#Tuesday, May 05, 2009

First Wednesday of Each Month 8PM EST / 5PM PST

First Webinar scheduled for Wednesday May 6th at 8PM EST / 5PM PST

Register today:

There are many things we cannot control in life, the one thing we CAN control is how we choose to take care of ourselves.

The key in Making your Health a Priority is by becoming educated on how your body works and how to make it work for you.   This is why Venice Nutrition’s Mission is  To Educate individuals on how to work Nutrition, Fitness and Overall Health Permanently into their Lifestyle.

We are continually listening to your Valuable Feedback and the one thing requested most is for us to provide more cutting edge educational and motivational tools.   We understand that even with the power of the Internet it is still difficult to find health information that is relevant, backed by science, understood, and can be implemented into your lifestyle.  There is a thirst for this knowledge and we are committed to providing you with this Health Education.

For this reason, we are introducing the New Monthly Coaching Webinar Series for Venice Nutrition Members.  

The Webinar will focus on 5 segments:

1.The Venice Nutrition Software : We are continually adding more features and information to the software.  We will cover current, new and future software functions &  enhancements.

2. Nutrition :  The Nutrition segment is designed to provide you with real life tools and information that you will immediately be able to implement.

3 Exercise : With exercise it is all  about education and efficiency.  We will be covering exercise topics that will assist you in taking your body to another level.    

4. Inspiration: To achieve your goal, you must first think it is Possible.  I will share success stories and motivational coaching during this segment.

5. Questions and Answers: Asking questions is an excellent way to learn.  Each webinar will end with a 15 minute Q&A segment

The entire VN Team Thanks You for being a Valued Member and Appreciate you implementing the Venice Nutrition System.

If you are not yet a member please follow this link to purchase a membership to Venice Nutrition and then click on "online memberships".

If you are a current member please follow this link to register today:

My best,

Mark Macdonald
Creator and CEO of Venice Nutrition

#Monday, April 27, 2009

Did you know that about 1% of the adult population and 3% of children have a clinically proven food allergy?  Beyond clinically proven food allergies, about one in three people suspect that they have some type of food allergy or food intolerance.  For those with food allergies every day activities such as dining out, having dinner at a friend’s house or even preparing family meals can be a challenge.     It’s critical that those people with food allergies take special precautions to avoid a reaction.

What is a food allergy and how does it compare to food intolerance?  According to experts, an actual food allergy is an “abnormal response to a food that is triggered by the immune system.”   Because a food intolerance can lead to similar symptoms as an allergy, it is often confused as one, though a food intolerance is not likely life-threatening.  The main difference is food intolerance (such as being “lactose intolerant” for example), is not caused by the immune system.

In adults with food allergies, peanuts, walnuts, fish, eggs, and shellfish are the most likely culprits.  Children with food allergies may be most sensitive to eggs, milk and peanuts.    Soy and wheat are also common food allergens.  Keep in mind that people are also be allergic to food items we wouldn’t suspect as being allergens, such as fruits or vegetables. 

So if you have food allergies, what can you do to protect yourself?   After you and your doctor have figured out which foods you are allergic to (keeping a food diary for a few weeks along with recording any time you experience symptoms may help), the most obvious and best course of action is to avoid those that cause an allergic reaction.  This of course is easier said than done and typically requires reading over every food label thoroughly, including the ingredient list and reading the fine print on all food packages.  Often times a food that you are allergic to may be hiding in a product when you least expect it; thus being overly cautious is always the safest bet.  Many products will contain a warning on a food label that reads, “This product was produced in a plant with soy or peanut products” for example so always keep your eyes peeled for any type of safety warning. 

For some people who are severely allergic to certain food items, dining at a restaurant can be out of the question.  Even shared cooking equipment, utensils or a chef’s hands can be contaminated with a trace of the allergen and cause a reaction, so asking your server a lot of questions regarding both ingredients and preparation is a must.    Always let your server know the list of foods you are allergic to and ask them to please inform the chef who will be preparing your meal.  This way the culinary team can guide you in which menu items to avoid as well as take special precautions while preparing your dish.  If you are trying a new restaurant for the first time, it never hurts to call ahead of time and let them know what food items you are allergic to and get their feedback as to whether or not it’s a “safe” place for you to dine. 

