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Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:00

Food Swapping for Health

My favorite new food discovery is nutritional yeast. If you don't know about it yet, let me introduce you. I use it as a Parmesan cheese substitute. I put it on salads and soups, but you can also top your casseroles, pasta, and popcorn with it.

It is inactive so it does not have leavening ability. I buy it from the bulk bin at Whole Foods. Nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein. Some describe it as having a cheesy, nutty flavor. I have been eliminating dairy from my diet, so I like having nutritional yeast as my "cheese."

When I posted this on the FQL Facebook page, one follower said, "After watching my daughter, who is allergic to dairy, look longingly at plates of mac and cheese, I found that I could use nutritional yeast to make the sauce. It looks the same as the stuff her friends have and she loves the taste! I felt like a star!"

I also recently posted about healthy alternatives for soda. I have given up Diet Coke for health reasons, but I miss the taste of it. I received some great ideas from everyone and decided to share them in an Examiner article I wrote today, "4 healthy alternatives to help kick the soda habit."

Another favorite healthy food swap of mine is cauliflower "mashed potatoes." Steam cauliflower and put it in a food processor. You can add a little butter (and nutritional yeast!). Blend and serve. It tastes just like mashed potatoes. Potatoes are fine nutritionally but cauliflower is even better.

What are your favorite healthy food swaps? Comment below and share your ideas! They could make for another great Examiner article.

Published in Body Blog
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 13:56

The *Real* Secret to Weight Loss!

I was hoping the title would get your attention. Every one is looking for the secret to weight loss. I have seen many clients who say they have tried every weight loss plan out there, but the weight just keeps coming back. This blog is about the secret to long-term weight loss. It is about creating a new way of living—for life. It's about resisting the temptation of the grand promises of the latest shake, supplement, pill, plan, or product to lose weight. Those may work in the short-term, but invariably the pounds find their way back. And, they aren't healthy!

Just a few weeks ago, I had a client ask me what I thought about Sensa. She said she had heard about it on TV. I didn't know of it, but when I looked it up, I found out that it is a substance that you sprinkle on your food. It supposedly works based on the process and trigger of eating and feeling full. When we eat, smell and taste receptors send messages that tell our body it's time to stop eating. Sensa claims to enhance smell, thus speeding up the process which triggers the "I feel full" signal so that you "eat less and feel more satisfied."

Recently, I have heard about Body by Vi as one of the latest ways to lose weight. They want you to replace two meals with their shakes. Check out the list of ingredients in the Body by Vi shakes. Do you recognize any of the ingredients as real food? This may help you take the weight off, but it certainly isn't giving you the tools to keep it off which brings you back to the yo-yo dieting. And, if you really want to be healthy, don't you want to be filling your body with real food!?

My favorite quote from a client this week was when she said, "I'm not a fake human, so why am I feeding myself fake food?" This was after I had showed her the list of ingredients in the Medifast bar she was eating. Now she eats a bar whose ingredients consist only of nuts and fruits.

So, now the moment you have been waiting for... What is the secret to weight loss?

The secret to weight loss is simple. Eat real food. Exercise more. Reduce stress.

I know, you've heard it before, right? But, given all of the posts I have seen recently on Facebook and clients I have been working with, somehow Sensa, Body by Vi, and Medifast are winning. Our bodies are losing with these methods, but it's not weight that we are losing, it's health.

The key to success is to commit to it. Take the guesswork out of it by just committing to this new way of life. Deciding whether or not to eat that cupcake is no longer a difficult decision because you have already made that choice in your head not to. Now you are just playing it out throughout the day. Another key to success is to engage others—whether that be a health coach, family member, or friend. Tell others what you are doing and let them keep you accountable. Sign up with My Fitness Pal and track your food for a week or two to see exactly what you are eating and how it measures up. It's not about counting calories, it's about tracking your food to help you stay accountable and see the choices you are making in a day.

It does work! I've seen it over time with my clients. Not only do they lose weight with this plan, but they are also happier and more energetic than they were before. They start to feel so good about themselves, that the temptations no longer have power because this new feeling of health now wins out.

Eat real food

For those with only a few pounds to lose:
If you are currently eating packaged, processed, and fast foods, making the switch to real food will lead to weight loss. Eat lean meats and eggs, load up on the veggies (for weight loss and health, you just can't get enough of this food group!), snack on a few nuts, enjoy fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth, and eat healthy fats (like avocados, coconut). Avoid sugar, alcohol, soy, caffeine, and dairy. Eat limited healthy grains like brown rice and quinoa.

