Uncategorized Archives - Stephanie Misanik Health Coach

December 15, 2017by admin0

Perhaps the most important determinant of living a healthy lifestyle is knowing how to navigate a grocery store like an expert.  Grocery store these days are filled with so many items, many of them with false promises of healthy ingredients.  Unfortunately, there is a whole industry out there that gets paid to come up with new ways to trick the consumer into thinking that their not so healthy product is worth throwing in the cart.  In this month’s post, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite tips to ensure you come home with bags full of healthy foods to feed you and your loved ones:


  1. Generally, shop around the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where you will find fresh veggies, fruit and meat in their most natural state.  When you enter the center of the grocery store, that’s where things get dicey and “food” is now processed and found in bags, boxes or cans.
  2. If you find yourself purchasing foods with a label, avoid these common mistakes:
    • A label may say that the food is reduced fat or reduced sodium. That means that the amount of fat or sodium has been reduced by 25% from the original product.  It does not mean that the food is low in fat or sodium.
    • Don’t assume that the amount of sugar on a label means that the sugar has been added. For example, fruit contains the naturally occurring sugar called fructose.  If a fruit-containing product says it contains sugar on the nutrition facts, you need to look at the actual ingredients to determine if additional sugar has been added to the product or if the sugar is simply from the fructose.
    • Always determine the serving size of an item when determining it’s nutritional value.
  3. Buy organic as much as possible. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) send out a yearly report to let consumers know which fruits and veggies contain the highest amount of pesticide residue and therefore should be purchased organic.  The 2017 Dirty Dozen List includes:
    • Strawberries
    • Spinach
    • Nectarines
    • Apples
    • Peaches
    • Pears
    • Cherries
    • Grapes
    • Celery
    • Tomatoes
    • Sweet bell peppers
    • Potatoes

In general, produce with a thick skin is not as susceptible to pesticide residue.  These include foods like avocados, bananas, pineapple, mangoes and onions.

A simple recipe for homemade produce cleaner that should be used on all produce:

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • ¾ C vinegar/apple cider vinegar
  • 8 oz water
  • 10 drops grapefruit seed extract
  1. Sugar can be deceiving and comes in many forms. It’s important to look at the ingredients in any packaged food, keep an eye out for sugar in a hidden form:
    • Corn syrup
    • High fructose corn syrup
    • Brown sugar
    • Corn sweetener
    • Dextrose
    • Invert sugar
    • Crystalline fructose
    • Malt syrup
    • Brown rice syrup
    • Sucrose
    • Organic sugar
  2. Eat foods that are high in fiber. Fiber is the part of plant foods that your body doesn’t digest and absorb.  As a result, foods high in fiber are useful for keeping your blood sugar stable and helping you feel fuller for longer.  There are two basic types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.  Insoluble fiber (veggies, whole grains) adds bulk to your stool and can prevent constipation.  Soluble fiber (oats, dried beans, some fruits like apples and oranges) can help improve your cholesterol levels.
  3. Avoid foods that contain trans fatty acids (“trans fats”). These are vegetables oils that have undergone a process called hydrogenation which changes liquid oil to a hard fat.  Consuming these oils is like adding embalming fluid to your arteries.  They are known to increase bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease.  They are found in many baked goods, fast food items, greasy snack foods and many processed foods.  Look for key words like “hydrogenated”, “partially-hydrogenated” and “fractionated”.

July 19, 2017by admin0

In 2017, it seems like everyone is on a specific diet.  People have become obsessed with good vs. bad fats, animal vs. plant protein, gluten free, dairy free, on and on.  Vegan, low carb high fat, keto, paleo, Atkins, South Beach…..ahhhh!!  One week coconut oil is the devil, the next week it is a superfood that kills cancer.  If you peruse the isles of your local book store, you will be inundated with the latest diet gurus and celebs selling their program on how to lose weight, each book contradicting the next.  It’s completely maddening and let’s just be real, who has time to sort through all of these diets and theories????

