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Acknowledgments 9 Foreword 11 Introduction 13

Part 1: Holistically Hot Ideology 25 Chapter 1: What Is Holistically Hot? 27

Chapter 2: Why Diets Don’t Work 31

Part 2: How Your Bod Works 55 Chapter 3: Food is Fuel 57

Chapter 4: Digestion: You Are What You Absorb 69 Chapter 5: Immunity: Acid, Alkaline & Inflammation 75

Part 3: Small Changes, Big Shifts 81 Chapter 6: Finding Your Fuel 83

Chapter 7: Carbs that Count 105 Chapter 8: Drink Up 111 Chapter 9: Superfoods 115

Part 4: Cooking at Home 121 Chapter 10: Simple Techniques for Simple Food 123

Chapter 11: Stocking a Healthy Kitchen 131 Chapter 12: Cook More with Less Stress 147 Chapter 13: Meal Planning in Minutes 155 Chapter 14: The Daily Detox 159

Part 5: The Food-Mood Connection 163 Chapter 13: Listening to Your Body 165

Chapter 14: Understanding the Crave Wave 171 Chapter 15: Reversing the ‘Sugar Shock’ 177 Chapter 16: Conscious Eating: Fullness and Hunger 181

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Part 6: Beyond Food 189 Chapter 17: Changing Your Relationship with Food 191

Chapter 18: Upgrade Your Day 201 Chapter 19: Sustainable Self-Care 211 Chapter 20: Exercise & Movement 219 Chapter 21: Conscious Living 225

Part 7: Real Life Application 229 Chapter 22: Dining Out 231

Not the End, the Beginning 239 About the Author 245

Work with Marissa 247

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For my health coaching clients past and present who teach and inspire me every day, especially for Jennifer Sedney (1986-2013)

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Heartfelt thanks and endless gratitude to all my clients past and present who inspire and challenge me to do meaningful work every day.

Also, to the following Holistically Hot Women who without their contri- butions, support and input this book would not have been written:

Jennifer Barnes Kara Beussink Adriana Carillo Kristina Buller Kathryn Foreman April Pastina Alisa Whitley

Thank you to my editor Douglas Williams and my extended book team, who held my vision for this book, dedicated countless hours and endured many rounds of revisions to make it just right.

A special thank you to Joshua Rosenthal and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition for the movement that changed my life.

To Liz Stein whose guidance and mentorship propelled me forward in my career as a Health Coach and who continues to be an inspi- ration as an entrepreneur.

Finally, to my loving and supportive husband, David, whose patience, advice and steadfast belief in me keep me moving in the direction of my dreams. Words aren’t enough to express my love and appreciation for you.

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I first met Marissa while I was mentoring incoming students at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. As a recent graduate of the life-changing program myself, I was eager to give back and help other students on their journey. I instantly felt connected to Marissa’s story and her eagerness to trade in her frenzied New York City corporate lifestyle for one that was more balanced, happy and healthy. It was truly amazing to see that Marissa was on a trajectory to change her own life and inspire others to do the same. It’s such a pleasure today to see Marissa’s dreams and hard work come to fruition with her first book Your Holistically Hot Transformation.

You are what you eat. This has become the backbone of the natu- ral foods company, Purely Elizabeth, which I launched in 2010. As you will see with Marissa’s story, food changes everything and that’s precisely what we believe at Purely Elizabeth. Marissa encourages starting with what you put in your body, how you take care of yourself and what you believe about yourself. What a perfect summary of how we can all live more inspired and connected lives.

I love Marissa’s approach to embracing a healthy lifestyle free of dieting, confusion and self-judgment and I’m certain it will be valuable to so many other women who relate to Marissa’s jour- ney and grow from reading this book. With this book, Marissa helps clear the confusion on what it means to live a healthy lifestyle and offers guidance in a fun, relatable way.

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I am so proud to see Marissa sharing her message through writ- ing, coaching and speaking. She is sharing invaluable tools for helping every woman find their own version of Holistically Hot.

Elizabeth Stein Founder & CEO purely elizabeth.

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If you’re anything like me, you’re obsessed with glossy maga- zines. You know, the ones that come with the promise of sexy flat abs, out-of-this-world orgasms and the secret to knowing

how to never eat a French fry or ounce of sugar again?

I used to scour these magazines searching for the secret formula that would turn me into the gorgeous model on the cover. In my mind, her thin thighs meant that
surely she had a perfect life


complete with a man who adored her, a job she loved and an envi- ably clean diet.

Was I wrong to want these things?

Not at all.

Everything you need to look and feel your best is within you.


The life you’ve always craved is within reach.


But was I searching for them in
the wrong place – between the pages of a magazine?


