Notice anything different? I decided to go to town and come up with a bit of a new look for my website. I’ve been refining things a bit. Things about me. Things about who I want to work with. Things about how I can apply what I have learned through my training and my own personal journey to my business. Have any feedback, let me know!
In my introductory post on my blog I briefly touched on the fact that since age 11, I had been on a diet. Obesity has been part of my life from an early age. I started off with Weight Watchers in the 70s where I learned about #3 and #4 vegetables, way before points, or whatever disguise of calorie counting have going on today. I spent my middle school years trying to get to a goal weight of 89 pounds, which, by the way, I never reached.
What did this do? Did it set me up with a knowledge of good nutrition and healthy weight goals? Nope. It set up a history of disordered eating — food as reward, withholding food as punishment, binge eating to drown out emotions, frustration with gaining and losing over the next few decades. Did I mention my father was the Weight Watchers instructor? All my life, I kept hearing that it’s “not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” and “nothing tastes as good as thin feels” and all the other marketing crap that was in at the time. Let’s just say that it didn’t do much for my relationship with my dad either.
Years went by, and while I did get really good at losing weight, I was never able to maintain my weight loss. In my thirties, I was probably considered medically obese when I found out I had a pituitary tumor. Although it was benign, it caused me to overproduce the hormone prolactin, so it had to be medically managed and monitored. I went to an endocrinologist who told me I needed to “eat less and move more.” So continued the compulsive hamster wheel of logging food, burning calories at the gym — but it wasn’t working.
Fast forward past a mounting list of co-morbidities ranging from arthritis, to high cholesterol, to high blood pressure, the pituitary thing and then a thyroid thing, and my weight at its highest shot up to 230 pounds. My primary care doctor gave me a tough love lecture and recommended that I look into a medically managed weight loss program, which was actually a VLCD (very low calorie diet) consisting of high protein shakes for months along with group behavioral counseling and weekly check-ins with a doctor. The good news is I had great success on this program and lost about 80 pounds, but I was never able to maintain the weight loss, even with the continued behavioral meetings and regular accountability. I was exercising — in fact running half marathons — and logging everything I put in my mouth and staying under 1100 calories and averaging 100-120 grams of protein. I was doing everything right. But I was still gaining weight.
Stress, anxiety, depression were all factors — but I was always sure there was something else going on. I felt broken.
In a moment of frustration, the doctors told me that there wasn’t much else they could do for me, as I tried all kinds of medications to support weight loss and to manage the accompanying anxiety and depression which I always associate with my weight and my lifetime of failing to lose and maintain. So they referred me for bariatric surgery.
I actually went to several orientations for different surgeons and did a ton of research about what was entailed and what would need to change after surgery. I chose my surgeon because during her presentation, for the first time in my life, I understood that it wasn’t my fault. I learned that obesity is a disease, that I probably had a genetic disposition for obesity, and that my body was fighting to maintain a higher weight. But also learned that bariatric surgery is a powerful treatment for obesity and related conditions. I knew it was right for me. I was approved for surgery (after a couple of denials and appeals, which is a story for another day) and I had gastric bypass on July 5, 2016.
Fast forward to 2017 – after the first six months of maintaining my goal weight, I came to the sudden realization that I, for the first time since I was 11, was not on a diet. I have rules to follow — I have to take vitamins daily, I need to meet certain macro goals, I cannot eat sugar or fried foods to avoid the dreaded dumping syndrome. My small pouch that replaced my stomach handles all the restriction for me, so I always feel satisfied after meals. I also have made serious adjustments to my thinking — I have learned how to tell when I have reached fullness, and I’ve also learned when I am NOT hungry, just bored or thirsty or some other emotion that I used to quiet by eating. Just the freedom of not being ruled by the scale, calorie counting, and calorie restriction is so empowering.
Diet culture is what set me up for a lifetime of disordered eating, feelings of failure, and a constant battle with the scale and with my own feeling of self-worth.
A few weeks ago, Weight Watchers announced they were going to offer free membership to teens and the Internet blew up. The hashtag #WakeUpWeightWatchers got some major Twitter screen time and the whole response really struck a chord with me. It brought me back to feelings of failure at 11. But it also made me realize how far I had come. My measures of success go way beyond the scale. And it helped solidify my mission to help people struggling with obesity to free themselves from diet culture and set themselves up with healthy lifestyle and nutrition choices. Progress, not perfection. Small changes, small victories, and big celebrations. Everyone’s journey is different, but being your best self is the best reward of a total transformation. And you get to define what that means.
Think about your last visit to the doctor. Did you leave feeling full of energy and vitality, or did you leave with a new diagnosis and prescription? These days, with the obesity rates rising in our nation, it’s likely you were told to lose a few pounds, maybe got a prescription for a statin to help lower your cholesterol, or told you need to eat less and move more.
Our healthcare system is failing us. They’re treating the disease, not the person. Treating the symptoms, but not searching for the root cause. And not really providing any guidance. I mean, come on — how helpful is “eat less and move more”?
The good news is that things are changing. Insurance companies are starting to work on wellness and prevention, rather than just health care as disease care.
Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal, given the chance. But we focus so much on disease, that it puts us at dis-ease.
Healing so many conditions begins with nutrition and mindset. And so many conditions begin with nutrition and mindset. Stress, negativity, and a poor diet can exacerbate any medical condition, and can greatly impede progress toward achieving your optimal health. Stress and anxiety create chemical reactions in the body and result in hormonal imbalance, which can lead to a variety of conditions.
Improving your nutrition and nourishing your body with the nutrients it craves is just the beginning. A diet rich in nutrients fuels your body for healing. Sugar and processed foods can cause inflammation in the body, so crowding out processed foods and adding in fresh fruits and vegetables will make you feel better, and heal better too. You also need to nourish your mind and spirit as well. Reduce stress, increase movement, and find small ways to work joy into your day. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Giving thanks for all that you have and the things that make you happy is a transformative process. You’ll find everything changes with just that small mental shift. Visualize yourself as a picture of health. Celebrate what you see.
I fully believe in western medicine, but I have learned throughout my journey to wellness, that medicine will only get you so far. It’s how you live your life that really makes in impact on how you feel and your overall health.
I’m sure I am not the first to say this, but I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. While January 1 is the first day of a new year, and you can think of it as a clean slate, there’s nothing stopping you from saying that January 27 is a new day and it’s the day I am embarking on my journey.
The truth is that goal setting is a life-long process. I’m sure most of you have heard the acronym SMART Goals. Goals should be:
Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely.
By establishing achievable goals, you set yourself up to succeed. And the goal can be big or small. Starting off small helps you to build your confidence so you can be successful. Starting out on January 1 with a goal to lose 50 pounds maybe specific, measurable, attainable — but is it realistic or timely? Take the time to think about why 50 pounds? What will happen if you lose 50 pounds? Is your goal really about a number on the scale, or is it about better health? Or is it about how you feel about yourself? Some introspection goes a long way when setting these goals.
When working with clients, we start off with some short term goals, then build upon those to set goals for the mid-point, and finally goals for six months. Through the course of the six-month program, we continue to refine goals. Along the journey, you may find that it’s not about losing 50 pounds, it’s about setting up a routine for good nutrition. Or it could be about finding balance in other areas of your life, like career, relationships, or physical activity. Spending some time clarifying your goals really helps set you up for success, but it also forces you to think about your “why.”
So, it’s January 27. Let’s work on some goals!
- Write it down! When you write down your goals, it makes them concrete. Post them where you can see them every day, so you can keep them top of mind as you embark on this journey.
- Visualize the outcome. Create affirmations to help encourage yourself through each step of your action plan. How will you feel when you achieve your goal?
- Hold yourself accountable. Remember your “why.” Especially on tough days. Set up a support system to help with accountability. This could be an app to help you track steps or log food, it can be a close friend or family member, or it could be a health coach. Whatever works for you! Find your support system and rely on it to help you keep your eye on the prize!
- Schedule your time. You have to make time to make your dreams come true. Actually schedule activities on your calendar and make them as important as that big meeting, the kid’s soccer game, or any other obligation you have on your agenda.
