Monthly Archives: March 2015

Weight Loss at Work: Tips for Staying on Track

workThe Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics estimates that a whopping 83 percent of Americans eat at their desks during work. If you’re one of these people, you probably have the best intentions to eat a healthy whole foods lunch, but short lunch breaks, temptations from not-so-healthy coworkers, and less-than-ideal take out options can make that difficult. You don’t have to fall victim to unhealthy work habits though – planning, healthy snacking, and holding yourself accountable to your weight loss goals can help you stay healthy at the office.

Plan, plan, plan!

You might be sick of hearing us say this, but we don’t think we can ever say it enough – YOU NEED TO PLAN! Workplace cafeterias are loaded with unhealthy food choices like pizza, pasta, and burgers. Although you may be one of the lucky ones with a healthy takeout place next store, most offices are also surrounded by fast food and quick grab-and-go options that fall short in the nutrition department. Don’t rely on your at-work options. Instead, pack your lunch the night before so you can just grab it as you head out in the morning. Take some leftovers from dinner, pack some chicken and roasted veggies, or make some tuna fish and throw it on a salad. Having a healthy lunch easily accessible is KEY to making it work — at work.

Nibble as you Work

Munching on healthy snacks every few hours is a great way to keep you on track. If you start your day at 8 AM and don’t get any food into your system until 2 PM, you’re probably more likely to indulge in that office pizza shop order. Keeping yourself satisfied with healthy snacks – like hummus and veggies, low-fat cheese and a piece of fruit, or apple slices with sugar-free almond butter – will keep your blood sugar stable and your cravings in check. You want to make sure you’re including a source of protein with your snacks to keep you full for longer. An apple contains essential vitamins and minerals and fiber, but combining it with a little nut butter provides the protein that will get you through to lunch.

Be Choosy with Takeout

Let’s face it, even with the best of intentions, there are going to be days where you don’t pack a lunch or you forget your perfectly balanced lunch in the fridge at home. When this happens, your only option may be to grab something from that takeout place down the road. Get familiar with the places near your work and look over their menus. Look for options that combine lean protein with lots of veggies and maybe some whole grains. You might do a half a turkey sandwich with a side of vegetable soup or chicken and broccoli dish with no extra sauces. Ask for sandwiches sans cheese or mayonnaise and order salad with the dressing on the side. Build a relationship with the restaurants near you. Most restaurants will be more than happy to accommodate your needs, especially if the staff knows you personally.

Get a Coworker on Board

Resisting temptation can be especially difficult at the office where stress can get high and vending machines and candy bowls can easily throw you off track. Find a coworker who is also trying to lose weight or who is passionate about a healthy lifestyle and make a commitment to help each other stay on track. Eat lunch with this coworker every day – or go on quick walks during your breaks – and avoid coworkers who try to sabotage your efforts.

Labeling Series Part 2: Finding Hidden Trans Fats

VM crackersFor part 2 of our labeling series, we’re talking trans fats! Did you know that a food manufacturer can boldly claim that a food is “trans fat free” if it contains fewer than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving? It may not seem like much, but it adds up pretty quickly.

Before we get into deciphering the label, let’s talk a little bit about trans fats and why you want to avoid them.

Most of the fats that were demonized in the low-fat diet craze of the 1990s have been exonerated, but most health professionals still stand behind the fact that trans fats are no good for you. You have two types of cholesterol in your blood – LDL, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol and HDL, often referred to as “good cholesterol”. HIGH levels of LDL and LOW levels of HDL are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Trans fat, which is a synthetic fat made in a laboratory actually increases your LDL levels, while simultaneously decreasing your HDL levels – a double whammy when it comes to heart disease.

The USDA currently recommends that you get no more than 1 percent of your calories from trans fats. So if you’re following a standard 2,000 calorie diet, this means that you shouldn’t be eating any more than 2 grams of trans fats per day. Even in these small amounts, trans fats can significantly affect your health. In a study of 120,000 female nurses, researchers found that replacing JUST 2 percent of their calories with trans fat DOUBLED their risk of heart disease!

