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IN THIS ISSUE                                                                                     December 20, 2006

  • Effective Ways to Eliminate Food Cravings

  • Tis' the Season to Be Jolly

  • Team Sequoia MS Walk for 2007
  • The Recipe Corner ... More Tasty Recipes 


Effective Ways to Eliminate Food Cravings
Food cravings present a major challenge especially when you're trying to lose weight. They are the number one hurdle you'll need to jump when participating in a healthy weight loss program. Failure to address and eliminate food cravings minimizes the ability to regain control of your eating habits. Food struggles are the result of eating habits that are out of control. Less control of your food means a greater chance of you remaining overweight the rest of your life. Let's look more closely at food cravings, see how they can sabotage a healthy weight loss program and learn some effective steps to reducing or eliminating their negative effects.

What Are Food Cravings
Food cravings are an especially strong desire for a particular food or set of foods. These foods draw you in because of their short-term positive effect on your mood. Most times food cravings sound like this: "I am having a very hard time not eating pasta, bread, chocolate, wine, candy and cookies even though I know I need to cut back. I just crave them and cannot control myself when ever I get around them."

Food cravings are typically associated with the simple carbohydrate category mentioned above; not vegetables, fruits, nuts or meats. Simple carbohydrates provide a quick burst of energy with a sense of satisfaction and general calming. Unfortunately, this elevated mood reaction is short lived and over time requires an increased volume of carbohydrates to get the same positive feeling. Food cravings can be a positive, healthy and isolated event with the body calling for a specific food it needs to resolve a detected deficiency. These healthy cravings are short-term in nature and are rarely repeated on a daily or regular basis.

Why Do You Get Food Cravings
Foods that you crave are generally tied to both an emotional and physical need. Food cravings are typically caused by low serotonin levels in your brain. Eating the craved foods helps the brain with a short-term boost in serotonin levels. If you remember, serotonin is called the "feel good" hormone. As serotonin levels rise, your mood also improves. With food cravings, food is being used to try and elevate your mood. Also remember that it's not healthy to regularly use food in this way.

What causes low serotonin levels in the first place? High stress living is the number one reason for low serotonin levels. Stress increases cortisol while lowering serotonin levels. With high cortisol levels, your mood is low and the brain calls for a quick fix; simple carbohydrates to the rescue. Simple carbohydrates provide a very quick release of sugar into the blood stream causing a secondary release of serotonin in your brain. Unfortunately the pick-me-up is short lived and you return to the low mood after a few hours with its associated hunger.

How to Resolve Food Cravings
Chronically using food to alter your mood is never a good idea. Interestingly, alcoholism and drug addiction start the same way. Food can slip into the same exact role and result in tremendous weight gain and health deterioration over time. The only real way to safely and effectively improve your mood is to reduce stressful events while adding activities that will increase serotonin levels. Here are a few recommendations:

1. 20 Minutes of Daily Physical Activity: a great stress reliever that will reduce cortisol levels and boost endorphin and serotonin levels. Activities like simple walking, golf, tennis, strength training and running help reduce your stress level.

. Stress Reduction: Along with physical activity, regular stress reduction activities are essential to reducing stress. A nice way to start your day is 5 to 10 minutes of meditation helping to center your thoughts creating a balanced and peaceful mind set. Body scanning is another good way to get in touch with the stress levels in your body and release built-up tensions.

3. Eating a Balanced Nutritional Plan: Adding additional protein and fat to your diet helps to curb food cravings. Removing all simple carbohydrates from your house is sometimes necessary in the beginning stages of getting urges under control. Make sure all your meals are balanced for fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

4. Supplementing with Vitamin D: Vitamin D exposure from the sun in the spring, summer and fall is the best way to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. The sun does not provide adequate UVB during the winter months, so vitamin D supplements are generally necessary to keep levels healthy. To meet your vitamin D requirements, 15 minutes a day of non-sunscreen sun exposure is the current recommendation.

5.  Massage: Regular massage therapy relaxes the body and mind. Massage also improves mood by promoting the release of healthy hormones like serotonin and endorphins. Massage is a great way to relax.

For over 20 years I have been helping clients improve their health and reduce their unhealthy dependencies on food. Being in control of your eating habits is an important part of living a healthier lifestyle.
See how
Fresh Start can help you get your eating habits under control while improving your health, independence, wellbeing and quality of life.

