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Mental Shift for Successful Diet & Weight Loss

November 15, 2019

My clients who lose weight and maintain it understand the mental shift and recognize how much easier it is, almost effortless.  They chuckle about decades of dieting, feeling so frustrated and defeated while reporting that "this way is so easy and natural." 

This might sound crazy to you but I hear it all the time.  In order to maintain weight loss, we have to live a healthy lifestyle which means we cannot go on a diet.  Dieting works, but it is short term and the consequences are detrimental such as slowing down metabolism, creating eating disorders, and deteriorating self-esteem. 

If you want a healthy lifestyle, you have to change your relationship with food.  First, it has to be enjoyable.  If your actions are not enjoyable, you will quit.  Eat things that tastes good, exercises that feel good, etc.  Don't just push your body.  Find self-compassion, self-love. 

You have to also change your mindset.  Learn to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset.  This means that you stop believing you are the problem, that you cannot lose weight, that you are innately a certain way.  Instead, you can overcome obstacles with perseverance, baby step changes, and acknowledging that setbacks are OK.  It's a part of growing.  What can you do differently next time?  What factors need to change? You are flexible, not rigid.   (Recommendation on the side:  read "Mindset - The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck.)

Awareness is also important.  Be aware of your mental state.  If you're tired, cranky, and hungry before a meal, convenience always wins.  How do you set up your day and your environment so that you want to choose to shop, prep, and cook that healthy meal that will make you want to repeat this?  And repeating over time, with joy, becomes a habit.

So stop torturing yourself.  Stop the daily dieting struggle of counting calories.  Stop dieting!  Please, find the joy in life, find the habits you will sustain.  Your life is waiting for you to thrive (not sit back in defeat).  If you would like support, call me.  

 
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, exercise, cravings, emotional eating 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 & Holisitc Health Coach, San Diego, CA

Diet for Work Burnout

November 1, 2019

Do you feel drained, unfocused, irritable or experience frequent stomachaches, headaches, or bowel issues? Are you burned out at work?  This can leave one depleted and physically/mentally exhausted.  Let's break this cycle!  Put yourself on this diet to bring back vitality and energy into your life.  You'll notice that at Happy Food, "diet" is all aspects of our lives because they are all integrated and affect one another.  We have to address the whole person.

  1. Boundaries.  This is a leading problem in my office - lack of boundaries.  Learn to say "no" and be realistic about what you can actually accomplish.  Being an overachiever without boundaries will leave you sick and under-performing.
  2. Sleep.  This is another major issue I see.  Americans don't get enough sleep.  Have a sleep hygiene routine that is consistent regardless if it's a weekend or weekday.  Get at least 7 - 8 hours.
  3. Move.  I can't go one day without some sort of exercise even if it's quick and simple.  This is an easy way to release stress, balance hormones.  Make time for movement daily even if it's just 15 - 20 minutes of brisk walk.
  4. Goodbye phone.  I guess most of us can't put our phones/computers away for too long but at least turn off all those notifications.  The screen light lowers our melatonin levels, putting our deep sleep in jeopardy.
  5. Veggies.  I tell my 4 year old that vegetables give her super powers.  Well, they do.  They give us lots of energy, vitamins, antioxidants, and regulates our bowels.  Eat up!
  6. Meditate/Yoga/Passion.  Find peace, calm, and recharge however you do it.  Some do it by changing a career and seeking their passion.  Others change their perspective and make meditation or yoga their spiritual release.  Find your way to relax and recharge.
  7. Vacation & Connection.  I can't believe the average American gets less than 2 weeks of vacation and many don't even use that.  We need to reset, turn on our parasympathetic system so that we can properly relax and digest.  All the great food and exercise won't do you any good if you're a big ball of stress.  And don't just wait for vacation to reset either.  Make plans with people, find time for fun and play.  What does living really mean to you? 
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, exercise, cravings, emotional eating 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

Holiday Weight Loss: 3 Mistakes

October 15, 2019


I was in the store the other day and saw Christmas decorations.  It's barely October!  It comes earlier every year but it reminds me that it might not be a bad idea to start helping people prep for the holidays where we won't gain weight but maybe even lose weight.  Let's make that shift now before it's too late.   Halloween parties are around the corner.

