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This is the 2nd part of a three part series.  Part 1 was “Baby Steps To Being A Lean, Mean, Optimum Nutrition Machine (Part 1 of 3)”  (It’s no coincidence that I repeat “baby steps” over and over again…)

I still drink hot chocolate every day (you’ll see this come up in my post!), work out just twice a week, am almost 40 years old, but am leaner than I was in college or at any time other than when I was doing Ironman training (at about 10% body fat now)…what’s the deal?  Better and better nutrition habits, made over the years step by step.

For 20 years, I’ve been committed to slowly and surely improving my nutrition & health habits in baby steps.   When I hear about things I’ve mentioned in the past here, like Optimum Health Institute (raw food, wheatgrass ‘n’ enemas, oh my) or the “15-Day Reboot Fruit & Veggie Cleanse”, I’ll often try ‘em out to see what works for me, and what doesn’t.

Why Am I Committed?

What’s interesting too is my motivation for better nutrition.  Originally (in my teens) the purpose was looking good.  In my 30’s, it shifted and it is primarily about feeling good.

You improve your health (or make any lasting changes in any area of your life) not by bouncing from diet to diet, system to system, or making sudden huge changes in eating: you do it baby step by baby step, over time, improving and improving.  And after your setbacks – whether it’s for a moment, week or year – you don’t give up, but come back to what works for you.

Hey, it’s exactly like discovering and living your Unique Genius!

Lifetime Nutrition Changes

Here are the most notable highlights of how I’ve practiced this in life, so that you can see I make changes step by step, over time, that accumulate:

  • High school:  Having few friends and zero dates, this became the original reason I started caring about nutrition – looks.  I started lifting weights and reducing the fat in my diet (back then, “low fat” was the health craze, even though now we know “low fat” doesn’t mean jack in improving your health).
  • College: I stopped drinking soft drinks – one of the most destructive substances you can drink. For example, it’s a leading cause of osteoporosis – which even kids are getting now!
  • End of college: I stopped eating cereal (I learned all commercial cereal is treated like the body as almost pure sugar)
  • Through my mid & late 20’s:  Beyond developing a taste and habit for spinach salads, I don’t remember which changes I made, but I remember I often had coffee (with a bunch of artificial sweetener) and a pastry for breakfast.  Yuck!  I worked a lot during this time, which was a higher priority to me than health.
  • I start drinking 8-10 glasses of water most days. Soda, coffee or alcoholic drinks do not count as water.
  • Early 30’s: I got married and divorced.  This was a lesson in “As your partner goes, so you go: if your partner eats like crap, you’re going to eat like crap.”  In other words, I ate like crap quite a bit during this time.

A Big Shift at 35 Years Old

  • A doctor did some allergy tests, and told me I was allergic to wheat, soy, dairy, eggs.  My first reaction at first what??!  Those are in EVERYTHING!  My second reaction was gratitude: now I have to give up more junk food.
  • The doctor advised I give up alcohol  & coffee (I substituted coffee for hot tea).   Alcohol is a poison in your body.  I realized as a drank less, how – at least at age 35 – the next day, even after one drink, I felt ‘mushy’.  If you’re wondering more about how and why I gave up alcohol, leave a question in the comments.
  • Around that time, in giving up coffee, I also stopped all artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Nutraseet and Sweet N Low (all toxic) and went back to normal sugar, honey or stevia.  Ironically, as unhealthy sugar is, it’s better than that stuff.
  • I also began meditating irregularly.  It took a couple of years to get to a regular daily practice.

Age 36:

  • I started eating regularly at vegan restaurants (like Real Food Daily & Planet Raw)
  • I started making “The Ultimate Meal” for breakfast almost every day, which is some green powder, almond butter and water, mixed up in a Magic Bullet blender.
  • Because I was off the wheat and dairy, I ate very few desserts.  After a few weeks, I lost any cravings for them.