As a Health Coach, I was lucky to receive an education on all these dietary theories, hundreds of them, but even I find myself wanting to hide in the corner and throw my hands up in the air in complete defeat.

It wasn’t that long ago that we all just existed without trying to adhere to the latest fad diet, without diet gurus or celebrity chefs telling us how to feed our body.  We used to rely on good old intuition.  Back in the day, you just ate something, you intuitively knew what to eat and how to prepare it without having a complete mental meltdown.

It’s time to bring back intuitive eating.

Here’s the truth.  I’m going to let you in on a big nutrition secret.  Ready?

Being healthy is not complicated.  The body knows what it wants to eat, it’s the brain that gets in the way.

Classic example: You heard about a new diet and how your friend, Jane, lost 20 pounds in a month.  So, you hop in your car, run to the local bookstore and buy the book.  This time you’re really going to do it.  You follow the diet guidelines religiously.  No cheat days, no slacking. You are KILLIN it.  After a week of eating this way, you feel like shit.  You’re bloated, you’re tired, you’ve actually gained weight.  You feel like a failure.  You followed the diet to the tee, and you aren’t getting the same results as Jane.  You feel completely defeated.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to read nutrition books or the latest diet fad to know what foods are right or wrong for you.

Instead, you need to start listening to your body and the ways in which it tries to communicate with you.  Start to build a deep relationship with your body and use this relationship to help you cultivate the ability to eat intuitively.

You don’t need to get expensive laboratory testing done to see what foods you should or shouldn’t eat, you already have free, round the clock access to the most sophisticated laboratory for testing how foods affect your mind, body and spirit.  You are living in it!  Your body is a super sophisticated bio-computer.  The trick is learning to listen to the feedback your body is constantly trying to tell you.

To tap into intuitive eating, the first step is to acknowledge that your body is a highly intelligent machine that at any given moment is conducting thousands of functions without you even having to think about it.  In every yoga class I teach, I make a point to leave a couple minutes to recognize and acknowledge the body.  To feel the heart beating, to feel your chest rise and fall with each breath.

Know on a deep level that you can trust your body, that you don’t need the latest celebrity to tell you how to feel healthy in your own body.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “This is all fine and dandy, but how do I really learn to listen to what my body is telling me?”

How to Develop Intuitive Eating: Step by Step

Are you ready for a little bit of homework?  Grab your journal, or even the notes section on your cell phone.  Start small.  Every morning, write down EXACTLY what you ate for breakfast.  Then write down how you feel immediately after eating and then again two hours later.  Do this for 2 weeks straight, every morning.  Switch your breakfast up, try some eggs and bacon one day, some cereal the next day, oatmeal, a muffin, maybe a bagel and cream cheese, some sauteed veggies and toast.  Get some variety in your breakfast and start to make the connection between what you eat and how it makes you feel.

After the 2 weeks, you will understand yourself better and how different foods make you feel.  Start to cut back or eliminate the foods that make you feel yucky.  After the 2 weeks, you can start to expand this food journaling experiment to your whole daily intake.  Be a detective.  Eat a variety of foods and don’t worry about adhering to a particular diet.  Start to discover how different foods and liquids affect you.  Notice how your body feels and how each change of diet affects you not just physically, but mentally as well.

Have you ever tried a diet that didn’t work for you?  How did you know it wasn’t right for you?  I’d love to hear about it!  Share your experience in the comments below!

June 12, 2017by admin0

This week, I could no longer ward off the voice of a power greater than myself working in my life.  I thought it would be fun to share the story with you, in hopes that maybe some people can relate.

My story starts last summer.  For about a year now, I have been talking (key word “talking”, which is more than “thinking”) about wanting to ditch the van dur​​ing the day when it’s just me and no kiddos and opt for something a little more environmentally friendly.  As you may or may not know, I have three kids, and when I’m transporting all three kiddos, a van is necessary.  But, since I work during the day, running all over Baltimore meeting health coaching clients and teaching yoga, it’s jut me.  Just me and a big ol’ minivan.  

