Latest Posts by Amy Friend

Eliminate Sweets and say Goodbye to Fatigue and Hello to Fabulous

150Amy FriendJanuary 2, 2018

These last few months I have been in close contact with a family member.  With a diagnosis of a rare form of breast cancer, I was asked to research cancer-fighting foods. Highly motivated, I took on this request with a strong passion to seek out as much information as I could from reputable and reliable resources. Taking my last class for my Certificate in Nutrition for Fitness and Wellness at the time, I realized that the process of education and research is never-ending. Always be open and eager to learn!

According to the journal, Cancer Causes & Control, women who reported consuming the most sweets, including desserts, sweetened beverages and added sugars, had a 27 percent greater risk of breast cancer than women who consumed less. Anyone who has done any research on the subject knows that sugar feeds cancer. And cancer, plain and simple, sucks! Sugar addiction can be dangerous. A diet heavy in processed carbohydrates (sugar), not only contributes to breast cancer risk, but it also causes weight gain and increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. I will write another blog specifically on what I learned in regards to nutrition as it relates to cancer, but this blog, due to popular post-holiday demand, is taking a tangent turn to talk once again about sugar, and why you might want to consider detoxifying your body from sugar.

Don’t stop reading, yet! High sugar intake is also linked to depression and later-life dementia. I’m not recommending a 10-day or a 30-day anything, but rather just 3 days of giving up sugar…. ALL SUGAR!  For the typical sugar addict, eating even the smallest amount of sugar can trigger the brain to send signals for more and before you know it you’re having a binge attack! In order to break the cycle it is most effective to go “cold turkey”. Making it “black and white” kicks the cravings fast and you will feel better within just 72 hours! Those hours will be tough, but know that you can fill the void with delicious and tasty options. It’s all about being determined and prepared and supported!

If I’ve held your attention this far chances are you can answer “yes” to any one of the following:

  • Have the holidays left you feeling physically and emotionally worn out?
  • Are you anxious, moody or depressed?
  • Are you having a hard time sleeping?
  • Are you on a roller coaster of ups and downs feeling the need to refuel with sugar to get that energy spike… that only lasts a short time before you feel like crap again?
  • Have you lost all control when it comes to what you’re eating?
  • Are you ready to do something about it?

If so, a sugar detox may just be the answer to set you back on track.

  1. The Big Clean. Set up your environment by removing all the foods currently in your kitchen that contain sugar (or move these to a separate “family” cabinet that you don’t need to open). Read labels to determine if there are any sugars of any kind in the products you eat. Whole foods with no labels should become your norm.
  2. Start with a healthy breakfast.
    Eliminate yogurts with added sugars, granolas, cereals, bread, juices and smoothies, which are all typical morning meals. Sometimes we have to rush out the door in the morning, so it’s a good behavioral shift to have your breakfast items prepared. A poached egg over tomato & avocado salad makes a delicious breakfast or even some hard-boiled eggs ready to grab-and-go if you’re in a rush. Many of us are exceeding the recommended upper limit of sugar for the day before we even head out the door. If you’re curious, take an inventory of what you’re eating for a few days prior to the detox and see where your consumption falls, as it relates to sugar. The suggested upper limit of free sugars1 for men is 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) and women is 25 grams (6 teaspoons). I cannot stress enough that those numbers are upper limits, so you’ll want to make sure you fall below those numbers. And, for our 3-Day detox, the goal is as few grams of sugar as possible.
  3. Protein, healthy fats and vegetables are your friends. Eat as much as you want of these foods over the 3 days. Cut out breads and pasta, milk, cheeses, potato, fruit and alcohol. Do not add sugar or artificial sweeteners to beverages (your brain doesn’t know the difference).

While it may be tough to get through these 72 hours, the rewards will be worth it! The need for a sugar fix will disappear and headaches and fatigue will go away! This is the start of retraining your taste buds to enjoy food with lower levels of sugar intensity and being able to control portions.

