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Portobello Hash Bowls

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees about 10 minutes before video begins.

2. Remove the stems and gills from the Portobellos. The stems can either be pulled orcut off and the gills can easily be scooped out with a spoon. Rinse the mushrooms,gently shake off any excess water, then place them onto a baking pan, hollow side up.Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, then place into the preheated oven. Set atimer and bake for 20-25 minutes.

3. While the mushrooms are baking, start prepping your hash by dicing the potatoesinto very small cubes, about 1/4 of an inch thick. Do this by slicing the potato into 1/4inch circles, then cut them into cubes. There is no need to peel the potatoes, the skinprovides an excellent flavor and texture. After dicing, give them a good rinse to removeany excess starch.

4. The potatoes will take longer to cook, so heat your large saute pan over medium heatand add a teaspoon of oil. Once the pan is hot, add your potatoes and cover with a lid.This will help them cook a little quicker.

5. Next, dice the bell peppers by cutting off the top, close to the stem. Pull out as manyof the seeds as you can and remove the thin white membrane, or pith. Slice the pepperinto 1/4 inch strips, then dice them into 1/4 inch squares. Add them to the potatoes andstir a few times to mix it up. Put the lid back over the pan.

6. To dice the onion, cut off the top and bottom and discard. Cut the onion in half sothat each half has the top and bottom ends. Take one half and slice 4 or 5 times fromtop to bottom, like half onion rings. Turn the onion and slice the other direction,leaving you with evenly diced squares. Add the onion to the pan and stir once again.Put the pan back over the pan.

7. Dice the Tempeh into cubes about the same size as your potatoes. Simply cut theblock into strips, then cubes from there. Remove the lid and add the Tempeh to thepan, increase heat to medium-high. The potatoes should be sufficiently steamed at thispoint, so discard the lid and stir the hash every minute or so.

8. Add 2 teaspoons each of chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder to the hash and stiroccasionally. Cook for 5 more minutes, uncovered.

9. While hash is finishing up, heat a small saute pan, preferably non-stick, overmedium-high heat with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and crack one egg into the pan. Cook theegg to your preference, Make one egg for each bowl.

10. The Portobellos should be finished by now, so put one on each plate and fill themwith your hash. Place an egg on top of each one. Finally, chop a few leaves of freshparsley and sprinkle over the egg as a garnish and enjoy!

Schedule It!

I know a lot of people struggle with fitting in exercise into our day-to-day activities.  It seems almost impossible to carve out an extra 30 minutes to an hour from an already jam-packed day.  As someone who has run almost every day for the past 26 years, I can honestly say it’s not always easy to find the time.  However, through the years, I have learned some tips/tricks to make exercise happen. 

First, schedule it!  Treat exercise like any other appointment on your calendar.  Treat it like your job or your haircut, dentist visit, or kid’s after school play.  You wouldn’t just blow off your job for a week or two at a time randomly, would you?  You wouldn’t just no show your dentist, right?  Exercise is as critical to your health (or more) as getting your hair cut, keeping your teeth clean, or any other regularly scheduled appointment.  The only difference is that it needs to happen a lot more frequently.  Each week, look at your calendar and plan those appointments with yourself.  If you have an erratic schedule, this becomes even more important.  You may decide to just wake up earlier in the morning, because there are no guarantees after 8am.  You may need to put it on the calendar after the kids go to bed or you may need to change it depending on the day.  It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to get done.

Second, no backsies!  After you make the commitment, stick to it.  If I say I’m going to run tomorrow at 6:30a, I will be running tomorrow at 6:30a.  Nothing short of fire raining down from the heavens is going to stop me.  I don’t leave it to my 6:30am self to decide anything…ever.  I know that if I consider not running even a little, my 6:30am self will abandon all hope, pull the covers up and snuggle in.  I have even slept in my running clothes to ensure that I would get that run in.   Some common excuses that go through my brain are the weather (too hot, too cold or really any form of precipitation – even if just predicted, but not actual), feeling too tired, my day is so busy, or I might be getting sick.  I remind myself frequently that I won’t melt in the rain, that the extra 30 minutes of sleep isn’t going to make me bright eyed, and bushy tailed, and that my day will still be busy whether or not I go for this run.  The key is to not think about it.  The only exception I ever make is illness.  I have a rule that if the symptoms are from the neck upwards (headache, stuffy nose, etc.) then I’m going for a run.  If the symptoms are from the shoulders down (body aches, cough, etc.) then I give myself a pass.  It’s rare that I’m sidelined for illness because most of the time, the symptoms are usually in my head – real or imaginary ;).