It all started with me mentioning OUT LOUD last summer that I wanted to get a road bike because it killed me every time I clicked that automatic start button for the gas guzzling not so environmentally friendly van.  It started with me just speaking my truth.  Getting it out of my head and into my reality.  What happened next is what happens to everyone when we put something out into the universe, if we are paying attention: the universe provides.

Now, of course I wanted to have a road bike that exact day last summer that I spoke my truth out loud because, “Hello, my name is Stephanie and I love instant gratification”.  But, that’s not how it works.  I had to be patient.  No matter how much I wanted a bike last summer, the timing just wasn’t right.  I didn’t have the money to spend on it, I didn’t know if I was really ready to fully commit, and on and on.  But, I didn’t give up.  I know, because my experience has shown me, that if something is meant to happen, it will, regardless of what I do.  So, deep down, I knew that if I was meant to be a biking momma, the universe would conspire to make that happen with or without my input. 

Well, the day finally came almost a year later when the funds were available and the timing just felt right.  How did I know it was time?  That feeling of misalignment could no longer be ignored.  That’s always how it always works for me.  It started with an awareness that my actions were not matched with my personal beliefs.  My action of driving around a minivan with just myself in it was not aligned with my personal beliefs for doing everything I can to help save the environment.  

At first, it was just a little bit uncomfortable.  I would get into the van and think, “I should really be on a bike instead of driving this huge van,” but after I got going, the thought would disappear and I would go about my merry day.  As time progressed, that thought, that misalignment of spiritual principles and actions became unavoidable.  Now, every single time I was getting in the car, I would have the uncomfortable feeling like my actions didn’t match my beliefs.  

Then, I started to become SUPER aware of all the cyclists on the streets around me, as if they were specifically there to show me that it was possible to use a road bike as a main means of transportation.  It’s funny because I never used to pay attention to the cyclist on the street, except to not hit them.  But I started to notice them in drones.  Their bright helmets, tight bike shorts, skinny bike tires, fat bike tires, and all their accessories.  It eventually got to the point where I could no longer ignore that feeling of being misaligned, and it was off to the cycle shop for this momma.

Here’s the thing, you may be thinking, “All of this over a silly bike?”  YES.  

It’s so much bigger than a silly bike.

It’s about listening to the universe (substitute whatever word works for you here – God, Mother Spirit, The Big Kahoona, Higher Power) when it talks to you.  Once you start trekking down this road of spiritual practice, I have noticed that it gets harder and harder to ignore that inner voice.  Does it mean that I always listen to it?  HELL NO.  I am human.  But, it no longer feels good to me to try and remain oblivious, to try to ignore that calling, that voice, that thought.  It’s downright uncomfortable.  It even gets to the point where that is all I think about and I can no longer ward it off.  

Funny how the universe works.

So, I am in week one of navigating the streets of Baltimore on my new road bike.  I am super lucky because I have a dear friend who is passionate about cycling (and more importantly, safe cycling) that has offered to show me the best ways to navigate this city. Even though I am only a week in, and my ass is so sore I can barely sit, I no longer feel misaligned.  I feel like I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing, and that’s how I know that I am in alignment with the will of the universe rather than just running the Stephanie show, oblivious to everyone and everything around me.

As I work in my sits bones to the bumpy roads of Baltimore, I’m smiling.  The warm sun shinning on me, cars whipping by me.  At night, I can put my head on my pillow and fall asleep with ease because I know that my values are aligned with my actions.  That I am doing my part to help improve the environment, something that is near and dear to my heart.  Am I perfect, NO.  But, it’s the little actions over time that add up to have a major effect.

Maybe for you, it’s not a bike, or the environment.  Maybe it’s something totally different.  Maybe it’s something at work, or in your relationship, or in how you feed yourself.  What is it that keeps nagging you, begging you to pay attention, but you keep stuffing it down in hopes that it’ll go away?  What is one simple step you can take this week to get it out of your head and into your reality?  Speak your truth!  Know that you are supported, and that the path will be cleared for you if you just flex that faith muscle and take it one day at a time.


Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200

June 1, 2017by admin0

I’m pretty new to this blog thing.  Truth be told, I’m winging it!  I love to geek out and share all kinds of nutritional info with you, but I think it’s important that I share a bit about myself!  So this post is going to be personal, REAL personal.

So, buckle your seatbelt, we about to go deep y’all.

You may or may not know that I am a vegan.  I really don’t even like that word, “vegan”.  I remember when people used to tell me they were vegan before I myself was one, and I immediately thought, “This chick thinks she’s better than me” and “Here comes the lecture about why I’m a horrible person because I eat chicken”.

I don’t want to be an angry vegan.

One of my favorite authors and podcasters, Rich Roll, has coined the term “Plant Powered” and that’s what I roll with.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about animal rights or the environment, I just think it’s important that as a plant powered person, I don’t act like a raging lunatic forcing my political agenda on the general population.  I want people to eat more plants, not be running from me because I’m preaching the gospel of veganism.

Am I perfect?  Hell no!  Sometimes I get on my soap box, and I usually realize it as the words are coming out of my mouth and I can’t stop it.

Overall, I try and spread the message of eat whole foods, mostly plants, most of the time.

I wasn’t always vegan.  I used to love my McDonald’s quarter pounders, my Chick-Fil-A friend chicken, pizza, all the goods.  I even used to date a guy whose brother was vegan and I thought, “What a weirdo!  Why deprive yourself??”

My current partner, Nick, and I have three kids.  Sophia, my oldest, just turned 7.  Then there’s Penelope (affectionately called Lo LO) who’s 2 and Vasili, my baby boy, who’s 1.  I am 32 years old.  When I had Sophia, I was YOUNG, like 25 years old young.  I remember I got pregnant, gained a bunch of weight, had my daughter in May, and was back in a bikini two months later riding jetskis with Nick.

Then came age and two kids back to back.  There was no more bouncing back.

I had Penelope when  I was 29 and three months after I had her, we found out I was pregnant again.  9 months later, when I was 30, Vasili made his way into the world.  My body was completely different from anything I’ve ever known it to be.  I would look in the mirror and think, “Whose body is this!??!?!”  My average weight before the babies was about 130, give or take 10 pounds.  After having Vasili, I weighed in at 220 pounds.

220 pounds.

I had never experienced what it was like to be heavy.  Man, did I take that for granted.  Everyone kept saying, “Go easy on yourself!  You just had two babies!”.  But, let’s keep this real.  It was so hard for me.  I felt so uncomfortable in my skin.  For the first time, I had stretch marks, I had to buy new jeans (size 16) and felt so incredibly self-conscious.

I remember right after having Vasili, the kids, Nick and I went to the indoor pool at the YMCA.  I have never been more aware of my body as I was that day.  Before we even got to the pool, I had to go to Kohl’s to buy a one-piece maternity bathing suit because nothing I had even remotely fit.  I ended up getting the only one that fit, it was bright orange.  I mean, BRIGHT orange.  I literally looked like a felon.  I wore a pair of Nick’s swim trunks on the bottom, to cover up my thighs.  As I waded around the pool with all the other moms and kiddos, I couldn’t even be present to enjoy the swim time with my babies.  All I could think about was how fat I felt.  I was wondering what other people were thinking of me.  Did they know I just had a baby?  Do they think I’m fat?

It was exhausting.

On top of not feeling great in my body, I had ZERO energy.  I mean, zero.  It took everything in me just to stay awake all day.  I would usually start my day out with a big plate of eggs, bacon and toast.  It was delicious, but afterwards, I just wanted to nap.  I couldn’t drink a ton of caffeine because I was breastfeeding, so I was on my own.  Most days, all I could do was sit on the couch and watch my kids play.

And my mood.  To put it nicely, I was cranky.  All the time.  I didn’t want to be, but I just always had this irritability.  On top of being cranky and tired, I always felt like I was in a haze.  Like I never really woke up from my sleep the night before.

In October of 2015, I had had enough.  I actually remember the day, October 27.  It’s the day I finally decided to do something different.

