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!

How to Have Your Cake & Eat It Too During Fall & Winter

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Fall is in full swing for most of us, and there are so many seasonal foods, drinks, and traditions to enjoy throughout the next few months. I LOVE it!

However, years ago, despite my love for the seasons, the months would pass without me allowing myself to enjoy the full experience. 

Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, mulled wine, hearty casseroles—they weren’t on my list of approved foods, and I hadn’t developed the skills of enjoying the things I wanted without going overboard.

So, I didn’t enjoy them at all.

I deemed them completely off limits, and once Spring rolled around, I would be filled with regret and sadness that I didn’t give myself permission to live in the moment (or season). 

What a damn shame!

Looking back, I meet my former self with compassion and understanding.

After being told for years that so many delicious foods and beverages were poison that would lead to rapid weight gain and/or deteriorating health, it’s no great surprise I acted the way I did.

If this sounds familiar to you today—cut yourself some serious slack!

You’ve been told that everything in your midst is either “good” or “bad”, and you likely haven’t been given the tools to improve your mindset and behaviors around food—the essence of food freedom.

Today, so many of my clients come to me distraught, depleted, and disappointed by their inability to experience life while also keeping their goals and well-being in mind. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s entirely possible with a few strategies.

Pick and choose what you really enjoy

  • Eating everything you might have the slightest craving for will leave you feeling physically unwell, so focus on what is REALLY good to you. I.e. “Is it worth it?”

  • Ask yourself if you’re eating or drinking things simply because they’re in front of you (i.e. stale, run-of-the-mill pumpkin bread vs. a bomb-ass homemade variety).

  • Simply eating whatever is in front of us is typically a byproduct of feeling deprived. In reality, you can choose to eat these foods whenever you want, so you’ll want to raise the bar with your food standards. You deserve the best!

  • Note that this can take time after years of being disconnected with our bodies and preferences, so we’ll need to constantly reassess our experiences.

How do those foods make you feel?

  • In response to the first point, you might be asking yourself, “well what if everything in sight IS really delicious and amazing?” Fair question.

  • We have access to so many enticing things in today’s world, so we need to be mindful of how our choices are going to affect us physically, emotionally, and energetically.

  • I love pumpkin beer, but it gives me a serious headache, so I stay away from it. Pumpkin spice lattes and other seasonal beverages are delicious, but the sugar doesn’t make me feel great if I drink a whole one.

  • Sometimes it’s worth it to accept the trade-off of feeling subpar to enjoy something delicious, and that’s a completely valid choice. Just ensure you’re being mindful and aware enough to be the one deciding!  Food isn’t in the driver’s seat—you are. 

Adjust the Dose As Needed

  • This is one of the most important tools to be aware of: simple portion control. I understand that this concept seems simple enough, but it’s often difficult to execute for many (and it once seemed utterly impossible for me).

  • This is often due to the all-or-nothing mentality with food, so the thought of only having a couple bites or sips seems completely unrealistic. This takes PRACTICE.

  • Practice will lead to wins, where you witness yourself only have a few bites, enjoying yourself, and still feeling physically well.

  • Wins lead to self-trust, and you’ll develop the confidence to know you’re the one in the driver’s seat.

Put It All Together

  • Using self-awareness before making decisions regarding food and asking ourselves:

  • “Do I really want to eat this, or am I simply eating it because it’s in front of me?”

  • “Does this actually taste as good as I want it to?”

  • “If I eat this, how will I feel later?”

  • “If it won’t make me feel great, am I willing to accept the trade-off?”

  • “Will a few bites satisfy me?”

  • “How much can I eat/drink of this while still keeping my physical and emotional well-being in mind?” I.e. “What’s my balance point in this situation?”

Enjoying the seasons fully is a testament to how we’re enjoying our lives at large, and this doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing situation like restrictive ways of eating lead us to believe.

Choosing to dedicate ourselves to finding our own version of moderation when it comes to seasonal experiences takes just that: dedication. Especially in the beginning—but it gets MUCH easier over time. 

We tend to be so afraid of freedom due to lack of self-trust, but the only way to build this is through practice and dedicated consistency.

You absolutely can enjoy everything these amazing months have to offer, and you don’t have to sacrifice your well-being in the process.

