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VOL. 38 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 3, 2014

That diet you just started knows nothing about you

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Sarah Moore’s first job was in the music business, where she witnessed label makeovers of new artists. She saw an opportunity to take a different approach.

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It’s the most wonderful season of all – for the diet and fitness industry.

Yes, January will be filled with good intentions and earnest efforts to stick to weight-loss resolutions. But better health and wellness may not come in the box of prepackaged meals delivered to your door by Nutrisystem or in diet plans from Dr. Mike, Jenny Craig and the Skinny Bitch.

It starts with a return to real food, says Sarah Moore, a Spring Hill-based nutrition and wellness coach who helps busy clients find better health in their own kitchen. Her Sarah Moore Health program starts clients off with a food “detox” to cleanse the body and mind of food addictions and bad habits. Clients also learn how to choose and prepare real food in their own kitchens, and change their lifestyle in the process. Moore hosts free monthly classes on health and nutrition at Whole Foods in Franklin.

Her next session on cleansing and detoxing is Jan. 16. For more information, as well as recipes, cleanses and health tips, go to sarahmoorehealth.com.

Moore talked with the Nashville Ledger about her real food program.

Q: Predictably, there are many diet plans advertising this time of year. Why do they fail? How can people create lasting wellness?

A: “Well, diet plans don’t fail with everyone. Every dietary theory out there has been proven to work for a certain number of people. Vegan, Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, low-carb diets – all of those have worked for some people.

“But we’re all different. A mass-marketed book can’t tell who you are, so you’re basically following a system that’s not designed specifically for you.

“The book doesn’t know what medications you’re on; they don’t know you have a screaming baby at home and a partner who’s on the road all the time. Do they all have some basic principles that are good? Yeah.

“Paleo wants you to eat real food, they want you to eat grass-fed, and they’re promoting healthy fats. There’s an overconsumption of grain, so they’re trying to get you off that. That’s good. The problem is, some people take it to an extreme, and all they’re doing is fat, meat, fat, meat, and they’re forgetting about all the leafy greens.’’

Q: What is your program and how is it different from the other health and weight management programs on the market?“

A: A lot of times what we put in our mouth is based on what’s going on in our life. If we’re having a bad day, we might sabotage with a pizza, or if we’re stressed out we might eat some food we know to be bad but we don’t care. Or, if we aren’t happy in our relationship, we self-medicate with food.

“Outside factors typically dictate how we’re going to eat, and a lot of programs aren’t touching on that. They’re not saying that food is emotional. They’re just saying to eat less. Cutting back or tracking your calories doesn’t teach someone how to eat real food.

Moore teaches classes in health and nutrition at Whole Foods in Franklin. She also works with clients in their homes, helping them choose and cook their food more wisely.

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“The program is designed around introducing the real food lifestyle – getting yourself back into the kitchen or shopping at a place like Whole Foods or choosing a healthier restaurant when you eat out – and saying, ‘I’m going to make time in my life to eat something that’s real as opposed to just throwing something in the microwave and saying, ‘I did good’ because it’s 200 calories.

“We start with getting some things out of their kitchen, minimizing their dairy intake, adding greens and water. If you restrict people from the beginning, they want what they can’t have. So we start with adding things and it pushes the others out.

“The other component is cleansing and detoxing, getting to a place where you’re not craving sweets or salt anymore, having those triggers that lead to unhealthy choices.

“We start to cleanse the blood and the bowels. During the cleanse, I try to get them off coffee because anything you have to have is something we need to watch. But I try to meet them where they are. It’s not so much the caffeine, it’s the acidity, and if you’re not buying organic coffee it’s also been sprayed with pesticides.’’

Q: You emphasize “real food” and knowing where it comes from. How do you convince busy people not to rely on pre-packaged weight loss food?

A: “I’ll have people say, ‘I want you to give me a meal plan,’ and I’ll say, ‘Well, I don’t know what you like.’

“Food’s emotional, so I’m not going do what a Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers would do and tell people what to eat because I don’t know you or your lifestyle, which will make you want to eat different things when what I wrote down wasn’t what you wanted.

"I start a client out with a kitchen guide, which has a lot of real food basics. Knowledge is confidence. They get tons of recipes. I ask them to go through the recipes, pick ones that are appealing and build your shopping list off those recipes.

“If I’m going into a client’s house and cooking with them, they’re usually sold after the first time because they realize it can be simple.’’

Q: What is the program you sell?

A: “It can be as short as someone just doing my 21-day cleanse. They can just buy it, and there’s a Facebook group I help moderate. Or, they can purchase my services for eight to 12 weeks.

“A 12-week client is typically someone who wants their hand held a little more. They want to go to Whole Foods together and cook in their house together. They’re texting me, emailing me, we’re talking.

“But honestly, I don’t want them to need me again. I want them to develop confidence and self-sufficiency, and look at food completely differently. I’m going for a lifestyle change.

“When you hire someone like me or a personal trainer, you have to act. I’ll love you, and my heart is with you, but I’m not going to pat your back and sugarcoat things because that’s what’s happened up to this point and that’s why you haven’t reached your goals.

“I’m going to call you out sometime and say you’re making excuses and that’s not what you signed up for. And they’ll get mad at me, and then the next morning, they’ll call to apologize.’’

Q: What is your personal story and how did you get into this business?

A: “I’m from Indiana. I originally wanted to be a singer, but I went to Middle Tennessee State University for music business because if you want to be a singer you’ve got to learn about how your business is going to be run.

“My first job was with a management company, a label that had really good artists.

“What I noticed was, when female artists came in, or an overweight male, there was this waiting period before they put them out. It was makeover time – create their image, have them lose weight, give them highlights, fix their hair. And I thought, ‘Gosh, I’m not this stick figure. I want to figure out how to do this myself.’

“That was the first time in my mind I thought, ‘I’m going to do this the right way.’ Because I like to eat, I’m not going to starve myself, I’m not going to take any pills.

“And I also noticed that a lot of music people had personal trainers but no one to help them maintain their health when they’re on the road and their life is busy.

“When someone cancels a show because of exhaustion a lot of people lose money, not just the artist. An artist is a business and a product. It’s a lot of pressure.

“So I was looking at myself from the artist standpoint of, I’ve got to take care of my voice and my body. But then this took over.

“I became a personal trainer, then I steered into natural health and went back to school for nutrition. This is a passion for me.’’

Q: Do you have clients in the music business?

A: "I do. That’s the fun part for me, getting to be with a songwriter or a musician because I love music. And it’s great knowing that when they’re onstage singing that I had a part in that. And I like fast-paced. I like people who are in that place where they’re ready to make a change.

“So the typical client is a busy individual – it could be a stay-at-home mom that’s busy all the time, a corporate person that’s busy all the time or it could be a business owner that’s trying to juggle multiple things.

“They need someone who’s going to be a little more intense but is also going to empower them with a lot of information that they can run with on their own. That’s my goal.’’

Q: You say people can feel like a “rock star” through healthier living. What does that mean?

A: “It’s based on a feeling. Typically, when someone’s starting a health program or a weight loss program, someone’s forgetting to ask them, ‘How do you want to feel?’ They say, ‘What do you want to weigh?’ or ‘How much do you want to lose?’

“There are a lot of people that you and I might say, ‘Well, they look great’ but they actually feel awful. They’re sick, they’re tired, they’re constantly getting headaches, they’re not able to reproduce, they have no libido. So it’s not about pounds or fat.

“When you wake up in the morning, and you’re tired and need that coffee to wake up, or you can’t get through the day with your kids, or at 3 o’clock you’re dead and you’re just eating crap and don’t feel good … When you contact me, you’re serious about changing your life, and you’re ready to take that step.

“Those are the people that I like from a business standpoint. If I’m going to put the effort in I want to know someone’s making the effort back.’’

Q: What kind of changes do you see in clients besides the physical?

A: “I had a client in Nebraska who Skyped the whole program with me. People come in with the idea that they have certain things they want to accomplish, but they always get more if they’re open to it. With her it was, she learned her own strength. She didn’t know if she was going to be able to do a 21-day cleanse.

“I kept reassuring her that she’d be fine. I’d make sure she was prepared, and if she wasn’t, I didn’t do my job and we’d work a little bit longer.

“When we cleanse and detox, we bring up other things to the surface, emotional issues.

“It might be not what you’re expecting. I think hers was realizing, ‘I not only made these food choices but I empowered myself to do this.’

"And she sacrificed certain things to pay for me, and that’s the kind of person who will continue on and on.

“Getting through the 21-day cleanse and eating real food, that’s something most people feel they could never do. But they get through it, and they feel that empowerment.

“Nothing that we start out with is ever easy or cheap. Starting a career, becoming a parent, it does not happen that way.

“But for some reason, the mentality when it comes to good food and nutrition is, ‘That is too expensive and that is too hard.’ Well, welcome to the world.’’

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