Blog

Why the Brain Resists Diets

April 15, 2017

I learned that 80% of 10 year old girls have tried dieting. What??!!!  I have a 2 year old daughter and I want to prevent this vicious cycle of dieting for her, for your daughter, and for you.  I hope I can convince you to never put yourself or anyone on a diet.

The brain controls hunger & energy automatically.  This is good that the brain works on an unconscious level because it would be exhausting if we had to remember to breathe, or relearn walking over and over again.  The brain also controls weight.  The hypothalamus brain regulates weight by telling the body to gain or lose weight to keep weight stable as conditions change much like a thermostat in our house.  If it gets cold, kick up the heat.  If it gets hot, kick up the AC and keep the set point the same.  

When we lose lots of weight , the brain thinks it’s starving and prompts hunger signals and tells the muscle to burn less energy.  The brain thinks food is scarce and conserves energy (no matter what our weight is).  When we get food, it prompts the body to store the fat to prepare for next “winter.”  This is evolution for survival.  Human evolution has seen more years of food scarcity than 24/7 drive-thru.   

Research shows that 5 years after a diet, we regain the weight back and 40% gain even more.  At worst, diets ruin lives with eating disorders.  Girls who diet in their early teenage years are 3 times more likely to be overweight 5 years later (even if they started out thin).  

In my office, we focus on eating mindfully and intuitively versus using willpower and control.  People who use the controlled method are more likely to be overweight and binge because willpower expires when you decide to focus on something else.  

Let’s tell our girls to eat when they are hungry.  Let’s eat when WE are hungry and stop eating when we are full.  Let’s learn the cues our body sends us constantly, listen, and figure out what makes our body feel good.  Give yourself permission to eat what you want.  Relax around food.  Your stress is making you binge! 

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA 

Why Working Harder Does Not Lead to Success

April 1, 2017

Most of us want to succeed.  We want to be better at being a parent, improve at our jobs, be a better partner, a better student, or succeed in weight loss and healthy eating.  It seems we just work harder but don’t necessarily see improvement.  Why?

I recently read an article about the need to dedicate our efforts into performance and learning zones.  As a society, we create social risks, we judge ourselves and each others’ mistakes, and therefore, we work/live within our perimeters without much success.  We live in the performance zone consistently trying to do better but what we really need to do is take time away from performing and learn in order to progress.  Even in school, a place to learn, students are judged solely by their grades and not given the space to take the risk of a lower grade in order to learn. 

There are a few aspects necessary to work in the learning zone.  We need to believe that we can achieve this task, we have to want it, we need a plan of how to improve, and the stakes must be low.  For example, we can’t practice our trapeze moves without a net on the bottom.  This cannot cause us our job or risk our lives.  Learning can mean practicing a specific task that needs improvement, reflecting on performance and adjusting, reading, asking for feedback, etc.  Make sure to set specific times for each zone. 

This happens in my office.  We learn, reflect on our performance, then set specific tasks that we want to achieve.  Then, we build upon these successes (as we perform) and set more action steps.  In the end, my clients are much more successful in weight loss, diet, eating healthy, and exercise because we’ve taken the time to work in the learning zone and not just work harder without direction, reflection, and focus. 

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

Over-Committed? Need More Time?

March 15, 2017

Most of my clients are too busy and over-committed which is why they find themselves feeling exhausted, sick, and overweight.  We stopped listening to our body and only when we get sick (migraines, diabetes, fibromyalgia, digestive issues, etc), are we forced to stop and figure out what’s wrong. 

Between responsibilities with career, marriage, kids, pro bono work, and social obligations, many of us over-commit.  We pack our schedule to the point that we not only run ourselves ragged but somehow there’s always curve balls to handle too.  This leads us feeling strayed from what’s truly important to us in life and often becomes detrimental to our relationships and health.  Does this sound all too familiar?

