The Problem With Meal Plans

Meal plans are tempting, I get it.

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We believe they come with certainty & guaranteed results, and we don’t have to use our own brains.

With how much we’re juggling on a day-to-day basis, the thought of outsourcing this to others is miiiightily appealing.

However, there is a plethora of negatives that—while you may feel content in the short-term due to quick (and likely unsustainable) results—you’ll likely find yourself even worse off than where you started.

These include: 

1.     Restrictions in the types of foods you can eat, which typically leads to a “good” or “bad” mentality with food. This coincides with diets like paleo, keto, low-carb, low-fat, Whole 30, South Beach Diet, etc.

The truth is that all foods serve a purpose.

Some are more calorically dense while lacking in nutrients (i.e. processed foods), others are highly nutrient dense and are lower in calories (i.e. fruits and vegetables), some are high in both calories and nutrients (i.e. fatty steak, avocado), and the remaining are low in nutrients and calories (i.e. water & air—just kidding, but there aren’t many). 

Some of these foods fuel our bodies first; our souls and emotions second. Some are soul food and exist primarily for pleasure, but they provide some kind of energy (i.e. calories). Some do both! Ideally, we’re consuming mostly foods that fuel both our bodies and our souls. 

Can meals plans that come with lists of allowed and disallowed foods do that for you?  

That’s a hard nope. They can’t.

They don’t know what foods you enjoy, which are highly satisfying for you, which cause you to think about food less vs. more later, which leave you feeling sad and hungry, or which make you so damn excited to eat while also making you feel like a million bucks. 

They don’t know YOU, and that should be a basic requirement for how you eat. It’s about you, you, you. 

2.     Restrictions in the quantity of foods you can eat, either per day or by meal. Yes, portion sizes can certainly be relevant, but these methods lead to:

  • overriding hunger and satiety signals in an effort to meet numbers, such as feeling guilty or anxious at the end of the day when you’re hungry, yet you don’t have any “allowed” food left OR stuffing yourself when you’re not hungry.

  • strange food combinations to meet specific macros at the end of the day (think two oz. chicken, three crackers, ½ tbsp peanut butter)

This coincides with diets like “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM), Weight Watchers, or any plan counting calories or macros (macronutrients: carbs, fat, protein).

As a result of overriding your body’s cues, you reinforce the notion that your body can’t be trusted, and many lose the ability to understand hunger and satiety signals altogether. NOT what we’re looking for with a long-lasting and sustainable relationship with food and your body.

**Note: as always, intentions matter here. Counting macros can be healing for those coming from diets like paleo or “clean eating”, because they realize that processed foods aren’t the devil. However, there are better approaches that achieve the same result. 

While there can be benefits to either category above, that’s dependent upon the intention of the user, and most of us aren’t using these with a strong sense of awareness while mired in the dieting mindset.

We just want someone to tell us what to do, when to do it, and then turn our brains off while we wait for the desired result.  

Lest, we end up worse off than when we started, because we feel even more dependent on the restriction to maintain any weight lost. Or we believe that WE are the problem if we didn’t achieve our desired result. 

In order to achieve and maintain an effortless, nourishing, and connected relationship with food, you need to be going inward. Period.

You need to be learning about you

your preferences

your internal and external triggers

what does and doesn’t work for your lifestyle & your priorities

what foods are satisfying

what foods make you sad and hungry

which provide you with energy

which are worth feeling like shit for

the foods you can’t live without

your relationship with alcohol

and, most importantly, why you really want to change your relationship with food in the first place.

If you have a history of dieting and restriction, and you feel more exhausted, confused, and defeated than ever, then the answer isn’t in another meal plan or diet. It’s within you and your own body.

Learning about yourself take more work upfront—absolutely.

But wouldn’t it be nice to build your foundation & confidence in yourself around food and your body so that you never have to diet again?

So that you can make food choices from a place of empowerment and embodiment without second guessing yourself. 

If that’s a hell yes, then let’s chat about how we can partner together on your journey towards becoming your own damn guru.

5 Steps to Determine When to Make the (physically) Healthy or Unhealthy Choice

This was me in NZ a few months ago, having more booze & less sleep than usual, feeling the effects, but loving every minute of it!

This was me in NZ a few months ago, having more booze & less sleep than usual, feeling the effects, but loving every minute of it!

I wrote about the fact that our physical health isn’t the be-all-end-all in the context of our overall well-being here, and this can be a difficult concept to grasp for those who’ve spent YEARS—or often decades—chasing physical pursuits.

