Get Moving!

Get Moving!

When most people think of exercise, they imagine things like running on a treadmill, aerobics, and weight lifting. Which is correct, yes, those are all examples of exercise. However, exercise is also so much more. If running on a treadmill has you feeling like a hamster on a wheel, there are other options. There are even hidden ways of getting exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise at all.

Exercise is defined as “physical activity to sustain or improve health and fitness.”

Before we discuss ways of getting your body moving, let’s discuss the many benefits that increased physical activity can have on your life. You may be surprised to find out that it isn’t limited to weight loss.

What are the benefits of exercise?

1. Improves mood.
Have you ever heard the term “runner’s high?” Ask anyone who has a regular exercise routine, they’ll all tell you how great they feel afterward. Not only is there a sense of accomplishment, but there’s a scientific reason why. When you exercise, you stimulate the natural endorphins in your brain. So you’ll get that “ahhhhhh” happy feeling when you’re done.

2. Improves sleep.
Chances are you’ve been to a party, barbecue, or beach where children are running around, hyper, having the best time. Parents usually make a comment about how well the children will be sleeping tonight. It’s true! Studies have shown that an increase in physical activity can be directly linked to the amount of slow-wave sleep you get. Slow-wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate.

3. Decreases pain.
Maybe you’ve heard the term “A body in motion, stays in motion. A body at rest stays at rest.” If you suffer from arthritis or some other painful physical ailment, you may equate movement with pain. However, making an effort to continue moving throughout the day can actually decrease your pain.

*Please check with your doctor to see if exercise is a good idea for your particular ailment.

4. Improves your cardiovascular health.
Improving blood sugar and reducing risk of Type II diabetes, or improving DMII for those already diagnosed. A Cochran review comparing 14 randomized controlled trials with 377 participants showed a decrease in HgbA1c of about 0.6% with exercise
Reducing blood pressure and triglycerides, decreasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

5. Improves brain function.
Exercise improves blood flow to the brain, reduces inflammation, lowers the level of stress hormones, and decreases the risk of cognitive impairment from dementia and Alzheimer’s.

6. Decreases fat tissue and increases muscle.
The most obvious and well known reason people exercise, the changes in physical appearance. Think of your body like a furnace. Exercising “ignites the furnace” and uses our stored fat as energy to fuel our physical activity. The more physical activity, the more fat is burned for fuel.

However it’s important to note that you cannot outrun a poor diet! Which really makes sense when you think about it. You’re eating poorly, causing a surplus of fat storage. You can only burn so much through exercise. There has to be an intake deficit.

What are some alternate forms of exercise?

Exercise is sustainable if it means doing things that you actually enjoy.

Here are some examples:

  • Kayaking
  • Rowing
  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Jogging/running
  • Biking
  • Skating/rollerblading
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Walking on a treadmill
  • Elliptical
  • Stationary bike
  • Weight lifting
  • Bodyweight strength training: Squats, planks, push-ups, crunches, quadruplex
  • Bodyweight cardio: Jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers
  • Strength training with weights
  • Jumping rope
  • Dancing
  • Stretching
  • Swimming
  • Rock climbing (belaying or bouldering)
  • Sports: Golf, Tennis, Baseball/softball/whiffle ball
  • Classes: Zumba, Orange Theory, CrossFit, Beach Body (i.e. PiYo),
  • Yoga: I love SarahBethYoga (I’m not paid to endorse her and I’m not an affiliate, but she has tons of free classes online.) Truly Yoga in Pike Creek, Delaware, Kripalu for the full experience.
  • Refit
  • Kickboxing
  • Personal training


How can I get started with an exercise routine?

Choose a start date. This is important. Choose a date and stick to it.

Choose the number of days per week. If you’re new to exercise, start small and increase as you go according to your comfort level.

Plan your activity. Not sure what you like? Use the list above and try each one, working your way down. You’ll expose yourself to new things and increase the potential of really falling in love with an activity. Then it won’t feel like exercise at all!

Decide how much time you will give yourself. Again, if you’re new to exercise, I would start small with 30 minutes (or less) of low-impact movement a day then increase as you go.

Write this in your calendar. Having your intentions written on a calendar for you to see makes it easier to stick to it.


  •  Start slow and gradually increase activity to avoid injury.
  • Sign up for a 5k to walk or jog. Going with a group can really be the boost you need.
  • Ask a friend to join you. Sometimes, things are better with friends. Try Zumba classes together or escape to a calm lake and try canoeing.

For more info on all things health and wellness, check out the full blog, listen to the podcast and sign up for emails so you can get future blog posts right in your inbox.


That’s all I have for today. Stay healthy!

Dr. Kristine LaRocca


Disclaimer: Although I am a medical doctor, I am not YOUR doctor. So the things I teach are not to be used as medical advice. You should consult your physician to discuss what is best for you personally.

