???????????????????Are you really?  Or are you craving?  Seems like a simple question.  When we are faced with something like this, it’s difficult to tell.  Yet at other times, we know.  Perhaps we are celebrating a special occasion.  We may have feasted like a Roman emporerer, but still indulge in dessert.   For most of us, this misstep won’t spell dietary demise.  Yet it can be a problem for anyone, if these slip-ups, add up.

There are many strange and bizarre lengths many try to alleviate cravings.  From swallowing diet pills which expand (some will expand in your throat if they aren’t swallowed quickly), to gargling mouthwash every time a craving hits, the possibilities though extreme, seem endless.

If you are brushing your teeth faithfully after every meal, perhaps the latter is more practical.  But I don’t think I prefer choking on pill to a craving.

Here’s another solution; a couple which may help.

1.  Drink first, eat last.  No, I’m not talking alcoholic beverages.  Alcohol can lead to dehydration–which may be the reason you believe you are hungry.  Dehydration can disguise itself as hunger.  If you are truly hungry after satisfying your thirst, drinking H20 or anything else will only go so far.

2.  Could you eat an apple, broccoli, or lean chicken breast?  If the answer is “yes,” you are probably truly hungry.  If not, chances are it’s a craving.  This idea I found quite unique–simple enough, and worth a try.  According to participants using this method, most of the time, they were experiencing a craving.  For these three women, it was estimated they saved a total of approximately 1200 calories between them.  This idea came from the Dr. Oz show, which aired Friday, August 16th; here in the Chicago area.  More ideas about handling cravings are posted on his site.

Battling the bulge is never easy.  Even the leanest and meanest find it an uphill battle.  Not every solution is for everybody; what works for one will not work for another.  It helps to be resourceful, avail yourself of current information, evaluate its practicality in your life, then apply.  Perseverance is also key.  So besides questioning yourself about the apple or broccoli, ask this:  “How bad do I want it?” Is that bag of chips or more on my plate worth an extra hour of exercise that day?  If not, you may want to rethink that second helping–or skip the dessert tray.

Getting in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is like pursuing education beyond high school.  You are familiar with the basics, but realize you need more.  It is really continuing education.  There is sacrifice, tests to pass, and tests which you will fail–all while going about your already busy schedule. Therefore, it helps to know “how bad do I want it?”

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.  Questions? Comments?  Email me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

teaching fitnessOk, I’m asking for more than a minute–more like 15-20 of them.

Newer research suggests that intermittent bouts of exercise, is better than an hour spent at the gym.  Furthermore, if your time is spent sitting all day, that hour you spent working out is offset by the hours you spend sedentary.  Think about it.  If you are sitting 85-90% of the time, while only 10% (or less) is spent exercising, does that add up to an active lifestyle?

Yes, a large part of this investment is nutrition.  However, if you can find 10-20 min, 3-4 times a day, to walk, cycle, do a portion of a workout dvd, run, throw or kick a ball, your metabolism begins to believe you are active.  It then starts to behave as if you are active.  What does that mean? Better use of stored fat for calorie expenditure.  You may also avoid the “munchies” that an hour or two of high intensity exercise often provides.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  A similar story appeared on Dr. Oz–with Chris Powell illustrating short, but effective exercises designed to rev up your metabolism.  I’m sure if you search his site, you will find it.

Consider this in the meantime.  To what do you attribute the popularity of DVDs divided in 15-20 minute intervals?  Why is something like Tony Horton’s “10 minute trainer” gaining attention?  Better yet….why do so many fail to stick to an exercise program, that requires an hour or longer, 4-6x a week?  Need another “for instance?”  New Year’s resolutions.  A high percentage of them involve losing weight.  Of that, perhaps fifty percent or more will join a health club.  After about 6 weeks into the new year (I’m being generous) how many are still there?