Even “being careful” isn’t always a sure thing.  After all, it’s easy to make a mistake or misread a food label.    Those with serious food allergies must often work with their doctor and come up with a plan of preparation which may include wearing medical alert bracelets or necklaces and carrying a supply of epinephrine.  These people are taught ahead of time how to self-administer a shot of epinephrine if the situation arises and typically their close ones are informed of what to do in case of an emergency.  Those with food allergies are also taught to never take a reaction lightly.  Even a reaction that feels “minor”  at the start can quickly escalate into a serious (and sometimes fatal) emergency, and so it’s best to be prepared and to get to an emergency room as soon as possible if need be.

If adults with food allergies can make a mistake, it’s even more likely that a child can accidentally ingest a food that they are allergic to.  Thus extra special precautions need to be made when dealing with child food allergies.  Any caregiver including school faculty, parents of friends, neighbors and family members need to be aware of all known food allergies, how to avoid those food containing items as well as what to do in case of an emergency.   It’s important to speak to a doctor or specialist to help you devise a solid plan of action to protect your child and even to teach them to be aware and how to avoid those foods they are sensitive to.

*Information derived from

#Sunday, April 19, 2009

Like many women, Venice Nutrition member, Jodie, naturally has a pear-shaped body.  She wrote in to ask us how she can maximize her body shape and create a more proportional physique.  The great news is with the right nutrition and exercise, her goals can be accomplished!  Read on to learn what our team of nutrition and fitness experts recommend.

“I have a typical pear-shaped body; a small and trim upper body with a slim waist (which I love!).  Then we get to my problem areas (which I don’t love!).  My legs, thighs and buttocks seem to be the hardest area on my body to shape up and all of my body fat and cellulite seems to settle there.  How can I firm up my lower body and make the most of my shape?”

-Jodie, 42 years old

Our team of experts quickly responded with a powerful plan of action!

This is a question we get asked quite often.  Though you can’t completely alter your natural body shape (for example an “apple” shaped body can’t become a complete “pear” shape and vice versa), you can make your body more proportional and get the look your after.  Before we dive in to how to make that happen, it’s important to appreciate your body’s natural shape- after all we get letters from women all the time who would like to boost their lower body and increase their curves!

1.  Balance your blood sugar to burn fat and boost metabolism. This will cause you to lower your body fat all over.  Because spot-reducing is impossible, having a solid nutrition plan that helps you burn body fat and tone up everywhere is the first step to achieving your goals.

2.  Once your food structure is complete, it’s time to fine tune.  Start working on your quality of foods.  Clean, natural food items (think natural chicken breast instead of deli meat) will cause you to burn fat faster and help you shape your ideal physique.  See your quality of food chart in your online manual under your help/support tab for details.

3.  Make time for consistent (and correct) cardio to burn fat and protect lean muscle mass.  The ideal cardio routine includes a mix of red fiber (fat burning) and white fiber (sugar burning) exercise.  See your Exercise Tab for details.  The right cardio routine can make all the difference!

4.  Build up your upper body with a good strength training routine to create a more proportional physique.  Adding size and tone to your shoulders, back, chest, biceps and triceps will help to make your lower body look smaller in comparison.  Not sure where to begin?  Hire a personal trainer to customize a routine for you.

5.  Tone your lower body with the right moves.  Moves like squats and lunges if performed correctly, can drastically shape your lower body.  Again, call on a personal trainer for the perfect fat blasting routine.

And lastly, be patient.  With the right tools, time and hard work you can help to manipulate your body shape.  Just remember the one you were born with isn’t so bad either!


