My Nutrition Story
I remember the first day I began stress-eating. It was at my grandparents’ house, and it was full of my dad's six brothers, one sister, their spouses, and my more-than sixty cousins. I approached the food table for the second time. And then a third. Then a fourth.
I was eleven years old.
The too-full feeling felt good. I didn’t know it, but I was satisfying the rush I needed to cope with stress. (This is not unlike using heroin or alcohol to soothe oneself.)
Now, hang on, my parents were great. My mom never said anything about food EVER, and I remember my dad saying something like, “Jess, your body is going through so many changes, you don’t want to mess it up.” And also, my parents bought healthy food and provided good meals for us.
But as I approached adolescence, my anxiety reached the rooftops, and food was inexpensive and soothing. I was (still am?) an emotional eater. I don’t think I ever binged to the intensity that others really suffer from, but I absolutely was getting more than an appropriate serving for every single meal, for years. Food was my anxiety medicine.
Fast forward to my second year of college, doing full-time school and two jobs. My stress eating was in full swing. Any time I saw food, I pounced. After classes, I’d buy and eat entire bread bowls of cream-based soups. I ate candy and bagels at Job #1, and ate wedding cake at Job #2.
Then I met Cute Boy. He and I went out for sushi dates, created many cocktails and wines, and cooked together. He had this peace about him when it came to food. He never accepted my offer of bites when he wasn’t hungry (WHAT?). It was nice to be loved (Spoiler: he totally married me!) and it was nice to have that peace-with-food so close by, but I didn’t believe it was going to help me "lose weight." Cuz that's what I have to do, right? I didn't know how much weight I wanted to lose, just that I needed to loseweightloseweightloseweight and getskinnygetskinnygetskinny. I under ate during the day, binged at night, felt like a loser, then tried to compensate for those extra calories with cardio the next day.
I eventually found my panicked self in the company of women in my life that had gnarly disordered-eating behaviors. I didn’t know how unhealthy it was at the time. I thought that was how you were supposed to eat to get skinny and lose weight. Counting twelve hundred calories a day while burning six hundred or more calories of intense exercise, anyone? I was hungry, a teeny bit shaky, and very anxious most of my waking hours. I was working so hard and not looking any different... but maybe I just wasn’t working hard enough? Was I eating too much still? I didn't know, I just kept blindly running in the dark. My environment and female company nourished all the wrong things.
I wish Then Me knew Now Me, I'd help her so much.
By my mid-20’s, I had barely become certified as a personal trainer and I learned a lot about food, prepping meals, and calories. Except I was still way under-eating. (Remember the “I have to look super good to be just barely be good enough”?) I remember one day I hopped on the bathroom scale, and my heart fell into a million pieces. For months, I was running at least 15 miles a week, plus hitting the gym every day, and teaching 5-6 yoga classes a week. The scale said I was at the lowest weight I’d ever been in since young adolescence, so I should be happy, right? Nope. I didn’t look the way I thought I should look. I was devastated. My first thought was, “The next step is anorexia, and I’m not doing that.” Thank heavens I didn’t do anything more harmful! I was already suffering, I’m so glad I didn’t suffer more!
Instead of looking for help (like anyone in my situation should do), I kept right on under-eating, over-eating at night, feeling like a failure, and trying to overcompensate the next day with cardio.
This never-ending Catch Up cycle SUCKS, you guys.
I wish I stopped trying to do it all by myself and got help. My environment was the Weird Voice in my own head, and my disordered-eating friends passers-by in my life. Sigh. I think of my little girl here, as I write this. I don’t know if it was my pride or fear, about why I didn’t get some help. Any help! Maybe I didn’t know how to verbalize it? I don’t know. I did know that there was such a bigger emotional and mental aspect to this whole eating thing.
***Disclaimer: I never, EVER want anyone to feel shame or (insert your word here) when I use my own words here if you think/ you do struggle with something like this. Just because I felt one way, doesn’t mean you should feel that way. We all have our battles and our own feelings. I’m about improving and encouragement and joy always.
A couple of years later, I got a personal trainer myself. He had me exercising in a way I’d never done before--the weights were so heavy, the workouts were so intense. With his positive feedback in my head instead of my Weird Voice, I said to myself, “Eff it, I’m increasing my calories this time around. I don’t want to be miserable anymore.” Lo and behold, I was counting and eating the most calories I’d ever allowed myself in years, lifting heavy weights more intensely, and BOOM! Did I look amazing!!! I looked healthy and strong. But even more than that, I FELT amazing! Food and I began our healthiest relationship, my body and I are great friends. I listened to my body, not followed what I “should've” been doing.
I began to apply these new concepts of Eating Enough of the Right Things and Building Muscle in Certain Places to my own current female clients. Each one became successful in her goals. Booty's got plumper (my specialty), waists were whittled down, and chests were lifted.
I was finally fueling my body properly. I finally learned how to loosely organize my eating into what I coined Nine to Five foods, and Treat foods. My anxiety dropped significantly, I didn’t feel starving anymore. I think my body looks great, even though it may be too fat/thick/muscular/short/human for others lol. I don’t think about food anymore, except when I enjoy it. At my house, we eat delicious things, we eat healthy things, we eat not-so-healthy things in not-so-healthy portions. Of course, I still have my days of poor choices, i.e. "blow my daily calorie budget," but I know that I don’t have to be perfect all of the time, and I can return to my regular healthy eating without self-loathing. That's called normal eating. I am so glad I created a foundation of good habits, applied them before I got pregnant, then continued them during pregnancy and after. It was one less thing I had to worry about.
This is so important to achieve before you get pregnant, my dear. Let’s get your eating habits healthy and balanced. It is a huge project, so we should do it before you get pregnant. Being Pregnant is also a huge project.
This is what I want to give to you. I want you to feel nourished and enjoying the pleasure of food in a mentally and emotionally healthy way. I want to teach you the tools to understand your own body and your own specific needs, and to make food easy for you. I want to lead you into an adoring friendship with your body. What a good body & mind to grow a baby in, huh?
I train clients in-person and online from all over the world, and I want to train more! I have a fun meal prepping routine that sometimes involves drinking wine. I teach yoga and cycle classes in Salt Lake City. Every day, I eat chocolate and have tickle fights with my little girl. She makes my world go round.
I have a beautiful husband of TEN YEARS who makes me laugh every day. He is a powerful athlete and adores our little girl, probably more than he adores me, but I’m okay with that!
We are trying for Baby #2, hopefully sooner than later!
And lastly, my first baby, my Chewey, my chocolate Shih Tzu who prefers short sprints over long walks. But always prefers sleeping over everything else.