 calories per day to perform the same amount of activity and lose 1 lb per week.  Therefore, the amount of calories this person was eating to lose weight at 250 lbs is now too much to lose weight at 200 lbs.

Solution: Adaptation is inevitable, but by decreasing calories 250-500 per day when your scale weight has not decreased at all over several weeks you should return to losing .5-1 lb per week.  Another option would be to simply increase exercise as this will burn more calories and allow you to eat the same amount of calories, but still continue weight loss.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Causes of a Weight Loss Plateau Part 1

Causes of a weight loss plateau Part 1

 Eating more than you think

It is only natural that when calories have been restricted we become more “heavy handed” with our servings and pretend that they are smaller.  This is known as under reporting, and it can throw off weight loss data.  This occurs because subconsciously our body wants more food for energy.  So instead of eating 2500 calories to lose weight we eat 3000 calories and maintain our weight or gain weight, but our records of what we eat still say 2500 calories.

Solution:  Self-discipline is key here because if we don’t give into our cravings and natural desires we can continue to eat the right amount of calories for weight loss.  To be as accurate as possible we can use food scales to weigh our food to ensure that we are not eating more than we are supposed to eat.

      Decreases in LBM(Lean Body Mass)

When we lose weight we inevitably lose LBM, which is metabolically active (requires calories to be maintained).  When this happens it drops our RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) which is how many calories we burn per day without doing a single thing and our TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) which is calories burned during exercise/daily activities plus RMR.  Therefore, as weight loss occurs we lose LBM and our caloric needs are reduced, which means we must drop calories further. 

Solution:  The best way to offset this loss in LBM is to engage in resistance training because it stimulates muscle protein synthesis (which tells the body to keep LBM instead of burning it for energy).  Furthermore, eating a diet high in protein (.55-.91g per lb. of body weight) can make losses in LBM less significant.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Get Some Sleep

Get Some Sleep!

Sleep deprivation screws up hormones and can cause weight gain.

As many of you know already hormones control everything in our body. Sleep is the body’s natural way of resetting, including everything and maintaining homeostasis (balance in the body).  When the body is deprived of sleep it does not regulate hormones correctly.  Many of these hormones control appetite and fat oxidation (the burning of stored fat for fuel).  When these hormones are not regulated correctly it can lead to excessive food intake or even alter what types of foods you eat (possibly high calorie low satiety foods) which can inevitably lead to weight gain. 

As part of my own anecdote I find it interesting that over consumption of food has increased over the past several decades (which has led to an increase in overweight and obese individuals) and the tendency to work more and sleep less has also increased.  What I’m saying is that over the past several decades the amount of sleep that people get has gone down, and weight gain has increased.  It’s possible that there is no connection between the two, but it’s not impossible either.  I have no evidence to support my theory (although I haven’t searched for any to be fair); this is why this paragraph is purely anecdotal.

Escott-Stump, Sylvia, and Janice L. Raymond. "Nutrition for Health and Fitness."Krause's Foods and the                 Nutrition Care Process. By Kathleen L. Mahan. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Saunders, 2013. 469.                     Print.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, July 21, 2014

HDL and LDL Cholesterol

What is the difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol and how to increase the good and decrease the bad.


Circulates in the blood stream and binds free cholesterol to itself. Carries that cholesterol back to the liver where it is used for other functions.  Without HDL cholesterol, free cholesterol would stay in the blood where it could attach to arteries and cause blockage and/or disease.

HDL cholesterol also helps remove cholesterol from the blood which leads to less buildup of plaque and also removes cholesterol from the arterial wall.  High HDL is associated with lower risk for precursors to heart disease.

HDL can be increased by replacing saturated fats and trans-fats with monounsaturated and following a low fat (25%-35% of total calories) diet.


Saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol the most (should be less than 7% of total calories).  Trans fats also raise LDL cholesterol.  Replacing SFA with MUFA and PUFA decreases LDL cholesterol.

LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to other tissues of the body.  When LDL circulates in the blood for too long it can cause inflammation of the arties which causes precursors to CVD.

Eating foods high in antioxidants (especially vitamins C, E, and Beta-carotene) can prevent LDL cholesterol form causes inflammation of the arteries which leads to CVD.

Margarine spreads that are fortified with plant sterols and stanols have the potential to decrease LDL and total cholesterol quite significantly.  Substituting a product like Smart Balance Heart Right margarine spread could significantly reduce cholesterol levels if substituted for margarines with high saturated and trans-fats or butter. Of course, more does not mean better so use these spreads modestly and also in accordance with a healthy calorie intake.

Weight loss in overweight individuals may be the number 1 way to decrease LDL and total cholesterol because of the wide range of benefits it has on the entire body.

LDL can be modestly-greatly reduced by having a high soluble fiber intake (because soluble fiber stops cholesterol from being produced and also causes bile acids, which are made from cholesterol, to be excreted, which leads to more cholesterol being used to make bile acids which means that there is not as much cholesterol to circulate through the blood) during digestion and allows it to be excreted rather than absorbed.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kill The Risk of Cancer

Kill The Risk of Cancer With These Foods and Nutrients!

Vitamin D- Vitamin D has been shown to decrease the risk for having colon, breast, ovarian, renal, pancreatic, prostate, and other cancers. Supplementing with 2000IU of vitamin D3 per day will achieve the necessary levels of vitamin d necessary for decreased cancer risk.  Foods high in vitamin D include salmon, trout, tuna, halibut (and many other fish/seafood), fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals.

Calcium- Calcium supplementation and high diary intakes have been associated with decreased risk of colorectal cancer.  However it has also been shown to increase the risk for prostate cancer.

Coffee- Coffee contains many antioxidants which have anticancer properties.

Tea- Tea, like coffee, contains various antioxidants which have been show to prevent certain cancers.

Fruits and Vegetables- antioxidants in fruits and vegetables such as vitamin C, vitamin E, Selenium, and Phytochemicals (more on these later) have been shown to protect against mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophageal, cervical, lung, and stomach cancer.  Green and yellow vegetable re believed to play particular roles in protecting against stomach cancer.

Soy and Phytoestrogens- the isoflavones in Soy have been shown to protect against breast cancer especially when consumed before reaching adulthood.  Evidence is controversial however for soy’s’ benefits for adult women and woman during menopausal years.  Soy products should also be limited to 3 servings per day for woman who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Foods high in soy may be beneficial for men with Prostate cancer.  Foods high in soy include soy milk, edamame beans, and tofu.  Typically, foods high in soy are better than supplements derived from soy products due to a potential lack of isoflavones.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!