Lastly, be consistent!  I generally go for a run every day.  My default is to run and if don’t, it’s because we have something on the calendar that makes it reasonable to take a day off.  For example, I may run 10 days in a row, but on the 11th day I’m getting up early to fly to a conference, so I let myself take the day off.  However, it’s planned well in advance.  I know that I’m traveling that day and I have exercised every day that week already.  Every day I plan for exercise regardless of where I am or who I am with (traveling for work, visiting family, on vacation, etc.).  Being consistent is critical to success for a couple of reasons.  First, and probably most importantly, it means you don’t lose ground on your goals.  If you take a few days or a week off randomly here and there, it’s easy to slide backwards.  If you are consistent with exercise every day (even when you don’t want to), at a minimum you will maintain what you have.  Second is that the body loves routine.  You will get stronger, find it easier to lose or maintain your weight, and sleep better at night with daily exercise.  It will become like brushing your teeth – a weird uneasy sensation will wash over you when you accidentally skip a session.  Finally, to quote Simon Sinek: “Consistency is more important than intensity” in achieving our goals.  We all know that the person that works out once in a while, hard core for 45 minutes is not going to achieve nearly as much as the person who works out every day for 20 minutes.  The key to progress is consistency.  It’s not sexy or glamorous and some days, it’s a grind.  However, it’s showing up on those days when you don’t want to, putting in those workouts consistently day after day that make change happen. 

This idea that “consistency is more important than intensity” applies to every part of life and I got to experience this again recently with my German language studies.  As some of you may know, I’m relearning German to speak with my 7-year-old Godson who lives in Germany.  I lived there briefly in college in a study abroad program where I had a semester’s worth of German before I left (to say I was an A1 level learner was a stretch).  The levels are A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 with C2 being a native language speaker.  The girl who was my roommate while I was there became my best friend and we have been best friends ever since.  She spoke Ukrainian, Russian and German at the time (no English), so my German improved rapidly and by the time I left 3 ½ months later, I was a level B1.  Over the next 20 years she learned English (and Polish) and I forgot German. 

When my Godson was 6 and speaking full sentences, I decided it was time to relearn German.  I realized I hadn’t learned anything in 20 years, despite saying I would – so I scheduled classes.  I also paid for these classes, so there was no excuse good enough for me to miss them.  I started in A2 and quickly remembered a lot of what I had forgotten and over the course of 6 months moved back into B1.  However, over the last 6 months the struggle has been real.  I’ve been stuck in B1, despite taking a 1-hour class per day and sometimes 2 hours on the weekends.  I have thought more than once that maybe I will never become fluent and should just give up and get an hour of my day back.  However, I have been reminding myself that if I keep showing up and learning every day consistently, I will get there eventually.  After a rough 6 months, I’ve finally had some breakthroughs.  Akkusative and dative cases are making more sense, my vocabulary is expanding, and B2 is getting closer by the minute.  The key has been and will always be to be consistent, especially when times are tough. 

So, as we go forward, I hope you can use these tips to help motivate and sustain you on your health journey.  It’s not always easy, but being consistent and showing up every day for yourself will get you where you want to go.  Lass uns gehen!

Shipping and Returns

Orders that are placed between Monday and Friday will ship out within two business days, and orders placed over the weekend will ship out by Tuesday. There are exceptions to this based on unforseen circumstances including inventory, personnel and shipping delays.

