Author Archives: thishealthyself


My exercise physiology professor was pretty funny. He would say things like, “Thinking about that just makes my ass pucker.” I have to tell ya, there are some things that make mine pucker too. One of those things is when correlation is taken and twisted into causation.  This drives me CRAY CRAY! Many don’t know the difference between the two and have never really pondered it and that’s ok. I’ll take you to school.Let’s start with an example from good ol’ wiki,

Sleeping with one’s shoes on is strongly correlated with waking up with a headache. Therefore, sleeping with one’s shoes on causes headache.

The above example commits the correlation-implies-causation fallacy, as it prematurely concludes that sleeping with one’s shoes on causes headache. A more plausible explanation is that both are caused by a third factor, in this case going to bed drunk, which thereby gives rise to a correlation. So the conclusion is false.

Here’s one that almost got me recently…

Nearly three quarters of prisoners   fall into the two lowest  reading levels. Many would read this and think, “Well golly gee! That means that a low reading level is the cause of imprisonment for nearly 75% of offenders!” Hold your pants on though. Can we all think of other things that could contribute to this? Children who never learn to read past a third grade level tend to come from what kind of home? They tend to have high rates of unemployment as well. I could list other CORRELATIONS here but my point is this: it could be their reading level, it could be their family and home environment, it could be their struggle to find and keep a job, or it could be a combination of all those things that contribute to someone finding themselves in the slammer.

Now what about this?

There is a strong correlation between those who are overweight an obese and heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, and other “obesity related” diseases. Therefore, being overweight or obese causes heart disease, diabetes, etc. But guess what? Most people who get these “obesity related” diseases aren’t eating well and they aren’t active or exercising and they aren’t good at managing stress. If you have ever watched “The Biggest Loser” you have seen the doctor with the bad hair scare the crap out of the morbidly obese contestants when they first get to the ranch. “You’re 50 but your real age is 75! You are going to die soon if you don’t get control of your health!” So they start working out an insane amount (seriously, insane) and they start eating tons more fruits, veggies, fish, fiber; stuff we are told that is good for us. A month or two later they go back to the doctor with the bad hair and he is praising them, “ You’re blood pressure is under control, your type-two diabetes is gone and y our lipid levels are under control!” But they are still at this point obese or morbidly obese. So is it how much they weigh or their diet and physical activity?  Chew on that.

Often times with correlations, we are just hearing part of the story (or the research) or a lot of times, the whole story just isn’t known yet. There is SO much correlational data out there on weight and health outcomes! It’s just insane! Why is there no absolute perfect diet that prevents disease better than all the rest? Because we just aren’t there yet! Mediterranean, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw… they all tout amazing health benefits! They all have research that shows wonderful correlations, but we don’t have enough good conclusive research that shows say, a paleo diet trumps the others in health benefits (sorry crossfitters). So how do you choose what healthy diet to eat? I’ll get to that in a later blog.

You can indeed be fat and fit. It’s true. You can also be model skinny and be super unhealthy. Also true. The skinnies won’t get hounded about their weight when they go into the doctor for a sore throat though, even though their body could be in worse shape than someone who is overweight. About once a week I’m taking you guys through a book called, “Health at Every Size.” Read those posts. The research and the information I’ll be sharing is fascinating. These posts will also bring to light a lot of “fatism” and lame cultural norms with body shapes that we have all become accustomed to. That stuff also makes me pucker.

There is so much more to say about this but I’ll have to divide it up and save it for future blog posts. For now, try to question the stuff you read and hear. More often than not when something is presented as fact, if you listen close enough, you’ll hear, “may… is linked to… is correlated with… is associated with…”  and remember these phrases don’t mean that going to sleep with shoes on causes a headache.