 Let’s focus on some tips that will create more time in our day:

  • Wiggle Room.  We pack our activities back to back.  Leave room to breathe, accommodate for traffic, or just being able to get there without rushing.
  • Understand Limits.  Don’t schedule more than one super demanding task a day.  Most of us don’t know how long something will take us.  Start paying attention to how long it takes you to get a routine task done.
  • Timing.  When do you have the most energy and creative juice?  Work with your natural energy then you’ll be more efficient using less energy.
  • Use Technology.  The work place has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades.  With smart phones, emails, and international companies, we can literally work around the clock, anywhere.  This has sucked us dry.  So…when you start working on your computer, turn off all email alerts, phone ringers, and social media.  Set a timer for your project and focus.
  • One Task.  “If you have 10 balls in the air, 9 of them are in free fall.”  We think that we can accomplish more by multitasking but we are actually less efficient.  Our brains are binary – focused or not focused.  Stick to one task. Delegate when possible.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY:  Prioritize the Moment!!!  Honor the priority of the moment and set time for work, family, and self-care without any overlap.  Don’t spend time with someone and check email or social media.  It doesn’t give your loved ones the attention they deserve.  Don’t skimp on the self-care.  It’s the lifeline that will keep you going.

It’s not easy to make changes.  Baby steps!  I hope that these tips will at least bring light to some of your over-commitment troubles and have you focus on making changes.   

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

Sunscreens to AVOID

March 1, 2017

With summer around the corner, I thought it would be nice to get a head start and talk about sunscreen before you run out and purchase some.  At Happy Food, all aspects of health are important including nutrition, exercise, food politics, mental health, work/life balance, relationships, and of course, skin care/cancer prevention.  I hope this helps.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a Sunscreen Guide and here are some guidelines:

  1. Don’t be fooled by high SPF. Anything higher than “SPF 50+” can tempt you to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburn but not other skin damage. FDA says these numbers are misleading. Avoid SPF 50+ and reapply often.
  2. Some sunscreens cause skin cancer. Eating vitamin A-laden vegetables is good for you, but spreading vitamin A on the skin may not be. New data show that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with vitamin A-laced creams. Vitamin A, listed as “retinyl palmitate” on ingredient labels, is in 41% of sunscreens.
  3. Avoid toxic ingredients. Avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates skin and contaminates the body. Look for zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. These substances protect you from harmful UVA radiation and remain on the skin, with little if any penetration. Also, skip sunscreens containing insect repellent – if you need bug spray, buy it separately and apply it first.
  4. Pick a good sunscreen. The best protection from the sun is shade, hat, and clothes. Check out EWG’s sunscreen ratings which include best children’s sunscreen, worst children’s sunscreen, and best sports/beach sunscreen:    http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen
  5. Cream, spray or powder – and how often? Sprays and powders cloud the air with tiny particles that may not be safe to breathe. Choose creams instead. Reapply them often, because sunscreen chemicals break apart in the sun, wash off and rub off.
  6. Message for men: Wear sunscreens. Surveys show that 34 percent of men wear sunscreens, compared to 78 percent of women. Start now to reduce your cumulative lifetime exposure to UV radiation. Also, wear sunglasses to prevent cataracts. 
  7. We need sunlight. Many people don’t get enough vitamin D, which skin manufactures in the presence of sunlight. Vitamin D has been shown to help joint pain, depression, and even fit some cancers.  So get 10-20 minutes of sunshine on bare skin a day (without sunscreen) ideally early or late in the day when UV rays are weakest. 

The thought of lathering cancer-causing chemicals to prevent skin cancer is ironic.  More than three-fourths of the 750 sunscreens evaluated by EWG offer inferior protection or have worrisome ingredients.  The FDA started their sunscreen regulations back in August 1978.  It took until 2011, and they came up with something but it’s unsubstantial.  Our sunscreen can be much better especially with melanoma on the rise.

Enjoy your summer but follow the guidelines above.

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

Can Trees Help Us Lose Weight?

February 15, 2017

They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second best time is today.  So make it TODAY!  Don’t wait until tomorrow, whether it’s getting healthy, losing weight, being organized, finishing a project, exercising, cooking, learning a new skill/dance/language, etc.  Let’s aim for TODAY since we missed 20 years ago.

Tu Bishvat, Jewish Arbor (or Earth) Day, is a day where you plant a tree.  When I lived in Niger, West Africa, their independence day is also plant-a-tree day.  There, it was during rainy season so that the tree would take root and survive since there’s no irrigation system (nature used to grow everything).  But in Israel, there is irrigation so why is Arbor Day during the cold of winter?  Because of the journey…

We don’t plant a tree expecting it to bear fruit and provide the end result.  The true reward is the journey.  We live in an instant gratification society.  It’s the journey that is truly amazing.  Think back to all things you accomplished that was truly meaningful.  It was always the journey that made it so powerful.

Same with weight loss and health.  Don’t forget the journey.  Like the tree learning to take root, burgeoning new leaves, blossoming, you are also learning, growing, and flourishing.  For many of my clients, this is about the process.  Changing our palates so that we don’t have to deny ourselves anymore; we simply don’t enjoy the junk we liked in the past or it makes us sick.  We learn to cook things that are so delicious that our whole family enjoys it too.”  We find exercises that we can’t wait to do instead of forcing it.  We crave the “healthy stuff” after we ate party foods that made us ill.  We find the journey so rewarding that we forget about the destination. “But this is so easy,” claims so many of my clients.  “I don’t even think about it or count calories, and this is the longest I’ve ever stuck to a program.”

Now, that’s the journey I’m talking about.  Don’t plant your tree tomorrow and don’t plant it expecting fruits immediately.  I challenge you to discover the journey.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised with a tree that will bear fruit forever.

Changing old habits isn’t easy. If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

4 Steps to Creating Good Habits

February 1, 2017

Habits prevent our brain from exploding.  If I had to think about the thousands of decisions I make in a day, my brain would explode.  Decisions like which pant leg I put on first, when to brush my teeth, how to back out of my driveway, etc.  Habits are a pathway created by repeated action.  We can’t get rid of bad habits but we can override them with good ones.  Here are some actions to take if you want to start developing good habits.

  1. Motivation.  Your motivation cannot be about being healthy or even losing weight.  That’s not enough.  Why do you want to be healthy?  What changes if you’re successful?  For many, focusing on others become more motivating like losing weight so you can play soccer with your child or quitting smoking not for yourself but for your newborn. 
  2. Derailed.  Good intentions are often derailed by life.  It’s always good to have plan B in place.  If I can’t go to my favorite gym class because I worked overtime, then I’ll just go for a run around the block.  Unfortunately, many people simply give up when their intended plans don’t work out.  Life happens and we need to acclimate with the changing circumstances.
  3. Triggers.  It takes a simple trigger to put the bad habits right back in place.  Change your routine.  If morning coffee leads to lounging on the couch and wasting away the morning, then try going for a run first and having the coffee afterwards.  Visual triggers help too.  For example, having a fruit basket in plain view or laying out your gym clothes the night before or unplugging especially in the bedroom.  
  4. Accountability.  Share your goals with friends, family, or a professional.  Accountability is one of the strongest factors in my office.  I focus on knowledge, understanding how the brain works, setting realistic goals, and holding my clients very accountable to their action steps but without judgment. 

Changing old habits isn’t easy. If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Health Coach, San Diego, CA

 

Time – #1 Barrier to Losing Weight. Here’s Your Plan

January 15, 2017

Many people in and out of my office tell me that time is a huge barrier.  They don’t have time to cook, exercise, or even eat.  How did our lives get so busy that we don’t have the time to meet basic needs like shop for groceries and eat sitting down?  I would like to debunk this perception and therefore help you lose weight and become healthier. 

I  understand that some people simply have harder lives because they are caring for children and/or elderly parents.  I’m not belittling your particular circumstance but see if this applies to you.  Most people tell me that working full-time just doesn’t leave much room left to go shopping, cook, clean, and exercise.  Most people feel so overwhelmed by all the things they have to get done. 

I heard of a story about a woman who was extremely busy owning a business, having 2 kids, and without an ounce of free time.  One day her water pipes broke and she had to rush home to address a flooded house.  It took her 7 hours that week to completely repair the issue.  That means she managed to find an average of 1 hour per day of “spare” time.  So “I don’t have time” really just means I don’t want to do it because it’s not my priority.  You bet my flooded house is a priority so I made the time.  Time is a choice.  Every minute I spend is my choice; granted I understand that some choices need to be made responsibly. 

We are smart.  If we really want to do it, we will find the time.  We have lots of time.  We have 168 hours a week (24 hours X 7 days).  If we work 40 hours/week and sleep 8 hours a day, then we have 72 free hours a week.  That’s a lot of free time!  Let’s say you work 50 hours/week, then you have 62 free hours.  And if you work 60 hours/week, well then, you’re probably really not working all those hours.  Research shows that people don’t actually work those hours and productivity goes way down. 