The Venice Nutrition Team

#Sunday, April 12, 2009

If you’ve recently made any change to your diet (even a healthy one) you may be experiencing some form of stomach upset, including constipation.  Occasionally when someone begins to add more protein to their diet, for example, this may be the case.  The great news is there are many ways to avoid or treat mild constipation!  Here’s how.

1.  Make sure you are drinking enough water.  Water will help to move food through your system.  Aim for a minimum of 8 oz with every meal, and even an additional glass in between meals.    

2. Include higher quality sources of protein in your meals.  Protein bars and shakes are perfect for convenient meals on the go and can often lead to bloating and constipation.  Avoid constipation by cutting protein bars and shakes down to 1-2 times per day max.

3. Add the right carbohydrates.  High quality, fiber-rich carbohydrates such as whole grains, sweet potatoes, brown rice, fruit, vegetables and oatmeal will make a dramatic difference in the health of your digestive system.    The majority of people should aim for around 25-30 grams of fiber per day (as Americans we get roughly only half of that each day!).

4. Get moving.  Consistent exercise is one of the most effective remedies for constipation.  Just avoid exercise immediately after eating (give your body a few minutes to digest your food properly).

5. De-stess.  Taking a break and learning to use effective coping strategies to manage your stress will help to keep your digestive system on track.

6. Try decreasing your dairy intake slightly to see if that makes a difference. 

If you are struggling with constipation, I suggest that you try incorporating all of the strategies above and keep track of your progress with a journal to help you recognize what triggers or helps your stomach woes.  And remember to give your body a few weeks to adjust when trying the above tips.  If you still are not seeing any improvement, symptoms worsen or your constipation is severe, see your primary care physician.   Good luck!

My best,

Valerie Cogswell
Nutrition Coach and Head Chef

#Sunday, April 05, 2009

First, congratulations on choosing to make your health a priority by incorporating exercise into your lifestyle.    If you are new to Venice Nutrition, it’s important to understand that optimal Sleep and the right Nutrition are responsible for creating balance within your body and allowing it to release stored fat.  The right exercise routine will accelerate your fat burning power and help you to build lean muscle mass to boost your metabolism and achieve your goals at a faster pace.  Not to mention regular exercise improves the health of your heart, bones and joints and overall mood.

So where should you begin?  If you’ve never exercised before or consider yourself a “beginner”, the first step is to schedule a check-up with your physician to get the “okay” before performing any exercise routine and to make sure that there are no underlying medical conditions you may not have been aware of.    Though no one likes to go to the doctor; this step is critical in your success.  If you dive into an exercise program and are unaware of any problems that do exist, it’s likely that you could get hurt….and that will prevent you from exercising at all.  A quick check-up can save you a lot of time and aggravation down the road.

What’s next?  Perhaps the most important step of all.  As a nutrition and fitness professional for many years, I highly recommend that you work with a Certified Personal Trainer or a Physical Therapist.  A trained professional will evaluate your goals, lifestyle, health issues, physical limitations and even important aspects that will greatly affect your routine such as flexibility, muscle imbalances, gait, range of motion and more.  All too often, we try to dive right into a routine without really knowing our bodies or physical limitations, and injury follows.  Play it safe, and get a much better workout (read: faster results!) with a routine designed just for you by a professional who understands your body and goals.

After you’ve consulted your doctor and have a custom routine designed for you by a trained professional, the next step is to learn to listen to your body.  Often in our quest to get lean, healthy and fit, we ignore pain or “over-do” it at the gym, and again this can lead to injury and a long vacation from your workout.   If something doesn’t feel right, stop and talk to your PT about making some adjustments.

A few pointers that will help you along the way:

-Make sure to warm up properly before jumping into your routine; even five minutes of walking will warm your muscles and help to prevent injury.
-Ask your physical therapist or personal trainer to custom design a stretching routine aimed to create more balance in your body and relieve muscle tension. 
-What you eat before working out is just as important as the workout itself.  A balanced meal will keep blood sugar stable and allow you to protect and build lean muscle while burning body fat.  Working out on an empty stomach is never a good idea!
-Stay hydrated for optimal performance

And lastly, we invite you to learn how your body really works.  Did you know you have two different muscle fibers that need to be trained?  Or that it’s possible to “over-do” it during cardio and break down muscle instead of fat?  At Venice Nutrition we know that your time is valuable and that is why we provide you with the guidance, tools, education and customized fitness routine to help you to use your time most efficiently and get the best results possible.  Log in to your online program today and don’t forget to visit the new Exercise Tab!

