Win your Weight Loss Challenge

Win your Weight Loss Challenge

You’ve joined a challenge to help you stay motivated and achieve your weight loss goal! That’s a great first step. To win your weight loss challenge you will need to have the right mindset.

Sure, when you change your diet, you get to see noticeable weight loss. You follow your meal plans, fill your body with nutritious vegetables and great lean proteins. You know the saying “you are what you eat”? Well, you are what you think too. Weight loss is as much a physical shift as it is an emotional shift. And you can’t have one without the other. There are 3 major emotional shifts that happen on a weight loss journey.

The first, self-loathing becomes self-love

“I used to look so good.” “I used to have so much energy.” “I’m never going to look like that again.” “I’ll never follow through with this. I’ll give in again. I’m a failure.” Any of that sound familiar? Well, the emotional journey leads you to new mental games. “I’ve come so far.” “This is an awesome journey.” “I’m proud of myself for following through.” “I’m strong- I’m capable- I’m compassionate towards myself.”

Next, you will start to change your surroundings to fit your new emotional needs.

Let’s just say, it’s best to keep Cake Boss to a minimum. This is the time to suggest meetings be held at a park instead of at the local bakery.

Third, you will find the want to shift the people you are around.

They say you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. You are on an amazing journey and have grown internally so much. If your circle of friends are not supportive or encouraging or challenging you to be better, it’s time to rethink if this is a healthy friendship. Maybe it’s time to join some new local meet up groups, you could also encourage your friends to grow with you by referring them to what has worked well in your life.
Weight loss is more than a change in your physical image, it causes an emotional shift, and the combination of the two leads to a lifelong journey of self-development. After all, you are what you think and when you have a positive attitude not only will you win at weight loss, but you will win your weight loss challenge too!
By: Jessica Logan

Reading Labels: The good, the bad and the truth

Reading Labels: The good, the bad and the truth

Wondering what all the claims are on your food packaging? Organic, Non GMO, natural, gluten free, etc. There are so many claims out there, many of which are clever marketing gimmicks to get us to buy a higher priced item when in fact it isn’t any healthier than the item next to it. How do we read nutrition labels and understand them?
Here is what to look for:

  • Organic: Make sure your organic items are done with a seal “certified organic” otherwise they may have just used one or two organic ingredients and say so only in the fine print. Also make sure it’s spelled correctly, many brands use natural colors and terms similar to organic to trick consumers.
  • Non-GMO: This means your item has not been genetically modified, or changed in a lab. Corn and soy are some of the high risk crops. To ensure your food does not contain GMO’s buy organic. Organic items cannot contain genetically modified organisms.Reading Labels in Arlington, WA
  • All Natural: This term is used very loosely. Sometimes it is meant to mean no added dyes, preservatives or artificial flavors. Read the ingredients when a product is labeled natural as many food marketers have used this term as a marketing gimmick.
  • Made with: Take a closer look at items that are “made with” a healthier item. While it may be true that an item is made with real fruit, it may also include food dyes, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
  • Gluten Free: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Avoiding gluten means a lot more than not eating bread. If you are trying to avoid gluten due to Celiac or an allergy make sure it’s certified gluten free as trace amount can be found in many non-bakery type foods you wouldn’t expect.
  • Vegetarian: This means the product contains no meat, poultry, fish and or seafood.
  • Vegan: This takes vegetarian one step further. Items that are pure Vegan do not include anything derived by animals; no dairy, egg, honey, etc.
  • Whole Food: A whole food item is an item that has been processed or refined as little as possible. Farm to table claims would be an example of whole foods. The farmer picked it, you prepped it and ate it!
  • Kosher: A kosher item means it conforms to the regulations of kashrut. Put sim
    ply meat and dairy are not prepared or eaten together.


When making changes in what you purchase and starting to read nutrition labels at the grocery store review the ingredients also. When you read nutrition labels and the claim on the front of the items was that it is “made with” real fruit, flavor, etc, check the list of ingredients to be sure it’s all real items not just one real item and a pile of artificial colors and flavors.

