Breaking Up With Joe

I’m breaking up with Joe

Cup of Joe, that is.

I know it’s not the most mature thing to do this publicly, but I really don’t want to be alone with you again.  I didn’t want to chicken out, so I wrote you a letter. Please don’t make a scene.


Dear Joe,

 You always leave me wanting more. But when I’m done with you, I feel anxious and jittery, wishing we’d never met. When I’m done with you, my skin and breath reek of you. I can’t get your taste out of my mouth. When I try to avoid you, I get a raging headache and feel irritable for days…

You see Joe, it’s not you, it’s me. I don’t like you anymore. My stomach can’t handle you and I hate how dependent I become in such a short amount of time. You are all too eager to acquiesce to my morning desire, but I just can’t take this any longer.

So, sayonara Joe. Don’t ask me to reconsider – I’ve most definitely had my fill. 

Yours truly,



You might be wondering why I’m breaking up with coffee…again.

Here’s the thing, I have a love/hate relationship with the bean… I love the ritual, I love the smell – I even love the taste. The problem is: coffee doesn’t love me back.

This is how I always think I will feel after drinking my morning cup: happy girl

Unfortunately, this is my reality:woman-with-headache

It’s a vicious cycle, to be honest. I get off the bean and feel downright crummy for two days, with a horrendous headache and major brain fog. Then, after those couple of days pass, the fog lifts and I find that I have more energy throughout the day. So why do I ever go back to it, you ask? Um, did I not just mention the ritual, smell, and taste? I mean, really, what’s a girl to do?! But here I am, with post-coffee jitters once again, ruing the day I ever took my first sip. It is time to give up the morning cup once and for all!

To support me in my (for-real-this-time) break-up, I did a little research on the detriments of java drinking. Here is what I found in regards to eczema (a common ailment of mine), acidity and adrenal health:

Eczema is most commonly linked to food intolerances and leaky gut.  Know what exacerbates leaky gut?  You guessed it: coffee!  According to Natural News, avoiding coffee (even decaf), will help to alleviate eczema symptoms.  Guess I can sell my stock in cortisone cream after all….

Bonus info:
*Foods that help a leaky gut include cabbage and fresh ginger, both of which soothe and heal a leaky gut.

Acidity…as in: heartburn and acid reflux…gross.

“Coffee is highly acidic and it can stimulate the hypersecretion of gastric acids. Decaffeinated coffee has been shown to increase acidity to a greater degree than either regular coffee or caffeine alone.15 Both caffeine and coffee stimulate gastric acid secretion and decaffeinated coffee raises serum gastrin levels.16, 17 A study comparing the ability of decaffeinated coffee with that of a high protein meal to increase gastric acid secretion and gastrin levels found that decaffeinated coffee was a more powerful stimulant of acid secretion and gastrin release than the high protein.18

Coffee tends to speed up the process of gastric emptying, which may result in highly acidic stomach contents passing into the small intestine more rapidly than normal. This may lead to injury of the intestinal tissue.19

There is a clear relationship between reduction of stomach acid and heartburn relief.20″

(See above references here.)
Lastly, according to Dr. Lawrence Wilson an expert in nutritional balancing science for over 30 years, “stimulants, such as coffee, cause a great deal of damage to the adrenal glands, leading to feelings of extreme fatigue, depression and an overall experience of burnout.” 

The adrenal glands are essential for life.  They secrete a number of hormones that prepare our bodies to respond to stress, particularly adrenaline and cortisol, which activate the body’s fight-or-flight response.  Pretty important stuff – and I’ve definitely been feeling more edgy lately…

With these new considerations, I’m ready to make some changes.  So, I guess that settles it:  I’m saying good-bye to my daily indulgence and kicking the bean for good!

For your own “kicking-coffee” support or other healthy lifestyle coaching, contact me:


Live well.



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My Final Thoughts on Whole 30 :)


I waited a couple of days to post after completing January’s Whole 30.  The truth is, I didn’t have a clear decision made about how I would address my dietary lifestyle going forward.  I’ve tended to adhere to a “paleo” lifestyle, however, there were a few food items that I found myself missing…like beans, certain dairy products and even sweet treats now and again.

