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What path led you to where you are today?
That’s definitely a loaded question and I will try to go only on one avenue for this because there’s a lot of things go into why we make the decisions we make and the paths we take. I am a Serial entrepreneur. I discovered very soon that I cannot work in an office. I’ve done all sorts of office work, office management, I worked for different non-for-profits, and I worked at a massive Bank in the headquarters for a while, and that was the big wake-up call for me for a few things. It really showed me that the nine to five grind in the office was not for me after I started developing a lot of stomach pain. It wasn’t heartburn, it was just this really bad pain, and I was stressed all the time and I got so far as say I I’m not doing this. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve had a few businesses I started. I’ve been a translator for many years this is still something that I do a little bit of. I’ve tapered out a lot in that it used to be a full-time uh job and now I got to a point where I had translated everything that I felt that I could. I’ve done books, I’ve done love letters, I’ve done John Deere farming equipment manuals, so I’ve translating everything, so I got to a point where I just felt like okay, I’ve gone through everything that I could in this field, so now I very rarely do that. As a hobby years and years ago, I started a photography business which I loved. It was very interesting and I did that a lot to the point where my husband quit his job and went to work with me full time in the photography business, and we got pregnant we had our son, and we soon decided to have another and then came our daughter and that’s when I got to the point where it was several shoots a week, several events, I mostly worked with pregnancies and families and it got to a point where I was completely burned out. I had no creativity in me anymore for this business. However, my husband kept it going and we moved to Canada a few years after that and here in the region he’s one of the top wedding photographers. So, I say that my claim to fame is to discover that he was such an amazing photographer.
Why all this matters to where I am today is because a thread in all of this was that since a very young age food has been a reward system for me. The way I was raised if something great happened, what do you want for lunch, or where do you want to eat, or what food you want. Something bad happened, oh you’re upset, what would you like to eat to feel better. That was a thread for me growing up and through all of these changes and these stressors, food was always my coping mechanism. For the longest time I actually saw this as something awful, now with all the knowledge that I’ve acquired, and with the people that I have worked with I have come to see that it’s a very neutral thing. We all have coping mechanisms, mine just happened to be food.
The downside of this is that it was really bad for my physical and my emotional health. I got to my heaviest weight a few years before getting pregnant and I said: okay, I don’t want to get pregnant at this weight, this has got to change. So, I bought one of these big famous programs and I did it, and of course it worked. Then right when I reached my goal weight, I got pregnant and then I just ate. In Brazil they say that you’re eating for two, so you have to eat a lot, but that’s just not how it works. You don’t actually need to eat for two people because you’re growing a human, you don’t have a grown human in you. But there was a lot of that and what I discovered at the end at the other side of that and kind of in between pregnancies, about a year and a half there, I just ate and dealt with food however felt most comfortable. I got pregnant again, moved to Canada and then I reached what was actually my highest weight that I’ve ever had and what I found looking back was that I had lost weight before, of course there were diets in the middle, most people who have weight issues we don’t ever go on one diet. We’ve been on multiple diets. You’ve tried all the unicorn solutions, right?
There were diets in the middle, and I’d lose a little bit and gain that and a little bit more and then lose and gain it and gain a little bit more and looking back I found that the only time that I had actually reached my goal weight I hadn’t learned anything. Nothing had stuck. I was following a set of rules that I didn’t really buy into, and I said okay I got to a point when weight was actually the least of my issues. At that point I was not being a great wife, I was snappy, I was nitpicky. You know when everything your partner does just drives you crazy? That’s the person I was. There wasn’t Grace, there wasn’t… everything drove me crazy. I wasn’t a good mom; I was yelling at my kids. I have the two most wonderful, most amazing humans that I get to parent, and I was just frustrated and angry all the time, but I was frustrated and angry with myself too. I looked in the mirror and I would literally, and this is painful for me to even look back and say, it but I would look in the mirror I would say: you’re disgusting, look at you. How dare you leave the house looking like that. What’s wrong with you?
And then I’d go and grab a chocolate bar, or an ice cream, or whatever it was and just binge on that thing, all the while every single bite just saying: you shouldn’t be doing this. How dare you. You’re an awful person, you’re disgusting. Why are you doing this to yourself. I got to a point where I couldn’t stand any of that, and I said: okay, something’s got to give. Something’s got to change.
There’s no way to sugar-coat this. It was a lot of work. It was a lot of work because what I have found for myself, and what I found for my clients is that when you begin to work on your relationship with food, when you begin to work on having a balanced relationship with food, you have no choice but to work on yourself. You have no choice but to work on your values, to work on what you really want or don’t want for yourself. Because food is such a coping mechanism for anybody who struggles with weight, we have to look at things that go deeper than the food. We
have to look at why we’re using food and that takes work, and it was a lot of work. As I got better and as I learned, and as I worked through so many issues, it changed my parenting, it changed my marriage, it changed my friendships, it changed how I looked at myself.
Also, my frustration with the nutrition industry. Because you know it started out where I was, and please don’t do this and if you have, try to delete it from your brain. I was watching all those Netflix documentaries and I was listening to all the famous people online and the more I started digging, and I’m a curious person. I always did really well at school, I like to go beyond just the information you’re giving me, so just telling me something, that’s not enough for me. I want to know why you’re saying that and as I started digging, I started learning just how sick this industry is and just how fear-based it is. So many of these things that are paraded around as truth, they’re just at prison of fear for people. These rigid, strict rules… I’d lived through the rules and I nothing changed in the long run, so that’s when I said: Okay I need more than just searching out information for myself, which is when I decided to get certified in nutrition. The first program I did was with the Clean Health Fitness Institute, it’s an Institute out of Australia and it was a program designed by Dr Lane Norton and I did this program just because I wanted
to learn, I wanted to have information that wasn’t just blog posts on the internet. So, I started to dig in and I fell in love with nutrition. I fell in love with understanding better what worked for me, how my body worked, what my body responded to, and so it was a very personal process for me and in that process I found that there were certain people in my life who started to ask questions, and they started to say okay but what’s going on? Why are you doing this? What’s happening? What changed?
People that knew me from the days of the crazy diets of like: you can’t eat any carbs, or I can’t eat any sugar, or I can’t eat any whatever. I can’t eat after a certain time, or I can’t eat before a certain time, whatever it was that I was going through suddenly people saw me with a completely
different approach to food, but also with a body that not only was slimmer because yes, the weight came off, but I was much healthier, my skin looked different, my hair looked different, I had more energy for day-to-day life, and people saw that my relationship with food had changed.
Having these conversations with people is what led me to say: I think I would like to do this as a job. I want to help people get out of that prison that I used to live in and that’s when I decided to do a bigger, longer certification which is with Precision Nutrition, which is an amazing International nutrition program and it was such a huge learning process for me, and it was just this big thing of saying yes, this is something that I want to just pour into in helping people get rid of all of those rules, and all those things. It was a very personal journey that led me to say this is something that I love to do.
Was it a smooth path, and if not, what struggles have you faced. Is it still work for you?
Yes. I love this quote, I have no idea who said this, I had a friend say this to me once, but he said the problem is never what you don’t know. The problem is what you know for sure, but you’re wrong.
There are a lot of things that we know for sure when it comes to health and we are absolutely, 100% wrong. For me I would say that initially the biggest struggle I faced was the struggle of unlearning, of questioning these things that come to us as absolutes. In the field of nutrition… nutrition is a very new science still. It’s not something that we have that much information on, we are still studying, we’re still discovering, there’s so much that we don’t know. So many people in this industry they would like you to believe that there are absolutes. There are very few absolutes in nutrition.
That was a first struggle for me, and it’s a struggle that I still face sometimes because some of these things were so ingrained that it’s still hard sometimes to just take a step back. To give a practical example, the week before my period I am hungrier. Now, this isn’t just me, this is true for most women. You’re hungrier, and you’re hungrier for comfort food, whatever that means for you. I have a sweet tooth; it takes an inordinate amount of sugar for me to start feeling bad or unwell physically. The week before my period not only am I hungry, not only am I more sluggish, I don’t have the same energy for my workouts, but I want a lot of chocolate. I want a lot of sugar. That’s something that I crave, and it took me a long time to understand that there’s nothing wrong with that. Being a woman sometimes sucks!
Everything changes from one week to the other right? It took me such a long time to accept that that’s okay, and then to accept that yes, I can eat more of certain things during this week without telling myself that I’m bad, that I’m nasty, that I’m disgusting, or that I’m going to lose all my progress. I can dial down a little bit on my workouts because I just don’t have the physical strength during those days to push as hard. So those are things that are so ingrained in us, we’ve told ourselves these lies for so long that it’s really hard to break free of them.
I would say that it’s it feels really good not just for myself, but whenever I work with clients, I understand so deeply what it is that they’re going through that whenever these wins happen for me, I have these moments of going like yes! I went on vacation, and I didn’t freak out. It was all eating out and I was okay. The scale went up two pounds, who cares. I’m going to poop it out in a day or two, right? So, for me that’s a big win, but also like it’s such a feeling of accomplishment to hear other women saying the same thing. To just hear that freedom.
So, it’s still a struggle. I feel like whatever it is that we are working on as humans, whatever we really need to work on, we’re going to be working on forever. But it’s not that it gets easier, it’s just that I have better tools. I know more, I’m much stronger emotionally and mentally and physically to deal with these things. So, I still struggle, it’s just the struggle isn’t as hard anymore.
Who is your target audience?
When I started out, I really didn’t have an audience in mind and I know that’s a business No-No, we learn you have to have to know exactly who you’re helping I had no idea because for me I didn’t start this out thinking as a business. I was just doing this, but it developed into, I’ll work with men, I mean guys are great, but I prefer to work with women. It’s just different, how our body works, how your body processes food, just the whole thing it’s a lot different for women and men.
So, my audience is women over 30, moms that are not looking to be bikini competitors, just looking to feel good, and sexy, and happy in their own skin. And that feeling of I can prioritize myself; I can be healthy; I can look good. As a society after you become a mother there’s a shift that happens which is really, really sad. I love being part of the solution to this. There’s a shift where you’re a mom so you can’t be sexy anymore. You’re a mom, you can’t be interesting anymore. You’re a mom… it’s like you lose part of your identity, and so many people they “let go” of themselves.
It’s not because they don’t care about themselves, it’s just because being a wife, being a parent, having a job, juggling all of these things your kind of just put yourself in the back burner because society’s expectation isn’t that a parent is going to be this super interesting, sexy, intelligent, amazing person.
You are allowed that before you become a parent. After you become a parent it’s like no, you have to just be this stale example and disciplinarian to your children, which I have no interest in being. So that was also part of my journey, to say: okay, who was I before these amazing humans entered into my life and who do I want to be? I don’t want to be the person I was before, but there is a lot of that sense of these are people that we’ve put ourselves in the back seat because of the people we love, because of the people we care for, because of everything we have to give to others. It’s really women that are just learning to recapture that feeling that I can look in the mirror and feel happy, I can feel sexy, I don’t have to be embarrassed to be intimate with my partner or whatever it is.
That happens a lot. It happens, and if that’s something that you as a listener have felt, or feel I can tell you that it happens a lot more than you
would imagine. Women just get to a point after certain milestones in life that they just feel undeserving, and they feel like they can’t find that person again, and so it’s much easier to just let go and just say: well, I don’t care.
What I help people find, what I help women find is just that feeling again of who am I. There are all these parts of me, but who am I, not in spite of these parts, but who am I besides being a parent, besides being a wife, besides being a partner. Who am I in this and can this person really, really like herself and feel really good in her skin.
That’s what people don’t always realize, right? A while ago, and is on my website, I interviewed Ali from Mindwave Meditation and we had this amazing conversation and he was at one point talking about when he wakes up in the morning, his eyes are still closed, he tells himself: thank you and I love you. And he’s learned to repeat that to himself several times a day and the whole conversation around this was when was the last time you told yourself that you love you? When was the last time you told yourself thank you for everything you do for me? When was the last time you looked at your body in the mirror and instead of nitpicking everything that’s “wrong” with you, when was the last time you appreciated that? Because we’re quick to appreciate our friends, our partners, our kids, when do we appreciate ourselves? It really is also that understanding that if you don’t love yourself, if you aren’t willing to take care of yourself, why should you expect other people to do that? Why should you expect other people to prioritize you if you’re not important enough to yourself? Which is a huge thing! I’m not saying this is easy, this is really, really hard.
Like I said before, this is hard, but this is a big part of it and lots of people will think that has nothing to do with food, but that has everything to do with food because how are you coping with not feeling loved by yourself? How are you coping with looking in the mirror and not liking what you see? How are you coping with that feeling that you don’t get to choose your clothes, your clothes choose you? You only get to wear whatever you find in whatever size you’re in as opposed to going into a store and saying I like this so I can wear this. There’s so much and a lot of this it goes back to food and our relationship with food, so it really is working on your relationship with food really is working on yourself as a human.
What services then do you offer?
I offer nutrition coaching and I often joke that that is the best way to tell people what I don’t do because when we think about nutrition coaching, people think about a specific diet, or list of foods, or a certain calorie target, or whatever it is and that is not what I do. So, when I say that I offer nutrition coaching I have two programs either a monthly program, or a weekly program. This only means that we chat face-to-face or via Zoom once a month or once a week and what we do is figure out what works for you. So, my work is not about giving you a list of foods. I don’t tell you what you can or can’t eat. I don’t say that this food is slimming, and this food is fattening. None of that stuff. There isn’t a specific number of meals, or a specific time of day. It’s really about figuring out: #1 where do you want to go, what is your ultimate goal that you want to reach once and for all. #2 what’s the best way to get you there. Not Karen, not Mary. What’s the best way to get YOU there, and most importantly, how do you not go back once you’ve reached that. How do you not go back.
That for me is a big part because we have all lost weight. Every single person that’s listening to this podcast, every single person that’s had an issue with weight, you’ve lost weight. Losing weight isn’t the issue. It is not gaining it back that trips us up and that is a big thing for me. I want to let you go, I want to set you free, and I don’t want you to have to come back and say hey that didn’t work do you have a different list? Nope, there is no list.
What advice do you have for anyone that’s either in the pre-contemplation phase as far as just getting on track with a healthier eating pattern or routine maybe they’re already in that contemplation phase or the action phase where they’re working on it but they’re just not quite there. Any advice that you have for this type of audience?
I would say that there are a few things that you can do. We’ve always said that there are no Finish Lines there are only wins, and there are a few wins that you can have. I would say that maybe a really, really big one is have one meal where you win. I like it to be breakfast. I think that
if you can start your day with a breakfast that you feel was a big win, you feel that it was a breakfast that satisfied you, you feel it was a breakfast that was really healthy for you, and different people define this differently, but it really is something that it’s filling for you and you feel good after. It’s a healthy breakfast that gave you that nutrition that you needed, that gave you the satisfaction that you needed, starting with a good breakfast, when you’re setting yourself up for other meals, if you start your breakfast with two or three donuts and a cup of coffee that half the cup is sugar, you’re going to be hungry very soon. Now, I love donuts. I always use donuts as an example because I really, really love them and I do eat donuts consistently, but everybody could probably agree that eating three donuts and a cup of coffee that has a lot of sugar in it probably won’t make you feel great. So, if that’s how you start your day, chances are that your next decisions won’t be that great so start off with a big win. Start off with a breakfast win.
Another good thing that you can also do, or these things can go together, is have a big salad every day. Regardless of what else you eat with it, just make a point of having a big salad. Depending on where you are in your journey you are more or less inclined to enjoy salads and vegetables and stuff like that, it’s fine. It doesn’t matter where you are. It took me a few years to eat things that weren’t slathered in cheese. So that’s okay. However, it is that you need to do this, but getting yourself a big salad, put a nice dressing on it, put some fun stuff into it, but really make yourself one big salad a day. So, say that it’s pizza for lunch, it’s okay, have pizza, but instead of starting with the pizza, have a big salad first, and then eat the pizza. That salad that is so beneficial, especially in terms of fiber and micronutrients, it’s really, really good. It’s a really big boost for your system, it’s also a big win so if you start off with salad there’s a bunch of benefits, this is a whole other conversation but having a big salad every day you’re guaranteeing that at least once you’re getting a good amount of fiber, you’re getting a good amount of vitamins and minerals, and all that good stuff, and it’s a win that helps you choose other things. Maybe a more amazing or interesting, whatever you want to call it, one is that by starting off with a salad or maybe if it’s breakfast you start out with an apple, these things actually curb your hunger for whatever else you’re eating. This is well studied, this isn’t a gimmick, if you start with something that is reasonably low in calories but very big in volume like a salad or a fruit, something like that, there’s a natural tendency to eat less of whatever comes later, so having this big salad is really going to help you get all that nutrition in, but also naturally regulate a little bit what you’re going to consume after that.
Wherever you need to start. I slathered my veggies with cheese which is fine and great, you’re still getting in your veggies and you’re creating the habit of cutting up the veggie, of putting the veggie in with your meal and eventually you’ll grab a different taste that might keep you satisfied and you just build that foundation and you build up because I was the person that didn’t eat any fruits or vegetables except apples, the occasional banana, and I started by putting a lot of cheese and stuff, a lot of sauce, or chopping them really, really small and then they kind of blend it in with the other tastes and you know now, most of the days I have a veggie stir-fry that some days doesn’t have anything else in it, just some protein and some veggies and same thing with fruit. It started out with chocolate; I didn’t eat fruit without chocolate and now it’s just fruit. So, give yourself grace. It’s a process. You’re not Karen, you’re not Mary, you’re not your sister’s cousin’s brother’s best friend that’s a bikini competitor. That’s not you. Give yourself grace, start small and find the small wins.
Find the small wins because every small win gives you a little more of a push, of a drive to do it again. Small wins, small changes add up to big results over time.