Spring Update

Oh my! I’ve been away for a while. I started pounding the keys in January working on a new project. We had the artic blast in February which knocked out power and water for many in my area. Then my father passed away once we had (somewhat) recovered from the storm. While it’s difficult to say goodbye, I know that he’s at peace now. After some time, I turned back to my purpose.

Voila! The new project is my new website to help entrepreneurial women identify their gifts and help them launch their business with ease. I plan to use my coaching skills and will offer MBTI and EQ-i assessments. Things are already starting off with a bang!

I started this blog to explore a number of things going on in my life. The death of my mother. Nutritional issues. Fitness fun. Travel. I will continue to explore those topics but will shift to helping people with my skills.

After three decades of work experience, I have decided to approach this in the way we’re working now. Virtually where the internet connects us all together.

Try out the personality quiz on my home page to find out your Unique Gift! Let me know what you think.

xoxo Sarah

Fatburn Part 2

Since diets are a hot topic this time of year, here’s a follow-up since I posted “What I Have Learned about Covid and Fatburning”. I have continued to lose weight. Yes, even during the holidays! I’m continuing to remove vegetable oils from my diet, fasting between meals so that I can burn fat and keeping net carbs to about 50 grams per day.

I’ve been listening to interviews with Dr Cate and reading some of her articles. Here are some new things I’ve picked up.

If you want to see if you’re a Fatburner, you can take your fasting Triglyceride number and divide it by HDL. 1.1 is a good number. Mine was 1.3 from last year’s lab results which tells me that I’m a fatburner. But I knew that I was addicted to carbs and had hypoglycemia symptoms. 2 or 3 indicates higher risk of a cardiovascular incident such as heart attack or stroke. This number is also used to see if you have metabolic disease.

Metabolic disease is also linked to poorer outcomes with COVID, I have read a study that only 12% of US population is in good metabolic health.

Another thing that Dr Cate said in a podcast is that carbohydrates over time overwhelm your hormone system, like cortisol, thyroid, etc. If you’re eating a lot of carbs, your body gets addicted to the sugar. You need the hormones to burn fat which produces ketones. This makes sense to me since it gets harder as you get older to maintain a healthy weight. A high carbohydrate diet for a woman is 100 grams per day and a man is 150 grams. I knew that I was at 100 grams per day before reading her book.

Dr Cate also thinks fasting blood sugar in the 90s is too high. She thinks it should be between 65-85. I’ll be curious to see if mine drops this year.

Dr Cate doesn’t think gluten is inflammatory unless you have celiac disease. She said the research doesn’t show causation, only a correlation. She also thinks dairy has gotten a bad rap. I went gluten (and dairy free) a few years ago, but found myself substituting foods with gluten for other foods that are high carb. Once, I started monitoring my carbs and reducing them. I started to feel better and my digestive issues are now almost non-existent.

This low carb approach has the ability to get you off of the diet merry go round and guide you for a a lifetime.

In her book Deep Nutrition, she says there are four Food Pillars of the healthiest diets:

  • Fresh food–such as salads
  • Fermented and Sprouted Food–kimchi, pickles, yogurt (foods with probiotics)
  • Meat on the bone
  • Organ meats

These are the four pillars because they provide essential micronutrients and a variety of nutrients. This is part of an ancestral health movement which focuses on consuming foods that were around 100 or 150 years ago. Here’s more about the four pillars.

Dr Cate said the greatest predictor of quality of life is the health of your connective tissue which makes up your joints and arteries. That’s why these protein sources and collagen are so important.

She also recommended the app, Chronometer to track micronutrients. I’ve downloaded it and found it has great features in the free version. In the paid version, it suggests foods to fill in your micronutrients. Even though I’m taking a great multivitamin from Ashley Hurst RD, I was curious about how I’m doing with getting enough micronutrients from my food. There’s a keto setting in the app that I have been using that calculates your carbs, protein and fat. I’ve only had it for a few days, but I’m learning a great deal. One thing I need to continue to do is have a variety of foods in my diet. I think this app will help with that!

Blessings for the New Year!

xoxo Sarah

Photo by Mantra Media on Unsplash

Dear 2020

You are like Lucy who yanked the football out of the way right before Charlie Brown kicked it.  Fortunately, I got up, dusted myself off and tried again.

I’ve learned some things this year and I’m grateful for the lessons.

First, I love being in quarantine with my husband.  We’ve developed new routines and have had some fun.

I learned a new skill, jumping rope.  I never thought I would be into jumping rope and posting videos of myself online for thousands to view. Yikes!

I started this blog after encouragement from a friend. Then, I took a writing class which gave me some wonderful new insights into my writing. There’s more to learn and practice in this arena.

We made a couple getaways this year which soothed the soul.  It felt a little illicit, but our driving trip to Colorado sustained me for several months.

I learned that I treasure my friends and it was a delight to keep in touch with them over these months.  I hope we continue this post quarantine.

I have met new friends through these experiences and have learned from all of you.  I have enjoyed reading all of your blogs and peek inside your experiences. I appreciate all the love and support you have given.

Here’s to new adventures (and some flexibility) in 2021!

xoxo Sarah

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

25 Questions

I saw this on Samantha Wharton’s blog, https://artofbeingfabulous.com/ and she saw it on Sheree’s View From The Back. This was fun, so I decided to join! This 25 Question Tag was created by Creabealounge.

What are you wearing? Jeans and a long sleeve tee

How tall are you? 5’4

What’s your favourite TV show? The Voice

Who are your favourite singers? I like Dua Lipa’s voice. U2 is my favorite band.

Your favourite song? Mysterious Ways by U2

Someone you miss? My Mom

Zodiac sign? Scorpio

What’s your favourite fictional character? I’m reading my 4th Cormoran Strike book (Lethal White by Robert Gailbraith /JK Rowling) so there must be something about this character.

Your favourite actors? Meryl Streep

Favourite colour? Pink

Where do you go when you’re sad? For a walk

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? 30 minutes. If I need to wash my hair, it’s 60 minutes.

The reason you started a blog? I wanted to process the transition I’m going through and what I’m learning.

Fears? That we won’t be able to do the fun things we’ve planned

Last thing that made you cry? Steve Hartman’s story about Santas learning Zoom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EflaQJUWN1o&list=PLwBoQZPcMB014nWrqnixzaLycBTASyrf6

Last (comic) book you read? I can’t remember!

What’s your favourite season? Fall

What’s your favourite Christmas song? Angels We Have Heard on High

What’s your favourite food? Tex Mex

Place you want to visit? Normandy/Brittany (our cancelled trip awaits!)

Last place you were? Austin, TX

What instruments do you play? I’ve played flute/oboe. I don’t know that I still can!

Last sport-related activity you did? Jump rope

Last song you sang? Higher Love by Steve Winwood

Ashburn Chicken

We have had a few friends over from time to time during the pandemic. This really lifts my spirits to be with people again!

A friend gave us this recipe and I just love it! The aroma of the garlic, oregano, and fruit is divine. You can make it ahead and cook it the next day. I wanted to share it with you in case you’re looking for a new recipe.

Ashburn Chicken

8 chicken breasts (or 12-14 chicken tenders)

5-6 cloves of garlic

2 TB dried oregano

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup dried prunes

1/4 cup green olives

1/4 cup capers

3 bay leaves

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white wine

Combine first 9 ingredients (through bay leaves) in a shallow dish covered or gallon ziplock bag. Chill overnight.

Arrange chicken in a 9×13 baking dish with marinade. Sprinkle brown sugar and pour wine over top.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes for boneless chicken.

Transfer to platter. Garnish with parsley if desired.



Four Things to Know about Collagen

What is Collagen? 

It’s a protein that provides structure to your bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments.  It has a functional and cosmetic role.  Normal aging produces a loss of collagen and leads to aesthetic skin concerns such as lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven texture.

When is the Right Time to Stimulate Collagen production?

Dermatologist Dr. Vivian Bucay says everyone in their 20s and older should start using some type of treatment that speeds cell renewal.  By the time you are in your 50s, you have half as much collagen and hyaluronic acid as someone in their 20s.  Collagen is like a mattress covering, holding everything together. 

What You Eat makes a Difference

A healthy diet is integral to natural collagen product.  Eat protein rich foods from plant and animal sources for the amino acids.  Zinc, Vitamin C and Copper are part of the collagen production process and you can get those from fruits and vegetables.  You’ll find zinc in dairy, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains.  Vitamin C is in broccoli, cauliflower, green and red peppers, potatoes and squash. Copper is in dark chocolate, leafy greens, mushrooms, nuts and seeds.

What You Don’t Do makes a Difference

Smoking and avoiding UV rays are high on the list.  Also eating foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

If you’re interested in skincare products, R+F’s Redefine Regimen has retinoid science to address the look of fine lines and wrinkles.  Redefine Intensive Renewing Serum has Retinal MD technology which is a more potent than vitamin A but gentle enough to use daily.  The AMP MD System has the serum with a roller.  The roller tricks the fibroblasts in your cells into thinking it needs to make more collagen.  R+F is coming out with a new and improved Redefine regimen on November 1. I have been able to try it and it’s wonderful! Have a wonderful day!




Visit to Centennial Gardens

I visited the Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park twice recently, early September and 3 weeks later. What a difference a few weeks made! They had starting to cleaning things up for Fall and cut back plants. The first time I was sweating miserably with the humidity. On the second visit, Beta had brought us 12 inches of rain and it was cooler. I could see the change in the flowers. They had perked up and the roses were starting to bloom again. Here’s what I captured with my camera.