For those who have more than a few pounds to lose:
You will benefit from removing all grains and legumes from your diet (commit to 30 days and go from there). Grains include wheat (breads, pasta), rye, oats, corn, rice, sprouted grains, and quinoa. Legumes include beans, lentils, and peanuts. Sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash are good substitutes for your typical "starch" in the meal because of their texture and substance. It's about eliminating the inflammatory, allergenic, unhealthy foods from your diet.

I do recommend shakes—shakes that have real food, not that just consist of a packaged powder and water.

Here is my daily shake:
2/3 coconut water
1/3 coconut milk
1/2 cup blueberries
generous handful of spinach or kale
healthy shake powder with vitamins, probiotics, and detoxifying nutrients
other additions: fish oil, chia seeds, flax seeds

Of course there are many variations on healthy shakes with numerous recipes available on the internet. Be creative with the fruits and vegetables you add to your shake, like celery or avocado.

For a good summary on eating well, check out Eat This Way.


The more calories you burn (while eating well), the more weight you lose. Here are a few ideas. For more detail, read my blog Movement by Gypsy

  • Change your framework. A standard theme I have found with my clients is the guilt that comes with the “should” of exercising. Leave behind the “should” and find your “want.” Think of “exercise” as movement that brings you joy, not as an obligation that hangs over your head.
  • Think outside the box. Jumping rope is good cardio and reminds us of our childhood days. How about a game of hopscotch, Frisbee, or basketball with the kids? Or turning on the stereo and dancing around to your favorite tunes? The point is, be creative. If it gets you moving, it counts as exercise.
  • Think inside the box. Some people like the gym. If you are one of them, that’s great. You don’t need to be creative like the rest of us to get exercise into our lives. Keep it up! For those of us who need a little nudge to get to the gym, think about how to make it more enticing. Can you go at a certain time to watch a show you like? Download some new tunes that are reserved just for your gym workouts? Meet a friend? Try a new class?
  • Talk and walk. Instead of meeting your friends for coffee or lunch, meet them for a walk. You save money and you get some exercise. You’ll spend so much time gabbing, you’ll forget your legs are doing a lot of walking.
  • Do it with a group. It is easier to cancel out on yourself than someone else.
  • Count your steps. Wearing a pedometer can make walking fun and motivating. Set a goal of at least 7,000 steps a day..
  • Keep moving. Try to make movement part of your daily life rather than something you do at a certain time of day that counts as “exercise.” For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park in a far spot at the grocery store, or do your own gardening.

Reduce Stress

Many people may not realize this, but stress absolutely can play a role in weight gain for hormonal and psychological reasons. On the hormonal side, when we are stressed, we release hormones like cortisol which serve us well in periods of stress (it makes us alert and ready). Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy. This leads to an increase in appetite. An increase in appetite means we eat more and we weight more.

On the psychological side, eating is often tied to our emotions. When we feel stressed (or tired, angry, etc), we often turn to food for comfort. The more mindful we become about our eating (and the reasons we are reaching for the unhealthy food), the better chance for success we have in the long term.

You can do it!

If you want to really lose weight for good, don't buy into these expensive, do-it-quick schemes. Yes, it may take a little more work than adding water to a faux-food shake mix, but have fun with it. Get the family involved in meal planning. Ask friends to sign up for an upcoming 5K with you. Take a class on meditation. 

There is a lot of content on the Four Quadrant Living website about living a healthy life, so take some time to explore it and vow to make a change today. It may take time to change your body, but it takes a split second to change your mind. If you have been wanting to eat healthier or exercise more, change your mind about it today. The results in your body will follow.

I'd love to hear from you, so chime in below. What is your favorite healthy shake or meal? What is the form of exercise that brings you joy? What are your best ways for reducing stress? How do you involve your friends and family in your healthy living? 


Be sure to get your free 47 page Getting Started Guide: Taking Your First Step on the 4QL Journey by signing up for our newsletter at the top right of this page. It is filled with a 4 quadrant health assessment as well as health tips for each quadrant including 5 Steps to Mindfulness, 12 Tips for Fad-Free Eating, 6 Ways to Closer Connections, and 9 Ideas to Detox Your Home.


Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Published in Body Blog
Monday, 11 February 2013 12:20

Are You Orthorexic?

There is a lot of information out there about the connection between food and health. Perhaps you have read that sugar can lead to cancer, trans fats can cause a heart attack, and gluten can be the cause of autoimmune disease. You are warned about the pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and toxins in your food. It can get to the point where you are afraid to put anything in your mouth.

I'm not here to dispute or support the accuracy of these claims or to promote any one way of eating. I am here to say that all of this can create a madness that is not healthy. Orthorexic is a term used to describe the unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. I'm all in favor of eating healthy (!), but when it gets to where it is causing you stress or coming from a place of fear, it's time to take a moment and get yourself back in control.

In my first year of school to get my Masters in Holistic Health Education, I veered on the side of being orthorexic. The more I learned about nutrition, the crazier I got. Nuts should be raw and soaked. Produce should be organic. Beef needs to be grass-fed. Chicken can't have hormones or antibiotics. Eggs need to be pastured. I should stay away from soda, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, coffee, refined foods, canned goods, packaged food, and the list goes on.

I wholeheartedly think that all of the dietary guidelines mentioned above are healthy ways of eating. This is how I eat for the most part (except that I don't soak my nuts). However, there are times when it's out of my control and I just don't worry about it anymore. For example, I don't stress about eating beef that is not grass-fed when I am invited to a friend's house for dinner. Instead, I am grateful for the invitation and for the effort that goes into cooking a meal for me. I don't worry if the greens at the restaurant are not organic. Instead, I enjoy the culinary delights that the chef has created. I don't boycott the "regular" eggs my family buys when I go visit them. Instead, I am thankful for the time we spend together.

There is a lot of information about what is right and what is wrong when it comes to healthy eating, some of which contradicts itself. There is also an element of eating according to the latest fad. In my blog, The Trendy Diet, I talk about how certain food groups have gone in and out of fashion. Carbs were good, then they were bad. Same with fats, soy, and gluten. It is best to go to the source and find out how much is reputable (repeatable) research and how much is marketing hype.

We all have to decide what is right for us. I have friends and clients who strongly support and swear by their vegan diet and yet others who do all things Paleo. There are others who are gluten-free, sugar-free, or dairy-free. We all have our own biochemical individuality which means there is no one right answer for everyone. It's important to remember this so that we don't try to proselytize our way as the right way. Live and let live without judgement. It's about being in tune with your own body and doing what is right for you. A good way to find this out is to do an elimination diet and find out which foods cause problems for your own body.

For me, I do eat meat, but I eat it in small portions and I am particular about eating quality meats (e.g. grass-fed beef, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken). I eat organic for the high pesticide produce (e.g. blueberries, kale) and don't stress as much about buying organic for the low pesticide (e.g. avocado, onions) fruits and veggies. I do buy pastured eggs. I eat gluten because I don't have a sensitivity to it, but I don't eat a lot of it and when I do, I make it good quality like whole grain breads. I eat sugar in the form of fruit and honey, but I try to stay away from foods with high fructose corn syrup and refined sugars. I choose not to eat soy. This is just what works for me. 

Being orthorexic isn't necessarily about what you eat, it's about the stress and importance that you put on it. If it's simply a way of life for you, that's great. However, when it gets in the way of your relationships and your mental happiness, it might be time to consider the toll it's taking on your overall health. A part of health is pleasure. Pleasure can come from enjoying your favorite dessert or sharing a home-cooked special meal with your loved ones. And if it's causing you stress or anxiety, we all know that is not good for your health. If you get it right 80 to 90% of the time, that's excellent. When you are in the 10 to 20% of not eating as healthy as you could, just do so mindfully and without guilt.

The bottom line is this. Yes, read the information that is out there and educate yourself about eating well. I fully believe in the power of food for our health. I've seen amazing changes happen with dozens of clients who have changed their eating habits. It's absolutely important to have a healthy obsession with healthy eating. The problem comes when that obsession turns from healthy to unhealthy. At that point, it's time to gain control back and truly be healthy—in all four quadrants of your life.

Do you have an obsession with healthy eating? If so, is it healthy or unhealthy?


Be sure to get your free 47 page Getting Started Guide: Taking Your First Step on the 4QL Journey by signing up for our newsletter at the top right of this page. It is filled with a 4 quadrant health assessment as well as health tips for each quadrant including 5 Steps to Mindfulness, 12 Tips for Fad-Free Eating, 6 Ways to Closer Connections, and 9 Ideas to Detox Your Home.

Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Published in Body Blog
Monday, 10 December 2012 14:36

Creating Your New Health Destiny

What would you do if you were told you had an 87% chance of getting cancer?

a. fear it
b. ignore it
c. beat the odds!

When I was told this by doctors 14 years ago, I did "a" and then "b" until I decided it was time to do "c". I chose to replace the fear and denial with empowerment. I left my sexy and lucrative high-tech job and went back to school to study health. I wondered whether how I lived my life could impact how my genes expressed themselves. In learning about the science of epigenetics, I discovered that yes, how we live our life (diet, stress, relationships, environment, etc) does impact our health. Inspired by what I learned, I founded Four Quadrant Living. My mission is to inspire and inform others that we do have control over our health.

Do you worry about getting cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer's disease, or heart disease because it "runs in the family"? Do you think you have high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol because it's "in the genes"? If so, it's time to get empowered and create your new health destiny.

