September 2017 - Studio ME Fitness

September 2017

Nutrition Labels

How to Read the New Nutrition Facts Tables


The Nutrition Facts table is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s often found close to the ingredient listing.


The purpose of it is to help consumers make better nutrition decisions. When people can see the number of calories, carbs, sodium, etc. in food, they should be able to eat better, right?


Whether you like the Nutrition Facts table or not, let’s make sure you get the most out of it, since it’s here to stay!


Here’s my four-step crash course on reading the Nutrition Facts table.


Step 1: Serving Size


The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Manufacturers often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. So, it’s tricky.


All the information in the table rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s often difficult to compare two products.


Let’s use an example – plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco.

As you can see, right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30 g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.


FUN EXPERIMENT: Try using a measuring cup to see exactly how much of a certain food equals one serving. You may be surprised at how small it is (imagine a ¼ cup of walnuts).


Step 2: % Daily Value


The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally, you will get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.


NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.


The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule.


You don’t need to add all of your %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.


NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient. The good news is that the new Nutrition Facts tables will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.


Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)


Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.


Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).


Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).


Carbohydrate, like fat, is bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber.


Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.


Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)


The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. The new labels will list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.


Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition Facts table (this is optional). And you’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.




I hope this crash course in the Nutrition Facts table was helpful. While you can take it or leave it when it comes to making food decisions, it’s here to stay. And it will change slightly over the next few years.


Do you have questions about it? Have you seen the new labels with a %DV for sugar? If so, leave me a comment below.


Recipe (walnuts): Delicious and Super-Easy Walnut Snack


Serves 1


8 walnut halves

4 dates, pitted




Make a “date sandwich” by squeezing each date between two walnut halves.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: Try with pecans instead.



September Spotlight

I am super excited about this months spotlight. This lady has really kicked some a$$ and taken names in the process these past few months!

Back in July Jackie came to frustrated with where she was and like most had plateaued and couldn’t get out of her rut. I had her keep a food log which we then sat down and reviewed. This was the first step in breaking through that plateau. She cleaned up her eating habits and started being more active which included lots of walking and taking a specific load of classes at Studio ME.  We planned on Jackie starting in on the MEfit Bootcamp in August but we had time to fill so, based on her goals, we planned out her workout routine.  Within the first two weeks of healthy eating (included Origin Meals) we saw some pretty amazing results. She was already down 9.4lbs and had lost 3″ on her waist. This is crazy results for just two weeks. Goes to show how those 2-3 lattes/day really add up!  August 17th rolled around and MEfit bootcamp began. Throughout the 8 weeks Jackie increased her lean muscle mass, has lost 18lbs and 4% body fat, dropped another inch on her waist and 2″ on her hips, and an inch around her arms and thigh and 3″ around her chest. HOLY MOLY! This girl is on fire. She has done all of this without dieting or following some of those stupid (sorry personal feelings here) diet trends where you restrict yourself or starve yourself- all she has done is eat better and more balanced meals with the appropriate macronutrient (protein, carbs, and healthy fats) breakdown and move her body daily!

What I am most proud of Jackie for is the strength to share her story. She has nearly destroyed all pictures of her from the past and has agreed to allow us to help her share her story and tell everyone that it is possible, yes, it is hard, yes, you will be a roller coaster ride and, yes, it is a lifestyle change but it is worth it! fI have seen Jackie’s confidence sky rocket over the past few months and you can totally see it in the recent pictures (make sure to read the entire story to see the pictures).


Are you ready to read her story??? Make sure to read to the end to see her AMAZING transformational pictures!


“I was an athlete and very active growing up playing volleyball, softball, track and basketball. Unfortunately, after leaving high school, I ended up living an unhealthy and sedentary life for most of my twenties.

In January of 2012, I made the official decision to overhaul my life and began down a wellness journey.  I didn’t know where I would end up, but over the course of the next two years, I lost 148 pounds through various nutrition and exercise “experiments.”  I have yet to read a nutrition theory I don’t love or want to test out.  You name it; I’ve tried it, sometimes successfully.  I’ve counted points and carbs, cut out processed foods; avoided anything white, quit dairy, drank kale, did a few whole30s, committed hardcore to living like our prehistoric ancestors with the paleo diet.  I tried ketogenics, juice cleanses, supplements, intermittent fasting; became a vegetarian then vegan for a hot second, and even believed for a while “food pairing” was the answer to all of my problems!

I disagree with the common saying that diets don’t work.  Every theory I’ve tested out works.  However, where they fail is in thinking that you’re going to be able to live the rest of your life worrying about the carb count of cruciferous vegetables or if the banana you ate for breakfast had too much sugar.  In 2014, I was eating a very strict diet and decided I wanted to take my fitness routine to a new level and began a short stint with Crossfit.  I barely lost a pound in the eight months I did it, but my body composition changed dramatically and I got to the fittest I had been since high school.

However, as it will- life happened; and in August of 2014, I hit a bump in the road with my health that knocked me off my center.  I had to put my fitness goals on the back burner and hit a plateau with my weight loss which caused my weight to fluctuate for almost two years.  If there’s a Wikipedia page anywhere with common weight-loss terms listed, I can guarantee you to find a picture of me listed next to the phrase “yo-yo” dieting.