With all of these claims floating around it’s hard to know what the best choices are. If you can only make one change, purchase as many items you can that are organic. This ensures they will also be “all natural”, “made with real ingredients” and “non-gmo” as an organic item encompasses all of those claims.

Vegan, Vegetarian, Kosher and Gluten free items will depend on your dietary, philosophical and or religious beliefs. Are they healthier? Sometimes. But an Organic, non-gmo, gluten free cupcake is still going to have lots of fat and sugar in it. But it will be 100% real and your body knows what to do with real food.

Challenge yourself to read what’s actually in everything you consume today, read nutrition labels on all the food you eat. It may take some extra time the first few trips to the grocery store, but try to remove a few items from your pantry with ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Your body (and brain) will thank you!

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Do you have the sugar blues?

Do you have the Sugar Blues? Have you ever eaten a meal only to want to eat again shortly thereafter? Are you constantly tired and experiencing sugar highs and lows? You know, the ones where you feel like you can take on the world but a few hours later are ready for a nap?
You may have a case of the Sugar Blues. As Americans we eat too much sugar. It’s not all our fault; sugar is added to nearly everything! One of the biggest culprits is our beverages. Did you know your typical “vitamin enhanced water” has over 32 grams of sugar in it?!

Sugar is also going incognito. There are now over 50 names for sugar! A few popular ones are Agave Nectar, Carob Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Galactose, Malt Syrup, and Maltodextrin. When you see this on your label, know it’s added sugar.

Signs you are consuming too much sugar:

  • Weight gain. Fat isn’t the only culprit in making us fat. The real culprit in weight gain is sugar! When you see items labeled “Low Fat” or “Fat Free” that typically means added sugar, how else would it taste sSugar Blues!o good? When given the choice choose the regular fat item instead of the fat-free option.
  • Low or bad mood. This is why it’s called the Sugar Blues. Too much sugar can cause low mood, anxiety and even depression.
  • Low Immunity. Sugar can weaken the immune system and as a result you seem to always be the person catching the bug that’s going around.
  • Metabolic Syndrome. This consists of abdominal obesity and visceral fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is quickly growing and may soon overtake smoking as the leading preventable risk factor for heart disease.

On average, Americans consume 150-200 pounds of sugar per year! Talk about Sugar Blues! Broken down, that’s over half a pound of sugar per day! It’s no wonder we are hungry, tired, sick and anxious all of the time. Our pancreas is in overdrive trying to produce enough insulin to keep our blood sugar levels down. I think it’s time we help it out!

Tips to reducing your sugar consumption:

  • Start with the holidays. Halloween is quickly approaching. If you get trick or treaters try giving them temporary tattoos, stickers or little toys instead of candy.
  • Make some cooking changes. Can you slightly reduce the sugar in a few of your favorite recipes and still achieve the same taste? Try removing a fifth of the sugar the recipe calls for.
  • Reevaluate your “healthy” choices. Items like Non GMO and Organic do not mean low sugar. Even if it’s organic, sugar is sugar and your body can’t tolerate so much. My general rule is single digits for sugar.
    If the item contains 10 grams or more consider it a treat and eat it in moderation.
  • Check the labels. Don’t just check how many grams of sugar are in an item but check the ingredients to see if sugar is an added one.
  • Take baby steps. If you consume a lot of sugar, cutting it all out at once can possibly lead to detox symptoms. Try small steps such as not adding sugar to coffee, cereal, etc. Swap some of your sweet treats with sweet fruits. There is still sugar/fructose in fruit but the fiber in the fruit will help you feel full, reducing the desire to overeat.

Challenge yourself to eat less sugar. The WHO now recommends less than 5% of your daily calories come from sugar, which is about 25 grams. That’s less than a can of pop a day. Can you do it?