My best,

Valerie Cogswell
Certified Venice Nutrition Coach and Head Chef

#Sunday, March 29, 2009

As nutrition and fitness experts who have many years of experience in this industry, we have witnessed our fair share of diets and fads.  Low fat, high protein, low carb.... the list is endless.  One of the most popular diets to hit the scene and influence countless people to ban bread is the infamous high protein diet.  Recently one of our members, who had some success with a high protien diet in the past, asked us to explain the difference between this diet and the Venice Nutrition program.  We're glad to help!

First it's important to understand how a high protein diet works and why many people have short term success with it.  For starters, a high protein diet mainly excludes carbohydrates. For every gram of carbohydrate you eat, your body stores an additional 3 grams of water.  This fact leads many to believe that they are losing all body fat when in reality, alot of the weight loss is due to a loss of water weight.  It's also important to note that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet causes low blood sugar.  In addition to burning some fat with a high protein diet, it is highly likely that you will lose lean muscle mass as well.  Remember, every pound of lean muscle mass burns an additional 30-50 fat calories a day.  Consistently low blood sugar leads to this loss of lean muscle mass and drastically slows your metabolism. 

How is Venice Nutrition unique?  Venice Nutrition is based on the science of blood sugar stabilization.  By eating frequent meals that have the right balance of protein, carbohydrate, fat and calories for your specific body, goals, health and lifestyle, you are able to create balanced blood sugar and a balanced body.  This leads to a natural and permanent loss of body fat, along with increased energy and reduced sugar cravings.  In addition, stable blood sugar allows you to protect (and increase with the right exercise) lean muscle mass for a faster metabolism.

We invite you to stablize your blood sugar and learn how your body really works so you can achieve your goals permanently.

Our best,

The Venice Nutrition Team

#Friday, March 20, 2009

This is one of the most popular questions our team gets asked.  And the answer isn’t as black and white as you may expect.  Many years ago, a solid approach to “losing weight” and being “healthy” was to follow a low calorie diet or adhere to certain calorie restrictions.  Dietitians created meal plans for their clients based upon a certain amount of calories per day.    As diet after diet has come and gone, research has proved that stabilizing blood sugar rather than following a certain calorie limit, is the permanent and natural way to get lean, fit and healthy.  

At Venice Nutrition, we understand that our clients are searching for a simple and permanent way to achieve their goals.  Whether we are working with a client in one of our offices or a new member joins our online program, our approach for success is always education.  We teach our members the science of blood sugar stabilization and how the human body works.  Why?  Because once you understand how your body works, you can learn to make it work for you.  And then all of your nutrition, fitness and health goals are well within your reach!

Stabilizing your blood sugar is a permanent solution to reducing body fat and weight, increasing lean muscle mass and metabolism, increasing energy, eliminating sugar cravings and improving overall health.   The key to stabilizing blood sugar is based on three main criteria; eating every 3 to 4 hours, making sure all of your meals contain the right amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat, and lastly making sure each meal is composed of the correct amount of calories for your body, goals and activity level.  At Venice Nutrition, we customize each of our clients and members nutritional parameters depending on their weight, body fat percentage, current eating habits and lifestyle, individual goals, health issues and activity level.

Rather than focusing on how many calories an individual should eat per day, we focus on blood sugar stabilization.  Our clients are thrilled that they no longer have to count calories, stop eating late at night or eliminate their favorite foods.    Instead they learn how to eat frequently, recognize protein, carbohydrates and fat and how to create balanced and tasty meals. 

