For years, artificial sweeteners have been promoted as safe ways to cut calories and aid in weight loss.

The logic is simple: since obesity has been linked to diabetes, artificial sweeteners must also help with diabetes prevention. However, a new study shows they could actually increase glucose intolerance by changing the composition and function of gut bacteria. The findings were supported by experiments in both mice and humans performed by the Weizmann Institute of Science. They claim, “the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and food, among other things, may be contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping much of the world.”

A little history…

Most studies linking sugar to health problems have been highly criticized because the government subsidies corn, which is used to make high fructose corn syrup, and ends up in most processed foods. Also, major corporations feel threatened because they know the sugar content in their products are far more than what’s healthy.

Despite protests, the World Health Organization released draft guidelines last year that halved the recommended maximum added sugar intake (10% of daily calories to 5% of daily calories, 200 to 100 calories for a 2000 calorie diet). In response, the International Council of Beverages Associations, whose members include The Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, released the following statement:

“ICBA is disappointed that the WHO has confirmed the conditional recommendation suggesting a further reduction of the intake of free sugars to below 5 percent of total energy intake, as it does not reflect scientific agreement on the totality of evidence…we will continue to offer innovative ways to help consumers to achieve calorie balance through smaller portion sizes, no- and low-calorie beverages and transparent, fact-based nutrition information.”

For companies like Coca-Cola, the solution to the attack on sugar is to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners. Many people think if there are no calories, there is no harm.

But is there?

There is confusion over why the use of artificial sweeteners has not been aiding in weight loss. Some studies even show opposite effect. Another interesting fact worth noting is that overweight people often have different bacteria in their intestines than slim people do, but it is not clear what the link is & whether or not bacteria somehow cause obesity or diabetes. However, it has been found that even though artificial sweeteners do not contain sugar, they still directly affect the body’s ability to metabolize glucose. More specifically, they can lead to glucose intolerance: the inability of the body to cope with large amounts of glucose, the first step towards diabetes.

Now Let’s Get Sciencey!

In an experiment led by Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Immunology, and Prof. Eran Segal of the Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, mice were given water laced with 1 of 3 types of sugar substitutes (aspartame, saccharin, sucralose), water, or water with sugar.

It was found that those given artificial sweeteners developed glucose intolerance, while the others did not. Next, the researchers killed the mice gut bacteria with antibiotics, and found it reversed the effects (the mice were no longer glucose intolerant). When they transferred gut bacteria that had been grown outside of the mice in the presence of artificial sweeteners into healthy mice, the healthy mice developed glucose intolerance.

But enough with mice. Let’s talk humans!

In an elaborate study called the Personalized Nutrition Project, it was found that there was a significant association between reported consumption of artificial sweeteners, gut bacteria, & glucose intolerance.

They also performed a controlled experiment with volunteers who did not regularly consume artificial sweeteners. They asked them to consume them for a week, then tested their glucose levels and gut microbiota. It was found that some, but not all, had begun to develop glucose intolerance. This was because there were 2 different populations of human gut bacteria: one induced glucose intolerance when exposed to sweeteners, and one with no effect either way.

Dr. Elinav believes certain bacteria in guts of those with glucose intolerance reacted to chemical sweeteners by secreting substances that caused an inflammatory response similar to a sugar overdose, promoting changes in their ability to use sugar.

Wow. Heavy Stuff.

The only real solution to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity is healthy eating and exercise.

The current American diet is not healthy, and metabolic diseases will continue to be a concern until Americans drastically alter their lifestyle. Artificial sweeteners are not the solution to sugar, sugar is not even the problem. The problem is the quantity in which sugar is consumed because it is in practically everything! And the current recommended added sugar intake is not labeled as a percent daily value on nutrition facts. And as long as major food corporations have the money and legal ability to influence government policy, there will be little change in the regulation of sugar and artificial sweeteners in foods.

So what should you do?

If you haven’t read my last blog post, you should. Because you’ll learn ALL about what “healthy” really means. Eat plants, eat whole, REAL foods, not ones made in a lab with 10 billion ingredients that you can’t pronounce. I’m a proud host to a healthy gut bacteria population! Besides, real sugar tastes good. Just don’t eat too much.

Want more variation in your workout? Exercises performed with kettlebells are a great way to shock your muscles into growth while improving power and explosiveness from the ground up!

Check out VIM’s Kettlebell Video Series – Each week we’ll post a video demonstrating a new kettlebell move. Next move, KB Single Leg RDL!

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Good question.

It seems like in the past few decades, this question has become harder and harder to answer. With new research and the ease of accessing and publishing information (both true and false), “healthy” has become one of the most ambiguous terms out there. To clarify, let’s review a quick definition:

Healthy: free from disease or pain : enjoying health* and vigor of body, mind, or spirit

*So… what is health? Another definition for ya:


  1. the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit :  freedom from physical disease or pain : the general condition of the body

  2. a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well

I don’t know about you, but the concept of a “healthy” diet still seems pretty unclear to me. Based on these definitions, “healthy” food should make me “thrive,” and benefit me physically, mentally and spiritually. I certainly love chocolate, though I can’t say that I have a spiritual connection to the stuff. So how do we determine what a healthy diet really is?