Emily Countryman is a board certified health coach and owner of Ideal Wellness in Marysville. She can be reached online at

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Packing Smart lunches for Smart Kids

Packing Smart lunches for Smart Kids

Smart Lunches for Smart Kids!It’s back to school! Back to carpools, new backpacks, school supplies and of course the new lunch box. What are you going to pack in that lunchbox this year? Kids need a healthy, FUN and nutritious lunch to reach their full potential. Let’s make this year the year for a healthy school lunch!


Would an Olympic athlete or an esteemed scientist pack cookies, pop or cheese puffs in their school lunch? I doubt either would be able to perform at their peak with those items.


The same is true about our children. We send our kids off to school after a sugary cereal breakfast, toaster pastry and 8oz glass of orange juice (The OJ alone has 22g of sugar). It’s time to rethink lunches and set the kids up with smart lunches to be smart students!


To get our kids to eat and enjoy healthy meals, we need to make it FUN!


Full of natural colors; think berries, fruit and cheese.

Unprocessed foods; avoiding packed chips, fruit snacks and juice boxes.

Natural and nutritious; a small treat is fine but make sure most of the lunch is serving your child.


The more healthy and nutritious foods you pack in your child’s lunch, the less room there is for junk and sugar. It’s not about taking away foods but adding in more good & nutritious foods to crowd out the bad.


Make sure you avoid these highly processed and non-nutritious items:

  • Fruit Snacks. Although the box says “Fat Free” or made with real juice, what they are really saying is “full of sugar”. Fruit snacks should be treated as a treat not a fruit or mistaken for anything healthy.
  • Pop, soda, juice boxes and juice pouches. Just pack water! Kids don’t need all of this sugar in the middle of their day while trying to stay focused at school.
  • Cookies, pastry snacks and most prepackaged items in the cookie isle. Especially avoid those 100-calorie packs…this is another term for full of sugar!
  • Fruit Cups stored in juice and added or artificial sugar. Go for a fruit cup packed in water, or better yet a piece of fresh fruit!


So you might be wondering, what can I pack to make this a healthy school lunch? Here are some great ideas for fun, healthy and edible back to school lunches:

  • Sandwich with whole wheat or Gluten free bread. Add turkey (look for something organic without nitrates), cheese (again unprocessed, no plastic wrapped single slices) and mayo, butter or avocado slices. Don’t be afraid of healthy fats, kids need these for more brain power!
  • Tortilla rolled up with almond butter and a banana in the middle
  • Chicken or tuna salad with rice crackers for dipping
  • Sliced veggies or fruits. Add to a small kid friendly skewer for a kabob effect!
  • Lara Bars or other protein bars, just be sure to note the sugar content and avoid bars with added sugar. You can even make your own healthy protein bars at home.
  • Air popped popcorn

If you have a picky eater get them involved by helping you make and pack their lunch the night before. Fun lunch boxes, separated bento boxes, soup thermos and water bottles will help as well! It’s time kids had a healthy school lunch to fit their healthy life!

Emily Countryman is a board certified health coach and owner of Ideal Wellness in Marysville. She can be reached online at

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How to Slow Down in a High Speed World

How to Slow Down in a High Speed World

Has the word “busy” replaced the word “fine” as your automatic response when asked by someone how you are doing? The world is moving faster and faster and we have more expectations and demands on our time. The new normal is that both parents are working, the kids have dance class, football, piano lessons, you name it! Fast food and delivery pizza have become our go-to dinners and a full nights sleep is a dream. It’s time to slow down in a high speed world and speed up that weight loss!


Being at your maximum speed all day every day it is taking a toll on your body. You may not know it or feel it but your body probably isn’t functioning optimally if you are stressed. Some secret signs of stress are headaches, pre-mature hair graying, heart palpitations, profuse sweating and anxiety. Life is busy, but that doesn’t mean your health has to suffer. Luckily with some minor changes we can lessen the effects on our bodies and minds.