If my years as an Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach have taught me anything, it’s that everything I need to look and feel my best is within me, and the life I’ve always craved is within reach.

I’ve always felt a strong pull to inspire others to live a healthy life. It’s what led me down this career path. Now it’s time to

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share with you my personal secrets for your own Holistically Hot transformation.

Learning how to focus on my own health and well-being changed my life in ways I never dreamed possible:

  • I broke out of my dating rut and met my husband.

  • I escaped a corporate job that was weighing me down mentally and physically.

  • ThroughmypersonalandspiritualgrowthIfoundthe confidence to pursue my dream job as a Health Coach.

  • I’ve cleared my life of negative friendships to surround myself with positive, supportive people.

  • I’ve learned to feel at peace with food and my body in ways I never knew before.

    If that’s not proof that this stuff works, then I don’t know what is!

    Here’s a little taste of what you’ll find inside:

  • Tipsforstockingahealthykitchenandmyownpersonal grocery list.

  • Simple steps for understanding and reigning in your crav- ings and tried-and-tested ways to manage sugar addiction.

  • Two-minute,feel-goodself-caretechniquesyou’reprobably not using and how to make them a regular part of your day.

  • How to make living a healthy lifestyle a habit.

  • Thesecretstoenjoyingtravel,diningoutandspending time with friends who don’t share your interests without ruining your waistline or your relationships.

  • Ahandfuloffastandfoolproofrecipestohelpyouput everything into action.

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From Hot Mess to Holistically Hot

In high school, I was a baggy jean-wearing, indie rock-listening vegetarian. While most of the teenagers I knew were exper- imenting with sex, drugs and alcohol, I locked myself in my bedroom to pull all-nighters. I had my sights set on graduating near the top of my high school class and getting into my first- choice college, Northwestern University, where I would study journalism.

The oldest of three girls, I was born and raised in a secluded suburb of conservative Louisville, Ky. My mom stayed home to try to keep some semblance of normal in our household while my dad, an Emergency Medical Physician, had a schedule that required long night, weekend or holiday shifts.

I didn’t learn the phrase “fit out” until I went to Nutrition School, but that’s exactly how I felt most of my life because I never quite fit in. I wasn’t interested in socializing at high school football games or going to college in-state like many of my classmates. I couldn’t wait to leave Kentucky and live in a big city, and that’s exactly what I did.

I did get in to my first-choice school, Northwestern University, situated just outside of Chicago, joined a sorority even though I swore I never would, studied hard, and developed a social life. After graduation, I secured an entry-level job as an account executive at a public relations agency in downtown Chicago. For the next three years, I lived in a tiny, yet way-too-expensive studio apartment in the Windy City’s Gold Coast neighborhood until New York City and a long-distance relationship summoned me.


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I still remember the day I moved to New York City. It was a sticky summer Sunday in 2004. I crammed every single one of my belongings – the entire contents of my 700-square-foot studio apartment – into a U-Haul and prepared for a two-day drive with my then-boyfriend. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to set out on a trip that would change my life.

We drove 800 miles from everything I had known in Chicago to no idea what I was in for in New York City. Just shy of 25, I was one part lost and another part naïve. What would have been a scary move felt more comfortable because my best friend since elementary school was living two blocks north of me and my then-boyfriend two blocks to the south of what would become my new home, a studio apartment in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood, known for its authentic Indian food and notori- ous for the influx of post-collegiate frat boys.

This one move would shape my life in ways far beyond my comprehension. My journey to health, happiness and a dream career didn’t happen overnight. It has been in the making since that day.

Adjusting to life in a new city was challenging and exciting at the same time. I was working full-time, going to graduate school at New York University part-time in the evenings, trying to estab- lish a new circle of friends and experiencing all the nightlife the city had to offer. About a year in, my best friend moved away for her relationship, and I could feel my own deteriorating with every senseless argument.

Around this time I started feeling lonelier than ever and also unfulfilled by my PR agency job. But I pushed on. I was on a mission and my goals were clear 1) climb the corporate ladder; 2)

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find a husband. In pursuit of it all, I dated, partied, and worked – a lot. On the outside, my life looked typical of an urban 20-some- thing. On the inside, I was empty.

I went on that way for many years. I completed and defended my Master’s thesis on consumer purchase behavior, earned my graduate degree and started a new PR job at a technology start-up. I continued dating and going through the motions both professionally and socially, accepting that this was the way my life would be, yet longing for something else.

I had discovered the sport of triathlon which challenged me in ways I had never known. Running, cycling, and swimming became escapes for me and the gym was like my second home.