I have been blessed with beautiful people in my life and yoga, both of which have taught be about prayer and meditation.  I began to pray for an intuitive thought, asking Mother Spirit (or God, or Universe, or High Power, or whatever you call that thing that is greater than yourself) to guide me to a path of health and wellness.  My prayer often sounded like “Spirit, show me how to be healthy today”.  That’s it.

In my meditation, I would get this nagging feeling to eat more plants.  I know that sounds so crazy, but it’s true.  Then Mother Spirit started putting plant powered people into my life.

A guy named Phil told me to read this book called “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn.  That book changed the trajectory of my life.  I learned that a vegan, or plant based diet, is not in fact, crazy or rooted in deprivation.  He talked about all the foods you could eat, why they were good for you, what effect they had on you and, most importantly, the science behind a plant based diet.

My family is rampant with diabetes and heart disease and I knew innately that I was on the path to both if I didn’t change anything.

So it all started with making a decision, and that decision was…I AM WORTH IT.

I am one of those all or nothing people, so there was no transitory period for me.  I was all in.  No more meat, dairy or eggs for me.  No more Chick-Fil-A drive through.  I started to eat a whole foods, plant based diet.

In the beginning, I thought it was going to be super expensive and super difficult.  I was so wrong.  In fact, it was a lot cheaper than eating junky carryout everyday.  I started getting back into cooking, a passion that I had dropped many years ago because I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to do it anymore.  I started googling plant based recipes, searching for plant based bloggers and podcasts (that’s how I found Rich Roll), and became a plant powered machine.

I didn’t lose weight immediately, but I did gain a TON of energy.  So much so, that I started going to the gym everyday.  I would pack the kids up in the van and drive over to the gym where they went off to the kid’s room and I went to the weights.  At first, I had NO IDEA what I was doing.  But, I didn’t let that stop me.  I showed up anyway and just moved my body.

After about a week, I remember the brain fog lifting.  At the time, I didn’t know I had brain fog.  I didn’t know it until it was gone.  I had never been so clear and focused in my life.

There was something to this plant based diet after all.

Then my skin cleared up.  I thought I was doomed to acne for awhile because of all the hormones associated with just having a baby and breastfeeding.  I was wrong.  Plants fixed that problem for me.  My skin not only cleared of any acne, but it started to have this healthy, radiant glow about it.  It was awesome.

For the first few months, I didn’t have much weight loss.  A few pounds here and there, but nothing drastic.  I was discouraged, to say the least.  I kept reading on different blogs that people went plant based and they lost like 50 pounds in a day.  Or at least that was my perception.  But I DIDN’T GIVE UP.  How could I?  I was feeling more alive than I had ever felt in my entire life!  I had energy to workout for a couple hours AND play with my kids all day, all without an afternoon nap or a venti coffee from Starbucks.

After about five or six months, the weight started to fall off.

After 1 year, I lost 80 pounds.

80 pounds.

But, more than losing 80 pounds, I also started to become aware of how my food choices affect the environment, the animals and the future of the world.  Every second, 2 football fields worth of Amazon rainforest are bulldozed to make room for animal agriculture.  In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the combined exhaust from all transportation.  I also started to learn about conventional farming practices, the absolutely horrendous conditions that these animals are forced to “live” in, and I use the term “live” loosely.  And then there’s the amount of water it takes to support all these animals.

It was astonishing, and I will probably do a future blog post on this topic alone.

My favorite quote of all time is by Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better”.  I couldn’t unlearn what I was learning, and my diet started to align with my unique set of spiritual principles.  When people said things to me like, “You’re not a baby cow, why would you drink cow’s milk?”, I understood that.  Or, “What’s the difference between eating a chicken and eating your pet dog?”.  That made sense to me.

Fast forward two years and going plant based has changed everything about my life.  Not only have I lost almost 100 pounds in a healthy and sustainable way, it has also helped me discover my passion for nutrition and health coaching, which is now my business and what I do for a living.  It has allowed me to deepen my yoga practice because I am actually in tune with who I am as a human being.  It has given me the gift of being awake enough to be present with my children.

