Archive for Interviews and Press

My Article on Quitting Sugar from MindBodyGreen

Quitting Sugar is a tough fight, but it’s worth it.

Sugar is taking a public beating this week, as the internet is crammed with articles on why to avoid it, including Michael Moss’s fascinating NYT Magazine piece on processed foods as well as yesterday’s NYT column column by beloved chef Mark Bittman.

Bittman’s article explores findings from a study that links sugar consumption, not obesity, to diabetes. According to the piece, “researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates independent of rates of obesity. In other words, according to this study, obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does.”

Going beyond the link, Mr. Bittman finally says from the center of chefdom what health coaches and researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig have been saying for years:

Sugar is toxic.

Which is the best reason to quit sugar.

One of the forty million times I quit eating refined sugar (and hopefully the last), I had the magnificent idea to start a journal and track not just my food, but my THOUGHTS about food. How much of my intellectual life was being held hostage by food obsession? And how much of that chokehold was related to sugar? And finally, what might be available to me mentally if all that room was suddenly liberated for me to use in a less exhausting manner than the vicious mistress of obsessive thinking?

I also decided to do a little research about my sweet tooth and see why I felt so helpless in the glitter of its outstretched fingernails. I found this lecture that Dr. Lustig gave a lecture called Sugar: The Bitter Truth in which he shows us that sugar actually stimulates the exact same region of the brain that cocaine goes to work on. I like to call it the Euphoria Lounge. Who doesn’t want to be transported from feelings of suffering, boredom, fear, or betrayal simply by adding a substance to our systems? It is so much easier than talking it out, going for a run, being present in pain or accepting responsibility for things that are causing us harm. NO WONDER I LOVE SUGAR!!

But my journal revealed that the effects of sugar didn’t end simply with the stimulation. Without indulging in the initial impulse, I was able to keep my brain off the endless hamster wheel of desire and denial. “I want this but that’s bad so I can’t.” and then on an even worse day, “I want this so I WILL and now I AM BAD.” Then the sugar appears and the blood sugar Olympics begin their relentless training: the high, the crash, the craving, and mental gymnastics to deny the desire and so forth. And the whole time the mind is engaged in this cycle actively, countless hours are robbed from our waking lives.

So how do we get off the ride? Here are some basic tools for support in quitting sugar, serving the health of your body, and freeing your mind from obsession so you can go about the fantastic business of living.

1. SOUR: Just like on a color wheel where hues opposite from each other cancel each other out, so too is the landscape of our tongues. Having a sugar craving? Grab a pickle. The sour taste will physiologically kill the impulse long enough for you to make a different choice for yourself and mindfully return to the life you are in the middle of living.

2. SUPPORT: Grab a friend or a posse and do it together. The first few days and even two weeks can be so intense when we try and let go of a crutch that no longer serves our health. It’s ok to ask for help and having a friend engaged in a common goal serves to strengthen the entire team. I see this over and over in my group cleanses, how the power of community creates a momentum for everyone.

3. CHANGE OF SCENERY: When the impulse feels at full banshee-monster-head-banging massive, make a physical move. Walk around the block. Take yourself up and down the stairs at the office. Go swimming. Take the dog out. Move from one room of the house to another. Call up your sugar-free pal and talk it out. Remember the craving will pass. Everything does.

4. ADD MORE PLEASURE: Congratulate yourself each day by furnishing yourself with a pleasure. Giving up sugar is not about living in denial, it is about a new perspective of pleasure. Run yourself a gorgeous bath with essential oils and bath salts for added detoxification, aromatherapy, and muscular relaxation. Bring yourself flowers. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi or give one to yourself. Masturbate. Let’s face it, no one is ever mad about an orgasm.

When I was finally able to let go of sugar, I realized through my journal how much of my mental space had been taken up not just by the sugar craving and acrobatics around that, but by just food obsession in general. My mind is now so much freer to be creative, to be curious and alive. My focus is more clear and my relationships with people are deeper, more authentic and loving. I don’t sit with my friend over tea and wonder how long until I get to eat. I sit with my friend over tea and I think about how nice it is to have time to catch up with such a hilarious woman, and how lucky I am to know her.

Interview for Original Plumbing with Thomas McBee

This is an interview I got to do with the brilliant writer, Thomas McBee on the Original Plumbing website for Amos Mac and Rocco Kayiatos‘ print magazine dedicated to the sexuality and culture of FTM Trans guys. It was Halloween of last year, but health is timeless.