The obsession with aesthetics can easily translate into physical health neurosis, and this can be equally as damaging.

“But Jess, how can an obsession with feeling my best be a bad thing?”

In a nutshell, it isn’t. However, we have to look at what you’re sacrificing to get there.

Fearful of spontaneity?

Cling to your food and fitness routines and experience anxiety or fear when you deviate from them?

Constantly turning down social invitations in an effort to “stay on track”? 

Beating yourself up when don’t feel physically well, despite all the effort you put into your health?

Experience frustration when you make decisions that leaving you feeling run down, tired, or sick? (Hungover, as an example).

The negative emotions and feelings experienced from making choices that leave us feeling less physically well—but enhance our well-being in other areas of our lives—are an indication that we’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.

  • You decided to stay up past your bedtime with your partner or girlfriends to share some laughs or watch movies and feel exhausted the next day.

  • You chose the boozy date night or night out with friends that left you feeling hungover, but damn—you really value those light and fun times with them.

  • You skipped the workout in lieu of a spontaneous happy hour with some of your favorite people.

  • You ate the food you know your body doesn’t like, because you wanted to get the full experience while traveling.

You forewent an action that contributes to physical health—or even engaged in one that’s detrimental—in favor of emotional, energetic, and mental health.

Which is the correct choice?

That’s for YOU to decide, and it requires awareness, experience, and the willingness to make the less ideal decision on occasion (which will still be incredibly useful, as it gives you data to make a better decision next time). 

You need to be willing to take risks and discover your own “physical health tipping point.” 

What is a Physical Health Tipping Point?

It’s the point at which greater physical health no longer contributes to our overall well-being, and at which lesser physical health diminishes our overall well-being.

For me, this often looks like 80-90% physical health. This encompasses high energy levels, optimized brain function, strength and cardiovascular fitness, efficient digestion, and balanced hormones.

For you, this might include the state of your skin, endurance abilities, or flexibility.

We can all value and prioritize different elements of our physical health.

Using myself as an example, this percentage ebbs and flows depending on my priorities at the moment (i.e. work projects due vs. vacation mode), but through experimentation, I have determined that my overall well-being peaks when I hover around 85% physical health.

Does this mean that I go out of my way to decrease my physical health if I’m over 85%? Absolutely not.

It simply means that I’m willing to sacrifice some of my physical health for my overall well-being to an extent. 

If I’m consistently living below 80% physical health, my overall health begins to suffer. My energy levels drop, my brain doesn’t fire well, I don’t perform well in the gym, my digestion goes to shit, and my hormones are bonkers.

As a result, I’m then not able to show up as fully as I want to for the other aspects of my life that contribute to my well-being, and it creates a vicious cycle of diminished quality of life.

On the flip side, that extra 10-20% of optimized physical health can mean sacrificing time with loved ones, unique experiences, and other meaningful (to me) elements of life. And foregoing these just isn’t worth it to me.

In an ideal world, we’d be able to have our cake and eat it too, right?

Be able to enjoy all the social gatherings, amazing food, late nights, the extra boozy drinks, in addition to amazing energy, a strong and fit body, and optimized digestion, brain function, and hormones.

However, this isn’t our reality most of the time. So, we have to pick and choose our priorities while being mindful of the BIG PICTURE of our health.

How do you find your physical health tipping point?

1.     Write down your priorities for the current season of life you’re in.

Career or big work project, building relationships, healing physical health ailments, going on adventures and experiencing more freedom, upcoming physical challenge or competition, raising children, etc.

2.     Assess the current state of your physical health.

What feels good and what doesn’t right now?

3.     Identify how the current state of your physical health is impacting your priorities identified in Step One.

For example, if connection with loved ones and being adventurous is at the top of the list, then you likely don’t need to be at tip-top physical health, and sacrificing some physical well-being in lieu of spontaneity and late nights may be a sound option.

However, if you have a big work project or competition coming up and really need your body and brain to be functioning optimally, then you’ll likely need to contribute more to your physical health.

4.     Start experimenting!

Now that you’re clear on your priorities and what is truly important in this current life season, and you understand whether or not you have more leeway with your physical health in reference to your overall well-being, you’re ready to throw yourself into the wild and gather data!

Throw in the late night or an extra drink (simply examples) if you want to be more spontaneous and develop relationships with new people. How does it impact your overall well-being the next day?

