The Anti-Resolution Solution


It is that time of year again when we are all bombarded with quick-fix solutions to help us achieve health and turn our lives around, prompt! It’s the time that headline news consists of belly busters and boot camp strategies, local gyms meet their yearly quota on new members, and as a nation we discuss our least favorable qualities and decide that we will make a change this year! Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Time Magazine recently released statistics stating that only 8% of people stick to their resolutions. I don’t know about you, but that is enough for me to throw the whole New Year Resolution initiative out the window! I intentionally did not post this on January 1st for this very reason.

Yes, I do believe that we all need a motivating factor to pump us up and get the motivation juices flowing, but let’s be real. Coming off of a holiday season filled with indulgences that we dream of only once a year, it is nearly impossible to slap ourselves back into submission once the clock hits 12. We need to work our way into this health thing gradually. We must make our peace with the eggnog, the latkes, the gingersnaps, and those amazing little hors d’oeuvres that appear only during the holidays. Saying “sayonara” and “see you next year” takes some time. So my proposal to you is, be easy on yourself. Don’t become a statistic. Wait until you are prepared.

We are more likely to fail when we force deprivation before we are intellectually ready. Now, I am not condoning carrying on this wild fiesta for months! Commit to yourself that you will make a minor change in a reasonable time period. A simple and small step will make a difference in your 2014 waistline.

This allows you to ease into the New Year on a positive note, without forcing you to jump into your fatigues and go whole-hog on your Nintendo Wii or to drop a car payment at Whole Foods. At this point, we are priming the pump for a sustainable year of good health. I have listed some good examples of small changes below to start on Monday, January 6th (because all anti-climactic things tend to start on a Monday):


  1. Walk for 20 minutes 3 times per week. This is about establishing a routine. It doesn’t matter if you put your sneakers on and wander at a snail’s pace for the first few weeks (or few months-really!). What matters is the fact that you’re slowly creating a new routine for yourself. It is human nature to strive for more, so I promise you won’t be slugging along for too long.
  2. Say goodbye to remaining holiday sweets. Alright, so I know I said that saying sayonara to the holidays need not occur overnight- but this is how it starts. Rid yourself of any holiday scented naughty sweets. We have the rest of the year to be naughty, so let’s raise the bar a bit.
  3. Bring back the veggies! Hey, remember what a sweet potato looked like before we adulterated it with marshmallows and granola? It is actually a wondrous jewel trapped in its own casing, all edible. What about spinach before the cream and cheese?  Let’s get back to basics in the New Year and remember to eat our veggies in their naked state (well, maybe with a little olive oil and garlic).


Enjoy this lovely January weekend, and let’s ease into 2014 together!

Bryee Shepard, MS, RD

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‘Tis the Season for Cocktails and Hangovers


A window into my life: This past month has gone down in the record books for my husband and me. There has simply been an excess in celebratory events….and booze! If we back up to November, there was Thanksgiving (on the 27th) and my birthday (November 30th), both must-have wine holidays. We got married on Saturday, December 14th and let me tell you, that entire joyous weekend was flowing with cocktails. From Cosmos and Mojitos, to beer, bourbon and brandy, everyone certainly enjoyed the spirits. Tuesday after wedding day, we hopped a plane to New Orleans, to take part in one of our country’s richest culinary hot spots…and needless to say I did not skip the libations. By Christmas, I could not see, nor smell one more cocktail or glass of wine…but bring on New Year’s!

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. I certainly do not hit the sauce on a regular basis. I often go weeks without the smallest sip of an adult beverage. I am a Registered Dietitian, for goodness sake! I know better. I will explain to you the process that our body goes through in order to metabolize the alcohol that we so happily guzzle, but first let me preface this with the fact that I never deprive myself of anything if the moment is worthy.

The Metabolic Pathway of Ethanol:

(or in other words, what happens to our body as we hit the hooch)

As we drink alcohol, our body’s first response is to quickly rid this toxic substance from our system. A series of enzymatic reactions occur to breakdown one alcohol molecule. With each reaction the molecule becomes less and less toxic, and eventually will result in carbon dioxide and water. Harmless enough, right? Wrong! In this process of enzymatic breakdown a scary carcinogen, known as acetaldehyde, is created. This terrifying molecule wrecks havoc on the organs that it comes in contact with (our poor livers, our pancreas, and even our brain). Fortunately, acetaldehyde does not remain in this nasty state for long, as it is quickly broken down. Depending on the individual’s size and genetics, alcohol will be metabolized at different rates and damaging effects will vary. Regular consumption of alcohol puts us at risk for liver disease, pancreatitis, the death of presumably important brain cells, cancer and other maladies. Not to mention, the risk for making poor decisions while under the influence, and I am not just talking about drunk-dialing. Alcohol is loaded with calories and is an easy culprit of weight gain. Therefore, I only support the consumption of alcohol when responsibly ingested, in moderation, and NEVER when you are going to be getting behind the wheel. As far as the benefits of alcohol, such as Resveratrol found in red wine, and what we should do to help our bodies bounce back from the effects of alcohol…that is for another post.

What I can offer, however, are some simple guidelines to follow to avoid the dreaded hangover:


  1. Know your limit! Sounds over simplified, but this is probably the most important rule of thumb. Have you ever had a hangover after just one glass of wine or one cocktail? Pretty unlikely. So control yourself! Sheesh!
  2. Electrolyte infused beverages, preferably coconut water. Electrolytes help to keep the water that we drink in our cells, rather than passing straight through us. This keeps us hydrated, thus staving off the ugly headache.
  3. Water, water, and more water! If coconut water is nowhere to be found, water is perfect. Think one glass of water after every alcoholic beverage you drink. I know, it definitely takes the fun out of those beer funnels that the guys were doing in college, but it will keep the room from spinning for the next 24-48 hours.

Final Tip: As you now know, the idea of damaging precious cells with every sip of shine is certainly a turn off. Therefore, I like to both order and create cocktails with antioxidant rich fruit blended in to offset the nasty effects. These include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and mango. Although there is no scientific research supporting my theory that these good fruits will lessen the damage, it certainly can’t hurt. Antioxidants in general are wonder workers that eradicate evil doers in our bodies. So when it comes to fruit and veg, the more the merrier!

Happy New Year! Cheers!

Bryee Shepard, M.S., R.D.


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