1,816 views, November 11, 2017
Meet the Nutrition and Wellness Coach Who Has Helped People Lose And Keep Off Thousands Of Pounds
Sharon O' Connor, Contributor
Through her online and in-person coaching, Ali Brigham, MA, CHHC, NANP
has helped men and women lose a combined 12,000 lbs. Originally from
New York City, Ali resides with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina
where she set up her sought-after health and wellness practice.
What sets her apart? Two things. Ali's approach is personalized,
hands-on and genuine. She has weekly one-on-one video chats
and phone calls with her clients, develops and helps nurture
year-round training programs and executes everything with precision,
but without judgement.
The second is her method - which focuses on long-term success and
understanding and teaching her clients what causes them to over-eat
or reach for unhealthy foods; instead of simply telling clients what to eat
and what to avoid.
I had to opportunity to sit down with Ali in a more intimate setting so
I could pick her brain and find out some of her secrets.
My interview with Ali Brigham
1. If you're at a dinner party with someone - how do you describe
what you do?
I love this question, because most people simply answer, I'm an accountant", or "I'm a lawyer". But my answer is different. I say I change people's lives. This opens up room for discussion. What does that mean? It means I help my clients achieve optimum health and wellness using a mind-body nutrition approach, so their body's will naturally gravitate toward the leanest, fittest, version of themselves. It’s a natural and holistic approach to weight loss, rather than forcing their body into starvation mode with a militant, restrictive diet. Understanding the root cause of their weight issue is critical to the process. Nutrition alone is no longer adequate in addressing the challenges that we face with food, our weight, body image and overeating.
2. What's the most common question you get around food and nutrition?
That’s a great one! I think it would be ‘How can I lose weight and still enjoy food?’ Far too often people think they have to be super restrictive and eat plain, bland food in order to achieve their desired results. I have worked with thousands of people over the years, who have lost a combined 12,000+ pounds, without limiting their enjoyment of food. I combine mind-body nutrition coaching and flexible eating, so that my clients can enjoy food, while also achieving their desired results.
3. Is there one thing that unites individuals who have been successful in losing weight and keeping it off? A common thread or trait?
Yes indeed!. There are a few common traits that I've noticed over the last 2 decades of my career with individuals who have had the greatest success in losing weight and keeping it off. Number one would be, they are truly committed to solving their weight (or health issues) once and for all. The second one is they are open to trying new things. And the third is they don't give up when things get challenging. When someone comes to me for nutrition coaching, they have made a commitment to get well, whether that be lose weight, solve health issues or have a healthier relationship with food. Throughout the process I become their cheerleader to help them make the necessary changes and have them stick. Sometimes this means reinventing their community of friends, other times we go through a healing process and I help them to begin believing in themselves again. Whatever shift needs to happen, once it does – they achieve success.
6. Walk me through your daily routine - both how you eat and train and what your day looks like with clients/meetings etc.
A typical day begins by waking up before my little one and prepping for the day. I first meditate for 5 minutes and reflect on all the wonderful things that have occurred, and then I say (out loud) 3 things I am grateful for. Then I enjoy a cup of coffee and a morning tonic, while making a breakfast of pastured eggs loaded with fresh herbs, hot sauce and sour cream. That's my favorite. After I get my little one up, fed and off to school, my girlfriend comes over for a quick 15-minute workout (I design a new one everyday). That's how I start my day off with a bang. I immediately set myself up for success. I usually follow my work-out with some form of hydrating tonic or a smoothie. Afterwards I begin my one-on-one online coaching sessions until lunch.
Lunch for me varies so much; sometimes red lentil pasta, sometimes a sprouted veggie wrap, sometimes balsamic chicken salad, sometimes creamy salmon salad.
After lunch, my coaching sessions continue, followed by late afternoon meetings before grabbing my daughter off the bus from school. Our afternoons together include a variety of snacks...anything from fruit with raw goat cheese, or trail mix with raw nuts and seeds, or a chocolate protein bar or a healthy homemade muffin.
Our dinners are typically a lean protein with a healthy carb, healthy fat and veggies. One of our household favorites are nachos (lentil chips) piled high with red onions, scallions, cilantro, beans, shredded chicken, shredded melted goat cheddar and hot sauce. Another Brigham-home favorite is grass fed sirloin or filet with roasted broccoli with garlic and a side of sweet potato hash. Once a week, we have a date night (daughter included) with sushi or one of our favorite farm-to-table restaurants. I usually turn in early around 9am (I'm an early riser), but not before doing my research. Listening to podcasts, studying peer-review literature and watching documentaries on health and wellness has always been a passion for me. Nutrition is an ever-evolving field, and I like to stay of top of it.
8. The fitness and nutrition space is already a saturated market - what makes what you do different?
What makes me different is that I’m not looking to help someone find a quick fix that will ultimately be unsuccessful and keep them coming back for more. My coaching method is a full circle holistic approach that addresses not only food, but metabolism, hormones, cellular toxicity, stress and mind-body health. it is when we address all of these components, that true changes emerge. I’m not looking to create repeat customers; I want lifelong success stories!
9. What gets you out of bed every day?
My drive to succeed! I absolutely love my job and wake up every day looking forward to what’s in store. Seeing men and women struggle with weight and body image, beating themselves up and feeling like a failure breaks my heart. I know this, because I've been there. I just want them to know, there is a better way.
You can contact Ali at or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Many Uses of Essential Oils
I love essential oils. I used them to purify the air in my home, in my facial and skincare routine, in my household cleaning products and even in my toothpaste and mouth rinse.
Some of you may be just starting to explore what they are about and how they can be used. While others may have just purchased their first bottle or set and are not sure what to do next. It can be overwhelming trying to figure it all out, so I wanted to share a few tips on how to begin using essential oils in your everyday routines. Even if you are a seasoned essential oils user, there might be some new ideas that can help you.
DIFFUSE THE ESSENTIAL OILS
Diffuselemon and peppermint in the morning or mid-afternoon for quick pick me up. Diffuse lavender essential oil when getting ready for bed as a way to calm down and relax for a good night’s rest. Combine lemon, lavender and peppermint essential oils when feeling sick to help with respiratory support. Diffusing intermittently provides the most benefit, usually 30-60 minutes on and then 30-60 minutes off is sufficient. Check the directions of the company you purchase essential oils from for their recommended diffusing time or contact them directly to find out.
GENERAL HOME USE
Make a room or linen spraywith rose, lavender or clove essential oil to freshen linens, rooms or closets. Or use lavender essential oil to spray in bedrooms or on sheets to help with relaxation and encourage sleep. To make: in a glass spray bottle add 15-30 drops essential oil of choice, 2 TBSP witch hazel or vodka and 1/4 cup distilled water. Shake to mix and shake before each use.
Make a natural all purpose cleaning spray. Add a mix of 20-30 drops of tea tree, thyme, clove, oregano, eucalyptus and lavender essential oil with 30 ounces of distilled water in a glass spray bottle for all purpose cleaning and disinfecting. The above mentioned oils are not only antibacterial and antimicrobial, but also anti-fungal. Shake to mix before each use. Use for sinks, countertops, floors and anywhere else you would use a multi-purpose disinfecting cleaner. Be careful if using lemon or grapefruit essential oils on natural stone surfaces, such as granite, as the citrus essential oil can cause etching.
IN THE KITCHEN
Make a fruit and vegetable sprayto clean and disinfect using lemon essential oil. Add to a glass spray bottle 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar, 3/4 cup distilled water and around 10 drops of lemon essential oil. You could also create your own blend using different types of citrus essential oils, such as lemon, lime and grapefruit. It is best to store in a glass bottle since some plastic material can be disintegrated by lemon essential oil.
IN THE BATHROOM
Besides cleaning your bathroom with the all purpose cleaner, you can add oils to your personal care products. Adding a few drops of essential oil to your shampoo or conditioneris an easy way to use essential oils to make your bathroom feel like a spa. I love using a few drops of lemon essential oil in my shampoo. It is invigorating and makes my hair shiny and soft. Also, adding lavender essential oil to a bathis a great way to unwind after a long day.
IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM
When doing laundry, add a few drops of lemon essential oil to the laundry soap dispenser after you add your laundry detergent to the washing machine. The lemon essential oil will lightly scent and freshen your laundry as well as help to keep the washing machine drum clean.
However you decide to include the amazing powers of essential oils into your life, have fun, and one important thing to remember when purchasing essential oils is to be sure to buy only 100% therapeutic grade, organic oils.
It’s Not a Diet; it’s a Lifestyle
It's About You
Take healthcare into your own hands. Be an active participant in your health. Once you have the smarts, nothing can stop you. A good place to start shifting your perspective is the way you think about illness and health challenges. Let go of the old paradigm of dysfunctional medicine that treats only the symptoms, and become your own personal investigator.
Getting to the root of your issue, whether it’s arthritis, IBS, depression, acne, cancer—you name it—will make your road to wellness so much clearer and your efforts so much more effective. From there, you will start to see patterns. Your body is made up of interconnected systems. An imbalance in one system has a cascading effect on all the other systems, often resulting in inflammation and disease. Think of each principle as a way to take care of the universe inside you.
Sometimes you’ll require a practitioner who can focus on YOUR physical needs; other times an expert to guide you through the pain you hold in your heart is necessary. Either way, it’s all integral to your well-being. If you’re ever facing a health challenge, instead of relying on one doctor to guide your health, get a second opinion from a functional medicine doctor who will look at your whole system rather than simply your symptoms.
Put Out the Fire
Chronic inflammation is your body’s confused (and damaging) immune response to a barrage of environmental toxins and physical and mental stressors. Inflammatory foods include wheat, gluten, cow dairy, factory-farmed meat, sugar, coffee, soda, energy drinks, and processed foods.
