Come on out and see me this month!

CC collateral

There’s nothing like new marketing materials to make an enterprise feel legit.

Say “hello” to my new brochures! Don’t they coordinate beautifully with my business cards?

I’m so excited to share them with the folks who come to my four community events this month. Maybe you’ll be one of them? Here’s where to find me in June — first one is tomorrow night!

Tuesday June 3, 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Guest speaker, Gluten Free Support Group
Vitamin Life, 15830 Redmond Way, Redmond, WA 98052

Wednesday, June 11, 7-8 pm
Getting More Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs……..
Vitamin Life, 15830 Redmond Way, Redmond, WA 98052

Thursday, June 12, 7-8 pm
Guest speaker, “Gluten Free… Now What?”
Flying Apron Café and Bakery, 16541 Redmond Way, Ste E, Redmond, WA 98052

Thursday, June 26, 7-8 pm
Leading book club discussion on Salt, Sugar, Fat
Flying Apron Café and Bakery, 16541 Redmond Way, Ste E, Redmond, WA 98052

Hope to see you there!

xoxo,
Sondra

Diary of a Health Coaching Student, Q2

ID-10092105_Stack of Stones

Finding Balance

For the last three weeks I’ve been struggling to find my footing. Between work, school, and building Curvy Chick as a business, I’m a bit off kilter. A week after passing my Q2 exam with a gratifying score of 97, I rejoined the workforce with a full-time contract role at Microsoft, and held my first nutrition workshop as a health coach.

The challenge is to not to let myself get wrapped up in the drama and politics of the workplace, and instead just to get my job done well and get out each day with energy to handle the rest of my life.

My schoolwork has been a surprising source of inspiration. It may take me until the weekend to get to it, but when I do there’s usually at least one speaker that really resonates with me. Especially the psychology sessions.

I’ve always been leery of self-help. Growing up watching Saturday Night Live, Stuart Smalley defined my outlook with his catch phrase “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Snarky Despair.com, those clever spoofs on Successories affirmations, put the final nail in the coffin.

So I was skeptical of some of my school’s speakers. People like Harville Hendrix make their living reassuring people, well, that they are good enough, smart enough, and that people will like them – if they just do “x”. Listen more. Trust in themselves. Practice self-care. All reasonable things. I just wasn’t raised to believe that if you think good thoughts, good things will happen. But week after week that’s what I am being told. And doggone it, I am starting to believe it.

Giving in and letting those good vibes wash over me is surprisingly therapeutic. More therapeutic than years of therapy. And a heck of a lot cheaper.

So don’t despair. Whatever you are going through, you can handle it. Because, like Stuart said, “you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you!”

xoxo,
Sondra

Image courtesy of lkunl / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sneaky Superstition

an apple a day...

Happy Friday the 13th! If you’re anything like me you’ve been on the lookout for bad luck all day, but aren’t really expecting to find it. That about sums up the Western world’s relationship with superstition. We’re not ready to chuck it so we keep it around but feel kind of silly about it.

Where did superstitions come from? Way, way back, even before “back in the day”, people didn’t have much in the way of science to explain why things happen. Good things, bad things, storms, rain, crop failures, it was all a crapshoot.

According to Wikipedia, it became popular to poo-poo superstitious beliefs in the 18th Century during the Age of Enlightenment. What an egotistically named Age. As if everything learned before then was unenlightened!

The same thing seems to have happened with folk wisdom, or “old wives’ tales”, over the last fifty years. Priceless chestnuts like “early to bed, early to rise, keeps a man healthy, wealthy and wise” and “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” were chucked in favor of pharmaceuticals, Pop-Tarts, and TV dinners. Popular culture has relegated this practical advice to the same plane as superstition. Stuff we’ve all heard of but we don’t really believe in.

As a budding health coach I’m starting to realize how wise those old wives were. I feel like I should stitch samplers for my clients with age-old advice. Or at least pick some up on ebay.

What are your favorite old-timey – but still relevant – sayings? Is there something your mother or grandmother always used to say that still haunts you with its wisdom? Send tem my way! I’ll collect them and publish them in a follow-up piece.

JT brought sexy back. Let’s bring back wisdom!

Xoxo,
Sondra

Diary of a Health Coaching Student, Q1

Whew. It feels like school just started, and now I’ve passed my first quarter exam and am that much closer to graduation.

For those who missed it, I am studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health coach. It’s a one year online program. As I catch up with friends and former colleagues during the holidays everyone wants to know how it’s going. Here’s an update, in the form of another Frequently Asked Questions Q&A.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about health coaching school:

Q: You’re going to health coaching school! Wow! Good for you. Um, I’ve been meaning to ask—what’s a health coach?

A: I like to describe it like this—if you put fitness coaches, life coaches, and nutritionists into separate bubbles in a Venn diagram, health coaches would be the overlapping part in the center. Here’s a slightly better description:

“The primary objectives of health coaching are to educate the patient regarding self health management and to encourage patients in taking a more proactive role in staying healthy.”-Medical Economics, Nov 2010

My school’s website has more about the future of health coaching.

 

Q: How is school going?

A: Good! I like what I am learning and I like the online format. Every week new content is unlocked – 2-3 hours of pre-recorded videos and audio lectures, and some reading in the course book. Usually some homework as well. I’ve been ring-fencing one day a week for school, usually Mondays, and easily get it all done.

 

Q: Right, your school is online. Isn’t that isolating?

A: Not really. I was concerned about that but the school does a good job of mitigating with online forums, mandatory live coaching circles (by conference call) to ensure support from a graduate a peers, and a secure Facebook group for online community. I am a bit of an introvert so learning and studying at home by myself is not a hardship. Sometimes I go to the Kirkland library to study just to get out of the house and focus. I also hunted down a majority of the Seattle-area students and created a local community group. We’ve met a few times. Nice people!

 

Q: What kind of stuff do you learn?

A: The curriculum covers two major areas – (a) health and nutrition, and (b) how to be a health coach. Each week we have some content about each. The nutrition lectures cover different types of diets, everything from the UDSA Food Pyramid (now MyPlate) to veganism, raw, macrobiotics, low-carb, to different cultural expectations. More general health topics cover basics like exercise and drinking water, but also the importance of what the school calls “primary food” – having a satisfying, happy life, which reduces your anxiety and generally improves your health. The health coaching content provides a playbook for how to conduct ourselves with clients and advice on how to start a business and build a brand. The entrepreneurial stuff is super helpful for a corporate girl like me.

 

Q: Are you trying all the diets?

A: Yes! At least I was at first. Then I realized I was freaking my body out and needed to stop. Now I try to incorporate a little of it while eating like I usually do for some consistency. My skin thanks me!

 

Q: When will you get to start health coaching?

A:  I am starting to practice now with my fellow students! It’s very exciting to see how it all works. In the March timeframe I can start student coaching—working with clients at reduced rates. And when I graduate this summer I can practice for reals.

 

Q: And this is all part of that Curvy Chick thing you posted about before, right? Love that name!

A:  Thank you! Yes, this all fits into the master plan. First I’ll be the Curvy Chick Health Coach™ for a few years. The more I learn, the more I realize I have a LOT more to learn. So I want to make sure I get some experience under my belt. My five year plan is to open a Curvy Chick Wellness Center™, and the ten year plan includes masses of them coast to coast.

 

That’s all for now. Take care during the run-up to the holidays – get lots of rest and stay hydrated! (No, mulled wine doesn’t really count.)

And if you’re interested in learning more about my school, I’d be happy to talk with you more in-depth.

xoxo,
Sondra

Get your free Gluten-free Holiday Recipe Guide!

It seems like the holidays start earlier every year. As a nation we’ve just recovered from our collective Halloween candy coma and are already preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you’re one of the many people going gluten-free for the first time this year, don’t stress out about the holidays. My school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, is offering a free gluten-free holiday recipe guide that’s a great place to start.

 

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s inside Integrative Nutrition’s Gluten-Free Holiday recipe guide:

  • 24 delicious recipes for any time of day and every craving.
  • Seasonal ingredients to make the most of the fall harvest.
  • Healthy alternatives to conventional dishes that your family and friends will love.

Download your free gluten-free holiday recipe guide today.

If gluten-free cooking is new to you, you may want to practice before the big event. You know where to find me if you need a taste-tester!

And here are some of my other favorite gluten-free recipe resources — Gluten-Free Girl, Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book , This Rawsome Vegan Life (it has some great desert recipes) and Babycakes Recipes.

Happy eating.

xoxo,
Sondra

Listen With Your Eyes

eyes

Oh kindergarten, is there anything you didn’t try to teach us? Whether it was the value of true friends, the joy of going crazy at recess, or that reading is fundamental, you were always there to guide us.

I especially liked the singing. One of my favorite songs was I Can Sing a Rainbow. You may remember, it starts like this: “Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue. I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too.” Cute, right? But here comes the trippy part. “Listen with your eyes, listen with your eyes, and sing everything you see…”

Listen with your eyes?! What silly nonsense, my five year old self thought. It turns out that song was trying to teach me something that took almost forty years to understand.

My skin is my Achilles heel. Ever since puberty I’ve been plagued with cystic acne that colonizes my chin, forehead and sometimes even cheeks. As a teen and young adult it was humiliating, but I always assumed I’d grow out of it. I’d imagine my sleek, grown-up, future self in a killer suit (hey it was the 80’s) with a flawless complexion.

