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4 steps to vibrant health

4 Steps to Vibrant Health

June 21st, 2018 Posted by Health 0 thoughts on “4 Steps to Vibrant Health”

Magic Tricks & Vibrant Health? 

Are there similarities between a magician’s sleight of hand tricks and a lack of vibrant health? While the two topics may seem unrelated, you could argue that conceptually, one causes the other. Imagine big food corporations as magicians. Over the past 50+ years they have been simultaneously mesmerizing our taste buds and desire for convenience with one hand while using their other to convince all involved that what they produce and sell is “food”. Our health is now saying, “What happened? How’d they do that?”

Profit-seeking food producers have wooed us with convenience, expensive marketing campaigns, and eye-catching packaging. While paying attention to all the bells and whistles that entice us to purchase and eat these products we forget to question the quality and type of ingredients being put into them. Without realizing it, we relinquished control over what we’re eating, and I’d argue our health as well, to companies more concerned with increasing their bottom line than the increasing size of their customers. In an article published December 26, 2017, Dr. Kenneth Cusi writes, “…obesity is at its highest level ever, with about 40 percent of U.S. adults and 18.5 percent of children, considered obese.” Abracadabra! Nothing up my sleeve.

“Edible Food-Like Substances”

These food companies employ food scientists to concoct combinations that trick our brains into thinking we are eating something our bodies want. These scientists work in a kitchen lab mixing artificial flavors and colors, and adding highly refined sweeteners and trans fats. Abracadabra, they have created a product that tastes, looks and smells like food we want to eat. To make them stable and last on the shelves longer they mix in chemicals to preserve freshness, color, taste and hold things together. A 2016 Forbes article reports on research that found a “whopping 58% of the calories consumed by Americans and 90% of America’s added sugar intake” come from ultra-processed foods. The study defines ultra-processed foods as “industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations.”

I believe that we can unite together to put real food onto our plates and fight the health crisis that obesity is creating. Let’s take back control over the ingredients we’re consuming by choosing more unprocessed foods and cooking at home. It’s time to get the magicians out of the kitchen.

4 steps to vibrant health

What is Vibrant Health & How Do I Get There?

Vibrant can mean energetic, lively, vital, active, passionate, vivacious, happy and tireless. We would all like to strive for a life full of those adjectives, right? Health is a condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit. It’s a condition in which someone is thriving or doing well and free from physical disease or pain. You can assemble your own definition of vibrant health, but we like to think that we have achieved vibrant health when we are happy, bursting with energy, disease free and pain doesn’t limit our ability to participate in the activities we enjoy.

At TimeChop we believe that having a weekly meal plan and cooking at home with a variety of real, whole food ingredients to create plant-strong meals puts you on a road to vibrant health. This is the focus of the class we launched at the Bend, Oregon Natural Grocers on June 12th. And, it’s the message we will continue to spread as we take this class on the road through Oregon in June and Colorado in July. Keep checking our events page to see when we’ll be at a Natural Grocers near you. Remember, vibrant health is our destination and we want to show you what, how and where you eat will help you arrive at that destination.

4 steps to vibrant health

Our 4 Steps to Vibrant Health

1. Eat a Variety of Foods

As the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life.” When you pack for a vacation you choose clothes for a variety of activities and weather. Similarly, it’s important to approach filling your grocery bags each week with a variety of foods. This is the easiest way to ensure that you eat all the nutrients your body needs to thrive and achieve or maintain vibrant health. Even if you are eating broccoli and kale with a clean protein like grass-fed beef or organic black beans everyday for dinner, you’ll be deficient in some important vitamins and minerals.

TimeChop makes eating a varied diet easy. For example, our newest plan of connected meals uses red cabbage, spinach, romaine, carrots, celery, bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes (yams), fresh basil and cilantro. However, we plan meals to use these ingredients more than once during the week. No one wants to buy a head of cabbage or a bunch of cilantro and only use it in one recipe before it spoils. We create our recipes to optimize these ingredients throughout the week. Then we shake it up by combining the ingredients in different ways to give you a varied palate of flavorful meals throughout the week.