Go with Your Gut
Did you know that about 70 percent of your immune system lives in your gut? Here’s the very best advice I can give you for improving your overall health: focus on your gut. You’ll experience better immunity, efficient digestion, glowing skin, improved clarity, and energy. Help your gut a hand by feeding your body whole, unprocessed, plant-based, nutrient-dense foods. A healthy lifestyle—reduced stress, more exercise, less exposure to environmental toxins, and proper rest—supports good gut bacteria and keeps the harmful bacteria under control. T
Get Your pH in Check
The body maintains a delicate acid-alkaline balance. Everything from healthy cells to cancer cells to soil quality and ocean life are affected by pH. A basic understanding of how our bodies maintain an alkaline range is important for good health. Your body works extremely hard to create pH balance. When we make poor diet choices or are burdened by a toxic, chemical-rich environment, our bodies have to work harder to create homeostasis. Through diet and lifestyle, you can help your body attain pH balance.
Juice to Live
The next time you need an energy boost, reach for a fresh vegetable juice or smoothie. A nutrient-dense green juice is a terrific way to experience an instant blast of sustainable energy. Green smoothies are fantastic, too. And adding healthy fats such as avocado or raw almond butter to your smoothie will help you feel satisfied longer.
Understand Animal Products
When evaluating the health consequences of animal products, we must also consider the way they were raised and treated. How an animal is cared for from birth to slaughter affects your body. Unhealthy animals create unhealthy food. Avoid factory farmed animals like the plague. Eat only pasture-raised meat, poultry and eggs. Reduce your consumption of meat to two or three times per week. Choose palm-sized (3-4 oz.) portions.
Ditch Cow Dairy
Removing or reducing cow dairy is one of my top recommendations for better health. Cow dairy is inflammatory (the root cause of many chronic diseases); and the growth hormones in dairy (e.g.,IGF1) can stimulate malignant cell growth and proliferation. We as humans can not digest daily anyway. Switch to goat dairy and specifically goat milk kefir and raw goat milk cheeses.
Choose organic fruits and veggies as much as possible. There are more than eighty thousand chemicals in the world today; eating them and putting them on our bodies impairs our immune systems. The EWG’s Dirty Dozen Plus list lays out the most highly sprayed fruits and vegetables, while their Clean Fifteen lists the least sprayed produce.
Dispel the Myth
Going organic and Non GMO can be expensive, only it you let it. Get creative with cost-cutting strategies. Buy in bulk, grow your own greens, shopat your local farmers’ market, purchase your food from companies such as Premier Foods Group and Open Pasture Meats, and buy a gently used juicer are all easy ways to save. Also, get cooking. Cooking meals from scratch in bulk and storing the leftovers will save tons in the end.
Feel Free to Indulge
If you’re worried about giving up all your favorite treats, don’t be. I still enjoy all of favorite foods like nachos, pasta, pizza, hamburgers; they’re just healthier now. Reach for dark chocolate instead of a pint of ice cream.
I didn’t get here overnight. I had plenty of support from friends and enough research to know that what I put in my body is what I’ll get out of it. When working in an office setting, watching my coworkers eat doughnuts and drink soda, I was eating my sandwich I made at home and drinking whatever I wanted in my thermos. Nobody knows what's in your YETI. Besides - WHO CARES? This is your life. You can do this! Your family and friends will soon catch on. You’ll see.
Plan and Prepare
Meal planning is the key to home-cooking success. Start collecting recipes online and in cookbooks and planning three to four days of meals so you can shop accordingly. Once you get home from the store, prep as much of your food as possible, especially produce for salads, snacks, juices, and smoothies. Cook large batches of soups and stews, and freeze second helpings for easy meals later.
Get Your Zzzz's
Without proper sleep, your body cannot fully detox and repair itself. Optimal hours: 7 ½ - 9. If you’re having trouble sleeping, exercise, exposure to natural sunlight, and cutting out caffeine by around 10a.m. can help you get some shut-eye. Switch to green tea or Rooibos tea, pull back on the alcohol and drink it earlier with food (alcohol disrupts melatonin and blood sugar). At snooze time, keep your room cool, block out all light, turn on some white noise or a fan, and give yourself time to wind down.
Move and Shake
Your lymph system, which carries away waste, needs you! Unlike your heart, it doesn’t have a pump. Exercise is the pump. It doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t need to join a fancy gym. Sometimes brisk walking or Yoga is best. Work smarter, not harder. Choose weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones. Exercise also lifts your mood, improves libido, boosts your energy, clears your mind, and so much more!
Opt for natural skin-care products, and try to cut down on the number of products you use daily. Your skin is your largest organ,
and much of what you put on it, you literally drink in. Find out the toxicity levels of your favorite cosmetics and personal care products at the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. When toxins, chemicals, and poisons build up, you break down.