I’m not a fan of “New Year’s Resolutions” which ultimately end in failure. But, rather, I share this information for you to be the one to say, “I’m ready! I can do this! My 3 days starts tomorrow! However, I would strongly recommend that you take advantage of ToBeRe… support and accountability. Proclaim to someone what you are doing or do it with a partner or group. Make a plan for your meals and, if needed, ask for help. You already know what you’re NOT going to eat, but make sure you know what you’re going to eat, too.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions. For those who commit, I have recipes and more specific information on what to eat and how to add natural sugars back into your diet. 

For more information on the dangers of sugar, you can check out my article, The Science Behind Sugar: Be Aware,

Let’s do this! Here is to a healthy and productive 2018!


1Free sugar is defined by the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in multiple reports as “all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, and fruit juices”.

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Preparing for Surgery, Physically and Emotionally

150Amy FriendAugust 10, 2017

It was not my choice to write this article. Truly, I wanted to just quietly slide right in and through this surgery without much ta-dah! However, I got a request, as most of you would guess, from Keith Jones, and so I started to write. At the time I just thought I would be sharing helpful information for someone else – little did I know that the exercise of writing this article would greatly help to move me into a space where I feel confident and powerful and at peace. I am sure this was Keith’s intention all along. And with that, here is my article…

I will be having major foot/ankle surgery next week. While I could easily let my “negative chatter” get the best of me, I know that the anxiety that would come from it will not help to serve me in preparing for this event, physically or emotionally. The hard work is done – recognizing my pain, my limitations, and my prospect for activities in the future; and starting the process to do something about it. While it was a process, I have done my homework and left no stone unturned. I am at peace with my decision. Contributing in a big way towards that peace is the support from my ToBeRe… community who will not allow me to play victim. They have been my source for everything that I need to create a positive mindset. For anyone else that may need to have a similar surgery, I would like to share my experience….. so far.

  1. Talk to your doctor, get referrals and as many opinions as you feel comfortable with. My doctor said, “You need to see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in feet!” She referred me to two doctors. I saw them both and one more. I also consulted with my podiatrist. Of course, they all want to do their own X-rays, just so you know. One MRI was sufficient.
  2. Research and then research some more! Just as I would Google any and everything to do with nutrition, I became literate on all kinds of medical terminology. It took me a few visits to actually put the 3 words, “Lateral Column Lengthening” together in order to respond intelligently in a conversation. I now know that the word osteotomy means cutting of bone. I’ll be having a couple of those. Posterior tibial tendon, spring ligament, allografts, and the list goes on! My orthopedic surgeon of choice was impressed that I gained this education and it added to my own level of confidence with the decision.
  3. My doctor encouraged second opinions and even invited me to come back to discuss those opinions. I did, and I brought with me a list of questions and a friend for support. I was already comfortable with the decision to schedule surgery.
  4. Meanwhile, I have stuck with my fitness routine and healthy nutrition. There is a small percentage of risk with the bone not healing, but, in my case, that percentage might as well be zero. I’ve never been a smoker and my good health and nutrition will give me every advantage. This, I am in control of. I have already “significantly increased” my bone density over the last several years through consistent healthy eating and strength training.
  5. Now, I prepare. Fortunately, I have been non-weight bearing before, so I am experienced with walking on crutches, but I also know that I have not had anything as invasive as this procedure will be, so I will be ready for anything that comes my way.
  • Get organized. Get rid of the clutter in the house.
  • Buy or borrow medical equipment that you may need – crutches, shower/tub chair, waterproof protectors, etc.
  • Surround yourself with those who feed you the most positive energy and don’t let the negative stories affect your mindset.
  • Listen to uplifting and inspirational podcasts.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. While it may be easy and understandable to focus on the things that you can’t do, it will not do anything to help. Instead, be grateful for all the things that you can do! I will celebrate all gifts no matter how small or big – the opportunity to read, work on my class, learn something new on the computer, watch those movies (that everyone is shocked I haven’t seen), work on the ToBeRe website, meditate, stretch…. this list is growing!
  • Delegate! And, put someone else in charge of delegating! This one will be a good practice for me. While I pride myself on being independent and very strong willed, this will be a time when I can benefit from others’ loving contributions.