  • Blogspot: My desk
  • Listening to: Bon Iver Pandora station
  • Sipping on: Green tea


August 26, 2013

Last week I told you guys about the hypothalamus being the control center of food regulation. I told you that it sends and receives signals to help keep us in balance and maintain our set points. Leptin is made by your fat cells and is one of the hormones that sends those signals. If your current food and activity practices cause you to gain weight in the form of fat, your fat cells will pump out more Leptin. Leptin saunters up to the HT and tells him to get you to eat less, move more, and rev up your metabolism. Leptin is there to help get your fat cells down to the size before they started popping out too many fat cell babies. When we are dieting and losing weight, the reigns are pulled back on the leptin production to keep our appetites nice and hearty and our metabolism and activity down. This is one of the ways our bodies try to keep us at their preferred, preprogrammed weights. THIS. IS. COOL. Here is something that’s not as cool. Leptin works great up to a certain point. It does a bang up job of protecting us when it thinks we are headed into a famine (ahem, diet) but when our weight train passes a certain surplus station, the leptin signal isn’t strong enough to fully do its job. What this means is this: our bodies gain weight much easier than they lose it.  I’m sure many of you have probably already experienced this yourself. Our bodies will fight us on losing weight (thanks leptin!) and this is one of the reasons that people who are “doing everything they are supposed to do” can still struggle to lose weight.

Some of us have started to ignore leptin. One of the biggest ways do this is by overeating and not listening to our body tell us we are full (I’ll blog about becoming better listeners later). So Leptin is being it’s awesome self, doing its job trying to keep all hell from breaking loose in our fat cells (and by all hell breaking loose I mean us getting fatter than what our bodies were programmed to keep us at). But remember, all of our bodies are programmed differently most of our bodies weren’t programmed to look like the fake bodies on any of the magazines (I’ll rant about magazines later). When we ignore the leptin, our fat cells grow and pop out other fat cell babies. Those babies never go away. They are there to start sending signals too, signals like, “FEED ME!” This friends is called raising your set point. Those new fat cells want to be maintained and will send signals to help achieve this.

While our bodies may be slightly combative against our weight loss efforts, we can learn behaviors that don’t further muck up the system. You may be in a place where weight loss is very difficult or even impossible but preventing extra weight gain is totally doable and I’m super excited to walk you through this! If you’d like to get a jumpstart, shoot me an email and when can get started on some coaching sessions!



August 22, 2013

Everything except the fish, feta, and balsamic are from Gill’s garden! I am one lucky cook! I was just reading the other day about how people are starting to have mini sustainable fish farms in their backyards. After we get chickens I’ll have to put a bug in her ear for that. I’m not super hopeful, but how cool would that be?



August 19, 2013

What’s your temperature? Mine is 68 degrees. That’s what I like to keep my house at. This all goes to pot in the summer when I am at the mercy of the temperature outside, but in the cooler months, I like to keep it at 68. A lot of people don’t know this  but just as we all have preferred temperatures that our heaters or air conditioners work diligently to maintain, our bodies have preferred weights that they too work hard at maintaining. This weight is called your set point. Decades of research shows us that our bodies fight hard to maintain our set points. This system can work magnificently but we can screw it up by messing with it too much. As I go over this system, I’ll also go over the things we do to muck it up. The first key player in this system is our hypothalamus. This guy is the control center for a lot of cool stuff that happens in our bodies. If you want to know all of its functions, have yourself a little google session. One of its functions is food and water intake regulation. Wait, what?! There’s something in us other than our wills that can help to regulate how much we eat??? Yes, yes there is. The hypothalamus receives and sends signals in our bodies to help keep things in balance (homeostasis). Get this, this guy can change our cravings for food, how foods taste and even our activity levels. Ever come down with a case of the mighty couch potato when you are trying to get motivated and hit a diet hard? The ol’ HT may be influencing this (GASP! What a traitor!!). This is where we start to mess with the thermostat. We go on diets and try to get our bodies below the set point they want to be at so our HT revs up our cravings for say, fatty foods and tries to get us to rest more. We deny ourselves food when we are hungry; we deny ourselves of things our body wants us to do to maintain the weight it was programmed to maintain. Oh, and by the way, we all have different set points. We aren’t all programmed to be the size 2 models that all the celebrities are and weight loss programs advertise with. For real, we aren’t. So we start messing with our set points and our bodies start fighting back. Our bodies fight so hard that they may even raise our set points to protect the weight they want to maintain.

There are quite a few really cool experiments done on rats that show the HT fighting to maintain homeostasis. Some sweet research has been done on us humans too! For example, one study chose 100 participants who were currently at their set points (determined by being at a stable weight for at least six months). First, they made these peeps gain 10 percent of their original weight, and then made them lose that weight plus an extra 10 percent below their original weight. Regardless of the weights they entered the study with, when they gained the extra weight, their metabolism increased its power by 15 percent and when they lost weight, their metabolism slowed by 15 percent. Tell me that those bodies weren’t fighting to maintain a certain weight!!

