#Thursday, August 28, 2008
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

As you probably have heard by now stress and weight gain go hand in hand, thanks to our hormones. The good news is, anyone, and I mean anyone, can beat stress if they want to.  I interviewed a handful of my clients, friends and our nutrition and fitness experts to get their take on how they relaaaaxxxx.  Read on.

"No matter what, before I go to bed at night, I read a good book.  Nothing that requires alot of thought, just a simple, easy to read novel by one of my favorite authors.  It clears my head and I end up focusing on the characters in the book instead of my own hectic life, and this helps me go to sleep faster and stay asleep!"  Kimberly

"I used to stress out about what to eat, but as a member of this program I now know what to do.  Then I started stressing about how I would get my meals in, have the food on hand and basically make it all work.  Then I came up with a plan.  Every Sunday I spend an hour and a half prepping easy foods in bulk for the week- my grilled chicken, some veggies, some sweet potatoes.  Then I throw all of it in containers, and the food is always on hand.  No excuses, no stress."  Jaclyn

"I hit the gym after work.  I sweat it out and take my stress out through my workouts.  I've gotten some of my best workouts that way."  Steve

"I used to think massage was an indulgence, but now I call it health maintenance.  I'm active and I've learned that not only do I look better, get faster results and prevent strains and pains with deep tissue massage, but I also get my stress out.  Honestly, what other activity can you do where you just lie on a table and get taken care of and actually reap helathy rewards from it? I can't tell you how much I look forward to that one hour every two weeks."  Mel

"Dinner and movie night.  My wife and I do this religiously and it honestly erases the work week every time."  Jack

Valerie Cogswell

Head Chef and Nutrition Coach

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Do you have challenges with trying to find quick well balanced meals you can eat on the go?  Eating on the go is a part of life and with the right tools, you can easily work a balanced meal into any situation. 

Here are a few quick meals that contain protein, fat, and carbs and take 3 minutes or less to prepare!

1.  Cottage Cheese -  mix in bananas and almonds  (can substitute other fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or any nut of your choice etc.)

2. Greek Yogurt - mix in berries or granola and add some almonds or any nut of your choice

3. String cheese and an apple

4. A protein bar like Detour, Balance Bar, or Cliff Builder Protein Bar

5. Tuna kits that contain a little mayonaise and crackers (find at your local supermarket in the tuna aisle)

6. Complete meal protein shake -  Mango meal replacement shakes are perfect for on the go.  Contains the perfect ratio of protein, fat, and carbs.  Just mix in a shaker with water and you are all set.  You can purchase this on the VN store page

#Tuesday, August 26, 2008
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do you know how to beat fatigue and make the most out of your workout? The truth is that if you walk into a gym with low blood sugar, it is nearly impossible to burn body fat and protect your lean muscle, which is the point of any great workout!  So set your body up for success with the right nutrition before you even hit the gym. 

You should strive to eat a meal or snack one hour within working out, that is balanced in protein, carbohydrate and fat.  The goal is to feel satisfied and not full after the meal and to fuel your body for your tough workout. 

Here's how to handle some challenges along the way:

Even if your not a "breakfast person"  but like to work out in the a.m. you should still get a quick, balanced meal or snack in to get your metabolism going.  Try even just a 1/2 protein bar (one that has a balance of protein,carbohydrate and fat), a smoothie made of protein powder, skim or soy milk, fruit and peanut butter or nuts, or even string cheese and fruit.  The goal is to eat something with a balance of protein,carbohydrate and fat, even if it's only a few bites.  You can always eat again once you return from your workout.  You should never be weak or starving during or following a workout. This is a clear sign that your blood sugar is low and your body may be fueling on lean muscle instead of fat!

If you have a weak stomach and worry about feeling sick during your workout after a meal, aim for a half meal (cut each ingredient in the meal in half equally) or something light like a smoothie or string cheese and fruit. 

If you like to train after work or mid-afternoon and worry about not being prepared, make sure to pack a protien bar or quick snack in the morning or the night before so you can munch on it before your workout.

And lastly, don't forget the water!  Staying hydrated will help you from feeling too fatigued or dehydrated during your workout.  A balanced meal sets the tone for an effective workout and optimal results.


#Sunday, August 24, 2008

If you've ever been to your local supplement store, or wandered the supplement aisle at your favorite market, then you know how overwhelming it can be to pick and choose what's best for you.  Vitamins, herbs, fat burners, protein powders.  Where should you begin?  As a master nutrition coach for Venice Nutrition, I believe in and recommend our product line to all of my personal clients because of the quality of ingredients, the scientific information provided and the convenience of having it all only a click away.  The other reason I recommend this line is because it allows you to choose a supplement package that best suits your needs or simply choose individual products and custom design your own supplement routine. 

