For years, losing weight meant reducing calories and increasing energy expenditure, sometimes to extremes. While the basic math (1 lb. = 3500 calories) is a good starting point, studies are showing us there is far more to successful fat loss than the math. Like a lot of western medicine, the calorie deficit formula to lose weight targets the symptoms vs. the root cause or underlying problem. When calories are restricted in the wrong manner, with the wrong foods, the body feels tired, deprived…just plain HANGRY! After that, it’s a matter of time fore we give in to temptation and then the weight comes right back –often making us heavier than we were pre-diet! What’s great about research, science, and discovery is that in time, we discover new methods or bust previously held beliefs. 

By now you’ve probably heard about the studies that measured brain activity after ingesting fast digesting food (high glycemic foods like breads, pastas, rice, crackers, processed foods) and the part of the brain that is impacted by cravings, rewards, and addictions…lit up like a Christmas tree. The same way that alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine do. So you see, activating this part of the brain totally erodes willpower and highly processed carbs somehow turn on the reward part of the brain causing a direct impact on our metabolism. What’s all this mean?

All calories are not created equal in that the different TYPES of calories affect us differently. And yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. J But first, we have to learn how to conquer the cravings. We do this by eliminating processed carbs from our diets. 

And Virginia, the low-fat diet is not the way to the North Pole. A low-fat diet does NOT protect us against chronic diseases (in spite of what we’ve been erroneously told for years). Two recent and very large studies proved diets high with a lot of olive oil or nuts (think Mediterranean!) reduced cardiovascular disease by more than 30% (wow). Couple the Mediterranean type of diet with weight loss and you will be #WINNING with huge health benefits, increased lifespan & more.

Cliff Notes?

  • Add fat to your diets. ENJOY the fat you add, just make sure it’s not trans-fat (partially hydrogenated oils). Think avocados, nuts, nut butters, cheese – or even steak.
  • Reduce highly processed foods as much as possible as they are directly linked to the majority of diet related diseases and contribute to weight gain. 
  • The faster-acting (digested more quickly) the carbs, the worse off you & esp. your kids will be. (If you know someone with ADD diagnosis, help them clean up their diet.)
  • Last, quality sleep & good hydration are two of the best things you can do for your metabolism & health. 

Until next time, choose fit, laugh often, and take 5. Because you can.


So of course, people start talking about losing weight, washboard abs, etc. The conversation generally moves into building muscle in certain areas and losing fat in others. There are multiple studies and reasons for why you should prioritize your goals and then direct efforts accordingly, however if you want to gain muscle as efficiently as possible, you really need to get lean first. And, if you are overweight, from a health perspective (swimsuit season aside), losing fat should be priority one.  So now that we’ve established you should lean up first and then build later, let’s look at a few strategies to help you do that.

  • If your schedule permits, workout in the morning in a fasted state. Without any carbs for energy, you are apt to burn more fat during this time. 
  • Try variations of the catholic schoolgirl diet where you eat clean/lean (and 250-500 calories lighter each day with a tad less protein) for 6 days…and then make the devil blush on the 7th. Or, try shortening your eating windows to allow a full 12-18 hours of fasting. Also, you’ll need to drop calories by 500/day in order to drop a pound a week. Or, decrease calories by 350 and burn an additional 150…but that’s in ADDITION to your normal workouts. Do that 5-6 days a week, and then have a day where you bump your calories back up. Seems contradictory, but it’s effective and it works.
  • Interval training – either cardio or with weights. Download a couple tabata tracks (music with timing for 8 sets for 20 second intervals on with 10 seconds of rest. Good stuff.
  • Drink adequate water.
  • Get 7-8 hours of good sleep each night.

A great jumpstart to any diet is the Fast Track Detox which is essentially 7 days of clean (like, really clean) eating followed by 1 day of “fasting” which includes an easy to make home juice blend, and then 3-4 more days of clean eating with probiotic foods. Most folks lose weight on this and I find  it helps me get back on the clean eating wagon again.

You can read about it here or order the book on amazon. 