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How Stress Affects your Health and your Weight

How Stress Affects your Health and your Weight

We all know stress in some form or another, but did you know that stress can have a major impact on not just your psychological health, but your physical health as well? Stress can even lead to fat accumulation and weight gain.

In this article, we’ll go over the physical effects that stress takes on the body and some ways to combat the effects, reduce your overall stress and live a happier, healthier lifestyle.

There are two types of stress: acute (abrupt and short-term) and chronic (over a long-term period).

Acute stress activates our “fight or flight” response, leading to increased sympathetic nervous system activity. In other words, everything gets “revved up”, resulting in;

  • a release of Norepinephrine and Epinephrine
  • an increase in blood pressure
  • constriction of blood vessels
  • increased heart rate
  • decreased blood flow to the kidneys
  • increased blood flow to the brain to improve cognitive functioning

In addition, acute stress also affects our metabolism, causing an increase in glucose levels (blood sugar), which can lead to weight gain and our physical pain tolerance.

Chronic stress triggers a “submit and stay” response, which can lead to increased body fat. Some of the effects of chronic stress are;

  •  increased stress hormones
  • high blood pressure
  • preterm labor during pregnancy
  • increased body fat (especially in the abdomen)
  • increased food craving
  • depression
  • decreased memory and reasonable thinking
  • fatigue
  • weakened immune system
  • decreased pain tolerance


So, what can you do?

To be human is to stress. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to remove all forms of stress from your life, but there are things you can do to relieve it.



Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. It lowers your body’s stress hormones and releases endorphins which improve your mood and act as natural painkillers. (I’ll go into this more in my next blog and there’s a podcast episode that really delves into this topic too. You can listen to that here.)

But exercise doesn’t have to be running on a treadmill or lifting weights. There are so many ways to get your body moving and your heart pumping that doesn’t involve a gym at all!



Caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks, when consumed in high doses can increase anxiety.

If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, it’s time to consider cutting back.

Although many studies show that coffee can actually be healthy in moderation, it’s important to note that it’s not for everyone. Try cutting back your caffeine intake and see if you feel less anxiety overall.

*When cutting back caffeine, some people experience headaches. This is because caffeine is an addictive substance. When we cut back, our bodies react. This is normal and the headaches are typically mild, short-lived, and can be combated with over-the-counter headache relief medicine.



You may think it sounds silly, but writing down your feelings, good and bad, can greatly impact your mental health. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a brightly colored sparkly book like you may have had in grade school. There are tons of classy, grown-up versions available now. (I personally use a leather-bound journal.)

Carry it with you. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take it out and write. Write, doodle, however you want to express your feelings. Also, try to write in the journal when you’re feeling particularly happy or grateful. It can help to go back and read those entries when you’re having a bad moment. I do a further deep dive into the mindset work on my podcast. 



This is a big one. While not all stressors are within your control, some are. It starts by taking control of the aspects of your life that you can change and are causing you stress.

One way to do this may be to say “no” more often. This is especially true if you often find yourself taking on more than you can handle.

Being selective about what you take on and saying no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load can significantly reduce your stress levels. You don’t have to please everyone. You’re one person. Practice saying no. You’ll be surprised how good it feels.



How many times have we all thought about something we had to do but didn’t really want to do and we waited till the last minute? Procrastination can lead you to act reactively and scrambling to catch up.

Get a calendar or a to-do list that you can hang on the wall or fridge where you can see it. Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time.
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and stick to them.


The bottom line…

Although stress and anxiety affect everyone, there are many ways to reduce the pressure you feel.

Exercise, mindfulness, and improving your eating habits can all work to relieve anxiety and improve your overall work-life balance.


Till next time, stay healthy!

Dr. Kristine LaRocca


*Disclaimer: Although I am a medical doctor, I am not YOUR doctor. So the things I teach are not to be used as medical advice. You should consult your physician to discuss what is best for you personally.



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Does protein cause weight gain?

Does protein cause weight gain?

Protein is important for weight loss because it improves satiety, the ”full” or “satisfied” feeling you experience while ingesting a meal that triggers you to stop eating.

Quick side note: I’ve got a podcast episode on this information as well if you prefer to listen instead.

A common misconception is that protein will make you gain weight. While this does have some truth to it, it typically doesn’t lead to fat gain unless you eat it in excess.

So, how do you know how much protein your body needs?

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 0.8 to 2.0 g/kg/ per day of protein, depending on your level of physical activity, sex and age.

Let’s calculate your personal intake recommendation.

    1. Your weight __________
    2. Divide that number by 2.2 _________ (This is your weight in kilograms.)
    3. Next, multiply this by 0.8 ________
    4. Equals your goal for daily protein intake __________

For example:

  1. If you weigh 200lbs
  2. 200 divided by 2.2 is 90.9
  3. 90.9 multiplied by 0.8 equals about 73.
  4. So, your daily protein goal will be 73 grams.

If it’s easier: you can use the USDA Protein Intake Calculator which will base your results on your weight and activity level.

*It’s important to note that there are special situations where protein intake may be limited even further, such as kidney disease, so be sure to check with your doctor.

How does protein work in the body?

Proteins break down into amino acids and are used by our bodies as building blocks for bone, muscle, skin, brain tissue, and parts of our DNA.

In times of high energy demand, those amino acids can be used as energy by being converted to glucose.

However, when you overeat protein, the amino acids can be converted to glucose and stored as fat once your energy stores are full. This is especially true if you have a sedentary job and don’t move much during the day.

On the other hand, too little protein can lead to disease processes so we need balance.

Plant-based protein is best.

Quinoa is an example of a plant-based protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids, including the ones that our body cannot make on its own.

  • It is a seed so it is also packed with healthy fats.
  • It is rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate and magnesium.
  • It is quick to make, only taking about 15 minutes.
  • There are over 120 varieties of quinoa: white, red, and other colored options. They are all nutritious.

Nuts are another viable option as they are high in protein and packed with healthy fats, all leading to increased satiety.

Other forms of protein are:

  • Fish, which can be dense in healthy fats such as DHA and EPA.
  • Land meats such as chicken, turkey, beef, and pork
  • Animal products, such as eggs, cheese and milk

I’ve created a cheat sheet below for you to use as a reference.

Click to download Healthy Protein Cheat Sheet

Download healthy protein pdf


Track your protein intake for 3 days. Use the guidelines in the chart and formula provided to see if you are meeting your goal, under or over, then adjust as needed for a healthy weight!

Till next time, stay healthy.

Dr. Kristine LaRocca


Disclaimer: Although I am a medical doctor, I am not YOUR doctor. So the things I teach are not to be used as medical advice. You should consult your physician to discuss what is best for you personally.

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“I’ll just stay for one drink.” Famous last words. Most of us are guilty of overdrinking at some point, but have you ever asked yourself why? Here are some serious questions to ask yourself. (Tip: You will get the most benefit from this exercise by writing out the answers with pen and paper.)

Does alcohol cause any negative effects in your life? Including, but not limited to:

  • Your health
  • Your relationships
  • Your weight
  • Your energy

Have you ever considered cutting back?

What are your barriers when it comes to cutting back drinking or stopping altogether?

Do you need alcohol to have fun?

Do you need alcohol to relax?

This is an important topic because it has been socially ingrained in us that when we go out, we drink. When we get together for parties, we drink. When we go to sporting events, we drink.

It is more socially acceptable to drink than to not drink. Actually, it goes even further. If someone decides not to drink, people want to know why. Sometimes it is assumed that they have a prior dependence on alcohol or they must be pregnant.

Isn’t that wild to think about?

REALLY think about it.

Why is there so much social pressure to drink when we know we will feel terrible in the morning?

We can cultivate meaningful relationships, sober. We can engage in activities to relax, sober.

If you relate to this, here are 3 helpful tips:

To take control of your alcohol intake decide exactly when you will drink and how many drinks you will have. Otherwise, do not drink. This gives you complete control. When you think ahead with your prefrontal cortex you are likely to make healthier decisions, than when you are in the moment.

1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
Alcohol is toxic. It takes a large amount of energy from your body to break it down and get rid of it. When your body doesn’t have the fuel it requires to dedicate that amount of energy, we get hungry…ravenous even. Anyone who has ordered pizza at 1AM after a night of drinking, knows exactly what I mean. And do we stop after one piece of pizza? No. We overeat. As if that weren’t bad enough, the food we eat while drinking is more likely to be processed as fat. Yikes.

2. Stop drinking about 3-4 hours before going to bed.
Drinking affects sleep. Those few glasses of wine may help you fall asleep faster but your sleep is not as deep or restorative, and you have a greater chance of waking up in the middle of the night. Need proof? When is the last time you woke up from a night of drinking feeling well-rested and ready to take on the day?

3. Don’t add sugary mixers to your drinks
Alcoholic drinks mixed with sugary soft drinks or juices may be easier to consume, but this is dangerous for a number of reasons. First, you’re taking in way more sugar than is healthy, plus your perception of how much alcohol you’re actually consuming can become distorted. This often leads to overdrinking and consuming alarming amounts of sugar.

If you decide that alcohol is not healthy for your mind or your body and you want to stop completely, I encourage you to do so. Things will come up. Relationships may change. Does a true relationship need to be centered on alcohol? Absolutely not.

If you decide to quit altogether or just cut back, it will be very important to pay attention to your thinking and your feelings. You don’t have to let your brain go to default mode. Deliberately choose what you are going to think and this will guide the way you feel.

