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An Inspirational Quote


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”



Side Lunge

Side Lunge

One of the most important things you can ever do for your personal healing is to improve the way you eat.

To this day, it makes me giggle that so many people seek out my advice for nutrition.

Not that I don’t have the training – I have spent years studying how to heal metabolism, overcome illness and disease, the benefits of vitamins, minerals, herbs and amino acids, multiple systems of metabolic and body typing, healthy cooking, meal planning and how to determine the right approach to eating and nutritional supplementation for each individual client.


And not that I don’t have the experience – I have changed the way countless people lose weight and heal from catastrophic illness using food as one of our primary tools.


What makes me laugh is how I got started with all this mess. Growing up in the South, the ultimate culinary question was how to make a better pecan pie. One of my favorite foods as a child was fried okra, which at least started out as a vegetable. Both my grandmothers were expert cookie bakers, and the church cookbooks I grew up reading could give you diabetes just reading the primary ingredients – white flour, sugar and lard.


When I first started becoming a healthier person, I struggled with the gap between what I grew up with and what I really needed to do to have more energy and heal from various illnesses. I spent years fretting over what to do with the collective wisdom of my grandmothers’ cookbooks. Should I give them away and betray their traditions? Or keep them for posterity’s sake.


I went through years of extremes. One year, I devised my own personal cookbook based on the severe food allergies I was suffering from at the time. It was color-coded with a four-day rotation of menus. I baked my own gluten-free bread and forced myself to experiment every week with new foods like quail eggs, fennel and yucca. After spending hours in the kitchen every day, I finally threw up my hands and literally never even turned on the oven for the next five years. I am not quite sure how I got by during that time. I was just in denial and frustration.


Finally, I have come up with a happy medium. I cook, but it’s simple and easy. I have devised an integrated approach that gives me maximum nutrition with the minimum amount of time shopping and preparing.


I have come to realize that feeding yourself right is one of life’s basic skills that must be mastered – like balancing your checkbook, making a financial plan or discovering your true job talents. If you fail to plan to succeed, you set yourself up for a long list of various failures.


Here are a few suggestions that might make the process of eating healthier easier for you:


Start with a healthy shopping list. Although this step may seem like a no-brainer, if you aren’t focused on buying the most nutritious foods, you may fall back into old patterns. You can download and print out a FREE shopping list of the world’s healthiest foods from our website at the following link: Shopping List For Worlds Healthiest Foods.

Because I like to be positively focused with people – paying attention to the good things to eat rather than what to deprive yourself of – I recommend that at least 80-90 percent of what you eat come from this list. After years of arriving at the store without my printouts, I put my shopping list on my iphone because it’s always with me. I can easily keep a record there of the items I already have and the ones I still need to buy.

Visit your local farmer’s market once a week. Shopping this way allows me to purchase the freshest local and primarily organic foods and inspires me to be creative with what’s in season. You also save a tremendous amount of time because you don’t have to read the food label on a cabbage, bunch of kale or fresh basket of peaches. This also allows you to eat actual food, not products, and gives you a tremendous amount of energy that you would never experience if you were eating dead, processed food.

If you are pressed for time during the week, set aside a few hours on the weekend when you can make basic staples to have on hand. I like to multi-task and get my vegetable soup going (recipe follows) while making a raw food dessert or two in individual, transportable containers and maybe a salad dressing (see the links to our recipes for these at https://www.totalfitness.net/nutrition%20recipes.htm). If you find yourself hungry and in a hurry, you can always heat up your soup or grab a raw food dessert and take it with you as you are heading out the door.

Start your day with homemade organic vegetable juice. During the week, I make fresh juice for both my husband and myself. This gives me the comfort of knowing we are loading up on antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals first thing in the morning. We also juice vegetables that we might not eat later in the day – like kale, golden beets or beet greens. I have a huge bowl of apples on our kitchen table that I use for this purpose. Even if you find yourself busy later in the day, if you start your morning with fresh juice you’ll know you have already consumed more fruits and vegetables than many people get in a week. To find out more about juicing, download this article: Juicing the Total Fitness Way, by Catherine Carrigan.

Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand. We all eat five to six times a day. This may include sheep or goat yogurt, a variety of nuts, nut butters, cheese and gluten-free bread and crackers, hummus and baby carrots, healthy protein bars made without soy or corn syrup, leftover meat from the night before as well as sliced nitrate-free meats from the deli counter and a variety of berries.

Dinner is always simple – a meat, usually something that can be thrown on the grill – and a vegetable, usually something that can be cooked in a vegetable steamer and tossed with butter once it’s put on the table. We marinate many of our meats – pork, lamb and beef – to increase the body’s ability to digest them. Because I keep dinner simple, I can enlist the help of others, and that keeps my own grumpiness factor down by not doing all the work myself. Most people aren’t exercising after dinner, so the usual potatoes, rice or other starches are not necessary. In our case, we eat dinner and only have dessert an hour or two afterwards if we are still hungry. I eat lightly before teaching yoga in the evening and frequently have a snack afterwards before bed. We save everything – the ends of broccoli and asparagus that ordinarily would get cut off and tossed are saved for making juice the next morning. Leftover meat is saved for snacks the following day. All vegetable leftovers, including the pulp from juice in the morning, are put in my compost bucket and later recycled in our compost pile in the garden. If you live in the Atlanta area and want a compost pile, you can ask our gardener, Gabe Horrisberger, to make one for you. You can reach Gabe at gardenr@bellsouth.net or by calling 404-906-6299.