So let’s say, for example, that you’re at the grocery store and you pick up some creamer for your coffee, a box of crackers, and some flavored yogurt — all which claim to be trans fat free, but really aren’t. The next day, you put two tablespoons of creamer in your coffee in the morning, eat 10 crackers as a mid-morning snack, and have the flavored yogurt with lunch. You’ve already eaten FIVE SERVINGS of foods that could potentially add up to 2.5 grams of trans fats and you haven’t even had dinner yet! See how easy it is to go over your limit for the day without even knowing it?

So here’s what you do: never, ever rely on outright claims — like “trans fat free!” on a label; take the numbers on the nutritional label with a grain of salt; and go right to the ingredient list. If the ingredient list contains the words “hydrogenated”, “partially-hydrogenated”, “interesterified”, or “shortening”, it’s pretty safe to assume it has trans fats even if the nutritional label says zero grams.

Labeling Series Part 1: What Do Egg Labels Mean?

eggs2We get asked a LOT about labels on food – what the labels mean and what to look for when you’re trying to get healthy.

Labeling can be extremely confusing and there’s actually a reason for that. Sometimes, food manufacturers put claims on labels that really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. These labels are meant to imply that a food has certain health benefits or that it’s better for you than other foods of its type, but that’s not always the case. So what’s the reason for this? Marketing of course! When it comes down to it, the food industry is a business so their major goal is to make money.

We wanted to make life a little easier for you, so we’re going to teach you what different terms mean and how to break things down. Since labeling is a vast category, we decided to delve into a labeling series over the course of the next few weeks.

For part 1, we’re going to break down labels on EGGS. Egg labels can be the most confusing because there are SO many different terms; and many of them are meant to be deceiving. Plus, since Easter is on the horizon, we thought it was only appropriate to start with eggs.

So here we go:

Farm Fresh – This might make visions of a local farmer waking up at the crack of dawn to collect eggs dance in your head, but this label means nothing. Total marketing scheme.

Natural/All Natural – Again, nothing. Sorry.

No Hormones/No Antibiotics – Egg farmers are not legally allowed to give their chickens hormones. Although antibiotics ARE used on chickens raised for meat, they are rarely used in the egg industry, so these terms really don’t mean too much. It’s nice that the eggs are hormone/antibiotic free, but ALL eggs are.

Vegetarian Diet/Fed a Vegetarian Diet – This doesn’t mean that the chickens laying your eggs were given nice fresh, organic salads filled with nutrient-rich veggies, it actually means they were fed corn, soy, and oils because those things are cheap. While “vegetarian” sounds good, chickens are actually omnivores who eat a lot of bugs and worms, so vegetarian fed is not your best bet.

Omega-3 Enriched – This generally means that some flaxseed was added to a chicken’s feed to increase the omega-3 content of the egg. This is to make conventional eggs seem more appealing.

Cage-Free – Cage-free means nothing more than the chickens were not confined to cages. Cage-free chickens may still live in a barn or warehouse without any access to the outdoors.

Free-Range – A step above cage-free. This means that the chickens were not confined to cages AND they were allowed access to the outdoors BUT there are no regulations on how much time they get to spend outside or what the chickens are fed.

Organic – Organic eggs must come from chickens that are free-range and fed organic feed (little to no exposure to pesticides, herbicides, commercial fertilizers and/or fungicides). These chickens may still be fed corn, oil, or soy (although it can’t be GMO) and there are no stipulations on how the chickens are treated.

Pasture-Raised – Pasture-raised birds spend most of their life outdoors plus they have access to a barn. They are able to eat their natural diet — worms, insects and grass, along with some supplemental feed (which may or may not be organic). Although there is no guarantee about how much space pasture-raised birds have to roam (they are usually still fenced in).

So what’s the gold standard? Which kind of eggs should you buy? Well, the answer to this really depends on your goals, but the label that means the most (i.e. it’s not just a marketing scheme) is organic, pasture-raised.

If you’re going to pay a premium for eggs, you want to get what you’re paying for, right?

Troubleshooting your Weight Loss: The Dreaded Self-Assessment

VM trackingWhen you’re trying to lose weight and you’re not seeing the results you want, it’s tempting to put the blame elsewhere – to say “I’m doing everything right! Why can’t I lose weight?!” We want you to know that we’re here to support you and guide you, but sometimes that support has to come in the form of tough love. If you feel like you’re doing everything right and the scale won’t budge, it’s time to take an honest look at your diet and lifestyle and see if there’s actually areas where you could use some improvement.

