When Should You Choose Organic?

when to go organic

If You Choose Organic, Does That Mean It’s Healthy?

“Organic” always means “healthy,” right? Well, sometimes. Choose organic foods and you’ll avoid a lot of toxic chemicals, which is ideal… but think twice before you rely on the “organic” label just to justify that organic pastry or lollipop for your kids.when to go organic

What separates conventional farming from the organic way?

The National Organic Program, a regulatory program within the USDA has established national standards for organically grown foods. To earn the label of “organic” in the U.S., farmers must adhere to certain standards such as: submit to audits conducted by accredited certifying agents, give animals access to the outdoors, make use of crop rotation, mechanical tillage, hand-weeding and other management methods to control weed growth. They must NOT: treat animals with antibiotics, growth hormones, or feed made from animal byproducts, fertilize with sewage sludge, apply prohibited substances to their land for at least three years prior to harvest.

Simply stated, organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. “Organic” does not necessarily mean animals are humanely treated, free to roam pastures or grass-fed. And it is not synonymous with healthy, low-sugar or unprocessed food…but, that’s what marketers want you to believe. You know, so they can charge you more. Confused yet?

Be a smart consumer. Here is the organic label lingo to become aware of:

Organic Labels

Many people get caught up on trick labels like “healthy,” “fresh,” “natural.” It’s easy to get confused. Always check the ingredient list and the nutrition-facts panel to see what’s really in your product. If you can pronounce the ingredients, you won’t need a chemistry degree to decipher the label.

  • “100% organic”: This product must contain 100% organic ingredients.
  • “Organic”: This product must have at least 95% ingredients organically produced.
  • “Made with Organic ingredients”: This product must have at least 70% organic ingredients.


Choose Organic with the Dirty Dozen

Each year, the Environmental Working Group identifies the fruits and vegetables that contain the most—and least—chemical pesticides. They call them the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen.” The ”dirty dozen” list is a good place to start going organic.

  1. Strawberries (these are the worst offenders hording the most pesticide residues)
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes
  13. *Hot Peppers

NOTE: A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.

Even though it didn’t officially make the list (because it’s processed), the EWG also included a special report about raisins. EWG says that 99% of nearly 700 raisin samples tested positive for traces of at least two pesticides, and one sample had 26 different pesticides. “If we included raisins in our calculations, they would be number one on the Dirty Dozen,” said Thomas Galligan, Ph.D, a toxicologist for the EWG, in a press release. So, go organic with your raisins!

Clean 15

The Clean 15 list, on the other hand, includes produce that is least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Almost 70% of these food samples had no pesticide residues whatsoever. You can typically go conventional with these fruits and vegetables.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupe
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew
  15. Kiwi

Keep in mind, organic foods can cost up to 50% more than conventional products, so do your research first and choose wisely.

Do Your Research

Is there a trick label that often confuses you? Take a moment to look it up, define it and share it.

But, I know, Google can be equally confusing. Here are a couple more reputable sources to consider for your own research:


More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

Overhead Mobility Test with Coach Lisa DPT, PT

overhead mobility test

Overhead Mobility Test

Try this easy and important overhead mobility test to assess where you’re at right now and see what you need to fix. Overhead mobility is important to be able to safely support heavy weights extended overhead. Don’t settle for suboptimal shoulder mobility. Take the time to understand it, assess it, fix it, and then you can enjoy your training knowing you have the best foundation possible.

This drill will not only tell us a lot about our overhead mobility but it is one of the most effective ways to achieve a better position. Video yourself from the side like coach Lisa does while you do the test to watch your position and assess your mobility.

Take the Overhead Mobility Test

Here’s a quick overhead mobility test to see how consistently you move your arms into a fully extended position overhead.

  • Hinge at the hips
  • Put arms in a “Y” position
  • Attempt to lift overhead
  • Note how high your hands get
  • Then in standing, put your arms in a “Y” position
  • Hinge at the hips
  • Compare the height of your hands from the first time to the second time.

Typically, in the first test, you can’t get your hands as high. That’s because you’re not preparing your trunk to give your shoulder the ability to move through the full range of motion. It’s important to depress our shoulder blades and extend our upper back. You should be able to do that first (prepare your trunk), then hinge at the hips and get your hands just as high as when you start in standing.

Practice that so that every time, your trunk is in the same position.

Member Spotlight: Sensei Benny Shares Self Defense Tips

Sensei Benny shares self defense tips

In this Member Spotlight, we interview Sensei Benny Gonzalez and talk with her about her fitness journey. As a 4th degree black belt, Benny has a wealth of knowledge and shares some important self defense tips for men, women and children to keep in mind.

Meet Sensei Benny Gonzalez

Benny started karate 34 years ago after she was mugged in an elevator and felt helpless by the ordeal. She is currently a Sensei, which is 4th degree black belt, studying Josan Lu Karate under Shuseki Shihan Sana in Garwood, NJ.