But here I am, living healthy and a budding health coach to boot, with what looks like teenage acne all over my chin. How can I expect people to listen to me about health when it looks like I’ve been indulging in all-night pizza binges?

The beauty industry has trained us to think that, no matter what abuse we put our bodies through, a pill or a cream or a machine will wash away our sins and give us flawless skin. Growing up I was given antibiotics and Retinol for my acne, and when that failed, the evil Accutane. A drug so poisonous they won’t give it to pregnant women.

As I grew older and the acne persisted I found some relief in ProActive—hey just because something is sold in infomercials doesn’t mean it don’t work. Oh but the chemicals! They bleached my pillowcases and towels. I can only imagine what they were doing to my insides. What finally did the trick were expensive spa treatments – microdermabrasion and lasers. Yes, lasers. Technicians literally blasted the cysts off my face.

Since I left my corporate job I’ve had to reprioritize my expenses, and I just can’t justify those high-tech facials right now. And I am trying to use fewer toxic chemicals, which leaves out ProActive. I’ve tried a few different skin care lines in the last year, which confuses your skin more than you’d think. And I went off, and then back on, my birth control pill (sorry, Mom, that’s probably TMI), which messed around with my hormones.

So here I am, left to contemplate my sins in the mirror. Because my skin is trying to tell me something. Despite the way it feels, it’s not sprouting acne out of spite. It’s a cry for help. It’s not my skin’s fault. My body has taken my skin hostage.

All skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and even premature wrinkles and gray hair, are our bodies way of raising a red flag. As our largest organ, the skin is used for a lot more than protecting us from the elements and keeping our insides in. It’s also a big way our bodies detoxify. We’re all familiar with sweat, except maybe ballerinas. They “glow”. That’s a normal and healthy detox, and it’s one of the reasons exercise is so important to general good health. It’s not just about weight loss. Other organs play a role in detoxification too—kidneys, liver, gallbladder. But when your internal organs are overloaded or blocked, which can happen when too much fat (cholesterol) junks up their valves, your skin gets called up from the bench. “Time to pull your weight!” says the coach.

So what’s causing my acne, and what can I do about it? As so often in life, it’s mainly three things:

1) Hormones. Mine are still out of whack from the pill switcheroo, so to address that I’ve started taking Maca, a root that grows in the Andes mountains in Peru. European explorers found the people in the high mountains to be unusually happy and mellow, and traced it to the Maca root. (Well, no taxes, no internet and no corporate jobs probably helped too.) The locals made their bread from flour made from the Maca root, one of the few things that grow at that altitude. Most known in the U.S. as an aphrodisiac (ahem), it’s also very effective in smoothing out hormone imbalances in women.

2) Skin care. I was using some pretty harsh “natural” anti-aging treatments from Perricone M.D. that left my skin extra sensitive. I like a lot of their products, but the Blue C Plasma and the Acyl-Glutathione stuff was just too harsh. I developed a rash on my eyelids and I’m pretty sure they added wrinkles. Product fail. I am now using a mix of Juice Beauty, doTERRA and Perricone M.D. products that seem to be working. And I’ll stick with them for a few months to allow my skin to adjust. See below for my current beauty regimen.

3) Food choices. As healthy as I am, I am human and occasionally slip. While gluten is non-negotiable for me, I was letting a little dairy sneak in. And sugar. And chocolate. All of these cause inflammation in the body and are a feeding ground for breakouts. After a recent breakup I might have spent a weekend watching Netflix and eating gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies out of the pan… Now that the evidence is on my face you can bet I am back on track with my eating.

As I mentioned, acne isn’t the only red flag your skin can raise. Any rash, unusual dryness or bumps can be a sign of a myriad of internal imbalances—nutrient deficiencies, stress, toxin overload, the list goes on. Don’t ignore it, and don’t try to self-diagnose. Seek out a doctor who subscribes to Functional Medicine – the practice of finding the root cause of ailments, not just treating symptoms. You can search for doctors here.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I am using on my face these days:

Listen to your skin and be kind to yourself!

xoxo,
Sondra

Change is the hardest word

Habit. What a dirty little word. We use it to explain away our worst tendencies, as if calling them habits whitewashes us from responsibility. No one wants to be called a drunk, an over-eater or a lazy bones, but we’re willing to cop to “being in the habit” of having a few too many drinks, enjoying a few too many desserts, or forgetting to go to the gym.

The Power of Habit book-cover

This week I read The Power of Habit. Why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg. He argues, with support from Aristotle and William James, that changing the habit changes the man. Person. You know what I mean.

We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions with the intention of changing our lives. We start out strong on January first (okay, maybe January second), feeling self-righteous. But by Valentine’s Day most of us have petered out. No matter how much we want to lose the weight, quit smoking, or drink less, we lose momentum and the intention just drifts away. Soon we are back to our old habits.