 Holistic Tips with Coach Seinberg

by THOMAS MCBEE on OCTOBER 31, 2011

I’m a little woo. That’s become clearer since I returned to the East Coast after spending my formative mid-to-late 20s in NorCal. I regularly use my Android to find out the moon signs of near-strangers, and if I could be reborn anything, straight up–I’d want to be a mystic. So, when I began taking T in June, I got interested in holistic care for some of the more common side effects. I bought tea tree shampoo to deal with my oily scalp, ate tons of bananas to increase potassium for my cramps, and listened to my body when it told me I need like like 10 gallons of water in order to function. I focused on meditating to work with hormonal rebalancing and I increased lean protein to help deal with my sudden desire to eat like I’d never see food again.

My instinct to do this got me thinking: a lot of us feel deeply connected to our bodies for the first time in our lives, and it follows that now would be a good time to develop habits of self-care that are empowered and healthy. I’ve been working hard around to do so, but not everybody has been immersed in the world of slow food, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and acupuncture, so I thought I’d do a little practical alternative medicine/nutrition information gathering and bring the woo to you.

For help, I spoke to my friend, the brilliant Sara Seinberg, Holistic Health Coach. Here’s her explanation of her work:
“I help clients discover and live the lives they have always known they could have: healthy, energized, honest, authentic and joyful. Using nutrition as a starting point, I work with clients to employ new ways of eating that support making these amazing changes and provide sane and sustainable modes of self care for each person.”

Sounds good! So, what should transitioning folks keep in mind? “Cooking at home might be the single most heroic action of self care a transman can take,” Sara says.

“Cooking at home guarantees that your food is prepared with care and with as many organic ingredients as possible. In the big picture, it’s also of note that cooking at home cuts costs, even organically, as compared to eating out. You can choose healthy oils to cook with (cold-pressed and organic), whole grains, and eat as much in-season, fresh produce as you can. When buying produce, choose food that has traveled the least, and looks the most interesting to you.

“Chew more. Your body will adjust to the food entering it and respond at a respectable rate, cutting down on overeating and intestinal distress. And try to always eat sitting down, but in your car doesn’t count. Eating is the thing that fuels your ENTIRE LIFE. If we respect it, our lives will reflect it.

“Put as many colors on your plate as possible: dark greens, yellows, and reds. More colors equals more nutrients. And of special note to all transmen, especially vegetarians: avoid soy. It is one of the most genetically modified crops in our country, and it is often over processed. It also contains phytoestrogen (plant-based estrogen). Try almond milk or hemp or hazelnut, switch out your tofu to quinoa, a superhero, as a perfect protein.”

Raise your hand if this is news to you. I am shocked. Soy! Fattening, and full of estrogen and modified crops. Boo.

“And while we’re talking about it, guess what else has estrogen in it? Beer, people. According to the phenomenal herbalist Dori Midnight, ’3.5 oz of hops contains 30, 000- 300,000 IU of estrogen, including estradiol, which lowers T and binds to free T in bloodstream, making it unavailable.’

What should trans guys in particular focus on in our diets?  ”Most Americans in generally amble through the world in a state of dehydration to some degree. With the introduction of T into the system along with the stress of a massive change in life, flushing out toxins is imperative. Try to slowly add water consumption into life. Tote a stainless steel or glass water bottle with you. Its presence and weight serve as a reminder to drink it. You don’t have to push yourself from one glass a day to eight. Work slowly in a way that you can maintain. Go from one glass to two. Do that for four or five days. Then try three. And so on.

“Also, in the world of H2O, when cooking your whole grains at home, make sure to rinse them first. Phytic acid is contained in the hulls of nuts, grains, and seeds and is indigestible in our systems. And even more, it is a bully of an acid that renders the body incapable of absorbing Iron and Zinc, which are important for our health, especially for bodies in transition.

“For extra intense hippie cred: sprout that shiz. Sprouted grains retain their natural plant enzymes which are beneficial for helping digestion. In addition, sprouted grains support the growth of good bacteria, help to keep the colon clean, and are high in protective antioxidants, which bind to free radicals in the system, man.”

What else does Coach Seinberg prescribe for a body in transition? Duh.

“Exercise, exercise, exercise! Stretching is of terrific importance, with muscle mass increasing and shifting locations as well. Keeping your  body stretched out will ease the pain of growth spurts and provide some good time for sustained and even breathing, bringing your mind into a more serene place to have multi-dimensional perspective on all the changes you are shouldering.  Aerobic work for raising the heart rate can be a productive place to put temper management skills into place and creates a better sleep environment.

“While you’re at it, the pesky second round of acne you may be suffering through will find a valiant opponent in sweat. This salty work partner cleans out pores and tightens skin. In addition, physical endurance work can translate well into the bedroom for newly brightened libidos. Just saying’

“If you have always been a person who liked exercise, try to switch up your routine some. Add in strength work or tack on ten minutes to your cardio routine. If you are new to moving your body, give yourself room to grow. If you have the opportunity to work with a trainer, do that. If that’s not possible, find a support group online or add an affirmation app to your phone for support.

“Start with realistic goals you can stick to. Maybe decide to do ten modified push ups a day with a friend and text each other each day when you finish. Get off the train one stop early and walk further. Take the stairs. Work your way up. You’ll be surprised to find out just how much your body can do, how great it feels, and to realize how much impact exercise has on your life not just during it, but for the other 23 hours a day as well. Star right where you are. Start today.”

Right now I want to run home and work out, which means Sara’s work here is done. But what about supplements?

“There are great medical and supplemental resources out there for transmen. Intended for other doctors, Dr. R. Nick Gorton and Dean Spade Esq. penned Medical Therapy and Health Maintenance for Transgender Men: A Guide for Healthcare Providers which is also helpful for transmen who, like so many, have had less than ideal experiences with the world of healthcare. It is available for free online.

“Another book I love is The Family Herbal, a classic by Rosemary Gladstar which can guide people to herbal remedies and support for a stressed system. Finally, The Male Herbal by James Green gives men recipes for tinctures and tea and a comprehensive plant based cornucopia of information for herbal health.”
Thanks, Coach Seinberg! If you’d like to talk to her more about your personal healthcare goals, consider becoming a client!  And dudes–be well! The world needs you.

My Interview About Imperfection as Muse

I was honored to be featured on the Blog of my recent alma mater, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I’m excited to have such a forum to talk about why I love my job and how I swear a lot.

The Road to Wellness: Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

by Bridget Shannon

Sara Seinberg, who recently graduated from theHealth Coach Training Program in May, was stuck. She was working a good job, and doing some freelance writing and photography, but her health was a different story. For her 40thbirthday she made a big move and signed up for a marathon. Recognizing a powerful inner strength upon completing the race, she made the decision to get her health back on track, and the rest is history.

Sara is one of the most creative and authentic Health Coaches I’ve encountered, and she has a real knack for relating her own story to how she now helps others. She coaches people, out of her San Francisco practice, Seinberg Holistic Health Coaching, around nutrition, but also emotional eating and self-awareness. I got a chance to catch up with her recently, and her method of developing the inner critic into a useful tool, and her ability to attract the right clients are fascinating. This interview highlights her successful journey and what she’s up to now.

What led you to explore the Health Coach Training Program?

At 39 I realized I’d been living in my body rent-free for years. After a hunk of drug use, decades of emotional eating, and a nice side order of self-loathing, I decided to do something epic in honor of 40: the San Francisco Marathon. In July 2010, I finished it. The process wasn’t cute or heroic. I didn’t do well and I didn’t shine. What I did do was become a woman who could face her fears and blow her own mind.

Once I made that decision, I found the school in no time, and got right into it. I knew I could get healthy and hold space that would help others make their way to health too. If I could make my way to thriving from the places I had known, anyone could do it, and the beauty is that they could do it their way.

Which parts of the program had an impact on your success?

Debbie Ford! Also, Deepak Chopra, and Geneen Roth were very impactful.

I loved the coaching focused things and the spiritual topics. I know the root of any eating problems for myself and many of my clients has to do with shame or emotional landscape. I also love working with food allergies and helping people to navigate their way to healthier and happier lives.

How did your life change after enrolling?

I got back into the kitchen and began to really use my creative force for health. I focused on school while I worked and I had faith that the challenges I faced, like being a businesswoman, could be handled and I didn’t have to do it perfectly. I could stumble and blow it and get right back up. No. Big. Deal. It’s my actual job as a human to be imperfect, and I definitely had experience in that arena. I had more fun. I laughed more. I felt less stressed out and my skin glowed. I began to put my punkrock version of perfectionism down and practice being who I actually was.

Do you have any tips or guidelines for accepting and embracing imperfection?

In my newfound life of using imperfection as my greatest muse, the world is a thing of great expanse and beauty. In the world of perfection, the options, as you can imagine, are severely limited. The very fiber of the definition of humanity is the necessity of learning from mistakes. And so if I must make mistakes, my goal then is to make new ones. Make interesting ones. It begs me to try new things, go to a hula class and look hapless and not care. Am I trying to get a date? No. I am trying to move my body and appreciate it as it is today. Was I born to be an Olympic long distance runner? No. I wasn’t even born to be very good at all. But I was born into this body and to have the experiences of creativity, love, family, art, travel, connection and taste, I need to be living in this body. It is my home.