At our Whole 30 (W30) potluck last week, I shared my reasons behind doing the W30 for the first time last April.  I It Starts With Food bookcoverhad struggled with GI issues, food guilt and food intolerance for much of my adult life and wanted to see if radically limiting my diet for 30 days would make a difference…and it did.  My cravings were gone, I felt stronger than ever and I even lost 8 lbs!  But as warned in Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s best-selling book, It Starts With Food, old habits began to creep back in.  A bite here, a bowl there, and then a whole batch of gluten-free Christmas cookies later (!!!) and you can bet I wasn’t feeling all that hot!  My food guilt and full-blown sugar cravings were back in a big way!

I used to believe the popular notion that “everything in moderation” was the way to go.  But, the more I’ve learned about foods over the years and the ways we can be affected by them, the more I’ve realized that the “wrong” foods can have a negative effect in our bodies – EVEN when enjoyed in moderation!  I’ve also learned firsthand how easily “moderation” can spiral out of control.

As the health coach behind a Whole 30 forum of more than 70 participants, I suddenly felt that I needed to lead by example.  Yes, they were all grown adults. Yes, they each had their individual health journey that had nothing to do with mine.  But in the process, I somehow collapsed “coaching” and “being supportive” into a “must be perfect” philosophy, sharing only with the very few people close to me the horrendous G.I. distress I experienced the first two weeks, the cravings I battled every night I worked a dinner shift and the times I blew up at my husband for eating pizza right. in. front. of. me.  (Sorry, Bri!)

While the first half of the Whole 30 had me wanting to quit every day, I felt amazing during the second half.  My gut was healing, my skin was glowing, my mood had noticeably improved, and my “keep me honest” jeans were honestly looking pretty good! 😉  This was also when my eyes were opened.

It was during this second Whole 30 that I learned something about myself – how I deal with my health is how I deal with my life.  When I’m not eating in a healthy way, it’s a safe bet that other areas of my life are slipping as well: my relationships, my workouts, how I run my business…  The other big realization is that, no matter how far I’ve come over the years (and even in the last 30 days), my tendency toward perfectionism and feelings of inadequacy are always in the background, threatening to boil over.

The truth is, this experience was both a challenge and a joy for me.  It was a challenge due to the aforementioned issues, but also because my husband opted not to participate this time around (hence, the pizza eating).  While he gladly ate, and even reaped the benefits from, everything I prepared, I didn’t feel like we were “in this together” the way I did last Spring.  As a result, I couldn’t wait for it to be over – even though I was feeling so amazing!

Feeling great was certainly one of the reasons this W30 has been joyful, but reading all the success stories from our ‘Whole 30 January’ forum and seeing all the sharing among participants brought me endless joy!  My husband would laugh as I read aloud from our page, beaming over new recipes, blog suggestions and homemade coconut milk.

This brings me to the current re-introduction phase and what I’m taking away from this experience:

First off, I’M NOT PERFECT!! Whew! What a relief to finally get that out in the open. 😉

Enjoying the sunSeriously, though, I will keep exploring (and having fun with!) health and nutrition, realizing that optimal health is unique to the individual and that the journey is a personal one.

Secondly, I’m giving up the guilt, once and for all!

I believe that there aren’t inherently “good” or “bad” foods, although there IS a distinction between foods that make me more healthy or less healthy.  There are also foods that, no matter how healthy they are, might not make me feel very well (or, that make me feel downright crummy). Moving forward, this is how I will weigh my dietary options.  I’m not confining myself to “Whole-365” eating, nor am I about to go hog-wild on grains and dairy, but I am going to focus on plate-building in a way that keeps me satiated and excited about my food choices.  I’ll also be taking notes during my re-introduction phase to help me make better choices in the future.

Lastly, and in line with the Hartwig’s view, there may occasionally be times when I choose to go food “off-roading” to enjoy something just because it tastes amazing.

images-8If this is the case (and it’s bound to happen), I will savor every bite!


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Insanity Pancakes

I’ve been doing Insanity workouts with my husband for the past week.

In our living room.  Dripping sweat.  Without central AC.

We’re at the very beginning of a 2-month program and I realize that, while I thought I was “killing it” at the gym before, I was doing novice workouts in comparison.

After only six days, I’m seeing more definition in my arms, legs and abs!!  My energy has started to increase, and with it, my appetite. As in: I cannot get enough to eat!  As a result, I’ve been experimenting more with pre and post-workout meals, trying to find something that will tide me over without weighing me down.  I thought I would share some of my discoveries here.   And, while this isn’t really a “food blog”, those of you who know me well know that eating just happens to be my favorite pastime.  Fortunately, adapting/sampling new recipes go hand in hand (or fork to mouth) with my favorite pastime.

pancakes 2

So, today I made banana pancakes.  But, these aren’t your ordinary flour and sugar laden breakfast treats…no, I’ve had to make some adjustments to accommodate my “paleo gluten free” lifestyle.   Instead, with a little tweaking, I discovered a 4-ingredient combo that works like a charm!  Add organic berries and a drizzle of local honey, and voila!  Breakfast (or pre-workout meal) is served!

pancakes 1


2 eggs (organic, pasture-raised, free range, yada, yada, yada)

1 banana (the riper the banana, the sweeter the pancake – I like mine when they just barely begin to spot)

1/2 cup almond butter (100% almond without any added sugar or oils)

1-2 tsp vanilla (I put a healthy splash of vanilla in mine, but it “looks like” a couple teaspoons…)

other: coconut oil or ghee to grease pan


In a medium sized bowl, smash the banana until it resembles baby food with a few small remaining chunks.  Add the eggs and mix with a fork or whisk.  Add almond butter and vanilla and mix until the batter is smooth except for the few small banana chunks.  Optional: place bowl in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to thicken and set.

Once the batter is ready, heat a pan over medium and add enough coconut oil or ghee to coat the surface.  Spoon batter onto the pan (I use a large spoon to make pancakes that are approximately 4-inches in diameter) and flip each pancake once small air bubbles begin to form.  Once flipped, the pancakes are ready when the slide easily across the pan with a nudge from a spatula.

Arrange on dish with some  fresh berries and a bit of honey – they really won’t last long, so enjoy!


Stay tuned as I share more healthy snacks, treats and meals over the next few weeks…yum!

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Farmer’s Market

farmers collage 2

I went to the Farmer’s Market in Little Italy this morning and enjoyed every minute!

In the past I’ve dragged my husband with me, rushing through the market on a mission to get in and out as soon as possible to avoid the imminent groaning over crowds and boredom that were sure to begin upon arrival (sorry, love, but you know it’s true). 😉

While the market isn’t my husband’s cup-of-tea, I absolutely LOVE it!  Local farmers, live music, flowers, textiles, fresh food and juices, lots of people, kids, dogs…I simply cannot get enough!

Unlike my more  hurried experiences, today was spent leisurely meandering from booth to booth with my friend, Nicole.  We spoke with strangers, we asked questions, we sampled,  complimented, and enjoyed!  We learned about local honey (orange blossom was my fave!) from the Micholich Family, picked up breakfast from Peace Pies (jicama “raw-violi” w/ marinara and “mock-tuna” wraps – yum!!), and people-watched.  We learned about baskets made from Elephant Grass, sampled “bitchin’ bars”, and enjoyed a cup-o’-joe.
I realized how much I’ve missed slowing down and enjoying my surroundings.  Today was exactly that – I couldn’t ask for a more perfect start to my weekend or for better company!  And…the hubby loved the samples and stories I brought home to him…minus the crowd. 😉
me pic
To learn more about San Diego Farmer’s Markets and how to support local farmers, click here.

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Slow down for success

My husband looked at me the other day and said, “Melissa, you need to slow down.”

Slow down?  Did I hear him correctly?  I’m not sure I even know the meaning of those words…  After working late into the evening, I take early morning client calls, stress about the blog I should be writing, fret over the meals I will be make during the week, and feel guilty that my hubby has had to pick up the slack in washing our endless piles of laundry and dirty dishes.  Somewhere in there, I squeeze in a workout and attempt to get the dogs on a short walk.  I’ve been feeling exhausted, distracted and fussy for days, but…slow down?


Aren’t I supposed to be the epitome of health and vitality?  Aren’t I supposed to have it all together?

The problem with this way of thinking, this strive to be “super woman”, is that it leaves me feeling run down and, ultimately, unfulfilled.  And, after speaking with other like-minded, “go-getter” women, I found that I’m not alone

Part of being healthy is taking time out to do nothing.  To block out personal time in our crazy schedules where we aren’t obligated to do anything related to business, housework, or having the perfect body.  Where we can curl up with a good book or take a nap.  Where we can sit by the lake and listen to birds calling out to each other.   Where we can float in the pool, lazily drawing circles in the water with our fingers as the sun arcs across the sky.


