FEAR - How It's Preventing You From Changing Your Food Habits & How to Change Your Relationship With It

Fear is a tricky S.O.B. isn’t it?

You may have heard that FEAR stands for “false evidence appearing real”. Most of the time, this is absolutely the case!

Note: fear is not to be confused with danger, which is valid (e.g. you’re being attacked).

Our reptilian or monkey brains are wired in such a way that they find fear in unwarranted situations in an effort to protect us.

They’re doing it from a place of protection! Isn’t that sweet?

(Slightly sarcastic, but also genuine).

With this in mind, we can view our fear-based thoughts through a lens of gratitude and compassion, as they’re only trying to protect us. As a species, we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

However, we need to use discernment with these thoughts.

We need to take a step back and detach from them, observe them through a neutral lens, and ask ourselves what they’re trying to show us.

For example, many of my clients are met with fear-based thoughts when they decide to put in the work to transform their relationship with food and their body. 

“I’m just going to blow up, and my body is going to betray me.”

“It’s not safe to relinquish control and stop tracking my food, because I’ll be out of control.”

“It’s not clicking quickly enough. My body isn’t changing. I knew this wouldn’t work for me.”

“I need to see changes RIGHT NOW! My body can’t be trusted, so I can’t stop trying to actively manipulate my body.”

These are very common fears, and they’re absolutely understandable. You’ve likely been led to believe that

  • your body doesn’t hold any innate wisdom.

  • without tracking and restricting, your body will betray you.

  • without constantly hustling for perfection and trying to manipulate your body, you’re a failure.

  • change has to be drastic and immediate! That you need to see physical changes right now.

These fears were given to us, and if we follow the breadcrumbs, these fears are very often rooted in the false belief that without that “body” and perfect food regimen, we’re not good enough.

We have a primal desire to feel a sense of belonging, so our brains are trying to do us a solid by presenting us with these fear-based thoughts. They’re trying to help!

However, that fundamental belief isn’t true (even if you can’t fully embrace that today).

So, what is the antidote?

1.     In the long-term, work on changing that core belief of you not being good enough without perfection with eating habits or your body. Where did it come from? Who gave it to you? Do you apply that logic to your loved ones? Or the child version of yourself? Start there, and journal your big heart out on repeat! 

2.     In the short-term, meet those fear-based thoughts with a sense of curiosity! Ask them, “What are you trying to protect me from right now?” Acknowledge them, thank them for trying to protect you, and give them space to come and go.

Your rational brain and your body can then be used to arrive at the next conscious decision for you, and fear will no longer be in the driver’s seat!

Change is uncomfortable, without a doubt. Our monkey brains (ego) will come up with a million reasons why it isn’t safe to take a different approach with food and our bodies.

Our job isn’t to control those thoughts, but rather to manage our relationships with them.

Tell them hi, thank them for their presence, and then take the empowered action the highest version of you really wants to take! That’s the only way to grow into the next (intuitive & empowered) version of you, after all💃

4 Steps to Keeping "Trigger" Foods in the House (& eventually forgetting they're there)

I eat ALL the things, and I do so regularly within my own home and without stress!

I eat ALL the things, and I do so regularly within my own home and without stress!

I keep my favorite (former “trigger”) foods in the house at all times, and I experience ZERO self-doubt or anxiety with this. I no longer say to myself:

I can’t have that in the house, otherwise I’ll eat it all.

I have to throw the rest of that away, or I’ll inhale it all.

I don’t have any self-control around XYZ food.

I’m an all-or-nothing person when it comes to food.

I’m just an abstainer, so I can’t have those foods around.

However, I used to say and vehemently believe every single one of those!

I believed I was destined to live a life of mistrust with food.

Any delicious processed foods, including ice cream, cookies, peanut butter, tortilla chips, you name it. I really don’t discriminate, and I used to live in fear of ALL of them. Truly.

I believed that I just didn’t come with the genetic programming that allowed me to eat these foods consciously and in moderation.

“How can those women just not finish the whole thing? And not even think about it?”

That kind of life and interaction with food felt impossibly out of reach.

As per usual, that was a lovely little story I acquired somewhere along the way of my journey (i.e. life), and from where I was standing, it wasn’t malleable. That narrative was solidified.

Thankfully, as I continued to practice meditation and mindfulness consistently, my awareness of these thought patterns and false identities came to light.

I thought to myself:

“Maybe these are just narratives that are convenient for me. Perhaps they’re enabling me to stay stuck, whether I want to be or not. Is it possible that these aren’t true?”