Honesty really is the best policy, especially when it comes to your weight loss goals. You’re only doing yourself a disservice if you’re not being completely transparent with yourself. We’ve compiled a list of questions that you can ask yourself to figure out where you may be able to do better.

  1. Am I eating too much?

This is the obvious question. Are you really sticking to your diet plan or are you overeating? Remember, even a bite of a cookie here or a handful of chips there adds up and can derail your progress. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re eating enough, track your intake in an app like MyFitnessPal – and keep track of EVERYTHING. If you track your intake for a couple of days and determine that you’re not overdoing it, move on to the next question.

  1. Am I eating enough?

Just like overeating, not eating enough can prevent you from reaching your goals. Check your calorie counts in MyFitnessPal. Are you eating at least 1,000 calories per day? If not, your body might be storing calories instead of burning off fat efficiently. Make sure you’re eating at least 1,200 calories per day, but still staying within your diet recommendations.

  1. What am I drinking?

What you drink is just as important as what you eat when you’re trying to lose weight. You know that soda is full of sugar and calories, but did you know that fruit juice is just as bad? And that bottled beverages often have added sugar – even the ones that claim to be healthy? Stick to water and herbal tea — and make sure you’re drinking enough of it. You want to be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water, so if you’re 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water daily. Coffee is okay too, but don’t overdo it.

  1. Am I exercising enough?

Exercise is a major component of a successful weight loss plan. What does your exercise regimen look like? Are you exercising at least 4 days a week? If the answer is yes, consider the types of exercise you’re doing. Are you exerting yourself? You don’t want to feel completely drained, but make sure you’re sweating and giving it your all.

  1. Am I getting enough sleep?

Lack of sleep can throw off the hormones that are responsible for your hunger signaling. When you miss out on sleep, you may feel hungry all the time. When you do eat, your body can have trouble letting you know when you’re full. Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours every night, although 8 is better.

  1. Have I been consistent with my Valley Medical visits?

Support is a HUGE factor in your success – and that’s what we’re here for. We also offer supplements and injections that can help boost your weight loss so that you’re seeing the results you need. Are you consistently coming in for your appointments or do you keep rescheduling?  If you need help or reminders to stay consistent, let us know. We’re here to help you!

  1. Do I need to re-evaluate my goals?

Here’s where you need to get really honest with yourself. Are you not seeing results or are you just not seeing them as fast as you’d like? Are your goals realistic or are you hoping to lose 10 pounds overnight? Remember, healthy, sustainable weight loss is defined as around 1 to 2 pounds per week. While there will be weeks you’ll lose more, especially in the beginning of your journey, there will be weeks you’ll only lose a pound; and that’s still something to be proud of.

Is Stress Keeping you From Reaching Your Weight Loss Goals?

MeditationWe live in a time of stress. Whether this stress is real (a family trauma for instance) or perceived (you just feel like you don’t have the time to do ANYTHING) is irrelevant – a chronic state of stress wreaks havoc on your body AND can prevent you from losing weight (and even cause weight gain!). Most people know that eating right and exercising are key components of weight loss; but stress is an often overlooked factor. If you feel like you’re doing “everything right” yet you still can’t lose weight, consider your stress level. Is it controlled? Are you doing anything to manage it? If you answered no to these questions, read on.

When you’re stressed, your body produces a hormone called cortisol, which increases your body’s storage of fat. Cortisol has a particularly profound effect on the fat around your midsection, which is called visceral fat. Having extra fat around your midsection is not just a cosmetic issue, it actually increases your risk of developing insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and heart troubles. That’s why it’s especially important to lower your stress levels, which in turn, can lower your cortisol levels.

There are several things you can do to get your stress under control. You may feel like you don’t have the time, but it’s important to MAKE the time.

  1. Do something you love every day. Taking a few minutes to really enjoy yourself every day is important to your health. It can be reading, writing, drawing, walking, playing with your pet, or just lying in the grass and looking at the sun. Whatever it is, just take some time to really wind down.
  2. Consider yoga and meditation. Yoga and meditation are both scientifically proven to help reduce your stress levels. If you think yoga and meditation “aren’t for you” give them a fighting chance. There is no right or wrong way to do either. It’s all a personal experience – one that can significantly lower your stress (and cortisol) levels.
  3. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep not only increases your stress levels, it can mess with your hunger hormones. When you don’t get enough sleep, it disrupts the action of two hormones – ghrelin (which is responsible for telling your body you’re hungry) and leptin (which is responsible for telling your body you’re full). When these hormones are out of whack, you’re more likely to overeat. Aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night (8 to 9 is better).
  4. Exercise not only directly contributes to weight loss, it indirectly contributes by reducing your stress levels, so your body is better able to handle cortisol. Spend at least 30 minutes (60 to 90 is better) doing something active. You don’t have to walk on the treadmill inside the gym. You can join a kickboxing class or a work sports league.

Managing your stress levels is not just important for weight loss, it’s extremely important for your health. Take the time TODAY to incorporate one of these stress reduction techniques into your life. Eventually, you can work up to doing all of them.

Now we want to hear from you. What’s your favorite way to keep your stress levels in check?

Meal Planning: Your Secret to Weight Loss Success

meal planningThere’s a popular quote that goes something like this: “when you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. The internet couldn’t decide if it was Winston Churchill or Benjamin Franklin who said it, but nevertheless, the message is what’s important. While it’s true that sometimes things don’t go exactly according to plan, having a plan for what you’re going to eat, and making sure to have food with you that can help you execute that plan, is extremely important when it comes to losing weight.

Planning your meals can help you stay on track so that you’re staying within your calorie needs. It also ensures that you have a meal handy so that you’re not ravenous throughout the day and end up overdoing it later in the evening. Spending some extra time planning your meals can also help you save money. When you’re going to the grocery store and buying from a list, you’re less likely to be tempted by snacks and other things that are off plan, which add up in the long run.

We get it – planning does take a little more time than flying by the seat of your pants, but we promise, it’s worth it. To make life a little easier for you, here are some tips to make your meal planning successful and as painless as possible.

  1. Set aside a few hours to build a menu. We know you’re busy, but your health is important so make meal planning a priority. Set aside a couple of hours on your day off and sit down with a pen and a notebook and write down what you’re going to eat for the week. Look through your cookbooks or on your favorite healthy cooking blogs and find some recipes that you like and build your menu.
  2. Design your menu efficiently. You don’t have to make things complicated. If there’s a casserole you want to try for dinner and it serves 6, put it on your menu for lunch the next day. When it comes to meal planning, leftovers are your best friend. Look for recipes that can be easily doubled or that use a lot of the same basic ingredients so that you don’t have to spend a lot of extra money.
  3. Make a shopping list. Now that you have your menu built and your recipes handy, spend time looking through all the ingredients and building a shopping list. It helps to separate the shopping list into sections like “produce”, “meat”, and “spices”. It may take a little extra effort at the time, but it will end up saving you time at the grocery store.
  4. Stick to your list. This step is really important. When you’re at the grocery store, buy ONLY the items on your list. Since you already know what you’re going to be eating for the week, there’s no need to veer from the list. Doing so will only derail your progress and cost you money. To help you with this, make sure you only go grocery shopping after you’ve had a satisfying meal. Going grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster.
  5. Spend a few hours cooking. This part isn’t mandatory, but it will help you immensely. Take a few hours on a Sunday or whatever day you have off to actually cook some (or all, if you’re feeling really ambitious) of those meals. This does take effort and more than a little patience, but the payoff is BIG. When you get the majority of your cooking done in one day, you can package each meal in single serving sizes that are ready for you to take with you wherever you have to go. You can also double recipes and freeze the extra for a day down the road when you don’t feel like cooking.

Do you meal prep? If so, we’d love to hear some more tips from you!

Product of the Month! Pure Encapsulations Liver GI Detox

It’s a NEW month, so you know what that means – a new product to go along with our monthly special, which includes:

Physician Consult & Weekly Weigh-ins
Meal Plans
FDA Approved Medications
MetaBlast Supplements
Craveaway Supplements
Weekly Upgraded Injection of B-12
Bi-Weekly Injection of Lipo X
Full Body Analysis on our BODYCOMP Scale


With this special you receive 4 WEEKS of everything listed above for only $295 (that’s a savings of over $200) – and we’ll throw in the Liver GI Detox for FREE! To help you understand what a great deal this is, we’re going to break down the importance of your body’s detoxification system and how this product can help!