Decline the party in favor of more sleep and a solid meal so that you can be productive while working the next day (ideally work you actually care about). Feeling fulfilled with this choice? 

Just want to feel damn good the next day so you can fully engage with whatever you want to participate in? That’s a sufficient enough reason to prioritize your physical health, too. Simply wanting to feel good is perfectly acceptable (and understandable).

5.     Assess the data & adjust as needed.

You should be doing this in the short-term as part of Step 4, but you also need to take a step back and consider how this impacts you in the long run. You may find that you thought a late night with friends was fulfilling in the moment—and even the next day—but your inability to work towards your long-term goal of starting your own business is being impacted due to feeling unwell. 

As part of this step, you may find yourself rearranging your priorities listed in Step 1. This is a good thing! It’s a constant process of learning, re-evaluating, adjusting and experimenting further.  

Our priorities will continue to ebb and flow throughout our lives—in tandem with the season of life we’re in—so flexibility and adaptability are key.

Our relationships with our physical health are no different.

Learning to be mindful of what we’re willing to accept and sacrifice regarding our physical health is incredibly empowering, and remember that it’s YOUR choice—and yours alone—to make.

There’s no shame in making a choice that leaves you feeling less physically well at times, in the same way there’s no shame in making a choice that supports your physical health.

Just ask yourself, “Are these choices elevating my overall well-being?” THAT is the kind of health worth pursuing.

Is There a "Right" Way to Do Intuitive Eating?

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No, there isn’t.

Intuitive eating looks different for different people. 

For some, it’s a complete lack of structure and involves choosing foods that are in absolute alignment with their bodies at all time, and according to the timing in which their bodies are hungry.

These women usually have a lot of flexibility in their lives and may not do well with structure.

For others, it involves being mindful of adequate macronutrient balance (protein, carbs, fats) in order to support their robust physical activity (i.e. crossfit, endurance running, etc)., lest their bodies pay the price and suffer.

These women may lack flexibility in their day-to-day and do better with some structure and routine.

Across the board, there is a lot of wiggle room for tailoring and adjusting according to preferences, lifestyle, priorities, and emotional sensibilities.

As I discussed in a recent Instagram post, it’s easy to allow intuitive eating to become another source of shame, self-doubt, and discouragement.

To fall into the trap of constantly looking to someone else and asking, “Am I doing this correctly?”

I did the same thing!  

When I first began my foray into making my own decisions around food and my body, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I actually thought there was a “right” way to make decisions for myself. 

Sounds counterintuitive, and it is, but it illustrates how much we’ve been taught to believe that others know best for us.

That we have to rely on the thoughts, opinions, and ideas of others at all times. [This is especially true for women!]

The opposite end of the spectrum isn’t ideal either—where we believe we don’t have anything to learn and can’t benefit from the experiences, perceptions, or knowledge of others.

However, for the purposes of this post, we’ll discuss the questions that YOU hold the answers to.  

The biggest question to ask yourself is, “How does this feel (or how will it make me feel): physically, emotionally, energetically?”

Your answers to this question will often be layered and nuanced, as you’ll often get a mix of “yes” and “no” to each of these. 

For example, you may be presented with the option of eating birthday cake at a party.

You ask yourself the question above, and you arrive at the following answers:

  • Physically: eating a whole slice will make me feel like garbage, but having a few bites won’t. “NO”, unless we focus on portions.

  • Energetically: This is such a fun and joyous occasion, and I want to participate in all of it, so not enjoying the cake would bum me out. “YES”

  • Emotionally: I’m consciously aware of my emotional state and wouldn’t be eating this food to numb, escape, or distract myself. “YES”

As you can see, we have a mixed bag of answers. Energetically and emotionally, eating the cake is a “yes”. Physically, we can make it a “yes” depending on the portion size.

The options to respond include:

  1. Eat the whole thing if we decide that we’re willing to accept the physical consequences.

  2. Decide to eat only a few bites to mitigate physical discomfort while still participating.

  3. Eat a few bites and realize that it’s so damn good that it’s worth polishing off the whole thing.

  4. Not eat any of it and forgo the opportunity to enjoy something that will benefit us emotionally and energetically.

There is no right answer here! YOU get to decide which option suits you best based on your priorities (physical, emotional, energetic), both short-term and long-term.

This, my friend, is the beauty of intuitive eating.

You take the power back and get to choose how to interact with food and your body, and the goal is to do so in a way that it supports you physically, energetically, and emotionally the majority of the time.

How this looks for you may not look the same as it does for others. That’s fine!  

Learn to TRUST that you know what’s best for you and stop looking to others for the answers. You know so much more than you think you do.

Now, before you can provide somewhat accurate answers to the assessment above, you need to have done the work on getting connected to yourself physically, emotionally, and energetically, right?

After years of outsourcing our intuition to others and losing the connection to our minds, bodies, and higher selves, most of us can’t simply flip a switch.

We need to put in the work to re-establish these connections and build our foundations.

I created my FREE video training series—7 Steps to Food Freedom—for this very reason!

Without building our foundation and truly deepening our connections with ourselves—physically, energetically, emotionally—the process of intuitive eating will seem elusive, confusing, and disheartening.

In this training, we cover: 

  1. How to develop more mindfulness & why it’s important (my preferred method is meditation)

  2. How to reconnect with your physical body

  3. Why it’s important to question your motivations in the moment (physical vs. emotional) & how to do so

  4. Addressing the root cause of emotional drivers

  5. Why it’s essential to question your food rules you’re still carrying with you, even and especially those you’re not aware of.

  6. Reframing your relationship with movement & exercise and how to develop an intuitive relationship.

  7. Why it’s paramount that you fill your life up with things other than the pursuit of better health, a different body, and food!

You’re not failing at intuitive eating, you just haven’t yet developed the tools to trust yourself and your body.

Start here FIRST, and you’ll find the process of referring to yourself as your own guru significantly easier.

Six Signs You're Not Ready for a Whole 30 (or any other "healthy" eating plan)

We’re four weeks into the New Year, and this means many have been engaging in the most recent rounds of Whole 30s, 21-day sugar detoxes, and a variety of other regimented eating plans marketed as a means of achieving better health. 

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I don’t look at many things through a black-and-white lens these days, and these eating plans are no exception.

Some of the benefits can include a heightened awareness of food preferences, food intolerances, and the positive effects of more whole foods in one’s diet.

However, there are many potentially negative consequences for those who are not ready to participate in one of these, including attachment of morality or emotions to foods that aren’t labeled as acceptable, binge eating behaviors, and increased reliance or rules as opposed to one’s own brain and body.

After working with clients, in addition to my own experience, there are six clear indicators of when you’re NOT ready to opt-in to one of these eating plans.

1.     You’re a yo-yo dieter

This encompasses a large percentage of the American population, as 45 million people diet each year, and 95% of people regain all weight lost—if not more. Yo-yo dieters often hop from one diet to the next after periods of weight regain, and they often feel out of control when it comes to food.

This differs from natural weight fluctuations due to changes in lifestyle, preferences, injuries, health concerns, or age, as yo-yo dieting is hallmarked by heavy reliance on diet rules and extreme changes in eating behaviors.

With heavy reliance on diet rules comes a lack of connection to one’s own body, absence of mindfulness, and ignorance of hunger and fullness cues, to name a few.

These are absolutely essential to the foundation of a healthy and stable relationship with food, which should be in place BEFORE engaging in one of these eating plans. 

2.     You’re doing it solely for weight loss

Participating in one of these structured eating plans with the sole goal of weight loss often leads to turning our brains off and following the rules to a “T”. 

Along with this comes a lack of mindfulness and connection to the effects these foods have on us—one of the only potential benefits these offer in the first place!

Further, for those who do experience weight loss as a result of following the plan, it’s common to subsequently believe that the only way to achieve this result is via a diet exclusively comprised of whole foods.

Not only is this incorrect, but it often leads to stress, emotional attachment to foods, and bingeing behaviors associated with processed or “disallowed” foods.

3.     You regularly engage in emotional eating

Eating to sooth, cope, numb, or distract isn’t terrible in a nutshell, but we want to do it sparingly and with awareness. This is similar to how we would view alcohol, drugs, sex, or shopping when driven by these intentions.

If you find yourself engaging in emotional eating on a regular basis, this should absolutely be resolved first, as jumping into a regimented eating plan will only put a temporary band-aid on the real issue.

Not to mention, it often exacerbates an already tumultuous relationship with food. 

Focus on treating the root cause of your emotional eating first, and you’ll then be able to look at food through a neutral lens and become an observer of how your body responds to one of these programs.

4.     You aren’t aware of and/or don’t honor your hunger and fullness cues

Being able to identify and honor hunger and satiety signals most of the time is an essential part of the foundation of a healthy relationship with food. When we have the ability to do this, we are deeply connected to our bodies.

