My Optimal Health/Weight Loss Workshop Explained (Phase 2)

**This is an explanation to my professor of the second module (or phase 2) of my weight-loss, optimal health online program. I’m currently working on my Master’s of Holistic Nutrition from Hawthorn University.**

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Once a client is fully entrenched in Phase 1 of my Fittbodies Optimal Health Plan, I introduce the Phase 2: Boost Immunity formula. In this phase we build on the Phase 1: Alkalize steps with immune-supporting habits, paying closer attention to fasting, sleep, cravings for sweets, and holistic health.

I begin by encouraging clients to eat their meals within a small, condensed window of time, also known as Time Restricted Eating (TRE) (Longo & Panda, 2016). Scaling back the timing of their first and last meals gradually, by 30 minutes a week, allows the client to ease into a longer fasting window without feeling deprived. For example, if a client’s regular breakfast time is 7am and dinner time is 7pm, I would have them begin Phase 2 by taking 30 minutes off each side of their fasting window. They would therefore eat breakfast at 7:30am (at the earliest) and eat dinner at 6:30pm (most days). Of course there needs to be flexibility to accommodate work schedules and social engagements, but the aim is to achieve a longer fasting window 80% of the time. As the client builds confidence in fasting, we will lengthen the fasting window by another 30 minutes for a week. It may not be feasible to scale back dinner as much as it is to put off breakfast, so once a client finds an optimal dinner time for their schedule, preferably 2-3 hours before bedtime to allow for complete digestion, we hold that dinner time and begin scaling back the first meal only. Not only does this way of eating better coincide with circadian rhythms (Longo & Panda, 2016), but it allows the cells to undergo positive metabolic changes (Longo & Mattson, 2014). Ideally, we work up to a 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating window over the course of weeks to months.

Physical activity is maintained during Phase II, with the challenge of exercising while in a fasted state. Stressing the body occasionally this way encourages hormesis and builds the body’s ability to adapt to stress (Mercola, 2013,

Phase II also encourages clients to eliminate refined sugar and artificial sweeteners and instead use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and stevia leaf for sweeteners. We continue to work on reading labels with emphasis on avoiding products with added sweeteners. If a client has a favorite treat that holds a lot of emotional value for them, we’ll work together to find a healthier version that they can eat without compromising their newfound health. An example of this is my healthy “raw cookie dough” recipe, which is comprised of almond butter, MCT oil, plant protein powder, and bittersweet chocolate chips. I personally eat this, mixed in a small cup, instead of eating the white flour, sugar-laden traditional version, without feeling deprived.

Alcohol is also limited in Phase II, as alcohol metabolizes in the body as sugar. We scale back to consuming only on the weekends, and one-to-two drinks only (Cloe,

Phase II begins the elimination of grains, including wheat, corn, oats, rye, buckwheat, etc. to see if it makes a difference in the client’s energy levels, mood, and sleep. Processed foods, such as crackers, pasta, breads, cereals, cakes, and cookies are avoided. Limited intake of home-prepared quinoa and black rice is acceptable as they provide fiber while creating less of an insulin response in the body (Goldman, 2018,, and (Price, 2019,

I teach about our toxic exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals in Phase II, and encourage the client to purge their make-up, body-care, and personal-care products and cleaners and to purchase cleaner alternatives. Obsesegens, hormone-disruptors, and chemicals hidden in our daily routines wreak havoc on our bodies, resulting in hormone imbalances, weight gain, and other disease states. A great resource for finding “clean” alternatives is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database (

I encourage clients to begin the practice of daily oil pulling as a way to detox as well during Phase II. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice in which a person swishes coconut, olive, or sesame oil for up to 20 minutes a day. It is purported to whiten teeth, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and kill bad breath, among other things (Axe, 2018, Clients start with 3 minutes a day of swishing, working up to 5, 7, then 10 minutes minimum, with coconut oil.