We strive to keep our costs low so we can pass these savings onto our customers. As a small, locally owned business, shipping costs are by far our most significant expense. We will always try to accommodate returns within 14 days of delivery, but unfortunately do need to charge for return shipping (unless the product was damaged during shipping). Once products are opened we are unable to accept them for return. Items that are damaged in shipping may be returned, but please take pictures of the damaged items so we can make a claim with our shipping service. We will ask for pictures of the damaged product as well as pictures of the damaged shipping box. If your items were damaged in shipping we must be informed within 5 business days of delivery to be able to submit a claim and accept your return. In the event of package theft, we are not liable for replacement. The carrier (UPS, Fedex, USPS, etc) will also not assume liability for the loss. After the package is successfully delivered to your address the carrier and Discreet Reductions are no longer liable for package loss. If your package notes as "delivered" but the package was not delivered to your address, please let us know and we will open a claim with the carrier. At our discretion we may hold on issuing a replacement or refund until the carrier completes their investigation (as if they determine your package was stolen from your property they will not reimburse us for the claim). Thank you for your understanding.

Orders will only ship after payment is processed. Depending on your payment merchant there may be delays in shipping. We utilize Ecwid and Stripe for our payment processing and accept major credit cards as well as cash and check if orders are going to be picked up in person. Payment is due prior to orders being picked up or shipped, and before any services will be rendered. Once a service is rendered (including, but not limited to: New consultations, follow up appointments, in office injections, medications, body composition scans) there will be no refunds.

Orders may be canceled before they are shipped.

Taking Advantage of “Activities of Opportunity”

Have you ever heard of a “crime of opportunity”?  It’s a crime that is unplanned but happens when the perpetrator is in the “right place at the right time” to take advantage of a situation for their benefit.  While it has a negative connotation, I often look for “activities of opportunity” in the winter.  

For those of us who are not really into winter sports, December through April is a pretty rough time.  There’s usually a fair amount of snow and going outside in the cold can be quite unpleasant, especially when temperatures hover in the single digits.   After months working out inside, around February, the treadmill at the gym starts to look pretty boring.   If you’re anything like me, soon my motivation wanes and the cookies add up.  

However, opportunities to change things up while still getting in a great workout for free do exist!  You just need to remain vigilant and open minded.  For example, this morning I walked out on my driveway to 9” of new snow that had fallen overnight.  On any other day, this amount of snow could provide me with a decent 15-minute cardio workout.  However, I had the unfortunate luck of getting a new plow guy that piled up 5 feet of that snow onto a portion of my driveway…the portion I need to use in order to get out of my garage.  Sigh.

 IMG 9716

I was feeling rather burned out of treadmill running anyway, so I picked up my shovel and got to work.  An hour later the snow was relocated, and I had a great workout!  My back, arms and chest muscles are sure to be sore tomorrow, but I gave my legs a day off and feel mentally refreshed.  

Snow shoveling isn’t the only “activity of opportunity” in the winter though.  The possibilities are endless if you’re willing to bundle up and get moving.  We took our dogs out for a longer walk in the deep snow last night before the plows came through and our German shepherd loved it!!  Walking through deep snow requires significantly more leg strength and endurance than walking on a treadmill or around a track.  Use this to your advantage to improve your workout while taking in the fresh air and getting a little sunshine.

Digging out your car (or someone else’s) can snag you 5 minutes of cardio up to a couple times a day and may even give you the warm fuzzies in the process.  Pulling your kids around in their sled or building a huge snowman can get your heart rate up quickly.  Chopping or carrying firewood can be a chore…or a great opportunity to move around and work on your upper body strength.  Finally, cleaning up after everyone tracks in the snow and wetness into the garage or entry way by mopping, vacuuming or sweeping can add another 5-10 minutes of unplanned activity.  

The biggest thing is to keep your eyes open for these opportunities and take advantage of them when they arise.  Keep your planned daily physical activities going, but don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some good old fashioned outdoor chores regularly. 

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The cost of good health…

Lately, every time I go to the grocery store, I feel like prices have gone up.  Everywhere I look, foods that used to be “cheap” are suddenly marked up and stores seem to be holding fewer sales.  For the sales they do hold, I feel like these were the same prices a year ago when the items were NOT on sale. 

Unfortunately, according to the Consumer Price Index, my instincts might be right.  Prices for food have gone up 7% in the last year and certain categories have been hit harder than others - meats, poultry, fish and eggs are up over 12%!

