VIBRANCE Nutrition’s Spotlight on: Kendra Madden

One of the strongest motivators and greatest rewards of the work I do is being able to be witness to someone completely transform his or her life. Kendra Madden has, in many ways, been one of my greatest inspirations since she first came to me in 2011. She had reached a place where she was committed to living her life differently and wanted some extra support in making the changes she desired stick and last.

Every step of the way she has pushed for excellence, demanded vitality and vibrancy for herself, and has not let the challenges and obstacles that have shown up for her the last 18 months stop her. To date, she has lost approximately 70 pounds! She has gone from hating exercise to making fitness a priority, completing a 5k and working her way to a 10k+ this fall and sharing her enthusiasm for exercise with her family!

There is no doubt that Kendra’s experience has had a strong ripple effect among her friends, family, and students in told and untold ways – and this is the true power of transformation; how the changes we make for ourselves inspire and empower others around us.

 

 

 

Below is, in her own words, her story:

1. What was your breaking point? Tell us about the moment you decided you were going to take action.
a. I was stuck in a rut. I think I had decided that changing myself was going to be too hard and that I’d just accept the I-Let-Myself-Go version of me I’d become. My dad convinced me otherwise.

2. How do you imagine your life would be today if you had not begun working with VIBRANCE?

a. I don’t know that I would have stuck with any other program or trainer. The fact that you designed VIBRANCE to fit my life and not the other way around, which is how most other programs works, absolutely suited my goals, my vision, and my ability to persist. I might just be see-sawing back and forth between twenty pounds, without having made it to minus SIXTY! (this interview was conducted in late April 2012; Kendra has since continued to lose weight *without* me physical present to train with her)

3. What is an unexpected result of your commitment to yourself and the work you’ve done?
a. A different outlook on food. It has always been such a looming entity in my life- whether as something I had to resist and deny myself or something I gave myself over to. Now food has become what I always wanted it to be: one element of life that I happen to enjoy, of many.

4. What has been the greatest challenge you’ve overcome in your time with me?
a. Learning to navigate my head and body. Figuring out what are old habits vs. real responses. I still struggle with this: how do I confidently tell the difference between a viable reaction to something and just an obstacle I need to overcome? (For example, if my body aches, do I push it or pamper it? If I crave a food, do I eat it or let the craving pass?)

5. What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in the last year?
a. Losing sixty pounds while loving life! A close second is learning to say no and doing it well.

6. Where do you see yourself a year from today?
a. I am maintaining (not trying to lose) weight and health: eating clean foods that I prepare myself, keeping fit, relatively stress-free and happy, in a place where I am living proactively and not reactively.

7. What are some tangible results of your work with me?
a. Weight loss, smaller clothes that are CUTE and look good on me, compliments from people, consistently increasing strength I can feel and see, a healthy lifestyle.

8. What guidance would you offer to someone who is where you were when you began this lifestyle change?
a. I’ve actually had this conversation with a friend of mine. She was saying she wish she could afford a trainer both in terms of money and time and I told her that the trainer is a huge piece, but that SHE has to come to terms with wanting the change before anyone else can help her. She has to learn why she keeps finding herself in this place of unhealthiness so that she can change her behaviors for good.

9. What are you most looking forward to in the next six months?
a. A summer where I feel confident wearing less clothing in warm weather (and looking much better in a swimsuit!) Finally meeting a goal where I am not trying to change my weight, but living to sustain it. Being strong enough and fit enough to take on many physical challenges and keeping up with other people too (maybe even surpassing them?). Continuing to love life and feel great!

 

CONGRATULATIONS, Kendra! It has been such a gift to be able to work with you! I’m excited for this summer and fall! We are gonna rock it!

 

Combat Heart Disease with Your Fork

According to the most recent statistics offered by the American Heart Association, one in three American adults has one or more types of cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, angina, heart attack history, heart failure and/or stroke). Over half of these individuals are under the age of 60. I personally find this information shocking and saddening. Heart disease is largely a disease of lifestyle choice – choices we make on a day-to-day basis culminating over time. The amount of suffering for these individuals and those who care about them cannot be measured.
Our culture has not been set up to combat this disease effectively. Reliance upon extreme measures (surgery and drugs) remain the norm and well-supported by current health plans, while remedies which have been proven to be the most effective (diet and exercise changes) remain ignored and unsupported in our culture.
There has been a call to step forward and begin to take responsibility as a nation on many levels. Our health is just one area which can make a profound difference and have a powerful ripple effect nation-wide – stemming from our personal sphere of family, friends and co-workers to a more national level of insurance policies, health care plans, and the medical and food industries.
Begin with small, powerful changes to improve your heart health. The shift that can happen for you is beyond transformational. It requires simple steps, but it can be difficult to implement within the context of one’s day-to-day life. This is where support from your health providers, family members, a personal trainer and various communities becomes essential. As a friend of mine says, “Together, we can do better.”

* Move a little bit every day: Park further away, take an after dinner stroll for 10 minutes, take the stairs instead of the elevator, enlist the help of a personal trainer. 30 minutes a day or more. It doesn’t have to be all at once! Alternatively,use a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take in a day – aim for 10,000!
* Eat Your Greens! Green foods are powerful heart protectors. They are full of fiber, antioxidants and are low in calories, helping to shed excess weight. I have written much about greens and different ways to get them into one’s daily diet. A great book to get started is Greens, Glorious Greens.
* Reduce Meat Consumption: The frequency of and quality of our animal food consumption
in this country is not supportive for the health for our bodies or the planet. If you have cardiovascular disease, multiple sources of research point to the benefit or reducing or eliminating consumption of beef, pork, and even chicken from your diet. Traditional cultures with low risk of disease use animal foods as a condiment and flavoring rather than a main course. Try eating a vegetarian diet 50% of the time (or more) and reserving meat for special occasions. There are many ways to do this that can be satisfying, nutritionally-sound, and even decadent! The work of T. Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish, and John McDougall may be of interest to you. Also, take a vegetarian cooking class to learn more about how lovely meat-free eating can be!

* Stop Smoking: If you are a smoker, quitting smoking alone will radically improve your health. Do what you can to kick butt, being certain to implement stress-reduction techniques to help you stay smoke-free for the rest of your life.

* Bring in Reinforcements for Those Weak Spots: I have found in my practice that many people are diligent about one aspect of their health, but struggle with others. The expert dieter has a heck of a time sticking to an exercise regimen and the exercise enthusiasts struggle to keep their food streamlined. Regardless of your preference, it’s likely that you struggle with work-life balance, emotional nourishment, and adequate restoration. All these factors play into restoring your heart health. Reach out to those around you for support. If you need additional help, hiring a health professional or personal trainer to facilitate this transition can be a richly rewarding and empowering experience.