About a year ago, I began looking for a new gym close to me in NE, and Studio ME came highly recommended by my friends Tram Nguyen and Molly Strong.  I was looking for a gym that allowed me to commit to an active lifestyle, but with a more laid-back, maintainable approach to fitness.  Studio ME seemed to embody that and I found with the smaller class sizes it was impossible to get lost in the crowd.  The atmosphere is the opposite of intimidating, and all the members go out of their way to make you feel welcome.  I started out slow as a member with a busy work schedule and was still trying to find my footing back to making a commitment to an active lifestyle.

In May of this past year, I felt like I was hitting another brick wall with my health.  From everything I had learned about nutrition, and my years of multiple dieting personalities, my metabolism and body were left confused more than anything.  Megan, the owner at Studio ME is very passionate about helping her clients achieve their goals so I reached out to her to see if she could give any insight into what I was doing wrong with my current nutrition plan.  Megan immediately agreed to meet with me, but only after I kept a food journal for a week.  I had told her, “I eat pretty clean, mostly a modified paleo diet and have no idea what the issue is!”  Writing everything down and having Megan review it forced me to be honest with myself and allowed her to give me solid advice in areas I could improve.  She broke down a simple, healthy way to approach meals and showed me how to allow it to fit in with my lifestyle and not have it be an obsession.  Sitting down with Megan also reminded me of some things I knew but had forgotten.  It’s completely true when they say that weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, and that you can never out work an unhealthy diet.  One of my all-time favorite sayings still is, “you can get fit in the gym- but you get thin in the kitchen.”

During my sit down with Megan, she also recommended a breakdown of cardio, HIIT, and strength training classes I should attend to reach my goals.  Afterwards, I decided to join the eight-week, 3 day-a-week; Bootcamp the Studio offers.  This is what I find so great about Studio ME, despite its small size, it has a wide range of offerings.  I can come in for the 5:45 AM Bootcamp classes and get the intensity I crave.  The Row & Roll class with Siri is one of my favorites as well.  You start out with a hard-core row but end with a yoga routine that allows you to walk out with a yoga buzz forgetting your name.  Samantha’s well thought-out, unique fusion circuit classes always keep you guessing and are equal parts fun.  I have never left one of Liz’s Barre classes without angrily shaking at some point.  Tiffany, the instructor whose workouts I love to hate, leads my favorite class- Strength Circuit, which allows me to get the heavy weightlifting I miss from my Crossfit days.  Megan’s TRX classes feel like a strenuous acrobatic dance of some sorts, where you can’t help but catch on to her spunk and passion for what she does.

I’ve learned very personally through my journey that without our health we have nothing.  My approach to my health today is different than it’s ever been before.  I’m no longer after the 10, the 21-day or the “6 Weeks to a Perfect You” fix.  I’m doing the best to make healthy lifestyle choices one day at a time, and my health goals are no longer solely to have the perfect body, but instead to find overall wellness of body, mind and spirit.  I’m listening to my body more and find although it can be difficult to get into the habit of an exercise routine– once you do, the more you move, the more movement your body craves.

I am loving my life, where I am right now and I feel incredible with how much energy I have.  But, with my personality, I will always have some lofty fitness goals in mind for the future.  Studio ME is the perfect place for me to continue to pursue these goals, and if I’ve learned anything over these last 6 years, it’s that you can make your body (and life) look any way you want it to — if you’re willing to work for it.

– Jackie”





How to Improve Gut Health


And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.


There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis”). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.


So, let’s talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I’ll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.


Our gut’s role in our overall health


Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.


This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.


For one thing, our guts can “leak.” Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.


FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.


A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.


The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.


So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!


How to improve gut health


There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.


You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.


By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.


The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.


Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.


And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.




The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.


The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.


Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots


Serves 12


1 L warm water
4 tsp salt
4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced

1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)




Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.


Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.

Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don’t float (you can use a “fermenting weight”).


Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.



Coffee…who should drink it and who should avoid it?

Coffee – Who can drink it and who should avoid it?

Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).


Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!


There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.


NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.


Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.


Caffeine metabolism


Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.


About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.


This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!


The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body


NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.


The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.


Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):

  • Stimulates the brain
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Boosts energy and exercise performance
  • Increases your stress hormone cortisol
  • Dehydrates


So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.


Coffee and health risks


There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.


Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

  • Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
  • Increased sleep disruption
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson’s
  • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of certain liver diseases
  • Lower risk of death (all cause mortality”)
  • Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease


Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).


NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.


Should you drink coffee or not?


There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.


Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

  • People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
  • People who often feel anxious
  • People who have trouble sleeping
  • People who are pregnant
  • Children and
  • teens


If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

  • Give you the jitters?
  • Increase anxious feelings?
  • Affect your sleep?
  • Give you heart palpitations?
  • Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
  • Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?


Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.


Recipe (Latte): Pumpkin Spice Latte


Serves 1


3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree

½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)




Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.