The Dreaded Boomerang Effect

One of the primary concerns when considering the concept of giving up control around food is the boomerang effect—eating everything in sight and in massive quantities.

The truth is that yes, it’s common to feel the urge to eat a lot of these foods, and it’s also very common to act on this impulse. This can be a necessary part of the process for many people.

Going to town on these brownies

Going to town on these brownies

However, it doesn’t last forever, because with a newly formed sense of awareness and connection to our bodies, the desire to eat in a way that isn’t uplifting—emotionally or physically—isn’t enticing.  

The allure of these foods quickly diminishes when we realize and accept how they make us feel, and we also become aware of why we’re making the choices we do. This includes overeating in general, too.

These foods are typically processed foods that have been on our “bad” list for years, but I often see clients fearing fruit, rice, and other natural carb sources too (as I once did) or foods that are higher in fat if they’re coming from a low-fat background. Everyone’s food rules are different, so the roads to unlearning vary accordingly.

 It can be incredibly helpful to be aware of the boomerang effect prior to embarking on a more intuitive way of eating in an effort to reduce the fear of it occurring, as it’s nothing to be afraid of!

It can propel us towards healing much more quickly than “dipping our toes in while still holding on to our controlling ways” ever will.

The caveat here is the necessity of presence, awareness, and connection.

Without these elements, we’re simply acting on the opposite side of the same coin: treating our bodies disrespectfully and allowing our egos to run the show while not learning anything about ourselves in the process.

However, it can take time to develop these skills after years of neglect.

The goal is to learn how to effectively and consistently implement the practices of presence, awareness, and connection while simultaneously unlearning the rules we’ve been told about our own bodies.  

Sound complicated?  It really isn’t once you have an idea of how and where to start! 

Meditation: This is the simplest, fastest, and most widely available way to develop a sense of presence and awareness of both our physical bodies and our internal landscapes.

When we sit in silent meditation, we’re forced to bear witness to our thoughts and any discomfort that arises. As a result, we become aware of our thoughts, emotions, and urges related to food and our bodies. This is absolutely essential to the process.

Pause before, during, and after eating: meditation will naturally lead to greater awareness during daily activities, but making a concerted effort to check in with our physical bodies and our emotions to understand what we really want and need in that moment is extremely important.

It takes time for this to become a habit, so be patient with yourself! Start by checking in before eating, especially snacking, and once you’re consistently implementing this at least 80% of the time, you can then add “during” and “after” to your practice.

Journal: We can evaluate the choices we’re making and their short-term and long-term effects much more effectively and quickly when we write them down and put our thoughts on paper. This enables us to connect the dots and really get clear on how our choices are affecting our bodies (energy levels, digestion, menstrual cycles, workout performance, skin, etc.).

Additionally, and often more importantly, we need to write about how our emotional and internal states are contributing to the choices we’re making. Does stress lead to overeating and eating foods that don’t make you feel well? Are you using food to cope when you feel lonely? Do you tend to eat highly processed foods during the work week because you’re miserable at your job? These are a few of the REALLY important things to understand about ourselves, and even bringing awareness to them is often enough to change our behavior.

Keep an open mind: this may seem obvious, but it’s impossible to “unlearn” rules if we’re convinced that we already know everything there is to learn. I certainly fell into this trap when I first began my journey, as I was all-in on eating according to hunger and satiety signals, but I wasn’t willing to let go of my dogmatic low-carb and paleo approach.

It wasn’t until I accepted that I may have more to learn that I was finally able to fully connect with my body and listen to what it was telling (read: screaming at) me.

The process isn’t black-and-white

The outcomes of these steps aren’t necessarily prescriptive, rigid, or black-and-white, and this can cause a sense of unease with many former dieters due to the freedom involved. And I get it! I’ve been there.

However, while it’s human nature to crave certainty, most things in life don’t fall into this category, and our relationships with food are no exception. This stuff is layered and nuanced—cultural ties, personal memories and emotions, forms of celebration, fuel for performance, personal preferences, suitability to lifestyles, effects on cognitive abilities, type and duration of activity, and many more. 

It will take time to discover how all of these layers stack up and align for YOU, but the beauty of this tailored approach is that it’s created by you, for you—with your own body and intuition as your guide.

The boomerang effect might be part of your journey, but it certainly isn’t the last stop. It’s merely a byproduct of unlearning everything you’ve assumed over the years, and freedom is surely on the other side.

We Can Use Our Past Extremes to Our Advantage (Before & After & After & After Pics)

The exploration of our edges and living in extremes can be incredibly valuable. For most who struggle with their relationships with food and their bodies, they’ve inhabited one or both ends of the spectrum. I sure have spent my fair share of time on both ends. 

Swearing not to eat until I felt faint, vomiting, insane amounts of exercise to burn off and earn my food, only eating foods from a specific list, intermittent fasting on top of an already restrictive diet, swearing off all coffee and alcohol, and trying every diet known to man.

Around 2006 - Before my weight was brought to my attention for the first time in high school.

Around 2006 - Before my weight was brought to my attention for the first time in high school.

2007 - After several months of restriction, I was LOST. Zero period & absolutely miserable.

2007 - After several months of restriction, I was LOST. Zero period & absolutely miserable.

Circa 2008. I went up and down several times per year in weight during college, which the highest being 15-20 lbs. more than today.

Circa 2008. I went up and down several times per year in weight during college, which the highest being 15-20 lbs. more than today.

Binging until I physically couldn’t move and was in so much pain, eating in secrecy, anxiously eating while hungover or drunk after days of restriction, eating chocolate chip cookies every time I passed through the kitchen every Thanksgiving break, stuffing myself with food—didn’t matter the type—and eating well beyond what my body wanted, binge drinking until I blacked out multiple times per week, drinking so much coffee I nearly induced panic attacks, and not moving my body for days.

Post college 2012-2013! Still boozing until I blacked out a couple times per week, eating garbage all weekend, and being incredibly strict during the week.

Post college 2012-2013! Still boozing until I blacked out a couple times per week, eating garbage all weekend, and being incredibly strict during the week.

After returning from three months abroad in Asia in 2014. My body dropped weight without giving it a second thought after I committed to only listening to my body and doing what FELT good and true to me. Major turning point for me.

After returning from three months abroad in Asia in 2014. My body dropped weight without giving it a second thought after I committed to only listening to my body and doing what FELT good and true to me. Major turning point for me.

Last weekend! Letting my intuition guide my choices, which aligns with the season of life I’m in.

Last weekend! Letting my intuition guide my choices, which aligns with the season of life I’m in.

Like a pendulum, I swung from one extreme to the other, and looking back, I learned a lot while I inhabited both.

  • Restriction and living according to rigid rules are soul-sucking.

  • My body doesn’t subscribe to a playbook, as it doesn’t have the same needs day-in and day-out. I need flexibility with how I eat and move.

  • Someone providing me with rules about how to live instantly makes me anxious. I hate nothing more than being told what to do, especially arbitrarily.

  • Overdoing it on things that are “pleasurable”—like processed foods, booze, significant amounts of food, sitting on my ass for too long—makes those things unenjoyable. In fact, it makes me resentful of them.

  • Spending all of my time thinking about food, either how little or how much I’m able to eat, is a substitute for feeling something deeper; a distraction.

  • Inhabiting one end of the spectrum for too long will—without a doubt—force me to the other end.

  • My body doesn’t feel alive, energetic, or like it’s my own when I’m under or overdoing it with food or exercise.

  • It’s nearly impossible to overdo it with too little or too much when I’m present. Disconnection—both mind and body—is necessary for us to live in extremes.

  • I’m most myself energetically, physically, emotionally, and mentally when I’m balancing pleasure and discipline, and these two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • Going to extremes on rare occasions can be nourishing for the soul, although rarely for the body. It’s OK to make this sacrifice when I’m actively choosing this, and the choice is coming from a present, centered, and grounded place. I.e. I’m not using it as a distraction.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, and I wouldn’t have been able to discover these valuable nuggets of information without exploring the edges of extreme behaviors and states of being. 

Does everyone need extremes to live in balance? No. But if you have a personality type similar to mine, where you “have to touch the stove to know it’s hot”, as my dad used to say to describe me, then it may be best to view these experiences with gratitude.

They teach us our limits, and they allow us to know ourselves on a much deeper level. The facilitate our growth, and they put us on the fast track to self-discovery.

This is all contingent upon us being ready to accept the lessons by establishing a foundation of self-worth and respect, of course, otherwise the motivation to cease the cycle of self-harm won’t exist.

However, sometimes the birth of this foundation is derived from hitting rock bottom. From being so obsessed and controlled by food and our inner demons that we have no other choice but to make changes.

Regardless of where you are in your journey, don’t be afraid to reframe your “negative” experiences and use them to your advantage. Make a list of everything you learned, the things you’ll no longer tolerate, and how those moments will benefit you going forward.

Perspective is a magical thing, and the lens through which we’re viewing ourselves, our past, and our future is everything. How can you use your past to inform your present and future?

Focusing on Food BEHAVIORS & Why Decreasing Intense Exercise is Helpful When Healing Our Relationships with Food

Yoga and walking were the only activities I did for a few months while I honed and solidified my eating behaviors.

Yoga and walking were the only activities I did for a few months while I honed and solidified my eating behaviors.

I distinctly remember my first foray into intuitive eating. I was living at home in Albuquerque, NM with my parents after graduating college while I studied for my CPA exam, and my body and mind were utterly exhausted from years of binge drinking and obsessing over my body and food.

After years of following rules, counting carbs, starving then binging, and soaking up every latest-and-greatest celebrity diet, I decided to turn inward. I declared that my body would be my guide while I leveraged a few loose (very loose) guidelines.

My main prerogative was normalizing my relationship with food, so I focused on my behaviors:

  • Eating when hungry; stopping before I was full
  • Bringing awareness to when I was eating out of boredom or another emotion
  • Paying attention to my habits of mindless eating and snacking
  • Asking myself if my choice now was worth the consequences later (it certainly was at times)
  • Only engaging in calming and stress-free physical activity, which included yoga and walking

That last item is key, because had I engaged in my usual exercise routine of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and long runs, it would have been much more difficult to practice and solidify the aforementioned behaviors.

Intense physical activity can be a hell of a lot of fun, but it forces us to pay more attention to our food, lest we risk feeling like crap, throwing our bodies out of balance, and experiencing subpar or decreasing performance.

If we’re demanding a lot out of our bodies, it makes sense that we have to fuel them appropriately via adequate calories, protein, carbs and fat. This means paying more attention to our food, not less.

For someone overcoming obsessive and neurotic food behaviors, this isn’t ideal.

Where to Start

Overdoing exercise often works in tandem with restrictive food behaviors, so releasing both at the same time can be unsettling.

However, trust me when I say that this puts you on the fast track to understanding your body, normalizing your relationship with food, and then being able to return to your usual fitness habits (if you so choose) with a much more enjoyable counterpart: the fuel.

So, where do you start?

By slowly scaling back your intense activity and replacing it with more stress-free movement:

  • Slow walking (no power walking)
  • Yoga (no sculpt or intense power yoga)
  • Strength training (that doesn’t go to failure and leaves plenty of rest between sets)
  • Leisurely hikes
  • Any mildly strenuous outdoor activity, like skiing, snowboarding, or rock climbing. Bonus points for the calming effects of nature!

If you’re currently exercising five days per week intensely, replace three of those days with one of the activities mentioned above. Please note that this doesn’t mean walking for hours either—the goal is less, not more!

Notice I’m not asking you to completely remove your favorite activity—simply to scale back temporarily.

Utilize this time to reconnect with your body and SLOW DOWN. It’s really difficult to connect and listen when we’re moving a mile a minute. Which I understand is many of our baselines, but try to keep your eye on the long-term goal here:

To be able to return to your intense activity with a newfound understanding of your body, how to fuel it, and your food behaviors—all while approaching it with a sense of calm, trust, and ease.

Weight loss is often an ancillary result of this approach too, which is shocking to most clients (as it was for me in the beginning too).

We’re taught that more is better, both in volume and intensity, but that simply isn’t true. Our bodies aren’t mechanical machines—they’re independent ecosystems that are always trying to find a place of peace and balance.

It’s amazing what can happen when we finally meet them there and decide to be on the same team.

Sounds pretty nice, right?

Before you jump into tracking macros or trying another restrictive diet that promises to provide all of your answers, ask yourself if your behaviors around food are sound.

These are the building blocks for any changes you’ll make going forward—take the time now to build your foundation.

As my dad used to tell me as a child after I attempted every short-cut in the book during my first go-round:

“Do it right the first time, and you’ll save yourself so much time in the end.”

-       Bill