What I’ve learned about Covid and Fat Burning

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“Show me a single person under 65 without a serious underlying disease or immune deficiency who ended up in the ICU who had been categorically avoiding vegetable oils for the prior 5 years and you’ve proven me wrong” said Dr Cate Shanahan M.D. who is a board certified family physician and the former director of the LA Lakers Pro Nutrition program. When I heard her say this, this got my attention! I knew the most serious cases were often people with underlying conditions such as kidney disease, heart failure, diabetes, obesity, and an immunocompromised state, but I had’t heard anyone talk about vegetable oils.

Dr Cate went on to talk about the Hateful 8 vegetable oils that are important to remove from your diet because they cause inflammation in your body. Those oils are canola, corn, cottonseed, soy, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed and rice bran. It’s not that these oils are inherently bad, but they are highly processed and become unstable in the body. These oils have grown exponentially in our diet in the last 40 years and there are quite a few doctors talking about the link to health conditions and PUFA consumption.

As Dr Cate talked about vegetable oils, I remembered my nutritionist Ashley had recommended a couple years earlier that I avoid these oils to reduce inflammation. Dr Cate recommended making your own salad dressing and looking at your snacks like crackers and chips. I had stopped making my dressing over the last year because I was bored with my recipes. When I looked at my salad dressings and snacks, 90% of them had the oils I should be trying to avoid. So I started cleaning the pantry out! It’s true you should have a little PFA, like 1%, but Dr Cate said you can test your fat and some people have 25-30%. I have been cooking a good bit during the pandemic, but this was a wake up call to try to cook most of our meals. Her full article on the oils is here.

I was intrigued as Dr Cate mentioned the research that showed vegetable oil makes us sugar addicts in articles and presentations online. I wanted to know more, so I ordered her book The Fatburn Fix. I had gained 5 lbs over the last year and wanted to understand fat burning from her perspective. This book has had a big impact on my thinking but is chock full of information. I will highlight key points that were meaningful to me and encourage you to read the book if you want to know more. I’ll summarize what she is saying in her words as much as I can and add my personal experience along the way.

The first step is to remove the vegetable oils from your diet (listed above) so that you can burn fat. She has a list of the good oils to use and snacks that are made with those oils on her website.

Then Dr Cate talks about how burning body fat promotes weight loss and burning sugar does not. She defines sugar as fruits, pasta, potatoes, bread made with flour because they spike your blood sugar. Of course, most people tend to think of candy, cookies, cake, ice cream which are very high in sugar.

I didn’t realize our blood stream carries only 16 calories during normal blood sugar. We don’t have a lot of space to store blood sugar only the liver can release it back into the blood stream. Most people have about 200 calories worth in their liver which will last a few hours at a desk job. Fat stores can fuel you for days. If you eat more than a few grams of sugar, then it is stored as fat. If you eat fruit, bread, snacks, then it forces our hormones into fat building mode. Sweet tasting foods intensify your desire for sweets and create sugar addiction.

Unhealthy Hunger. Do you get hangry? Dr Cate talks about unhealthy hunger which is is characterized by anxiety, brain fog, dizziness, fatigue, headache, irritability, nausea, shakiness to name a few. I used to feel this way. I used to have a terrible hunger that would make me irritable and was often hungry in the morning. After reading her book, I know that I had an addiction to those foods that raise your blood sugar. Over the last couple years, I feel better through diet changes, but I realized there is more that I could do.

Dr Cate talks about how Unhealthy Hunger can cause desperation eating and can cause executive dysfunction. Executive function is things like planning, organizing, and prioritizing. If you can’t perform executive functions, then it could impair your ability to plan your meals.

Diabetes is a spectrum. She looks at diabetes on a spectrum and says it is basically blocked fatburn. Hypoglycemia is first symptom which leads to insulin resistance which leads to prediabetes which leads to diabetes. Those unhealthy hunger feelings listed above are examples of the first stage, hypoglycemia.

Fasting blood sugar. Your fasting blood sugar is the reading when you first wake up in the morning. All healthy people have the same set point but when your metabolism is damaged the set point can’t be maintained. The set point is regulated by the brain and pancreas and normally they are the same. When your fatburn declines, your brain is in an energy crisis. Your brain wants more sugar and instructs your liver to release more which raises your fasting blood sugar. The pancreas is telling the fat cells to take the sugar out of the bloodstream and releases more insulin, so the body is fighting itself. The brain wins because it has a direct neuronal connection to the liver. Dr Cate describes this as profound metabolic disturbance which elevates blood sugar and builds fat which causes weight gain in many.

