Three Things to Change About Your Diet
Coach Aimée Ricca
Morris County, NJ
- ISSA Certified Elite Personal Trainer (E-CPT
- ISSA Certified Nutritionist (CN)
- ISSA Certified Youth Fitness Coach (CYF)
- Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach (Pn1)
- IYCA Youth Fitness and Nutrition Specialist (YFS-1, YNS)
- PSA Ranked and Rated Figure Skating Coach/Choreographer
Brief Introduction/Tell Us About yourself (where you are from, etc)
I was born and raised in Morris County, New Jersey. After graduating from William Paterson University and taking courses at the Culinary Institute of America, I moved to Maine, where I co-owned a Wine Spectator Award-winning restaurant with my family. At the restaurant, I was the Executive Chef, and I won the award for the best New England recipe from Jekel Vineyards and Food Arts magazine. I moved back to NJ about 15 years ago and began working as a marketing director. As a way to release my work stress, I took up figure skating, which I had done as a child, and began coaching young skaters and working with their families. In April of 2019, I decided to leave my marketing director position to be able to dedicate more time to my skaters.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in nutrition?
The more I worked with young skaters and their families, the more I noticed there was a need for off-ice coaching. Nutrition is a critical component that contributes to the success of every athlete – as well as every single person’s health. I’ve learned a lot about fitness and nutrition through health problems and injuries that could have been prevented with better fitness and nutrition. I wanted to be able to serve my skaters and their families better, and in a way that that would take them beyond the ice and provide them with critical skills that could benefit them throughout their lives. It’s become a passion for me to help others so they can avoid making the same mistake that I did.
What kind of training did you undergo/certification you received?
I began with the courses that are offered by the Professional Skaters Association (PSA). I studied the Coaches Manual and passed the PSA Basic Accreditation Exam, which is the first step in the process. Next, I submitted my paperwork to be Ranked by the PSA. PSA Rankings are a distinguished induction based on lifetime achievement. Rankings acknowledge the career coaching record of a professional established only through the performance of the skaters under their direction. So, I had to submit proof of my skaters’ competitive accomplishments, which were then verified with US Figure Skating.
The PSA Rating is separate from the Ranking. To receive a PSA Rating, you first have to pass the Sports Science & Medicine (SSM) Exam, in addition to the Basic Accreditation. At the advice of one of my colleagues, I took and passed all the levels of the SSM and received my certificate for passing the Sports Science & Medicine Master Exam. I also had to obtain my First Aid and Concussion certifications. Only then was I able to apply for my Rating exam. The Rating exam is in person, and I had to travel to Philadelphia, complete and pass a written exam, and then sit for an oral exam with three Master Rated coaches.
For the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) Youth Fitness (YFS-1) and Nutrition (YNS) certifications, the process was entirely online. I registered and received the study material, which includes textbooks and videos, and then was able to take the exam online.
The Precision Nutrition Level 1, Certificate in Fitness Nutrition study materials include three textbooks and a study guide, as well as online videos and case studies. At the end of each chapter, you are required to take an exam, which are all cumulative and contribute to your final grade.
My International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) certifications were the most difficult. Each certification course has an intensive textbook, study guide, and an online guided study plan with videos and lectures. The exams consist of multiple-choice, matching, short and long essays, as well as case studies. After I passed the exams for Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Nutritionist (CN), and my specialization – Youth Fitness Coach (CYF), I earned the designation of Elite Certified Personal Trainer (E-CPT).
What do people look for in a health coach, nutritionist, or dietician?
I always believe that people work with other people that like and trust. The trust part is all about a professional’s credentials and expertise. Beyond the credentials, it’s vital that you like the professional with whom you are working. In other words, people seek out professionals whose style best fits them.
If you could persuade people to change three things about their diet, what would they be?
The biggest challenge I come up against is convincing people to center their diet around minimally processed foods. There are so many foods that are packaged and marketed to appear healthy, yet these foods are often engineered to be tasty and craveable with unhealthy combinations of salt, sugar, and fat. So, if I could only persuade someone to change one thing, it would be to focus on minimally processed foods because this one simple change can make a substantial positive impact on overall health as well as weight management. The easiest way to make this change is to try to avoid foods that come out of a bag or a box.
Another impactful but straightforward change anyone can make is to add more vegetables and fruits to their diet. There are many benefits to adding vegetables and fruits, including positively affecting blood sugar, weight management, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease, cancer prevention, decreasing digestive issues, and lessening the risk of eye problems.
Finally, if I could persuade everyone to go organic whenever possible, I would! How the food you eat was farmed is more critical than most people realize. Organic foods contain few chemicals such as pesticides, which are used widely in conventional farming. Often organic food is fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives and is frequently sold locally to where it was farmed. Organic food is free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Organic livestock are not fed antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal byproducts. Studies also show that levels of nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are up to 50 percent higher in organic meats and milk as compared to conventional varieties. Organic farming practices are better for the planet because they are energy-efficient and improve soil fertility, while contributing to reducing air and water pollution, water conservation, and soil erosion.
How important is properly hydrating to a proper diet?
Hydrating is super important! It’s common to mistake hunger for thirst. So, if you are adequately hydrating, you are better equipped to manage your weight.
How much water should someone drink in a day?
This depends on the person, so there is, unfortunately, not a simple answer. We are all unique have individualized needs based on considerations that include factors such as age, gender, climate, elevation, and activity level. For example, women require generally require more water than men do. A good rule of thumb is to start with eight 8-ounces glasses a day and adjust from there based on the color of your urine. The darker your urine color, the less hydrated you may be.
What are the benefits of purified water?
Tap water is often treated with chlorine, which can have adverse health effects. Then, the water travels to your faucet through pipes. Along the journey, tap water can pick up dirt and other contaminants such as metals and even bacteria. When water is purified, the chemicals and contaminants are removed while retaining the minerals – it’s better for you and tastes and smells better too!
Plant-based living is becoming more and more popular. When eating a mostly plant-based / vegetarian diet, are there certain foods to focus on to make sure we’re getting enough nutrients and protein?
Plant-based diets are usually lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, and include higher levels of fibre as well as micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, folate, and vitamins C and E. But frequently, when someone transitions to a plant-based diet they focus on what they are avoiding – animal products, rather than what they need to add. So, it can become challenging for them to get adequate amounts of protein and micronutrients. Fortunately, careful planning can help. Here are a few suggestions:
- The best plant-based sources of protein include beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, organic tofu, as well as high-protein whole grains such as quinoa. There are also minimally processed plant-based protein powders available.
- Supplement B-12 because it is only found in fortified animal products and nutritional yeast.
- Vitamin D3 is derived from animals. The best source of vitamin D is from the sun, but those with a plant-based lifestyle can also supplement with vitamin D2.
- Ensure you are getting enough calcium by eating plenty of dark leafy greens, beans, nuts, seeds, and organic tofu.
Speaking of plant-based, what are some of the benefits of drinking chlorophyll water / benefits of liquid chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll has been used as a health supplement for years, and a variety of studies suggest that it is helpful for skin conditions such as acne, body odors, and fighting cancer. Chlorophyll also has blood-building properties because it is similar to hemoglobin. So, it may be useful in treating hemoglobin deficiencies that are present in conditions such as anemia.
What’s one of your favorite organic/natural supplements or vitamins you recommended?
I only recommend organic supplements, and I love Garden of Life products. I always suggest that my clients take their first step toward a healthy life by taking the appropriate Garden of Life multi-vitamin with a full glass water every day. Often it’s the simple, easy steps – like that, that will keep people on track.
Any favorite health / nutrition podcasts or books you recommend to our readers?
I love watching FlavCity with Bobby Parish on YouTube because he films his healthy shopping in stores like Costco that most people have convenient access to. It makes it easy for people to be better equipped to shop in big-box retailers and still chose the healthiest products.
Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Facebook, etc)
I’m getting ready to launch my new website at aimeericca.com. I’m really excited about it because it will provide helpful and practical resources that simplify health and nutrition information to help people live better.
I also post videos to my YouTube channel three times a week. These videos will be integrated with resources on my website when it goes live.
I also have my figure skating website and am @aimeericca on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook