{Guest post}: 4 simple changes to better health by Matthew Alegre

February 28, 2017

Hi friends! I hope are doing well. Today’s post is brought to you by my husband, Matthew. When we’re not chasing after the girls or trying to break up an argument over Shopkins, we have some pretty interesting conversations. As you can imagine, they typically involve something about health and fitness, a podcast we listened to, a recent study that was done, Carpe Diem Personal Training stuff, or good food we want to devour. The other day we started talking about the challenges of eating healthy, the role stress often plays, and the little things we can do to get back on track. So Matt’s going to take it away and I’m going to make sure he doesn’t use any offensive language before hitting “publish.”

Common challenges we face when it comes to eating healthy


It seems like we have less time in our day than ever before. It’s difficult to try to balance all of our daily commitments (like work, family, and household tasks) and the various forms of stress that we face with proper care for ourselves. As a parent, I understand what a lot of my clients face each and every day – we are all incredibly busy.


In my experience, one of the biggest challenges people face when it comes to eating healthy is not being prepared. Between taking kids to school, chauffeuring them to various activities, working full-time, to maintaining your home there’s just not enough time in the day. Less time and more stress leads to poor meal choices. We end up eating whatever’s convenient or easy.


I try to encourage anyone who wants to establish better eating habits to focus on being prepared. This means spend a day on the weekend prepping food for the week ahead. Have real food on hand so you aren’t tempted by garbage. Use your crockpot for mid-week meals. Don’t buy junk. Have items that are simple and easy to make and can be thrown together quickly. Make and bring your lunch to work. Small changes can set the foundation for better longterm habits. 


Another common issue may be that the person who wants to eat better is met with resistance by his or her family. It can be difficult to get your whole family on board with a better lifestyle. Listen, I totally get the issue of trying to feed picky toddlers. However, this is where you have to show a little tough love. If you are making the meals then your family will just have to eat what you prepare. If they don’t want it then they can get their own food. One of my favorite expressions is lead by example. Show your kids that you care about your health as well as theirs. They will catch on to your actions.


A Fit Mess

Small changes can yield big results down the road. Here are a few, simple steps you can make today for better health tomorrow: 


1. Eat your first and final meal within a 12-hour window.

This means if you eat breakfast at 7:00 am, then you shouldn’t be eating anything after 7:00 pm. This is beneficial for several reasons. First, it encourages more consistent and fulfilling meals. It also supports liver function as well as digestion. Finally, it hinders snacking throughout the day and bingeing at night.


2.  Cut out processed foods and anything that comes from a box.

Learn to cook real food.  Your meals don’t need to be elaborate. Prepare simple, healthy items. Meat, nuts, and vegetables are great choices. Contrary to public opinion, meat and fat are not bad. You don’t need to follow a Standard American Diet (SAD) simply because that’s the norm. Otherwise, you might end up like Joe Schmo Couch Potato.


3. Plan! Success comes from being prepared.

If you don’t plan, you plan to fail. Make your food in advance, carry healthy snacks, and stock your fridge with whole foods. Be sure to eat every 3-4 hours. When you go too long between meals your body can’t function properly. You get tired, moody, and hungry which makes you more likely to grab junk food.


4.  Understand your food triggers.

Stress is a huge contributor to poor eating choices. If your cortisol is high then you are going to crave foods that spike your insulin (sugar, carbs, etc.). Ask yourself: what are the sources of stress in my life and how can I find ways to reduce them? When you feel stressed at work, do you want to hit the vending machine? Understanding your triggers is a huge part of redirecting your habits. Once you are aware of what may set you off then you need to figure out how to combat them. One small trick I use to curb sugar cravings is to mix 2 teaspoons of L-glutamine with a glass of water (or a small amount of heavy cream). It’s an effective way to satisfy a sweet tooth.


Additional links:

Carpe Diem Personal Training, Inc.

Poliquin Group Supplements 

Interview with Dr. Charles Hecht

June 13, 2016
Hi friends! I hope your week is off to a great start. I’m very excited to share a recent interview I did with Dr. Charles Hecht, chiropractor and owner of Partners in Health & Wellness, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Charles has been practicing chiropractic care for almost two decades. In addition to his Doctor of Chiropractic degree, Charles holds several post-graduate degrees in acupuncture and he’s the only Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician in Chapel Hill.
On a personal level, Charles has helped me through several injuries and nagging pain, most notably my torn hamstring and hip problems post pregnancy. He’s extremely knowledgeable and strives to take a holistic approach to treating injuries and pain. What distinguishes his practice from others is that patients can come and receive multiple types of treatment and care to maximize their health and lifestyle including massage, acupuncture, and personal training. Apart from all of this, Charles is genuinely a nice guy. He’s sympathetic and helpful. Always understanding and welcoming. Exactly what you are looking for in a doctor and health partner. Enjoy!

Interview with Dr. Charles Hecht – Partners in Health & Wellness

How did you get started in chiropractic care?

I wanted to become a chiropractor after suffering with a herniated disc in high school.  I had tried PT and was scheduled to have surgery. However, I tried chiropractic as a “last possible solution” and got full resolution of my problem and was able to avoid going in for surgery.  Since that time, it has been my “go-to” for musculoskeletal issues like back and neck pain, elbow tendonitis, headaches and much more.

How long have you been in business?

I received by chiropractic license in November 1999. Soon after, I started practicing in Virginia before moving down to North Carolina.  I opened my current practice in Chapel Hill, NC in March of 2001.

What are the top issues you treat?

The most common issue I treat is lower back pain, followed by neck pain/headaches.  However, in the summer, we have an increase in sports injuries like shin splints, hip pain from running, and tennis elbow.  Also, I treat the occasional gardener who over did it tending their crop.

