Coaching with Sarah Lynn: 7 Big Takeaways

I’ve made some of the largest changes in my life over the last 1.5 years and Sarah’s insights and positive coaching have played a large supportive role in encouraging my personal growth and taking risks I didn’t think possible.


Here are the major areas in which she’s helped me: 

  • Big Rocks and Small Rocks: Sarah’s analogy of a jar, big rocks, and small rocks helps me identify how to carve out time for passion projects alongside necessary work. She asked me to think of my life and time as a glass jar, and the things in my life as rocks. Big rocks represent things most important to me (writing, exercise, gardening, dating, friends + family), while small rocks represent all of the other stuff that is necessary but which I deem as less important (read: day job, chores + errands, etc). If I place big rocks in the jar, I’ve prioritized them and have room in the jar for small rocks. But if I fill the jar up first with lots of small rocks, I block myself from having room for the big rocks. 

  • Reminding me to slow down and acknowledge every win - from the smallest to the largest. So often perfectionists/ Type As like me can blow right past their own accomplishments and achievements without pausing to soak them in, to recognize their own magnificence and progress. Taking time to acknowledge these wins has helped me amplify self-love, self-compassion and self-worth.

  • She’s informed me and coached me on tools like meditation, mindfulness and self compassion that have helped ground me when my anxiety was so rampant I felt like my heart was going to leap out of my chest. I recently left the dependability of the best paying job I’ve ever had to move in a new direction (starting all over in certain ways), and her insight about riding the wave of an emotion in all its discomfort (usually lasting 90 seconds or less) versus ruminating on it and “making a story”, has opened up ways in my life of how to manage anxiety and stress. 

  • The importance of decreasing sugar from my diet.

    • Providing eye-opening information on how toxic sugar is to the body; she’s helped me limit sugar intake while still eating some fruits, enjoying good meals and even desserts. It’s all about smarter alternatives and being intentional when using sugar.

  • Coaching me how to advocate for myself at work and speak my truth in sensitive situations. 

  • She’s emphasized to me that my worth, my value in this world is beyond and so much more than a number on a scale, my age, or the number of inches I’ve lost or gained. 

  • Speaking of inches, she’s helped me implement a lower carb/ higher fat diet into my life, which resulted in me losing five pounds of fat. Not muscle, but fat, at a time when I’d plateaued even amidst working out consistently. 


Carolyn Neuhausen is a freelance writer , covering gardening, farming, arts and events in Los Angeles for Curbed LA, Sunset Magazine and other publications. Here is her portfolio and LinkedIn profile. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking a trail, or ankle deep in a gardening bed.


Jessica Ortega's Story

Ready for transformation…2016

Ready for transformation…2016

“I was 190 pounds when I came to Baird Wellness in 2016. My goal was to lose weight and to live a healthier lifestyle. Sarah Lynn was amazing. She was my godmother, my superhero, and she was always there to inspire me.

What really struck a cord with me was when Sarah Lynn asked me what kind of student I was at school. I told her I was an A student. She made me realize I have always had the drive to achieve whatever I wanted, and I applied my A student mentality to my new goals for my health. In two months, I lost 30 pounds!

I lost 55 pounds in 2016 have kept it off! The amazing thing was I lost all that weight without starving myself, going on some crazy or painful diet, and most importantly, without giving up El Salvadorian food. Sarah Lynn was so sensitive about my cultural background and made sure to incorporate my cultural foods into my nutritional plan.

I am now more energetic, more positive, and most importantly I am so much more confident. I am so excited about joining the Baird Wellness team as a coach in the near future, to inspire and share what I have learnt with others, especially with those of Hispanic background.”

Standing taller…2019

Standing taller…2019


Jessica is inspiring for a myriad of reasons. When she made the decision to seek coaching support to change her habits and mindset, she never missed a session! She was in my office every Saturday at 7 am, without pause! Not only did she commit to feeding her body well- she implemented workouts (almost daily) after very long hours working as a nanny…She never made excuses and kept her focus on how much better she felt when she cared for herself…She was DRIVEN!

Jessica’s body composition change is a mere byproduct of her inner transformation, which lies in her evolving growth mindset. She “believed” she was worth it and she could do it- she knew the only person that could get in her way was herThis warrior attitude made all the difference.

“I want to change my habits and it is going to happen NOW!”

