#Monday, November 09, 2009

Chances are if you’ve sat in front of your television lately, you’ve watched more than a few commercials promoting the health benefits of vegetable juice.  After all, we know we need veggies and isn’t it easier to gulp them down in 30 seconds then actually peel, chop, cook and prep them?  As a Nutrition Coach and health nut who enjoys anything convenient that helps me to live a better lifestyle, I decided to do a little research.

According to V8, the most well known vegetable juice company, 7 out of 10 adults don’t get their daily recommended amount of vegetable servings.  In order to help address this concern, V8 has a new mission; to create a diverse line of products to make it easier for adults to reach their recommended 2-3 cups of veggies per day.  The result?  In addition to their line of 100% vegetable juices, V8 has also introduced a new line of vegetable and fruit juice combinations that are more sweet than savory. 

According to experts, 100% vegetable juice can help you to increase your daily servings of veggies.  Vegetable juice is also an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  The only drawback?  Vegetable juice can also be high in sodium (a concern for those with high blood pressure) and lacks the amount of fiber found in whole vegetables in their natural state.  It’s important to note, however, that V8 does make a low sodium version of their famous vegetable juice.

So what’s the bottom line?  In my opinion, I believe that the occasional glass of vegetable juice is a great way to load up on your vegetable intake, but should never completely replace whole vegetables in your diet.   In addition to being lower in sodium and higher in fiber, whole, natural vegetables are also digested more slowly in your body compared to a liquid.  This helps to keep your blood sugar more stable, allowing you to reach your goals faster.    So enjoy the occasional glass of vegetable juice but keep your fresh veggies as the front runner!

Eat well.

My best,

Valerie Cogswell
Head Chef and Lead Venice Nutrition Coach

*information derived from and

#Saturday, October 31, 2009

Did you know that beef is the #1 protein source of Vitamin B12 and Zinc?  Although beef is sometimes unfairly thought of as unhealthy, the truth is, beef is one of the most nutrient rich foods available.  The key is choosing the leanest cuts of beef to gain the extraordinary health benefits while avoiding any unnecessary fat.  Below are the best of the best to choose from.

Extra Lean Beef (3.5 ounce portion containing less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol)

Eye of Round Roast
Top Round Steak
Mock Tender Steak
Bottom Round Roast
Top Sirloin Steak

Lean beef  (3.5 ounce portion containing less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol)

Round steak
95% lean ground beef
Chuck shoulder roast
Arm pot roast
Shoulder steak
Strip steak
Tenderloin steak
T-bone steak

While shopping for beef, pay careful attention to the cut.  “Prime” is typically higher in fat while “Choice” or “Select” are leaner.  And of course, beef should be eaten in moderation.   For most healthy individuals, it’s fine to eat beef a couple of times a week.

Our best,

The Venice Nutrition Team

*research found on  © 1998-2009 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).

#Saturday, October 24, 2009
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The holidays are well on their way (it’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner!).  This time of year the average person gains only a few pounds.  The challenge is, most of us don’t lose those few extra pounds and over the years this weight gain really adds up. 
So what’s the solution?  How can you avoid gaining even a few pounds over the holiday season?  The trick is to prepare yourself NOW.  By creating a healthy game plan today, you can avoid that seasonal weight gain by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.  We asked a few of our most successful members how they prepare for the festivities.  Here’s what they had to share.

“Because most of the parties take place over the weekend, I try to eat cleaner, more natural meals during the week.  This way, if I over-do it a bit during a holiday meal, it’s not as big of a deal.  I also try to not cheat during the week and save my indulgences for the actual holiday meal or party.”      Janine, 38 years old

“I increase the intensity of my workouts to help off-set the holiday food.   I also add in more interval training."  Devin, 45 years old

“I can’t stress enough how much journaling helps me during the holidays. I stay accountable to myself and seeing my choices on paper is always a real eye opener.”    Michelle, 27 years old

“Working with my nutrition coach saves me every holiday season. I’m happy to say that I don’t gain over the holidays, just maintain, which is exactly what I need.  My coach helps me to set goals and stick to them.  Without the extra support and motivation, I probably would gain weight.”    Annie, 58 years old

“My belt keeps me in check.  If it’s getting tight, I cut back on the cheating.  Always works for me.”  Nick, 27 years old

Let us know your best tip to get you through the holidays.  We’d love to hear from you!

