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Month #1: Life Happens...HuffPost Living's Total Energy Makeover With Ashley Koff RD

"Optimal health" and "total energy" isn't something you race to achieve. Nor are you "done" -- checking it off the list, on to the next thing, as is the case with so many other tasks or projects.
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So, Marissa came out of the gates sprinting. virtually everything that was asked of her she did and did well. Cut the Red Bulls, she got rid of them; cut the coffee, she's down to only one iced coffee per day; turn off the phone and blackberry before bed, we compromised on one hour before bed and she's doing it; add magnesium (Peter Gilham's Natural Calm) before bed and homeopathic sleep spray (Sprayology SleepEase), and she's done it too. And with her food, she's traded butter for protein and healthy fat (and omega 3 rich), nut butter (Nuttzo) and also reduced her morning carb load to one to two servings from three to five originally.

While I'm extremely proud of her efforts -- and after meeting this go-getter I had no doubt she'd be strong from the start -- I've cautioned her to remember that this is the Total Energy Makeover and that it's a year long. It won't happen overnight, and "optimal health" and "total energy" isn't something you race to achieve. Nor are you "done" -- checking it off the list, on to the next thing, as is the case with so many other tasks or projects.

Thus, when Marissa got ready to move this month, I said to her "remember how I said it could take six weeks just to reset a habit"? Having only been on this program half that when she moved, it was important for me to manage expectations and to set interim goals for this period. They were: no Red Bull, phone and blackberry off one hour before bed, and aim to have regular eating occasions (every three-ish hours). Marissa was sure she would be able to stay on her total plan.

But after, when LIFE HAPPENED (her Natural Calm was packed, as was her alarm clock, and she didn't have any food) -- she said not only did she notice the differences (her sleep wasn't as good without the Calm, she had to use her phone as an alarm, and she had pizza and cookies before bed -- albeit relatively healthy ones), but she didn't beat herself up about it. She didn't feel like she went "off" the program. Congrats! And welcome to the part of the Total Energy Makeover that looks at how to manage life's ups and downs whether planned or not.

Another two great parts to the program came into place this month. First, the doctor visit. I never want to start someone on a health makeover without, well, getting an assessment of their health. Marissa and I are thrilled to work with fellow HuffPost Living expert Doctor Frank Lipman (author of total energy book, Revive), and she began this week with his evaluation. More on that next month when we get our lab values. But Dr Lipman gave me the go ahead and agreed that Marisa was an ideal candidate for a Total Energy makeover.

Second, Marissa met HuffPost Living expert Tara Stiles of Strala yoga ( Prior to their meeting, Tara and I discussed how yoga can be both energizing as well as relaxing and that Marissa would benefit from both. Tara is helping Marissa to invoke her own energy with poses that strengthen and focus her as well. Little does Marissa know, but yoga (along with magnesium) also plays another key role in her energy makeover. It keeps her digestive tract moving! Often, I get patients who complain of constipation when they decrease or eliminate caffeine. Thus, with her tools, reducing the caffeine has been a positive experience.

Or almost...Marissa did have some detoxification symptoms coming off the Red Bull and caffeine. I advised using a daily detox tea (Traditional Medicinals); using an infrared sauna or regular one, doing cardio (or moving boxes) to get her sweating; eating plenty of greens, and adding lemon to her water, tea or vegetables. This seemed to work and now she says the thought of a Red Bull makes her nauseous (see GMA Health segment).

So with all these accomplishments in month one, one might wonder -- what's left? Next month we will see how Marissa does on her program from Doctor Lipman and myself which includes supplements, greens and protein powder. We will also learn how travel and a busier work schedule effect her ability to stick with her program. And we will start to delve further into her personal life: what is she letting go of and how, what is she bringing in or hoping to, and what's the difference between "more" and "better" energy a month later.

Oh and did I mention, in month one with travel and business stresses, I failed twice on the blackberry off at bedtime...but I remembered my motto -- I won't ask someone to do something I'm not willing to do -- and I didn't beat myself up about it but just turned it off the very next night as part of the plan. Marissa isn't the only one to benefit from the Total Energy Makeover, it reminds me to protect my energy too.

What have you learned or changed this month?