An Intelligence Gene? High IQ May Be in Our DNA


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Always been the smarty pants in your group?  Awww, SNAP!  Chances are, it’s in your DNA.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

A study of Dutch families (Gosso MF et al., 2006) found that Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) rs363050, located on the SNAP-25 gene is associated with “performance IQ” (i.e. non-verbal IQ).

Each copy of “A” at rs363050 in a person’s genotype increased the subjects’ performance IQ by an average of three points compared to those with no copies of “A”.The authors estimated that rs363050 accounts for 3.4% of the variation in performance IQ between people.

I learned this little tidbit while exploring my Health Traits on the 23andMe website.  A single user-posted question, “Is There Anyone Else with 2 Copies of the Gene for Intelligence?” sparked over 260 replies from users sharing their genotypes, those of their family members, as well as IQ scores, SAT/GRE scores, levels of degrees obtained, and much more to both support AND oppose the findings of this research.

When you get down to brass tacks, no one who fancies him/herself as intelligent wants to look at their own genotype & have it read otherwise … anymore than someone wants their Kindness Gene genotype to tell them they can’t be empathetic.

Of course for this and other similar discussions, there is the nature vs. nurture debate … it can be challenging to study heritability or genetic differences in intelligence due to the fact that it is difficult to rule out other factors such as environment and opportunities (Rowe et al., 1999; Turkheimer et al., 2003).

What are your thoughts re: intelligence and heritability vs. outside influences such as environment?

Have you been tested on 23andMe?  If yes, was your genotype what you expected?





Meatless Monday Recipe: Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Looking for some Meatless Main Dishes for dinner tonight or for your upcoming 4th of July festivities?  Look no further than these savory Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

Yield: 4 stuffed mushrooms


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms
  • Ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces kale, roughly chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup shredded reduced-fat white cheddar cheese
  • Canola-oil cooking spray


1) Preheat oven to 375F.

2)  Remove stems & inside gils of the portobello mushrooms.  Spray inside of a glass/Pyrex dish large enough to hold all four portobellos (a 9 x 9 square pan should work).  Place the mushrooms inside the dish and brush insides of the with olive oil.

3)  Add kale, shredded cheese, and then tomatoes to each of the mushroom caps.  Splash a little extra olive oil on top of each.  Don’t be afraid to pile on the toppings — they will reduce down while cooking.  Splash a little balsamic vinegar on top of each, then season freshly ground black pepper.

4)  Bake in the preheated oven until mushrooms are cooked through and cheese bubbles, about 25-30 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe? Tell me about it below, and you may be featured on our blog!

Lose Weight in a Week: 4 Easy Ways to Drop Pounds in 7 Days

Lose Weight In A Week

More than likely, if you are reading this post you fall in to one of two categories:

1) You are sick of being overweight, feeling unhealthy, and have no idea where to start


2) You’ve been eating too many desserts lately OR slacked off exercising (or both) and want to lose the 5-10 pounds you gained while you weren’t looking

Whichever of these two buckets you fall into, good news — you’ve come to the right place!  This post will give you 4 Easy Ways to Jumpstart Your Weight Loss and Drop Pounds in Just 7 Days.  I’m serious!  Try these tips for just seven days, and comment below and share your results.

I’ve given this same advice to my coaching clients, and they have had success.  Read their Testimonials here and see what they had to say for yourself!

Without further delay, here are 4 Easy Ways to Lose Weight … starting TODAY!

Drink Water

Water has zero calories, zero carbs, and no sodium.  It’s great for revving up your metabolism, and it flushes out toxins (and excess water) from your body.  I’ve complained myself that water is boring & tasteless.  If this is how you feel, add a lemon or lime wedge.  Plain sparkling water is ok too as long as the sodium content is very low (aim for 30mg or less).  Avoid juices, energy drinks, soda (yes – even diet soda), etc. this week.  You can drink one cup of coffee or tea per day, but don’t add sweeteners or creamers.  (C’mon … it’s a 7-day commitment, not forever!  You want to lose weight, don’t you?)

Cut Out White Bread, White Rice, and White Pasta

Cutting out white-grain products or simple carbohydrates and replacing them with whole-grain or complex carbs diet will slim you down quickly.  Simple carbs are high in sugar, low in fiber, and while they taste good and give us comfort they have little to no nutritional value and cause belly bloating.  They are digested very quickly and leave you hungry just a short time after eating.  Replace white grains with whole-wheat bread, rice substitutes like quinoa and barley, and vegetables, which are digested more slowly & keep you feeling fuller longer.

