“When we recognize our strength and beauty, we can spread it into the community and defeat body shame” — February 24, 2017

“When we recognize our strength and beauty, we can spread it into the community and defeat body shame”

This week I attended Body Positivity, a yoga class at Rutgers University, who are trying and succeeding at creating a world in which people are liberated from self-hatred, value their beauty and identity, and use their energy and intellect to make positive changes in their own lives and in their communities.

I had the honor of attending Jessamyn Stanley’s yoga class. This is no ordinary yoga, but she utilizes the body positivity method of moving past mental and emotional barriers. Her class celebrates students’ bodies and encourages them to ask “How do I feel?” rather than “How do I look? when practicing yoga.

Our society has created a stigma towards certain body types who they perceive as not normal. People who have voluptuous curves, are stick thin, have large boobs, or do not fit a certain profiled are body shamed. To make it worse, because we all know of the stigma, the shame also comes from within, leading to low self-esteem and the possibility of self-hatred. This yoga experience was a journey down the road towards acceptance of ourselves.

As we were going into Lotus pose, she repeated, “if you cannot get all the way down because of your stomach, who gives a f****. If you cannot see your stomach because your boobs are in the way, who cares. Do what makes you feel good.” Every time a pose became more and more difficult, she emphasized it is ok not to be a fitness beast.
Do the simple pose and feel beautiful. Her words touched every heart in that room. Coming from a girl with body issues, her words really hit home and I left with such relief and weight off my shoulders.

Jessamyn could not have been more accurate. We all come in different shapes and sizes. We have to understand how to look at ourselves and find strength and beauty and once we do, we can expose that to the world, defeat the body shame, and make our communities a better, more peaceful place to live.

Eating for pleasure vs. hunger — October 28, 2016

Eating for pleasure vs. hunger

Hi Everyone!

Over the past few years of my life, I have met a fair amount of people that cannot tell the difference of when they are eating for hunger or pleasure. Not only that, but as I have said in the past, food can be an addition. An eating addiction is a behavioral addiction that is characterized by the compulsive consumption of palatable foods. These foods activate your brain’s reward system, continuing the cycle of addiction.

Hunger can be defined as having a feeling of discomfort caused by a lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat, while pleasure is a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment (Dictionary.com). Speaking from experience, food has always been an emotional outlet, which in the past led me to becoming overweight and unsatisfied with who I was. I realized that all of the feelings I was hiding inside, I was ridding through the emotional satisfaction I received from food. In order for me to stop my addiction to food, I had to cut out certain foods cold turkey, which ended up leading to another type of horrible relationship with food. Eventually, I was able to pursue an understanding, where the gym became my safe zone and I used food as a comfort when I really needed it. Unfortunately. not everyone has the ability to figure out how to differentiate between hunger and pleasure, leading to a future where food is all you can think of.

Scientifically, when you are eating, the gastrointestinal tract sends signals to your brain telling you when are full. Afterwards, the body can go two to three hours without being hungry. Of course, this can change base on your stress or activity levels, but overall this is the basis. Therefore, after lunch you should be full for a little while. However, if within the next 10 minutes you are seeing yourself thinking or eating more food, that can lead to the cycle of eating for pleasure or in some cases boredom. At that point, eating has become a comfort and sometimes a safety for people. This addiction is more like a psychological issue learning how to build a healthy relationship with food. This is not easy to do especially because our body runs on food. Some people would rather starve then learn how to cope with their addiction to food. However, this only leads to an eventual downfall and many other issues.

Some individuals believe that when people gain weight or develop weight related diseases that it is their fault for being addicted to eating food. When my dad was diagnosed with diabetes, everyone in my family pounced on him blaming him for his weight gain and letting his food intake getting this far. To be honest, my dad loves food, but sometimes he loves food because its an emotional outlet for when he is stressed. It is not a comfort to eat carrots. Sometimes he would eat more because he was watching the football game (usually our team was losing so it was very stressful to watch :)) Overall, food addiction is not fake or made up. It is a real disorder and some individuals just need a little push on how to learn how to be friends with food. I can tell you that I struggle every single day and no one should ever think they are alone in this!

Here are some tips to learning how to control your urges to eat food for pleasure:

  1. Determine if you NEED to eat or if your STOMACH needs to eat
  2. When you feel like you NEED TO eat, try to distract yourself with something else: art, exercise, drinking, hanging out with friends
  3. If that does not work, try giving yourself a goal or an award if you do not eat one day for pleasure
  4. Find someone to be your “sponsor” and help motivate you
  5. Do it with a friend who understands what you are going through

If anyone is interested in how I dealt with it, I would be happy to share!

New Schedule=Junk for Breakfast — September 13, 2016

New Schedule=Junk for Breakfast

Beginning a new job, new semester at school, or starting a new schedule, can be really stressful especially on your food intake. Coming back to school, my friends and I have found that eating on a budget, packing for class, and continuing to eat healthy is extremely difficult.  However, I realized that there is a way to succeed at eating healthy at school. Here are a few tips:
1. Try to pack Snacks and Meals the night before. On Sunday, I prepared Farro for the entire week; that way when I get home late I can put it on a salad. Everyday I try to prepare snacks, such as, carrots, granola bars, oatmeal, peanut butter, fruit, crackers, muffins, nuts, and rice and chicken.
2. I try to bring as little money with me as possible so I am not tempted to buy any food at Dunkin Donuts or the Convenient Store.
3. Buy a lunchbox to you can carry with you all the foods you need during the day.
4. Buy products that are easy and quick to make. You can make eggs (hard boiled prepared for a few days and eat for snack, breakfast or lunch with toast), frozen vegetables with no sauce or added salt with a roasted potato and chicken/fish/meat (that was prepared yesterday), Grains or instant rice can be made quickly. In addition, tuna, noodles, oatmeal, grains, bread, peanut butter, frozen fruit juice pops, and chocolate covered strawberries with no added sugar, can all be made or eaten quickly. There are many ways to eat healthy during a new schedule. It is not easy, but its possible 🙂
Food Addiction —

Food Addiction

Food addiction is a real issue in today’s society. I have seen many people in my life addicted to food and in each case has led to major health issues. My mother is addicted to food for emotional release, my dad is addicted to food because it tastes good, and I am addicted to food because mentally it makes me feel better. Food addiction can lead to people using food as an outlet, which can lead to weight gain, depression, low-self esteem, and more. Research has shown that food has the ability to cause hormones to release in the brain, causing you to feel better, but, as a result, eating becomes an addiction. This is similar to alcohol and drug addiction. They involve the same areas in the brain, the same neurotransmitters, and many of the symptoms are identical. Processed junk foods or foods that contain sugar or wheat, have a powerful effect on the “reward” centers in the brain involving brain neurotransmitters like dopamine.  Food addiction is not about the lack of willpower, but caused by the intense dopamine signal “hijacking” the biochemistry of the brain.
Some symptoms of food addiction:
1.  you frequently get cravings for certain foods, despite feeling full and having just finished a healthy meal.
2. when you give in and start eating food you were craving, you often find yourself eating more than you intended.
3. when you eat food you were craving, you sometimes eat to the point of feeling stuffed
4. you often feel guilty after eating particular foods, but you continue to eat them soon after
5. you sometimes make excuses in your head about why you should eat something that you are craving
6. you have repeatedly tried to quit eating or set rules about certain foods but been unsuccessful
7. you often hide your consumption of unhealthy food from others
8.you feel unable to control your consumption of unhealthy foods, despite knowing that they are causing you physcial harm like gaining weight
some solutions
1. slowly eliminate trigger foods from your diet: you don’t have to eliminate all foods at once, but take it one step at a time
2. replace bad foods with good food
3. cope with cravings- ask why you want to eat that food. Are you bored? upset?  take some time before you make the decision.
4. Distractions are key:


Being a nutrition hypocrite — February 19, 2016

Being a nutrition hypocrite

A classmate asked me today, “Would I listen to a nutritionist who is overweight?” I answered that I probably would not because they are not taking their own advice. How could I listen to a nutritionist preaching about being healthy, when they themselves are not. But then I thought about it more, thinking about how I am the same way. I preach to my friends and family about being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle, while I myself for the most part do not eat healthy. Healthy is not only eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cutting out junk food, but it is also making sure you get the proper ingredients. For my class, we had to write an assessment about our relationship with food and exercise. Below is my short essay if you would like to here about my troubles with food and why I do not portray the perfect nutritionist. Regardless of my poor relationship with food, there is always room for improvement and living a healthy lifestyle. Admitting to yourself that you have a problem is the first step. Then, you find ways to improve and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.


Growing up, I always had a difficult relationship with food, using junk food as an emotional outlet during stressful times. Assessing myself gave me the opportunity to understand what I need to improve in order to build a better relationship with food. When I first began to lose weight, I thought that restricting calories and cutting out junk food was the accurate way to lose weight. I was strictly counting my calories, but as a result, I lost twenty pounds. After a while I realized that restricting calories is not healthy, however, it is always going to be a habit when I feel “fat”. For this reason, I do not weigh myself often. Through this whole process, even when life became stressful, I was motivated to lose weight, aiming to reach my realistic weight loss goals. In addition, my outlook on exercise has changed. Instead of forcing myself to wake up every morning to go to the gym, I go for the purpose of destressing and having fun.

However, because of my restrictive healthy eating style, I do fantasize about my favorite foods and eat less when I want to indulge so that I do not feel guilty. Not only that, but my stomach has been a significant factor in my relationship with food. I developed a stomach issue over the past year, and as a result, my doctor restricted my diet to gluten-free, small amounts of dairy, along with no high carbohydrate, high fat, or high protein foods. As a result, my dietary requirements have not met the recommendations for myPlate. Vitamin D, for example, has slowly been decreasing as I minimize the amount of milk, yogurt, and cheese in my diet. In addition to my stomach issue, regardless of the fact that I exercise 5-6 times a week for an hour, strenuous cardio has been a major challenge due to my diagnosis of vocal cord dysfunction (when the vocal cords constrict when you breathe during exercise). The one aspect that I can improve on in my exercising is accepting the fact that not every workout will be perfect and recognize that my body has certain limitations. Overall, even though my fruit and vegetable intake is up to par,  I need to find ways to incorporate more foods to increase my fat soluble vitamins, increase soy products if my dairy intake is continuously low, find ways to incorporate grains in a way that will not hurt my stomach, and increase my Vitamin D levels. In addition, I need to cope with the fact that I am allowed to indulge once and awhile, instead of restricting calories. In conclusion, I have come to learn that no one should be on a diet. Diet is for short-term weight loss, causing people to be miserable for weeks or months, when in a few years they might gain the weight back. Eating healthy and exercising should be activities that you enjoy and should become more of a lifestyle change rather than another chore.  

Fear — February 12, 2016


Fear is something that either is developed over time or created by our own minds. Fear is extremely difficult to overcome. Over the past twenty years of my life, I developed my own fears. A few I can mention is my fear of spiders, my fear of lightning storms, and my fear of losing people. Overcoming these fears has always been a challenge for me. My friend and I last year began doing headstands and box jumps. Let me tell you! We were both petrified. It is an irrational fear of you hurting yourself, but once you let go and realize it is just a box, you notice that you have the ability to do anything. This week I had the honor of watching my clients and my friend do things they thought they would not be able to do. They all said to me, “I can’t do this.” I knew they could if they just believed that they would be ok and that we would not leave until they did it. Once they had that reassurance two of my clients did their very first box jumps. Their reactions were as follows, “Alex I hate you. Why did you make me do that?” I responded, “Are you proud of yourself because you were able to do it?” They not only agreed about how proud they were of themselves, but they kept doing box jumps for the next five minutes. This week, my friend was convinced that she could no longer do a headstand. But through my pushiness and her perseverance, she had the ability to push herself up and hold a headstand. They think that I am the one who pushed them to it and I inspired them to push that hard, but in reality they inspire me everyday. They have the ability to realize their true potential and once they overcome that fear, they could accomplish anything. They are my heroes! Below are videos and photos attached of my clients and my friend doing what they do best!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CkfXtjwQRM- Watch AMY do her first box jump

IMG_4536– Aliza doing a headstand overcoming her fear!


Definition of Unhealthy — November 3, 2015

Definition of Unhealthy

It seems to be a reoccurring theme where people do not actually understand what the word “unhealthy” means. When people hear the words ice cream, french fries, mac n’ cheese, burgers they think these are unhealthy and you in order to lose weight you have to cut these out of your diet completely. On the other hand, people then believe that healthy means only eating fruits, vegetables and protein and to cut all carbs out of your diet.