Yes, life is busy–and there are only 24hrs in day.  We all must take care of families, eat, sleep, and work.  But that doesn’t excuse any one of us, from taking care of ourselves.  Take a walk; take your kids for a walk.  Run around the park with them.  Climb a monkey bar–great exercise for agility.  Whatever it is–10 minute yoga, 15 minute walk at lunch, 20 minute run, 15 minutes of “hide and seek,” it will add up; and more to the point, so will the benefits.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments? Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

recovery neededFrom my teen years till now, I considered cardio the ideal fat burner.  High intensity exercises, ranging from INSANITY, back to 80’s style aerobics, were (and still are) the core of my routines.  Strength training, machines or free weights, were a distant second.  If I was too tired for cardio, machines and weights were my “back-up.”  I tolerated strength training; like many tolerate or endure uninvited in-laws; after two weeks.

While that ideology has changed for me, most of you familiar with my posts, realize running preserves my sanity.  Even after a car accident, running was my constant–the north star in a time of uncertainty.  It was there for me to shed the “baby weight.”  It was there after a long work day; working with people who made snobbery an art form.

Since most of my running consists of submaximal workouts, not sprinting, this information would not apply.

Did you know that fat oxidation is reduced, with increasing exercise intensity?

Scraping the surface only, here are a few reasons.

Intramuscular triglycerides (lipids inside of muscle) are used 1st.  Then comes fatty acid oxidation.  Possibly, your body likes to hang on to its excess baggage; for a couple of reasons.  Just in case there’s a famine; just in case you decide to skip a meal or two–just in case you become pregnant.

Lactate also plays its role; it stops fatty acid mobilization.  The good news:  if you are an endurance athlete, you produce less lactate.  Yes, it’s a slow process to become one of those.   BUT, another perk of endurance training–when you finish, fat oxidation is increased.  Free fatty acids in plasma and intramuscular triglyceride oxidation is increased; contributing to fat usage.

What’s the take away if you want to burn fat?  Slow and low.  More to the point, you might want to alternate low and moderate intensity workout days.

My opinion?  High intensity should be part of your regime.  Why?  To shake things up a bit.  Your body can reach a set point with any routine; high or low.  However, if you start low, you still have somewhere to go.  If you start high, your appetite will definitely match that.  That will leave you with an ever-increasing hunger–quite disconcerting if you are trying to lose weight.

In subsequent posts, I will try to address more on this subject.  The exercise physiology class in which I’m enrolled and deriving this information, should shed additional light.  There is more to fitness than just the newest 3 day detox, or trendy workout routine.  It entails, as with nursing, evidence based practice.  Coupled with experience, this is the premise from which I operate–both as a nurse and now as a nurse personal trainer.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

dancer in whiteCleansing can be a vital component in revitalizing your life, your lifestyle, and yourself.

In my last post “Detox 360–body work,” I discussed intermittent fasting.  It is a segway into my favorite “reset.”


I’m sure you realize by now, I am not a proponent of a cleanse that doesn’t encompass lifestyle change.  It is why my series is entitled Detox 360, starting with “Clean up your act….”

Yet I do believe there are benefits to hitting the “reset” button.  Your body (for the most part) is quite proficient at digesting, synthesizing, and eliminating food and fluids.  This doesn’t mean it couldn’t use a break.  Hard hitting cleanses coupled with fasting, which induce runny stools and flatulence, isn’t my idea of giving it a break.  It can upset the ph balance in your body, and wreak havoc with blood sugar levels.  Therefore taking your body from meals, to heavy fluids, to finally H20, I believe is a better alternative.


This cleanse can last a day or a week.  There are those who make it last longer, by decreasing what’s on their plate, a little at a time.  Know you can shorten or lengthen at your discretion.  If you are diabetic, take medication requiring food, or trying this for the 1st time, consult your medical professional.

Begin with eating a meal you normally consume. Your subsequent meal should be lighter in nature.  Your next should consist of an opaque juice, such as V8 or a blend.  Lastly, you end with only H20.

