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Finding Your Gray Area!

Finding Your Gray Area!

Finding Your Gray Area


I see quite a few clients, and I’ve identified a common theme I hear when meeting them for the first time: they tell me about all the past diets, detoxes, and cleanses they’ve tried. They share that they walk everywhere, eat at Sweetgreen, and take fitness classes regularly – but they aren’t where they want to be health-wise. 

Sound familiar? 

It did for me fifteen years ago, when I kept focusing on what I was doing wrong rather than what I was doing right. 

Further, I believed in absolutes: 

I ought to have will power! 

I must never eat bread again! 

I should work out six days a week! 

When we live by should, ought, and must, we set ourselves up for failure – it’s an all or none system of black and white. 

Welcome to your Gray Area.


What’s a Gray Area, you ask? It’s when we allow for shades of gray, find moderation in moderation, and celebrate the success of doing something right rather than beating ourselves up for what we did wrong. By adjusting the way we think, we can create a lifestyle of health and balance. 

My BIG 3 for committing to attainable success with your health and fitness goals? 

Plan, Measure, and Log.

Plan: If you’re waking at 5:45am for a 6:30am class and have to be at work by 8:00am what’s for breakfast? Lunch? Snacks? Dinner that night? If you fly by the seat of your pants, you’ll be forced to make decisions based on limited options – and often choose what’s convenient. If you plan your meals ahead of time, you are in control and can choose your balanced meals. 

Where to start? I suggest my clients use a meal planner such as this free downloadable one to help guide their ideas. 

Choose a week’s worth of healthy meal recipes from your favorite blogs, Pinterest or the Saldare 7+7 Reboot (aim for recipes with protein, vegetables and a good source of unsaturated fat). From there, list all the ingredients you will need on the grocery shopping list. Now that you have created your meal plan for the week, there should be no guesswork and no surprises (unless you choose them). 

Measure: When you pour oatmeal for your morning breakfast or make a grilled chicken salad for dinner, do you know how much food you’re eating? Half a cup? One cup? Four ounces? Six ounces? If you’re not sure and you are actively trying to lose weight, do yourself a favor and purchase a food scale. Best purchase you’ll make! Take a week or two to measure everything.

I know it’s a pain and a time suck, but after those two weeks you’ll be able to eyeball how much you’re taking in and make informed decisions about what you’re putting in your mouth. 

Another important thing to measure? Your stress. I tell clients all the time that you can be eating all the broccoli, turkey and chia in the world, but if you are living a life with high stress, you will not reach your fitness and nutrition goals. Your body won’t let you. 

I won’t bore you with the long details, but here’s the nitty gritty: when you’re stressing out, hormones take over: adrenaline taps stored energy so you can fight or flee the situation, cortisol tells your body to replenish that energy and store fat for energy reserves, testosterone slows down so you burn less calories, and ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, increases. End game? Stress makes us eat more.  

Log:  If you know what you are eating and drinking, your water intake, and how long you are sleeping, you can assess if it’s optimal. Winging it won’t hold you accountable.

Whether you use MyFitnessPal, a basic Excel spreadsheet or a spiral notebook, log your meals, your water intake, and the number of hours you sleep.  It will make you honest, aware, and able to choose your gray area rather than having it choose you due to lack of other options. 

Can you do this on your own? 

Heck yes!

Is it easier with a nutrition and lifestyle coach? 

You betcha. 

Work with a coach and you’ll have the accountability and support to reach your goals and sustain them.

Jenn Menzer is a holistic wellness, fitness and nutrition coach who specializes in helping clients find and achieve balance to live and be their healthiest happiest selves. She meets with clients at her wellness studio, Saldare Body Therapy in the South End or via Skype. She offers a complimentary session for all prospective clients. Visit jennmenzer.comfor more information or to schedule a session. 

Essential Keys to Weight Loss

Essential Keys to Weight Loss Whether your goal is to lose weight, live healthier, or exercise more, you need a set of “tools” to support you everyday. The below tips are just what you need to get started on that journey. These tips are simple and easy to implement!

Stock your kitchen

Your first line of defense for treating your body well is having your kitchen filled with fresh, already prepared options, making it easy for you to grab foods at any time. Stock your kitchen, refrigerator and pantry each week and keep those foods at you fingertips.

Plan balanced, satisfying meals

Making a healthy meal can feel overwhelming. Keep it simple by planning ahead with combining fruits and vegetables, add a moderate amount of protein, an unsaturated fat and fiber rich grains.