Last year, in addition to working FT, she started teaching Spanish and found she had a real gift for empowering/teaching others. She also used her own journey/nutrition knowledge to inspire and educate friends in her community. Her “growth mindset” blossomed and permeated every part of her life. Currently Jessica is exploring university options and working on pursuing a career path that transcends many glass ceilings in her family…I am so proud of her (I am also secretly hoping she joins my coaching team in the future)!!! Sarah Lynn


Nutritional Quality and a Changing Culture

What follows is an excerpt from a new client’s “questions” about a wellness plan. This question thread points to a number of questions we often hear in our office. Bottom line- food quality matters, but we are never going to make a “perfect” choice 100% of the time. Learning how to navigate excellent, good, and poor choices is an essential skill.

What are you going to eat at the airport? Is the yogurt parfait really a better choice than a bag of chips? These are questions that we love to examine in our coaching sessions.

Nutrition is not “one size fits all”.

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1) If I am working out in the morning, should I have a protein bar before I do?

There is evidence that fasted workouts can be beneficial, but if you want (feel you need) a pre-workout bar with simple (quick energy) carbohydrates, I recommend an Rx bar.

2) I’ve been eating "One" protein bars. Are those ok? 

One Bar

One bars are not ideal- they contain sucralose. Sucralose is an artificial sweetener. Although some experts claim it has no ill health effects, I prefer to steer clear of artificial sweeteners (and colors) when possible. Here is some research on sucralose:

How Safe is Sucralose

Here are better choices in this article- you can choose any of the bars in the "better choice" list as a snack.

Best Protein Bars

3) Can I do the breakfast shake before a workout then a protein shake after? If I do all that, should I be skipping having a breakfast with eggs etc?


Some days, you may have two shakes if you need quick and easy but ideally- we want you eating real food. Limiting protein shakes to one/day is recommended.

Here is an idea:

Pre-workout: Bar from list above

Post-workout: Protein shake as breakfast (this is the recipe w/ protein, berries, nut butter, greens, etc.)

If you are hungry, you can have a second breakfast later: egg scramble, Starbucks bacon egg bites, etc.

5) Should I not try and do mashed potatoes anymore?

Mashed potatoes (made from scratch or from frozen potatoes) are great. Just avoid instant. You can add any vegetable carbohydrate to your meals: white potato, sweet potato, squash, etc. You can also add a Safe Carb grain. Again- here is the list:

Safe Carbs

Because reducing body fat is not a goal, it is important that you eat when you are hungry. We will work on this together. Our goal is UPGRADING YOUR NUTRITIONAL QUALITY. This will be a process. 

Reducing sugar, switching out your protein bars for better choices, adding higher quality protein and more veggies will make a health difference. Think of it this way- vegetable carbohydrates are BEST because they have fiber and nutrients. Good choices are legumes and the safe carbs above. Poor choices are processed grains like wheat.

6) When I am out to dinner and get a protein and veggie- should i get anything else? Or should I just do a protein and double veggies?

Good question. Ideally, you will get a protein, veggies, and extra fat. For example, if you got a salad at Chipotle, you would get it with optional beans (good carbs choice), peppers and onions, salsa, choice of meat or tufu, lettuce, and lots of guacamole! If you need a "grain"- the choices above in the safe carb list are BEST but brown rice is a good second choice. The grains are best if you workout hard and don't have access to a starchy vegetable.

Please watch the move The Magic Pill on Netflix ASAP- then you will understand the approach. We are changing your food culture. 

7) Is caesar dressing something I should no longer be having?

Ceasar dressing is a good choice because it is low in sugar. That said- be mindful of the dressing you buy- canola oil is NOT IDEAL. Olive oil or avocado oil are better choices.

8) Are sweet potato fries bad?

Sweet potato fries are not "bad"- no food is bad;) That said- the oil they are fried in matters. Most restaurants use a low grade oil. If you cook sweet potato fries at home, you can fry them in coconut oil or bake them.


Deep Frying Oils- Best and Worse Choices

9) Is there a "best" meal delivery brand I should look into. I of course want to cook as much as possible but I will not always have time. Or should I just get something pre made from TJs thats on the list?

As I wrote in your wellness plan, learning basic food assembly and meal prep skills is a goal. That said- you can supplement with meal delivery as you ease into learning these skills. Maybe start with one dish or recipe/week prepped on Sunday that will feed you for 2-3 meals that week. 

Muscle Up Meals - you would work best with the paleo option.

10) I usually have scrambled eggs with some type of bread, should i cut out the bread? if so what can i sub for it if anything?

We are trying to reduce low quality carbohydrates like bread (made with wheat flour). A sweet potato or hashbrown cooked in coconut oil would be a better choice. Note: not all your choices are going to be "perfect". I want you to learn the ideal, good, and poor choices. This is about upgrading your nutritional quality not eliminating foods. Have bread once/week with your eggs if you love it; but try including other higher quality carbohydrates like potatoes on other days.  We also like almond flour English muffins at Whole foods:

Mikeys' Muffins

11) Are Lenny and Larry cookies bad?