If you are doing this over the course of a week, remember your meals should progressively become lighter. You then transition to opaque fluids to ever clearer ones, until you reach your H20 phase.  It is essential to keep yourself well-hydrated, once you begin with fluids only.  What does that mean?  Your urine reflects your hydration status; therefore it should be clear, slightly to moderately yellow.  Anything dark is telltale for inadequate hydration.

How long do your fluid only days last?  For me, it is not longer than 1-2 days.  My H20 day is just that–one day.  Again, this is not meant for everyone; especially if you are diabetic or taking medication requiring food.


Your H20 phase doesn’t spell the end of your cleanse.  It is only the “reset.”  It is a reset for your body; but also for commitment and perspective.

Just as the cleansing process was a subtle yet steady progression, so is the reversal.

Starting with clear lighter fluids, you gradually progress to opaque or heavier ones, then to soup (can be thicker or creamed), then to salad/veggies, then a meal.  Again, this can be stretched out for as long or as short as you like.  My last “add back” however are heavier carbs like potatoes, breads, and pastas–then my animal proteins.  You may choose to go with meat first, then your carbs.  This is your body, your cleanse.

I realize for “detox purists,” this is not their idea of a cleanse.  Far from being one of those, is why the post is entitled “my favorite cleanse.”


This is a the pause button for my mind, as well as my body.  It forces me to make a commitment, stick to it, and remember that I made this choice.  After concluding this regimen, I not only feel a sense of accomplishment, but find I am consciously engaging in meals.  I chew my food more slowly (without really trying), savor each bite, and unconscious snacking all but disappears.

For me, this cleanse gives my digestive system the break it needs.  It doesn’t send me sprinting for the bathroom, play “hill & valley” with my blood sugar, or leave me incapacitated to complete a workday.  Yes, there is an adjustment period.  In comparison to some detoxes however, the side effects are marginal.

Have a favorite detox or cleanse you would like to share?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

knee and toe nudeColon cleansing, detox, fasting–do they really work?  The answer is a resounding “maybe.”

There are many who swear by colon cleanses.  Arthritis to acne, belly aches to belly flab–many feel these cleanses are essential to maintaining well-being.

What does the medical community have to say?  http://www.mayoclinic.com “Colon Cleansing:  Is it helpful or harmful?”

Colon cleanses are required for colonoscopies, or where bowel evacuation is needed as a prep for viewing or a procedure.  Other than this, your body rids excess by process of elimination–in the form of urine or stool.  So for most, the idea of detoxing or cleansing is already in place.  I tend to agree.

However, I have found giving the digestion process a break from normal complexity, can not only renew your body, but your perspective.  How?  We’ve covered a few “detox” issues in “Clean up you act,” “Detox 360,” and “Detox 360–are we there yet?”  We’ve taken our lives there, why not press the reset button for our bodies?


Unless you work where you can access your own private bathroom at a moment’s notice, your cleansing days may have to wait till the weekend.  Additionally, if you take medication which requires you eat within a specified time frame, fasting and detox may not be for you.  Just as you should check with a medical professional before beginning any exercise routine or diet, cleanses are no exception.  Why? You are disrupting the normal digestive as well as nutritive process, even if your intentions are good.


Intermittent Fasting—-This is something most can do.  It shouldn’t send you searching for the nearest restroom, armed with purse sized air freshener.  Fasting is one of the oldest methods of cleansing; for body and spirit.  It requires little investment; but treads that dangerous ground called commitment.  We discussed that last post.  You can choose your time frame, as well as your liquid of choice.  Your body thirsts before it hungers.  Hydration is key; especially if you are limiting food intake.

Your fast can last from the time you awaken till noon; or all day.  It’s your choice.  As stated before, your health status and medications, will dictate IF this is a possibility.

Fluids of choice?  I start with juice.  Although I enjoy cranberry, it can be quite dehydrating.  It may great for UTIs, but for fasting, best to skip this one.  If you enjoy V8 or blends, these are much better suited.  I begin with a heavier or opaque juice, progressing to an ever clearer choice, then finally H20.  In this manner, my blood sugar isn’t sent into a frenzy.

If I haven’t fasted in a while, I will do this till about noon; 2pm at the latest.  My first meal is usually a soup, one that is not creamed.  Most of the time, this will conclude my meal intake for the day.

Part of this process, is to decide what fasting and cleansing mean to youIt is not a “one size fits all” script; you make the changes, the necessary adjustments, and you decide the key players.

Need a little more info to decide if intermittent fasting is for you?  http://mercola.com.  “What is the role of gut bacteria in calorie restriction?”  This article is laced ideology regarding chemicals and food as well.  As with anything, you make the call as to what fits your life, and lifestyle.

More picks for cleansing?  Next post.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

meditation in the nudeCleaning up your act.  Not for the faint of heart.

The real question is–are you ready?  Better yet–how ready are you?  Commitments are dangerous ground to tread The very nature of the word implies “something you have to stick to.”

Both in my career as a nurse, now as a nurse personal trainer, I now know what separates want from need.  Patients want to improve their outcomes.  Clients want to lose weight and exercise.  When “need” enters the equation, that’s where that dangerous ground is finally tread.  That need may prompt nutritional coaching after a cardiac event, and the required dedication which follows.  “Lose weight and stop smoking, or you could suffer another stroke.”  Not only does this statement necessitate commitment, it is an ultimatum.

Even if your health is not in question, is your lifestyle?  If so, time to cleanse.


If you read “Clean up your act,” as well as “Detox 360,” you realize for me, cleansing is more than a brief stint on herbal smoothies.  This detox takes time, a little introspection, and a lot of hootsba.

You should now understand that detox is a lifestyle, not a one week starvation or a jumpstart enema.  At this point, eradicating–or at least mitigating pollutants from your life, is a top priority.  It may have meant rethinking your social circle.  Perhaps now, you leave the scene of the latest workplace gossip, when previously you would have stayed.  Maybe there is a 2 second pause, before giving that intellectual, but snarky response.  Looking in the mirror may not be the fault-finding expedition it once was.

If this part of your detox is well underway, now its time to take your body there.

How?  Great question.  My take on what works, next post.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

hair out of H20My clients are those most personal trainers would not seek.  However, as a registered nurse, my background is helpful in meeting their unique challenges.

Few are interested in detox.  Yet when I explain “my take” on detox and “master cleanse,” interest is sparked.

As I wrote in my previous post, “Clean up your act..” detox to me is more than a 3-10 day enema.  It must begin with how you view yourself, and then may end with cleansing your body.

Eradicating negativity is an essential beginning.  You may not be able to rid yourself entirely of a toxic environment.  You can change your response to it.  You can also choose not to be a part of it.   Unlike a little cayenne pepper and lemon juice for your body, this is more than a brief stint.  It is a lifelong process; definitive in rerouting and re-wiring balance.

You want a better body?  Start with a balanced life.  How do you do this?  There is no “one size fits all” answer.  However, I believe awareness of need is the first step.  Have you ever considered your body is a reflection of that awareness, or lack thereof?  You’ve no doubt heard “you are what you eat.”  If it were only that simple.

Food and fluids are essential to life.  Equally so, is preparedness.  Being prepared to meet the stressors of everyday living requires “tools.”  What are yours?  Do you know when to use them?  As any apprentice can tell you, knowing which tool to use, is as important as having the right one to use.


1.  Eating should not be a recreational activity.  Food is a requirement; not a hobby or a pacifier.  Most of us outgrew pacifiers at the infant/toddler stage.  No need for a substitute now.

2.  Stress is a necessary part of life; and a teacher.  Stress is not always bad.  Unfortunately, it usually causes a cascade reaction, which ends up making us miserable.  It reverberates physiological and psychological changes, many of which we can control.  We choose to leave the situation if possible.  We remind ourselves of the impermanence of it.  We can solve.