Habit. There’s that dirty word again. Duhigg argues that our habits can be changed if we understand the underlying psychology behind them. For instance, let’s say I am trying to lose weight. And let’s say that every day around 3:00 pm a colleague comes around to see if I want a chocolate break. So I indulge in a treat despite my desire to lose weight. I know I should stop, but I like this person and I really like the break. It makes the rest of the afternoon pass by so much quicker. What can I do? I’m in the habit…

Duhigg would have me dig into the craving behind this habit. He argues that you can change the habit if you understand the cycle around it.

  • Cue: Tired and/or bored
  • Habit: Chocolate break with colleague
  • Payoff: Renewed focus for the afternoon

What I am really craving is a short distraction from work. That’s the heart of the habit. The chocolate is just part of the cycle. If I can substitute some other distraction I could lose weight while still fulfilling my need for a break. I could suggest that we change our break—talk a walk or eat an apple. I could find a healthier break buddy. I could go for a run. You get the idea. The pivotal concept is to identify the real craving and address it.

As interesting and fun to experiment with as this is going to be in my personal life, it’ll be key to my success as a health coach.

Joshua Rosenthal, founder of my nutrition school and the author of the book Integrative Nutrition, also has a thing or two to say about cravings. He teaches that a craving isn’t about a specific action or food, it’s just how the mind is interpreting a specific body need. Using our example above, as a nutritionist, Rosenthal would say that a craving for chocolate is really a craving for energy, which could be satisfied by an apple. From a nutrition standpoint I totally agree. But from a psychological standpoint, Duhigg would argue that the chocolate is not the core craving, and that an apple might not address it.

In fact in a debate I think the two would agree. Rosenthal refers to the food we eat as “secondary food” and believes that everything else in our life—friends, satisfying work, love, etc.—is our “primary food.” If you want to change your health, Rosenthal believes, you need to address both primary and secondary food. Which is more or less what Duhigg is saying, using psychology-speak.

Needless to say, the sociologist in me is licking my chops to start trying this out on people.

Evil laugh. Evil laugh. Evil laugh

This next year is going to be fun!

Curious about raw foods but don’t know where to start?

Wondering what all the fuss about raw foods is about?

My school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, has created a handy-dandy free raw foods guide. It explains what people mean by raw foods and super foods, discusses the common ways to store them, and even has a few (okay, three) recipes.

Click the colorful banner and download your free PDF guide today!



Introducing Curvy Chick Health!

Hello my lovelies,

I am so excited to begin my studies as a health coach – I can barely wait the two weeks for school to begin. I’ve needed an outlet for all this nervous energy, and so I’ve been doing what I do – figuring out the marketing and branding for my eventual wellness business.

In the name of research I’ve been visiting wellness centers and reading every “go get ‘em girl, get healthy” book out there. And what struck me is that most of the healthy role models look like, well, models. Which made me feel a little bad about myself. No matter how healthy I get I will never be a size 0, and all the wedge booties in the world won’t make me 5’10”.

But then I thought about it and realized that the majority of women in America, and likely the world, probably feel the exact the same way. And I’ve been looking for something to set me apart from all the other healthy living gurus. For my brand differentiator.

And so, drumroll please… introducing Curvy Chick Health™!

(Hey, that’s me!)

As the Curvy Chick health coach™ I’ll help clients focus on doing well to feel good, rather than striving for a specific weight, size or body style. To be the very best version of their badass beautiful selves, whatever that looks like.

Curvy Chick Wellness, LLC, my company, will offer health-related products–starting with doTERRA essential oils–and, eventually, reasonably-priced health centers giving the average person access to the kinds of holistic natural health benefits that only movie stars, millionaires and high-tech employees can afford today.

There are a few other Curvy Girls and Curvy Chicks with various kinds of coaching services today, but I think my offering is different enough and the market is big enough to support one more.

I could use some help designing my logo and corporate brand elements–if anyone wants to spend some time on a fun project, I can barter for free health coaching services!

In the coming months I will be rebranding this blog so I can start developing a Curvy Chick Health social media footprint. Don’t worry – this blog will still be chock full of healthy, yummy looking recipes and amusing anecdotes from my journey. In fact, even more so since, you know, this is kind of my job now.

My blog will still be right here at this URL, plus I’ll start using www.curvychickhealth.com. I’ve also reserved http://www.curvychickwellness.com but I plan to use that for my company website, when I have one. You can still reach me at whatever email address you use today, or the fancy-pants new curvychickhealth@outlook.com.

Hop on board the Curvy Chick train with me—it’s going to be an exciting ride!

Xoxo,
Your future Curvy Chick health coach