4 steps to vibrant health

2. Cook at Home

Cooking from home is the vehicle we use to get us to our vibrant health destination. The act of cooking from scratch, at home, is a dying tradition and skill in America. Fewer children are growing up in homes where the evening meal is prepped, created and cooked in their kitchen. It used to be a tradition passed down from one generation to the next, but with the advent of TV dinners, fast food diners and dual income families the home kitchen soon became the least popular room in the house. Our society has become dependent on quick meals, readily available take-out and read-to-eat foods from the grocery store. With this, the health of Americans has declined as rapidly as their waist size has increased. In addition, young people, just starting out on their own, aren’t equipped with the skills and knowledge on how to plan, shop and cook for themselves.

We want to get people back into the kitchen where basic cooking gives you control over the ingredients you consume, and empowers you to have a positive impact on your health. We are creating a new series of Express meal plans that are designed to give you some options for 10, 15 and 20 minute dinners and 5-8 minute lunches (when you assemble them before cleaning up after dinner). In addition, this meal plan shows you how easy it is to create a versatile veggie patty using only 9 ingredients compared to the 29 ingredients in a popular frozen veggie burger. This meal plan is a good place to start when you don’t want to spend time cooking, but you know it’s the healthier and cheaper option.

4 steps to vibrant health

3. Use Real, Whole Ingredients

Every vehicle needs clean fuel to reach its destination. You wouldn’t add sugar water to your gas tank and expect your car to run better. It would break down and require a trip to the mechanic. The same holds true for our bodies. We need clean fuel that keeps us running efficiently and disease free. On our road to vibrant health we keep our kitchen stocked with real, whole ingredients. We focus on using food that doesn’t come with its own set of ingredients. 

Michael Pollan’s first rule in his book, Food Rules, is “Eat Food”. He goes on to explain that he is talking about real food and not the “edible food-like substances” designed by food scientists and containing ingredients “no normal person keeps in the pantry.”

However, to achieve the express meals, mentioned above, we will need to carefully choose some minimally processed ingredients. We look for “shortcut” ingredients like canned beans, condiments, sauces, etc… that contain ingredients we recognize and can pronounce. Sometimes taking a shortcut in the kitchen is what it takes to cook at home. 

One reason we are excited to be teaching at Natural Grocers stores is their commitment to the “Highest Quality Products.” As this founding principle states, “Every product on our shelves must go through a rigorous screening and approval process. Our standards are second to none and our suppliers are continually evaluated to ensure their dedication to our guidelines. Providing the highest quality groceries and supplements, Natural Grocers branded products and only USDA certified organic fresh produce at the best prices in the industry are part of our mission.”

It’s great to shop worry-free with affordable pricing.

4 steps to vibrant health

4. Create a Weekly Plan

For us it boils down to having a plan. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Without a weekly meal plan the best intentions can fall apart. When you’re tired and hungry and don’t know what to make it’s a lot easier to grab a take-out meal on the way home, or heat up a frozen box of something. You may have a fridge full of leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, a chicken breast and brown rice in the pantry. Even so, hunger and exhaustion will lead you astray if you don’t know how to quickly turn them into something you want to eat.

I started meal planning when I was first married 27 years ago. I was a first grade teacher and if I didn’t have a dinner plan when I arrived home, exhausted from a day spent on my feet with 25 six year olds, we would be ordering pizza or Chinese take-out. 

As our family grew, meal planning took more time. However, I needed this itinerary to keep us eating healthful, home cooked meals. I spent hours on Sundays crafting a weekly meal plan. I read magazines, cookbooks or looked on-line for recipes I wanted to try. Then the tedious task of figuring out what to have with the main dish would frustrate me. I wanted a cookbook that would give recipes for the entire meal perfectly paired with the main and side dishes. 

TimeChop will help you create a weekly lunch and dinner meal plan in 5 minutes. We’ve done the hard work of putting meals together to optimize ingredients throughout the week and share prep time. On top of that, these are complete meals. Often they are one-dish meals that nourish you with the macro and micro nutrients you need for vibrant health.