For many, this has placed additional challenges on already strained budgets.  One of the most common refrains I hear now is that it’s too expensive to eat healthy.  However, when I say that doesn’t have to be true, I’m met with skeptical glances and side eyes…

From a bird’s eye perspective, fruits and vegetables are up only 5.6% year over year.  When compared with other categories, these may be less of a financial strain.  Pantry staples such as grains, beans, and legumes also remain more modestly priced and can be bought for pennies in the bulk section.  Both categories are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals and are part of a healthy diet. 

However, the temptation for some people may still remain with “cheap” fast food.  After all, we all remember the dollar menu at the McDonald’s drive through.  Even though that’s long gone, some people point to the daily deals and value meals as cheaper options.  However, to prove this is not actually the case, my husband volunteered (meaning raced right over to the closest McDonald’s) to order a value meal for a side-by-side comparison.

On the day he shopped, it was “buy one, get one” Big Macs.  He bought two Big Macs, a medium fry and medium diet Coke for $9.38.  The total calories: 1,420 with 55g protein. 

 Two Big Macs Pic 2 e

The next day we went shopping for the makings of a tuna melt.  We went to Natural Grocer’s to look for high quality ingredients and tried not to purchase anything on sale.  We bought Dave’s Killer 21 Grain Burger Buns (160cal, 5g protein.  $5.85/8 = 73 cents), a can of Wild Planet albacore tuna (150cal, 32g protein.  $3.79/can), and Natural Grocers brand Cheese (1 oz – 110cal, 7g protein.  $6.36/8oz, 79 cents).  We used 1 tbsp of Mayo from the fridge (100cal, 0g protein) and a bag of Proti Chips (120cal, 14g protein. 10/$14 or $1.40).  For the tuna melt, we paid $6.71 and the total calories: 640cal with 58g protein. 

Tuna Melt Pic e

For these two meals, the tuna melt from home was $2.67 cheaper.  We also tried to get a deal at McDonalds and tried NOT to get any sales and buy only the highest quality, most ethically sourced food possible at Natural Grocers.  However, you can definitely find tuna, cheese and whole wheat bread for cheaper if saving money is the priority!  The tuna melt also has more protein, less saturated fat, less cholesterol and less sodium.  Plus, the tuna melt won’t set you back on your weight loss goals and it’s easy to throw together.  You can buy multiple cans of tuna, a block of cheese (or slices), and a package of whole wheat buns to make the entire week’s meals. 

If you wanted to step up your game even more, consider making a soup or stew from scratch.  A homemade lentil vegetable soup can be made over the weekend and frozen in lunch size portions to pull out of the freezer anytime during the week.  The recipe linked below costs $16.85 for all the ingredients (minus a few pantry staples) or $2.10 per serving.  Each serving is 475 calories with 21g of protein and 8g of fiber.  If your blood pressure is a concern, omit or reduce the salt and/or use low sodium broth.

McDonald’s meal:  $9.38 per serving

Homemade Tuna Melt with Chips: $6.71 per serving

From Scratch Organic Lentil Soup:  $2.10 per serving

Ultimately, it’s almost always cheaper to eat from home and definitely a lot healthier!  When doing your shopping for the week, plan for easy to make sandwiches or prep a large meal to break into lunch sized portions to reheat throughout the week.  With a little preparation, you’ll avoid paying more for food, both now and later.

The Road Less Traveled

This month I traveled to Germany to see family.  Between having family in multiple different countries (not to mention both coasts), vacations, work and medical education, I actually travel quite a lot – usually 1-2 times per month.  However, after so many years of practice, I feel like I have healthy living in any city down pat.  This trip was something special though…it was as if all the years of practice and training left me the second the plane took off.   