You are capable of whatever you decide.

Have questions or comments? I would love to hear from you.

Dr. LaRocca

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Far From Perfect

Far From Perfect


Hello friends!

This week was slammed for me.  I worked night shifts for 12 or more hours for 6 nights this week. I had to keep up with my patient inbox at work, e-mails, I did coaching calls, went to doctor appointments, worked out twice, and oh yeah – I slept and showered every day.

This Sunday as I transition back to days tomorrow I am wiped.  I did some yoga today and just felt depleted.  I knew I needed a down day.  Just to be honest, my down day usually refers to doing my work on the computer in front of the TV.. But today I actually took some time for myself.  I watched the new Robert Deniro movie, called the Irishman, about Jimmy Hoffa.  It was pretty good if you’re into gangster movies.

Sundays are usually my day to meal plan and grocery shop.  I knew I didn’t have it in me today so I thought outside the box.  I went to Bachetti Bros in Wilmington and bought all premade food while staying on the protocol.  I gave you an example below of what this looks like for my meal plan this week.  Some of the stuff I already had in the freezer, like the tilapia and Angus beef patties.  Bachetti Bros is a catering company and a small Italian grocery store.  I bought a lot of cooked things like sausage mixed with onions/peppers, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, and potato skins.  I was also able to get egg salad, spinach, apples, carrots, asparagus,  romaine lettuce, and meats.  My bill was less than $100.  So this week we will have to cook a few things, but overall most of the food will just be heated up in the oven.  These meals are made in-house at the store and no preservatives or other badness is used.

I don’t think this is ideal, but sometimes it’s what self-care looks like.  Especially this week when I feel like I’m at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

I’m not sharing this with you to show you how busy I am, but to show you that if you WANT results you WILL get them no matter what.  Stick to the protocol and cut out those empty refined carbs and sugars my friends.

What are your tips and tricks to eat healthy on weeks that you are slammed?



Whole Foods for Weight Loss

Whole Foods for Weight Loss

Personalize Your Eating Plan

There are many weight loss “diets” our there. What if you didn’t have to chose a diet and you could just eat the foods that work for your body? YOU CAN. The only thing you have to remember is that whole foods serve your body while processed foods cause weight gain and disease.  There are so many options for whole foods!  The list below is not even all encompassing.  The processed foods I’m referring to are mainly trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and sugars.


Digestion & Storage of Food

Glucose = the end product of carbohydrate digestion

Insulin = a hormone that is release by the pancreas in response to glucose in the blood stream

Insulin is an anabolic hormone.  Anabolic is defined as the building of tissues in the body. Insulin is used by our cells to absorb glucose and use it for energy.  When there is more glucose than the body needs, our body uses insulin to store glucose in the form of glycogen.  Glycogen is stored in our liver.  Our liver can only hold so much.  Once it is filled with glycogen the excess glucose is used to build up adipose tissue – this is our body fat!

When we give our body a break from glucose the levels of insulin decrease.  In the absence of excess glucose our body uses that glycogen that it has stored and breaks it down to have energy.  Once the glycogen is used up our body generates an enzyme called lipase that breaks down fatty tissues and utilizes them for energy.  This cannot occur when our insulin levels are high because insulin blocks lipase.

This is why intermittent fasting and eliminating refined carbohydrates and sugar are so effective for weight loss.


Knowledge is power.


Whole Foods



  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Grapes
  • Orange
  • Kiwi
  • Pear
  • Berries
  • Pineapple
  • Persimmon
  • Cherries
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Melon


  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Green beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Snow peas
  • Turnip
  • Beet greens
  • Cucumber
  • Beets
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Parsnips
  • Winter squash: butternut, pumpkin, acorn
  • Potato
  • Yam

Animal Protein

  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Eggs
  • Plain yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese

Plant Based Protein

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Edamame


  • Oats
  • Faro
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Grits


  • Avocado
  • Oils – olive, sesame, flax, avocado, nut oils
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Butters
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad dressing (no sugar)



Refined carbohydrates

  • Anything with flour (all types – white, wheat, gluten free, nut flours, bean flours)
    • Pasta
    • Bread
    • Flour tortillas
    • White rice
    • Crackers
    • Chips


  • White and brown sugar
  • Fructose
  • Syrups
  • Cane juice
  • Molasses
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Honey
  • Corn syrup
  • Agave and nectar

Trans fats

  • Partially hydrogenated oils
  • They have been mostly banned in the U.S. in 2018, but can still occasionally be found in products that were produced before this time. Read the labels.
    • Margarines
    • Vegetable shortening
    • Popcorn
    • Fried foods: potato chips & French fries
    • Non-dairy creamers


What processed foods are you willing to part with to reach your weight loss goals?

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