If there is a weight that you keep returning to in between diets, that weight is probably your set point. If you aren’t happy with that weight then stay tuned! I’ll be blogging about that too!

Today you learned a smidge about the control center but next time I’ll be talking about Leptin, one of the hormone messengers that tells the HT what’s up. Hang out with me in the geek zone for a bit as we walk through some sciencey stuff!

Blogspot: window seat in my cottage

Listening to: Matt Corby

Drinking: Merlot, a cheap variety from the good ol’ Grocery Outlet.


Stay with me as I walk you through this book!

How does my garden grow? August 6, 2013

August 6, 2013

How does my garden grow? Well a few weeks ago nothing too exciting was happening and now all sorts of things are going on! My garden has even stepped it up since last week when I took these photos!I harvested my first tomato! I was more excited about this than what may be normal but “whatevs” as the young kids say. 


I also have some super juicy and flavorful strawberries growing! I know it seems late for them but this variety steadily produces it’s fruit over a longer period of time rather than all at once. I specifically chose them because of this. Perfect for this single lady!


My basil is amazing this year! This harvest made a bunch of vegan pesto. I used walnuts instead of pinenuts this time because pinenuts are so expensive. It’s not as amazing as pinenut pesto but it’s still really gosh darn great. Seriously. 


Check out these beautiful carrots!


My poor kohlrabi! Between the tomatoes and the flowers I moved by them they don’t get enough light! They are supposed to be round and about the size of a fist but my current gardening practices have them stretching for the light!


This purple cabbage is finally almost ready! 


I have six pickling cucumber plants starting to produce!


I’ve harvested two zuchs so far! I love to grill them and smear a bit of pesto on them or top them with red sauce and feta. So good!


I’ve also started seeds for a fall and winter garden. I got them going a little late (my gardening life story) so we’ll see. I have decided (I think) to not buy starts if these don’t work out. We’ll see if I can hold to that.


Everything but the feta and dressing is from my garden! Greens and strawberries, steamed broccoli, pesto green beans, roasted onion, rutabaga,  and carrots! I had a decent amount of protein throughout my day so I didn’t stress about not really getting any with dinner.

 This is a super fun time of year in the garden for me! So much is happening! How does YOUR garden grow right now?



Diet equals gaining.

I haven’t always been the “non-diet dietitian.” There was a time when I wanted to be a weight loss coach. I had so many great ideas on creative ways to help people lose weight. I had even been saving low calorie recipes to put into my meal plans that would ensure weight loss! I was passionate about helping people lose weight because as we all know, being overweight and obese causes a host of problems like type-two diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and premature death. But what if we were wrong? What if the weight doesn’t actually cause these things? What if I told you that you could be fat and fit? What if I told you that being “overweight” could actually be protective? What if I told you that diets only have a 5% success rate (If you consider success of the diet long-term weight loss)? What if I told you that two-thirds of you who diet will end up weighing more in the end than you did before you started dieting? You’re probably scoffing now. I would have scoffed back in the day as well, but stay with me! Gobs of research, a  great book that summarizes the research, some special training, and what has turned into a movement has blown my mind, changed my life, changed my practice and forever changed the kind of dietitian I will be. This is something I have become passionate about and gladly soapbox whenever given the opportunity!  I’ll be blogging about “Health at Every Size” and walking you guys  through the book and my journey to becoming a “non-diet dietitian.” I hope it inspires you as it stresses the importance of self-care and healthy lifestyle choices because…you are worth it, not because you need to look a certain way. I hope it makes you want to buck our cultural norms as it exposes you to all the fatism (yes this is now a word) that is in our world. I hope it teaches you to enjoy foods (ALL FOODS) and more importantly to enjoy life because it’s just too damn short to spend 30 years (that’s how long the average woman spends dieting) counting calories at Christmas parties and punishing yourself at the gym. My life is more full because of it and I hope yours will be too!