It started with not having much of a plan.  I had been so busy the last 2 months at work that I hadn’t gotten around to planning anything around our trip to Germany beyond booking the flights and a car.  I even forgot to book a hotel for parts of our stay.  I certainly didn’t look at the towns where we were going and forgot to see if the hotel had a gym.  (It didn’t, BTW).  After a really busy last week at work, packing and cleaning furiously on Saturday, we headed to the airport Sunday morning only to be turned around for a 6-hour delay as our flight got bumped.  We normally don’t eat in the morning, but since we had ample time, the trip started with brunch at Sophies.  Somehow with the travel, we ended up catching a late dinner in SLC and most definitely were not within an 8-hour window.  The next morning, we were up early and started the epic adventure that is traveling to Europe.  A very long red eye and multiple plane meals later (as you know, not my recommended meal plan) we arrived and had a 3-hour drive to Gernsbach.  We arrived at the hotel, tired, somehow hungry again despite multiple meals and not exactly sure what day it was.  Apparently committed to bad decision making at that point, we had a multiple course meal with wine and then went to bed.  Exercise had not even crossed my mind.  We also made the rookie mistake of going to bed later than we should have and ended up sleeping 14 hours until noon the next day.   Yes, you read that right, noon…

We had planned to go to Baden-Baden about 45 minutes away, so after a quick breakfast, we hopped in the car and headed over.  Again, exercise somehow got pushed back another day.  The next day we made it out of bed at 10a but had to pack and wanted to take advantage of the free hotel breakfast.  I figured I would get in a run when we got to our family’s house in Köln that afternoon, but what is normally a 3-hour drive turned into a 5-hour traffic nightmare on the autobahn.  We ended up just driving to a local restaurant they suggested to have dinner with them.  It was a lovely meal, but we had anticipated a healthy, home cooked meal and once again were thwarted from our good intentions by time and circumstance.  The next day I did manage to sneak in a run, but it was the only one for the entire trip.  We normally plan the days’ schedule in advance of our trip (the Germans are known for their love of plans and schedules ;) and we had forgotten to check in with them.  They had a full calendar for us!  Beyond the normal family brunch and visits, champagne and wine with friends, there was a 4 hour visit to the local pumpkin patch for my 7-year-old Godson complete with delicious German pastries.  There was also a 6-hour trip to pack medical supply boxes for the Ukrainian relief in Köln, and a 6-hour dining event at a famous local restaurant complete with 6 courses and wine pairings. 

Everything was amazing and so much fun, I don’t regret a minute of it!  However, the reality of the week’s culinary events and sedentary lifestyle hit me as we embarked on our 22-hour duration flights home.  A series of flights that, once again, I hadn’t planned for as I usually do with a more prolonged fast or at least some healthy meal options.  I realized that I was NOT looking forward to getting back to the grind and losing those pounds that found their way on while I was on my 10-day culinary world tour. 

However, this is not my first misadventure.  While I normally plan well ahead to avoid airport food, get daily exercise, and keep to an 8-hour eating window, I know that 10 days of poor eating and no activity does not end in complete destruction of a healthy lifestyle.  It may feel like it when you get started again, but the reality is that I can apply myself to my normal routine and be back on track within a month.  The first few days are always tough with a lot of fresh salads and sluggish workouts, but ultimately, I will feel much like myself again in a week or two.  

Why do I tell you this?  Because I want you to know that we all make mistakes.  No one lives perfectly and a healthy lifestyle SHOULD have occasional bumps in the road that make you go off course.  If I look back in my life, the best times were often when I did something I probably shouldn’t have (i.e. staying up too late with friends, going to that concert the day before a big test, etc.).  A little misadventure now and again is good and the road less traveled often comes with wonderful surprises and memories.  Often, I hear patients talk from an “all or nothing” perspective, but it’s what we do on a day-to-day basis that really matters.  It's being consistent with healthy decisions the MAJORITY of the time that makes for a healthy life.  It’s getting to the gym or going for that walk 5 times a week, consistently getting 8+ hours of sleep, or making good food choices 85% of the time.   It’s the day-to-day choices that shape us and make us who we are. 

I can’t tell you the last time this happened (definitely not in recent years), but I can tell you it will happen again at some point and I’m glad.  A perfect life is not worth living and black forest cake enjoyed together with your 7-year-old Godson is priceless.  My life lesson: take the road less traveled occasionally but make healthy choices daily.  Viel Spass!

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Very Low Calorie Diets - More Harm Than Good

It's time to stop trying diets that do more harm than good.