And so it is my job to upkeep the property of my life experience. I support people in coaching to find what makes meaning for them. Together we identify these things and then use experimentation and vast opportunities we have for imperfection to build the truth that it will not kill us. No matter how many times we fall out of a yoga pose, burn the brown rice or wear the wrong outfit to work, we continue on and we have room to thrive. And we may even discover a new outfit along the way.

What’s the connection between creativity and food? Does this concept play into your work inspiring people who have trouble letting go of inner criticism?

Yes! I coach people not to pummel their inner critics or banish them. Our inner critics have been with us through thick and thin. They know us very well and have an enormous amount of information if we pay attention to them in a way that is supportive. Instead of trying to dethrone inner critics, I coach my clients to install a seat beside them and offer the critic companionship. Together we develop their inner advocate who then banters with the critic. Once the client develops a relationship with this advocate, let’s call her Blanche, then there can be an exchange that slowly moves the balance of power within motivation. Because each client is inherently creative, not just artists, the creative process of bringing Blanche to life and giving her voice, style and swagger gives the client a jumping off point of using creativity as a major lynchpin to healthy living.

What makes you and your practice unique?

Well, I’m pretty funny. I approach coaching from a place of abundance, with an artist’s sensibility. I bring a lot of creative work into the practice, a lot of work around acceptance and using our inner critics as guides to shaping our inner advocates.

Then we make colorful, off the hook meals that we look forward to and love. There is no more kitchen dread.

How does your own journey to wellness inspire your clients and others around you?

Everyone has a story. In fact, it’s one of the only things no one can take from us. It is solely and always ours. I have my own journey to wellness out there on my site and to some extent in a blog I wrote but when my clients arrive, it’s always about their story. Our time is about them and their stories. Through asking a lot of questions, I cull strengths from aspects of their lives to use as support in their wellness journeys. For example, a talented manager uses incisive skills to encourage collaboration for a team at the office. I can use this skill to help them build a collaborative project outside work that will support their wellness, like a cooking swap co-op or a grab bag exercise group where each week a different member picks and plans an exercise for the group. I may use my story to relate to the client, but never at the expense of my story being THE story. I feel deeply committed to the narrative of the client being the most important ingredient to successfully establishing healthy, sustainable, fun patterns.

How do you help your clients be successful? Is there a standout session or relationship you can recall?

I am leading my first cleanse right now and my clients are all reporting huge amounts of focus. Spring allergies are vanishing and stress is falling away for people. The executives are sleeping better and the struggling artists are freer in their processes, unfettered by the expectations of the galleries and the critics.

My first 6-month graduate came to see me with recurring stomach problems, a desire to feel stronger, and to have more energy. She is an overworked teacher with a crammed schedule and a fierce dedication to her students. We used her sense loyalty to her students as a tool for her own health. She ran her first 5k the Saturday before our last session and her stomach problems have been gone for three months.

What do you love about your work?

I love that the exact right clients find me. I enjoy the sense I have of making a difference and also the idea that I can get out of the way and facilitate people making the changes that are best for them. I am not steering the ship. I am a humbled hand on deck and a witness to intense and gorgeous transformation. It’s incredible.

Is there anything you can recommend to other coaches who may be struggling with targeting a specific market or finding the right clients?

I’ve been a working artist and writer for about 20 years. My community was pretty well established when I came to this coaching work. Attracting the right clients to me had everything to do with being myself no matter how much I felt like no one would take me seriously or pay me to help them. I knew my journey was true and that I could help people make theirs true as well. Through my writing and photography, I built a website utilizing my own creative work to support my health coaching. I write articles frequently augmented by tons of photographs and I write the way I talk. I’m a very casual gal, I often swear like a sailor, and I have more tattoos on my hands alone than most people have on their whole bodies. It won’t work for me to try and pretend to be a buttoned up career professional girl straight out of Wall Street.

I find the right clients because I have a practice of coming up against my fear and shame and saying, “Oh, Hello. It’s you again. Here to tell me how I am not really enough. It’s been nice to see you, and I’m sure I’ll see you again very soon, but if you could excuse me now, I’ve got some work to do with people who can really honestly relate to me and change their stories about health to live the lives they dream they can.” I believe that it’s often shame or the struggle to be a certain way we think people want is what keeps us from really just showing up to do the work. School gave us everything we needed to begin, our tenacity and passion for change will keep us studying nutrition, fitness, and spiritual options for our clients, and through any kind of grace at all, it’ll keep us honest along the way.