Our best,

The Venice Nutrition Team

Whether your long term goal is to increase your energy, drop a few pant sizes or lose 40 pounds, it truly is an amazing feeling once you reach it.  If you’ve been successful in reaching even one of the goals you have set for yourself, then you know what I’m talking about.  There is nothing like that powerful sense of satisfaction in knowing that you set a goal and worked diligently towards achieving it.  But finally reaching your goals can often lead to another emotion you may not be prepared for…… anxiety!  The “Well, now what do I do?” can lead some people to worry how to actually maintain their new lifestyle and the results they’ve achieved.  As a Nutrition Coach and proud success story myself, I understand.  Here are some alternative ways to keep the momentum going!

1.  Congratulate yourself constantly.   Remind yourself on a regular basis of all that you have accomplished.  Never downplay how hard you’ve worked or put yourself down.  If you’ve made the commitment to prepare meals ahead of time, eat out less, work out more, etc., then you deserve accolades and the most powerful ones come from within.  Acknowledging all that you have accomplished can help prevent you from going backwards and propel you to move forward.  After all, once you’ve achieved even one of your goals, you just know you can accomplish anything!

2.  Inspire someone else.  You may notice that once you’ve become a success story, you’re  likely to inspire someone else (a coworker, friend, spouse, family member) to want the same thing.  This is a fantastic opportunity to help someone else to feel as great as you do, while also keeping yourself on the right track.  Buddy up, workout together and discuss healthy meal options.  As a mentor, you are more likely to keep up with your healthy lifestyle….because someone may be counting on you to inspire them to keep up with theirs!  Love the idea of being an inspiration to others?  Interested in becoming a licensed Venice Nutrition Coach?  Check out .  Many of our coaches nationwide started off as clients just like you!

3.  Keep it fresh.  So you’ve reached your goals.  Now’s the time where so many people become complacent and stop challenging themselves or learning new things.  My invitation to you is to continue to switch it up.  Try a new class at the gym or a new form of cardio.  Try a cooking class or a new healthy recipe (for new and delicious meal ideas, see your Recipes tab).  Keeping it fresh keeps you challenged and that keeps the momentum going!

4.  Stay involved.  At Venice Nutrition, our entire team prides ourselves on providing our members with the most cutting edge information and the highest level of support.  Stay involved by taking advantage of these tools and support.  Talk to other members and coaches nationwide on the forum.  Listen to a webinar with creator of Venice Nutrition, Mark MacDonald, and learn from the best!  Keep up with the blogs and health articles and stay on top of the e-newsletters.  Even as a Nutrition Coach, I recognize that I can always learn something new that keeps me going, and so can you.  You can find the webinars, blogs and articles under your Education Tab in your personal online system.  To speak to members and nutrition coaches nationwide to share tips, success stories and get advice, check out the Forum Tab.

5.  Set new goals.  If you’ve already reached your goals, it’s time to make new ones.  Take a few moments to figure out what’s important to you.  Perhaps you would like to increase your cardio endurance and plan to add interval training into your weekly routine.  Maybe you would like to increase core strength or eat higher quality, more natural foods.  Establish your goals and make a plan towards achieving them…… I have no doubt you’ll reach them!

Congratulations on achieving your goals.  Keep reaching for the stars and never forget to reward yourself along the way!

My best,

Valerie Cogswell
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef

#Saturday, October 17, 2009
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

If you are still not getting your daily glass of green tea, this blog is definitely for you.  Green tea has many powerful health benefits.  According to experts, drinking green tea, hot or iced, is a proven way to increase your health.  The following research may be just compelling enough for you to start going green:

1.  “Flavonoids, a powerful form of antioxidants, are abundant in green tea.  According to research, regular tea drinkers who drink two or more cups a day have less risk of heart disease, better cholesterol and even improved skin.  The flavonoids in green tea may even help protect your skin from cancer and inflammation.”

2.  *“According to research, in 6,928 Chinese women, regular green tea drinkers were 12% less likely to develop breast cancer than nondrinkers.”

3.  *“Three cups a day cuts the risk of stroke  by 21%” ,according to a UCLA review of 9 studies.”

4.  *“According to a new multi-center study, overweight or obese exercisers burned off three more pounds and 7% more belly fat when they drank green tea instead of another beverage  with the same calories”

*Research stats derived from Reader’s Digest

As a Certified Venice Nutrition Coach for the past eight years, I understand how challenging it can be for my clients to fight the urge to give in to cravings.  Like all of my clients, I’ve had to learn how to best handle my cravings too.  The Chef in me always wants to splurge and the health nut in me is constantly searching for balance.

