Being carefree about healthy living in my youth has led me to have to be far more serious about my health and wellbeing in midlife. With obesity and diabetes levels currently out of control I advise everyone to make sure you do everything you can to maximize your health.
So I was ecstatic to meet Sarrah Hallock, Founder of Cinnamon Health. Sarrah, graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she learned innovative coaching methods, practical lifestyle management techniques and over 100 dietary theories; everything from Ayurveda, gluten-free, and Paleo, to raw, vegan, and macrobiotics and everything in-between. Below is the first in a three-part series with Sarrah on healthy living and general wellness.
TGATP: Hi Sarrah! With healthy living at the forefront of so many people’s minds nowadays, I am so excited to start this journey with you. Tell me a little about how you got started as a holistic nutritionist and health coach.
Sarrah says: My personal wellness journey started about 7-8 years ago when I was struggling with health issues. I had a myriad of symptoms from weight gain to anxiety to hair loss, was seeing multiple dr’s, getting misdiagnosed and was continually told the labs showed there was nothing really wrong with me. When the so called experts I had trusted my whole life told me I was fine, and I felt anything but, I realized something was going to have to change. It was the first time in my life I realized Dr’s don’t have all the answers, and that felt pretty scary. It was then that I became my own patient advocate. From my list of symptoms, I was fairly certain my problem was with my thyroid. I became a student of thyroid and started studying and reading everything I could find. I ended up going back to school and studying nutrition and wellness and I eventually launched cinnamon health my nutrition practice where I work with corporate clients helping them with wellness programs and individuals in a private practice setting.
TGATP: What is the first thing you advise people to do to help jumpstart their healthy living journey?
Sarrah says: Be patient with yourself. For many people it took years of unhealthy eating and lifestyle to get to the place they are in. Being healthy is a journey and requires a lifestyle change for many and there are no quick fixes.
TGATP: What are some common myths about dieting?
Sarrah says: That diet’s actually work. A lot of us have complicated relationships with food (even if we don’t realize it) eating healthy or losing weight and keeping it off requires a mind body connection where we can get to the heart of what we are really hungry for.
TGATP: What are the number one mistakes that people make with their diets?
Sarrah says: Thinking it’s a calories game. Not all calories are created equal, so it’s about eating whole, nourishing foods, not low calorie or low fat foods that are devoid of nutrients.
TGATP: There are some foods that people think are healthy, that are actually sabotaging their diets. Like, I was surprised to hear how much sugar is in granola. Can you name some other foods that are not as diet-friendly as people think?
Sarrah says: Juice is a big culprit. It can have as much sugar as a soda. If you want orange juice or apple juice, opt for the whole fruit instead. Another one are health bars. Choosing the right bar requires you to be a savvy label reader to cut through all the marketing claims about “low carb” or “healthy” and look at how much sugar and artificial ingredients it actually has.
TGATP: Cinnamon is such a great overall supplement. Can you describe some of its many benefits?
Sarrah says: Cinnamon has a long and therapeutic history as a healing spice. A natural remedy for countless ailments, both Eastern and Western medicine have incorporated cinnamon into wellness protocols for thousands of years. It’s also antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal which makes it the perfect addition to your spring detox. It can be an acne fix, calm the inflammation in your body and even aid in weight loss.
TGATP: Turmeric is changing my life right now. What are some other great supplements and spices for optimal health?
Sarrah says: Stress from daily life can cause us to burn through the nutrients in our body in a big way. There are a few supplements that I recommend for people who are under chronic stress:
• Start with a good quality multivitamin it will help balance the stress response on the body.
• B-Complex supplement that contains a full spectrum of B vitamins, including biotin, thiamin, the B12 vitamin, riboflavin and niacin.
• Magnesium I s responsible for over 350 chemical reactions in the body and most of us are deficient. It helps with sleep, constipation and is known as the relaxation mineral
• Vitamin D3 – 80% of us are deficient in vitamin D. it affects everything from mood and depression to inflammation in the body.
TGATP: It’s bikini season. What are the best belly busting foods?
Sarrah says: The right diet can go a long way when it comes to reducing belly fat. When you eat whole, real foods, you restore balance to insulin, cortisol, and other hormones that trigger belly fat storage.
When you clean up your diet from toxic foods caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars and eat regularly – every 3-4 hours it really helps you to maintain even blood sugar and eliminate cravings. You’ll replace those foods with clean protein, healthy fats, leafy vegetables, berries, and whole grains. You have to remember Food is information that controls your hormones and metabolism. When you eat the right foods, you balance blood sugar and restore hormonal balance.
TGATP: What are some things that women should do and diet changes they should make at each age (20’s, 30’s, 40+) to optimize their health?
Sarrah says: We cannot underestimate the power of sleep at any age. If you are not sleeping, we need to fix that. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones which leads to weight gain, cravings, all kinds of problems. When clients come to me, whether it’s to lose weight or improve their vitality and energy the first thing we look at is their sleep health. Here are some tips:
• Practice the regular rhythms of sleep – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
• Use your bed for sleep and romance only – do not read ipad or phone in bed. This is a hard one! Blue light being emitted from our devices is actually telling our brains to wake up.
• Create an aesthetic environment that encourages sleep –eliminate clutter and distraction
• Create total darkness and quiet – consider using eyeshades and earplugs. On your tv or cable box.
• Write your worries down – one hour before bed, write down the things that are causing you anxiety. It will free up your mind and energy to move into deep and restful sleep
TGATP: There seems to be an increase in infertility and difficulties getting pregnant these days, is there something young women can do or take to help?
Sarrah says: There is so much technology available for infertility right now it’s incredible, but diet and managing your stress are huge factors for people with fertility issues. Remember Food is information that controls your hormones and metabolism so eating clean, whole nourishing foods is an important part of a fertility protocol. Starting a meditation practice if you don’t have one already can be a very powerful way to help combat stress of infertility.
TGATP: Menopause causes so many women to gain weight, especially in the tummy. What is the best natural way to combat this?
Sarrah says: I highly encourage women to find a doctor, who is open to talking with you about your symptoms, your hormones and your options as you go through menopause. It does not have to be this horrible experience that most women envision or even dread. As women go through menopause, our hormone levels drop or become out of balance relative to one another. These hormones, sometimes referred to as the sex hormones, are estrogen, progesterone, and androgens such as testosterone. Dr Christine Northrop, author of Ageless Goddess, is a great resource hormone replacement therapy (HRT), especially bioidentical hormones. She says some women might be perfectly comfortable with no supplemental hormones, some might need progesterone only and some might need all three.
TGATP: Diabetes is also on the rise, with one in three Americans at risk, what do you see as the cause of this and how can we turn the tide?
Sarrah says: Dr Mark Hyman, author of the Blood Sugar solution has written extensively about the fact that diabetes and obesity are reversible and preventable when you seriously focus on nutrition, diet and lifestyle .Food is medicine and when you take disease producing food (sugar, processed foods, devoid of nutrients) out and put the right food in the healing happens quickly.
TGATP: For those of us that are pre-diabetic, what are the best steps to take to avoid getting full blown diabetes?
Sarrah says: Managing your blood sugar is key, which likely means changing your diet and removing sugars and processed foods. As Dr Hyman says, The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity or reversing its impact is to eliminate or dramatically reduce sugar in all its many disguises.
TGATP: Who are your inspirations in the healthy living space and why?
Sarrah says: I love Dr Christine Northrup. She is doing amazing work helping women to embrace their inner goddess and live a happier, healthier more fulfilled life. I also respect and admire all of the work Dr Mark Hyman is doing in the functional medicine space. He is a brilliant Dr and through his work at The Cleveland Clinic and his books is raising awareness for using Food as medicine.
TGATP: What is your motto for healthy living?
Sarrah says: The energy we create and release into the world will be reciprocated on all levels. Align what you choose to give to the world and what you hope to receive. If you want love, be love, if you want kindness, be kindness, if you want generosity, be generous.