Although we all have different goals, lifestyles and needs, one thing is for sure.  In today's overly hectic lifestyle, there is no way that we are able to eat such a varied diet that we consume every vitamin and mineral that we need for our bodies to function optimally.  So what is the first supplement you need?  A great multivitamin.  I recommend a whole food liquid vitamin that contains a blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to promote great health and energy.  A liquid vitamin is easy to digest and added antioxidants are incredibly powerful to combat premature aging.  I also recommend that my clients have a high quality whole protein powder on hand at home and at work for quick and easy meals on the go.  If you like to experiment with different flavors, the Pro-Complete protein powders come in Strawberry (my favorite), vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake and banana.

If your trying to fight fat and strengthen your immune system, Fatty Acids are crucial.  Look for a blend of Omega 3, 6 and 9 (not just one or the other) for best results.  If you are a runner or just active in general, a good supplement to protect your joints and prevent join pain is recommended.  I recommend our Joint Boost because it's a liquid blend of MSM, Glucosamine Sulfate, and Chondroitin Sulfate.  For my clients who are trying to put on lean muscle mass and size, I recommend our K-4 Muscle Enhancer and N.O. Pump Muscle Enhancer for excellent results without having to resort to creatine products. 

And for my clients who want to boost their metabolism and fight fat faster?  R.E.M Fat Burner is an added bonus because it actually increases fat burning power during sleep, which is incredibly neat because you are getting the rest you need while still working towards your goals.

There are many wonderful and effective supplements available in today's marketplace.  If you choose to explore different brands, make sure to research the company and product.  If you are interested in learning more about a supplement package or individualized supplements that best suit your goals, needs and lifestyle, check out your Supplements Tab for more information.

Valerie Cogswell

Head Chef and Nutrition Coach

#Saturday, August 23, 2008
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

How can something as simple as water help you to lose weight?  Water, though simple, is critical for weight loss.  In fact, being adequately hydrated will help you to reach your goals at a faster pace.  When you're dehydrated, your body holds on to water weight because it is not getting enough.  The same happens when you drastically reduce calories; your body will actually hold on to stored body fat as a protection mechanism.  It sounds strange but when you take in enough H2O, your body actually releases stored water weight.  Many people are holding on to an extra 5 pounds or more, simply because they are dehydrated.  Being adequately hydrated also helps you to beat sugar cravings.  Ever notice that when it's hot outside, you crave foods like fruit and icecream?  This is because your body is actually craving fluids.  Water also helps to keep you satisfied.

So how can you get in the water you need for great hydration? Start by having one to two glasses every meal and carry a bottle around with you inbetween meals.  Keep a bottle of water in your car, at your desk at work and near by at home, so you can just grab and go.  If you aren't used to drinking alot of water, start very slowly and build your way up.  Drinking too much too soon can actually cause bloating.  See your personalized health plan to see how much water you should be drinking each day to reach your goals.

#Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This is one of the questions we get asked the most.  Alot of males, and even females ask before becoming a part of the program, "Can I put on muscle and size with Venice Nutrition?".  And the answer is, "Yes"  We have worked with thousands of clients who have the same goals; whether they are body builders, fitness competitors, professional and non-professional athletes or even those fitness enthusiasts who just want to put on size.   How can a program that is geared towards burning body fat, obtaining balance within the body and increasing metabolism also work for someone who wishes to gain pounds of pure lean muscle?  The answer is simple; it's science.

Let's lets understand the power of blood sugar stabilization; the science that the entire Venice Nutrition system is based upon.  Stable blood sugar within your body creates homeostasis (balance) and allows you to protect and build lean muscle mass, increase your metabolism and use stored body fat for fuel.  Our system prevents the loss of lean muscle mass (which almost always happens with low calorie, fad or even low carbohydrate diets).  Simply put, blood sugar stabilization achieves many things including building lean muscle mass while simultanesouly burning body fat.  Thus the system can work for anyone with the goal of getting fit, burning fat and/or building muscle.

Secondly the system focuses on not just nutrition but also correct cardiovascular training (which prevents loss of lean muscle mass), and sleep, supplement, and water parameters that aid in muscle building and recovery.  In order for muscles to grow, a few things have to fall in place.  First,  you must break down the muscle fibers through correct weight training (more on that later), next muscles must be fed proper nutrition to grow (that's where the meal plans based on blood sugar stabilization come in) and lastly your muscles must have adequate time and recovery (this is where the sleep and supplements help).