Are there any issues that women are prone to?

Yes.  Many women have a unique series of posture issues that usually result from post-pregnancy changes.  Most common is the rounding of the shoulders and upper back because of how they hold/feed their child during the early years. Unfortunately when this problem is not corrected, it can lead to upper back pain/burning, as well as neck pain and headaches.  In addition, women who run tend to have more hip flexor and sacroiliac issues as a result of these weak middle and lower trapezius.

What are the benefits of chiropractic care for individuals who exercise regularly?

Regular chiropractic care is fantastic for individuals who work out.  It is one of the many reasons I have a trainer in my office.  I encourage all of my patients to do at least 3-4 days per week of 20-25 minutes of exercise.  Unfortunately, if you do “the same old routine” over and over, then it can cause muscular and joint imbalance creating pain.  With chiropractic, I analyze a patient’s spine for normal movement, their muscular patterns for imbalances, and the health of their joints for longevity.

For example, I treat many runners (of all levels) in my office.  The two most common reasons they come to me for help is hip and sacroiliac pain.  There is a predictable pattern of overuse.  First, the individual is usually someone who has run for many years.  Often, they do not take “rest” days. Finally, many of these patients will sit all day at a computer which causes the glute muscles not to function and leads to hamstring shortening. Partnering chiropractic care with exercise will help you “stay in the game” and avoid injuries.

If there is one piece of advice you could offer everyone, what would it be?

Look at the big picture!  When you are training for an event that “you just have to do” but have nagging injuries or worse an acute injury, cancel the race.  Consult with a professional that will help to treat the ailing issue, then return to the activity healthy. Avoiding these warning sides will lead to more time out of exercise versus just missing “one race”.

You can read more about Charles and his work on the Partners in Health and Wellness website. And be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter. I love the tips he regularly shares!

Interview with Matthew Alegre, CSCS

February 3, 2016

You guys! I have a fun post for you today. One of the reasons I started this little blog was to offer healthy living tips. I plan to incorporate interviews with various experts in the health and fitness fields to share some diet and exercise advice.


I am excited to feature my very first interview with the BEST personal trainers and health coaches around. Matthew Alegre is the founder and owner of Carpe Diem Personal Training. Of course, he just so happens to be my husband so I am biased, but I do think he is the best. Enjoy!


Interview with Matthew Alegre, CSCS

Founder and Owner of Carpe Diem Personal Training, Inc.


  1. Name: Matthew Alegre, Daddy, Coach, Maestro (OK, the last doesn’t get used very often).
  1. In five words or less, describe what you do. Help people look better naked.
  1. What’s your training philosophy? Discover the most efficient way possible to reach YOUR goals (not someone else’s) and then go after it.
  1. What does a typical workout look like for someone you train?  I see clients for 30-60 minutes at a time. Everyone has their own personalized training plan, which always includes weight training. The devil’s in the details though as the specific methods of training are manipulated according to the client’s needs and capabilities. Success often depends on the little things: the sequence and execution of the movements and how they fit into the overall plan. We lift, push, pull, sprint and carry our way through fun and effective training sessions.
  1. If you had to choose between eating well and exercising, which is more important and why? Eating well because you can’t out train a bad diet.  Even if someone is thin and appears to be in-shape, if their diet is crap, then their blood work and body fat analysis will show it. You may not have the chance to exercise every day, but you eat and drink every day so the return on the investment is greater in that regard.
  1. In your experience, what is the number one mistake people make when trying to lose weight? They cut calories while doing steady cardio. Instead, they should replace starchy carbs and sugar with more veggies, protein and good fats while focusing on weight training and interval sprints. This will get you the results you seek 99% of the time. I also think it’s important to differentiate between weight loss and fat loss.  If you lose 5 lbs. of fat while gaining 5 lbs. of muscle your number on the scale may look the same. This can be discouraging for people who think the goal is to get a smaller number on the scale. A better way to track this would be to use your weight plus your body fat to lean muscle mass ratio. That way you’ll have a complete picture of your weight loss, but more importantly your fat loss and muscle gains.
  1. What are your top 3 tips to living a healthy life? Sleep better, eat better, love more. To elaborate – a good night’s sleep means you hit the pillow and wake up 7-10 hours later. Eat better by trying to stick to the following advice: if it didn’t at one time run, swim, fly or grow from the earth, don’t eat it. Lastly, love more by being grateful for what you have every day, following your passion, and always being true to yourself.
  1. Describe your typical meals.

Breakfast – Always a high fat, protein and fiber meal (i.e. meat and nuts), diesel coffee with MCT oil (or coconut oil) and cinnamon. Water with lemon. Supplements.

Lunch – This is usually post-workout so some lower fat protein source (i.e. chicken, turkey, or white fish) along with some fast acting carb like white rice or rice pasta. I also have a greens drink (I like Wellness Greens by Poliquin Group) along with supplements.

Dinner – Whatever my wife has cooking in the crockpot – usually meat, vegetables, and a starch like potatoes. Supplements.

Snacks – These are usually smaller meals (#2 and #3 throughout the day). If it’s pre-workout, then I will have a good protein and fat source (ie. grass-fed beef, bison, pork, etc.) along with vegetables. I bookend any starchier carb and veggies later in the day and post-workout.

Sweets – The only sweets I eat are typically various dark berries and the tasty Paleo treats Alyssa makes. She has shared some of these recipes on the blog already. So good!

Drinks – The only drinks I have are good clean water, unsweetened almond milk, quality coffee and The Macellan 12- single malt scotch.

  1. Other than your wife, who inspires you today? My clients because they are all extremely busy and driven people with demanding lives, yet they take time out to train and strive to be even better!

You can read more about Matthew by visiting his website.

matt bus