The year is 10,000 BC, a time when sabertooth tigers and wooly mammoths are still walking the earth. Humans lived in small tribes, and survived off of a hunter and gatherer lifestyle. The men would traditionally hunt, while the women would gather berries, fruits, plants and other food sources that they could find. Food wasn’t a guarantee, and no one ever knew for sure when they would have their next meal.

Luckily for the human race, our bodies are experts at preserving energy so we can stay alive when times are hard. Our resting metabolic rate is the number of calories we burn while we are sleeping, resting or not moving. Commonly referred to as our metabolism, this has the ability to be turned up or down, depending on whether food is scarce or plentiful at the time. 10,000 years ago, this was integral to the survival of the human race. Unfortunately, the evolution of our bodies has yet to catch up with our current lifestyles where calorie rich foods are readily available. As such, it continues to be easy to turn down our metabolisms, but much more challenging to turn our metabolisms up.

Why is this important? Our resting metabolic rate determines the minimum number of calories we need a day to maintain our weight. If your resting metabolic rate is higher, you burn more calories on a daily basis when you’re doing absolutely nothing. If it’s lower, you need to eat significantly fewer calories than another person in order to maintain your weight.

Thanks to evolution, when you starve your body for calories it goes into survival mode and turns down its metabolism. A modern day example of this is the popular TV show from the 2010’s called “The Biggest Loser”. Contestants would go on very low calorie diets and exercise in order to lose weight. And it worked! Of 16 contestants who participated in a scientific study during their time on the show, they lost an average of 128 pounds. However, this weight loss came at a cost.

During their time on the show, these contestants on average decreased their resting metabolic rate by 600 calories a day. That means in order to continue losing weight, they had to eat 600 fewer calories a day than they did prior to joining the show. Six years later, well after the show ended, the scientists who conducted the study followed up with the contestants. Six years after the show was over, the contestants had gained back 90 pounds of the weight they lost. Despite this, their basal metabolic rate was 700 calories lower than it was before they started the show. That was even lower than it was when they were on the show!

We have heard from our patients time and time again the same story:

"I did one of the very low calorie diet plans for 6 months, and during that time I lost 60 pounds. But the diet wasn’t something I could keep doing, and when I stopped the diet I gained back all the weight. And I didn’t just gain back the 60 pounds I lost, I gained an additional 15 pounds on top of it”

 Why is this? Because they significantly decreased their basal metabolic rate while on the very low calorie diet. When they started eating a normal diet again, their body immediately began storing the extra calories as fat. And it continued to do so. Our bodies still think it’s 10,000 years ago, and our body is worried that soon there won’t be enough food and it wants to store every calorie it can for when that day comes. Even though the diet works initially, it sets your body up for long term weight gain when you return to a normal diet.

That’s why we specifically recommend against very low calorie diets. Diets of 600 or 800 calories a day will lead to rapid initial weight loss, but this is not sustainable life long for most people. Rather than looking for the rapid, short term fix, we focus on strategies you can use life long to steadily lose weight and then maintain your goal weight. Through intermittent fasting you decrease your daily insulin spikes (which in turn leads to less fat storage). And through exercise and building lean muscle, you can increase your basal metabolic rate. This allows you to eat more calories, not less, and maintain your goal weight in the future.

Before you consider a very low calorie diet, pre-packaged food based diet or other “fad diet plans” out there come sit down with Dr. Katherine Dietrich to talk about other strategies that are going to work better in the long term.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

What is “Sleep Hygiene”

The term “Sleep Hygiene” is all too well known to anyone who has ever struggled with insomnia, or poor sleep in general. Whether it was with your doctor, or doctor google, you invariably have come across this term at some point while researching what you can do to sleep better. And if you happen to take a board licensing exam, the answer to the question of improving sleep is in fact sleep hygiene, and not prescription medications as one may believe.