I want to help you get away from those self-sabotaging behaviors.  If you've ever used willpower or commitment as your diet plan, you've already lost.  You have set yourself up for deprivation and you feel like you're suffering.  Your body does not like to suffer so it's a consistent tug-of-war in the brain.  You inevitably break down, break your resistance to "bad" food, and plummet your self-esteem in the process.   Feeling self-defeated, you focus even harder on your New Year's resolution to resume this vicious cycle of yo-yo diets. I

If you do this then you associate deprivation and misery with what it takes to loss weight.  This has not, will not, and does not work.  It will come back to bite you and you'll gain the weight all back plus more.  Misery is NOT the answer to a healthy lifestyle.  Let's start by making some minor changes and follow up with me for deeper lifestyle transformation.

  • Starving before a holiday party.  Why do we automatically assume that holiday parties equal pigging out?  Maybe it's because we impose guilt, anticipate our actions to over-eat, starve ourselves in anticipation, then play out what we envisioned since we are starving before a huge display of fatty and sweet foods.  The holidays are about food and people and joy.  Don't make it about misery and torture.  If you're eating a well-balanced meal throughout the day, you won't pig out, and your metabolism won't slow down due to starvation. Don't robe yourself of joy.  Make joy the focus this holiday (and every day).
  • Stress.  So many people say the holidays are stressful.  Why?  Isn't it about joy, fun?  Why does the party have to be perfect, why so many gifts, why do all the things you hate?  The problem with stress is the body responds by excreting cortisol hormone.  So even if you eat right and exercise, cortisol prompts your body to store fat, especially belly fat.  This year, shop a little less and engage a little more with those you enjoy.
  • Relaxing.  Yes, relaxing is so important to release stress and improve metabolism but many people interpret this as laying around all day.  This makes us more tired because calcium builds up in our blood stream instead of our bones, and this makes us feel lethargic.  How many times have you sat around watching TV all day and eating just to find that you are exhausted.  This holiday, go out and plan lots of fun things.  Do the things you love and move your body.  You'll find that you will brighten up with so much more energy, efficient metabolism, and a healthier lifestyle that you CAN sustain because it's actually fun and not torture.
To be healthy forever and to lose weight, we have to change the way we associate with food.  Food is good.  Play is good.  Loving your body is good.  No more misery, deprivation, and self-control.  NO more dieting, please.  Don't forget to get support.  You don't need to do everything alone.  Get support from friends, family, community, or a professional.
 
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, 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

Overcome Weight Loss Plateau

October 1, 2019

I see lots of people who reach a weight loss plateau and become very frustrated, defeated.  Everyone's bodies are different and we really need to honor our body.  Pushing it too much can backfire.  Our dieting world imposes lots of guilt, shame, and judgment. This only leads to weight gain since negative emotions often result in emotional eating and the body slows down metabolism when we feel more stressed.
 
It's typical that the first few weeks, we see rapid weight loss.  As we consume fewer calories, the body gets energy from glycogen, a type of carbohydrate.  Glycogen is part water so our weight loss is mostly water loss.  As you lose more weight, you start to loss muscle too, along with fat.  Muscles help keep the rate of metabolism up.  Unfortunately, this means that as you lose weight (and lose muscle), your metabolism declines burning fewer calories than when you were heavier.  This is why we reach a plateau.
 
To lose more weight, we need to increase our physical activity or decrease calories consumed but be careful not to go too low.  We don't want to freak the body out and prompt it to store fat because we are eating too little.  Always be kind to your body by providing love and patience.  Here are a few tips to overcome weight loss plateaus:
  • Assess habits:  Yo-yo dieting contributes to plateaus.  Make sure you do things that allows you to be consistent, not all-or-nothing.  Are you underestimating how much you eat, overestimating how healthy you eat, and overestimating how much you exercise?  Add lots of vegetables, complex carbs, and minimal processed foods.
  • Check workout:  Start with baby steps but we really need to move daily.  30 minutes or more would be ideal.  Don't forget to build muscle as that helps with chomping up fat.
  • More action:  Increase activity throughout the day, not just when you're at the gym.  Walk more, drive less.  More stairs, less elevator.  Clean your house vigorously, do yard work, dance around, pace while on the phone, play, etc.
  • Enjoy your body here and now.  When you're calm about weight loss, provide the body what it needs, then all becomes easy.  This is said by so many of my clients who feel like they "just don't even try anymore, it's easy."
Whatever you do, don't give up and have "the hell with it" attitude.  Minor weight loss improves chronic health issues.  Make sure your weight loss goals are realistic and please celebrate.
 