Age 37:

  • I switched from “The Ultimate Meal” to making my own “green smoothie” almost every day for breakfast, which means mixing up some fruit, superfoods and greens (like spinach or kale) into it.  They can be gross or very yummy depending on what you do.
  • I started eating eggs & drinking milk again, in moderation (this year, I picked up a new hot chocolate addiction, and had one almost every day).  I find that I can drink milk fine, but eggs just don’t sit well in my stomach, so I’ve backed off of them.
  • I’m staying away forever from wheat and soy.  Every 3-6 months I would break down and have a piece of bread or a donut, and it doesn’t kill me 🙂  But my face does turn a bit red.

Age 38:

  • My main sweetener now: “Truvia” (a mix of birch sugar and stevia) or raw honey
  • My partner Jessica’s a vegetarian, so I naturally began eating less meat (and didn’t miss it).
  • I started eating regularly at raw restaurants, like Leaf Organics near Venice and Planet Raw in Santa Monica.
  • I attend some raw “uncooking” classes and learned more about the benefit of raw food, and the hazards of meat and animal-based foods.
  • I’m shopping almost exclusively at Whole Foods Market and local farmers markets.
  • By the way – I still eat and plan on eating cooked foods, I’m just making sure I do eat plenty of raw & living foods.
  • November 2010: I attend Optimum Health Institute (As described in part 1 of this series, “Baby Steps To Being A Lean, Mean, Optimum Nutrition Machine”)


I Ain’t No Saint

I love hot chocolate (in fact, if you’re ever in Santa Monica, you MUST try Huckleberry’s hot chocolate – it’s like crack cocaine).  I eat junk food, I backslide, I feel guilty.  But I keep making progress, step by step, and don’t give up.  Or at least two steps forward, one step back 🙂

My Simple Take On…


The Bottom Line: Before pesticides, everything was organic – that was conventional!  Somehow we got turned around so that “conventional = sprayed with chemicals” and “organic = unconventional”.   This is simple – you are what you eat.  Chemicals can’t just be washed off, they also get absorbed by plants when they grow.  The more organic food you eat, the less pesticides you take in (which are linked to, it seems, every kind of health problem & cancer you can imagine).

Why I didn’t do it in the past:  Choices of organic food is hard to find in standard American supermarkets like Vons & Albertsons. Some organic foods (like almonds) are a lot more expensive than conventional.

Why I’m going to do more of it in the future: There are more and more choices now at all markets, and Whole Foods especially has lots of options for organic, and it’s not always more expensive.  Also, I’d rather pay more now and save on the pain, cancer and hospital bills later.  The best source: local farmers markets ( and I’ll make them my main source of food when possible.


The Bottom Line: When you cook food above 118 degrees (some say 105 degrees), it destroys a big chunk of the nutrients and enzymes in the food that makes it healthy in the first place.

Why I didn’t do it in the past: I didn’t really appreciate the benefits.  Also, some people advocate eating 100% raw, which feels extreme to me (no moderation).

Why I’m going to do more of it in the future: There are lots of cookbooks out there now on simple and easy ways to eat raw, like Rod Rotundi’s “Raw Food For Real People”.  In 2009 I’m already eating 50-80% raw most days, as I’ve been inching up the past couple of years.  I’m planning on eating 80% raw / 20% cooked food.


The Bottom Line: Too much meat & dairy is bad for your health, causing all kinds of long-term health issues.  ( “The China Project”).  [Update: Celeste below shares a link of a neutral party who questions some of The China Study’s findings: click here for it]

To me, eating meat and dairy is healthy when people are moving from eating soda to milk, or candy bars to turkey – then that is better, it is progress.  But the best is moving from meat and dairy (and all animal-based products) to plants, fruits, nuts and seeds, for at least 80-90% of your diet.  In other words, if you’re going to eat animal-based foods, eat 80% plants and 20% meat/dairy, rather than 80% meat/dairy and 20% plants!

“Bread and cheese” vegetarianism (eating no meat, just junk food) isn’t healthy either – you must eat plants.