Further, eating according to physical hunger and fullness cues requires awareness of emotional prompts as well, so this often indicates a high level of connection to our internal landscapes as well.

Without this skill, regimented eating plans will only cause more confusion and mistrust with our own bodies, as we’re led to believe we have to be told what to do. That our own bodies don’t possess the wisdom we need.

We need to learn how to listen to our bodies first, rules second (if at all).

5.     You attach emotions to your food choices (most commonly guilt)

If you’re attaching guilt, shame, or even pride to your food choices, then chances are very high that you’ve already been on a diet of some kind. The rules of that diet—or those diets—led you to viewi food through a good/bad lens. 

“I’m good if I eat clean.”

“I’m bad/a cheater/a loser because I ate that food I wasn’t supposed to.”

After supposed failures in food choices, the wheels often fall off the bus and lead to binging behaviors.

A regimented eating plan that dictates strict rules about foods that are allowed vs. disallowed is the worst thing you can do at this point, as it will only exacerbate the issue. 

Work on viewing food through a neutral lens first, and be aware that this can certainly take time depending on your starting point. Once again, this is an essential part of building the foundation of a healthy relationship with food. 

6.     You’re hoping this is your ticket to happiness and self-worth 

Engaging in any form of diet or body changes in hopes of finding self-worth or happiness at the end is not only unsuccessful, but it can be extremely detrimental in the long run. These eating plans are no exception, regardless of the way they’re marketed.

With this as our motivation, you’re extremely susceptible to attaching your worth to your food choices, and you may resort to desperate measures to achieve your goals. Not to mention, the entire process will be absolutely miserable.

Rather, I strongly advise focusing on your internal landscape and cultivating a strong foundation of self-respect, care, and worth prior to engaging in any of these plans. Intentions matter TREMENDOUSLY, even with behaviors that appear to be healthy on the surface.

If you fall into any of these categories, you’re just not ready yet. Plain and simple.

It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to engage with one of these programs in the future—if you still find that you want to—but now is not the time.

Rather, I strongly encourage you to focus your time and energy on building the foundation of a healthy relationship with food FIRST.

Focus on the big-ticket items, which primarily include:

  • Mindfulness—my recommendation is via meditation.

  • Awareness of emotional prompts for eating or restricting.

  • Addressing the root causes of these emotional prompts.

  • Connection with your physical body and its signals pertaining to hunger, fullness, and the effects of foods (which will likely lead to you never having to do one of these programs anyways).

  • Movement and how it affects your body & your food choices.

  • Filling your life up with things outside of the pursuit of health, food, or the pursuit of a better body.

This may seem like a hefty list—and one that will require a lot of work—but I believe in my core that this work is essential before embarking on another diet or eating regimen.

Those options will always be there waiting for you, and you can revisit them with a completely different perspective and with an entirely new set of intentions.

If you find yourself standing in the same place that you’ve been in time and time again when it comes to food and your mindset around it, then it’s time for a change. It’s time for another approach.

I created this FREE video training series—7 Steps to Food Freedom—for this reason!

Give yourself the gift of learning to turn inward for guidance and stop outsourcing this wisdom to others. Build your foundation to freedom once and for all!

New Year's Goals? You MUST get clear on this first!

Doing the deeper work might seem like the longer road, but it will actually get you to where you want to be MUCH more quickly (and more enjoyably) than superficial diets will.

Doing the deeper work might seem like the longer road, but it will actually get you to where you want to be MUCH more quickly (and more enjoyably) than superficial diets will.

This time of the year makes us ripe for the picking. 

All of the New Year, New You talk—especially when it comes to dieting—can make us feel like big ol’ piles of shit if we’re not mindful of our consumption, our responses to advertising, and our own internal narratives.

By targeting our insecurities, the gyms, diet programs, social media mavens, and supplement companies hit us where it hurts.

They serve to remind us of our physical “imperfections” and double-down on the notion that we’re here to be looked at. Nothing more.

Conversely (and as an unpopular opinion), I don’t believe there’s nothing wrong with using January 1st as a time to bring renewed attention to certain areas of our lives.

The important piece, however—the one most don’t discuss—is the intention behind the actions.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to lose weight.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with paying more attention to the food we put in our mouths.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to move more or differently than we have been.

The intentions and motivations behind these actions are what determine their health, value, and longevity.

