Getting Healthy with Dr. Cates

When I arrived here almost three months ago, I was promptly introduced to resident health expert, Dr. Trevor Holly Cates.  As the Naturopathic Physician and Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator at the Golden Door Spa at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, she helps people from all over the world better their lives through nutrition.  I have to be honest, before my first consultation I was a little nervous about meeting someone that appears to have it all figured out.  My concern was in vain, because the moment we met I was put at ease by her warmth and openness.  I could tell that she sincerely wanted to help me reach my health goals.

Dr. Cates and me laughing on the orange bubble chair

I retired from competitive ski racing around one year ago, and since then my nutritional needs and body composition desires have changed.   Albeit pint-sized, Dr. Cates is packed full of knowledge.  In our initial meeting I explained that I wanted to lean out, loose a little body fat, and gain more energy.  She recommended starting her six week wellness program, and I readily agreed to participate.  There are many benefits, as you can see listed below, that all revolve around the individualized plan she creates for you.

The program

I have followed programs from nutritionists, sports science experts, and health gurus before. But I always felt that they lacked specificity.  We are all so incredibly different, so the bold claim that this diet or that workout will work for everyone is absurd.  Dr. Cates differed in that she she took in all the data and thoroughly analyzed it.  Then, with my personal goals in mind, she created an eating plan and exercise outline that was catered to me, and only me.  Throughout the entire process it was very motivating to know that I wasn’t meticulously watching what I eat and diligently sweating in the gym for naught. Unlike so many trial and error pursuits, this program made sense to me because Dr. Cates explained the “why.”  And the “why” makes all the difference in the world.

For the last month-and-a-half I have followed her guidelines, and to her credit, I am feeling fantastic!  Of course, there were plenty of hiccups along the way.  The program that she designed had me cut out meat completely.  To lose those last little percentages of pesky body fat, cutting out meat, which is rich in fat (one of the reasons it is so darn delicious), can be a big help.  So for the last six weeks I have been a pescatarian, meaning I have only eaten fish and other non-animal proteins. Admittedly, I did fall of the wagon once or twice. But it was more out of lack of choices than desire.

However, my largest struggle was with my sweet tooth.  Forgetting about meat was no problem. But forgoing a free desert is borderline agony for me.  When I told Dr. Cates, she deftly explained that sugar craving is a vicious cycle because the more sweets we eat, the more sweets we crave.  She went on to share that once I gave up sugar for a while, my body would cease screaming for it so vehemently.  Dr. Cates taught me about the glycemic index of foods, which in layman’s terms addresses how quickly a food causes our blood sugar to go up.  Education, as they say, is power. And in this case, it gave me some much needed will power.

A low-glycemic diet that helps keep a stable blood sugar level is key to maintaining healthy eating habits.  Foods that contain sugar naturally cause our blood sugar to rise which causes us to produce insulin to help our bodies use the sugar for energy or store it as fat for later use.  If we eat too much sugar, we go into a sugar crash which wreaks havoc on our bodies.  When sugar is not burned as fuel it is stored as fat.  So the next time you read a label that says fat free, check the ingredients. I am willing to bet there is a hefty helping of fructose, sucrose, or dextrose which most likely will turn into fat in your body. Yup, you’ve been hoodwinked!

One of the pillars of Dr. Cates philosophy is getting away from processed foods completely by eating more fresh, organic vegetables and fruits.  At first I thought that was going to be tough, but it surprised me.  It did take a little more creativity and planning, especially for the self-proclaimed terrible cook that I am, but I honestly began to enjoy and look forward to incorporating more veggies into my meals.  The greatest perk was that I had far more energy, which, in the end, more than made up for the additional amount of time spent at the stove.

Lovely as Dr. Cates is, she will shoot straight with you.  Many times in our group sessions one of us would ask, “Is this better than that?”  For example, “Is having berry cobbler better than triple fudge cake?” Or, “If I have to have steak, it the porterhouse better than the filet?”  She is not stern, just professional, “Of course berry cobbler is the better option. But an orange would be even better. No desert the best.  And fish is a far healthier choice than steak, every time.”  She is not going to allow you to trick her into giving you a pass.  Informational, and most importantly encouraging, Dr. Cates wants to give you the best tools to attain as healthy a lifestyle as possible.

At the end of our chat Dr. Cates shared some healthy alternatives that might assuage my sugar pangs.  Fruit and juice popsicles?  HA! I Nothing will stop me from wanting cookies, cakes, and ice cream.  After six weeks, that is only half true.  Of course I do still enjoy desert in moderation, but when I stick to the diet and exercise she prescribed, I don’t have the cravings like I used to.  Will I indulge on a s’more sitting around a campfire or creme brulee at a 5-star bistro?  Of course.  Will I suddenly find myself in a sugar crash with a half eaten container of oreos in my lap?  If I stick with Dr. Cates’ sage life lessons, I think not!

If you are interested in  participating in the SAME six week program I just finished, you are in luck! Dr. Cates is starting a new session this May.  I highly recommend this experience for anyone regardless of whether they have chronic health problems or just need more energy.  It is a life enhancer!  Go to for more information.

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