Yes, family history is important and it is a factor in our health—but it is by no means the only factor. It is estimated that over 30 percent of cancers and 80 percent of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes can be prevented. This means that you have the power to create health in your life! Every day you make choices that impact your health—the foods you eat, the products you use, the exercise you get, the stress you allow, the people you surround yourself with, and the environment you live in.

Scientists used to believe that it was our genotype (DNA) that determined our health. Our DNA is certainly a part of the equation, but it is not the entire equation as once believed. Now scientists believe it is our phenotype that determines our health, which is our genotype plus our environment (where environment is diet, lifestyle, emotions, stress, and so on).

This new science of epigenetics tells us that our genes are not our destiny. The word epigenetics literally means “control above genetics.” The genes by themselves do not cause disease; it is how we live our life that affects how our genes express. And this gene expression is what ultimately results in health or disease. Genes can be turned on by injuries, diet, stresses, hormones, emotions, and infections. The bottom line is that health is in our hands; it is not simply in our genes.

Knowing our genetic code is certainly important because it allows us to change our environment accordingly. We may be susceptible to a hereditary disease, but we can do something about it. For example, if you feel you are at high risk for breast cancer because of family history, there are certain foods you can eat (e.g. the brassica family of vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower contain the phytochemical sulforaphane shown to have anti-cancer properties), supplements you can take, and lifestyle changes you can make.

Similarly, if you have the celiac gene, knowing your genetic predisposition to the disease arms you with the information to remove gluten from your diet for your best chance at health. And so on. Our genotype (DNA) is important because it is a part of the equation—having knowledge about our DNA helps us take action for health. But, it is not the full equation. Our environment is also a part of the equation.

There are no guarantees in life, but by living a Four Quadrant Life you are proactively doing your best to beat the odds. For me, it's 14 years later and I'm still beating the odds.

If you have a particular health issue you are concerned about, contact Four Quadrant Living to discuss what things can be done specifically to reduce your risk. And, if you have not yet signed up for our newsletter, be sure to subscribe to get your free 47 page Getting Started Guide: Taking Your First Step on the 4QL Journey.

If you are living in fear about a certain health issue, it's time to choose empowerment instead!


Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Published in Body Blog
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 18:15

7 Ideas for a Less Stressful Holiday Season

Last year I wrote Stop the (Holiday) Madness with the focus on giving a gift to the environment by reducing waste. This year I am inspired to focus on giving a gift to ourselves by reducing stress. I'm already feeling the holiday energy in the air. Christmas decorations have been out for weeks now, shopping has already begun, and neighbors have begun to hang their holiday lights. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. The holiday season is officially here!

This time of year can be both joyful and stressful. There is joy in the parties, holiday lights, caroling, gift opening, Santa sightings, family time, and more. But there is also stress in the crowded malls, family dynamics, obligatory gift giving, holiday card sending, travel, and so on. This year how about vowing to actively make the joyful times outweigh the stressful ones? Here are 7 ways to help make this happen. 

1. Give less. Oftentimes we get into a routine of who we buy gifts for. Even if we are feeling like we want to cut back on our gift giving, we are afraid of hurting the other person's feelings—assuming that they want to exchange gifts. More often than not, the other person is feeling the same way. It doesn't hurt to ask. Just this week I brought up birthday gift exchange to a group of running friends. We get together every few months to celebrate birthdays. The gift giving has mushroomed as our group has gotten larger. This is in addition to a very fun night out where we buy drinks and often dinner for the birthday girl(s). I asked my friends how they were feeling about the gift giving, figuring it was a good time to reevaluate as we headed into a new year of celebrations.

Out of 10 women, all voted to no longer do a gift exchange. We were all feeling the same way, but no one wanted to say anything. For me, spending time with my friends really is the gift. I'm all about simplifying our lives where we can. Don't get me wrong—gift giving is great, but less so when it feels like an obligation and causes stress. I have a friend who has to buy holiday gifts for 44 people this year. That's insane! She texted and said "I just want to be done with my shopping to enjoy the holiday spirit in the air." Look at your list. Can you pare it down at all? Would your friends or family be up for drawing names and just buying for one person—saving everyone time and money? For the shopping you do have to do, you can make it less stressful by shopping online or buying gift cards, movie tickets, or spa certificates. You can also donate to their favorite charity or give them a voucher for an activity with you.

Another idea is to create traditions that your family and friends look forward to over the holidays, reducing the importance of material items and increasing the importance of family time. Some of my favorite traditions are building ginger bread houses, cooking together, building puzzles, playing games, and driving through the neighborhood listening to holiday music, and seeing the holiday lights.

2. Send fewer cards. I used to send holiday cards but I don't anymore. I have to admit, I don't miss the extra "to-do" around the holidays. If you are going to send cards, think about just sending to those friends and family who are out-of-town that you do not see as often. I will often send a card to a handful of relatives I don't see often to let them know how I am doing. Another idea is to send electronic cards or post a holiday video to your friends on YouTube.

3. Ask for help. I have two friends that put up their trees and decorate the house all on their own and it's a lot of work. How about making a mini-party out of it and inviting a few friends over to help? Play some holiday music, serve up some eggnog, and have fun with it. Last year I helped a friend take down her Christmas tree and it was a great way to spend quality time together. Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you are hosting the holidays, ask others to bring side dishes to make it less stressful for you. Let your "guests" (your friends and family who want to help you) assist with clean up. Before you move on to the next idea, list one way you can ask for help this year.

4. Eat well, exercise, and sleep. It's tempting to go a little crazy from Thanksgiving through New Years with eating poorly, exercising less, and sleeping fewer hours. It's okay to indulge, certainly. I'm a big proponent of pleasure as a part of health. But you don't want to give yourself permission to go hog wild for the month because you won't feel good during or after. Enjoy the goodies, just watch your portion size. Try to keep getting out for some exercise. Make exercise dates if you have to. I'm a great motivator to my friends in the warmer months to join me for exercise but as it turns colder, I often need a nudge. Making exercise plans with friends gets me out the door. And don't sacrifice sleep! Lack of sleep can make you cranky and make the holidays all the more stressful. (If you do overindulge and feel like you need to detoxify from the holidays, our next detox session begins January 7. You do not have to be local to participate as the sessions are done over the phone. Sign up today!).

5. Be grateful. Whatever stress you are feeling, turn it into a gratitude. For example:

  • I'm stressed I have to buy so many gifts. → I'm grateful I have the money to do so and the people in my life to buy for.
  • I'm stressed I have to travel during the holidays. → I'm grateful I have friends and family to celebrate with.
  • I'm stressed (depressed) because I miss my departed loved ones during this time. → I'm grateful for my memories and that they were a part of my life. (Perhaps there is a way you can honor them by talking about the favorite holiday gift they gave you, your favorite holiday memory with them, or their favorite holiday tradition).

Is there a stress → gratitude that you came up with? If so, share it in the comment section below.

6. Take a time out. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a time out—even if it is just for a few minutes. If you are shopping frantically at the mall and are wearing yourself down, stop and just sit somewhere. Watch the other shoppers, appreciate the festiveness of the mall, and just quiet your mind. After your break, go back at it! Whether you are at the mall or not, take a time out and just be still for a few minutes (and try idea #5 during your time out). Also, remember to breathe. Breathing really can help you move from a stress response in your body to calm. Even just five deep breaths can help.

7. Let go of perfection. Your house doesn't need to be perfectly clean, the meal doesn't need to be gourmet, the gifts don't need to be professionally wrapped. With love behind the hosting, cooking, and gift giving—perfection doesn't matter.

Are you already feeling stressed for the holiday season? If so, what things are the most stressful for you? We want to hear from you. Share your comments in the section below. For those of you who have made changes from years past to reduce stress around this time, share your ideas with us below. What has helped you to have a less stressful holiday season?

I wish you all a happy, calm, joyful, fun, relaxing holiday season! If you need help during this time to manage your stress, I am available for consultations.


Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Published in Mind Blog
Tuesday, 30 October 2012 01:45

Who's Your Accountability Buddy?

Is there something in your life that you've been trying to do but just haven't been able to get it done? Like losing those few extra pounds but just can't? Exercising more but it's not happening? Starting your own business but not getting it off the ground? Doing that new hobby but not making the time? Maybe it's time for an accountability buddy!

Accountability partners can be near or far. They can be friends or acquaintances. They can be for work, exercise, diet, fun—anything you are trying to make happen in your life but are having trouble doing on your own. For work, I've got two accountability partners. Varsha is my Monday at 1:30pm accountability partner and Kenn is my Friday at 11:30am one. Varsha lives in London and I live in California, but distance is not a barrier for us. We talk via Skype. If there is a time when we can't make it, we email our goals for the week. We are both trying to grow our own businesses (and I'm trying to get my book published) so we are helping each other stay on track with weekly tasks to move forward. Being in business for myself is great, but motivation for progress has to come from within since I am the boss. I set my own deadlines, so if I miss them, I only have to answer to myself. Varsha is a friend from graduate school and is in the health field as well, Illuminated Health, so it's helpful to have her to bounce ideas off of since she understands my business.