Do Some Kind of Cardio Every Day for 30 Minutes

Wait — don’t close out of this post!  I promise, this isn’t a deal breaker!  If you want to burn calories, you have got to move.  Again, this is a 7-day challenge to kickstart your weight loss goal or slim down for that bikini you’re going to be wearing in two weeks.  If you don’t have a solid thirty minutes, you can break it up into two 15-minutes sessions or three 10-minutes sessions.  You MUST have time for that?!  No casual strolling here either.  After a warmup, get that heart rate up for a good 30 minutes by brisk walking, walking uphill, jogging, get your butt to a Zumba or other dance class, or jump on any piece of aerobic equipment such as elliptical machine.  You can even go old-school, low-tech and do 30 minutes of jumping rope, jumping jacks, or anything that gets your heart rate up for 30 minutes.  I like to use the FREE Nike Training Club app where there are tons of free workouts just waiting for you & many require NO EQUIPMENT.  No excuses … JUST DO IT!

Get More Sleep

This one isn’t so bad, eh?  Who doesn’t long for more zzz’s?  And guess what?  Your body needs it.  A study published in 2012 found that just a few nights of bad sleep can throw your metabolism into a tailspin.  The study showed that getting four hours of sleep a night for four nights made healthy people’s bodies resistant to insulin — a condition that leads to weight gain, diabetes and other serious health problems.

Not everyone needs eight hours of sleep per night.  Some need less, some actually need more to function optimally.  You can find out how many hours you need by reading this post I wrote for MindBodyGreen.  For the next 7 days, though, focus on adding just 30 minutes of sleep each night.  You might have to turn off the television a little earlier or wait until tomorrow for your turn at Words With Friends, but your body will thank you.

After you try this, please come back & leave a comment below & let everyone know about your progress!  

Other posts you might like:

How Do You Know If You Need a Life Coach?

Motivation — Where Are You?

What’s Past The Comfort Zone?



Meatless Monday Recipe: Tomato Basil Pizza with Gluten-Free Crust

Someone on Instagram posted a picture of a gluten-free pizza crust yesterday, and it looked so good I couldn’t stop thinking about it!  So, I was off to collect ingredients to make it for dinner last night and so I could share this recipe with you for this week’s Meatless Monday Recipe Idea!

You won’t believe what’s in this pizza crust — it’s cauliflower!  The recipe for the crust comes from SparkPeople.  The prep time on the original crust recipe states 15 minutes.  I can assure you that it takes much longer than that!  I think it took me about an hour to get everything prepped before I baked the crust.  Not a deal-breaker but wanted to give you fair warning! 🙂

Gluten-Free Tomato Basil Pizza

If you make this yourself, can you leave a Comment below & let me know how it turned out for you?  I’d like the crust just a little crispier if possible.  If you found something that worked, please share below!


For crust:

  • 1 cup raw, chopped cauliflower* (chop in a food processor for quickest & best result)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme

For pizza toppings

  • 2 sliced roma tomatoes
  • 6 fresh chopped basil leaves
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pizza sauce (optional)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

*1 cup chopped cauliflower is about 2 1/4 cups florets


Makes 4, 1-slice servings. Can be doubled for a larger pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped cauliflower, egg, mozzarella and all desired spices. Press evenly on baking pan.

Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes (up to 20 minutes if you double the recipe).

Remove the pan from the oven. To the crust, pour olive oil and use a pastry or baking brush to spread the oil over the crust evenly.  Add sauce (if using) then toppings and cheese.

Place under broiler, on high heat, until cheese is melted.  Keep a close eye on it so the crust doesn’t burn!  Enjoy!

Did you make this?  Did you change it up at all by adding different toppings or other ingredients to the dough?  Don’t forget to tell us how it turned out in the Comments below!


5 Foam Roller Stretches to Ease Sore Muscles


I was very gung-ho to start some at-home weight training this week, and jumped full steam ahead into the Better Butt Workout courtesy of Nike Training Club app for iPhone.

The fifteen-minute workout was a good one with three sets of five killer moves.  Given that I used muscles that have been on a break for WAY TOO LONG, two days later I am still suffering from muscle soreness.

I know how well my trusty foam roller helped me stay loose and pain-free during my half-marathon training, so it made sense to turn to the foam roller to stretches to ease my sore hamstrings and glutes from the Better Butt Workout!

Here are 5 Foam Roller Stretches to Ease Sore Muscles in your legs and glutes!

(Note: all stretches to be performed with a full standard-size (3′ x 6″) foam roller)

Need a foam roller? The Magic Roller from Balanced Body is a great one!

1) The Quadricep Massage –  to relax muscles and increase circulation to the front of the thigh muscles.

How to do it: Kneel on floor.  Place the roller on the floor horizontal to your body.  Lie face down (prone position) with the roller just above your knees.  Your elbows should be bent & forearms touching the floor.  With your arms, gently roll your body forward towards your upper thighs.  Push body back and return to starting position.  Repeat for 30 seconds – one minute.

2) The Gluteus Maximus Massage – to improve circulation to the muscles in your butt!