High in Sugar

12) Are there any good smoothies at Jamba or places like Sunlife?

Sunlife has a low sugar/low glycemic load smoothie option by request- ask them what smoothies are lowest in sugar. You want a smoothie with berries, protein, and plenty of greens and fat!

13) Is a turkey burger preferable to red meat? And are they fine whenever as long as lettuce wrapped?

Lettuce wrapped is  great. Ideally- your meat will be grassfed and organic. Turkey burgers were "leaner" and gained popularity because of that; but now we know fat is our friend... so as long as both meat sources are the same in "quality", turkey burgers are no better for you than red meat unless you are sensitive to saturated fat (which you are not).

Identity and Suicide

In the aftermath of Kelly Caitlin’s suicide, I have been musing on identity and the pressure to perform. I couldn’t even bring myself to list Caitlin’s accolades as a reference- somehow writing, “Caitlin, Olympic silver medalist and graduate student in computational mathematics at Stanford” indites me in her death. That may sound hyperbolic, but we have a responsibility as a culture to think critically about the values we perpetuate.

Reports cite that Caitlin has a recent concussion and cardiac drift, which prevented her from training and limited her mental execution. Her frustration with her inability to “do everything well” drove her to taking her own life. Yes- there is likely deep psychological pain and a myriad of other factors that pushed her to that point, but I think we can all agree that our culture of achievement and perfectionism played a role.

This week I also learned of a young local engineer who took her own life at 22. I heard this information from a colleague and after some investigation, I read that the family never reported suicide as the cause of death. It was deemed “accidental” in written reports- likely out of a need to keep her “honor”, but this isn’t what made my stomach curl … When I read her obituary, it read like a college resume. All of her accolades and accomplishments were listed as her identity. Tears rolled down my face as I thought of this young woman who felt disconnected, lonely, and hopeless enough to take her own life.

“You arrive at the top- where everyone thought you should be- and then you look around and think, “now what?”

Yesterday a beloved friend and fireman took his own life with a gun. He suffered a stroke a few months ago and was out of the hospital on the road to recovery. No one really knows the factors that played into his decision to end his life, but we do know his identity was deeply rooted in his profession and strength as a provider. The stroke threatened both of these identities- he would never work as a fireman again and he would need help to get back on his feet…He left behind a wife and kids.

No one really knows the intricacy of the whys in the above stories, but there is a theme. Where do we place our identity? Is it in what we own; our position in society; our skin quality; how many degrees we have; where we attended school, etc.? Each of us needs to take inventory of what really matters in our life and prioritize our time and systems around those values.

Over the last six years, I have coached many clients who roll in after 30-50 years of working 80+ hours/week in high profile/high stress jobs. Most are very accomplished and usually in poor health- harnessing a simple desire to care for themselves better in their last decades of life. Any lament is often buried deep, because questioning if you spent the bulk of your years doing the “right thing” can be debilitating. All of us need to believe we did the best we could- and we can't change what was- we can only move forward with intention…

If you are reading this, you have a forward trajectory- there are still decisions to be made and the map is open… I encourage each of you to think about what really matters to you and ask the question, “what are my priorities and does my time and resource allocation reflect those values?” If they do have synergy, march on and breath deep….If they don’t, what can you do to move yourself closer to congruency?

Here is a great blog I came across on PsychCentral: “You Are Not One Thing”. I also strongly recommend watching the documentary, Race to Nowhere.

Warmly,

Sarah Lynn

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International Women's Day

As a female engineer, I am well aware that women are still a minority in math and science professions and although the gender gap is closing, women are still paid 18-22% less than men. Today I want to honor a few trailblazing women:

Dr. Rhonda Patrick

Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick has a Ph.D. in biomedical science from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis TN and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN. She also has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in biochemistry/chemistry from the University of California, San Diego. She has done extensive research on aging, cancer, and nutrition.

Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick has a Ph.D. in biomedical science from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis TN and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN. She also has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in biochemistry/chemistry from the University of California, San Diego. She has done extensive research on aging, cancer, and nutrition.

Here is a great podcast with Joe Rogan- Dr. Patrick discusses sugar addiction, fiber, and gut health: HERE

Dr. Sarah Hallberg

An expert on metabolic control and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Hallberg is also the executive director of The Nutrition Coalition, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public and policymakers about the need to strengthen national nutrition policy so that it is founded upon a comprehensive body of conclusive science, and where that science is absent, to encourage additional research.  A low carb enthusiast, Dr. Hallberg practices what she preaches by living a ketogenic lifestyle and her TEDx Talk, " Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines " has been viewed 1.2 million times.

An expert on metabolic control and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Hallberg is also the executive director of The Nutrition Coalition, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public and policymakers about the need to strengthen national nutrition policy so that it is founded upon a comprehensive body of conclusive science, and where that science is absent, to encourage additional research.

A low carb enthusiast, Dr. Hallberg practices what she preaches by living a ketogenic lifestyle and her TEDx Talk, "Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines" has been viewed 1.2 million times.

Dr. Tara Brach

Our survival brain has hundreds of strategies for resisting emotional pain. But according to Tara Brach, clinical psychologist and renowned teacher of Buddhism, resisting pain only increases our suffering.  She advocates another solution—actually engaging what’s emotionally painful—a process she calls cultivating deliberate practice. Here, she talks about the personal and professional benefits this practice yields.

Our survival brain has hundreds of strategies for resisting emotional pain. But according to Tara Brach, clinical psychologist and renowned teacher of Buddhism, resisting pain only increases our suffering.

She advocates another solution—actually engaging what’s emotionally painful—a process she calls cultivating deliberate practice. Here, she talks about the personal and professional benefits this practice yields.

Women of Color That Pioneered Scientific Fields

Read this Article to learn about women that broke the mold!

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Sheri Lynn Baird

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This amazing science teacher gave birth to me and ignited my curiosity about the natural world. As an elementary and middle school science teacher, she built hydroponic gardens in her classroom, constructed an outdoor greenhouse, led robotics lessons, and took her students to a yearly ecology camp… the list of her creative endeavors goes on and on. Most importantly, she taught science with an infectious exuberance that made her students excited about learning!

My sister and I were raised in the woods in rural Michigan. We grew up picking asparagus, morel mushrooms, wild blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. We caught crayfish, bullfrogs, garter snakes, and salamanders …and we knew the life cycle of almost every insect in our ecosystem. We rescued strays and helped feral cats and dogs give birth to their young. We identified trees by their leaves, bark, and seeds; and we learned to observe and steward both the micro and the macro in our wild community.

I couldn’t begin to list everything we learned from my mom…we used to tease her that, “everything was a lesson” but now, in my adult life, I am so grateful that she took the time to teach my sister and I about the natural world; and most importantly that we fell in love with learning at such an early age! My sister is a VP in Biotech and I am a Biosystem Engineer…I know those roots grew from her influence…I love you mom…;)

Super Bowl Foodies!!!

Food values vary- but one thing we can all agree on is that food is both sustenance and pleasure! There are no “bad foods” but there are foods that make us feel amazing and others than affect our energy levels, gastric system, and health trajectory.

Eating “healthy” for your body does not necessarily mean sacrificing flavor or pleasure!

Many of our clients have moved away from a carbohydrate-based diet to a low carb lifestyle. Some of these clients are vegan and others are omnivores, but regardless of food value, there are creative ways to modify traditional foods that are high in refined grains and sugars.

Below are some easy substitutions/ideas for Super Bowl Sunday! Many of the recipes are meat and dairy free and/or can be modified to fit those needs!

Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:   1/2 cup pecan halves 1 cup fresh spinach, tightly packed 1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed 1 large garlic clove, minced 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 2 tablespoons water, or as needed to facilitate blending  8 ounces whole crimini mushrooms   Directions:   Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare the pesto. In a mini food processor, pulse the pecans into a fine meal. Add in the spinach, fresh basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and water and process until a uniform texture is achieved. You might have to scrape down the sides and process a couple of times to get it all evenly combined. Set aside.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pecan halves
1 cup fresh spinach, tightly packed
1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons water, or as needed to facilitate blending

8 ounces whole crimini mushrooms

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare the pesto. In a mini food processor, pulse the pecans into a fine meal. Add in the spinach, fresh basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and water and process until a uniform texture is achieved. You might have to scrape down the sides and process a couple of times to get it all evenly combined. Set aside.

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Deviled Eggs Reinvented

I especially like making deviled eggs with Primal Kitchen’s Chipotle Lime Mayo!

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Mock-Tails and Cocktails

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FatHead Pizza

You can also purchase Cali-Flour crusts from Whole Foods- but check that you have the low carb version! Many brands that claim to be a “cauliflower crust” are high in carbohydrates.

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Pepper Nachos

You can substitute soy chorizo and omit the dairy to make these vegan! Just add more avocado!

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Flax Crackers

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No-Bake Options

Grab some veggies and Trader Joes dips; guacamole and cheese crisps/pork rinds; or frozen chicken wings!