4 steps to vibrant health

Back to Mother Nature 

Magicians can be very entertaining, but there’s no magic or mystery to vibrant health. Food-like substances are not real food and our health is declining to critical levels. Stick with mother nature and follow these four simple steps to vibrant health.

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My Two Gremlins

April 23rd, 2018 Posted by Health, MoJo Working 0 thoughts on “My Two Gremlins”

I’ve often thought that my life stages could be defined by the cars I’ve owned. I drove a Honda Civic as a young single professional in San Francisco. As my career and family grew I moved on to a BMW 325 and an Acura MDX. But my very first car, a 1976 AMC Gremlin, is only one of my gremlins and a great analogy for today’s MOJO update. (more…)

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System Bias. My Gluten and Gluten Free Journey to Higher Performance

April 15th, 2018 Posted by Health, MoJo Working 0 thoughts on “System Bias. My Gluten and Gluten Free Journey to Higher Performance”

I love the concept of cause and effect. For many years, I managed a team of business analysts and product owners. For whatever problem or new feature, we would always try to find the “root” cause. We would create fishbone or Ishikawa charts to illustrate. We’d ask the “5 why’s” to make sure we weren’t looking at a symptom. We’d “drill down” and make sure we used data to drive our decisions. But what do you do when there’s so much system bias that you can’t trust any of the information available? 

I think everyone now understands that in mature economies, we have a weight problem. With over 36% of US adults considered obese, and even more in the overweight classification, we see disease skyrocketing. Heart disease, diabetes, IBS, etc., etc. It’s difficult to perform at your best when we struggle with all these symptoms.

So why bring this up? My experience with Gluten. 

I’ve never had intolerances to food. I could eat anything. But 10 years ago, while launching my first startup, I started to have digestive issues. I thought this was just stress. After all, this was 2008 when the banking crisis hit and most venture capital investment went to support already funded startups. So what did I do? I tried to get more sleep, workout more, relax. I found that drinking diet Pepsi instead of Diet Coke lessened my symptoms. I cut back to one can a day. But the problem persisted. 

A few years later, post startup and now back at a big tech company, the reduced stress didn’t translate to feeling better. In fact, there were times when I’d find myself with very achy joints. The digestive discomfort was still there. Sometimes, I’d wake up with brain fog which I attributed to lack of sleep. 

I stopped drinking my daily soda thinking that might help. I didn’t feel a noticeable change; at least one that I could say was completely cause and effect.

One Saturday morning

Thérèse was at the counter with laptop open. Typical, she was investigating food, recipes, ingredients and disease. She showed me the following questions up on her screen. (the website is no longer active, but here is a more extensive list

  1. Do you have digestion problems
  2. Do you get skin rashes
  3. Do you ever have brain fog
  4. Do you feel tired upon waking after a full nights sleep

I answered yes to all four. Reading on, the questions indicated my body was having difficulty digesting gluten. I had heard of this, but didn’t know much about it. With what I consider a food expert and trusted consultant sitting next to me, I didn’t need to research further and I knew I wanted to feel better. I decided right then that I would go on a gluten free lifestyle. (Notice I didn’t say diet. My intention was to change my eating habits for the long term.)

30 days of gluten free living later

I felt better with one exception. While most of my friends were supportive, there were a few that thought I was stupid, crazy or just weird.  “This gluten thing is just a fad” was the typical statement. So there was this nagging thought and for every article that said I was right to go off gluten, there was another one that said it would have no affect. Was I stupid or crazy?

A quick recap

I was having digestive issues that I thought was from stress and lack of sleep. I improved my stress and sleep levels and found no significant impact. I changed my soda habit; no significant change. People thought I was wacky to try removing gluten, but I did and started to feel better, even when some science had contradictory views. And yes, I stopped drinking beer.

Fast forward

After 15 months, I’m feeling much better. My digestive issues are gone. No brain fog, No achy joints. Except when I eat gluten. If I go out and eat a slice of pizza, or have a few beers, these symptoms immediately show up the next day. So I stay off gluten.