Please, don’t expect results overnight—or big changes in a week. For long term success, it’s best to incorporate small changes you can commit to, but also forgive yourself along the way if you don’t eat or train perfectly. As long as you keep going, you are moving in the right direction. And if you are looking at the scale, just remember the only real way to know if you are losing weight is to test your body fat.

Once you’ve dropped some “LBs” it’s time to move your focus muscle building or strength. For me, these workouts are the most fun. This is where full body movements like deadlifts, squats, tire flips, clean and press, and kettle bell training come into play. During this time, you might amp up your protein intake just a little and make sure you’re taking in solid amino acids and omega 3’s. Also, good rest is tres importante for muscle building.

And there you have it- basically these two cycles can be repeated as needed with the length depending on your progress and starting point. 

Today is a GREAT day to recommit to fit!

Until next time, choose health, laugh often & love.



I started this blog with a focus on holiday weight gain. However, as I dug into various studies, I noticed similarities between holiday (or vacation) weight gain and the “Freshman 15”  as root causes, along with the strategies to regain (& maintain) good health (and weight), are the same.


I was also pleased to learn, according to an Ohio State University study, the average student only gains 2-3 lbs. his/her first year vs 15–which is good news, but I digress..! Whether it’s the extended holiday season (the morphing of Halloween into Thanksgiving into Christmas into New Year’s!), vacation, or the beginning of your college career, weight gain is often due to repeated choices that aren’t in your best interest. Choices like poor quality cafeteria food, a plethora of venues offering unhealthy eats, energy drink vending machines, along with the limited college budgets encouraging cheap fast & fried “food” or a vacation budget allowing rich foods. Because of hectic schedules and multiple opportunities to indulge, meals get skipped and food prep falls to a low priority (or not even possible) resulting in cheap and low quality processed foods that are nutritionally void while offering “value meal” calories. A Cornell study showed that 20% of weight gained by students was due to eating at “all you can eat” dining halls. Yikes. Haven’t we all patted ourselves on the back with that same “value meal/what a deal” thinking while on vacation?

Poor food choices contribute to weight gain while another root cause is stress. Stress causes a double whammy because it causes surges of insulin and cortisol which can keep your body from mobilizing fatty acids as fuel. At the same time, stress prevents our body from using sugar leading to weight gain and fat storage. For our students, they are in a new living environment complete with a new set of friends, a different bed and late nights….well, you get the picture.  Also, some folks deal with stress by…yep, you guessed it: eating.


So we have poor food choices and stress…now let’s add alcohol to the mix. Not that either of my college kids would indulge (yeah right)!  With alcohol, we might as well add some “weighting” to the impact it can have on weight gain. Like junk food, it’s high in calories and low in nutrients. And, just one night of partying add a LOT of excess calories. But, add to that the hormonal impact of less testosterone and an increase in fat storage hormones like cortisol. A big double whammy. And…yes, there’s more. When imbibing, defenses (aka willpower and better decision making) goes out the window. Where does this excess fat get stored? Why right around the waist…hello “muffin” top.

Now…to each of the above root causes for weight gain, let’s add one more: not sleeping enough. A sleep deprived body causes hunger hormones to be stimulated (increased) AND causes a drop in dopamine and serotonin causing you to feel LESS full and MORE hungry leading to snacking.


So you can see, whether you are in holiday/vacation mode or are a newbie college freshman, the “environment” for weight gain is all around you. However, it’s not a forgone conclusion and there are simple strategies to combat the fat:

You can start using fat cavitation machine since it helps you to lose weight and reduce fat in different areas of your body.

Hit the gym—or, find ways to be more active. If at the office, stand at your desk, make a point to take walk breaks. In the dorm, put a chin-up bar in the doorway -or keep a sandbag or pair of dumbbells so you can lift on a regular basis in addition to bodyweight exercise. Make a point NOT to sit for longer than an hour without getting up, try walking a few flights of stairs, or pumping out a set of squats, push-ups, dips, jumping jacks or leg swings. It’s all movement and every little bit counts. I hate to tell you this, but the research is in: it doesn’t matter how hard you train—if you spend most of your time in a seated position, you will be health challenged. So instead of Facebook or Snapchat surfing while sitting, walk to as much as possible. Walk while reviewing note cards and enlist nearby dorm friends to join you in the movement effort.