With every success story that I have hear from someone, the only way to live healthy long term is to know what these terms actually means. The word healthy means in good health! That means that you want your body to be in good health. You want it to be disease free.

you can go 2 extremes: saying that I am not gaining any weight but I am eating all this crap. Every single persons body is different. People digest and store food differently but that does not mean you are not affecting you body. I know someone who told me that all they did was eat crap and they lost weight because guess what? Those foods do not have many nturients- nutrients build healthy bones and muscle which weigh more than fat. So you may be losing weight, but it is not the right kind of weight. Also, thier mood was significantly different. They were tired, cranky, moody, did not want to do anything that involved exercise. This may not effect you now but in the long term it will.

On the other hand, if you starve yourself, your body will take the nutrients from your bones and organs, break that down and it cause serious illnesses. I can speak from experience. 2 summers ago, my asthma began to become extremely worse, so my doctor put me on a medication that caused me to become nautious and as a result I barely ate. I was eating maybe 800 calroies a day. In the beginning I was so happy because I lost weight, but as time went on, I was dizzy, tired, cranky, felt sick all the time, my anxiety increased and more. My body was starving and in the process I actually made my body more sick.

There is one more way that you can live: you create a relationship with food. “Food is your friend” you are not supposed to be scared of food or afraid that it could cause you to gain weight, but you should know what you are eating because it will effect you. ITs called balance- something that I did not develop until after I realized that I myself was afraid of food. What I did was iI created a goal, motivation. I began exercising and rewarding myself for what I was doing during my workout and how I was eating during the week. My goal was to feel comfortable enough in my body to have pictures put on Facebook (Thank you to my best friend), was to feel proud and make others proud through what I have accomplished, but honestly the best thing for me to motivate myself was helping others in the gym. They saw how hard I was working- so they pushed themselves. I have never had a better experience than the time when someone told me that I inspired them- so I do this for others, for other people to see that they can accomplish a goal if they push themselves, if they motivate themselves its just “hardwork and dedication” not starvation and letting yourself go.

Healthy mind, Healthy body — October 29, 2015

Healthy mind, Healthy body

Hey Everyone!

Recently, I have met some people that have talked to me about healthy eating and effort. Yes, forcing yourself to eat healthy takes effort, going to the gym and working out takes effort, but when you think like that, being healthy becomes such a negative concept.

“I have to be so strict this week and then I can cheat”

“Working out takes effort. I just do not have that”

“I am so restricted from eating healthy that I just don’t want to do it anymore”

These are all statements that I hear and I am not saying they are not right, it is just your perspective. Being healthy should not be about restricting yourself. It is about knowing what your body needs, when it needs it, and why its necessary. Today, we have all this processed food and yes, some it actually is better nutritionally processed but others like Yodell’s  basically are death in a delicious chocolate roll, but your body does not want that or need it. I am not saying you cannot indulge because trust me I love chocolate way to much to not do that, but eating processed food has proven to ruin sleep, stress your body, make you sluggish, but ultimately it just hurts your body.

Last year was a hard year for my family. My dad at the time who was not eating so well, developed a gall bladder infection that almost killed him. A few weeks afterward he had a heart attack because most of his heart was clogged with plaque. Plaque i fatty deposit build up in the arteries causing your heart to push harder and a reduction in blood flow. He had to have 3 stents put in to make up for it. After this, he started his new journey with a high body fat percentage. Something needed to change in his diet and his lifestyle in order to prevent this from happening every again. MY sisters and I developed a plan with my dad where he would eat a new vegetable once a week and start prepping his own food and every 3 weeks he cant indulge on Chinese food. He started going back to the gym and began taking all these new classes: zumba, yoga, kickboxing and fell in love with it because it was an outlet. He started this journey with the same idea- it takes so much effort, I dont want to do this attitude. But as time went on, he goes to the gym to relax because of it. Being healthy becomes a part of you. He continued to eat healthy on the diet that I implemented with help from my sister, which led to him being 17% body fat! Thats TIny! Not only that, but my dad is a type 2 diabetic. He began with a hemoglobin A1C (Test that measures glucose concentration in your blood) at 9.3 very very high, but because of diet and exercise he is at 6.3 and almost at the point where he no longer needs medication.