Finally, we work on both quality and quantity of sleep in Phase II. Rest is underrated, in my opinion, and so we work on emotional as well as physical aspects of sleep hygiene. This includes darkening the room for sleep by unplugging clock radios, night lights, or anything else that glows at night; plugging in cellular phones as far away from the bed as possible; using room-darkening window coverings; wearing blue light blocking eyewear at night; and avoiding digital devices for at least an hour before bedtime (Stevenson, 2013, Moving up bedtime 30 minutes earlier each week is a goal, until a minimum of 7 ½ hours of sleep a night, on average, is reached. Use of a Fitbit or other sleep-tracking device is a great motivator, as sometimes we over-estimate the sleep we get.

There is a lot to this Phase II, and clients are allowed to take it as slowly or as quickly as they need or want. At the fastest, the above steps are implemented over the course of a week and maintained over a month or two before moving on. Those who choose (or need to) take it slower can incorporate one new step every week or two, progressing over the course of 2-3 months.

Individuals may experience some setbacks during this phase, including symptoms of detoxification such as irritability, nausea, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, etc. Sugar cravings may ramp up before dissipating, and some may struggle with limited alcohol and grain intake. Longer sleep may take time, as will the transition to shorter eating windows, eating the garlic, and exercising in a fasted state. It’s very possible clients will get impatient if results don’t occur quickly enough, or if they regress at any point, so I’ll need to provide lots of support and reminders that this is a lifestyle change that will enable their weight to drop off and stay off over time.

Check-ins, weekly (or more often as needed), videos, and Facebook group support are key to success in Phase II. The initial “glow” of success with Phase I will diminish, and it is possible clients may feel more deprived of the foods and habits they love most during Phase II. Progress in this phase may slow down, or even seemingly stop, so I will need to provide reading materials, hand-holding, and testimonials from other clients to help them stay motivated through these changes.



Axe, J. (2018, June 02). Coconut Oil Pulling Is the New Flossing (It Stops Tooth Decay, Prevents Cavities, Kills Bad Breath & More!). Retrieved March 16, 2019, from

Cloe, A. (n.d.). The Effect of Alcohol on Insulin Resistance. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from

Goldman, R. (2018, July 23). Why Is Quinoa Good for Diabetes? - Healthline. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from

Longo, V. D., & Panda, S. (2016). Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan. Cell Metabolism,23(6), 1048-1059. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001

Longo, V., & Mattson, M. (2014). Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metabolism,19(2), 181-192. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.12.008

Mercola, J. (2013, September 13). Why Exercising While Fasting Is Beneficial. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from

Price, A. (2019, January 30). Why You Should Eat This 'Forbidden' Food. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2019, from

Stevenson, S. (2017, November 08). Sleep Problems? Here's 21 Tips To Get The Best Sleep Ever. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from

My Optimal Health/Weight Loss Workshop Explained (Phase 1)

**This is an explanation to my professor of the first module (or phase 1) of my weight-loss, optimal health online program. I’m currently working on my Master’s of Holistic Nutrition from Hawthorn University.**


The preparation phase of a weight-loss program is key to laying a strong foundation for lifetime habits. Establishing trust with the client allows transparency and vulnerability and provides a meaningful starting point for which to make a realistic plan and set realistic goals. Face-to-face communication is optimal, whether sitting across from each other in an office or meeting place, or communicating via video-conferencing. Telephone conversations are less optimal, although more convenient, with email and texting to support all methods. Patient intake forms are also important to flesh out the information gained face-to-face and help provide insight into the whole person. I also have recorded short videos in workshop format explaining each step in my program for clients to reference at any time, as well as handouts and worksheets. I can release the entire workshop at once or “drip” the contents to the client, depending on how much they want to spend and how much personal involvement they want from me.