If you’ve read my blogs in the past, then you know that I truly encourage our members and my personal clients to occasionally indulge in their favorite treats.  After all, leading a healthy lifestyle is all about balance, and chocolate, of course!  But what happens when you no longer have a sense of balance?  What happens when your cravings take the control and you lose it?   When your cravings and the urge to give in to them becomes overwhelming, it’s time to come up with a solution that can help you take control and achieve balance once again.  Below is my proven strategy to help you determine whether to give in or let it go, and how to get back in the driver’s seat to your health!

1.  Pull out your goal sheet.  If you’ve never taken the time to write down your personal goals or your “why”, (the reason your trying to live a healthier lifestyle in the first place), now’s the time to do it.  In fact, do it right now!  Take a few minutes to jot down your short term goals (ie.  I will aim to have  only one “off meal” this week and will eat balanced meals the rest of the time to keep my blood sugar stable) and long term goals (I am going to lose 10 pounds of body fat in the next 3 months).    Every time the urge to give in to a craving surfaces, pull out your goal sheet and read your goals out loud.  When your goals are staring you right in the face, it’s a lot harder to ignore them!  You may just find that the anticipation and excitement over reaching your goals far outweighs the immediate satisfaction of a cookie.

2.  Call someone.  As part of my service to my personal clients, I provide my cell phone as well as the instructions to contact me anytime, especially when the “out of control” feeling hits.  This allows my clients to vent, let it all out and 9 times out of 10, I can help guide them to make a better choice.  If you are not working with a personal  Nutrition Coach, call someone, anyone you trust who knows your goals and understands your need for a healthy lifestyle.  Usually just talking about the craving makes it easier to pass it up.  Need a personal Nutrition Coach?  Check out our packages online.  Go to the STORE button, then the NUTRITIONAL CONSULTING Button and see whether working one-on-one with someone is the answer for you.

3.  Ask yourself the following questions.  “Am I physically hungry for this _________ (4th slice of pizza, bag of chips, etc.)?  “How will I feel 20 minutes after I eat all of this?”  “How will I feel tomorrow morning after I eat all of this?”  “Is this really worth it?”.  Chances are, if you ask and answer those questions honestly, you can put the chips down and walk away.
4.  Wait 20 minutes and see if the craving passes.  Normally, after 20 minutes the craving will disappear.   In that 20 minute time frame, try to do something engaging.  Call a friend or take a walk (or pull out that goal sheet!).
Remember, it’s okay to give in to cravings here and there.  In fact, the best thing you can do is plan a splurge meal into your week and work hard all week to eat clean.  When you do indulge, make sure to eat slowly, savor every bite and most importantly get right back on track 3 to 4 hours later with a balanced meal to re-stabilize blood sugar. 

If you are struggling with your cravings on a regular basis or feel that you are lacking control, it may be time to work with a personal Nutrition Coach who can help create realistic goals, guide you towards reaching them and come up with solutions to your challenges.  To learn more, check out the STORE button, then the NUTRITIONAL CONSULTING  button at  And remember, life is all about balance, just make sure you’re the one in the driver’s seat!

Live well!

My best,

Valerie  Cogswell
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef

#Sunday, October 04, 2009

As a Certified Nutrition Coach and Head Chef for Venice Nutrition, I always look forward to working with a new client one- on- one.  Getting to know a client’s unique goals, their lifestyle and their personal needs is something I have always enjoyed.  And for my clients, working one on one with a Nutrition Coach is often the missing piece to the puzzle in achieving their personal nutrition and fitness goals.  For some, working with a professional is the key to their success.

Working closely with a new client allows me to truly discover their specific challenges that may be preventing them from achieving their goals and trouble shoot to find real world solutions to overcome them.  For example, if I begin working with a new member who is a busy mom struggling to find a way to work nutrition and fitness into her family’s hectic lifestyle, I can ask the right questions and come up with effective solutions to make it easier for her.  From family recipes, to fast lunches on the go, to quick fitness, there is always a solution!   If I’m working with a client with a unique health issue, we can customize his or her personal plan to accommodate it and depending on the disease, even improve upon it.    If I have a client who works 70 hours per week or travels consistently, they may need extra help learning to make their health a priority while on the go.  Or perhaps a client I’m working with has yo-yo dieted with countless programs in the past; he or she will have special motivational needs or metabolism concerns.

Working one on one with a client allows me to truly discover who they are and important details about their world, and find ways to help them live their lives a little healthier, all while taking the guess work out of it and making it easier for them.  As a Nutrition Coach, I also have the ability to take a client’s physique and physical results to the next level.  Plateaus are inevitable for all of us and an experienced nutrition coach can always fine tune your personal nutritional parameters, quality of foods, or even exercise routine to jump start your results again.  There are no limits when you work with an experienced Nutrition Coach; we can always teach you how to get to the next level!