What would you do with 72 FREE hours?  Make goals every Friday afternoon for the next week and plug in your goals. (I just choose Fridays so I can go into my weekend carefree).  Plug in goals for self-care (exercise, grocery shopping, cooking, meditation, etc.), relationships (family, friends, community-building are the pillars to happiness), and career (work tasks and growth). 

Find time to fit in joy.  Most of us waste so much time watching TV, being on Facebook, and getting sucked into emails.  Focus on the life that you want and build it.  Clearly, I believe that health is so much more than calories in and out.  It’s the whole person.  The more pleasure, the more organized, the more successful you’ll be at losing weight, meeting your goals, and feeling healthy and happy.  The alternative is living a life where you feel dissatisfied and for many that results in emotional eating and filling the void with unhealthy habits which equals weight gain.

Changing old habits aren’t easy. If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

Let’s Hold Each Other to THIS New Years Resolution

January 1, 2017

Forget New Years Resolution.  Let’s try something that has more of a ripple effect on our whole life.  I’d like to challenge you (and myself) to a different resolution.  Oddly, it’s one learned from my 2 year old.  She’s always happy, good-natured, and healthy (rarely sick & never for long).  What does she do right?  Here’s a list I came up with as I observe her.  Let me know if you’re up for this year’s challenge.

  • Wake up singing & smiling.  I really want this!  She ALWAYS does it.  I’m going to aim for at least 30 seconds of this.  She easily goes for 30 minutes. 
  • Reflect on your day before bed.  It’s no joke; she talks for 20-30 minutes.
  • Stick to a routine for bed & meals.  Try to eat and sleep at roughly the same time daily. 
  • Drink lots of water
  • Get plenty of sleep.  She sleeps 14 hours/day…if only we had the luxury. 
  • Jump at the opportunity to play
  • Run around all day long
  • Eat only whole ingredients
  • Avoid processed food and processed sugars.  Enjoy it in it’s natural forms. (fruit, dates, etc.)
  • Enjoy music every chance you get.  Dance when you hear music.  Sing all day long.  Play music.
  • Ask for help.  She’s too independent but she asks for help when she needs it.
  • Socialize but balanced with alone time
  • Include others
  • Just get excited over everything!

She is a constant reminder of what’s good and natural; therefore healthy and happy.  I hope we can all work on these things together.  Happy New Year!

Changing old habits aren’t easy. If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.
www.HappyFoodHealth.com/blog  

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

 

 

Could Food Have Made My Surgery So Easy?

December 15, 2016

Could food have made my surgery so pain-free and easy to recover?  A healthy body allows for self-healing.  Everything we eat forms the cells and tissues necessary to rebuild and regenerate.  A healthy diet also reduces inflammation.  An inflamed body leads to lots of pain and a compromised immune system.

On May 7th, I injured myself playing beach volleyball.  It took me forever to finally opt for surgery on November 18th.  I waited hoping my body would heal itself; I even tried physical therapy. 

I was warned by everyone including my surgeon that the shoulder is complex, a painful surgery, and a very long recovery.  According to my MRI, it’s likely that I would need to anchor into the bone and that requires 9 months to 1 year recovery time. During surgery, it turns out that I tore my shoulder in all the right places (rotator cuff & labrum) and I didn’t need an anchor, which reduces recovery time by half.  Yippie!  Now, only 4 – 6 months recovery.

Within 10 days, I had full range of motion in my arms.  I think this normally happens in 6 – 8 weeks.  I hiked the day after surgery.  I didn’t feel any pain and didn’t have to take pain killers.  I swam & ran lightly after 2 weeks.  The doctor said 4 months is considered extremely quick recovery but I think you’ll be able to play in January.  Wahoo, beach volleyball, here I come!!

I want to thank my grandma and aunts for raising me in a household where cooking is a way of life, a pleasure to savor, and sometimes even an art.  They taught me without words (only modeling) that cooking is not an option.  No matter how tired or busy you are, you make balanced food from scratch daily.  Plus, every night, everyone busily packed their lunch for the next day.  In our house, we literally use food as medicine.  There are certain things we cook to heal specific aliments. 

Use the power of food to prevent illness and suffering but also enjoy it fully.  Once you’ve taken care of your body, it just keeps supporting you through life.  Thank you all who have influenced me, and I will continue to do the same for my daughter (and anyone else who will listen).  I am grateful!

Changing old habits isn’t easy. If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Health Coach, San Diego, CA