If you are considering going plant based, go at your own pace.  Not everyone is meant to go plant based overnight.  Start eating more whole foods (i.e. things not in packages), mostly veggies, most of the time.  I know it will change your life, like it did mine.

Plants for Life,
Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200

May 22, 2017by admin0

Welcome back for Week 3 of my Gut Health Series!  If you missed Week 1 and Week 2, click here to check it out!  This week, I will be talking about specific short term diets that are great for restoring your gut flora.  I am in no way sponsored by any of these companies, I truly think they are beneficial to gut health restoration.

The following diets/protocols may seem intense, but if you are a person that suffers from IBS, eczema, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, GERD, candida, chronic fatigue, depression, weight problems, hormone imbalances, and/or other autoimmune diseases, you are probably sick and tired of beating your head against the wall in search of symptom relief.  If you have found that you’ve tried every medication and either they don’t work or they cause more symptoms, maybe it’s time to explore the impact of nutrition.  It never hurts to keep an open mind and learn what your options are.  You deserve to be healthy and happy.  Here are my top three diets for gut flora restoration that I learned about while attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition:


The Body Ecology Diet:

This diet was developed by Donna Gates, M.Ed., ABAAHP.  She is an international best-selling author, teacher and lecturer on digestive health and anti-aging protocols.  She spent over 25 years studying Eastern healing systems and Western fad diets and has a deep understanding of how your gut health affects ever system in your body.

The BED is a great, back-to-basics approach to restoring gut health and vitality.  If you struggle with candida, chronic fatigue, depression, weight problems, early aging, ADHD, autism, hormone imbalance and/or auto-immune disorders, you may benefit from the BED.  The BED is not a diet but rather a lifestyle. The BED (gluten free, sugar-free, probiotic rich) and their associated products are specifically designed to help cultivate, nourish, cleanse and repair the inner ecosystem of your digestive system.

I highly recommend checking out their website where you can learn more about the BED, their products, different courses they offer and more.  It’s a website loaded with all kinds of helpful information.



FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.  These are big fancy names that refer to a collection of molecules found in food that are often poorly absorbed by some people, especially people with a dysbiosis (imbalance) in their gut flora.  It is recommended to follow a strict low FODMAP diet for 8 weeks, preferably under the supervision of a Health Coach or dietitian.  After the 8 weeks, foods can be gradually reintroduced, noting how you tolerate each food and adjusting your food plan accordingly.  If you are interested in doing an 8-week trial of a low FODMAP diet with me, please click here to schedule a free Initial Consultation.



The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet was originally derived from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) created by Dr. Sidney Valentine Hass to naturally treat chronic inflammatory digestive conditions that result from a damaged gut lining.  SCD became popular when a mom, by the name of Elaine Gottschall, healed her own child of Ulcerative Colitis and then became an advocate for SCD.  She even wrote a book entitled “Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet”.  The GAPS diet focuses on removing foods that are hard to digest and are damaging to the gut microbiome and replacing them with nutrient-dense foods, allowing the intestinal lining to heal and seal.

The GAPS protocol is broken down into three protocols: Nutritional, Supplementation and Detoxification.  The Nutritional Protocol restricts all grains, commercial dairy, starchy veggies and all processed carbs while focusing on easily digestible and nutrient dense foods.  The Supplementation Protocol is tailored to the individual, but generally includes a commercial probiotic, essential fatty acids, cod liver oil, and targeted digestive support.  The Detoxification Protocol cleanses the liver and colon through juicing, GAPS milkshakes, and enemas while reducing the general toxic load by restricting man-made chemicals and heavy metals.

If you visit the GAPS Diet website, you can find a Certified GAPS Practitioner to work with.


I hope this Gut Series was helpful and answered some of your questions about gut health.  Personally, I think the topic of the microbiome is fascinating!  Research into this vast unknown is just in it’s infancy, but scientists have discovered some amazing things so far.  If you are interested in learning more about gut health, please feel free to email me at info@stephaniemisanik.com.  Here’s to happy, healthy bellies!


Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200