I challenged the assumptions about myself and my relationship to these foods, and that sliver of doubt of the validity of those stories was all I needed to jumpstart this reformation.

That sliver was the gateway to a whole new realm of possibilities for me and my food stories, and while uncomfortable at first, it quickly became liberating AF! 

With freedom comes responsibility, however. We’re forced to take responsibility for our attitudes and actions. Playing the victim just doesn’t jive with food freedom, so accept that now, and the process will be MUCH easier. And a hell of a lot more fun!

So, how did I go from: 

living in complete fear of the most delicious foods and banning them from my house

to 

welcoming any and all foods into my house and onto the table while being able to have one bite, three bites, the whole thing, or none at all? Or even forget I have them in the first place? 

Four Steps to Keeping Trigger Foods in the House (and eventually forgetting you have them)

1.     Be open to the possibility that all the stories you’ve told yourself about your ability to trust yourself around food are false. This might shatter your identity of “abstainer”, or any other label you’ve given yourself. All we need is an open mind right now. It’s OK to still be somewhat skeptical!

2.     Get rid of “good” and “bad” food labels. Unless you truly need to avoid particular food (s) for health reasons, tell yourself it’s OK to eat it. Hell, I even eat the foods I have intolerances to when I choose, and I’m still alive! Neutralizing foods is KEY to being able to have them around you at any time, in any quantity.

Think of it this way: some foods are more calorically dense, or nutrient dense, or calorically light, or nutrient light. Sure, they have different effects on the body, and some can be considered more physically healthy, but that’s meaningless if we don’t have a mentally or emotionally healthy relationship with food. Some feed our physical health; some feed our souls.

3.     Exposure therapy: start adding these “trigger” foods into your routine on a REGULAR basis, starting with small amounts, building trust, and then adding more. Let’s use dessert as an example, as this is a common one amongst clients.

Start by ordering dessert whenever you’re at a restaurant. Consciously decide beforehand that you’re only going to have 1-3 bites, and you can even tell the company you’re with that this is your plan. DO THIS CONSISTENTLY!

You’ll feel uncomfortable in the beginning—100%. You’re rewiring your habit loops, so you’re going to be met with internal resistance, but I promise it gets easier! This proves to your brain that you can—in fact—eat a few bites. 

Once you’re comfortable with that, bring single servings into your home. It’s common for eating habits to shift once we’re in the comfort of our own homes, so this may present a new wave of discomfort. Again, you’re teaching your brain new ways of interacting with these foods, so there will be resistance in the beginning! Commit to a few bites daily.

Once consistently comfortable with this, then bring multiple servings into your home (i.e. an entire batch of brownies, the whole jar of PB, the bag of chips). The work here is to continue to have only a few bites at a time.

By slowly exposing yourself to these foods over time, you’re rewiring the habit loops in your brain, and you’re witnessing yourself develop trust around these foods.

Eventually, you’ll find yourself able to just a few bites, the whole serving, or none at all without batting an eye!

4.     Consider integrating these foods into your diet MORE often. Say what? Yes, by continuing to proactively include small amounts of these foods on a regular basis, you won’t ever feel like you’re “missing out” on anything, you’ll continue to remain satisfied, and you’ll consistently reinforce trust around these foods!  

I have found that this isn’t a requirement for everyone, but it can be really helpful if you’re starting to feel less than satisfied with your meals day-to-day, which may eventually lead to a binge. Add in more pleasurable foods, and continue to work that trust muscle while you’re at it :)

Avoidance of certain foods might seem like the best approach in the short-term—out of sight, out of mind. However, this approach leaves us completely powerless when we’re eventually exposed to these foods, as we haven’t developed the SKILL of moderation after years of all-or-nothing.

We don’t come out of the womb with extreme attitudes or relationships with food. These are learned over time, and without awareness, they can easily become part of our identities.

Just as they were learned, they can be unlearned!

The solution is to unlearn those stories and habits, and we do this SLOWLY over time with a multi-pronged approach of tackling mindset and action.

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!

Are You Abusing Exercise?

Exercise gives us endorphins, and it’s a beautiful thing, really! 

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Having a shit day? Get that anger out, girl.

Trouble processing emotions and feel stuck? Get yo’ ass moving and see things much more clearly.

Need to transition from “part one” of your day to “part two”? Exercise is my preferred way to do it!

It’s a valid method of moving through and processing emotions. After all, emotions bring energy with them, and it needs to continue onward—lest it stay with us.

But, when do we transition from using exercise to benefit our emotional and physical well-being to using it as a scapegoat, distraction, or projection of negative emotions towards ourselves? 

When does our use of exercise turn from healthy to unhealthy?

When we’re not aware of our motivations.

Without awareness of WHY we’re exercising, we may be distracting ourselves from more deeply rooted items that need our attention.

More often than not, addressing these underlying matters is what will truly lead to contentment. Exercise is simply a band-aid.

If this sounds familiar to the use of food—either via eating or restriction—you’re right. Many women use both exercise and food as coping mechanisms, but it’s helpful to look at them in isolation. 

How do you know if your use of exercise is beneficial and healthy?

Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

If the honest answer(s) is derived from a negative place, then we need another game plan. Examples include:

  • shame for food choices

  • disgust with your body as it is today

  • to build a body to please others

  • to distract yourself from issues at home, work, relationships, etc.

  • to prove your worthiness by being an athlete

  • to prove your worthiness by changing your body

  • to prove your worthiness by working harder than everyone else

  • to convince yourself that you’re moving towards greater fulfillment, when what you’re really seeking is deeper connection with yourself and/or others

  • to receive love, attention, or validation from others

Positive, healthy reasons to engage in exercise may include:

  • to challenge yourself and prove that you can do hard things. The key here is to ensure you’re doing this for yourself, not to prove anything to others

  • to build strength, endurance, or power in your body so that you’re a more capable human

  • to build parts of your body based on your own aesthetic preferences, while understanding that this has zero impact on your worth as a human

  • to calm or reset your mind

  • to get out of your head and into your body

  • because it’s enjoyable AF

 These will look different for everyone, and each list can continue in perpetuity.

The key is to be completely honest with ourselves when we look at our intentions, and oftentimes, this awareness is only heightened when we’re forced to take a break.

Health concerns, injuries, and various other life circumstances will force us to pause, to change our exercise routines, or to perhaps stop them altogether. 

This can be challenging, humbling, and frustrating as all hell.

We may even find ourselves in a full-blown identity crisis if exercise—especially of the intense of competition variety—has become part of who we are.

While this may sound miserable, we can use situations like this to our advantage. 

We can use them as opportunities to face ourselves, to show ourselves compassion and grace, and to identify what we truly need.

I found myself in this situation in during the Spring of 2018 when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I had been feeling terrible for months, and that diagnosis was the wakeup call I needed to finally take a step back from my intense exercise regimen and REST.

My 4-5 times per week CrossFit habit changed to leisurely walks and some weightlifting three times per week.

I didn’t become a couch potato by any means—as my body didn’t warrant that protocol—so I was shocked to discover my discomfort with zero intense exercise.

No chasing the clock.

No pushing my body to the point of complete exhaustion.

No competing with others in class.

No using exercise to get my brain to work because I was too exhausted and overworked for it to function normally on its own. 

Rather, I was forced to sit with the discomfort. 

And I pondered. 

Why is this so uncomfortable for me?

What have I been avoiding?

What am I really doing it all for?

Some of the answers that came up included:

  • avoidance & denial of feeling physically unwell when not exercising, as the endorphins made me feel better for the hours after a workout.

  • identifying with going “all out” during every workout, otherwise I felt like a wimp, pansy, and average.

  • proving my worth to the world by pushing myself harder than others.

  • an inability to show myself grace when I’m not good at something. To not push to be better was unacceptable in my eyes, even when it wasn’t making me any happier or fulfilled in the long-run.

  • making myself feel accomplished in an area I’m comfortable with—physical activity—so that I could placate my avoidance of things I’m uncomfortable with: business ventures and some areas of relationships.

We’re pretty great at rationalizing our choices and projecting them as healthy to the outside world.

After all, very few people—if any—truly know our motivations behind our seemingly healthy exercise habits.

WE are the ones with the answers.  We may be the only ones seeing all the cards.

Therefore, it’s our responsibility to ourselves to be honest about where we are & where we really want to go.

If any of this sounds familiar, consider taking the uncomfortable route. Consider sitting with the discomfort, rather than running (quite literally) from it.

Take a break—ideally a couple months—from the intense exercise you’re used to and allow yourself the opportunity to uncover what’s lurking beneath the surface.

You can always return to your current exercising ways if you so choose—perhaps in a different format, cadence, or intensity—and you’ll be doing so from a much more positive and life-enhancing place.

Don’t let something with so much life-promoting & enjoyment potential become your worst enemy simply because you’re replacing one form of discomfort for another.