The summer before my 30th birthday was unforgettable. I achieved two major bucket-list fitness goals that, in my world, put me on the map as a “real” New Yorker: completing the New

York City Triathlon and running my first marathon, the New York City Marathon. I was at my peak fitness-wise and after years dating the wrong men, out of nowhere I found myself in an exciting and flourishing relationship, while my new corporate communications job at the tech start-up was taking off. It had taken five years since relocating from Chicago to New York City, but I finally felt like everything was falling into place. My world

felt full again.

But seasons changed and so did my circumstances. That fall, things unexpectedly fell apart for me. My job became unstable when the start-up was sold to a Fortune 500 company. Soon after, I went through a heart-wrenching and unexpected breakup

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initiated by the guy with whom only months earlier I could see a future.

With my family and most friends hundreds of miles away and a dwindling support system of friends who fled to the suburbs or back to hometowns post-marriage or baby, I found solace in food and alcohol.

After-work happy hours turned into hangovers, and my eating habits went from bad to worse when sugar became a stand-in for actual food (cupcakes for dinner, anyone?). Now in surviv- al mode, I was going through the motions by day. Nights and weekends were relegated to sitting motionless and staring at the stark white wall in my studio apartment, sometimes for hours at a time.

One gloomy winter afternoon, as I sat perched on my sofa for hours on end staring at a television that wasn’t even on, tears of hopelessness and overwhelm streaming down my face – a scenario that had become painstakingly familiar – I heard a voice loud and clear:

“You can’t go on like this.”

In that moment, I realized one thing: the messy life I had been living was not the life I came to New York City to live. My life had become a series of recurring patterns and destructive behaviors that I was creating. It was the wake-up call that jolted me into self-help mode – I was ready to take control of my life and put it on a new trajectory.

In that moment, I decided I would place a much higher priority on my physical, emotional and mental well-being. When I let

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everything from there on out be guided by that intention, my entire life changed.

I started by simply cleaning up what I ate.

Until then, my life as a single, professional woman in New York City consisted of after-work Happy Hours, disappointing dates and Girl’s Night-Out benders. Dinners ranged from nothing at all or bar food, to mac-n-cheese out of the pan post spin class, to greasy Pad Thai takeout while watching TV late into the night. With a mindset that life was what happened to me, my external circumstances controlled my mood and emotional state, which in turn controlled how I behaved and what I ate.

As a fitness fanatic and junk food vegetarian, I knew it was time to eat better food, so I learned all I could about it and got acquainted with my kitchen in a new way. With cleaner food choices came cleaner and more positive thoughts about who I was meant to be in this world and what I deserved in this lifetime.

I joined a life-coaching group to learn how to change my thoughts and outlook to align with a more spiritual perspective. For the first time in my life, I saw that my inside world creates my outside experience. Last but not least, I finally paid attention to that feeling of nonfulfillment in my career. After five years of living in fear about making a career change, I took a leap of faith, ignoring my family’s skepticism, and enrolled in school to become a Health Coach. It was a first step in a new, healthier direction.

Becoming a Health Coach has been the single-biggest decision that catalyzed all the positive changes in my life. It gave my life

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new meaning and offered me a career where I can truly make a difference. The first time I told this story at a workshop in New York City, I choked up. As I write this now, I still get tears in my eyes. I barely recognize the woman I’ve described in these pages

so far.

While disguised as fun, my destructive party-girl behavior stemmed from the long-held and deep-seeded belief that I wasn’t good enough. My self-worth was at an all-time low and even when things were going well, the energy I carried with me didn’t support what I was capable of achieving. Looking back, it’s not surprising my relationships never worked out, my career became stagnant, and I was too afraid to pursue my heart-centered dream of health coaching. The marathons and triathlons offered a way to hide behind physical achievements, which seemed more attainable than believing I was deserving of a rewarding career or capable of lasting love.

This book is for all the other women like me, to testify that there is a way out. Start with what you put in your body, how you take care of yourself, and what you believe about yourself. That’s the Holistically Hot way. Everything you need is within you and the life you crave and deserve is available to you. When you accept that, you can make lasting lifestyle shifts and have anything you desire – a strong, fit and healthy body, lasting weight loss, a career you love, and a loving relationship.

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Why I Wrote This Book

The health and wellness industry is at a crossroads. Evidenced by the growing rates of both obesity and eating disorders, women are simultaneously starving and overfeeding themselves, and it goes beyond food.

They’re starved for a more meaningful, purpose-driven life and overfed by media messages telling them who and how they should look and be. As a result, they’re using food to punish or self-medicate. It’s no surprise that, as a gender, our relationship with food has become severely damaged by the habit of facing our fridge or our scale instead of ourselves.

Something needs to change, but the question many women have is where to start and how to do it on a budget of time and/or money.

Every day I turn on the television, open a magazine or read an article on a popular wellness web site touting a new workout, promoting a trendy diet or spouting misinformed advice.