One of the greatest benefits of the Venice Nutrition system is also one of the reasons it works for someone who wishes to put on lean muscle.  Each program is Customized to one's individual goals and lifestyle.  When you become a member of Venice Nutrition, you are asked your specific goals, and if putting on lean muscle mass is one of them, simply check that off on your questionnaire.  The system will take this information, along with the remainder of your assessment to accurately calculate your correct nutritional parameters so you can achieve the goals you desire. 

To recap, building a strong nutritonal foundation based on blood sugar stabilization is the most effective way to build a strong physique.  Consistent and restful sleep, great supplementation and adequate water play an important role as well.  Making sure to have a good cardiovascular routine, training both your red and white muscle fibers correctly is critical to preventing loss of lean muscle.  And lastly, the right weight training routine will help to build muscle while preventing injury and setbacks.

Please keep in mind that if your goal is to simply "tone" and not put on size, that is easily accomplished as well with the Venice Nutrition system.  Remember your program is completely customized with your goals and lifestyle in mind.

#Monday, August 18, 2008

For alot of people, the workplace can sabotage your best intentions.  From stress to not-so-health-minded co-workers, you can easily lose focus.  The good news is, there are simple strategies you can follow to fool proof your work and stay in the right mind-set!

First, let's talk about stress because let's face it; every job leads to it!  Many people keep a stash of candy or make a bee line to a co-workers desk for a treat, when they're stressed.  Doing this every day can easily lead to weight gain. not to mention a mid-day energy crash.  The solution is to have a few stress buster strategies on hand.  Make it a point to resort to something other than food when you feel the stress coming on. Our favorites?  Going for a five minute walk, call a friend to catch up, or take a 5 minute meditation/breather session (just keep your door closed!).  For many people, it's as simple as learning how to say "No" once in awhile.  Balance is key to success, whether it's with your nutrition or at work and if your constantly taking on more than you can handle because your afraid to say "no", your may be heading for trouble.  Remember, while you can't control all stressful situations, you CAN control how you deal with it.

Another great tip?  Arm yourself (and your desk and work bag and the company fridge) with quick and healthy snacks like string cheese and fruit, a protien bar (great for those 3 pm pick me ups), fruit, nuts and protein powder.  By having something simple and tasty on hand, you can easily avoid that vending machine or your co-workers candy.  Which leads us to our next point...

How to deal with a co-worker who insists on unhealthy lunch spots or that you share their candy? Food is and always has been a wonderful form of bonding.  The challenge is when your lifestyle differs from those around you; it can feel awkward to explain your healthy choices.  The key is politely explaining that your working towards a healthy lifestyle and trying to save any "treats" for the weekend, when you really have time to enjoy your indulgences.  No one wants to come off as too "strict" with their food rules, and you don't have to be.  By explaining that your just trying to make healthier choices (without judging anyone else for their choices), and you prefer to indulge in a big dinner on Saturday night, you come across as a motiviated individual who still likes to have fun.  If your having trouble finding healthy choices at the local handout at lunch with your co-workers, limit it to once or twice a week, and look up healthy choices on their website ahead of time.  Sometimes you just have to remind yourself  that your goals are your own and stick to them.

And lastly, plan, plan, plan!  When we work with clients one on one in our offices or during phone coaching sessions, we always ask questions like, what time do you have breakfast?  What time do you take  your lunch break?  When can you fit in an afternoon snack at work?  The reason for this is so we can map out a simple food plan that works for your lifestyle.  If you don't plan ahead of time, you may have to miss a meal, which will only cause you to overeat later on. 

Living a healthy lifestyle while having a career can happen with the right tools and strategies in place.  Good luck!

#Wednesday, August 13, 2008
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Although weight can be a factor in health and overall results, it is one of the most inaccurate markers for true success!  So many people are slaves to the scale and weigh themselves excessively, thus setting themselves up for dissapointment.  If your weight is up a few pounds, does it ruin your day?  Do you stress about the number on the scale? If so, this blog is for you.

As a nutrition and fitnesss expert, I do my best to teach my clients how to "step away from the scale" and understand their body to truly measure their progress.  What many people don't realize is the human body naturally fluctuates in weight anywhere from three to five pounds a day depending on water retention, if you ate a high sodium meal, lack of sleep, and even menstrual cycles. 

The most effective way to measure your physical progress is to understand Your body.  Is the waistline of your pants a little looser?  Does your coat or shirt button easier?  Are you looking slimmer in the mirror? Do you feel lighter on your feet?  All of these are indications of your body shifting and the fat melting away.

Another key point to recognize is that blood sugar stabilization is an incredibly unique scientific process in which you will lose body fat while building and protecting your lean muscle mass.  If your not losing muscle mass (which is your metabolism- you want to keep it and build it!), then the overall number on the scale sometimes doesn't change as much as it would if you were just "dieting".  Of course this varies depending on how much weight you have to lose but so often I hear a client say, "my clothes fit so much better and I look leaner, but the scale hasn't changed drastically."  My response?  "Great, your right on track!"

So my best advice is to "step away from that scale".  If you must weigh yourself do it only once a week, at the same time of day each time.  And keep in mind, it's only one small indication of success!

Valerie Cogswell

Head Chef and Nutrition Coach

#Sunday, August 10, 2008
Comments [9]


Sunday, August 10, 2008

There's a new place in the party scene for us so called "health nuts".  They're called "healthy cooking parties.".  I recently read a great article about this new phenomenon and even found out that a few of my clients do this regularly.  What's it all about?  Rather than friends getting together at restaurants, groups are gathering at someone's home with homemade and healthy dishes (recipe in tow to share) for a delicious and fun night.  Each party varies group to group but the overall theme is the same; share healthy and tasty food in hopes to motivate eachother to be fit without sacrificing fun.   Some creative ideas for your own healthy cooking party: hiring a chef to teach the group, pairing heart healthy red wines with various dishes and passing out binders for everyone to keep the recipes they accumulate.  Has anyone else held or been to a healthy cooking party?  If so, please share.


Valerie Cogswell

Nutrition Coach and Head Chef

Comments [5]


Sunday, August 10, 2008

As a nutrition coach and fitness enthusiast, one of the questions I am most often asked is, "How do I get great abs?".  Just ask anyone with a perfect six pack or flat and toned abdominals that question, and the one answer you WONT get is "Just do more crunches".  Sadly, that's one of the biggest mistakes I see; people  needlessly over-training their abdominals in hopes of fast results.  As many of you know, the only thing this method does is waste alot of precious time! 

Here's what you need to know to get great abs.  For starters, your diet is everything when it comes to getting flat and built abdominals.  I know you've heard us say it time and time again.  Stabilize your blood sugar consistently and your body will become a fat burning machine.  Improve your quality of foods (see your quality of food chart under your help support tab) and your body will become an even faster fat burning machine.  When your body is a fat burning machine, you lose body fat all over, including your mid section.  In all my years in this industry, I've yet to meet anyone with a six pack that has a terrible diet (unless you count the lucky few "genetically gifted" individuals out there.  Sadly, I'm not one of them!).

Next, cardio is critical to reveal any abdominal muscle you do have.  The trick with cardio is to train both your red and white muscle fibers for optimal results.  See your help support tab within your program for details on how to perform cardiovascular activity correctly.  Remember you can build great abdominal muscles and without the right cardio routine to melt the fat on top, no one will be able to see them! 

Next, crunches and abdominal work are very effective.....if done correctly.  A strong core routine will provide the foundation you need not only for great looking abs and also for injury prevention.  Invest in a personal trainer or a good book on abdominal training to learn  how to train your entire core in a variety of ways. There is a whole big world of ab exercises out there besides the traditional crunch!

What else do you need to know?  A big secret those who do have envy-worthy abs know:  Abdominals are like any other muscle; they must be properly exercised and PROPERLY RECOVERED to grow. Translation: train abs every other day or a total of 3 times per week so that your muscles have time to recover.  You wouldn't train your hamstrings every day so why over-train your abs?  Without proper recovery, your abs will never reach their full potential.

Sleep is another one of those overlooked but critical components to great abs; and a great body for that matter!  Restful, consistent sleep aids in recovery and is the foundation for a toned mid-section.  Again, see your help support tab for tips on how to create a good night's sleep.  Don't forget to check out this blog too- there's plenty of great tips here that will help.

And lastly, add what I like to call the "extras".  Being properly hydrated will flush out water weight and give you a flatter midsection.  Avoiding sodium and high sodium foods will help eliminate excess water weight and bloat too. 

Great abs are typically a combination of an optimal nutrition plan centered on blood sugar stabilization, a great ab routine, an efficient cardiovascular plan that includes both fat burning and interval training, consistent sleep and the "extras".  One thing to remember; though genetics determine alot of how we look, we each have the control to make the most of our bodies by the choices we make.  Good luck!

Valerie Cogswell

Head Chef and Nutrition Coach