I think most people might reference fruits and veggies, which is certainly a good place to start. Most Americans don’t get enough of these crucial food groups. But that’s not the only part of a “healthy” diet. Another good resource for understanding healthy food is the government issued My Plate. I’m not an adamant subscriber (obviously, I don’t drink milk and I find the pictures too unspecific for my taste), but for the general public it can be a great resource for getting started.

But here is my interpretation.

Eat plants. This includes fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eat lots of them, and try to keep them as “whole” as possible. This means avoiding their processed counterparts – but NOT like the plague! Part of a healthy diet, in my opinion, is being mindful about how much you are eating as well as what. That doesn’t mean restricting anything at all. If you eat a lot of cookies, cut back. But you don’t need to eliminate your favorite foods to be healthy. That would be neglecting the mental (and maybe spiritual) aspects of health.


With that said, if you like to drink milk and eat meat, by all means, go for it. Just maybe not all the time, and opt for lean and local sources. Read ingredients. Watch portion sizes. Experiment with foods and flavors and see how each makes you feel. You may notice that eating certain foods make you feel better (and happier!) than others, and not just in the moment of eating them.

I know that may not be very specific, but I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to diet. Our bodies respond differently to different foods, and we all have various lifestyles, activity levels, cultural habits and genetics. Find what works for YOU as an individual! Eat your plants and move your body, and choose everything in moderation. You’ll likely turn out alright.

If you have more questions about nutrition, feel free to send me an email! I’m happy to talk about more specific topics or address any curiosities you may have.

Email Sarah with questions or comments:

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Want more variation in your workout? Exercises performed with kettlebells are a great way to shock your muscles into growth while improving power and explosiveness from the ground up!

Check out VIM’s Kettlebell Video Series – Each week we’ll post a video demonstrating a new kettlebell move. Next move, Half Kneeling KB Press!

Read more

VIM is pleased to welcome our newest trainer, Sarah!

[slideshow gallery=”3099,3279,3280,3281,3283″ width=”699″ align=”left”]Read on to get to know her:

Sarah is a long term athlete who currently competes on the Tufts Track and Field team. She’s completed hundreds of running races including a half marathon and a triathlon. A long history of injuries encouraged her to start strength training, and she now throws hammer, shot put, and weight.

She is also a passionate vegan and yogi, and in her free time she enjoys biking, reading, and blogging.

She is an ACE certified personal trainer and loves to work with athletes of all levels to help improve their performance.

[button link=”” text=”TRAIN WITH SARAH!” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]

Want more variation in your workout? Exercises performed with kettlebells are a great way to shock your muscles into growth while improving power and explosiveness from the ground up!

Check out VIM’s Kettlebell Video Series – Each week we’ll post a video demonstrating a new kettlebell move. Next move, Front Rack Squats!

Read more

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

You’ve got Monday off to relax and host a BBQ with your friends.

But will this ruin your diet?


Will a little bit of fun on the weekend put a stop to your progress? Let’s take a look. If you start your weekend with 40 cent wing night on Thursday, then dinner dates and bar hopping on friday and saturday, then family brunch sunday… Things aren’t looking good in the aftermath of Monday’s BBQ. Take a look at this little infographic to see how those fun nights may be getting in the way!

Ok, so now that you’ve learned you’re never allowed to have fun, let’s talk about how this doesn’t have to be the case! I know it may not seem like it, but…


…you can go out with friends, eat and drink with freedom, and still reach your fitness goals!

The secret: mindfulness. If you have plans with friends for the night, load up on the simple, wholesome foods during the day. Plan ahead. And for Labor Day…


I have recipes for you! Whether you’re hosting or attending, you can always prepare a few simple and affordable options (on sale at Star Market!) that will allow you  to have fun and reach your goals. Hey, who knew?
  • Corn: 15 cents each – Simple and delicious, corn is always a late summer staple for any BBQ. Try wrapping them in tin foil with a little bit of plant-based buttery spread (a low saturated fat alternative to butter) and grilling for 8-10 minutes.
  • Scallops: $13.99/lb – Ever heard of scallop kebabs? They’re pretty great. Try this recipe here for Herbed Scallop Kebabs on the grill!
  • Whole Seedless Watermelon: $3.99 each – Keep it simple. Everyone loves a good, thick slice of watermelon.
  • Outshine Fruit Bars: 3/$10 – Looking for dessert but don’t want the fat and sugar-ridden ice cream novelties? Try these fruit bars! Very satisfying and refreshing for the last few days of summer, and only 60 calories!
  • Strawberries: $2.99/lb – With all these fresh berries, you simply can’t go wrong! Throw them in a salad with walnuts, gorgonzola and grilled chicken. Or make them into a trifle. Check out this recipe for a little bit healthier alternative!


Now through September 4th Pilates by VIM is offering 10% off all semiprivate reformer packages!

Have questions or want to sign up? Contact Pilates Manager, Sonja by completing the form below!

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Wishing our members and staff a Happy Labor Day Weekend!

See below for our Labor Day Hours

kettlebell dead clean

Want more variation in your workout? Exercises performed with kettlebells are a great way to shock your muscles into growth while improving power and explosiveness from the ground up!

Check out VIM’s Kettlebell Video Series – Each week we’ll post a video demonstrating a new kettlebell move. Next move, Dead Clean!

Read more