3.  Response.  There is always a certain amount of trepidation when facing the unknown, hostile, or frustrating.  We all share these feelings, and few if any are totally immune.  The question becomes–now what?  Again, it’s the “then what” that intrigues me most.

Most of us have our own ways of dealing with stress.  The question becomes–how’s that working for you?  If not too well–time to cleanse.

As stated earlier, I don’t believe in a monochromatic remedy for balancing life’s circumstances.  We are all different–and while one may choose meditation and quiet time, another may choose a strenuous workout.

Me?  I need a combo plate.

Quiet time for me is a solo run.  It has and continues to help me keep sane on many an insane work day.  It is my balance between eastern style meditation and strenuous workouts.  However, running is not my only tool for handling stress.  Removing myself–whether physically or mentally (or both) from a situation, is tantamount to keeping my balance.  While it may not be easy, I have learned to empathize, yet de-materialize.  I am no service to anyone, if I can’t provide the best possible “me” to “you.”  This requires due diligence, just like caring for a client or a patient.

I have also found that understanding I am not “blotting paper” for the world is crucial.  Empathy? Yes.  Sympathy?  Yes.  Sounding Board–maybe.  Blotting paper–absolutely not.  Again you are of no use to anyone, if you inter and interpret their difficulties as your own.

Detox 360.  Yes, there’s a little more to this than herbal supplements inducing loose stools and flatulence.  If you were looking for the latest trend on a simple body cleanse; sorry to disappoint.  But as the title suggests–we are talking 360.

This is the second installment of my idea of a “master cleanse.”  More to follow.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.    Questions?  Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com






healthy living waterfallHave you ever wondered if cleanses and detoxes are worth the bother?  Not to mention the unpredictability it may wreak during your work day?

If you haven’t exacted the less than warm and fuzzy effects of detox/cleanses on your body, should you?  Perhaps.  However, my idea is not limited to a little lemon juice and cayenne pepper.  Pricey supplements (some will run upwards of $200) and herbal concoctions may promise a sparkling clean colon and clear skin.  But what happens when you finish your 5-10 day stint?  It’s the “then what?” that interests me.

Regardless of how acne free your skin may become, or how many pounds you lose, this way of life is not sustainable.  Even if it were, do you really want to ingest only pureed food substances, or drink lemonade laced with hot peppers for any length of time?  Maybe add a little cabbage soup to the mix for variety?  If that’s what it takes to remain healthy, I’d rather be worm fodder.


While detox/cleansing can “jumpstart” your weight loss, you can expect it to slow, stall, and then stop.  The same holds for any other attribute you experience while performing your cleanse.  However, if you are feel you are in need of such a feat, choose wisely.  Every cleanse is not for every body; just like exercise routines.  Your body has its own ideas of how to assimilate and eliminate what it doesn’t need.


Want real change?  Not a temporary fix?  Then realize cleansing may not start with the latest herbal remedy inducing flatulence and runny stools.  Real detox starts with changing your mind.

Detox 360 understands your body may not be what requires cleansing first.  Your perspective, how you relate to the world, and how it in turn answers you, should be your starting point.  What does this have to do with fitness and health?  Time to find out.

How you view yourself is essential.  Do you allow others to dictate your self-worth because of a few pounds on the scale?  If so, time to cleanse.  Cleanse those people right out of your life.  I’m not advocating turning a deaf ear to medical professionals, or a diagnoses which insists on weight loss.  But to those “well-meaning” frienemies which subtly (or not so subtly) sabotage your esteem, offer them a polite “get lost.”

We often hear about how our world is suffering from environmental toxins.  Indeed.  Environmental toxins may be closer than you think.  Sure they’re out there.  More to the point, are they in there?  In your social circle?  Your household?  Time to cleanse.  You may not be able to totally eradicate that gossiping co-worker or nagging relative from your life.  But you can certainly change how you relate to them–or even if you relate to them.