In addition to teaching karate whenever possible, she also teaches self defense regularly.

I think it is important for everyone, especially women and children, to be more assertive in certain situations. My motto is “it is better to know it and not need it, then need it and not know it.”

Benny has been a member at Salus for a few years now and also attends with her husband and son as well. We think she’s pretty amazing!

I would love to add that Salus is the perfect complement to my karate. Since I started at Salus, my upper body and kicks are stronger. I also have more energy which is something I thought at my age would not happen. I am thankful for the opportunity to give something back to this wonderful community and would like to thank my inspirational teachers.

Self Defense Tips

  1. Be aware! Look over your surroundings.
  2. Keep distance between you and others.
  3. If in danger, BE LOUD! An assailant wants a quiet victim.
  4. Survey your surroundings and have an escape plan.
  5. Take a self-defense class more than once. Move the moves a habit.
  6. BONUS: Avoid distractions such as looking at your phone while walking or listening to music with headset on both ears.

Member Spotlight: Chelsea Talks Music and Athletics

member spotlight Chelsea

In this Salus member spotlight, we talk to Chelsea about what got her started at Salus, how her routine has changed while working out at home and how music and athletics go hand-in-hand.

Meet Chelsea

Time for a Change

In the past, Chelsea found herself feeling bored at different commercial gyms. She would go for a little bit, but  didn’t really know what to do, so it didn’t become a part of her routine. “The only thing I saw from the gym was just my payments every month.”

Earlier last September 2019, she decided to make a change for herself. “I felt like I was just I didn’t have a lot of energy to get through the day teaching and my after school obligations. I just felt lethargic.” So she decided to step outside of her comfort zone.

“I always thought [CrossFit] was a little bit intimidating but, I wanted to learn something new.”

When it comes to her lifestyle, Chelsea now makes working out more of a priority.  Weightlifting became a draw for her and she loved the feeling of learning something new every class.

She says that it’s the community that has allowed her to push herself to show up, even on days that are difficult. “My energy levels are definitely way more than they have been before. After a workout, I feel great!”

Music and Athletics

Chelsea has been playing the cello since she was nine years old and I find it interesting how she has made the connection between music and athletics. She shares that the discipline and consistency with just showing up to practice (even if it’s just a minimal skill), go hand-in-hand.

Her advice?

“It can be scary to start something new (at any age), but just have a positive mindset and take one day at a time.  Just as I tell my students:

Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent.

How Much Should I Eat? Portions Explained


How Much Should I Eat? Portions Explained

Not sure how much to eat? Portions can be tricky. The best place to start is by using your hand.

Fit in a good balance of protein, veggies, smart carbs, healthy fats by using your hand(s) as your guide to build your plate for each meal.

Use Your Hand As a Guide


Females: 1 palm (~ 20-30g of protein)
Males: 2 palms (~ 40-60g of protein)


Females: 1 cupped hand (~ 20-30g of carbs)
Males: 2 cupped hands (~ 40-60g of carbs)


Females: 1 thumb (~ 7-12g of fats)
Males: 2 thumbs ( ~ 15-25g of fat)


Females: 1 fist
Males: 2 fists


Eating like this for 3-4 meals a day put you around 1,200-1,500 calories each day.
Active women do best with 4-6 servings of each food group per day (~1,500-2,100 kcal).


Eating like this for 3-4 meals a day would get you around 2,300-3,000 calories every day.
Active men respond best with 6-8 servings of each food group per day (~2,300-3,000 kcal).

⚙️ From there, customize by adjusting the number of portions to meet your unique needs and goals.

For example, you may need MORE food because you…

• Are larger in stature
• Are feeling light headed during your workouts
• Eat less frequently throughout the day
• Are very active
• Are trying to gain muscle
• Aren’t getting muscle-gain results

If that’s the case, add the following:
Men: 1 cupped handful of carbs and/or 1 thumb of fat to a few meals every day.
Women: 1/2 cupped handful of carbs and/or 1/2 thumb of fat to a few meals each day.

You may need need LESS food because you…

• Are smaller in stature
• Feel full after meals
• Eat more frequently throughout the day
• Are not very active
• Are trying to lose weight
• Aren’t getting weight-loss results

If that’s the case, remove the following:
Men: 1 cupped handful of carbs and/or 1 thumb of fat from a few meals each day.
Women: 1/2 cupped handful of carbs and/or 1/2 thumb of fat from a few meals each day.

As always, pay attention to hunger cues, emotions that drive decisions, hormones and stress. Then adjust as needed.