Blog spot: my window seat (my favorite spot in my cottage)

Listening to: Joe Purdy station on Pandora


July 12, 2013

hotday1 Hotday2Every other Friday I cook for a dinner party. It’s usually just Ryan, Gill, and one other couple. It’s nothing too huge. I always have fun cooking and I’m always exhausted when I’m done! I usually stick to my go to cuisine which is thai and this Friday was no different. I made chicken satay, a thai cabbage salad, and salad rolls. The produce in the cabbage salad was right from the garden. I have been making homemade coconut and mango ice cream for other dinner parties but didn’t have time this week since all the harvesting and prepping the fresh produce is taking more of my time (I also cheated on the peanut sauce and bought it instead of making it from scratch. Shhhh!) This week I did something SUPER easy. I layered fresh, local blueberries that Gill bought on Sauvie Island with Tillamook blackberry ice cream and garnished it with some mint from my garden (more on the blasted mint in my garden later) and it was a hit!

Move over Jamie Oliver!


I love this time of year! I love the sun and warm weather and love to watch gardens take off! So far, I haven’t harvested much from my garden, just greens, basil, and a few roots… …but Gills garden is really starting to produce! Right now we are harvesting salad greens, peas, cabbage, fava beans, herbs, and carrots.

JO2We have also had an artichoke and cucumber already too! I just made my first batch of pesto to freeze last week. I put it on sandwiches today. SO good.

JO3Gill has a Jamie Oliver cookbook with a great recipe for fava beans and peas, two things we have had a ton of! I have never grown favas so it was cool to watch them grow and learn to shell them.

I tried out the recipe the other night and it tasted AMAZING! Fava beans and peas, mint, pecorino cheese, olive oil (and a few other things), on grilled sourdough bread, topped with buffalo mozzarella and pea shoots, with olive oil drizzled on top.  It was one of those nights when I felt like a chef instead of a cook. If you want the recipe, go here.


JO5I DESTROYED the kitchen making it and had to really pump myself up to clean up my disaster of a mess but it was worth it because I seriously killed it copying Jamie’s dish. Ryan told me it tasted like something from Jamie’s Restaurant (they used to live near one in England). One of my proudest dishes. EVER.

Jam Straight!


I made two batches of strawberry jam this spring. One regular and one with balsamic vinegar added. My first batch of strawberries came from Sauvie Island and the second batch came from the Portland Farmer’s Market. I started the first batch late one night when I realized the strawberries were on the verge of “turning” as my grandma would say. You can see from the photo that I had to throw out quite a few.  I didn’t have lemon juice so I ran to the Carson’s (I live in a cottage on their property) for a lemon. The lemon didn’t give me enough juice so I did a little internet research and learned that grapefruit juice would work so I ran back over and grabbed one of those. I also had to borrow a few of their big pots. There seemed to be a lot of running back and forth before I finally got started!


I washed and smooshed them up as fast as I could and then got things boiling. It smelled sooo good! The recipe made more than expected and so I learned to have a few extra jars and lids ready for the next time. I put some of the warm jam from my first batch over some sea salt and caramel ice cream and savored the hell out of it. SO, SO, SO GOOD!


I don’t really have much experience making jam so things got a little hairy for the first batch. I made a huge mess of my kitchen (a common theme, you’ll see) but on the second batch I felt like I was basically a pro and things went much smoother. All my lids sealed and my two batches are up on the shelf! Now to just fill the rest of my empty jars! I think I’m on to blueberry something next!

Forgive me for I have sinned

I hesitate to even admit this for fear that my other RD and foodie friends will shun me but I have committed an offensive sin over the last two years since moving to Portland. I have allowed my busy life to keep me from going to the farmer’s market. It’s awful and unthinkable, I know. I finally went last week with my friend and fellow RD, Amber. She showed me a great booth to get breakfast at. I got a leek bagel with cream cheese, jam, arugula, and BACON (I love bacon). I think I need to recreate this at home. Soon.


We sauntered through the market and I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the goodness. I love vegetables. Love to grow them, eat them, decorate with veggie prints and tea towels (the cool and “unkitchy” kind) and I like to just look at them all piled up at the market. Was I or was I not destined to have the jobs that I have?


Loved the heaps of carrots.


Loved the piles of onions.


Loved the colorful berries!

I ended up buying some tasty little cookies for a friend’s birthday along with strawberries and jostaberries. I’d never tried the jostaberries or even heard of them. They are pretty tart but tasty!


The weather was amazing and I had a great time with my gal pal. So thankful for that she brought me from darkness to light and it feels good to have this dirty little secret off my chest!