The last piece in this detox puzzle is discernment.  How you discern your environment, is how your environment responds.  If you see this world as hostile, dog eat dog, and uncaring–guess what?  That is exactly what it will give to you in return.  If you see yourself as less than, the world has no problem in confirming your accusations.

Yes, detox and cleansing your body may have benefits–temporary as they may be.  There are many to choose from; touting cures from everything to acne to diabetes–even cancer.  Who am I to judge.   Yet for me, a cleanse for the body is a latter piece in the puzzle, of a much bigger picture.

My idea of a master cleanse?  You’ve just read the 1st part of it.  Second part next post.

Keep up and keep at it.  Questions?  Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

healthy living waterfall No one is immune–we all have the occasional bout (some more frequent than others) of Comparitis.  We may even suffer from the none too evasive symptoms which complement it–Superior Fit-zures.  Not too worry–the signs and symptoms are blatant; and the disease very treatable.  Like a strong dose of castor oil without the teaspoon of sugar, I am here to help those plagued by this highly communicable disease.

The websites I use for information for my blog meet with scrutiny.  The information must be timely, reliable, and understandable to those outside of the medical profession.  Few meet with all three criteria.  Though I shouldn’t be surprised, I found myself taken aback by commentary under an article from a site I frequent.

The article itself was well-written and expressed thought-provoking ideas.  Some commenting–not so much.

Most extolled the virtues of organically grown fruit and vegetables.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, one went on to elaborate about the girth of backsides of those shopping at discount food chains.  Another chimed in about how she bought a mango for a child begging for one, only to have the mother throw it to the ground.  While I appreciate her sentiments, I can also understand how that mother must have felt.

Few of us who are mothers or fathers, would deny our children food.  Whether you are a married or single parent, if you are feeding more than three mouths excluding yourself, discount food chains may not be an option.  They are probably a staple.  Organically grown produce is a luxury.  One in which my family does not partake.

Yes–I am one of those discount food chain shoppers.  But more to the point–does my backside meet the commentator’s criteria?  Last time I bought workout capris and yoga pants (1 week ago) one was a size small, the other an x-small.  However, I forgot to mention his comment about the fat children in tow.  Well–here we go.  My son is 5′ 8″ and weighs a whopping 130 pounds.

The mango issue not withstanding, though I do understand the mother, who are we to judge?  Does this Comparitis empower you?  Or are you afraid that might be you one day–shopping a food chain with barely enough for TV dinners?

If you live in a community where obesity and fresh food is an issue–do something instead of judging someone.  If you are a trainer–volunteer some hours.  It’s how I started as a trainer; and still do.  Gave me great experience, and built my confidence transitioning to a new profession.  Even if you feel you don’t possess this expertise, mentor a child.  Teach him/her about nutrition.  My mom’s favorite saying was “give a child a fish, he’ll eat for a day.  Teach him how to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.”  If the child/and or family understands the importance of diet and exercise, your efforts will not be in vain–and more to the point; your mango will not end up on the floor.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Need my tips for shopping on a budget, but buying healthy?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

happy applesRecently I discussed my take on sugar vs. artificial sweeteners.  “Sugar in the Morning..” was originally posted Sunday, May 19th.

If you use sugar substitutes, this article might be a worthwhile read.  “CSPI Downgrades Splenda from “Safe” to “Caution.”  This can be found on http://mercola.com

I realize the reputation sugar has earned.  No, it is not an innocent bystander–and we all want “healthier” alternatives for our sweet tooth.  However the jury is still out for me, regarding substitutes.

This article suggests options as well as “take the test” to recognize if you have an allergy to artificial sweeteners.

Dr. Mercola includes an interview (15 minutes) with a colleague, as well as one suggestion as an alternative.  Stevia is mentioned; not Truvia.

Thoughts? Comments?  Your experience with sweeteners?  Let me know.  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com