Tis' the Season to Be Jolly

It may sound cliché, but this really is the season to be jolly. Making more time to laugh brings many positive health benefits. Laughing improves mood by releasing serotonin in your brain and reducing tension. One of the most important stress reducing strategies you can employ is learning how to laugh, especially at yourself, instead of getting mad at a comment or situation. Anymore, we are surrounded by angry people in an angry world. If you become a part of the current trend, anger will raise your stress levels and shorten your life.

Try to Take Yourself Less Seriously
A good friend of mine has discussed his "laugh more" strategy. He believes the first step to greater happiness and a longer life is to take ourselves and our lives less seriously. If your first reaction to a situation is to get upset, then it's time to figure out why that event or person made you so angry. The first part of his strategy involves "removing handles." We are not speaking about love handles here. The handles he speaks of are the buttons that get pushed, sending us off into "having a bad day." His theory is simply said, "remove the handles and get yourself to the point where there is no need to get upset."

When I first heard this theory explained to me, it seemed far fetched. But after working with it for several years, it is simplistically effective.
Try it for yourself the next time you're with someone that is a professional button pusher. As the first button is pushed, watch both your mental and physical reaction to what is said. Why are you taking it so personally? Is your blood pressure starting to rise? Face getting hot? Stomach getting upset? Is there any truth to the statement; is that why you are getting bothered? What is going on here?

Don't Let Anybody Try and Steal Your Happiness
If you can successfully determine why you are overreacting, then removing that handle becomes easier. Once the handle is gone, the button can be pushed but will never affect you the same way again. One by one, this process successfully removes those hurtful triggers and you'll find yourself smoothing through life much more easily. You'll also have more fun and spend less time holding grudges, being angry and hurting your health.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you all next year.
To learn how Fresh Start can help free you from anger and help you live a happier and healthier life, please contact Woody McMahon at
703-628-2880 or email to  

Team Sequoia MS Walk April 2007

It's that time again. Time to start preparing for the 2007 MS Reston Walk!!! The MS Reston walk is scheduled for Sunday, April 15th starting and finishing at Reston Town Center . Team Sequoia had almost 30 people walk and we raised over $5500 last year for MS education and research. This year we want to try and double both our number of walkers and set a fundraising goal of $10,000.

The MS walk is a great goal to set for yourself for 2007. This is the time of year everyone is making commitments to get more active. Here is your chance to do something good for yourself and MS.

We are looking for a sponsor for our pre-walk breakfast so let me know if you are interested or have any good ideas for places to eat. Starting in January we will have some "FUN Walks" to get our little feet in shape and initiate our fundraising drive. We'll also have another Whack-it tournament in January and February to raise money as well.

Go to to register and read more information about the event. Registering early, before February 1st enters your name for a prize drawing from the MS Society for two American Airline round trip tickets to anywhere in the Continental US for travel by April 1! If you have any questions or would like to help volunteer please email me at or
call 703-628-2880.

I look forward to seeing you walk again this year.

The Recipe Corner

Another holiday recipe to enjoy with the whole family.

Continued Good Health,


Woody McMahon

The Sequoia Advisor

Sequoia Health and Fitness, Inc.
483A Carlisle Dive
Herndon , VA 20170  

Required Disclaimer: The info rmation provided herein should not be construed as a health-care diagnosis,
treatment regimen or any other prescribed health-care advice or instruction. The info rmation is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in the practice of medicine or any other health-care profession and does not enter into a health-care practitioner/patient relationship with its readers. The publisher does not advise or recommend to its readers treatment or action with regard to matters relating to their health or well-being other than suggesting that readers consult appropriate health-care professionals in such matters. No action should be taken based solely on the content of this publication. The info rmation and opinions provided herein are believed to be accurate and sound at the time of publication, based on the best judgment available to the authors. However, readers who rely on info rmation in this publication to replace the advice of health-care professionals, or who fail to consult with health-care professionals, assume all risks of such conduct. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions. 

Copyright (c) 2006 by Sequoia Health and Fitness, Inc.

About this Newsletter 

For info rmation about Sequoia Health and Fitness, Inc.
please contact Woody McMahon :
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