Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Mind and Body’ Category

How Music Can Boost Your Workouts!

How Music Can Boost Our Workouts

I found this fantastic article in The NYTimes about a study done recently that shows that humans may be able to exert more muscular force during physical activity when that activity is accompanied by music. Researchers hooked up their test subjects to exercise machines that simulated musical sounds in sync with the movements of the subjects – and their findings were incredibly interesting. Not only were those tested able to perform better on these musical machines, they also found the physical activities to be less strenuous.

This whole concept reminded me of my 24 year old daughter Mariella, who has been a drummer for over 15 years and plays in a heavy rock band called Kings And Liars from Connecticut. Mariella is only 5’1 but hits her drums extremely hard during her live performances.  Because of her tiny frame,  I have always been captivated by her ability to play 30-40 minute sets of grueling, fast paced songs which require a significant amount of stamina. While Mariella has always been somewhat athletic, she generally did not excel in the endurance column of fitness. As a child, she dreaded the  “mile-long run” portion of her public school fitness tests, preferring more strength-oriented exercises that required less physical longevity. But when it comes to her live performances on drums – her endurance is seemingly endless. After showing her this article, Mariella was able to relate to the experiences of the test subjects in this study on music and exercise:

“When I play with my band, the rhythm and intensity of our music literally empowers me to accomplish physical tasks that would otherwise be unbearable to me. Hitting as hard as I do requires a lot of stamina – something I do not have, EXCEPT when I am playing drums. Often times I will finish a tune with my band during a live performance and be in a state of shock about how little breath I have left. The most bizarre part for me is that I am completely unaware of how hard I am pushing myself physically until the music stops – only then do I start huffing and puffing like I just ran a marathon. Playing drums is the ONLY instance for me personally in which I can display this kind of stamina. In any other circumstance, I don’t feel I would be able to physically accomplish a similar task.”

The name of the phenomenon my daughter is describing here is called: “Dissociation”. It is a mental diversion that lowers the perception of one’s physical effort during strenuous tasks. It can promote a positive mood and divert you from fatigue. Researchers believe that music is a strong catalyst for dissociation.

Hints for choosing your music: match the beat to your level of exercise. The fastest beat should match your target heart rate (220-your age x 0.85). Use slower relaxing music for warm up and cool down.

So moral of the story: If you find yourself unable to complete longer workouts or are looking for a way to motivate yourself to get fit, try listening to some of your favorite music!

For more information about our brain on music, I recommend checking out the book “Musicophilia” written by Oliver Sacks, M.D. Among other things, Sacks explains why songs become stuck in our head for days.

Here’s to hoping this gets you guys moving and dancing!

Dr. Nolfo




In Connecticut we’re coming to the end of season for tomatoes and corn, but never fear, this is the best time for the fabulously healthy, cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable family.  This week, we have five fabulous cauliflower recipes that serve as incredible substitutes for our favorite carb-heavy foods from rice to pizza. But before you start cookin’ up a storm, I want to share with you some valuable information about the health benefits of cruciferious vegetables. This is from my favorite site for information about eating to lower cancer risk:

Cruciferous Vegetables:

The four-petal flowers from these veggies resemble a cross or “crucifer,” hence the name. Broccoli is probably the best known cruciferous vegetable. Like Brussels sprouts, rapini, cabbage (green), cauliflower and turnips (white), it forms a “head.” Others – known as the “headless crucifers” – include dark green leafy vegetables like kale and collard greens.


Nearly all are excellent or good sources of vitamin C and some are good sources of manganese. Dark greens are high in vitamin K. Glucosinolates are compounds found in all cruciferous vegetables; Glucosinolates form isothiocyanates and indoles. Other nutrients and phytochemicals vary:

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and rapini are all excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin. Broccoli is a good source of potassium. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are good sources of dietary fiber and rich in magnesium. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and rapini contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene. Red cabbage and radishes supply anthocyanins. Other cruciferous vegetables provide different polyphenols, such as hydroxycinnamic acids, kaempferol and quercetin.

Now for our “creative cauliflower culinary creations” from your Health Guru’s at Stony Creek Internal Medicine and Wellness:

 Cauliflower “Rice”

2 Tbsp olive oil   1 medium onion, diced

1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely chopped

¼ tsp salt

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion to skillet and sauté till soft, about 10 minutes. While it’s cooking, place cauliflower in food processor with “S” blade and pulse until it’s the texture of rice. (Alternative: use a cheese grater to grate into rice-sized pieces.) When onions are ready, add cauliflower to skillet. Cook till soft, about 7 to 10 minutes, then season to taste with salt and serve. Use as a side dish, add to soups, any place you’d use rice.

Cauliflower Rice Variation #1, Curried “Rice”

After onion cooks 3 minutes, add 2 tsps of curry powder and a pinch of coriander. As it’s cooking if the onion mixture becomes too dry, add vegetable broth 1 Tbsp at a time until the onion is finished cooking. Add cauliflower as above. After 5 minutes, add ½ cup frozen peas, cover and cook 5 minutes more, till peas are done.

 Cauliflower Rice Variation #2 Mexican “Rice”

After onion cooks 3 minutes, add 2 tsps of chili powder and a pinch of cumin. As it’s cooking, if it becomes to dry, add a Tbsp of water or vegetable broth. When cauliflower is done, stir in 2 Tbsp or more of salsa or taco sauce and heat through. You can also add ½ cup of beans for protein.

Cauliflower Rice Variations:

Now be creative. Add cooked turkey sausage (seitan or tempeh for vegetarians). Add other sautéed vegetables.

 Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes” 

1 medium head cauliflower

2 cloves garlic, peeled, ends trimmed

Chicken broth, vegetable broth or half and half mixture, salted to taste

Put cauliflower in a pot deep enough for cauliflower to fill no more than half way. Add water/broth to cover. Boil till soft to a fork, around 10 minutes. Drain COMPLETELY in a colander. Return to pot. Use a stick blender to puree thoroughly. Enjoy!

 Cauliflower Pizza Crust Basic Recipe

       (I double the recipe)

    Riced cauliflower (approx. 2 cups)

1 egg

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup grated cheese  (or few tablespooons nutritional yeast)


1) Microwave cauliflower for 8 minutes

2) Strain the water

(you can wring out the riced cauliflower in a dish towel after it cools)

3) Mix all ingredients together.

4) Preheat a cookie sheet in a 425 degree oven

5) While the cookie sheet is preheating, press the cauliflower mixture onto parchment paper, so it will fit roughly the size of the cookie sheet. When cookie sheet is hot, transfer the parchment paper to the cookie sheet carefully

6) Cook for approx. 15 minutes or until crust is golden.

7) Put toppings on the crust, and bake until toppings are cooked (you can put under broiler briefly)

I would love any feedback, suggestions, add-ons or stories about how these recipes worked out for you! Drop us a line and let us know how we’re doing!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Dr. Nolfo

Coping With Our Cravings



Noun 1. an intense desire for some particular thing. desire – the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state.

We all get them!

Maybe you are trying to move toward vegetarianism, but your neighbor’s barbecue smell wafts towards you house and you crave STEAK.

Maybe you are trying to follow the Paleo diet and you just want some potatoes!. My advice is to surrender–on occasion. When it comes to eating, you can do anything occasionally unless you are truly allergic. Think of the craving as a temporary priority! It will feel good to give in.

Enjoy it, savor it, then go back to your long-term goals. It’s important to know you can be flexible. NEVER beat yourself up for giving in. Everyone needs a little pleasure now and then. Another strategy is to figure out just how much you want to give in to your craving. Get a kitchen timer. When you get a craving for something you know will not align with your long-term goals, set the timer for 5 minutes and start it. If you still want to give in after 5 minutes…DO IT! Enjoy fully. Then move on and never think about it again. It was your choice.

Here at Stony Creek Wellness, when one of our patients is on our Ideal Protein diet program and  needs a temporary break, we cycle them through phases so they can go on a cruise, take part of summer off, etc. That’s a longer version of the same principle!

So remember: Be consistent, but do not beat yourself up when you hit a road block or feel the need to enjoy yourself.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Dr. Emily Nolfo

%d bloggers like this: