I created an online summit and interview series called, Healthy in the Spotlight, for performers to have their healthiest body, mind, and voice. I interviewed 16 experts in the performance industry, focusing on different topics, from Stopping Self-Sabotage, to Rocking Your Finances as a Performer, to Recovering from Vocal Nodules (and preventing them!).
Below I interview Steph Wilberding, Health Coach and Trainer on the team at Mark Fisher Fitness, on What Your Fitness Habits Reveal About You.
How to look at exercise as a celebration of your body and NOT as punishment for what you ate
6 Jedi tricks for how to move forward when you feel like giving up on your workouts
How to pick a WORD that will guide every fitness & food decision you make
My struggle with planks and push-ups
Enjoy and enter your email at jenniefagen.com/spotlight to get a first look at the interviews!
Steph is a Certified Health Coach who leads her clients through habit change around food while shifting away from a deprivation mindset. She works with people to identify roadblocks that show up on a weight-loss journey and how to navigate around them, all while also offering action around food choices and food preparation. Steph is also on the training team at Mark Fisher Fitness in Hell’s Kitchen and she also hosts an online cooking show called “Cook With Steph”. Occasionally she steps on stage and tells story through song!!
I’ve always heard it’s really easy to make hummus, I’ve just never bothered to do it. Well, I did try once to make it all raw with soaked chickpeas, but it didn’t turn out the greatest. Needless to say I took another stab at it and am thrilled with the results!
This recipe is adapted from the Inspired Taste Blog. It’s simple, and you can feel free to spice it however you may like by adding a variety of herbs and spices. Some ideas are, basil, pine nuts, paprika, jalapeño peppers, red crushed pepper, bell pepper, garlic, cayenne, tumeric, dill, fennel, or sun-dried tomatoes.
I have a particular affinity for rosemary and I picked up a bunch of fresh rosemary at my local farmer’s market so thought I’d flavor my hummus with it. The result was delicioso.
The key to making it creamy is to add the ingredients a few at a time, blend and then add in the next few. Here’s the recipe below:
One 15-ounce can of organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup tahini (ground up sesame seed paste)
Clove of clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Large sprig of rosemary
Hemp hearts to sprinkle on top
Using a food processor of blender, blend the tahini and lemon juice until smooth. You may need to pause to scrape the sides of the blender.
Add in the olive oil, sea salt, garlic, rosemary, and cumin, and process for about half a minute more.
Add half the chickpeas, blend; then the other half of the chickpeas, blend
Give it a taste to see if it is to your liking. Modify as you see fit.
Pour into a bowl and top with hemp hearts, some rosemary, and a drizzle of olive oil.
When given the choice between a banana and blueberries, I always recommend the blueberries. Why?
Some of you may be familiar with the glycemic index. If not, the glycemic index is a system that ranks foods based on their effect on our blood sugar levels.
So why is that important?
Eating fruits with higher glycemic levels makes it a lot more difficult for your body to burn stored fat. What?! So not all fruits are created equal?
Some of you may be thinking right now, but Jennie, its fruit! It’s got to be healthy, its natural sugar!
Despite it being natural sugar, let me break it down for you…
Fruits such as, bananas, dates, and pineapple have higher glycemic levels which causes our blood sugar levels to spike and leads to our pancreas releasing a huge amount of insulin so this sugar can be used as energy. High levels of insulin in the body make the fat burning process a lot more difficult.
On the other hand, low glycemic fruits such as blueberries, strawberries and grapefruit will not cause this blood sugar spike, therefore not causing our pancreas to release an insane amount of insulin and ultimately our bodies will burn that stubborn stored fat!
Now I’m not saying that it is forbidden to eat these high glycemic foods for all eternity. I would just say if you eat them, make sure to include some fiber, fat, or protein in the meal. These will slow down the absorption of fat and sugar, so you can easily turn a high glycemic meal into a low glycemic meal by adding some fiber. Also fiber allows you to stay full longer, and who wouldn’t want that? Fiber for everyone!
When trying to sustain your wellness, controlling your blood sugar plays a very important role in your health.
If you find yourself nodding off at your desk or in a grumpy mood recently, OR heaven forbid, your sex drive dwindling, there’s a likely culprit– hormonal imbalance. We can trace many of our behavioral patterns back to our estrogen, testosterone, thyroid, and progesterone balance. In this particular case, we’re going to focus on estrogen.
Estrogen is what we can deem our “feminine” hormone. It keeps us curvy, flirty, and yen‘ing for sex. Yup! Now we don’t want too little OR too much estrogen floating around in our body. This is because all of our hormones work in synchronicity with one another. This means that oftentimes when one is out of whack the others follow suit. When we can find harmony, we can typically find harmony in not only our hormones, but as a result, our mood.
When our hormones are balanced we feel balanced, energized, and vivacious.
So let’s get back to estrogen. Many women suffer from excess estrogen or too little estrogen, and for many of them, a variety of both. Now it’s natural for our hormone levels to fluctuate throughout our menstrual cycle (for instance, estrogen levels peak during our menstrual cycle then drop, stimulating your hypothalamus to prepare for the next ovulatory cycle), but we do want to maintain a certain range within each phase of the cycle. This sounds almost exhausting to monitor your numbers so closely, but in reality we usually have a pretty good idea of whether or not our hormones are in check by how we are feeling.
Are you feeling energized and vivacious? Or are you feeling drained and uninspired?
Now I would love to go on about all the lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to support balanced hormonal levels, but today I wanted to talk about a cool root known as, Maca.
If you are an Arrested Development fan, you may recall George Sr. tripping out from an overdose of maca root. Don’t worry– this is a dramatization.
What is maca? Macais a root grown natively in the Andes mountains, and used by the ancient Incans as a “miracle cure” to a range of symptoms, especially *cough* hormonal symptoms. It was used as a natural remedy for everything from hot flashes, to low libido, to low energy, to fertility, insomnia, and even depression.
This is because Maca acts to help balance out your hormones as it supports the circulation of the endocrine system. And this root is not just for the ladies! It helps men boost their libido as well! [I am man, hear me roar.]
Try adding a teaspoon to your morning smoothie! If this feels intense, try reducing it to 1/2 a teaspoon. It has a toasted malt-like taste that some like and some despise, but your endocrine system will be saying, yes, please.
Here’s a recipe for a simple, Almond Butter Maca Smoothie:
Almond Butter Maca Smoothie
2 Tablespoons almond butter
Scoop of RAW vegan protein powder
1 teaspoon maca
3/4 cup almond milk
Optional: Mixed greens (as little or as many as you “dare”)
Optional: Tablespoon of raw honey to sweeten!
Toss in blender, blend, and enjoy!
Want more cool wellness tips and recipes? Stay in touch by leaving your name and email!
I’m in love with these B vitamins. I take them every single morning, and they give me a quick burst of energy, help relieve stress, among others things. If you’re hooked on the caffeine, and want a healthier alternative give these a go. They are delicious and you drink them, so it’s like getting a morning energy shot!
8 Reasons to Take Your B vitamins:
8.They’ll give you a quick BOOST of energy! 7. Great for quick hangover relief. 6. They help metabolize fat and glucose for a faster metabolism. 5. Ever have trouble focusing? Bs work to synthesize neurotransmitters, improving your concentration. 4. Help you sustain energy in a tough workout. 3. They help regulate the thyroid and thus maintain a healthy weight. 2. Ever get muscle twitches? You are lacking B! 1. Stressed out? They are known as the “anti-stress vitamin.”
So in summary, how do you know if you’re B deficient? Does any of the following apply to you?
You work out a lot (or at all)… You have trouble concentrating or focusing… You have a lot of stress or anxiety in your life… You want more energy… You drink 3 or more alcoholic beverages a week… You get occasional or chronic muscle twitches… You eat mostly or all vegan/vegetarian… You’re trying to stabilize your weight or up your metabolism…
Can you relate to any of these? If you can, you are most likely lacking in B-vitamins and should supplement!
I love eggs. From my head down to my legs. D*mnit, cheesy marketing jingles got me again.
But fo’ real, eggs are one of the most perfect foods. Why is that? Well for starters the yolk contains a plethora of nutrients, including Vitamin B12 and Selenium. They also score high on the Satiety Index, which means they fill us up and also have been shown to contribute to weight loss (1).
They also have lots of PROTEIN. And all 9 essential amino acids, making them a complete protein.
But what about cholesterol? What if I were to tell you that eggs have actually been shown to improve your cholesterol profile? (2) There are two types of cholesterol– the kind you eat and the kind your body makes. If you’re not consuming enough, your liver will begin to produce more of it. A cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Steven Nissen, estimates that only 20 percent of your blood cholesterol levels come from your diet.
It’s not so much the cholesterol you are consuming, but the quality of the food and it’s ability to move through the body. It’s when we are inflamed that the cholesterol tends to stick and cumulate, and then we’ve got problems. As the Notorious B.I.G. would say, mo’ inflammation mo’ problems. Well he wouldn’t really say that, but I would.
So let’s make some egg muffins! This is a great way to start your day with an energizing and filling breakfast, with lots of healthy fats and proteins. The more satiated you feel after your meal the less likely you are to snack on not-so-good things. Make these on the weekend, toss them in a tupperware, and BOOM you have a fast and easy breakfast for each day that week.
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 organic chicken sausage, cut in small pieces (I cut mine in slices and then cut the slices in halves or quarters)
1 zucchini, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
Spices of choice to taste: sea salt, pepper, cayenne
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
“Grease” muffin tin pockets lightly with coconut oil
Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl
Use a ladle to fill muffin tin pockets ~3/4 full
Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until egg muffins solidify (they’ll begin to pull away from the sides. Avoid browning since burnt eggs are hella gross.
“Omega” seems to be a buzz word these days. Products tout, Packed with omega 3, 6, and 9s. But what does this mean for you?
In a word, inflammation. Inflammation is the chronic root of all disease, including heart disease.
Inflammation can actually be a helpful defense for the body– it acts as your body’s natural defense to bad bacteria and toxins, protecting your body and helping it heal in short instances. The problem occurs when it is chronic, i.e. when we are continually exposed to aggravation/harmful substances, including SUGAR and processed foods.
So back to these omegas. Omega 6’s, while essential for cellular function, need to be in a balance with omega 3’s. When they are out of balance, inflammation is what results.
Consumption of too many omega 6s, found in vegetable oils and processed foods, creates an imbalance in the body, contributing to inflammation.
Dr. Dwight Lundell, past Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital, sites a 3:1 ratio to be healthy and balanced. The ratio for a typical American tends to run anywhere from 15:1 to 30:1. That’s a whole lot o’ omega 6’s, and a whole lot o’ resulting inflammation.
So where can these harmful omega 6’s be found? Look to your vegetable oils: soybean, canola, and sunflower oil. These oils are often used because they are cheap and can prolong shelf life, but they are a nightmare for your body.
The main takeaways:
Focus on getting more omega 3s in your diet: fish (mackerel, cod, anchovies, salmon, herring…), chia seeds, hemp hearts, egg yolks, walnuts
Vegetable oil is a buzzword and misleading: Steer clear of damaging vegetable oils like soybean, canola, corn, and “partially-hydrogenated” anything. Focus on healthy oils like cold-pressed coconut and olive oil.
An imbalance of omega 6s to omega 3s contributes to inflammation: The American diet tends to be high in omega 6s, found in vegetable oils and processed foods
This month I’ve been leading a workshop tour on, 5 Key Ways to Fuel Your Body & Business in the New Year.
When we hear “new years” we can’t help but think resolutions. UGH, resolutions. Oftentimes we commit to a goal at the beginning of the year, we follow through for a day or two, or maybe a few weeks, and then what happens? Life gets busy and we fall off track, only to recommit to that same goal the following year, bracing ourselves for the inevitable cycle that ensues.
The very nature of the word re- solution emphasizes this idea of seeking out a solution over and over again, usually in the same manner, and expecting different results- curiously the definition of insanity.
If we want to make a CHANGE, then we need to CHANGE the manner in which we are attempting to achieve something. If calorie counting and dieting sounds like punishment and leaves you out to dry every year, then you need a new approach.
Here are 5 key ways to fuel your body & business in the new year that I emphasize with my clients:
State your goals in a positive: We have a tendency to say what we DON’T want when framing goals- i.e. “I want to give up sugar!… I’m going to stop drinking!… I’m going to stop being so lazy.” The problem with this is by stating these negative statements over again we are in effect, focusing on them. Your brain doesn’t hear “give up sugar”– it just hears sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar over and over again. Think, if I gave up sugar, what will that do for me? How does that positively impact my life? What do you want? To feel more energized? To feel balanced? and why is that important to you?
Set concrete daily intentions: A goal and an intention are different. How? A goal is a destination. Oftentimes along that journey we find that what we actually want is something completely different- then feel like a failure for not achieving something that we didn’t want in the first place. An intention is a concrete behavior you can do each day or week. For instance, drinking 32oz of water before noon each day, or meditating for 5 minutes before starting work.
Slow Down: Did you know that the pace through which you go through life has an impact on your digestion? When we eat to quickly or eat with our stress response activated, it destroys your metabolic power, messes with your digestion, and this can translate to decreased assimilation of vitamins and minerals. Try meditating for 5 minutes before meals or in any situations you find stressful.
Crowd in foods that you love: Many diets emphasize what NOT to eat, but this can feel like punishment and set us up for rebellion. Instead why not focus on the foods you DO love to eat? If you love to eat blueberries, eat more blueberries! If there’s a veg you don’t like- don’t force yourself to eat it! Find one you DO love and focus on that. You’ll naturally crowd out the not-so-healthy foods that are weighing you down.
Work with an Expert: Tips are great but how many times do you learn something new, commit to a plan, and then find yourself falling off track a few weeks (or days) later. How would it feel to have someone checking in with you each week to high five you for all the things you did well, work through your challenges, and get actionable steps to take each week? That’s what I provide for my own clients: support, accountability, and the right steps in the right order.
Now is a great time to get back on track. If you’re interested in working together to make sustainable changes, fill out my intake form and I’ll be in touch to coordinate a time for a consult. We can go over your specific goals, challenges, and what working together would look like. You’ll leave feeling inspired and ready to take on the new year.
Dear Singer, Actor, Performer, Artist, awesome human being:
I’ve been a practicing Nutrition & Wellness Coach for the past 4 years, helping my clients find sustainable ways to manage their weight, reduce stress, and increase their energy.
Now I’m on a mission to share all I have learned, catering my practice specifically to singers, actors, and artists. I will be collaborating with experts in the industry to form a hub where performers can go to get advice, tips, and tricks to move their craft forward in a healthy way, both physically and mentally.
Here’s where you come in:
If you are a singer, actor, or expert in the industry, I want to hear your thoughts!
Enter your email below to stay in touch with the latest tips & tricks.
I created a survey below. Answer as many questions below as you feel comfortable with, so I can cater my content to your needs.
Let me know if you have any questions, thoughts, or want to contribute to the project.
Whenever someone tells me they don’t like vegetables, I just think, maybe they do but they haven’t had them prepared properly.
Vegetables by nature tend to be bitter (especially greens!), and our inner cave man senses bitterness as danger. In other words, when our cavemen ancestors were foraging for food they wood be on the lookout for poisonness plants, which tended to be characterized by bitterness.
Although when compared to POISON, arugula and kale don’t quite have them same effect (let’s hope not), we still have this innate aversion to bitterness. This is only enhanced by our overexposure to sweets and salty foods. Our tastebuds regenerate about every 2 weeks, and are very adaptable. So if we are accustomed to eating sweet and salty foods our taste buds are going to adapt to sense all in foods in reference to this.
Oftentimes when working with a new client I lead them through 7 days of clean eating. In addition to the instant energy and weight loss they experience, clients almost always tell me that their food started tasting different– but in a good way! Their fruit started tasting better and sweeter. Even their greens tasted sweeter! I remember I had a client who was so excited to eat a small piece of dark chocolate at the end of her 7 days of clean eating. She could believe how overly sweet it tasted! This is because our taste buds change over time.
I saw this because, eating well takes time and patience, but also- the more you eat greens the better they start to taste! Thanks, taste buds, for doing back flips for us.
But let’s get back to this bitterness factor. When I was being certified as a Junior Sommelier (believe it or not, that’s a thing), we did a lesson on pairings and this idea that certain flavors brought out other flavors and other flavor cut them. Sugar brings out sugar. For instance, if you take a dab of sugar on your tongue and then sip a sweet Riesling wine, it will taste like sugar water!
Lemon and salt CUT. They also happened to CUT the bitterness from GREENS.
Remember this when you’re preparing your vegetables! If they don’t taste stellar, try adding a squeeze of lemon juice and sea salt– it works wonders. I apply this principle below with this DELICIOUS recipe.
Roasted Veggies and Tahini Lemon Sauce
1 head of cauliflower
bunch of curly parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini (I use Brad’s organic– try to find one that is creamy)
Preheat your oven to 375deg F
Chop up cauliflower, carrots, and parsnips and toss into a bowl.
Add olive oil, about a teaspoon of sea salt, and a teaspoon of pepper, and stir ingredients around so the veggies get coated.
Spread our veggies onto a large baking sheet lined in tin foil, and toss in oven.
Check on your veggies after 30 minutes to make sure they are not burning. I like to move them around with a wooden spoon once or twice to even out the heat exposure.
Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until they are tender and golden brown, and then pull out of the oven.
While these cook you can take your large bowl and toss in the juice of 1 lemon and 1/4 cup tahini. Whisk this a little with our fork.
Toss the warm to hot veggies in the tahini lemon mixture and stir around. The heat will cause the tahini to melt down and coat the veggies in an awesome way.
Stir in the parsley, and add more sea salt, pepper, or other spices (like turmeric, cayenne, cumin) to taste, and enjoy!
Want more cool wellness tips and recipes? Stay in touch by leaving your name and email below!