Most importantly, a great Nutrition Coach can help you to understand the way your body works so that you can learn to make it work for you permanently.  We all have unique goals, bodies and needs and understanding yours makes it easier for you to succeed.   Providing an education is the best way I can help my clients achieve results, not just for the short term but forever!   An education allows my clients to become independent, confident in their nutrition and health choices and most importantly, successful no matter how busy or challenging their lives become. 
And for those members who struggle with self- discipline, or setting realistic goals and sticking to them, working with a Nutrition Coach for support and motivation is critical to their success.   I love setting short and long term goals with my clients, along with real-world strategies on how to reach them.  There is nothing better than coaching a client through the ups and downs; and ultimately watching them reach for the stars and succeed.
As you can probably tell, I love being a Nutrition Coach and working with clients.  Our team of Certified Venice Nutrition coaches do as well, and we are all well trained in physiology, blood sugar stabilization, coaching clients to success and motivational techniques.  Most of all, we have the knowledge and experience to look at each person like the unique individual that they are, and formulate a blue print for success customized to that person’s goals, lifestyle and health issues. 

If you are interested in working with a Venice Nutrition Coach to truly understand your body and take your results to the next level, you have several options.   

1.  If you do not live close to a nutrition center or time and convenience are factors for you, we invite you to work one on one with one of our certified Venice Nutrition Coaches by phone. Working with a phone coach allows you to get the same attention, level of coaching and support and results that you would working with a coach at a center, but from the convenience from your own home.  To work with a nutrition coach today by phone, go to the Venice Nutrition Homepage.  Simply click on the Store button, then Nutrition Consulting and choose a package that works best for you.  Your personal Certified Venice Nutrition Coach will be in touch with you within 24 hours.

2.  If you live close to a Venice Nutrition Center (we have offices all over the country), you can work one on one with a coach.  To find a nutrition center in your area, please contact our corporate office at 866.700.1524. 

If you have any questions about working with a personal Venice Nutrition Coach, please contac tus at 866-700-1524.  We look forward to working with you!

Valerie Cogswell
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

According to the FDA, healthy adults should aim for less than 2400 mg of sodium per day.  It’s very clear that the majority of us get way more than we need.  In fact, 2400 mg of sodium per day is equal to only one teaspoon of salt!

Why do we need salt?  Sodium is critical for maintaining the correct fluid and electrolyte balance within our bodies as well as helping muscles and nerves to work correctly.  The challenge is, in today’s day of overly processed and packaged foods, we are getting too much of it altogether, and this may lead to high blood pressure and excess fluid retention.

So what’s the solution?   How can you ensure that you are not exceeding your daily limit of sodium?  The first step is reading food labels thoroughly and taking the time to tally up a day or two’s worth of sodium intake.   This should give you a good benchmark of how much salt you are consuming on a regular basis.  If you find you are taking in too much sodium, it’s time to cut back on processed and packaged foods.  Even seemingly healthy items can be loaded in sodium. 

In fact, the following list is made of high sodium foods that just may surprise you:   packaged or canned soups, frozen dinners, deli meat, canned meats and fish, canned vegetables and beans, entrees with seasoning mixes (like mac n’ cheese or chili), Chinese or Asian food prepared with soy sauce, marinades, marinara sauces, dressings, teriyaki sauce, steak sauce, bbq sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, cold cereals, hot cereals, snack foods like chips, pretzels, crackers, seasoning salts, garlic salt and other spice combinations.

The best way to lower sodium intake is to reduce the amount of processed food items in your diet and work towards choosing more natural, less processed food items.   Natural, unprocessed food like fresh chicken, eggs, meat, low fat dairy, fruit, vegetables, brown rice,  sweet potatoes, olive oil, avocado and unsalted nuts are naturally low in sodium (not to mention very healthy!).  For a complete list of low sodium, unprocessed food items, see the Highest Quality of Foods in your Quality of Food Chart, located in your online manual in your Help/Support Tab.

It also helps to reduce the amount of condiments like ketchup, mustard and other sauces throughout the day, as well as skip the salt shaker altogether.   With a little awareness, along with some smart food choices, you can easily lower your sodium intake for a healthier you.
Live well.