Be healthy. Choose health, that is. Avoid drinking high amounts of caffeine and choose drinks flavored with stevia vs those sweetened with sugar, sucralose or aspartame. Eat a variety of fresh, colorful food vs. packaged & processed foods. Add in some seeds and nuts.

As your energy increases, you can take it to another level by:


  • Focus on managing stress. Become aware of triggers and incorporate breathing and or meditation exercises.
  • Move outdoors and enjoy nature.
  • Vent to a friend or try gratitude journaling. And,
  • Sleep more.  Avoid caffeine, alcohol and blue light before bed.

Till next time, choose fit, be healthy, & have a blessed holiday season!


12 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

7 Steps to Avoid Emotional Eating Over the Holidays

Consumer Reports’ 10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”     –Henry David Thoreau


There are soooo many positive benefits from engaging with nature! Study after study reveal that people who are more connected to nature feel less anxious. And, you don’t even have to move to reap benefits. Being  still OR being active outside  are both reprieves from everyday life. Some psychologists believe the busyness of our lives can overwhelm our attention spans while nature does not. Some experts suggest that we have an innate pull to the outdoors and are wired to seek connections to nature and other living things. All I cimg_4997an say is being outside soothes my soul and I absolutely love exploring trails, riding hills, sitting on a rock, or putting my toes in the sand while listening to the sounds of waves and seagulls. Quite simply, nature’s song and beauty nourishes our souls in a multitude of ways.

For my Cliff Notes readers, here’s short list of benefits from being outside:

  • Reduced anxiety & muscle tension
  • Renewed energy levels
  • Increased immunity & decreased stress hormones
  • Decreased blood pressure and lower heart rate
  • Mood elevation
  • Your vitamin D levels rise.

See, sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D.  Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks. Also, you’ll get more exercise since being outside should mean less time in front of the TV/computer and more time spent walking and doing other things that put the body in motion.

There’s no doubt about it. Nature is God’s “battery charger” for our minds, bodies and souls. I mentioned the benefit of taking short meditative breaks throughout the day in an earlier blog. Make it a priority to step outside, feel the sun on your face (vitamin D), listen for birds, walk through trees—or simply sit. You will serve your body and soul a big plate of restoration.

So my friends, what are you waiting for?


“There is pleasure in the pathless woods. There is rapture on the lonely shore. There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea and music in its roar. I love not man the less, but Nature more.”     –Lord Byron



Until next time, choose fit, be happy, and get outside!


More reading:

5 Health Benefits of Playing Outside

Why Getting Outside is Good for You

The Science Behind Exercising Outdoors

Spending Time in Nature

Health Benefits of Working Out Outside

Not Convinced & Need to Read More?


Many people think that running is the workout to do on the track, trail or road, but walking has many wonderful benefits, as well. It’s an alternate form of cardiovascular exercise that has been proven to be good for us, possibly even better in some ways, than strenuous running.

A brisk walk offers these advantages:

  • It strengthens the heart and lungs
  • It helps with weight loss (walking equal distance burns as many calories as running or jogging distance because it takes longer, but the time X calories is equal to running expenditure)
  • It improves your mood (Many studies show that walking is better than anti-depressants–especially if combined with some sun and nature!) It reduces depression & stress (see above)
  • It tones up muscles, especially in the lower body
  • It helps prevent varicose veins, increases circulation, & strengthens bones
  • It allows you to sleep better (see prior blogs on sleep)
  • It promotes loss of waste products in the tissues
  • It lowers the risk of injury compared to running/jogging since it’s low impact
  • It supports your joints & puts less stress on your spinal discs  
  • It slows mental decline & can lead to a longer life

Most of all, it’s probably the easiest form of exercise to do most anywhere. Don’t worry if you don’t have a gym membership or a treadmill at home. Walking takes no special skills, no need for long practice sessions, and no other equipment other than a good pair of walking shoes.

If you are still not convinced, let me share another walking benefit…walking after a meal improves triglycerides levels and lowers blood pressure. So, what are you waiting for? Get those sitting glutes engaged & do your body some good!