So first off, let’s talk about insomnia versus non-restorative sleep (or poor sleep as it’s called). Insomnia can be short term (less than 3 months) which is often in response to a life stressor, or it can be chronic. Chronic insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep more than 3 times a week for longer than 3 months. Difficulty falling asleep means it takes longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, and difficulty maintaining sleep means you spend more than 30 minutes awake each night after having been asleep for a period of time. In addition to the difficulty sleeping, this lack of sleep must impair your day-to-day life. This can be through daytime fatigue, mood swings, increased errors, poor concentration, etc.

True chronic insomnia is less common than people who intermittently have difficulty sleeping. Remember, you need to have problems more than 3 times a week, for longer than 3 months, for it to meet criteria. And it has to impact your day-to-day life. For true insomnia, the best treatment we have is cognitive behavioral therapy in addition to improved sleep hygiene. For the more common condition of difficulty with sleep, that’s where sleep hygiene can play a major role.

So what is sleep hygiene? It’s practices you can utilize to try and improve sleep quality while limiting the time it takes to fall asleep. As you’ll see below, many of these come down to common sense. But if you truly think about how often you or people you know follow these practices, you’ll be shocked just how uncommon that common sense may be.

Sleep Hygiene Recommendations



 Regular bedtime and rise time

This seems simple enough, but it’s harder in practice. It means going to sleep every night at the same time (let’s say 10pm) regardless of what you’re doing. It also means getting up at the same time, even if it’s the weekend and you can sleep in, or if you were up the whole night before.

Avoid napping

Napping for longer than 1 hour total during the day will impact your ability to maintain a sleep schedule at night. Even if you slept poorly the night before, try not to nap.

 Limit caffeine

Avoid any caffeine containing products (including soda) after lunch. The time between lunch and bed is enough time for most caffeine to have been metabolized from your body.

 Limit alcohol

This one sounds counter-intuitive as alcohol tends to make us sleepy. Initially alcohol is sedating, but as it is metabolized it is actually stimulating. It’s why people often wake up in the middle of the night after drinking. Alcohol also negatively impacts sleep architecture (the natural REM sleep cycle)

Avoid nicotine

Nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided at night and near bedtime.


Daytime physical activity is encouraged 4-6 hours before bedtime. Strenuous physical activity should be avoided for 2 hours prior to bedtime. So exercise is good, but keep it to earlier in the day.

 Keep the sleep environment quiet and dark

This means two things. Number one your room should be dark and quiet. Either black out blinds or an eye mask is encouraged, and depending on the environment ear plugs may also be beneficial. However, this also means avoiding the TV, cell phones and other backlit screens for at least 30 minutes before bed. It has been shown the light from these devices will impair sleep.

 Bedroom clock

Avoid checking the time as you are trying to fall asleep. Looking at the clock increases cognitive arousal (wakes you up) and causes anxiety which will further impair initiation of sleep. This includes alarm clocks, phones, watches (and even bathroom mirrors if it has a built in clock).

 Evening Eating

Avoid a large meal just before bedtime. A healthy and filling meal should be eaten earlier in the evening, and late night snacking should be avoided as well.

Now that you’re an expert in the textbook version of sleep hygiene, it’s time to put it into practice. Rather than trying to tackle the entire list at once, it’s often better to pick one thing and incorporate it into your sleep routine every few days. For example, start with setting a bedtime and an alarm clock that you stick to every day – once you’ve become used to this you can look at getting rid of your bedtime Facebook binge. Just like Rome, you can’t build your foundation of sleep hygiene in just one day.

Guten nacht!

What’s in Your Protein Bar?

I’ll admit, I did about as much research into this topic as it takes to do one of those little scratcher lottery tickets at the local gas station.  A couple swipes back and forth and you know you’ve lost the game.  The reason I didn’t have to do much research though, was that the results were obvious as soon as I started scratching the surface.  Based on what I found, protein products on your grocery store shelves are disappointing at best and dangerous at worst.  Read on to understand what exactly is going into your OTC supplements.

Protein bars and shakes are a go to for a lot of people nowadays.   We keep them at work, in our cars, backpacks, gym bags, purses, and in the pantry for easy go to snacks for both kids and adults.  Ideally, they’re jam packed with vitamins, nutrients, and a good amount of protein to keep us fueled for a few hours while we are running during the day.  However, many come with added sugar,fat, excess calories,and some even come laced with heavy metalslike arsenic, lead and cadmium. 

This actually came to light over 10 years ago when Consumer Reports did an expose on Muscle Milk, EAS Myoplex, GNC, and several other well-known protein supplements. They found dangerous levels of contaminants including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in multiple supplements that could easily exceed maximum limits with normal daily intake of these supplements.  (   Unfortunately, the FDA does not require that dietary supplements like protein shakes and bars be tested to ensure they are safe and free of contaminants.  Many of these supplements do not list where they source their ingredients on their websites and, to cut costs, will source from questionable protein supply sources, such as many Chinese manufacturers.  In looking briefly into Muscle Milk, I found they were owned by Cytosport Inc. (which also makes Monster Milk and Cytomax brand), which was acquired by Hormel Foods Corporation which was then acquired by PepsiCo Inc.  Having trouble keeping up?  Yeah, me too…. I couldn’t find on any of their sites where they source their protein from and considering the results from the Consumer Reports study ( I’m very concerned the right hand may not know what the left hand is doing.  Plus, I didn’t see any third-party certification of safety and purity such as GMP or NSF anywhere on their websites.

Since the Consumer Reports article came out in 2012, there are some new tricks being played on the public by protein companies.  In 2015, a lawsuit was filed against several major companies alleging a practice called “protein spiking” where cheaper non-protein substances are added to fool lab tests into indicating higher protein levels in protein products (  CVS Health, Giant Sport, Body Fortress and MusclePharm are some of the companies named in the lawsuits.  In one test, a supplement containing “High Quality Protein” contained less than half of the protein it advertised.  Worse yet, the newest concern is for hydrolyzed leather protein (from animal skin scraps) being added to supplements from China and Hong Kong to increase the protein content.  The scraps often contain metallic contaminants that are unfit for human consumption.

After being thoroughly horrified by the protein powder industry, I decided to check out protein bars.  While I didn’t find multiple lawsuits on the first page of Google, what I did find was, in many ways, just as bad.  I haven’t purchased an over-the-counter protein bar in quite a long time so I decided to see if the protein bar selection had improved in the last 10 years.  I went to Natural Grocers on 24th Street and picked up every protein bar they had to do a side-by-side comparison. 

Despite being labeled words like “healthy”, “natural”, “low glycemic”, and “the ultimate energy bar”, these bars were no better than most candy bars.  I included a chart below of the bars I picked up, but specifically I wanted to call out Clif Protein Builders bar.  They are labeled as “low glycemic” with 17 grams of sugar and ALL of it is added sugar…for shame Clif Builders, for shame!  The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 24 grams of sugar (6 tsp) per day for women.  One of those bars and a teaspoon of honey and you’ve hit your maximum quantity of sugar consumption for the day!  Just for fun, I looked at a couple of my favorite candy bars and Kit Kat has 220 calories with 21 grams of sugar.  A snickers bar is 250 calories and 25 grams of added sugar.  If you’re going to eat candy, it might as well be real candy.


When I compared any of the grocery store bars to one of the DR bars, there was no comparison.  Calorically, each of the grocery store bars were significantly higher and often contained much more added sugar.  The only one that even came close was the Think High Protein Bar in Cookies and Cream Flavor.  Though topping out at 100 calories more than DR Vanilla Choco Protein and tasting like someone put chalk in a blender with a little glue, I’m not sure “close” is the right word. 

They say “you get what you pay for” and everything I am seeing in the protein supplement industry tells me that is true.  Over the counter/grocery store protein bars and shakes are often a little cheaper, but the safety of the product and the nutritional value is questionable at best.  If you’re going to use supplements to help navigate our crazy busy lives, I would highly recommend purchasing medical grade nutrition supplements from reputable companies like Celebrate, Robard, and Bariatrix.  Sure the packaging isn’t as flashy and you won’t see them on TV, but they often taste better, are lower calorie, have higher quality protein and are third party vetted, so you know they are safe. 

Workout with Greg 5/12/2022

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Come join Greg and Kat as they walk you through one of Kat's workouts! It's been specifically designed for you to do at home with little to no formal gym equipment!