Why I didn’t do it in the past: Like most of you, I grew up eating meat & drinking milk.  I was trained at young age that “Milk does a body good”, and that I need lots of protein which I can only get through meat.  It can also be challenging, especially when traveling, to eat mostly vegetarian when I’m also allergic to wheat.

Why I’m going to do more of it in the future:  From everything I’ve learned – both about health and the environment – I feel better and am healthier when I minimize animal-based food.  And yet, I haven’t gotten to the point where I believe that I can or will give them up entirely (yet)…I am only human and I do love my hot chocolate!  The stuff at that frickin’ Huckleberry place really is like crack.

The “Know Thyself” Exception To Everything

Everybody & every body is different, and what works for others may not work for you.  Some people physically need to eat meat.  Some people should never eat meat at all.

You gotta experiment to see what works for you – don’t just blindly follow what someone tells you to do.  (Again, another lesson you can apply to anything in life…)

Stay tuned for the last part, part 3, in which I talk about the emotional connections to food, my lessons learned & suggested next steps for YOU to take.

Think I’m Full Of It?  What Do You Believe?

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In November I spent a week at the Optimum Health Institute (“OHI”) in San Diego, a place with a mission to “serve as a change agent for humankind by improving the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of everyone we touch”, and was inspired to write about it and how I’ve persisted in improving my health practices over my life through baby step after baby step.   This is the first part of a three-part series.

Health and optimism are important to opening up to your Unique Genius – I know it’s been vital to me.  Stress and anxiety block you from finding your purpose and making plenty of money at what fulfills you.

Optimum health is more than food and nutrition, and must include exercise, mind practices (like meditation) and spiritual practices (like finding your purpose).  This series focuses on the nutrition & food parts.

I’ll be sharing about some of the biggest nutrition changes I’ve made that I still practice, and a few of the new tools I picked up at OHI that I’ll add into my routine.  I’ll also about how I ain’t no saint, and still eat junk food and am more apt to criticize myself for not being perfect with food and health than be grateful for all the progress I’ve made over the years.

Back to OHI…I heard about OHI two years ago, after my friend Carl Bressler went and came back RAVING about it, and what it did for him and his health.  I don’t remember specifically what his results were, but I remember how excited he was about the experience and his new perspective on food and health.

The week included a regimen of raw food, classes, exercise, rest, wheatgrass and- yep – colonics/enemas.  Heh!  And they go through and teach you why all of this is important to your health.

This part of the blog post isn’t about recommending OHI as a place to go (go if you want, or not, it’s definitely not for everyone), but I am recommending going outside your comfort zone to try new things and experiences in order to improve your health.

What I Personally Got From My Week At OHI

  1. I was re-energized about my health practices, and reminded how important health is to life, and how much I and others take it for granted…until it starts fading.
  2. The red and dry skin on my face cleared up
  3. My dry scalp went totally away (I believe this is because the shower water there is filtered & dechlorinated here)
  4. I learned a lot about optimum health through mind, body and spirit
  5. I met a bunch of great people
  6. I got to deliver an early version of a new Unique Genius talk: “Authenticity: The Missing Link Between Money And Fulfillment

Example Success Stories

Some people go to OHI because they have life threatening conditions like cancer. (And, by the way, OHI has some amazing stories of people’s bodies healing themselves after getting off junk food and practicing OHI’s teachings).  Others go every few months just to recharge, detox and reconnect with helpful habits.

While I was there, some people in the program shared some stories.  For example, one man (about 70 years old) said that during his stay at OHI:

  1. His blood pressure went down enough that he had to stop taking his medication for it (he had a blood pressure testing cuff with him, and measured it every day)
  2. His eyesight improved – he had bifocals, and had to put them down to read (he still needed them to see farther away)

Another woman told us she’d been coming to OHI 2-3 times per year for 30 years, and that she was 65, and had never had any plastic surgery.   She looked like she was 50 years old!