Kenn, on the other hand, is someone I just recently met and is not in my same field. He creates websites, Coaching Sites That Work. I met Kenn through a LinkedIn group. After a few exchanges, Kenn said he liked my vibe and wanted to know if I was interested in talking regularly to help each other stay accountable. There are benefits to having an accountability buddy where there isn't the familiarity of friendship. With Kenn, I feel a little more push to meet my deadlines. Kenn is not in my same line of work, bringing a different perspective to the conversation. I am enjoying having my two work accountability buddies that each bring something unique to our collaboration.

Kenn has been good about helping me see the value in the quick win. For example, last Friday I set my goal as, "I'm going to send my book proposal to five publishers next week." Kenn nudged me to break it down even more by identifying that day one of the publishers I would be sending it to. He then asked if I could commit to sending out one proposal on Monday. This way I would get the quick win of having taken a first step at the beginning of the week to get the momentum going rather than starting the week with the big lofty goal of five for the week. I had already identified one by the time I was off the call with him and today I know I have to send one out. These little wins help us get past the stuck spots.

For exercise, I have a few ways I stay accountable. On Thursdays, I meet with a group of women to run. We call it "RePeets" because we meet at Peet's coffee shop so that after we are done running repeats, we can enjoy a drink together. This run happens regularly every Thursday at 9am, rain or shine. There are enough people on the list so that on any given day, anywhere from two to ten women will be there. We're accountable to each other. You can set up a Facebook group to keep in touch or an email distribution list. I've created a group on Facebook for weekly Saturday trail runs I coordinate. This list has grown organically to 98 members just through word of mouth. If I stop posting runs, I'll get asked by others on the list about where the weekend run is. I have no doubt that if I didn't set up this group, I would have run half as much on the trails as I did this summer. The accountability encouraged me to make it happen. It was something I wanted to do, but I needed that push.

For diet, I've had clients who find it helpful to email me their food journal daily. Having the accountability of knowing that someone will be seeing what they ate helps them to make better choices. I have another client who uses My Fitness Pal, an online diet and fitness community, to track her food and exercise. She has friends who also use this online tool and she can see what her friends have posted and vice versa.

I mention all of these examples to emphasize the point that there are many ways to set up accountability for all areas of your life. It's about stating it publicly and putting yourself on the hook. In my recent blog post, See It. Say It. Do It., I mentioned that when I was training for my first marathon seven years ago, I read The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer and it said to tell one new person every day that "I am a marathoner." It's about accountability and putting your goal out there. Every day I did tell someone new that I was training for a marathon and it made it more and more of a reality. It became a goal I was truly committed to.

Here are a few steps you can take to help get you started:

1. Identify the area(s) in your life that you want to move forward but have been unable to do so on your own.

2. Find an accountability partner. This can be a friend, an acquaintance, a group, or an online connection.

3. Set up regular check-in dates via phone, Skype, or email. This is a very important step to making this work.

4. Set weekly, manageable goals to help each other stay on track. (Remember to set up those quick wins too to get the momentum going).

I want to hear from you. What area(s) in your life do you need an accountability buddy and how are you going to make it happen?

Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Published in Relationships Blog
Tuesday, 04 September 2012 11:00

Cancer and Health

Cancer. I've seen it up close and personal and it's not pretty. My sister had stage 3 breast cancer when she was 31 back in 1998. She went through chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, surgery, and radiation. She had an aggressive cancer and she needed aggressive treatment. She survived the disease and the treatment (Go Deb!). She's one of the lucky ones.

Cancer is just all too prevalent these days. Each year 12.7 million people in the world learn they have cancer, and 7.6 million people die from the disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., beat out only by heart disease. The good news is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of cancer deaths can be avoided through prevention, and another third through early detection and treatment.

For those with cancer, nutrition can promote general well-being and support the body's innate healing process. It can work complementary to conventional treatment by reducing side effects and increasing the efficacy of treatment. It is interesting to note that women who have had breast cancer die of heart disease more often than they do from the cancer itself, likely because of the aggressive treatments needed to battle the cancer. Taking this into consideration can impact nutritional and supplemental recommendations.

There is mounting research showing that nutrition, lifestyle, and environmental changes can help with the prevention of cancer as well as with support during cancer treatment. Cancer rates vary across countries, associated with processed and refined diets. The rate of tumors that progress to detection is 5 to 10 times greater in high risk (poor diet) countries than low risk (healthy diet) countries. If we want to give ourselves the best chance for disease prevention and health promotion, we need to eat and live well.

In the interest of not making this blog too lengthy (okay, not lengthier than it already is), I'll focus on a client I worked with recently who had Stage 1 breast cancer a year prior. She had a lumpectomy and radiation for treatment. Although this blog emphasizes breast cancer, many of the recommendations are beneficial for other types of cancer (and for health in general). Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the U.S. (the lifetime risk is 1 in 8) and is second only to lung cancer for the most common cause of cancer death.

For diet
, I recommended the following:

  • Emphasize phytonutrients with anti-cancer properties. By eating a rainbow assortment of fruits and vegetables, particularly the dark color produce, you don't have to know about which food gives you what benefit but you are assured of getting the variety of nutrients. Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, but can also be found in beans, nuts, herbs, and grains. They help fight free radicals which are known to promote cancer. Some examples of good phytonutrients are:
         – Lignans - flaxseeds
         – Ellagic acid - grapes, strawberries, raspberries
         – Chlorophyll - Brussels sprouts, leafy greens
         – Carotenoids - carrots, yams, squash
         – Categchins - green tea
         – Sulforaphane - brocolli sprouts
         – Curcumin - turmeric
         – Allyl sulfides - garlic, onions
  • Choose an anti-inflammatory diet. An anti-inflammatory diet is important because inflammation increases the growth of blood vessels that feed the cancer. For a low inflammatory diet, avoid processed foods, trans fats, and high lectin foods. Lectins are carbohydrate binding proteins found in plants. High lectin foods include legumes, grains, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers). It is also beneficial to eat foods high in omega-3s and to eliminate food allergens (top offenders are gluten, dairy, and soy).
  • Balance blood sugar. The insulin surges from the lack of blood sugar regulation feeds inflammation. To balance blood sugar, eat protein with all meals and snacks.
  • Get Omega-3s. My client does not like fish, so I recommended she take a fish oil supplement. If you like fish, good omega-3 choices include salmon, mackerel, halibut, and sardines. Fish oil contains EPA and DHA which keep the blood from clotting too quickly and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Other good sources of Omega-3s include walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
  • Eat organic foods, especially for the higher pesticide produce.
  • Buy hormone-free meats. Foods that are not hormone-free could contain estrogenic hormones that are given to animals to promote growth.
  • Limit packaged foods, trans fat, hydrogenated oils, and refined sugar. Limiting sugar is essential for those with cancer because insulin surges feed inflammation.
  • Avoid carcinogenic foods such as foods that are smoked, barbecued, or treated with nitrates.
  • Eat whole grains. My client does not eat a lot of carbs because she is concerned they will make her gain weight. When she does eat carbs, it is wheat bread or cereal. I suggested she'd benefit from substituting these carbs with better grains like brown rice or quinoa. This will help increase her fiber intake and help keep her full longer. Some studies show that fiber is beneficial for breast cancer prevention.
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol. (Drink more water.) Some studies show that consuming as few as three alcoholic drinks a week increases the potential for breast cancer by 50%. Alcohol may interfere with the liver's ability to detoxify chemicals and excess estrogen in the body. My client used to drink a lot of caffeinated beverages throughout the day. Coffee is an adrenal stimulant and burdens the liver so that it is less able to detoxify the body. Switching to decaffeinated green tea would be a good substitution.
  • Do a detox. Detoxing periodically is a great cancer prevention strategy. Detoxing helps to keep the immune system healthy, keeps inflammation down, and helps reduce free radical damage. For those with cancer, I would not recommend doing a detox until a year after treatment when the body is strong enough.

If you are interested, you can download a handout I created highlighting key anticancer foods including green tea, turmeric, cruciferous vegetables, berries, and garlic & onions.well.

Cancer and health, like "Autoimmune Disease and Health", is a four quadrant endeavor. It is important that you are healthy in all aspects of your life—Mind, Body, Relationships, and Environment.

For lifestyle, I recommended a few changes as well:

  • Reduce stress. My client has a lot of stress in her life. We talked about what type of stress-reducing activities would work for her. After tossing out a few ideas, she liked "kitty meditation." Three times a week, she committed to spending 5-10 minutes doing nothing but snuggling with her cats. During this time, she is mindful—hearing the sound of the purr and feeling the softness of the fur. For more ideas on finding your own style of meditation, read Meditation with Hollywood. Other ideas she came up with was walking with her husband after dinner and taking 5 minute work breaks with relaxing music or guided meditations recorded on her iPod. She also decided to try listening to relaxing music on her drive home instead of listening to news radio. What are the ways that you can reduce stress in your life?
  • Exercise more. My client did not exercise very much. I recommended that she get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. This is good for people who like structures and goals. Another idea is to make walk or gym dates with a friend. You are more likely to cancel out on yourself than a friend. One study showed that women who engaged in up to 2 hours of brisk walking a week had an 18% lower risk of getting breast cancer. Exercise is also great for reducing stress. For other exercise ideas, read Movement by Gypsy.
  • Reduce exposure to radiation. Opt out of the radiation machines at the airport, requesting a body pat-down instead. I do this all of the time. And, I know my next recommendation may be controversial, but I suggest that my clients who have had breast cancer or are concerned about breast cancer do their research about mammograms. I am also at risk for breast cancer and for me, personally, I get mammograms sparingly. I don't get them yearly. I do them every other year. Instead, I do yearly MRIs. Other good detection techniques include regular self and physician exams. Mammograms provide direct radiation to the breast. Radiation causes free radicals which promote cancer. A Canadian study of almost 90,000 women aged 40-49 at 15 hospitals across Canada found a 30-50% increase in deaths from breast cancer among women over 40 who had annual mammograms versus those who were given only physical exams. Everyone needs do their own research, weigh the options, and make the decision that is best for them.
  • Reduce exposure to toxins by choosing natural beauty and cleaning products. Another good idea is to get an air cleaner in your house.

There are several supplements I have recommended for my cilent.

  • Vitamin D. In an initial blood test, my client showed a Vitamin D level of 25ng/ml. She now takes Vitamin D to get her up into the 60 to 80 range.
  • Omega-3 fish oils. As mentioned above, omega-3s are great for reducing inflammation and so much more.
  • DIM is a supplement that can bind to estrogen receptors, displacing the body's estrogen which is beneficial for those concerned about breast cancer risk.
  • Curcumin. As mentioned above, curcumin is a powerful antioxidant.
  • Sulphoraphane. As mentioned above, this is a powerful phytonutrient and has anticancer properties. I recommended a supplement that is a cultivated form of broccoli seed.

I don't have all the answers. No one does. For my own health, I do the research and make the best decisions for me. As a health coach, I can give recommendations to my clients based on what I have learned from studying the research and working with other clients, but ultimately my clients are the ones that need to make the best decisions for themselves. There are no guarantees that if we live well, we won't get cancer or another disease. But, for me, there is enough evidence showing that how we live and what we eat can impact our health. I want to give myself the best fighting chance I can to stay healthy.

This is part of a series looking at specific diseases and what can be done from a nutritional and lifestyle standpoint. Also part of this series is Autoimmune Disease and Health, Heart Disease and Health, Diabetes and Health, and more. These will be forthcoming.


Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Published in Body Blog
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 10:33

Seven Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

It is November which means the holidays are rapidly approaching. Later this month we will be tempted by pumpkin pie and stuffing. Soon after that it will be December and the temptations of sweets and desserts will abound. There is no doubt that the stress of the holidays and the availability of unhealthy food can be a challenge to our healthy eating plan.

Here are a few ideas to stay healthy during the holidays.

1. Eat mindfully. For example, when you are at the Thanksgiving table, mindfully eat your favorite foods. Savor the stuffing and pumpkin pie. Part of health is pleasure. If we deprive ourselves of our favorite foods or feel we cannot (or should not) join in with special meal sharing with our friends and family, it affects our health in other ways. Stressing about eating is counterproductive to our health. Give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday meals. Just enjoy them mindfully.

2. Throw it out. If there is leftover Halloween candy or food from a holiday party, it is okay to throw it out. If someone bakes you cookies, you can freeze some for later. Do not feel obligated to eat all of the unhealthful food that comes your way. It is okay to mindfully indulge, but there is no reason to mindlessly indulge daily from now until New Years. It may seem like a waste of money to throw out food, but it is better than compromising your health.

3. Eat your vegetables. Load up on vegetables so you fill up with healthy foods. This will help prevent you from going overboard with the not-so-healthy food choices.

4. Go small. Use smaller serving plates to keep portions under control. We consume an average of 92% of what we put on our plate, so it is worth paying attention to what we feed ourselves. A two inch difference in plate diameter—from 12" to 10" plates—results in 22% fewer calories being served. Assuming a typical dinner has 800 calories, a smaller plate would lead to weight loss of approximately 18 pounds per year for an average size adult (Small Plate Movement).

5. Switch it up. Eat with your non-dominant hand to slow down your eating.

6. Leave it. Decide that it is okay to leave food on your plate if you are full.

7. Wait. If you are still hungry, allow a few minutes before reaching for seconds. It takes 20 minutes for the fullness in our stomach to reach our brains which is why we can reach the point of being stuffed. Waiting before you go in for seconds may give you enough time to realize that you are not hungry anymore.

The holidays do not need to mean the choice between weight gain or deprivation. Find the middle ground and enjoy your favorite foods this holiday season.


Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Published in Body Blog
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Published Articles

Green Exercise: Good for the Sole and Soul
Natural Awakenings, March 2011

Sustainable Danville Area: Find Your People
Danville Today News, February 2012 (Page 6)

Are Genetically Modified Foods Making Your Child Sick?
Active Kids, June 2012 (Page 23)