- Make self-care a priority. If you don’t take care of yourself first, how can you take care of everyone else. What activities energize you? What rituals do you find relaxing and revitalizing? Build these into your activities to make sure you’re in your top form. Any mood boosting activity will help you stay positive and focused.
Dig deep and really get to the root of all the things you want to accomplish. Have some awesome goals you want to share? Let me know!
Interested in learning more about health coaching and how we can work together to help you achieve great things? Contact me to schedule a free session.
If you are reading this, chances are that you are actively focused on being healthy, getting healthy, or some other wellness related goals. A new year is a great time to start changing your habits, but don’t fall into the New Year’s resolution pitfalls of making your goals too lofty and unsustainable.
When incorporating new healthy routines, whether it’s fitness or nutrition or journaling or whatever, it’s important to connect to the “why” behind it. And to get to the bottom of the “why.” In some coaching guidance I received about goal setting, there’s this theory about the 5 whys. If your goal, for example, is “I want to lose 10 pounds,” ask yourself why, 5 times. It goes something like this:
- I want to lose 10 pounds
- So I can fit into my jeans
- So I can feel better about myself
- Because I want to build my self-esteem and confidence.
- So I can take control of more things in my life.
- So I can feel empowered to change the things I know I need to change.
So…and this is just an example, everyone has their own reasoning — is this really about the 10 pounds? Does the number on the scale really control you that much? I think diving into the rationale behind your goals really helps to structure a clear goal with a visible path forward.
I had this discussion with a client, and it led to a discussion about making some different decisions around meal planning and overall nutrition. When making a change like crowding out animal products or adding in healthy greens, one of the things that can make it feel like less of a sacrifice or deprivation is to track how that change makes you feel. How do you feel when you prepare it, when you eat it, when you get up the next day, or when you’ve done it for the first week? Do you notice improvements in energy, in your sleep, or your focus? Do you feel better that you are doing something for yourself? Seriously, think of all the feelings that food evokes. The notion of comfort food comes into play. If your comfort food in the past has been all the junky foods you’re trying to crowd out, ask yourself whether that food actually provided comfort, or was it a go-to in a mindless, irrational, emotional way?
When you start to pay attention to how you feel after crowding out something, or adding in something new, you start to get to the root of intuitive and mindful eating. This is not something instantaneous – it takes time. But aren’t you worth it?
This week, pick one of your new habits and journal about why you are doing it, and how it makes you feel. Just owning those feelings can be very empowering! And that’s how you nourish yourself, both on and off the plate.
This quick recipe was adapted from a simple quinoa recipe from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I had made it before, but I wanted to make something that incorporated more turmeric which I could include as a nice pairing to the Red Lentil Dal I made earlier.
This “salad” incorporates green onion, fresh basil and parsley, as well as some healthy extra-virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
I typically use grains sparingly as an accompaniment to a salad. The intent today was to pair it with lentils and fresh arugula to get some added greens in my life. The spices blend perfectly with the peppery arugula. This will be a great meal prep meal for me. This can be made vegan, but I used chicken bone broth instead of water for some extra protein and hopefully healing properties for my nagging knee osteoarthritis.
While it takes a lot of turmeric in your diet to have maximum anti-inflammatory effects, supplementation can also help. Check out this article about the benefits of turmeric and turmeric supplementation.
I’ve been exploring the concept of food as medicine as a way to help deal with the pain and inflammation of my knee. So many years of bearing excess weight, and running half marathons at 200+ pounds have caught up with me. I’ve got bone on bone in my left knee, along with damage to all of my ligaments. Since my gastric bypass, I am no longer able to take NSAIDs for inflammation and pain, so I have turned to more homeopathic approaches like arnica, CDB topical products, heat and ice, and food. Yes, food.
Since starting my health coaching program, I have learned quite a bit about the healing properties of a lot of different foods and spices and the benefits of a primarily plant-based diet to help heal a variety of ailments. I recently picked up the book “Healing Arthritis” by Susan Blum. The book connects arthritis to other immune and inflammatory disorders and focuses on restoring gut health, elimination of inflammatory foods, and reducing inflammation without adding medication. I heard Dr. Blum discuss the connection between gut health and arthritis in an interview with Dr. Mark Hyman on Twitter. I’m a skeptic at times, but the science makes sense to me.
Last week I received a few recipes from my own health coach and fellow student at Institute for Integrative Nutrition to address my goals of adding more plant-based foods and more anti-inflammatory, healing foods into my diet. One was this recipe for Easy Vegan Red Lentil Dal, which I ended up pairing with a modified version of a quinoa salad that features turmeric. Seemed like a good pairing.
Both recipes together took me about an hour to prepare and clean up (for me, I need to know how much clean up there will be, and I am definitely getting more efficient about cleaning as I go). I’m definitely going to incorporate these recipes into my food prep tool box. Considering the volume of food I can eat, I may consider cutting the recipe in half next time, or sharing with my food prep clients too. If you try them, let me know what you think!
For Christmas eve, we were asked to come up with some kind of a vegetable side dish to go with dinner, and since I had all the ingredients on hand for this super easy and healthy salad, I proposed this.
My husband isn’t exactly a kale guy, but he knew that there was plenty of other food for him to eat if he didn’t want the salad.
This salad is simple to make and can be done without a whole lot of concentration, and everyone can joke about how you are giving the kale a good massage.
The verdict: thumbs up from everyone. In fact I even got a thumbs up the next day because apparently it made great leftovers too.
That’s my favorite thing about kale. Aside from being nutrient dense and just plain good for you, it’s also pretty hearty in terms of consistence and holds up well when prepped in advance. This is actually a good one to make for meal prep as you can enjoy it for a few days.
The rest of the story: my sister-in-law has what I would consider a dream kitchen. Modern, open, lots of surface space. Multiple people can be making different things without getting in the way of each other. The only think I really needed the stove for was the quick toasting of the almonds. The joy of a gas cooktop is something I can’t describe (since our kitchen is the original harvest gold electric cooktop and is now on it’s last burner). We have been on the hunt for a gas cooktop that would fit in the same space as our current electric one — it’s an odd size. So — we’ll planning a big kitchen remodel! Stay tuned for more as plans take shape.
With all the food prep I’ve been doing, I’ve really started to enjoy spending time in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to inviting clients in for some experimentation with healthy recipes in the new year! Goodbye harvest gold!
It’s not what you think. I am not preparing for the end of the world by stocking up my underground bunker in the middle of nowhere. I find myself at the end of the new year venturing into new territory!
For the last two weeks, I have been testing out a service: meal prep. I’m not just creating Pinterest boards full of bento box perfection (although I did create a Food Prep board). I’ve started preparing meals for a client at her insistence.This wasn’t what I had in mind when I started on this health coaching track, but hey — if I can help someone take control of their health and well-being, why not! She wants to eat healthy, but doesn’t want to take the time to do all of the prep.
I get it. There’s sometimes when it’s easy to grab some pre-boiled eggs and some string cheese and call it a day. But to really eat healthy, to get in your greens and fiber, and all the goodness of whole food nutrition, it takes work and planning.
And meal prep for someone else keeps me on track too. I’m definitely getting more efficient the more I do this.
I thought I would share a few tips for you to try if you’re embarking on a food prep adventure in the new year.
- Planning starts with the menu. Pick a few recipes that you plan to make and that you can make in bulk. I usually will make a few different entrees, a few vegetable side dishes, and sometimes a grain. Then I find a few breakfast recipes like steel cut oats, protein muffins, egg fritatta muffins, and green smoothies. Once I have the menu down, I make a grocery list. Many times I already have a lot of staples at home, but I’ll just need a few extra thing. I also plan things like extra greens for smoothies and salads, fruit and veggies for snacks, and some basic protein options like eggs, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt that can be used at any time for a snack or meal.
- Shopping – I try to do all my shopping at one place, and since I know the layout of our local store well, I try to put my lists in the order that food is laid out at the store. Believe it or not this saves time. For produce, I tend to buy organic, or at least follow the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen guidelines. I also go with frozen organic fruit for smoothies. I consume such a small amount of food, it usually goes bad before I can eat it unless it’s frozen.
- Unpack and prep. Once home, I put away anything I’m not going to immediately use, but I will wash and chop all the veggies needed for recipes so they are good to go.
- Plan your order. If you are roasting vegetables, I try to get those washed, chopped, and prepped to throw in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so, and I can switch out sheet pans as I go. I try to find all recipes that cook at roughly the same temperature to save some time too.
- Clean as you go. I am one of those people who tends to use every bowl, pot and pan in the house when I do food prep. I like to clean up between each recipe to keep things organized and to save some time at the end when the last thing in the world I want to do is wash another dish.
- Package for mix and match. As I prep my food, I portion everything out for my portion sizes that are roughly the same caloric value or macro nutrients. That way, I can just grab a few things to mix and match during the day that can also be interchangeably breakfast or lunch or dinner. I tend to make “buddha bowl” type things where I can add various proteins to greens, grains, roasted vegetables, and maybe add an interesting dressing or sauce, or just top with hummus or some other pureed bean recipe. I like to make it an adventure.
- Save what works! When you find a recipe that’s easy and tasty, make sure you pin it to a Pinterest board or add it to your folder of favorite recipes. You’ll want to add that to the rotation.
- Have fun! Put on some good tunes and your Fitbit and dance around the kitchen. Time on your feet is time you aren’t on the couch, and cooking really can be a lot of fun.
Now that I have a few weeks under my belt of actually doing this for someone else, I can see some benefits for myself. I’m challenging myself to try some new things — like baking. It was never really my thing, but now I have made a number of different sugar free and low sugar treats, and really awesome protein muffins made from black beans!
Whether your goals for 2018 are to eat healthier or move more, there’s a way to build some simple steps into your life to get you on that track. I’d love to discuss your goals and intentions for the year. Are you ready for the big things ahead? I know I sure am! Contact me for a free consultation if your are interested in learning more about health coaching and about how you can incorporate more home cooking into your diet and lifestyle.
We can be our own worst enemy, or, we can be our own best friend. Sometimes a little of both.
When looking at long term goals and achieving satisfaction, whether it’s in career, relationships, creativity, or some other area, we can be our own roadblock. We are sailing along, performing our action steps and doing our due diligence, then suddenly we lose sight of the big picture and start letting things get in our way. Maybe it’s a sense of obligation to others. Maybe it’s the fear of success. Whatever the reason, if you recognize this as a pattern, how do you handle it? How do we find ways to put ourselves first without feeling selfish?
Self-care is not selfish. Self-preservation is not selfish. Treating yourself with kindness is one of the best things you can do for yourself so that you can be more giving to others.
Here are a few tips for nurturing a more positive mindset:
Let it go
Treating yourself with kindness begins with letting go of your negative self-talk. Listen for it. When you hear your inner voice go into that negative space, find a way to turn that thought into something positive. You are awesome! Let that be your mantra.
Compare and Despair
It’s so easy to look around you and feel like a failure when you compare yourself to others. Whether it’s career-related or weight loss, tell yourself, “where you are right now is perfectly okay.” Keeping that single point of focus on achieving your goals will help you get unstuck and help pave your own path and find your best solutions. Great ideas only come to an open mind.
Fear of Change
Think about how things are going for you. Think about patterns you are in. Are you stuck? Well then maybe those patterns aren’t quite the right direction — for you! Think like George Costanza — do the opposite of what you normally do. You may have to get into uncomfortable territory to make a breakthrough.
Turn it around
I’ve said it before — a little gratitude goes a long way for change and personal development. Developing a grateful mindset automatically creates a more positive space for change to happen. Find something to be grateful for in every single bad experience — your own personal silver lining.
Find Your Tribe
Surround yourself with people who support you and uplift your spirits. They will help you find your way and your confidence.
Clear Your Mind
Find ways to incorporate quiet time into your day for meditation, mindful breathing, and to quiet your mind too. Nothing lowers stress levels like clearing your mind and letting the physical tension drift way with some nurturing and calming activities.
Random Acts of Kindness
Do something kind for another person. Kindness is infectious and has a profound effect on your mood and mindset.
You can do this. It really takes discipline to get in touch with yourself and understand the things that are holding you back. Sometimes a simple shift in thinking is what does the trick.
Share some of your strategies in the comments.