If you have physical, health, or aesthetic goals, I ask you to consider the following:

  • Am I doing this from a place of loving myself currently? Or do I believe I’ll be able to love myself once I achieve my goal?

  • Are my choices rooted in shame, either from others or myself?

  • Is the desire to change my body due to my own preferences? Or have they been imposed on me by someone else, society at large, or both?

  • Am I striving for a different version of myself because I believe I deserve to feel amazing today and also something more? Or is it due to believing I’m inadequate and unworthy as I stand today?

  • Is my desire to make these changes rooted in a foundation of self-respect? Or self-loathing?

**Note that every single one of these takes time to unpack and differentiate between the truth, your ego (i.e. the monkey brain), and the voices & opinions of others.**

If you don’t have clear answers to these questions OR it’s clear that your motivation for change is rooted in fear, self-loathing, unworthiness, lack of self-respect, etc., then THAT is the work.

Not your physical body.

Difficult and unglamorous as it may seem, the internal work should always be the first stop.

This—of course—will indirectly impact the choices you make when it comes to your health and physical body. 

They’re the byproduct though, not the main event. 

The New Year is a magical time of the year if we choose to see it that way, and I’m a huge fan of goal-setting, getting clear on intentions, and laying the foundation for magic to happen. 

This can happen on any day of the 365 we have in a year, however. But we all know this to be the case:)

If you’re getting geared up for revamping your diet and/or exercise regimen in January 2019, and you’ve been doing the same song and dance year after year with overly restrictive diet rules and excessive exercise, consider the notion that there’s a better way.

A way in which you’re addressing the uncomfortable emotions and internal narratives on a deep level while simultaneously learning how to treat your body with love and respect. 

Isn’t that what we’re all really seeking anyways?

Let 2019 be the year you double down on yourself from the inside out, and don’t let any external influence convince you that you’re not worthy of this change.

I’d love to guide you through this empowering journey of doing the hard work—the only work that will lead to meaningful and long-lasting results

I still have a few more slots open for FREE 30-minute coaching calls, so grab yours now to kick off 2019 on a grounded and empowered foot!!

Why You Need to Hire A Coach (& Why I Did Too!)

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Is this too much fat?

How many carbs should I be eating?

Am I allowed to eat this?

I truly understand where these questions are coming from, because I’ve asked many of them myself.  

And there’s certainly merit to asking some of these more detailed questions to those with experience once the foundation of our relationship with food has been built.

However, when it comes to making decisions about how specific foods fit into our bodies and lives, we’re the one with the answers.

As a coach, my job is to guide you—to teach you how to tap into your own physical and emotional intuition and biofeedback, while also monitoring how foods affect your interpersonal relationships, enjoyment with food, ability to implement in a stress-free manner, etc.

You might be thinking, “Well if I have all the answers, why am I still struggling? And why would I need a coach?”

Because there is a LOT to unlearn, and most of us have lost touch with our ability to tap into ourselves for answers.

Chances are that you have a myriad of rules you’re trying to navigate in your head every time you sit down to eat. 

  • I shouldn’t be having this much fat before a workout, should I?

  • Can I digest all of this protein in one meal? Isn’t this too much?

  • I’m really craving beans, but cavemen didn’t eat them.

  • Are white potatoes considered paleo? What about rice?

  • I can’t eat any gluten; it will give me a leaky gut.

  • Maybe I should try going vegetarian—so-and-so did and she looks great.

  • What if this meat isn’t grass-fed?

  • I hate this almond milk in my coffee, but I know dairy is bad for me.

  • I can’t eat carbs after 3pm.

There is no shortage of rules out there in the land of social media, magazines, and the internet at large. While there is a time a place to really leverage knowledgeable and evidence-based expertise, most women don’t need macro adjustments every week.

They need a foundation built on sustainable and mindful behaviors and a solid mind-body connection.

They need to learn how to effectively navigate their thought patterns and enrich their relationships to food and their bodies.

This is where I come in!

The vast majority of women are focusing on the wrong things.

They’re focused on the surface-level, tactical nature of food and macros while neglecting the foundation.

It’s no wonder most women struggle to maintain any weight loss achieved! Even when they do, they’re often left unfulfilled, miserable, and obsessed.

Rather, the focus should be on building a long-lasting foundation we can turn to again and again as our lives shift, our bodies change, and priorities adjust.

A foundation that encompasses deep introspection and self-care, awareness of self and our environment, and a partnership with our bodies where we’re working in tandem.

Women often go through years of struggle while attempting to do this alone. 

But why not leverage the guidance and expertise of someone who has not only helped other women overcome these challenges, but has overcome them herself?

When we hire an effective coach, we’re able to:

  • Quickly identify our blind spots

  • Leverage the coach’s personal experience and proven methods of success achieved with other clients

  • Lean on someone else for support and accountability

  • Be seen by and connect with someone who has been where we are

  • Shorten the road to freedom tremendously. The coach has already learned what does and doesn’t work—take advantage of this!

There is absolutely an investment involved, both financially and energetically, but the moment we decide we’re worth it is the day the rest of our lives change.

I decided to invest in my own health coach years ago, and I still invest in coaches proficient in other arenas (i.e. business) today.

When I was struggling with amenorrhea, I was sick and tired of spinning my wheels while I believed I was doing everything right.

SO, I hired a coach who had a reputation in the wellness industry for helping women get their menstrual cycles back and who had overcome the same thing.

Within three months, I got my cycle back, and I learned a very important lesson through that experience.

While I trust my work ethic, dedication, discipline, and thirst for knowledge, I don’t have all the answers. If I’m not willing and committed to accepting help from others and investing in myself, the only person I’m harming is me.

When I tell people about my investments in myself when it comes to coaching—currently business—I am often met with confusion and disbelief.

“Why would you spend money on that when you can spend it on travel, eating out, shopping, etc.?”

Because I believe I’m worth the investment, period.

My well-being and my dreams are worth the investment 1000 times over.

And yours are too!  

Our emotional, mental, and physical freedom around food sets the foundation for us to live fully elsewhere in our lives.

Despite our best intentions, we can’t afford to waste any more time (our most valuable resource) and energy running in circles.

If we truly want to live lives of purpose, meaning, and freedom, we have to be willing to invest in ourselves.

If we don’t, we certainly can’t expect anyone else to.

I’d be thrilled to partner with you on your journey of building a stress-free relationship with food based on freedom and self-trust.

Learn more about my one-on-one coaching sessions here!

How Ditching the Dogma and Embracing the Evidence Helped Me Overcome My Food Obsession

My initial exposure to the world of dieting came in 2004 at the age of 16. After receiving a few comments about my weight and my ability to eat as much as my brothers, I asked a personal trainer about diet and nutrition.

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As you may recall, Atkins was all the rage throughout the first decade of this century, and my trainer had eagerly jumped on board.

“Eat 4-5 times per day, and don’t have more than 15g of carbs per meal.”

These were his explicit instructions to me.

As was expected, I dropped 10-15 pounds fairly quickly, and I instantly assumed the decrease in carbohydrates was the cause of my weight loss. To be fair, this decrease did cause the weight loss indirectly, but it wasn’t the true cause—it was simply correlation.

What was the cause of the change in body composition and scale weight?

1.     Overall decrease in calories

Fast food after school and before volleyball practice was a consistent part of my routine, so removing the extra bread, tater tots, and soda removed a large chunk of calories right off the bat.

The quality of my food choices increased dramatically as a result of restricting carbs, as most processed foods were now off the table, and I didn’t consciously increase my fat or protein intake either.

Overall, I was consuming less food and calories across the board, which was the true cause of the fat loss.

2.     Water Loss

For every 1g of carbohydrate consumed, our bodies hold 3-4g of water. When we decrease our carb intake, it’s very common to experience fast weight loss within the first two weeks. This is largely a loss of water, not fat.

Do you think I had any clue that these two factors were the true causes of my weight and fat loss? That would be a resounding NOPE.

I relied on the opinions of “experts” at the time, and I didn’t have any clue that the information being touted wasn’t based on sound evidence. Embarrassingly, I was regurgitating this information to others left and right.

I truly thought carbohydrates were the source of all illness and fat gain, so the removal of them from one’s diet was the holy grail.

I was flat out wrong, yet I believed this vehemently for almost a decade.

The Carb Mind F*CK

As a result of believing inaccurate information, in addition to being unwilling to having my opinion changed, I wasn’t open to the notion that my overall food intake was the cause of my weight fluctuations.

Rather than take a high-level, holistic view of my diet, I narrowly focused on the number of carbs I consumed.

I believed it was impossible to gain weight without carbs and that the only way to lose fat was to decrease them, so I doubled down. It fewer carbs was good, none must be better, right?

At this point, my view of food was so distorted that I was obsessively eating avocado, eggs, bacon, and any form of additional fat while keeping my carbs extremely low. The new narrative at the time was (and still is with keto), “you have to eat fat to lose fat”, so I didn’t mess around.

Butter in my coffee? Sure!

The fattiest steak on the menu? I need it.

Extra avocado on my already fat dense meal? It’s not a meal without it.

Note that there isn’t anything wrong with these choices, but rather the false information I believed that was governing them. It had nothing to do with what made my body feel good, so I couldn’t even tell you how my body responded.

The large quantity of fat in my diet led to an overall increase in calories that far exceeded the decrease in carbs, so I started to gain weight. WTF?

I must not be low enough on carbs.

Maybe I need to eat more fat to burn the fat. 

Everyone is saying that undereating can lead to weight gain, so maybe I need to eat more.

And so I took it even further by decreasing my carb intake, increasing my fat intake, and eat more in general. Not surprisingly, my weight continued to climb.

I felt like an utter failure, and my neurosis around food was at an all-time high.

Luckily, IIFYM (if it fits your macros) began to make its way onto the dieting scene at this time, and the premise essentially states that we can eat whatever we want, as long as we hit a specific number of carbs, protein, and fat every day.

This was also gaining popularity amongst the Crossfit community due to the higher carbohydrate content of most of the plans, which led to improved performance outcomes.

This illustrated a few things:

  • The three macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat), in addition to alcohol, comprise our overall calorie intake.

  • We can adjust our macros up and down and transfer between the three-four, as long as the calorie target remains the same.

  • There is room for processed foods in a diet, so long as the overall calorie and macro targets are met.

  • Carbs often aid in athletic performance, especially of the anaerobic variety.

  • Carbs are not the enemy, more fat doesn’t lead to fat loss, and calories are king.

  • I WAS SO WRONG. Like, dead wrong.

  • I anticipated that tracking and counting my food wasn’t a good idea for me mentally, but I was so curious about this concept of eating that I decided to partake. 

I quickly realized that my fat consumption was through the roof, my protein was decent, and my carb intake was far too low for the amount of Crossfit I was doing. Additionally, my calorie intake was certainly over maintenance (the amount needed to maintain my weight).

My dogmatic nutrition world was shattered!

I started enjoying rice, tons of potatoes, and processed foods, and I reduced my intake of added fats, like the butter in my coffee, avocado on everything, and fatty cuts of meat.

To be clear, I didn’t go crazy with decreasing my fat intake, but it was now within a moderate range.

I began to realize that I don’t need the additional fat to feel satisfied as I once thought I did.

My plates started to look balanced—my version of balance—with a serving of protein, carbs, and vegetables at most meals, and the fat came from cooking oils and whatever was in the leaner meats. 

Damn—I started to feel great! My performance in the gym improved, I slept better, my hormones started to level out, and I started dropping some fat.

Do I advocate for counting macros?

No, I don’t. At least not long-term.

I quickly realized that counting and tracking my food wasn’t healthy for me mentally (nor worth it), and it isn’t for many. However, I am grateful for some of the lessons I learned:

  • Science and evidence-based approaches reign supreme when it comes nutrition and changes to body composition. I.e. calories absolutely do matter.

  • People on the internet will often claim that the method that worked for them (n=1) will work for everyone. This can greatly harm their followers.

  • Having blinders on about the basics of calories in vs. calories out spun me in circles for years and only furthered my food obsession.

  • Carbs are beautiful creates, and I love them.

  • Most of us eat a lot more fat than we think we do, which is not a bad thing in isolation, but it is often hindering fat loss. And may not be great for our health, either.

  • By knowing what actually works via science, we’re empowered to make changes accordingly if we wish.

  • If a nutrition plan or diet makes claims that sound too good to be true—i.e. “eat as much fat and protein as you want and lose weight!”—it is.

  • Tracking and counting food can be useful for short periods of time to bring awareness to our skewed perceptions of our intake.

  • Tracking and counting food can further neurosis if we attach moral value to the outcome and we can’t eat comfortably without it.

After years of trying almost every diet under the sun, I’m finally content with a moderate approach that is tailored to me based on my lifestyle, preferences, and activity levels.

Opening my mind to scientific evidence was tremendously helpful in getting me here.

Dietary dogma served me in the opposite way.

Science and evidence-based nutrition is only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to developing a healthy relationship with food, but it’s an important one.

And it’s a great way to start embracing the concept that food is just: food!