Now, after another few years, a strange thing has happened. I can eat gluten. I can go out and have a few beers or a slice or two. And the next day I’m OK. Now I can’t do this every day as I’ve found out. But I can do it occasionally with no issues.

So want have I learned from this experience?

  1. You may not know the cause before you start.
  2. You will find conflicting information, even from science and experts; system bias is everywhere.
  3. Persistence is important. Don’t give up.
  4. It helps to have support of family and friends.
  5. Identify the critical measure and stay true to it. For me, it was feeling better without using medicine. The only person that could tell me if I was succeeding was me.

And this brings me to FODMAPs and Nightshades.

My issue turned out to be gluten. For Thérèse it’s soy. For others, dairy. The critical fact is that our bodies are different and our lifestyles are different as well. Too often we try to find the one answer to solve a symptom without realizing the root cause may not be the same from one person to another. 

IBS and other digestive and inflammatory diseases have many different causes. Currently there is conflicting science about the affects of removing these ingredients from our diets. My advice is to remember that we are all different and what works for you may not work for me. Be supportive of those who are on their own journey of trying to feel


And if the identification and reintroduction is overly complicated, the new TimeChop release includes simple switches to turn on identification of these ingredients in each of the recipes and on the automated grocery list.

For those of you on your journey, keep at it. You are not alone, but your specific circumstances might make you unique. It takes persistence and belief. Remember, you are the only true measure of success.

PS. Mojo update is on hold this week do to traveling. Look for my progress next week.

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Pure is a Good Thing

April 9th, 2018 Posted by Health, MoJo Working 0 thoughts on “Pure is a Good Thing”

Oh that’s pure! When you hear that, you immediately think it’s good, whatever “it” is. Gold, a golf swing, silicon, maple syrup, a diamond, a selfless deed, an emotion. Water. Yet, when we think of food, we completely disregard the goodness of pure, clean food and instead opt for processed food with added color, addictive flavorings and enhanced shelf life. Why the double standard? It’s Mojo update week 14. (more…)

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Three Weight Loss Learnings

April 2nd, 2018 Posted by Health, MoJo Working 0 thoughts on “Three Weight Loss Learnings”

With over 80% of New Year’s Diet resolutions not making it through February, here’s an honest update of my lifestyle formula experiment and my 3 key learnings from real food weight loss the past quarter. It’s Mojo week 13 and if you want to lose weight, take a long term, real whole food approach. And get TimeChop if you don’t know how to cook simple, healthy and tasty meals.


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Three Coach Sayings for Heathy Eating

March 26th, 2018 Posted by Health, MoJo Working 0 thoughts on “Three Coach Sayings for Heathy Eating”

Combining March Madness basketball, the start of the college lacrosse and my 15 years experience coaching youth soccer, basketball and lacrosse has reminded me of some solid coach sayings. One of these in particular is now an official “Dad” saying. But how do these relate to healthy eating? It’s MoJo week 12.

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March 19th, 2018 Posted by Health, MoJo Working 0 thoughts on “Madness”

This weekend was disappointing on a number of fronts. Not only is my bracket in shambles (like most everyone else), but I gained a pound even though I should have been neutral. Is my formula wrong? Can all the analysis and understanding be wrong? This madness means it’s time for a closer look. (more…)

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What Can Long Term Investing Teach Us About Health?

March 12th, 2018 Posted by Health, MoJo Working 0 thoughts on “What Can Long Term Investing Teach Us About Health?”

In the stock market, it’s said there are investors and speculators, with the major difference being the amount of risk assumed. I think the same can be said for those seeking a healthy lifestyle, and those looking for a quick fix diet. Want a low risk way to better health? Be a nutrition investor. It’s week 10 of my MoJo experiment. (more…)

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Potatoes, The Grand Illusion

March 5th, 2018 Posted by Connected Meals, Health, MoJo Working 0 thoughts on “Potatoes, The Grand Illusion”

I’ve been able to spend a good amount of time recently with some of my very best friends. Because of TimeChop, health and diet are a frequent conversation. One thing I’ve realized is that our love for potatoes, one of my favorite foods, is a siren song pulling us towards an awful crash on unhealthy rocks. (more…)

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