VM LiverYour liver is one of your body’s major detoxification pathways. It cleans and filters your blood, breaking down substances like ammonia, alcohol, chemicals, medications, and metabolic waste products, so that your body can excrete them.

Your gastrointestinal (or GI) tract is another major pathway for detoxification. It allows you to absorb the good stuff and then compacts the bad stuff for excretion (we won’t paint this picture for you, but you get the idea).

When either of these pathways aren’t working properly, toxic waste can accumulate in your body and actually make it harder for you to lose weight. The Pure Encapsulations Liver-GI Detox helps to stimulate both liver and gastrointestinal detoxification so that your body is properly removing toxins as it should. The supplement contains N–acetyl–l–cysteine and alpha lipoic acid — two antioxidants that help bind heavy metals and boost the production of glutathione (another antioxidant that helps prevent free radical damage). The supplement also contains:

  • Sulforaphane — a compound that comes from broccoli sprouts and helps maintain healthy colon function.
  • Glycine, taurine, and methionine — amino acids that help neutralize toxins.
  • L–Glutamine — an amino acid that helps you absorb nutrients and keeps your intestinal tract healthy.
  • Artichoke extract — promotes healthy flow of bile, supports liver cells and blood flow in the liver, and helps move things along the digestive tract for elimination.
  • Chlorella — a green “superfood” that helps clean and purify the blood.


If you’re interested in taking advantage of this special offer and signing up for our monthly special, drop in or call us at either one of our locations to find out more!

Phoenix: 602-374-3374
Tempe: 480-968-5673


Getting Familiar with the Paleo Diet

Interest in the Paleo diet is on the rise. Practically everywhere you look, there’s Paleo this and Paleo that. Facebook has been inundated with Paleo recipes – and they look darn good! – but is there any merit to the diet (or lifestyle, rather)? Should you cut out entire food groups to drop the excess weight and reach optimal health? We’ll break down the good and the bad of the diet to help you decide if it’s right for you.

What’s This All About?

Before we get into the good, the bad, and the ugly, we thought it would make sense to describe the philosophy behind the Paleo diet. The diet is based on the theory that you should only be eating what your ancestors were eating in the Paleolithic era before the Industrial Revolution and the ability to process foods. In order to eat, these ancestors had to go out and literally hunt and/or gather their food. Proponents of the Paleo diet say that the human body was only designed to eat and process the foods that we could hunt and gather, not the foods that are made in a lab by man. So here’s the diet breakdown:

What You Can Eat

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Healthy Fats
  • Raw Honey/Pure Maple Syrup

What You Can’t Eat

  • Grains (Wheat, Oats, Barley, Rye, Quinoa, Couscous, Amaranth, Millet, CORN)
  • Dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream, butter)
  • Legumes (Soy, Peanuts, Chickpeas, Beans)
  • Alcohol
  • Refined or Artificial Sweeteners

The Good

In addition to focusing on fresh, whole foods, the Paleo diet also focuses on getting the highest quality foods you can – grass-fed meats, organic produce, etc. It’s about getting back to nature and trying to eat sustainably, and we think that’s great.

The Bad

The diet can be very meat heavy and since there are no real rules about how much you should – or shouldn’t eat – some people tend to misinterpret the guidelines. While we agree that meat can be part of a healthy diet, it shouldn’t take the place of veggies and other healthy foods. The diet also eliminates several food groups. While we think that you could still meet your nutrient needs without these food groups, as long as you’re eating a variety of different foods, it’s just not sustainable for most (especially vegetarians/vegans).

Something to Note

The Paleo diet isn’t a specific diet plan; it’s more of a template. Some people decide to eat dairy products or legumes, for instance, while still following a basic Paleo template. We’re big fans of finding what works for you, so if you want to try the Paleo diet, work with it to make it your own. One thing we can certainly agree on is that you should be eating as many fresh, whole foods as possible and refined sugar and processed foods shouldn’t be a regular part of any diet.