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, 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

How to Grow Muscle for Weight Loss

September 15, 2019

Why are muscles important for weight loss? Muscles at rest require calories while fat cells at rest do not. So the greater your lean body mass, the more calories you will burn all day long not just when you're working out and including in your sleep. More muscle mass equates to high metabolism.

For weight loss, you absolutely need cardio. But cardio plus weight training will provide real results. Here's the mechanics of muscle building. We have over 600 muscles which translate to 1/3 - 1/2 of our body weight. They bind us together, hold us up, and help us move. Muscles when stressed lead to microscopic tears, which releases cytokines to repair the injury. This activates the immune system and builds muscles. Once this damage and repair happens, we build stronger and bigger muscles.

In order for this to all happen, we also need proper nutrition and adequate sleep because repair happens when we are sleeping. Gender and age plays a role too. That's why young men with higher testosterone have an advantage.

We want to do strength training of different body parts throughout the week or at least 2 - 3 times per week. Don't forget to include rest days so that the body can heal. If you're not a fan of weights, try HIIT (high intensity interval training), swimming, surfing, yoga, pilates, or calisthenic workouts (use of just body weight). The more muscle groups you use at once, the better the results which is why calisthenic workouts are so effective.

The take home lesson here is tear muscles, rest, eat right in order to build muscles, which lead to higher metabolism, which leads to weight loss. Please do NOT go on a restrictive diet. That only leads to binging later and potentially inadequate nutrition.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, 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

How to Eat Healthy at Restaurants

September 1, 2019

I definitely enjoy eating out.  It's fun!!  I love the social aspect, the experience, and eating flavors I don't know how to cook.  I enjoy cooking but I'm no culinary expert.  I don't, however, eat out because I didn't go grocery shopping and have no food at home, or I don't want to cook.  These are mental traps that might get us stuck in unhealthy eating because we eat out a lot.  Here are some tips for eating out healthy.  I hope it helps.
  1. Loosen up.  This is my number one rule.  If you're going out, have fun and enjoy it.  If your diet is mostly home-cooked, then you'll leave the guilt behind.  Plus physiologically, guilt packs on more weight.  It's not what we do once in a while that makes us fat and sick.  It's what eat all the time.  Focus on doing "right" at home, and loosen up when you're out.
  2. Scan menu.  Certain words are clear red flags such as crispy, breaded, fried, cream, alfredo, etc.  For better nutrition, look for grilled, steamed, baked, roasted, braised, broiled, seared, etc.
  3. Share.  My husband and I normally share an entree and a salad.  That feels like the best of both worlds to me because frankly, restaurant salads feel like a rip off.  It's a big mound of lettuce.  I make way better salads at home and I don't want to order salads all the time when I go out. Another idea for restaurants that serve gigantic portions is you can share one entree with an extra side of veggies, and save money.  Bonus!
  4. Ask questions.  I like asking about portion size.  Also, ask how it's prepared or if there's a sauce.  Sometimes, the wording isn't very clear.  It helps to know what to order and expect.
  5. Substitute.  See if you can substitute the fries or chips for a salad or double the vegetables on the plate.
  6. Dressing on the side.  Always order dressing on the salad.  They often drown salads in dressing.  Make sure there's not a bunch of unhealthy, processed ingredients in your salad too.
  7. Don't go hungry.  Don't ever show up to a restaurant starving.  If you're like me, I'd order too much and overeat.  If you're starving, grab a whole food snack (one ingredient snack).
  8. Drink lots of water at the table.
  9. Include exercise in your day.
  10. Balance.  If you're stuck eating a few meals out in one day, make sure they aren't all heavy, large meals.  Listen to your belly.
  11. Slow down.  Eat slow and you'll eat less.
  12. Order off the menu.  Feel free to create a healthy meal of grilled protein and steamed veggies or salad.
  13. Box early.  If you get something huge, cut it in half and ask for a box right away.  I love left overs!
The take home message is - do great at home and simply enjoy when you're out.  Don't sweat it but do keep it to real food with minimal processing.
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, 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

Are Cell Phones Robbing Us of Joy?

August 15, 2019

I was at Rite Aid the other day picking up a prescription and I had to sign something so I was busy reading while the cashier asked me "How's your day?" Since I wasn't paying attention, I asked him to repeat himself. When he did, I said "you threw me off with your kindness" with a smirk. I heard laughter in the backyard.

How often do we just cruise through life not even making eye contact with people or exchanging a few words? For example, what do you do when you enter an elevator? Do you look at your shoes, pull out your cell, make brief eye contact, or strike up brief chitchat? If you tend to pull out your phone, studies show that we are short changing ourselves from happiness. It turns out that even brief moments, as simple as eye contact, adds to greater well being and happiness since we are social creatures after all.

Even just a brief eye contact increases one's feeling of inclusion and belonging. Start with people you have to interact with anyways like the cashier or the barista. Research shows that high frequency of positive events, even as small as eye contact (with or without a smile), helps us feel included, decreases loneliness, and increases happiness. It is fear that the other person won't enjoy talking with us that holds most people back (even if they think they prefer solitude like just reading their book). Once we start conversation, people feel less awkward and it's more enjoyable than most people expect.

Next time you're next to a stranger, acknowledge their presence and even say "hello." Put your phone away. This might put a smile on your face and theirs. More small moments of joy adds up. And in my office, more joy leads to less emotional eating and therefore, more weight loss. Social creatures need to feel less lonely. So put that phone away and interact. You'll feel the difference.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, 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

Health Tips for Summer Grilling

August 1, 2019

I love grilled food.  They often taste so much better.  And wouldn't you agree that eating outside just makes food taste yummier?  Here are some health tips and ideas for your summer grilling and picnics. 

Reducing cancer.  Fats from meat that drips into flame produces more smoke and carcinogens.  Reduce this exposure with these ideas:

  • Avoid breathing in smoke.
  • Avoid charring meat and trim them off so you don't eat them.
  • Grill fish or poultry with the fat trimmed.  Try veggie burgers and grilling vegetables too.
  • Reduce grill time by cutting meats into smaller chunks.
  • Wrap meat in foil.  This speeds up the cooking time and protects it from smoking.
  • Use marinades.  This reduces carcinogens because of the acid in the lemon, lime, and vinegar.  Plus, herbs such as rosemary, garlic, thyme, etc. have antioxidant properties to prevent cancer.

Healthier options.  High intake of red meat especially processed meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs, salami are linked to higher risks of death such as colorectal and stomach cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.  Try adding more plants like:

  • Veggie kabobs using zucchini, summer squash, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms and pair them with salsa, hummus, baba ganoush, pesto. 
  • Fruit.  Cut up peaches, mangoes, melons, berries, pineapples, figs, etc.  Some of these tastes so good grilled too.
  • Add plant-based proteins such as beans, seeds, tofu, tempeh to salads or grain dishes. 
  • Roasted crunchy chickpeas as snacks

Add herbs and spices.  Not only do they make our food taste better but they have beneficial chemicals called polyphenols and also have antimicrobial properties.  Garlic, onions, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, tarragon, rosemary, cloves prevent growth and even kill some bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, and streptococcus. 

Hydrate.  Don't forget to hydrate but make it naturally sugar-free by infusing water with cucumber, lemon, lime, oranges, mint, etc.  Drop the soda and sugary drinks.

Minimize wastes.  This planet is our home and we need to all do better with reducing wastes.  Reduce single-use items, use metal skewers, use real plates/utensils/cups, and bring an extra trash bag for recycling.

Happy summer to you and enjoy your food!  

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, 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

Things That Kept Me Alive May Help You Succeed

July 15, 2019

Joy & Peace

This is a difficult blog for me to share but if I can help one person, then it was worth it. I believe these tips apply to all of us no matter where we're at.