Look at what you have to gain.

Until next time, live strong, be happy, and choose fit.


I have a few questions for you…

How is your cholesterol? Your blood pressure? Your breathing? What about your ability to move without breaking into a sweat? Do you find you have no time to workout or prepare healthy meals? How much time do you spend going to the doctor? And how much money is spent on medicines that treat symptoms of disease?

My friends, today IS “some” day. The day you decide to commit to a fit lifestyle.  Just do it.  For yourself, your family, your children, your community.  Because if you live a life with too little sleep combined with continual over-indulgences, ill health WILL creep into your body.  There is simply no way to sugar coat the cost of not committing to making small healthy lifestyle changes.

Often we create our own self sabotage by setting unrealistic goals.  However, you don’t need to run marathons.  I’m a big fan of “every little bit counts” and the “10 minute difference”.   Small steps in a healthy direction, made consistently over time, WILL make a huge difference in your health. These 31 steps (from Bulletproof) are an EXCELLENT place to start. Set small, simple goals and BE KIND to yourself along the way.

And please, go moderately. Walking is a great way to start. Find an activity you enjoy so you are likely to continue doing it. (That is one of my most often asked questions, “Which type of exercise is best?” My reply is, “Whatever workout you are most likely to stick to!”) And if you hate lettuce, don’t eat it!  But don’t set a “10 pound weight loss in two weeks” goal.  Healthy living is a journey that’s about doing your best—and forgetting the rest, one step and one day at a time. 

Here are some things I’ve learned..

Bodyweight involves more than willpower and biology plays a big role. And, when it comes to willpower, environment matters! (I cannot stress that enough.) Low fat diets blame people when they don’t lose weight—but “fat-free” is not the way to go; it’s damaging and the very nature of that path contributes to failure! Society treats people with a weight problem with more stigma than anything else, sadly.   In a nutshell, a healthy “diet” is one that has REAL food, limits processed foods, and limits sugars.

When it comes to fat, we NEED fat in our diets!  When we leave it out, our bodies goes into starvation mode.  Yes, we can lose weight.. but the body fights back, hunger goes up, metabolism goes down, and the stress hormones secreted erode lean tissue.  The best way is to reverse this recipe for failure is to focus on eliminating processed carbs (which raise insulin and drive fat cells into a feeding frenzy- ugh).  Once fat cells calm down, the calories you eat stay in the blood stream longer, so they are able to nourish your brain, muscles and organs. What happens then? “Health” happens, that’s what.  Hunger decreases, metabolism increases, and…we lose weight.  I wish I could shout this from mountain tops and get the message out—there are so many misconceptions around fat and carbs!

The government quietly lifted the dietary limitations on fats in 2015, but who heard?  That’s because their prior recommendations for “low fat” were erroneous and directed us to look at fat vs sugar. Quite frankly, this direction contributed to the obesity epidemic… along with processed food product quality and convenience–but that’s a blog for another day!  Regardless, those earlier low fat “recommendations” were wrong.

Note: In all fairness, Trans fats (partially hydrogenated soybean oil, for example) are AWFUL & should be avoided at all costs, but fat in general is needed and necessary.   Let’s help get the word out that the low fat message was wrong.

Now back to our healthy living journey!  Starting a new year is a great time to develop a plan, but honestly, I find short term goals work best. I create new lists, look over old lists regularly, and adjust them continually to suit life’s desires.

Here are a couple of ideas for you– but you can create your own “Get Healthy in 2017” list:

  • Pay attention to your sleep and create better bedtime habits 
  • Drink less soda, drink more water
  • Learn something new 
  • Identify a couple accountability partners (the closer in proximity, the better, but virtual works too)
  • Consider incorporating coconut oil into your diet (and research why it’s a good idea)
  • Find a good healthy living/eating/exercise site/book and READ it regularly
  • Eat dark chocolate
  • Find your inner child
  • Learn how intermittent fasting may benefit you
  • Get/play outside
  • De-clutter your life

So make your list, check it regularly, share it with those around you—and make a point to surround yourself with a good supportive network.   #EnvironmentMatters

In the end, we have ONE body. Take care of it so you can live your life more fully. 