For Kids/Teens

One easy way to size up portions is to use your hand as a guide. Kids have smaller hands than adults, so it serves as a reminder that kids should eat smaller portions, but note: athletes may need more than the average child. The purpose is to teach a point of reference for kids. Think of it as a visual learning tool. Without it, they may not have an understanding of portion sizes and end up under or over eating.

As always, pay attention to hunger cues, energy, activity levels and stress. It’s normal for children to have appetites that vary when they’re growing. Adjust as needed. The point of this challenge it to help kids find a good balance of protein, veggies, smart carbs and healthy fats for optimal energy and to prevent deficiencies.

5-Minute Meditation with Gina

guided meditation gina

Starting a New Fitness Journey

As a Yogi, Gina was already active, but she craved more. She actually started CrossFit as a way to connect with her family’s conversation at the dinner table. But, soon found she discovered she was competitive and even loved lifting weights, too!

Her progress was motivating. New deadlift PRs, first-time handstand push-ups…the list goes on!

Shifting Her Mindset with Nutrition Coaching

Soon after joining Salus, Gina began working with Coach Angela on her nutrition and continued to make an amazing transformation. Coming from WW, which uses a point-based system for weight loss, she shifted her mindset to a behavior-change approach for healthy living.

Her view on what and how she was eating changed and that gave her a new-found freedom over food. Her mind and body both responded positively.

Meet Gina:

Gina brings an amazing energy everywhere she goes, especially as a Reiki Master. Find out what Reiki is all about and how Gina uses this mindset in her everyday life.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. According to Mindful.org, “While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques, particularly seated, walking, standing, and moving meditation (it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep); short pauses we insert into everyday life; and merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports.”

Try This Guided Meditation with Gina, Reiki Master

In this guided meditation, Gina offers an opportunity to bring awareness to our breath, settle the mind, and dedicate a few minutes to self-care.

We are honored to have her lead us through a 5-minute guided meditation. Please join us:

Mobility: Why You Need to Do It

When you put effort into mobility for CrossFit, Olympic lifting, etc., you’ll start to notice serious improvements (ie: gains) in your training, more frequent PRs, smoother reps, and a faster recovery (preventing that dreaded DOMS).


Athletes who exercise regularly might find they feel held back in certain exercises because of limited range of motion (ROM). In fact, a limited mobility (and stability) will even hinder performance. If you want to boost performance in CrossFit, Olympic Lifting or other workouts, you have to fix any mobility restrictions.

Whether it’s tight hips holding you back in your squat, a tight upper back hindering your front squat, or the commonly tight shoulders limiting your overhead movements, by addressing mobility, you’ll not only be safer during exercise, but you’ll also be able to do each repetition faster, smoother and much more comfortably.

Mobility for CrossFit: Some Options to Start With

Soft Tissue Work

Self-myofascial release (SMFR) is one of the most common forms of soft tissue work.

You’ll recognize this by using tools such as:

  • foam rollers,
  • lacrosse balls,
  • massage sticks and
  • softballs.

This is can be performed before or after your training sessions.

Static Stretching

Static stretches are typically held for at least 30 seconds.


  • hamstring stretch,
  • couch stretch,
  • calf stretch
  • t-spine stretch over the foam roller.

While these are good to do briefly before your workout, post-workout is where you’ll see more of the benefits from static stretching.

Joint Mobilization

Joint mobilization typically involves bands to help provide distraction at a specific joint. The goal of joint mobilization is to help increase ROM of a joint capsule by breaking up adhesion and stretching space around the capsule itself.

What About R.I.C.E.?

Most of us are familiar with the protocol for treating sports injuries called R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). In fact, many of us have probably been told to “put some ice on it” at one time or another for as long as we can remember. And yet, close to forty years after its original publication, the doctor behind the R.I.C.E. recommendation retracted his advice:

“Almost forty years ago, I coined the term RICE as the treatment for acute sports injuries. Subsequent research shows that rest and ice can actually delay recovery. Mild movements help tissue to heal and the application of cold suppresses the immune responses that start and hasten recovery.” – Dr. Gabe Mirkin

Wait, what? Hold on…how can something so universally accepted and practiced be wrong? As health detective Chris Kresser points out, the history of science is a history of most people being wrong about most things most of the time.

Now we know much more about the role of inflammatory cells in healing than we did back in 1978. While still useful as a short-term treatment to decrease pain, it has been shown that ice does nothing to improve recovery and likely slows and actually delays the healing process.

So, now what? Where do we go from here?

Studies show that the best thing you can do to optimize recovery is to MOVE your body.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the goal is to find practical active recovery and loading methods that will not aggravate the tissue or cause any additional damage.

Ideally, activate the muscles surrounding the damaged tissue in order to achieve the largest amount of pain-free, low-stress, and non-fatiguing muscle activation. Mild, controlled movement in the affected area will generate a lymphatic flush and increase circulation, bringing nourishment in and waste out of the area.