His mindset of eating healthy and exercise went from uch to yay; I dont want to do this to lets do this!; from I can only walk a few miles to lets do a 5k! MY dad is an inspiration but he became the epitome of having a healthy mind leads to a healthy body.

An Interesting experiment! — August 28, 2015

An Interesting experiment!

Yesterday, I had a procedure done in order to figure out what is wrong with my stomach. But in order to do so, I needed to wear a catheter in my nose with a monitor that looks like an old cassette player around my neck. So I figured I might as well learn from the experience. For the past 3 years, I have worked in a cancer center seeing everyday patients with needles, IVs, getting chemo, throwing up- I am used to it, but people who have not been exposed to those situations or are not confortable in the situation tend to now know what to do. I never want to be the one in the chemo chair or the sick one, but I got the chance to see how they feel when others (people other than thier family) feel when they are around them.

So I started my dad after the procedure at Whole foods and Shop rite and it was truly amazing! Everyone treated me with more care, asked if I needed any help. I did not get any stares. People just wanted to help. Later, I went for a walk and most people smiled, which is my favorite part about walking and running. Afterward, I went to the paramus park mall and all i got were stares. It was very different. Most people stare because they are curious, but dont want to ask whats wrong, while others stare (i dont even know why). However, one lady had the guts to ask me, but said if its to personnel “what is wrong” She was so sweet! She was so concerned and so worried for me.

To be honest, I was very nervous walking out in public with a catheter in my nose, but in the end of the day, I am happy I did it. FullSizeRender (38) My mom hates all my healthy desserts but these cookies are amazing according to her!! and that never happens http://wholeandheavenlyoven.com/2015/01/02/best-ever-thick-chewy-coconut-oil-chocolate-chip-cookies/

FullSizeRender (39)– I have always wanted to eat a churro so I decided to make my own with frosting on top!! http://www.veggiesdontbite.com/2014/05/01/raw-churro-cheesecake-cups/


FullSizeRender (40) These delicious ice cream squares are easy shmeazy because all you have to do is make the crust add the ice cream and melt the chocolate-All done!!

FullSizeRender (41) The title for this is sugar cookies ice cream pops- who wouldnt want that!!


Juicing and the difference between complex carbs and simple carbs — August 23, 2015

Juicing and the difference between complex carbs and simple carbs

Hey guys!! I know that all of you have heard of all the different FAD diets like Atkinds, zone, paleo… A lot of people can last a long time on these diets, however for a majority of the world- its a short term thing. They will lose the weight or commit for a few months and then give up! Another FAD diet people hear about is juicing. Yes the vitamins and minerals in juices are good for you, but to be honest its mostly empty calories. Who knows the difference between a complex carb and a simple carb??

complex carbs are digested slower than sugars causing you to feel fuller longer, but not all complex carbs are created equal. White rice is also a complex carb but its also processed. has less nutrients, and fiber. Other examples are white bread, white potatoes, white rice, anything highly processed. Eat more green vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, seeds, and legumes and 100% whole wheat products.

Simple carbs are processed sugars that are digested quickly for that quick burst of energyfollowe by that quick crash. In high amounts, they can higher triglycerides or fat levels in the blood that contribute to a higher risk of heart disease. BUT SIMPLE SUGARS ARE ALSO FRUIT SUGARS BUT THEY ARE NOT THE SAME AS PROCESSED SUGAR.  their sugars are naturally occuring and contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our body needs. Eat less: high fructose corn syrup, candy, soda sports drinks unless your blood sugar drops very quickly during a workout, cookies and donuts. bottom line: EAT MORE FRUITS. BECAUSE OF THE FIBER IN THE FRUIT, THE SUGAR WILL BE DIGESTED SLOWER KEEPING YOU MORE AWAKE AND KEEP YOU AWAY FROM THAT NASTY CRASH!!!

This is what i made this week!

cinnamon buns!


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Maple peanut butter ice cream sandwiches!


FullSizeRender (37)

Happy birthday to my sisters!! from the Erin Mckenna bakery with the frosting done by me!

FullSizeRender (34)  FullSizeRender (35)

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