Here are six simple tips to help you get and stay healthy in our fast paced world:


  • Eat Slower: If you can’t slow down your life to slow down in a high speed world you can slow down your meals. Take the time to chew your food and consciously eat and enjoy your meal. Take smaller bites and eat slowly and steadily. You will benefit with better digestions and less calorie consumption as well!
  • Meal Prep: This is easier said than done but if you aren’t doing it yet you must! Set small goals, meal prep 2 dinners this week. Not only will you save time with dinner preparation but you will save time and money at the grocery store as well.
  • Say NO: Start to say no. If overtime isn’t required at your job, say no. If you have made cupcakes for the last 10 school events, this time, say no. If you are a people pleaser this will take some practice. Start small by saying no to simple tasks. All those 10-minute tasks you say no to will add up so that you can slow down!
  • Ditch the Drive-Thru: There are so many quick and healthy items you can get in a pinch. Rather than grabbing the family burgers and fries for dinner go to the grocery store and get a pre-cut bag of veggies, a bagged salad and a rotisserie chicken. For a quick snack many stores have snack size ready to eat veggies, salads and even peeled hard-boiled eggs!
  • De-Stress: Put on some relaxing music, close your eyes and visualize something calming to you for 5 minutes. If you have more time, take it! Go on a brisk walk for 5-10 minutes. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy the outdoors! If all else fails watch a funny cat video on YouTube, you’ll notice your stress levels coming down almost instantly!
  • Brain Dump: If you aren’t able to make all, or any of these changes right away you must get into a habit of de-stressing and decompressing from the day. If your mind is going a mile a minute spend a few minutes every evening jotting down the items you need to accomplish for the next day. Get it out of your brain and start to relax.


No time is no excuse. Take a break and slow down in a high speed world!

Get healthy, be health, stay healthy!

Does your metabolism need a reset?

Does your metabolism need a reset?

Our metabolism is the chemical reaction in our bodies that converts what we have eaten into fuel for everything we do. Some signs your metabolism is slowing down are effortless weight gain and cravings for sugar. Unfortunately for most it slows down with age also. It’s time to reset your metabolism!

The good news is we can combat our slowing metabolism with what we do and what we eat!

Here are some simple tips to reset your metabolism and get it moving again:

  •  Eat more often: Spreading out your meals to 5-6 times a day will help your body get a consistent flow of energy. Make sure that these are not 5-6 full meals but smaller meals so that you are not over eating.
  • Stop over eating or binge eating: Your body can not process large amounts of fat, proteins and carbohydrates at one sitting. When you binge you body is forced to store those extras into our fat cells, adding to our weight and slowing down our metabolism.
  • Stop eating too little: The flip side of overeating is that we under eat. Sometimes to lose weight diets can starve us. We need to eat enough so that our body doesn’t switch into starvation mode. If you are unsure if you are eating too much or too little try an on-line calculator to determine your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This is how many calories you need in a day to sustain yourself. If you are active you can then multiply it by an activity factor to get your daily caloric needs.
  • Get moving: Even adding just a few minutes of activity a day can help get your metabolism back on the right track. As we age we lose muscle mass, which slows down our metabolism. To maintain the muscle mass we need to stay active and physically fit. Try adding in some weights or a brisk evening walk to get your body moving!
  • Stop skipping breakfast: It isn’t nicknamed the most important meal of the day for nothing! In order to keep our body fueled and functioning at it’s max we have to eat breakfast. Eating within an hour of waking is best, and no, your coffee doesn’t count!
  • Get your Zzz’s: These days we are busy than ever and our sleep habits show it. According to the Gallup polls 40% of Americans get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep. When we are sleep deprived it can damage our cells and cause us to become more insulin resistant.
  • Get hydrated: When we are dehydrated our metabolism is dehydrated. One of the best ways to reset your metabolism is to hydrate! If we are not getting an adequate amount of water per day our metabolism slows way down. How much water is enough? We all know we need eight 8oz glasses a day, but actually the better goal is to get half of our body weight in ounces of water each day. Caffeine dehydrates us so make sure for every caffeinated beverage you consume you are getting water in also. So set down that morning latte and go drink some H2O!