I spent all of my childhood and most of my adulthood in depression. Things happened in my family due to circumstances that left me apart from my parents and sisters since I was 9 months old (according to my grandma). Because no one explained it to me, like most small children, I blamed myself. I thoroughly convinced myself that if my mom left me, then I must be a horrible person and absolutely unlovable. If she gave me away, how can I expect love from others. This made me extremely shy and afraid to seek friendships. I was suicidal, alone, and scared. If I was past down from mom to aunt to grandma, then I better show up perfect so grandma wouldn't leave me too. I wished someone took the time to tell me I'm loved. I'm here to tell you that you're lovable, you're worthwhile, and you're enough.

You have a right to how you feel so validate that and let go of judgment and comparisons. Whatever your goals and obstacles, know that you are worth the effort. Our past shapes us and makes us even more powerful and empowered if we allow it. Whether you abuse your body with food or other things, this is your time to flip the switch and love yourself.

I'm still dealing with some of what feels like permanent wounds. I know my mom never intends to hurt me, but she unknowingly continues to hurt me to this day. Because I can't change other people, I have set out to work on myself. It took decades and sometimes it feels like I work every minute of my life to feel "normal." It's exhausting! I promise you it's worth it though. Looking back, these are the things that kept me alive. I'd be lying if any of this was intentional at the time. I was definitely fumbling and just got lucky that these things actually helped me be the happy person I am today. Maybe there's something to be said about our intuition to thrive. Let's also get real. I, like everyone else, am still work in progress. I hope that my sharing will make your journey much shorter than mine and your efforts WILL pay off.

  1. Connection.  I didn't think I'd be alive for very long so I had nothing to lose.  After traveling alone to 30 countries, working to sustain my shoestring travels and staying in shady places, I met amazing people who accepted me.  It never occurred to me that strangers can love me.  I made so many cool connections.  This was the beginning of gaining a glimpse of self-confidence and self-worth.  They had no idea they saved me, so smile at the next person that crosses your path.  You have no idea your impact on them.  Today, I have very close friends who I call family and they continue to be my foundation.  Find your tribe. 
  2. Trees.  As I picked up my backpack to roam earth alone, I sought out the woods.  My main activity in every country was and still is hiking.  I guess I did myself a favor without knowing it.  The latest Harvard study indicates that walking in the woods (not the city) helps with mental illness and can even prevent it.
  3. Breathe/Move.  I'm a terrible breather especially when I feel depressed or anxious.  Good thing I've always gravitated towards exercise.  You can't help but breathe deeply when you're running, swimming, playing sports.  Beach volleyball is something I've grown to call therapy.  Find your therapy that is fun!  Although I'm an advocate of meditation, I can't seem to sit still.  I do use yoga often.  Find YOUR breath; YOUR movement. 
  4. Gratitude.  I spent decades under dark clouds (since the 4th grade).  It took so much work to rewire my mind to focus on the positive.  Each time I'd crumble and fall to pieces, I tried to find some gratitude.  Depression is serious, and I know how hard it is.  Changing how I wake up in the morning was my main focus.  It starts with gratitude and a smile even if I have to fake it that day.
  5. De-clutter.  There was a time that I moved every 9 months so it didn't allow me to accumulate or own very much.  Plus, I was extremely poor.  Get rid of what you don't need.  Less is more.  A de-cluttered life is a healthier, happier life.
  6. Purpose.  Do something you feel proud about.  I worked with wild animals (they made more sense to me than people at the time), joined the Peace Corps, and presently doing work to help others be healthier and happier.  We are all different.  Take the  time to focus on others but treat yourself with compassion.  The words I'd use to myself would send me straight to prison.  Can you be nice to yourself? Talk to yourself like how you would talk to a friend. 

I've come a long way and I have lots of people I owe my success to.  I still focus on the 6 points above with more intention now.  Additionally, I'm learning to connect with my body and what that blob inside is trying to tell me.  I'm also learning to be a mom and that has been so healing to have a second chance at a loving mother-daughter relationship.  Lastly, I'm working on rewriting my story and checking in when my brain freaks out.  How can you rewrite the stories you tell yourself?  

Let me know if this helped and share your journey with me if you're comfortable.  I wish you a fruitful journey full of smiles even on bad days.  Those are the most important days to find something to smile about. 

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, 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.