Bottom line: If you want to speed up recovery, skip the ice and focus on controlled, low-stress, non-fatiguing muscle activation along with mobility as listed above.

Mobility – What’s Right for Your?

Not sure what to do, or when? Chat with one of our knowledgeable coaches for more information on how to supplement mobility for CrossFit or Olympic Lifting with your training; we’ll help you fix any position-problems that might be holding you back.

Staying Hydrated

Staying Hydrated

It’s not unusual for people to start their day drinking coffee (which only further dehydrates our bodies). Next think you know it, they’re busy working, homeschooling and doing a lot of other stuff (besides drinking water). Staying hydrated is a thought in the distance.

Distracted Dehydration

We’re all distracted.

That’s why it’s important to pair the habit of drinking one or two cups of water as soon as you wake up (before your first cup of coffee) and continue drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids regularly throughout the day. If you keep a full cup of water right by your bed or in the bathroom, it will be easier to get into the habit of drinking it upon waking.

Staying Hydrated to Help Prevent Dehydration

Dehydration can lead to feeling fatigued, which could explain why you might still feel tired when you wake up! It can directly affect  memory, stress levels, attention to detail, performance, and mood. A medical article published by the Journal Sleep Medicine suggested that being dehydrated while you sleep could decrease cognitive performance.

As you can see, if you don’t hydrate after waking up, it could impact your day.

But, there’s more.

If that distracted dehydration cycle continues, it could cause other medical issues such as:

  • Unclear thinking
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation
  • Bad breath
  • Food Cravings
  • Dry Skin
  • Kidney stones

And some studies show that loss of fluid equivalent to 2% of body mass is sufficient enough to cause a detectable decrease in performance.

How Much Water Do We Need?

The Institute of Medicine recommends we drink 13 cups (3 liters) of water daily (men); women women should aim for nine cups (a little more 2 liters).

You can also add electrolytes to your water (ex: pink Himalayan salt or electrolyte mixes like the Salt Stick). Coconut water can also be a healthy way to add hydration and electrolytes into your day.

How Do You Know if You’re Dehydrated?

Check the color of your urine.

If you’re staying hydrated, our urine will be mostly clear  maybe slightly yellow.

If you’re dehydrated, you’ll notice darker yellow or even orange urine. This is a “warning” colors to watch for. If you notice those colors, start drinking fluids STAT.

As you may have heard before: “If you feel thirsty, you’re already beyond dehydrated.”


Healthy bodies are made up of about 60 percent water. Let’s keep that healthy body balance.

Cheers to H2O!

June Athletes of the Month: Jess & Stephen on Staying Motivated Home During COVID

In this interview, Jess & Stephen share how they have been staying motivated at home by dialing in their nutrition and at-home workouts with Salus Nutrition Coach Angela over the past three months.

They felt “stuck in a rut” and not getting the results they wanted. Their goal was to push out of that plateau and shred for an upcoming vacation…but then it became so much more than that.

It became “Life Changing!”

Mind and Body Transformation

Even though they were already a fit couple to begin with, they have still experienced a transformation in body composition, gained strength, and reduced pain levels…all while at home.

Switching up the exercise routines dialing in their nutrition at home resulted in tremendous results. Seeing those results is keeping them motivated for more!

Ready for the Smart Cut?

If you’re finally done looking for the “short cut” and ready for the “smart cut,” these two will definitely inspire you to get started on your journey.

Meet Jess and Stephen, our June athletes of the month:

Toes to Bar Tips with Coach Gino

toes to bar tips

Toes to bar is a movement that can stop up a lot of athletes. It seems like a straightforward movement, but it can the the cause of a lot of frustration. The main faults we see is due to a lack of tension in the hang and engagement in the midline. Let’s take a look at a few toes to bar tips with Coach Gino to help improve your form for long term performance.

Consider the Shoulders and Midline 

First things first, it’s crucial to have an active hang. No zombie arms, please. How does this happen? Activate the lats and pull down on the bar to create space between the shoulders and the ears. This allows you to create tension throughout the entire body and prevent that uncontrollable swing (not to be confused with a strategic kip).

Secondly, draw in and engage your midline. Do this by pulling your ribs down toward the belly button, squeeze the legs together and point the toes. This, in addition to keeping your shoulders down, will minimize that notorious swing.

Quick Toes to Bar Tips

✔Always keep an active hang (avoid excessive extension)
✔Shoulders down & tight (avoid relaxed shoulders)
✔Keep space between ears & shoulders
✔Midline drawn in and engaged
✔Full grip on bar
✔Work in small sets at first

As always, prioritize quality vs quantity – if you need to do singles or smaller sets until you get your form down, that is better than holding on to the bar for large, sloppy sets.

Remember to be patient in the process and “keep it tight!”