Mitochondria and cell energy. Mitochondria are the engines in your cells that create energy and they are fuel flexible. Sugar is not a good fuel for your cells because it can’t be increased very much during exercise and stress. Carbon dioxide that is released from glucose can acidify and damage your mitochrondria. Ketones generate more energy than sugar. Ketones can be made from body fat giving you extended energy. Protein can be used and certain cells in the small intestine may require amino acids for fuel. There’s an abundance of amino acids in the bloodstream in the form of albumin, but few cells use albumin for energy. A complication of protein fueling is gout when uric acid forms in the joints and causes swelling.

Debunking Protein Myths. Don’t I need carbs before a workout so I don’t break down protein? In a nutshell, if you fuel with sugar before a workout, you’ll block fatburn. Don’t I need protein 30 minutes after a workout? You have 24-48 hours after a workout to consume protein for muscle growth. Don’t I need lots of protein to build muscle? Eating excess protein will be stored as fat.

Why the news on Fat keeps changing. She goes into details about how our Dietary Guidelines are developed and influenced by special interest groups. In studies where they say saturated fat is bad, they don’t usually clarify what kind of saturated fat they are talking about. Dr Cate goes into great detail about fat and talks about why we still believe saturated fat is bad due to Ancel Keys. He was an eel physiologist who said his research proved saturated fat is bad, then falsified his data to maintain his claim.

Fatburn Quiz After Dr Cate goes through the science, there is a Fatburn Quiz about halfway through the book. I took her quiz and scored as a Fatburner, not elite, but a fatburner nonetheless. I knew that I had made progress on my carb addiction but wanted to work on a few things.

Phase I and Phase II plans. She has a Phase I dietary plan for those who need to repair their metabolic damage and get them ready for weight loss. In this Phase II, she recommnends fasting to get in touch with your true hunger by skipping a meal or time restricted eating (7 hour window). In the beginning, she recommends one day a week then you can work up to 2-3 days in a row. I’m not sure if I will be doing this.

Things Dr Cate said that Surprised Me

Seek out salt. It helps with digestion, bones, improves energy, and reverses insulin resistance. She recommends a 1-2 tsp a day. I’ve been trying to avoid salt for years. Now I have added Himalayan Pink Salt to my collection and find myself sprinkling it on everything!

Don’t exercise to lose weight. It doesn’t help that much and you will be in trouble if you have an injury and can’t exercise. It is good for your heart and muscles. Some people can exercise the right amount to keep their weight in check, but she says they tend to be exercise fanatics. (Dr Cate was a runner who was addicted to sugar.)

You should be able to kick back your hunger as an adult.

There is no such thing as a fast metabolism, the goal is a flexible metabolism.

My summary. I never wanted to go low carb, because I really liked my carbs. Also I am one who felt weak when I try to cut carbs, also known as the keto flu. But after reading her book, I knew I would benefit from making changes.

My strategy now is have a low carb breakfast and lunch, then have some carbs at dinner. Dr Cate said when people eat carbs at breakfast, they tend to crave them all day. I think that’s true for me as well. Morning could be eggs and bacon or pea protein drink with almond butter. Lunch is a salad with chicken, avocado and homemade dressing. At dinner, protein with vegetables and starches. I sleep better if I have some carbs at night. I avoid snacking and wait 4-5 hours between meals to allow the fatburning process to work. Ironically, these meals are what Pam Owens encouraged me to do during Precision Nutrition. I did it a little, but wasn’t fully bought in at that point.

I started with this approach 3-4 days and gradually have gone to 6-7 days a week. I wondered if I would be able to jump rope and have enough energy, but so far it’s working! I have more energy in the afternoon and don’t get the drowsy feeling when I was eating more carbs. I have lost 7.5 lbs so far. I focus a little more on eating my vegetables with this approach and keep the carbs around 50 grams. Perhaps this will help someone if they are considering making some changes. Let me know your thoughts!



How We Improved our Book List

Why are we reading this book? Who suggested it? Do you ever get those questions in your book group? We didn’t get them often, but they did come up.

My friend Cathy started our book group about 14 years ago. It started as a social group for working moms at our church. The intention was to discuss good books, have some wine and catch up with friends. In the beginning, we would pick books at a meeting. Whoever could be there would suggest some books, then we would pick a few books for the upcoming months. With everyone’s schedule, it was difficult for some to make the meetings. As time went on, there were questions about the books and who was picking them.

In 2013, we decided to use a survey. The members nominated books and I created the online survey. The first time, I used an average rating for the survey. We quickly learned that it was hard to different between 20 books with the average rating. We didn’t get enough statistical spread. The next time, I used the ranking feature which means they have to rank ALL the books. This year, we had 28 books to rank. Not everyone likes the method because it is time consuming and it requires taking a look at all the books. The upside is the quality of books have improved and everyone can give their opinion. We keep it anonymous until books are finalized. We now pick books once a year and our group keeps growing and growing.

The question I get these days is what are you reading in your book club? Can I have the list?

Current book list for 2020-21

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera

Happy reading!