I have expanded my initial “Fitt Kitchen” concept into a broader program, combining nutrition with a weight-loss, fitness, and health-optimization plan that is introduced in four stages: alkalize, immunity-boosting, stress management, and fitness. Clients progress through the four stages as quickly or slowly as they need to, with special attention given to areas of weakness or struggle (Bauer & Liou, 2016, p. 162). For example, a person might need to spend a month in the alkalize stage before they move on to the immunity-boosting portion while another might spend two months in the first stage. Each stage builds on the prior stage and adds more habits/steps to master as the client progresses. The final stage focuses on fitness, but I encourage participants to move their bodies from the very beginning.

I will start off potential clients with the Client Information & Consent form, the Client Welcome Letter, the Food Frequency Form, the Medical History Questionnaire, and the Health & Wellness Goals in the intake packet. (Please see attachments for forms). In our initial meeting, I will dig deeper into the psychological aspects of their behaviors related to food, fitness levels, stress levels, etc. (The examples of such questions are also included in attachments.) I pre-arrange check-in times so clients can expect accountability and establish boundaries, payment, and office hours at this point as well.

When it comes to specific weight loss, my philosophy is to get a client eating whole food, focusing on nourishing their bodies rather than losing weight. The weight loss happens more slowly this way sometimes, but clients establish lifelong habits that help keep the weight off in the long term. A 1-2 lb. average weight drop per week is optimal (Healthy Weight, 2018, This approach will require that I build trust and rapport with the client, as I’m asking them to seemingly put off a problem they sought me out to solve. Teaching them about “how” we are implementing each step will better support them initially, with more “why” introduced over time (Jordan, 2013, p. 90). Educating them about various bodily processes, including digestion, hormone balance, blood sugar regulation, etc. in simple and easy-to-understand language and concepts will further reinforce their efforts. I need to be careful not to overwhelm the client with too much, too fast, but I also don’t want to go so slowly that they lose interest altogether or lose momentum.

As a fitness professional I will encourage them to move their body throughout the program, but will introduce the majority of fitness instruction in the final phase.

Diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures can affect the client’s success with weight, health, and fitness goals. Some examples of dietary barriers include limited budget, limited time to prepare whole foods, preference for certain tastes or textures, dislike of certain foods or textures, habits or rituals surrounding food, history of dieting, allergies, what’s worked in prior experiences, preconceived notions of dieting, etc. Examples of lifestyle factors which could be barriers include employment situation, existence or lack of a support system, sleep habits, habits or rituals surrounding food, exercise habits, mental health status, level of reliance on television and/or social media for entertainment/education/disconnection, amount of time spent on digital devices, education level, etc. Environmental exposures that could be barriers include living conditions, lack of access to quality food, possible addictions such as alcohol, tobacco, & illicit drugs, lack of access to healthcare, lack of support from family and friends, toxic exposure/exposure to obesegens, etc.(Schwartz, 2018,

My challenge as health coach is to problem solve with my client, as a team, each barrier, providing a work-around for potential challenges that may arise or that surface over time. Check-ins through texting and calls, even a voicemail, can help the client feel connected. The pre-recorded videos provide support around the clock. Finally the Facebook group provides support, friendship, and accountability with others participating in the program and takes the pressure off of me to be the constant cheerleader. (I will need to mediate the conversations, however, to make sure the information shared is positive, relevant, and productive.)

Clients begin Phase 1: Alkalize as soon as possible after our first meeting, depending on their goals, their personal timeline, and the amount of hand-holding they’ll need. I release the appropriate videos, add them to my private Facebook group, and check in on them based on our established agreement. Goals for phase 1 include the following: eat mostly plant-based, eat mostly organic, hydrate, drink out of glass or stainless steel containers, instructions to clean out their cupboards, how to read labels, ditch the soda (diet and sugar-full), stock up on healthy snacks, plan meals in advance (I encourage them to subscribe to a meal-planning service, at least at first), ditch the artificial sweeteners, eat whole-fat dairy, and I encourage them to follow some of my personal favorite Pinterest boards for inspiration.

