A Whole Life Approach to Diet and Exercise

by Laurie Roth-Donnell | Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Practitioner,

Written in collaboration with Charles E. Ryan, Personal Trainer—SMART Fitness Certification

Whole LIfe Approach-webThere are many misconceptions about diet and exercise and America is facing an epidemic of obesity, high cholesterol, and a general state of unwellness. Those who try to maintain a healthy lifestyle still fall short with lack of commitment to exercise routines, temptations for unhealthy food and sedentary activities that have saturated the pop culture. We are glued to electronic devices and we eat prepackaged foods, heated in the microwave.

Below is some sound advice and pointers that Charles Ryan shares with his clients, and they have realized results without experiencing the frustrations, pain, and aggravation that is commonly associated with a journey on the road to the achievement of natural whole health.

Four Facts About Results

  • No workout regimen or intensity can counteract an unhealthy diet.
  • A well-rounded diet does not mean a low calorie diet, but rather eating the proper portions of fresh organic foods from each major group. Over indulging in any food group will lead to unnecessary fat storage and overall lower body function on the cellular level.
  • Empty calories are calories your body does not need to function (sodas, candy, chips etc). Empty calories will lead directly to fat if you are not working out intensely right after ingestion.
  • Research foods you like, and find healthy ways to cook these foods or incorporate healthy substitutes for less healthy foods you crave. After several weeks of a healthy diet, you will no longer crave sugar, caffeine and processed high fat foods.

The Work Out

  • Whole life approach 3-webWhen you wake up in the morning your metabolism has been running all night, so the body does not have many calories to burn. I recommend a light cardio session in the morning before you eat. It can be a great way to drop weight quickly, because the energy will be taken from your body’s energy storages (fat), and not the calories you have been eating that day.
  • Your body won’t change if you have been doing the same workout for the last year. Simply “change up” your routine and include yoga and meditation in conjunction with weekly cardio, fresh air, and sunshine.
  • If you have not researched what you are doing, you may be exercising incorrectly and not getting the intended results. There is a science behind working out, and there are reasons why athletes look like athletes, body builders look like body builders, football players, runners, etc. It is their specific exercise regimen. Perhaps you should consider working with a personal trainer or attend formal workout classes to maximize your workout.
  • Improper exercise techniques can lead to injury, muscle imbalances, joint imbalances and other injuries. Being a weekend athlete can also stress your body.


  • whole life approach 4-webThere are certain nutrients that suppress appetite. Green tea has so many great functions and appetite suppression is one of them. I have personally used green tea while dropping weight. A cup in the morning will give you a ton of natural energy and cut down sweet cravings.
  • An entire dish is not a serving size; keep servings the size of the palm of your hand.
  • Hot water and lemon or a tablespoon of raw whole apple cider vinegar in the morning is very stimulating to your entire system.
  • ONLY eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel full.
  • Eating one or two big meals in a day is bad for your metabolism. The more small meals you eat the more your metabolism will be working.
  • Everybody is going to have sweet cravings. Avoid sweets with high fructose corn syrup. The chemical will only make your sweet cravings go up. Instead, opt for dark chocolates or fruits. Anything with natural sugars will actually cut out the cravings instead of making them intensify like artificial and processed sweets.
  • Ingest NO carbohydrates, sugar, or sodium after 6 p.m. Your metabolism slows down when your body is at rest, so unless you have some rigorous activity planned, your body does not need extra energy.

Carbohydrates, fats and protein…are the most feared and misunderstood words of my clients. Let me share a few simple facts:


  • People ask continuously what carbs they should eat and what they should avoid. My answer is simple: do not over eat them and you will be fine!
  • Carbohydrates are needed for energy, mainly high intensity exercises. FDA says the diet should consist of 60% carbohydrates, but if you are not doing any rigorous activity, carbohydrates should only be making up about 30%–40% of your diet.
  • Measure out one serving of pasta, and cook it to see the serving size. Many people overeat carbs simply due to not knowing how little a serving size is. An Italian restaurant usually will serve portions appropriate for 3–5 people in one dish.
  • Carbohydrates that are not burned lead to fat storage.
  • Desserts and sodas are carbohydrates. Alcohol is a carbohydrate, loaded with sugar, the mother of all carbohydrates.


  • Fats are a much better calorie source for low intensity function such as sitting at a desk, talking, or minor body functions.
  • Fats fortify growth of healthy skin, hair, eyes, and nails. Natural sources of fat include different nuts, avocados, and non-hydrogenated oils such as cold first pressed olive oil, sesame, or organic coconut oil. Coconut oil is great for frying and baking, or topically for healthy skin and hair.
  • Eat real butter instead of margarine.
  • Avoid cooking with soy, corn, and canola oils, as they cannot withstand high temperatures and convert into free radicals that have been linked to cell degeneration.


  • Protein builds muscle and is necessary for body and brain functions.
  • Great sources of protein are lean meat, dairy, fish, poultry, beans with brown rice,

Whole Life Approach 2-webWith today’s technology, information is at everyone’s fingertips. Research the foods you currently eat and purchase new healthy foods to replace the processed, prepackaged items you may currently be buying. Always try to buy organic, fresh foods when possible. Becoming a patron at the local farmers’ markets is a great place to start eating fresh! Buy a large stock when the produce is in season and freeze or can them at home.

Please discuss any new diet, exercise and health regimen with your primary care physician and live healthy.

Choosemyplate.gov (USDA)