Stacey’s Fitness Story

“I usually eat mung beans with fresh spirulina and sauteed greens for breakfast. Is that ok?”

This was Stacey’s first question when she joined my 28 Day Transformation Challenge.

That’s when people are usually giving me pushback about dropping their Diet Coke or nightly wine habit.

And she’s asking me for MUNG BEAN permission!?

I’ll be honest: I was like, “alright – who the hell is this person?”

And that’s when I learned that Stacey is a real food activist  who speaks to audiences of all ages about food, farming, and culture.

She eats mostly vegetables and most of her food comes from her San Diego back yard  – which is the size of an SUV and which she shares with 10 housemates. 


This is not my average client.

If you are anything like me, you are wondering:

  1. Why the hell would someone like that want to take an online fitness and nutrition challenge?


2. Is is seriously possible to grow that much food in that small a space? And is it a huge pain in the ass?

Since that day when she asked the Mung Bean question, I have become friends with Stacey and I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone as passionate about healthy living. This is Stacey’s Fitness Story.

(PS. Stacey is so into getting everyone to eat healthy that she’s offering a freebie on How to Grow Your Own Organic Veggies for Just Pennies <====HIGHLY recommended! )

Were you always an exerciser and healthy eater? Did this stuff always come to you naturally?

I was a free-range kid of the 70’s and grew up in my mom’s garden. I begged my mom for more Brussel sprouts, so I’ve always preferred vegetables.

But I’ve also had a wicked sweet tooth my whole life.

If it were up to my cravings, I would eat chocolate, cookies and greens for every meal.

My mom was super strict and didn’t allow candy, soda, cookies or chips in the house which probably saved me in my early years.

But I gained a lot of weight in college and during my masters degree was surprised one day to find myself in the obese category at my doctor!

I easily get off-track if I’m not having fun working out somehow whether that’s playing a sport or in my later years… farming.

What was the situation right before you signed up for the Challenge? What made you take the plunge when you were already pretty fit?

I’ve tried pretty much every way to stay in shape and eat well over the years. And just before the Challenge, nothing was fun.

I wasn’t feeling comfortable in my own skin. I was feeling resentful at all the energy I was putting into keeping weight off as I was aging.

Ever since 40, my body just doesn’t respond like it used to.

And what happened during the Challenge?

This is going to sound crazy, but lemon-ginger water in the morning changed my world as well as tracking how much water I was drinking throughout the day.

So much of what I was experiencing was me being dehydrated! And I had no idea.

I felt so energized in the morning and felt great in my body in a way I hadn’t experienced in years.

Without someone to shine a light on all your routines, sometimes you miss the most basic things.

The other amazing transformation was how inspired I was to wake up in the morning and rock my workout. It was so nice to have someone tell me exactly what to do so I didn’t have to think about it.

And I loved the workouts had a bit of gamification in them. I enjoyed trying to beat Oonagh’s times for those workouts.

After the first week, I felt strong again in my upper body. Over the months, I’ve noticed my shoulders changing shape and un-hunching after years of being hunched over. 


(note from Oonagh: ummm….results not typical)

I know you already had a really healthy diet before you signed up. Can you describe what you’d eat on a typical day?

I am vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, flour-free so I basically eat plants in their most basic plant form.

I like simplicity. Beans, greens, sauerkraut, avocado topped with hemp seeds and flax meal or flax oil 😉

But I prepare them a little different each sitting. Like refried beans with sautéed garden greens, rosemary-orange-lemongrass sauerkraut for one meal and then curried lentils with sautéed garden greens, dill-garlic sauerkraut another meal. Typically I have a couple berries each meal too.

Stacey’s usual breakfast. It includes spirulina fresh from her tank. Doesn’t yours?


How much of the food you eat regularly is stuff that you’ve grown yourself?

My garden is small, about the size of a large SUV. And I share that garden with 10 housemates.

About 50% of my typical meal plate is homegrown: all my greens, herbs and sauerkraut. Squashes, tomatoes, peppers are typically from my garden as well.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about growing their own food?

Most people tell me they don’t grow because it takes too much time.

Here’s the deal: yes, it takes a couple hours to set up a small garden. If you want to grow a lot of greens and root vegetables and you automate your watering. Then only thing you have to do in the garden is harvest which takes a couple minutes.

When you take the time to set up a garden right, it’s no different than brushing your teeth each day. It can be that simple. 

How has growing your own food contributed to your health and fitness?

I could tell you all the things that people typically say: my food is nutrient dense because it is fresh-picked, I know exactly what’s in my food, I know it’s organic, my garden gets me moving outside, and my food is packed with flavor! And all of that would be true.

But the biggest benefit I find is the peace I feel being this connected to plants. I watch the magic of life in my garden and suddenly everything is easy. Plants miraculously grow and flower overnight and turn into tomatoes. It is so beautiful to watch.


What would you say to someone who is reading this and thinking ‘I could never do that. I could never be fit and wholesome like Stacey.  I just don’t have the time.’ 

We alone set our priorities. We choose what we have time for. I have two ways of approaching this myself:

1) When I’m in scarcity mode and I’m thinking I have no time… Sometimes I trick myself. I force myself to stretch and move for 5 minutes right when I get out of bed. You know what happens? After 5 minutes, somehow I feel like I have time for 30 minutes, because all the endorphins have taken over, I feel great and I want to keep moving. 

2) When I feel like everything is getting to be routine and I’m a little bored and I want to just stop… I think about the alternative. Do I have time to spend in a hospital bed, sick and weak? That doesn’t sound like fun at all! 

And when all else fails, I think of my friend who has two kids 6 and 8, runs an international non-profit, puts 3 REAL meals on the table for her family and still manages to run at least 5 marathons each year. Which means she is running pretty much every day.

It’s all about designing your life so that your priorities come first.

I know you are so passionate about what you teach. Why do you care if people grow their own food?

I believe everyone deserves fresh, organic food and one of the best ways is to grow your own.

We have the power to nourish ourselves, to get healthy, to grow our own medicine and to live a wonderful life.

Growing food is a health plan that everyone can afford.

…And it’s up to us to show future generations how to carry on these traditions. 

When you grow food, you start to see the relationship between the biology in your garden and the physical health of your gut and you see why people say, “You are what you eat.”

It’s a cosmic moment that I see all my students experience, and their world is never the same. I feel so blessed to join them on that journey.

Anything else you’d like to say to people who are trying to eat better and move a bit more? 

You got this.

Have some fun. And if you’re not having fun, hang out with some people who are eating like you want to eat and moving (like Oonagh)… because this health stuff is contagious!

Note from Oonagh: I LOVE Stacey’s last note about having fun and surrounding yourself with people who have habits that you want to cultivate. I’m not going to lie – hanging out with Stacey makes me want to up my game a bit (just when you thought you were healthy…sheesh!).

If you have ever been curious about how Backyard Gardening could maybe cut your organic grocery bill, I highly recommend you check out Stacey’s awesome FREE Workshop:


Good Food For Good

Every now and then I meet someone who is so cool that I need everyone to know about them IMMEDIATELY.

Richa Gupta is one of those people.

One of my clients met Richa at a food fair and played matchmaker between us.  Her company, Good Food for Good, makes healthy sauces and when I learned that she does a Butter Chicken curry that is only 80 calories per serving (as opposed to 200 +) and includes hemp protein, I was about to storm her warehouse to get my hands on some.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to because Richa invited me to come and check it out. This is a quick video about the day we met and why I was so impressed with what she is doing to make the world healthier.


Wondering what to do with all that healthy delicious?  Here are some ideas from Richa’s site:

Massala Cauliflower Steak



  1. 1 head Cauliflower, sliced into two steaks
  2. 2 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/ 2 tsp sea salt
  4. 1 jar Good Food For Good Tikka Masala Sauce


Heat the oven to 400 degrees, on a sheet pan place the two steaks and rub them with oil and salt. Bake for about 20-30 minutes till fork tender and brown on edges

If cooking on stove top, take a heavy bottom skillet and pour 1tbsp of oil. Once pan is hot, add the steak and cook on each side till it turns brown about 5 minutes if the cauliflower is still not fork tender, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for another 10 minutes.

Once the steaks are done, plate them and drizzle with warm tikka masala sauce and garnish with pommegrante seeds and cashews.

Delicious! Serve with basmati rice and salad or a warm naan.

Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes


  • 4 Sweet Potatoes, washed and brushed
  • 1.5 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 jar Good Food For Good Ancho Chile Enchilada Sauce or if you like spicy try the Chile de Arbol Taco Sauce.
  • 2 ripe Avocados
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/8 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 cup diced deseeded tomato
  • Fresh lime juice


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Poke several holes into each sweet potato and place on the baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes.
  • Bake sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes till they are fork tender.After baking let the potatoes cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are roasting, prepare guacamole and black beans.
  • Black Bean Sauce: In a shallow pan pour all the Enchilada sauce and black beans with 1/4 cup of water and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Guacamole: Prepare guacamole by dicing the Avocado, add onions, tomato, salt to taste and lime juice.
  • Assemble sweet potato: Slice each potato in half lengthwise like a hot dog bun leaving the bottom intact. Pour the saucy black beans in the middle and top it with fresh guacamole.
  • Garnish with chopped pepper and cilantro.

Did you like this post? Want more healthy recipes and features on other people doing cool, healthy stuff? Leave a comment and let me know!

can you get fit in a way that is good, fast and cheap?

Most of you know my friend Joe from his incredible before and after pics and the story of his incredible 80lb weight loss.

What you don’t know is that Joe and I originally met as theatre artists about fifteen years ago.