By regularly slowing down and taking a break from growing obligations, we are more likely to feel refreshed (and even eager) in our charge to accomplish it all and more.  We are freed up to be more creative, positive, and focused.

My initial shock over the suggestion to “take it easy”  dissipated as I actually began to fall in love with the idea!

If you need me, I’ll be at the pool 😉


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Step by step…

Out of curiosity…

How many of you have started a new diet or exercise plan at the beginning of the year only to fall short and “give up” by March?

Did you make “positive life change” a single New Year’s resolution, or did you take time to distinguish specific goals?  Did you set up accountability with a friend or co-worker or did you keep it a secret in case you failed?  Did you clear out your cupboards of anything that would sideline your progress in a moment of weakness or did you leave some goodies in there just in case?  Did you try to make too many changes at once and then give up once you fell short on a few of them?

I ask all of these questions because, at one time or another, I’ve been there…

When tackling something as important as your health, it takes time for everything to become a “lifestyle”.  And, while there are certainly individuals out there who can make cold-turkey changes in their lives, it’s not the norm.  For the vast majority of us, it takes small changes over time to create lasting effects.  It also takes commitment, planning, and accountability.

Here are three simple steps toward living a healthier end of February and planning for a healthier March:

1. Clear your cupboards of anything that does not coincide with your healthy lifestyle.  This would include any foods that, although you may love them, do not make you feel well after eating them (i.e. guilt, bloating, fatigue, etc).

2. Plan your food, then eat your plan – It’s easy to grab the first thing you see when you come home starving!  In fact, studies show that it is easier to fall away from healthy eating intentions when meals are not planned out!  Planning would include choosing meals and snacks in advance and making a grocery list (and sticking to it!).  It would also include preparing foods ahead of time such as chopping veggies for the next few days and storing them in the refrigerator for easy access.

In my household, I find that making a giant salad of chopped greens and veggies creates an easy go-to meal base for hectic days.  I make enough to last several meals and can easily create a healthy meal in minutes by simply adding a little chicken or hard-boiled egg for protein.

This brings me to my third simple step…

3. Eat more GREENS!Eating more of something is easier and way more fun than taking something away!  Begin your day with a green smoothie or toss some kale in the oven for some yummy kale “chips”!  Include at least two extra servings of dark, leafy greens into your daily plan to jumpstart a healthier you!


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The Power of Choice

What you put in your mouth may be one of the most important daily choices you make – yet, it’s rarely viewed that way.

Think about it…

Do you feel sluggish after eating or do you feel energized?  Are you still craving something at the end of a meal or are you entirely satiated?  Do you tend to feel bloated or gassy once you’ve eaten or do you feel great?

Chances are, there are times that your food choices are not “serving” you, so to speak.  I’m not suggesting that you’re eating In’n’Out every day, however, there may be days that you grab something quick as you dash out the door.  Maybe it’s an easy snack, like a sugar-laden granola or protein bar.  Maybe you make a salad, but then you douse it in blue cheese dressing.  Or, perhaps your dinner consists of chips and salsa because you’re feeling “snack-y”.

You think nothing of these small daily habits because you eat healthy most of the time.

Then, you wake up one morning and wonder ‘what happened’ as you feel your thighs rubbing together on the way to the bathroom….

It’s time to look at your choices.

The following three choices may be an easy way to start implementing healthy change in your diet!

1. Pay attention to which foods make you feel your best – NOT sugary or empty calorie laden foods!!  (think: soda, candy, chips, etc.)

2. Try eating your veggies first – especially if they’re raw.  You’ll be more likely to fill up on veggies before digging in to less nutritious foods.  Also, when veggies are raw, you get some vital phyto-nutrients that may be destroyed through cooking.  A combination of cooked and raw vegetables is essential for a healthy diet.

3. Eat organically whenever possible.  This includes all of your meats!  Organic, grass-fed meats are the healthiest – not to mention the tastiest – way to eat your meat!

Have your food choices matter!  Some minor adjustments to your diet will lead you to a healthier YOU!

Cheers to your health: choose to have 2012 be your healthiest year yet!!

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