How Kirsten Schulz Is Beating Stage 4 Cancer

Here’s an extreme example of what optimum health practices can do for someone even with a life-threatening condition.

On the day I left OHI, Kirsten here shared her story of being diagnosed with cancer in February 2010, and was given a few weeks to live.  It’d already spread through several vital organs.  Kirsten didn’t go with chemotherapy or surgery, and instead chose to focus on the kinds of health practices taught at OHI, and spent months living at OHI on their detox program.  Nine months later, her cancer is in retreat.

By the way, my belief is that neither conventional doctors nor alternative practices alone have all the answers.  They can be complimentary rather than competitive, like capitalism and Buddhism.

I mean, when I found out I had skin cancer on my nose, I had the damn stuff cut out by a dermatologist surgeon.  I wasn’t going to try to heal just through nutrition and mental practices.  But that’s me.  And whatever health issue I get in the future, I’ll use a blend of eastern and western practices, rather than avoiding one or the other.

Another personal story: I had an aunt who was devout Christian Science, the “heal only through prayer not through doctors religion”.  Her belief did not change the course of her breast cancer, and she died as expected 🙁    Of course, I have a great-aunt who’s now close to 90 and has never been treated by a doctor in her life, and she’s going strong.  Go figure.

The point?  Don’t follow others’ rigid beliefs!  You need to try different things to find out what blend works for YOU.  You can’t turn off your brain and live unconsciously and expect the happiness and results you want.

(which applies too in finding and living your Unique Genius)

Finally, don’t believe what you hear – such as that “you have ___ months to live” – just because someone (either a doctor or alternative health practitioner) has a degree or certification – those people are PEOPLE and that means they make mistakes and get stuff wrong ALL THE TIME.  Do your own research, get third opinions and focus on the mental belief that you can heal.  Your mindset affects how you heal.

Now here’s Kirsten with her story:

New Practices I Learned At OHI I’m Adopting:

So I learned a TON about health and practices and OHI, and here are the few most important & practical things I’m implementing at home…

  1. “Eat while I eat”: Too often we eat while watching TV, driving, working or rushing around.  When we do this, our bodies and minds don’t really register that we’ve even eaten (and we don’t enjoy it!), leading to more overeating.
  2. Farmers Markets are #1: Shop for food as much as possible at local farmers markets and through Community Supported Agriculture (
  3. Soak & sprout seeds, beans & nuts to greatly increases the nutrients and digestibility of things like seeds and grains. (Sprouting 101)
  4. “Food Combining”: Your body has a lot of trouble digesting some types of food when you eat them at the same time, like protein (meat) and starch (potatoes), causing upset stomach, gas and low energy.  Food Combining means being aware of the types of food you eat in one meal, so they don’t fight it out in your gut. (Food Combining 101)
  5. Not eating close to bedtime: OHI recommended eating at least 2-3 hours before bedtime, so that digesting doesn’t disturb your sleep.  I have a watch that can track how deeply I sleep (, and I found at OHI that I slept MUCH better if I didn’t eat for 2-3 hours before I went to sleep.

This is great stuff!

Progress, Not Perfection

Now that I’ve been home for a few weeks since OHI, I’ve been ok at implementing these – but not perfect.  It takes time to change habits, and I’m doing my best in improving my nutrition AND being kind to myself and not beating myself up when I don’t do these changes perfectly.

In fact, right after I hit “publish” I’m going to go for a long walk and get some ridiculously amazing hot chocolate at a local place here in Santa Monica called Huckleberry 🙂  Hey, I am only human!!

This is about PROGRESS, not PERFECTION – something my clients must be sick of hearing me say since that too is a fundamental lesson in making money through enjoyment through your Unique Genius 🙂

Stay tuned for part 2 –  I’ll review the major nutrition changes I’ve made over my life and share my take on raw vs cook, plants vs meat, and organic vs inorganic.

Do You Have A Story To Share?

Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Related: Posts About A 100% Fruit & Veggie Cleanse I Did:

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