I was producing my first show and described the set I wanted – a cross between Miss Saigon helicopters and Phantom of the Opera crashing chandeliers but I had no budget and needed it by the end of the week.

Joe sat me down and told me I could have a set that was good, fast or cheap – I could pick two of those but couldn’t have all three.

Since then, I’ve learned that this rule applies to pretty much everything. And in this video, I’m telling you which are the most important TWO things to pick when you are trying to get fit:

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

How to Stop Overeating

Have you ever seen those diet ads that say ‘get a flat belly with this one weird trick!’ ?

I’m going to give you a weird trick.  You can eat whatever you want as long you apply this one weird trick.

Don’t eat unless you are truly hungry.

Duh, right?

Except a lot of us really suck at that.

Some cultures have definitely figured it out:

In Okinawa, Japan they have a custom of saying Hara hachi bun me before every meal – which means ‘eat until the belly is 80% full’. (Their low BMI is thought to be one of the reasons why Okinawa is a pocket of exceptional longevity.)

The Ayervedic tradition recommends eating until 75% full.

And in France they don’t say “I’m full” after a meal. They say “I’m no longer hungry”

This is where we want to get: No longer hungry. Not riding the standard North American cycle of stuffed and starving.


Here’s how to do it:

1. Eat Real Food

When you eat processed food, it messes with your natural hunger and satiety cues.

Those foods are engineered to release feel good hormones and block your sense of being full. That’s what’s happening physically.

Now add all the mental noise you might experience around that food if you are trying to eat healthy and it’s a forbidden food.

Thoughts like:  ‘I screwed up. I suck.  I might as well finish the bag of chips. That way it won’t be here tomorrow and I can start fresh’.

This mental and physical shitstorm is almost always going to trigger overeating.

You can make it much easier on yourself by just eating real food. Food that wasn’t made in a factory. Food that your grandmother ate.

When you eat whole, unprocessed food, your body’s satiety cues will kick in because you are delivering the nutrients it needs.

It’s really pretty much impossible to binge on vegetables. You couldn’t if you TRIED.

And here’s the deal:

If you aren’t hungry enough for vegetables, you aren’t really hungry.

Which brings me to my next point:

3. Know the difference between hunger and a craving:

  •  Cravings will go away if you distract yourself or wait it out. Hunger will return no matter what.
  • Cravings will usually be for a specific kind of food. If you are hungry, broccoli looks good.
  • Cravings are usually emotionally or situationally driven. Hunger is physical. You feel it in your stomach or sometimes it feels like a headache or lightheadedness.

(For more on cravings, check out my video on Should You Listen To What Your Body is Craving?)

The thing is that most of us give into our cravings so much that we don’t even know what hunger feels like, so:

4. Experience hunger

There’s a good chance that you rarely experience hunger. Kids these days are basically on an IV drip of Goldfish crackers

and even health-minded adults will graze all day under the pretence of keeping their metabolisms revved.

Allow yourself to get hungry ….and then DON’T PANIC.

Hunger isn’t an emergency. Diarrhea is an emergency.

Tell yourself you can have food anytime you want, but you just want to experience being hungry for a few minutes.

Once you get to know real hunger, you will start to become better acquainted with how it feels in your body vs. a craving.

BONUS:  Allowing genuine hunger before your meals will also make your food taste crazy delicious.  Check out the euphoria people experience while doing my 28 Day Transformation Challenge)

5. Design your environment for success.

Here’s the plan:

1. Chuck the all the shit in your house that you would be likely to overeat.

Do a reverse Marie Kondo. Hold the ice cream in your arms and if it brings you joy, chuck it.


Just kidding but seriously – you know which foods are the highway to the Danger Zone.

2. Do food prep so you have healthy, real food on hand THAT YOU LIKE.

I’m not talking about punishment diet food.

I’m talking about something that makes you feel satisfied (not stuffed) when you eat it. So that when you are actually hungry, it’s there for you. No feelings of scarcity and deprivation.

(For prep and easy meal ideas check out the Meal Prep Power Hour and 5 min Healthy Meals)

3. Pre-portion your meals.

Fill half of every plate with veggies and then add a palm sized amount of protein and a fist sized amount of carbs and a thumb sized amount of fat.

You can even cheat by using pre-portioned containers like this:

4. Eat slowly and be mindful.

Try chewing. Pay attention. Enjoy.

A general meditation practice will help in all things weight loss (more about that here) but if you have trouble with being mindful with your food, try these apps.

Eat Slowly
Am I Hungry?
20 Min Eating

5.Stop before you are full.

If you followed my portion guidelines, there is a really good chance that you will still feel like eating after your portion is gone.

It’s ok. You won’t die and it will pass.

Drink some water, maybe brush your teeth and walk away.  Wait 1 hour.

If you are still genuinely hungry, have more! No big whoop. Eat it slowly, appreciate it and stop before you are stuffed.

And then dab your cute little face, re-apply your lipstick and get on with your life.

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