As nutrition coaches, we figure out how many calories one needs every few hours to boost their metabolism and energy, reduce body fat and improve health and performance.  How many calories per day depends on how many hours you are awake; as long as you are awake, you should be eating.   And so there are some days that you will wake up earlier and go to bed later and on these days you may be consuming an extra meal compared to other days.  The science of blood sugar stabilization also proves that a calorie is not just a calorie.  In fact, even if you are eating frequent meals and the correct amount of food at each meal, if you are missing the correct ratio of protein, carbohydrate and fat, it’s impossible to stabilize blood sugar.  

We invite you to let go of dieting and counting calories and instead learn the science of blood sugar stabilization and how your body really works.  When you learn how to stabilize your blood sugar, you can achieve all of your goals permanently….. and never worry about counting calories again!   You can read more information at  Click on “The Venice Program” button.    You can also take the free health assessment here as well.

Our best,
The Venice Nutrition Team

#Monday, March 16, 2009

As a nutrition coach and Head Chef for Venice Nutrition, I understand the need to spice up your meals from time to time and step out of your culinary “box”.  As a person who leads a very busy lifestyle and is trying to balance work, fun and making my health a priority, I understand how easy it is to eat the same foods day in and day out.  Sometimes I think to myself, if I eat another chicken breast, I’m going to scream!  But yelling won’t get me (or my clients who count on me to help them progress) anywhere!  However adding some creativity to my meals (and yours) will.

One of my long term clients (and great friend) came to me not too long ago because she was struggling with getting back on track.    She had lost weight with me in the past and due to health issues and life circumstances out of her control, fell off course.  When she tried to re-visit her meal plans she just “couldn’t do it.”  I did a little digging and realized that she was eating the same foods day in and day out.  Her protein shake breakfast was always followed by her eggs and oatmeal.  Her snacks were always cottage cheese and fruit.  Now I’m not knocking any of these choices- they’re not only healthy but happen to be a few of my personal staples.  The challenge was my client was only eating these foods and not trying anything new.  Sound familiar?  We put into effect a few of the strategies below and my client is finally back on track and enjoying food again. 
So how do you break out of your same old diet?  It’s time to add some spice!

1.  It all starts at the grocery store.  When you make up your list each week, vow to try a new food item in each category.  For example, if you always grab pears as your fruit of choice, try some pre-cut pineapple.  Sick of broccoli?  How about bok choy or roasted asparagus?  Can’t stand another piece of chicken?  Pork tenderloin is lean, easy to prep and delicious.

2.  Visit the Venice Nutrition Recipe Tab.  These recipes are designed to get you to try new foods altogether or to at least put a creative spin on some of your old favorites.  Best of all, there fast and simple to make.  For example, we all have chicken and brown rice on hand but that can get boring.  Check out our new Creamy Chicken and Rice recipe for a hearty, home cooked and delicious take on your old stand-bys.

3.  If you’re pressed for time but really want some variety try visiting your local gourmet market like Whole Foods.  Here you can find pre-cooked and seasoned seafood like grilled shrimp and salmon and even roasted vegetables.  Another great choice is rotisserie chicken which can be found at even your local market.

4.  Visit the spice aisle.  There are so many delicious seasonings out there to choose from; cilantro, red pepper flakes, thyme, lemon pepper and more.  Sometimes a different flavor profile can change an entire dish.

The greatest benefit to breaking out of your boring culinary rut is the renewed sense of excitement.  Having a few tasty and different meal options to choose from may be just what the nutrition coach ordered!  Have fun and enjoy!

Valerie Cogswell
Head Chef and Nutrition Coach

#Sunday, March 08, 2009

As a Nutrition Coach for many years, I have worked with clients from all walks of life across the country.   My goal for all of my clients is to educate them about how their body works and to provide them with the tools, and motivation they need to achieve their goals permanently.  Throughout my years of coaching I have noticed that some of my most successful clients have one thing in common: a support system they can count on. 

What is support and how does it affect your results?  Support is a person or resource that you can turn to for motivation, will power, and a pat on the back when you need it.  Support can keep you moving forward on your journey even when times are tough and your feeling down.  For me, the support I have received throughout the years, no matter what I have faced in my life, has been invaluable.  Getting fit and healthy, overcoming a disease or just trying to improve your quality of life are no exception.  We all need support, especially when it comes to something as important as changing our lives for the better.

Ideally you have surrounded yourself with a network of supportive people; a spouse who understands your goals and needs to be healthy, a family who encourages you along the way, friends or co-workers who are willing to take a walk with you or listen when you need it.  For those of you that need something more, or maybe don’t have the most supportive team of people on your side, the Venice Nutrition Team (myself included!) wants you to know that we are here for you!

One of our most important goals when creating the Venice Nutrition system was to provide several avenues of support to our members.  Places where you can go to reach out, ask a question, gain knowledge, tools and the support you need to keep going.  As a member of Venice Nutrition, we encourage you to reach out to us in any of the ways below. After all, that’s what we’re here for!

1. Take advantage of our 24 hour support team.  When you email us (find your personal support email under your Help/Support Tab), a certified Venice Nutrition Coach will get in touch with you to answer your questions and keep you progressing.

2. Visit your Member Forum.  Your forum is a way for you to reach out to members across the country just like you to post your questions, concerns, tips for success and more.  As a Venice Nutrition Coach, and Head Chef, I am also on the Forum daily to answer questions and provide support.

3. Utilize all of the resources that come with your membership.  This Blog, the E-Newsletters, and the Education Tab are full of real life tips, tricks, motivational articles and support to help you to achieve your goals.  We invite you to explore these resources.

4. Work with a Certified Venice Nutrition coach.  If you’re in need of personal support and motivation, then working with one of our coaches is the way to go.   Don’t live near one of our Nutrition Centers?  No problem.  We offer Phone Coaching as well.  Our consultative approach is truly unlike any other program available today.  To learn more, check out Nutrition Consulting Packages under your Products/Services Tab.

We look forward to helping you achieve your goals.  Please feel free to reach out to us anytime!

Thank you,
Valerie Cogswell and the Venice Nutrition Team

#Saturday, March 07, 2009

If your struggling with sweet cravings mid-day or at night and can't  understand why, the first place to start is examining what you ate earlier in the day!  When you physically crave sugar, it's because your blood sugar is low.  If blood sugar has dropped and cravings are kicking in, what you ate (or didn't eat) earlier in the day is typically to blame.  So the next time you feel an intense craving coming on, go through this checklist.  By eliminating the cause of the cravings, you can kick your sugar habit for good!

1.  Did I eat breakfast one hour within waking?  Was it balanced with the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat?  Eating a balanced breakfast no more than one hour within waking will help to prevent cravings later on.

2.  Are my meals no longer than 4 hours apart.  Ideally you should aim for your meals to be 3 hours apart because going too long between meals can lead to cravings.

3.  Are all of my meals based upon my nutritional parameters?  Missing even one of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate or fat) in any meal can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate

4.  Am I weighing my foods to make sure that I'm getting the right amount of each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, and fat).  Unless you are extremely comfortable with your portion sizes, it's a good idea to measure your food items.

5.  Did I have any "off" meals yesterday or more often than usual?  Though we all indulge in the occasional "off" meal, it's important to understand that going off track can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar down the road.

6.  Am I drinking enough water?  Even mild dehydration can cause cravings.

7.  Am I getting restul and consistent sleep?  Lack of sleep can cause major fatigue, cravings and increased stress hormones.

8.  How's my stress level? 

9.  Am I fueling my body properly before and after exercise?  Remember, exercise uses fuel and it's important to eat a balanced meal or snack to prepare your body and keep blood sugar stable.

10.  Am I eating enough?  If you have been stabilizing your blood sugar for a long time  or exercise has dramatically increased, it may be time to work with a Venice Nutrition Coach to re-evaluate your meal plan and overall structure.