Plan your grocery trip

Make the time to hit the store once a week and consider it a non-negotiable appointment! Set yourself up for success: write out your planned meals, make a list and get shopping

Create a schedule/routine

Changing your body requires changing how you spend your time. Decide when you are going to plan meals, prepare food, and exercise. Take small steps each week, write the actions in your schedule and stick to it!

Learn portions and measurements

Create some awareness around your portions allows you to control your choices. Take the next month to experiment: get out measuring cups, spoons, consider buying a food scale and start measuring at mealtime.

Track your food

Get a small notebook or your phone notepad and start tracking what/how much you eat, what you drink, and your mood. Tracking enables you to pick up on patterns and notice what you are consistently putting into your body.

Ask for support

Change is hard and you don’t have to do it alone. Get others involved in your health journey by asking for support. Watch how contagious the energy is!

Feast on color

Feast on the rainbow of fruits and vegetables to give your body nutrients. Sweet fruits/vegetables (apples, strawberries, carrots, butternut squash) help lower sugar cravings. Leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, kale) are energy boosters full of oxygen that fight fatigue.

Find substitutions

Write down your favorite meals and consider new ways to add fresh, whole ingredients. Use agave nectar instead of sugar, 100% whole wheat bread instead enriched, olive oil instead of butter. Be creative!

Just add water

Nothing is more cleansing and healing for our body than water, yet dehydration is very common. The headaches, fatigue, and fowl moods could be linked to water intake. Grab a bottle to keep with you and fill it up at least once a day.

Chew more and put the fork down

We are often left unsatisfied with our meal when we don’t slow down and chew each bite. This tip can dramatically change your experience with food. At your next meal, put that fork down, chew your food and enjoy every bite!


Could It Be Adrenal Fatigue?

Could It Be Adrenal Fatigue?

Daily living causes much stress, which is not easy on the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit atop the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamine, including cortisol and adrenaline.

When the adrenals are tired, the body may experience a number of different symptoms. The most common symptoms caused by tired or worn-out adrenal glands are:

  • Excessive sweating or perspiration from little activity
  • Lower back pain and/or knee weakness or pain, especially on the side
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Low blood sugar
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sensitivity to light, or difficulty seeing at night
  • A craving for salt
  • Low stamina for stress, and easily irritated
  • Excessive mood responses after eating carbohydrates such as pasta, breads and sugar
  • Chronic infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Light-headedness on standing up
  • Tired by wired feeling, poor sleep
  • Cravings for sweets and carbs, intolerance to alcohol
  • Premature aging
  • Dry, unhealthy skin with excess pigmentation
  • Lack of libido
  • Cystic breasts
  • Tendency to startle easily
  • Negative response to thyroid hormone

If you suspect you might have tired adrenals, address it right away. Adrenal glands are extremely important to a healthy immune system. They are necessary for proper thyroid function.

Natural Ways to Support Adrenal Fatigue

  • Get some sleep. You must rest if you are going to help your adrenals get stronger. That means going to bed every night by 10 p.m. Make this a priority and stick with it. Your adrenals need their beauty sleep!
  • Eliminate sugar and processed carbs. Sugar and simple carbs (junk!) put stress on the adrenals. Adrenal glands help to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Eat clean animal protein foods, organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans and grains.
  • Quit the coffee habit and drink plenty of fresh filtered water every day.

Adapted from

6 Tips to Change How You Eat

6 Tips to Change How You Eat 1. Avoid foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce. Grab that box of cereal or package of cookies and spend some time perusing the food label. What is in the ingredient list? Do you know what that all is? The likely answer is a giant NO! If you can't pronounce it, the likelihood is your body can't do much with it. Stick with your real, whole foods instead. And make sure that breakfast bar really does have strawberries in it if the pictures says it does.

2. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't. I heard this a few years ago and find it to just be ingenious! Making healthy choices doesn't get much simpler than this idea! The challenge? Just about all of our convenience, on the go, in the vending machine and super market are produced in a plant somewhere! This change takes time and planning. Start small. Replace one food at a time each week and keep going.

3. Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. Those marshmallows and fruit pieces are jam packed with additives and processed ingredients. Translation is no good in the body. All of those manufactured sugars don't satisfy your body, leaving you look for more food in the end and the trans fats are a dangerous path to chronic conditions. Stick with cereal that has 100% unrefined, whole grains and minimal sugar. Then put your own fresh fruit on top!

4. When you are craving junk food, make it yourself. There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries or baked goods in moderation. I like my chocolate chip cookies just like the rest of them! But food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap that they are available at every corner and we're eating them everyday. Instead, enjoy these treats as often as you're willing to prepare them. Then give some away!

5. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored, tired, stressed or upset. For many of us, eating has surprisingly little to do with hunger. We eat out of boredom, when life gets tough or when your day could not have been worse. Stop this cycle and get connected with your body. Learn to be aware of why you're eating. Ask yourself if you're really hungry before you eat and during your meal. Slow down, enjoy your food.

6. Do all your eating at a table. No, a desk is not a table. If we eat while we're working, or while watching TV or driving, we are eating mindlessly and as a result eat a lot more than we would if we were eating at a table, paying attention to what we're doing. The mind must be engaged with the process of eating for you to gain true satiety. Example: Place a child in front of a favorite movie and put a bowl of fresh vegetables in front of him or her. The child will likely eat everything in the bowl, often even vegetables that he or she doesn't ordinarily touch, without noticing what's going on. The same thing can happen with a bag of chips. resent your offer, ensure it is specific, and includes a call to action and time frame.

Why Diets Don't Work

Why Diets Don't Work You can't turn on the TV, drive down the road or go to a party without being confronted with America's hottest obsession: weight. Diets are a billion-dollar industry; companies spend millions of dollars luring you to try the latest diet (low carb, high protein, low fat, no fat, you name it) with promises that this will (finally!) be the solution-your shortcut to a thinner body.

Advertising efforts also deeply affect our children, who develop distorted body images and are often on diets as early as nine or ten years of age.

Our culture touts diet pills, celebrity workouts, convenience foods and trendy diets to help us achieve our desired weight, but these quick-fix solutions have backfired. As a country, we have hit our highest weight in history. About half of Americans are overweight; one-third are obese. Part of the reason? Diets steer us away from our common sense and elicit few, if any, lasting results.


  • Diets don't work because each person is unique, with different needs based on gender, age, lifestyle, activity level, dieting history; how could one diet be right for everyone? Of the 20 diet books you could go out and buy today, the likelihood of that book addressing the unique needs of YOUR body is slim to none.
  • Diets don't work because they are extreme solutions. As in physics, if a pendulum swings to one extreme, it has to swing equally to the other. A diet might work for a short amount of time, but research shows that almost all diets result in a 10-pound gain once off the diet.
  • Diets don't work because they are very restrictive. People who fail on diet plans are not flawed or weak. Diets by nature require discipline and restriction at levels that are unsustainable by a healthy human body. Our body inherently fights against this restriction, and it usually wins.
  • Diets don't work because many of us are disconnected with the cues and signals our body provides each day, directing us to the right foods and quantities.

In our fast-paced world, we have lost sight of many aspects of life that truly nourish and balance our bodies, such as slowing down, eating a home-cooked meal and spending quality time with loving people. This type of balance is just as important as eating your broccoli and brown rice. Eating consciously and making simple lifestyle changes will create positive results and release you from the endless cycle of dieting.

Given half a chance, your body will balance out by itself, but this is only possible by getting out of the diet mentality and listening to what you truly need. Imagine taking all of the outward energy you expend on diets, fads and gimmicks and turning it inward, so that you can listen to your body and your inner wisdom.

The ultimate reality: there is no such thing as a quick fix; you already have everything you need within you. With careful thought and loving reflection, you can feed yourself in a nourishing way. Working with your body rather than against it will bring you increased energy, stabilized weight and sustainable health.

Quick tips to move forward and leave diets behind:
  • Track your food for the next 5-7 days. Learn from your behaviors. Notice your energy, hunger, mood and choices. They are signals.
  • Experiment with different foods and combinations. Stay present with your body and notice how the food(s) feel.
  • Focus on fruits, vegetables, 100% whole grains, healthy sources of protein.
  • Sleep more. Decrease your stress. Give yourself some love.

Cardio vs. Strength Training: Which is better for you?

Cardio vs. Strength TrainingWhich is better for you?

Both aerobic exercise and resistance training can promote substantial improvements to our physical fitness and health. The benefits include a decrease in body fat, increase in bone density and an increase in metabolism. The question is - When putting together your weekly exercise program, what should you do: Cardio or Strength?

The answer is simple - Do Both.

The American College of Sports Medicine's overall recommendation is for adults to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. This can be done in either a continuous session (30-60 minutes a day) or multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes). To decide how much of each, assess what you desire to achieve (ie lose weight, increase strength, lower cholesterol, improve bone density, run a 5k) and check out the table below to design a program that best supports your goals.


Good Luck!!