Be patient and enjoy the journey! Six years ago I had to be non-weight bearing for a stress fracture. I credit a strong comeback to Keith Jones and ToBeRe… Even though I wasn’t exercising at the same level as everyone else, I showed up every time! Keith gave me a modified workout. If nothing else, I always walked away with an abundance of positive energy! I will put my confidence into ToBeRe’s philosophy again – basically, to trust the process and stay committed. This is easy when all you have to do is show up. Staying connected did everything for my mindset, and studies prove again and again that a positive attitude will take you far and fast on the road to recovery. We all have muscle memory and with the same level of commitment and dedication that I learned when I took my first ToBeRe workshop, I know I will bounce back and be stronger than ever! I will demonstrate again the power of good nutrition and its role in healing. Future foot surgery patients will be googling what kinds of exercise they can do in a cast, and you know what… my videos just may come up!


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Coconut Oil – How can saturated fat be good?

150Amy FriendAugust 24, 2016

Coconut oil and coconut products seem to be very popular amongst the health conscious these days, and I have read a plethora of articles about the benefits. However, it has left me confused about how coconut oil can possibly be so good for you when it is about 90% saturated fat. Everything that I have studied in my nutrition classes, so far, has taught me that mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats are the “good fats” and saturated fats are the “bad fats”. Health organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Heart Association recommend that we limit our intake of saturated fats as they are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. However, in an article posted just last month, David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, would say there have been studies that indicate that there is no association between saturated fat intake and heart disease. Ugh!!! How can two reputable sources differ so much? And, so the back and forth studies and debates continue to try and come up with a simple answer. Personally, from what I have read so far, I don’t think there is a simple answer. But, I have a much greater understanding for the chemical makeup of coconut oil and why there are so many conflicting articles about it.

Digging deeper into the kind of saturated fat that makes up coconut oil, you will find that there are various types. Animal-based saturated fats (butter and dairy products) are the ones that you have to watch out for; especially those that come from a processed food product; such as pizza and grain-based desserts like cookies and cakes. Plant-based saturated fats, like coconut oil, are more than just fats, according to a Harvard Health Publication. Coconut oil has a special HDL-boosting effect that may help improve cholesterol.

One of the most important reasons for eating quality fats is that they provide us with beneficial fatty acids that have fat-burning, antibacterial and hormone-balancing properties. Lauric acid is a particular type of fatty acid found in saturated-fat foods, and the single best source of lauric acid is coconuts. Many of the benefits of coconut oil that have been well-established in research studies are due to the presence of lauric acid. As a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT), lauric acid is more easily absorbed by the body and not as likely to be converted to fat. It has a beneficial effect on metabolism and, therefore, can help with weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness.

I especially love to use coconut oil in cooking and coconut oil spray, when needed, in baking. It is slow to oxidize — even when heated at high temperatures which means it is less likely to go rancid. Many of the vegetable oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats may turn unhealthy when you cook with them.

So what does all this mean? One thing that is clear is that more research is needed before we can say with confidence that coconut oil is in fact a superfood. But for now, it looks like it may be a healthier alternative to animal-based saturated fats like butter. As with everything, I would recommend moderation and variety. Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent choice for salad dressings and sautéing over medium heat. You might also consider avocado oil as another high-heat cooking oil that has many health benefits. Just keep in mind that with 120 calories in every tablespoon, coconut oil is very calorie-dense, so don’t go overboard with it if you’re looking to keep your bodyweight in check.

When purchasing coconut oil, look for “unrefined and cold-pressed”. And, if you’re a big coconut oil fan, check into the many other different uses for coconut oil from being a natural skin moisturizer to using it on your hair! You can’t go wrong with buying the big jar of coconut oil from Costco! Just remember, use it in moderation when it comes to your nutrition.


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