To stave off cravings, always keep a raw food dessert in the refrigerator. The smartest way to overcome any addiction is to find a healthy substitute. If you open your fridge to find, for example, a raw food berry pie, you won’t end up feeling deprived. To download my suggested list of substitutes, please download Comfort food for healthy people, by Catherine Carrigan.. We also keep on hand gluten-free cookies as well as a wide selection of organic chocolates.

For a quick meal, heat up the soup you made over the weekend and add a protein, even something simple as cheese on toast or leftover meat from the night before. If juicing sounds too intimidating, you can start increasing your vegetable consumption by making fresh soups based on what’s in season.

Never deprive yourself, just find the healthiest version. In 2005 when I visited Findhorn, Scotland, the spiritual community served gluten-free pizza. I realized it was ridiculous that it had been at least 8 years since I had eaten pizza, so I came home and started making it a couple of times a month for my family. Sometimes I make it from a mix and sometimes we use a gluten-free pizza shell that I can keep in the freezer and throw together very quickly with sautéed vegetables on top. I started the recipes section of our website because I realized that most people think that healthy eating is boring. All our recipes are gluten-free. You can visit this section at the following link: https://www.totalfitness.net/nutrition%20recipes.htm. Please email me at catherine@totalfitness.net if you have healthy recipes you would like to contribute.

Learn how to cook, even if you start by making one new recipe every week. My healthiest and thinnest clients have all gone through a similar process that I have of re-thinking the what and how of cooking and eating. I use a Cuisinart, blender, vegetable steamer, oven, juicer and stove top most often. The grill outside is the domain of my husband, but at least he has a domain. Never thaw, heat or reheat anything – even water – in the microwave. I keep my microwave for heating up my neck warmers in the evening to snuggle with while I am reading a book or watching a movie. Please give away your deep fryer, especially if you grew up in the South.

Vegetable Soup:




Onions, carrots and potatoes, diced

One bunch of fresh basil, chopped

Fresh cloves of garlic to taste, minced

Fresh vegetables in season, which may include:

Okra, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, peas

After vegetables are tender, add 1 large can of tomato puree

1 box of chicken broth

Celtic sea salt to taste

The secret to this recipe is fresh spices and whole food ingredients. Store in the refrigerator to fill up on when you are seeking something warm and comforting.


What’s especially healthy about this recipe:


Remember that coconut oil is the only oil that will withstand high heat cooking. It will also heal your thyroid.

If you study the shopping list of the world’s healthiest foods, you will find vegetables at the top of your list. Making soup is one of the simplest ways to increase your family’s vegetable consumption and even the pickiest eaters will be pleased with this homemade version.

Many conventional canned soups are loaded with MSG, a known neurotoxin. Make your own soup and save your brain!


Join us on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 11AM, at East Palisades Park near Vinings for our next dog walk with qi gong.


We at Total Fitness believe that exercise should be rewarding on all levels.


Join Catherine Carrigan, ace people trainer, and Meredith Minkin and Mara Whiteacre, ace dog trainers of www.caninemastermind.com.


We held our first hike on Saturday, Nov. 15. Each person was allowed to bring one dog to train, and we practiced qi gong with our dogs afterwards. Unfortunately, the qi gong practice was cut short by rain.


For more information, please email Meredith Minkin at merminkin@yahoo.com or at at info@caninemastermind.com. The cost is $15 per walk, which includes a fun hike in the woods, behavior drills with your dog and the qi gong class at the end of our walk.


Meditation With Catherine


Every holiday season, I look around to find something special I can do for others.


If you are reading this email, you are invited to come and meditate with me every Monday at 7 a.m. and/or every Saturday at 8 a.m. in Atlanta, Georgia, for 20 to 30 minutes throughout the month of December.


Our practice will be free – the only caveat is that you must email me at Catherine@totalfitness.net the day before to let me know that you are coming.


Please understand my larger intention.


Scientists have reported what is called the Maharishi effect. If the square root of 1 percent of population meditates, there is a statistically significant beneficial effect felt throughout the entire area. In a city of 1 million people, for example, that would mean that only 100 people would need to meditate to make a larger contribution beyond finding deep relaxation for themselves.


This has been an especially stressful year for many people, and we are coming up on a time of year that frequently challenges the mental health of even the most together people. Just because there has been turbulence in our society doesn’t mean you have to experience chaos internally.


Many of my clients and friends have been asking me what they can do now to make the world a better place. Meditation is a great place to start. Please forward this email to everyone you know and let’s make a difference. Do what you can do now to contribute to peace on earth.

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