I’m not surprised that I repeatedly hear from women that there’s too much information and contradictory health and wellness advice to sift through – it’s the #1 complaint I hear. They’re confused, misinformed, and pressed for time. I totally get it and that’s exactly why I do what I do, so I can help people make sense of it all.

I whole-heartedly believe it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it. This book is my way of making it clear and simple for those who feel lost, overwhelmed, stuck and confused.

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Think of this book as a compilation of the tips, tricks, and truths I’ve learned in my years of health coaching and studying nutri- tion. If this book can empower just one woman to feel that she has the knowledge, tools, and motivation to make nutritious choices and take care of herself the best way she knows how, then it has done its job.

How to Use This Book

If there’s one thing I want everyone to know, it’s that health and wellness doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Everything I’m sharing with you in this book has my own health-stamp of approval. I’m busy, I’ve been on a budget, and I’ve been clueless about cooking and confused about how to fuel my body.

So before you go out and spend more money on the latest, trend- iest, all-juice cleanse, or launch into another fad diet hoping for a quick fix, make a date with yourself, soak in the knowledge I’m sharing, and then put it into action in a way that works for you.

The book is designed to deliver healthy habits in a drip-by-drip approach. I recommend you read each chapter and start to imple- ment the tips immediately. Focus on incorporating them into your life for a week or two, then move on to the next chapter and do the same.

Each chapter is meant to build on the previous chapter. I’ve

always believed it’s important to understand the “why” behind “what” and “how” so you know the impact these recommendations

can have on your health.

You’ll notice I touch on high-level science and reference a few studies throughout to explain how things work. I explore how

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many people unknowingly destroy their health and suggest solutions to some of the most common challenges women face.

Essentially, the book is ordered like this:

  • My Holistically Hot ideology.

  • How your body works and what keeps it ticking.

  • How to fuel your body and what depletes it of energy.

  • How to eat mindfully and with intention.

  • How to take care of yourself beyond food.

  • How healthy living fits into a busy lifestyle.

    If you start implementing the recommendations in each chap- ter, by the end of the book you’ll have a life full of new, healthier habits and you’ll understand what it takes to effortlessly main- tain them.

    You can use the calendar at the end of the book to set your own daily goals, but I’ve filled it in with some ideas to help you get started.

    Remember, without action, there can be no change, but don’t expect results overnight. There’s a method to this, but it’s not a rigid diet, so be persistent, consistent and gentle with yourself.

    Now let’s get busy being Holistically Hot!

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Part 1

Holistically Hot Ideology


Angelica Glass Photography

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Chapter 1

What Is Holistically Hot?

Since I started my Health Coaching business, Marissa’s Well- being and Health, it has been my personal mission to phase the word “skinny” out of health and wellness conversations.

I made a promise to myself, my clients, and my social media following long ago that I will never create, promote, or sell anything “skinny,” and that’s how Holistically Hot was born.

Holistically Hot is a phrase I came up with one day in the throes of inspiration. I wanted to write an eBook that I could offer on my web site that would be equally intriguing and useful. I was tired of all the eat this not that, impossibly intense workouts, diets that eliminated whole food groups, and shakes with arti- ficial ingredients that many health professionals promote for achieving impossible standards of beauty. I wanted to make being healthy, fit and balanced (aka “Hot”), seem less intimidat- ing and more approachable and attainable. After all, I believe anyone can achieve anything they desire.

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My approach to wellness is holistic, meaning I look at how every area of your life fits together to make the whole. Sure, that includes food, but it goes well beyond it too. What if, for a moment, we took the focus off food to explore how fulfilled you feel in other areas of your life: How happy you are in your life and in your skin? What hobbies do you have that light you up? Are your finances in order? Is your spiritual life in check? Do your relationships lift you up or drag you down? How is your living situation working for you?

Food + Lifestyle. That’s my approach.

When I studied nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I learned there are many aspects of our lives that feed us beyond food. I’ll go into more detail about many of them later in the book, but for now, know that Holistically Hot is whatever you want it to mean for you, and it isn’t only about food or your external appearance.

Here’s what it means to me: taking care of myself and feeling fantastic about how I look and live my life without starvation, juice cleanses, plastic surgery and all that other non-sense.

My Holistically Hot Manifesto, which you can find on the follow- ing page, sums it up.

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WHAT IS HOLISTICALLY HOT? The Holistically Hot Manifesto

page31image1224 page31image1384

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Spend some time thinking about your reasons for reading this book and set an intention or write a manifesto for your own definition of wellness and what you’d like to accomplish for your health and well-being.

To purchase Your Holistically Hot Transformation in full, visit

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Copyright: Marissa Vicario

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