Until next time, I wish you the best of HEALTH, happiness & dreams fulfilled.




CNN’s 2016 Article


NY Times 2014 Article


Seriously, it is! Plain and simple: sugar is a toxin. Toxins are poisons that can cause disease in a body.  There is no question that sugar contributes to cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  Studies estimate that Americans consume more than 150 pounds of this sh– in a year. Holy cow! It’s no wonder that the rate of diseases have increased. Would you believe sugar kills more people than cocaine or heroin?  Whatcha think about that, Willis?

Here’s the skinny: not only is sugar “candy for cancer cells” but it also causes inflammation in the body and speeds up aging (gulp). Lower your sugar intake and you improve your health in a multitude of ways.

So how does one take on this aspect of health improvement?

The first step is to become aware of your sugar intake. It is coming to us in various forms: sodas, juices, energy bars, ketchup or marinades, and easily digested processed foods. So unless you are looking to age quickly, put on weight or get sick, then 2016 is a GREAT time to eliminate and/or reduce added sugars in your diet AND the diets of those you love. Become aware and read your labels.

Next, consider ways you can reduce your sugar intake. Write down your ideas— any that come to mind! Maybe it’s one margarita vs. two. Maybe it’s one margarita a month vs. weekly. Maybe it’s no alcohol or sodas at all. Maybe it’s drinking your tea without sugar/honey. Consider all your options and choose some to do right away! Small changes done incrementally and consistently over time will yield big results. Become aware, make a list of ways to reduce sugar, then track it.

Keep a log of your sugar intake. Do you know how much you are consuming daily? Weekly? If there is any area of your life you want to improve, then MEASURE IT!   Look at your list of ideas to cut sugar each morning. Being conscious of your desires helps you make smarter choices. Then track your progress and recommit to ideas to improve the next day. Remind yourself of why you are doing this. Rinse and repeat.

Remember, today is “some” day and all progress is good.

Until next time, choose fit, be healthy, and laugh along this crazy, wonderful journey.




I knew that’d get your attention! While I hope not to disappoint…a more appropriate word would be “gender” as it relates to metabolism. But first, let’s talk about our metabolism since it’s important to understand how we can use it to our advantage in keeping a fit body for life.

In past blogs I’ve talked about calories in/out and that not all calories are created equal, but to LOSE weight, there needs to be a negative energy balance or deficit (we need to burn more energy than we take in). That can be done by eating clean, eating less, and moving more.


What does that have to with sex, you ask? Well, quite a lot…let me explain…


Our Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, is what we normally think of as our metabolism. It’s basically about 60-75% of our daily energy expenditure and what our body burns performing normal stuff like brain function, breathing, heart beats, etc. So, it makes sense that a taller or larger person would require more energy than a smaller person, right? That’s partially true, but the bigger differentiator is composition. Or muscle vs. body fat. Yep good ol’ fat vs muscle. Generally, athletes have a higher RMR than their non-athlete friends due to more muscle.


What else affects RMR? Age. Yeah, I said it. But it’s because we lose 2-3% of our RMR each decade after 30. Doesn’t have to be so, though…if you lift. Age related muscle decline is NOT something that occurs to everyone. It occurs due to sedentary lifestyles, my friends. That’s a lifestyle choice.


But…I digress and you are waiting to read about SEX, err I mean, gender. And sex DOES impact metabolism. So, here’s the sex part:


Men generally have higher metabolic rates b/c they typically carry less fat and more muscle. As a result, they typically have higher RMRs.


There are other things that can impact RMR…like hormones, having a high fever, or dealing with an injury or illness.


I do want to share a word of caution regarding energy intake. If you take in too few calories, your body will break down protein. Less protein/muscle = lower body weight. It’s amazing how the body works, but if you don’t give it the necessary amino acids, it will steal them from your muscles. So that “weight loss” is simply muscle break down and not fat. That is NOT the result you want, trust me. That kind of weight loss will slow your metabolic rate and you will need fewer calories. Plus, the less you eat, the more efficient your body gets in using calories, again resulting in fewer calories needed.


So, if you aren’t up to changing your gender, you can boost your metabolic rate by moving more, lifting weights, and focus on clean eating as there are differences with the thermic impact of food. 

Oh…and there IS another way to increase RMR and that is living and exercising in a tropical climate, which can increase RMR from 5-20%! Now that’s a prescription I want!

Until next time, choose fit, laugh often, & lift strong. What have you got to gain? 


Are you feeling the heat and dealing with low energy or brain fog on a daily basis? If so, I have a few ideas to power you up!
Make H2O your best friend. Research says even 1-2% water loss impacts mental acuity. The most impactful way to combat brain fog is to HYDRATE! If hydration isn’t optimal, the pace at which nutrients get to our cells slow down causing low energy and mental fuzzies.
Hydrate with other sources, too. While bodies and needs may vary, a good rule of thumb is half your weight in ounces of water each day. Fruits & vegetables are also mostly made up of water, so strive to get in your recommended 9-11 servings each day as well.   
Eat fat. This is one of my personal favorites. Blood sugar level can have a big impact on how our bodies function and feel during the day.  Eating poorly can cause a vicious cycle of energy and mood crashes and cravings due to refined and heavily processed carbs. An easy way to combat this is to eat fat b/c it has little impact on blood sugar. Nuts or a piece of cheese make better snack choices & they don’t require preparation.
Take standing breaks. We are such a sedentary society! Seriously, sitting is the new “smoking” due to the health detriment it causes. Our bodies were meant to MOVE. Make a point to stand up for 10 minutes several times a day to increase blood pressure and get blood/O2 flowing. 
Move (& move outside). One of the simplest cure-alls around, is exercising to give you a boost. Plus, if you take it outside, Vitamin D is the sun itself. Morning or during lunch will energize you. Just 20 minutes will supply your daily need of Vitamin D. I recently started wearing a Garmin Vivofit & I have to tell you, there are days my butt doesn’t leave the office chair! But, seeing the “red line” encourages me to take a few laps around the atrium if I can’t get outside at lunch.
Embrace the power of the nap. It’s no secret that a lot of folks struggle with enough quality sleep. A nap can be a great way to offer respite to all that’s overtaxed and reinvigorate your energy. If your workday doesn’t allow the opportunity, try to take time for a legit break by reading a book, going for a short stroll or talking to a friend.
Assessing your sleep routine can also be a great starting point and long-term strategy to help improve your health. Think and assess your actual bedroom. Is there too much blue light at night? How is the comfort of your bed? Do you have a normal bedtime? Figure out what is optimal for you and make it a priority.
Along those lines, limit evening technology. Artificial light via computer monitors, TVs and phones increases stress hormones. #fact Implement a “no phone” rule before bed. You’ll be more relaxed and fall asleep sooner.
Try essential oils. There’s a reason that people have regularly used essential oils for purposes of health and well-being. Try inhaling peppermint to reduce burnout. It is pleasant smell to breathe in, but you can also try applying it to the back of your neck and shoulders to help support your energy over a longer stretch of time. Try peppermint vs drinking coffee.
Meditate. Today’s craziness of multi-tasking, long hours, and too-full agendas can leave us tired & gaining weight. Even thinking about managing stress can seem like a big task in and itself. Studies show, however, that simply taking a few seconds to breathe and close your eyes can lower cortisol. There are a lot of neat apps out there now to help with just that. Try a few and make it a practice to take 5 at least once a day.
Try a few of these ideas and let me know how they work for you. 
As my friend Sharon used to say, “What have you got to GAIN?”  Until next time, choose fit, live STRONG, and breathe. 
Recent neuroscience studies have proven that what we eat and how we live can have huge impacts on our brains. Neurogenesis, or the process of making new brain cells, is the topic of today’s blog. This is fascinating stuff on so many levels! Old think was that we quit growing brain cells in our 20’s and then we just went downhill from there. In the late ‘90’s, scientists discovered we can actually make new brain cells our entire life. The rate of neurogenesis (brain cell development/growth) is an important biomarker of brain health –which ultimately impacts the quality of our lives, as you can imagine!
It makes sense that a low rate of making new brain cells is associated with cognitive decline, anxiety, memory problems, stress/depression and lower immunity.  While on the other hand, people with a high rate of new brain cell growth have cognitive enhancements, faster problem solving, protection against stress/anxiety, etc. Even more interesting is that people can increase the rate of neurogenesis at least 5 times. Holy cow. Now you see how the rate of neurogenesis can have a big impact on the quality of your life? FIVE TIMES!! (Dayam Daniel!)
What can we do? Well, first of all, understand that the best results come from multiple ways to create a synergistic effect. An analogy Dr. Cortright uses is that if you want to build a beautiful house, you have to use high quality materials.  Seems simple enough.  In his book, “The Neurogenesis Diet & Lifestyle”, Dr. Cortright tells us what mental activities we can do to increase neurogenesis, along with spiritual things we can do, active things we can do, and of course, DIETARY things we can do.  In a nutshell, the dietary piece is twofold: we want to decrease the things that are neurotoxic because they slow down the rate of brain cell development AND at the same time increase the things that enhance neurogenesis.
Here are a few points made in his book:


  • Neurotoxins to avoid include bad, unhealthy fats and sugar/carbohydrates. We can thank the government since the 60’s for their recommendations that fail to distinguish good fats from unhealthy, oxidized (trans) fats. When bad fats get into blood stream, it produces a host of problems. The good ol’ outdated food pyramid was heavy on carbohydrates. Don’t’ cook with vegetable oils. Instead cook with coconut oil, butter, or ghee. Avoid eating fried foods. 
  • Include good fats from avocados, nuts, grass fed beef, pastured chicken/eggs, wild caught fish, etc. Omega 3’s fatty acids are the bomb (especially DHA since 1/3 of our brains are made up of this stuff). Taking 4-5 grams a day of omega-3’s that are molecularly distilled (to avoid mercury which is a neurotoxin) is recommended by Dr. Cortright.
  • Green tea (ECGCs) are beneficial, as is
  • Quercetin, and      
  • Ginseng


The book is full of more detailed information, as is his website: I really can’t do it justice in one blog entry. Just know how important it is to reduce inflammatory responses within the body/bloodstream. Repeated inflammation literally chews up the inside of our blood vessels. Because your brain gets 20% of your blood, when you ingest/expose bad fats/sugar/toxins, that junk literally goes to your head.  Say you eat a burger and fries…the fries supply nasty fat/carbs and the bread supplies additional easily digested carbohydrates. Congrats, you just flooded your bloodstream with one big inflammatory responses. Do that throughout the week/month/year….well you get the picture. A high sugar diet will cut the rate of brain cell building in HALF. Scientists have tracked cognitive decline directly with sugar intake and alzheimers is now dubbed Type 3 Diabetes.  Things that make you go, hmm..!
Today, about 80% of the American population has some degree of glucose intolerance, meaning they have higher levels of insulin than is healthy, creating toxicity in every organ of the body. Accelerated aging, or glycation, begins to occur whenever sugar/glucose enters the body. So yeah, I’m sitting here thinking about the handful of peanut M&M’s I grabbed off an associate’s desk last week!  (Sidebar: a blood test called a “hemoglobin A1C” can show the levels of glucose from the past 3 months.)  High fructose is a nasty culprit in a lot of foods.
But, I digress. There’s so much good information in this book!  I’d like to share his information regarding antidepressants, as well. But, that’s a dialogue for another day.
To wrap this up, here are the take-aways:


  • A high sugar diet will cut the rate of brain cell building IN HALF. We live in such a neurotoxic world and most of our brains are functioning well below what is possible. With our bodies lasting longer, why kill brain cells when we can enhance cognitive development so we don’t become a statistic? Right now, 1 in 3 Americans develop Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia.
  • We can enhance brain cell building FIVE times, maybe more, with the right activities (dietary, movement, spiritual).
  • Read the book.


What have you got to gain? Just cognitive enhancement, mood elevation and an enhanced quality of life!
Until next time, choose fit, laugh often, reduce sugar, & add omega-3’s.