How to do it: Sit on the foam roller placed horizontally on the floor with feet and hands on floor in front of the roller.  Push roller backward with your butt.  Allow roller to glide back and forth under your butt muscles for about 30 seconds.

3) Piriformis Stretch – another good butt stretch!


How to do it: Kneel down.  Place both palms on roller horizontal on the floor in front of your body.  Stretch arms out straight.  Extend one leg back.  Lean forward as roller is pushed forward.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat with opposite leg & hold.  Do this twice.

4) Sitting Hamstring Stretch – this one is my favorite!!  I always have sore hamstrings because mine are super tight!  This will S-T-R-E-T-C-H the back of your thigh muscles.

seated hamstring stretch

How to do it: Sit on the floor with both legs straight out.  Bend one knee in bringing the sole of your foot in towards the opposite thigh.  Straighten out the other leg and place heel on the roller.  Flex your toes towards your body.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat on opposite side.  Do this twice.

5) Supine Hamstring Stretch – A supine stretch is one that is done lying face up.  This one will also stretch the back of the thigh muscles.

How to do it: Lie on your back and bend your knees.  Place the roller lengthwise between your knees and ankles.


Press knees and ankles into the roller.  Extend your legs up towards the ceiling and flex your toes.


Hold as long as it is comfortable and return to starting.  Do this 3 times.These stretches are all ones that I learned from a book by Caroline Corning Creager, P.T. called Therapeutic Exercises Using Foam Rollers

All of the photos in this post were also taken from the book!

Other posts you might like:

What’s Past the Comfort Zone?

How Do You Know If You Need a Life Coach?



Summer Coleslaw: A #MeatlessMonday Recipe


I love the warm days of summer.  Sometimes, I don’t love cooking on a hot summer night though!

I found this recipe in a new cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas, The Meat Free Monday Cookbook: A Full Menu for Every Monday of the Year

The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

I’m not gonna lie … my memories of coleslaw are not good ones!  I’m transported to a mayonnaise-soaked mess with carrots and raisins from my elementary school cafeteria’s lunch line.  Beyond gross!!

This version made me a believer!  Try this fresh Summer Coleslaw!  I promise you won’t think about your old school cafeteria even once!  🙂

This recipe serves 4.

Summer Coleslaw Recipe


  • 2 medium-large carrots (coarsely grated)
  • 1/2 white cabbage (shredded)
  • Handful of trimmed snow peas
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • Handful of trimmed radishes
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Peel and coarsely grate 2 medium-large carrots into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Finely shred half of a white cabbage and a handful of trimmed snow peas and add to bowl.
  3. Finely slice 6 scallions and a handful of trimmed radishes, and add along with 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 2 tablespoons roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts, and 2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the juice of 1/2 lemon and 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Pour over the coleslaw and gently mix together.

Other Recipes You’ll Love:

Meatless Monday Tomato Basil Salad

Tomato & Basil Salad with Feta

Snap Pea Salad

Snap Pea Salad 

5 Superfoods for Weight Loss

Eat More to Lose More!

Dieters will like the sound of that! Instead of starving yourself to lose weight, science shows you need to EAT MORE … of the right foods.

5 Superfoods For Weight Loss |

These 5 superfoods will up your calorie-burn and help you lose weight!


Instead of rice, try quinoa!


Quinoa has 8g of protein and 5g of fiber per serving, which will keep you feeling fuller longer.Check out my blog post, Quinoa Two Ways for both a dinner & a breakfast idea (hint: quinoa is a great substitute for your morning oatmeal, too!)


Somewhere along the way, we were convinced that a low-fat or NO fat diet was the only way to lose weight.

Boy, was that wrong! The secret is choosing right kinds of fats, like nutrient-rich avocado. Avocados are rich in oleic acid, which may trigger your body to keep hunger pangs at bay. Stick to half of an avocado per serving.

Try this amazing Easy Guacamole Recipe

Photo courtesy of Real Simple

Photo courtesy of Real Simple

Avocados are creamy enough on their own, so no sour cream required!


Kale has two of the most powerful antioxidants: carotenoinds and flavonoids. These help expel free radicals and protect against cancer. One raw cup contains 34 calories and about 1.3g of fiber. Not a huge fan? Try throwing raw kale into soups like this Creamy Mushroom Soup with Greens and Ginger

Goji berries

Goji berries are becoming more well-known here in the US, but this popular Asian superfood has been around for much longer.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


These tart berries are a protein source, with 18 amino acids. How many fruits can say that?

Chili peppers

Spicy foods crank up your metabolism, so it’s no surprise that chili peppers can help you lose weight. In a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that consuming a combination of capsaicin and green tea led subjects to feel less hungry and eat fewer calories. Throw a little diced chili pepper into homemade marinara sauce for an extra kick!