I have an instructional video covering each topic in depth. After the client has watched the assigned video, we will chat, either online, by phone, or Skype, and dig deeper into the lessons according to the questions of the client. With so many topics covered, this could be a lot to expect for someone who is new to clean eating and active living, so I will pace the teaching according to each individual’s needs. We may spend days working on a specific item or breeze through a topic. Individualizing the content within the context of my program will help both with compliance and customer satisfaction.

I expect to spend at minimum of two weeks and maximum of two months on this first phase. It’s possible that a client may need to back-track and review as we move forward, or even skip steps if they’re already in place. My ultimate goal is to provide a streamlined, personalized service that caters to each client’s goals and price point.


Bauer, K. D., & Liou, D. (2016). Nutrition counseling and education skill development. Boston, MA, USA: Cengage Learning.

Healthy Weight. (2018, February 13). Retrieved March 6, 2019, from

Jordan, M. (2013). How to be a health coach: An integrative wellness approach. San Rafael, CA: Global Medicine Enterprises.

Schwartz, G. (2018, July 17). Intermittent Fasting: Current Research and Nutritional Protocols [webinar]. Retrieved from’s goals and price point.

Cinnamon Rolls and The Lessons They Teach Us

Ever heard of the Pareto Principle?

It’s a cause and effect theory first discovered by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896. It states that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. Pareto stumbled onto this theory in his garden, noticing that 20% of his pea pods contained 80% of the peas.

What does this have to do with health and nutrition?

What we do when it comes to what we eat and how we move our body can definitely affect our health.

I’d like to suggest that the Pareto Principle is FLIPPED when it comes to health and nutrition.

Here’s how:

If we eat “well” 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time, our bodies adapt and we shouldn’t suffer too many ill effects of those indulgences. Although the 20% DOES count for a lot, the consistency of the 80% keeps us on the healthy path.

If we exercise 80% of our days and rest 20% of the time, we should be able to maintain a strong, healthy body. Taking some rest days will not diminish our strength, power, or endurance gains. In fact, research has shown that rest days actually ENHANCE our training gains.

If 80% of the time we get a decent night’s sleep, and 20% of the time we stay up late Netflix binging, our bodies will recover. Yes, it’s best to stay on a consistent sleep schedule, but life is fun and sometimes the fun doesn’t start until the kids are tucked away for the night.

You get what I’m saying?

So last weekend was Father’s Day, and the only thing my husband James wanted was homemade cinnamon rolls. Not the healthy kind I’m inclined to make (gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free). No. The delicious kind (gluten-full, sugar-full, and ooey-

Here’s a picture of the finished product. Don’t they look fabulous?

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Now here’s what I really want to talk about—THE GUILT.

How many of you would indulge in this delicious treat and then beat yourself up for it the rest of the day? The reality for many people I work with is that they feel “bad” or “weak” when they partake of delicious, unhealthy treats. It doesn't need to be that way.

Here’s the thing—If you eat clean, nutritious, healthy food 80% of the time it is okay to take a bite (or 20 as I did) of something not-so-healthy and “get away with it.”

No guilt. No despair. No, you didn’t ruin your diet. You didn’t undo what you’ve been working so hard for.

You gotta live a little, right?

You just can’t eat like that all the time. Father’s Day comes once a year, so the cinnamon-y and cream cheese-y goodness is okay once a year. (We actually do cinnamon rolls Christmas morning, so that’s twice a year). Once or twice a year won't kill you. It won't even effect you much at all. It's the daily "treats" that are our downfall.

We need to plan out our indulgences so we can make sure that 80% of the time we are making good choices. Birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries can be calendared in advance. Work parties, neighborhood BBQs, and other social events usually give a bit of notice, too.

Plan for them.

Calendar your activities so you can make sure you’re eating and exercising 80% of the time. Then relax and enjoy the other 20%. It’s simple.

The flip side of the Pareto Principle—the 80/20 rule—making sure you’re healthy AND happy for a long, long time. Even if you're a health nut like me.

****Oh, and before I go, I thought you might like the homemade cinnamon roll recipe. 

Yours in indulgence,