My best,

Valerie Cogswell

Head Chef and Lead Nutrition Coach

*high sodium food list fro

#Saturday, September 26, 2009
Comments [5]


Saturday, September 26, 2009

For many of our newest members and clients, breakfast comes in the unfortunate form of a cup of coffee or a bagel smothered in cream cheese late in the day.  If you’ve been a member of Venice Nutrition for awhile, then you know how important it is to eat a meal (or even a mini-meal…more on that later) one hour within waking to kick-start your metabolism after a long night of zzzz’s.   Furthermore, it’s critical to make sure that your breakfast has the right balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat.  A balanced breakfast will help to prevent cravings and over-eating later in the day, and help your body get into fat burning mode first thing in the morning.

If you are not a “breakfast eater”, tend to feel nauseous in the mornings or workout very early, eating a full, balanced breakfast can be a challenge.  Here a few fast and simple tips you can incorporate into your mornings to make sure you start your day off right.

1.  If you are not hungry or feel nauseous in the mornings, try a mini-meal.  Choose any meal in your plan and cut each ingredient in half or even a third equally.  This way, your meal still has the correct ratio of protein, carbohydrate and fat, but in a smaller and more suitable portion size.

2. Aim for fast and simple solutions.   Try experimenting with a few bites of a protein bar, a ½ protein smoothie (cut each ingredient in half equally) or even the Greek Yogurt Parfait (see your Recipe Tab for the complete recipe).   

3. If it’s easier, make a complete meal, eat only ½ or 1/3 and then eat the remainder at your next meal.

If your goal is to break down body fat, increase metabolism and feel your best now and in the future, it’s important to understand how the quality of your food choices impact your results.  One of my “tricks” as a Nutrition Coach to help my clients get their body to the next level or break out of a plateau, is to slowly make changes to increase the quality of their food on a daily basis.  And the results are never short of amazing!

Of course, the most important step in stabilizing blood sugar is to eat a meal balanced in protein, carbohydrates and fat (according to your personal nutritional parameters) every three to four hours.   This is the basis of a solid nutrition plan, and creates balance within your body to allow for released fat storage.
The next step is to choose protein, carbohydrates and fats that are higher up on the quality of food chart.  High quality foods are less processed, more natural and take longer to break down in your system.  These choices are lower on the Glycemic Index (a gauging device that measures how quickly carbohydrate containing food items are digested in your system).  This keeps your blood sugar stable longer, and allows for faster and more consistent results!   From my own experience and what I have witnessed in my clients, higher quality of foods lead to more muscle tone and definition, flatter abs, leaner or more muscular limbs (depending on your goals) and shapelier physiques. 

Here is a great example of increasing your quality of foods in a meal:
If you currently have a deli turkey sandwich with mayo on wheat bread for lunch, try looking at each component in the meal (the protein, carbohydrate and fat) to see how you can improve the quality.  Instead of deli turkey (which is processed) , try real chicken breast for a natural protein.  Swap out man-made bread for a natural salad of greens and veggies.  Instead of mayonnaise as your fat (which again is man-made, processed, and loaded with poor fats), aim for avocado or a dressing made of natural olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a heart healthy alternative. 

If switching out every component in a meal seems overwhelming, it may be best to slowly improve one component at a time.  For example, perhaps your goal should be to work on improving your quality of carbohydrates throughout the day.  Try switching out bread and crackers for more natural carbohydrate choices like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and vegetables.
So where do your favorite foods fall on the quality of food scale?  Below is a handy chart that will help you to make more natural and healthy choices when preparing your meals.

HIGHEST QUALITY FOODS  (you’ll notice that these items are completely natural, the least processed and will yield you the best   results)


  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Turkey
  • Soy Beans


  • Beans (fresh)
  • Brown Rice
  • Fruit
  • Hot Cereals
  • Vegetables
  • Yams/Sweet Potatoes


  • Avocado
  • Flax Seed Oil
  • Nuts (dry roasted or raw)
  • Natural Nut Butters

MEDIUM QUALITY FOODS (these items are processed to some degree)


  • Cottage Cheese
  • Deli Meat
  • Canned Meat
  • Garden Burgers
  • Yogurt
  • Soy Meat- packaged


  • Bread
  • Beans - canned
  • Cold Cereals
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Pretzels


  • Canola Oil
  • Olives - canned
  • Processed Nut Butters

LOW QUALITY FOODS (these items are the most processed)


  • Protein Powder
  • Protein Bars


  • Chips
  • White Rice
  • Rice Cakes


  • Mayonnaise
  • Margarine
  • Salad Dressings
  • Sour Cream

Eat well!

My best,

Valerie Cogswell - Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef