Tag: Weight Loss

Calories Count, But Don’t Count Calories

Calories Count, But Don’t Count Calories

How do you lose weight without slowing down your metabolism or losing your mind?

Gone are the days of low fat and calorie restriction…right? Are they? I’m not so sure.

If you are low carb you totally don’t have to worry about calories, right? Wait, is that true? I’m so confused.

If you ask people about either of these subjects I can promise you will receive different responses and they will be all across the board. You will likely become quite confused and left wondering “now what?”

Calories are a tricky thing. The first thing to understand is that the way your body metabolizes a calorie will be different than how it works for your best friend or neighbor and it’s dependent upon many things. In fact, this also is different for your own body in your 20s versus your 40s, etc.

Let’s put age and genetics aside for a moment. What factors impact our metabolisms that we have control over?

Body composition, meaning your body fat % compared with muscle and skeletal mass. Clearly the more muscle and less fat you have going on, the higher your metabolism will be. Good motivation to get to lifting weights or doing some functional fitness using your bodyweight!

Thyroid levels. I go into detail on which labs to have run here, but what you need to understand is that if your doctor checks your TSH only or your TSH and Free T4, that is NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION!! We need TSH, Free t4, Free T3 and Thyroid Antibodies (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies [TPOAb] and Thyroglobulin Antibodies [TgAb]) at the very minimum for thyroid labs (yes there are more numbers involved!). Go read that article I linked above because it will also explain how your doctor might look at your labs and say “you’re fine” when you don’t feel fine and it’s because YOU’RE NOT! You need to understand this stuff if you are going to be able to advocate for yourself!

Hormone Balance. This is another one that I dive into more here. but what you need to understand is that the relationship between estrogen and progesterone is extremely important at any age. AND what you need to know is which is higher than the other? If your progesterone is lower than your estrogen, there’s a problem. Even if both hormones are low, If you have more estrogen than progesterone you will experience symptoms of ESTROGEN DOMINANCE which will mimic low thyroid hormone. A couple of these symptoms are slow metabolism and weight gain around the hips and thighs (is this sounding about right?).

Toxic (tox-sick) Load. Yes, our bodies are beautifully designed to detox continually through our skin, digestive system, liver, kidneys, endocrine system and respiratory system; HOWEVER, the culture in which we live in is inundated with toxins through food, electronics, chemicals in our cleaning supplies, scented “everything”, plastics, stress (it’s a toxin), makeup, body products, detergents, etc. Our bodies are OVERLOADED! When this happens, the scale (literally and figuratively) will tip in the wrong direction because toxins store in fat! In addition, the high toxin burden creates systemic inflammation which is part of the whole paradigm when it comes to our hormones, thyroid, adrenals and therefore metabolism.

Now that we have that snapshot of some of the big ones that impact our metabolism, let’s throw another one in there, and it happens to be the topic of this post. CALORIES RESTRICTION.

Calories, while they DO matter, clearly are not a black and white “thing”. We could line 5 people up and all 5 will burn the same food differently, even if they are the same “size”, and that is dependent upon the factors outlined above. What your body needs will be different than mine, for sure. So it really doesn’t make sense to follow some program that is generalized, right? My first word of advice with this is to track what you eat for a few days, being super honest, and then reduce your caloric intake by even just a couple of hundred and go from there.

Here is what we want to avoid: I see many people start to follow some kind of plan (and I am sorry but these plans often include food you have to purchase from them that is just FULL OF CHEMICALS [speaking of toxic]) and they tend to be SUPER low in calorie. Usually it’s around 1200 and below.

Here is the typical scenario:
Let’s call our person Daisy (name of my dog!). Daisy signs up for a weight loss program and is super excited because of all the amazing testimonials she has seen and heard about. She gets all of her products (which cost hundreds of dollars. It was a stretch for her, but she’s sick and tired of…well…being sick and tired, and overweight). She feels super hungry the first few days because they have her at 900 calories and those calories go fast! However, she’s determined and likes that she doesn’t have to plan the food…she just opens a package and there you go! She had a hard time with energy and focus for the first few days because of her low calories but she’s already lost 7 pounds so she’s jazzed and committed to this amazing program.

Fast forward: Daisy ended up losing 13 pounds over just two weeks which was amazing! But things just kind of STOPPED. The scale wouldn’t budge. So, she decided to lower her calories just a tiny bit more and add some HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes in to burn more calories. Thankfully, the scale started moving again! Slower now, but she expected that because “they say” you lose mostly water weight at first.

Once again, however, the scale stalled. Daisy was starting to feel bummed, her energy wasn’t where she had hoped it would be and she could swear her hair was getting thinner.

What’s going on??

According to Dr. Westin Childs, “calorie reduction, especially in hypothyroid patients, will result in the combination of ‘metabolic adaptation’ and ‘thyroid damage’”. What this means is that your body (which is freaking smart) will detect this calorie restriction and interpret as “danger”. From there it will change things up within the metabolism in order to adjust so that the body can do more important things for survival (it is far less concerned with our weight than we are!).

Think of the thermostat in your house…it’s just like this. Your body is designed to regulate itself well, so when things change, it will adjust so that it can reach that state of equilibrium once again. We just don’t always like it!

This is something that people need to take seriously. The way your body reaches that state of equilibrium again is by doing things like lowering the free T3 (this is our active thyroid hormone…we don’t want it to lower!). Or it will raise the reverse T3 which is the hormone that is produced when stress is detected and, unfortunately it will attach to T3 receptor sites but it is inactive, so it is basically blocking those receptor sites from receiving the active thyroid hormone it needs.

Your TSH might not reflect a change at all, or maybe just slightly, therefore if your doctor tests your thyroid and that’s the number he’s most concerned with (SO typical…sadly), he will send you on your merry way with a pat on the back telling you “it sucks getting old”, or something equally helpful.

From here you will go home and “recommit” to your program! You are going to exercise more and harder and eat less or try a different diet altogether! In fact, this is stuff your doctor may have encouraged. In reality, your body is in distress and going “harder” at this will cause the situation to get even worse. Down the road, you will give up because you can’t possibly eat less or exercise more and what’s the point anyway? So, you start eating your “regular” diet again and you could swear you are gaining weight faster. It’s like you just look at food and the scale goes up.

You’re not crazy; your metabolism has slowed down and so the whole scenario is going to be a tough one now.

Big sigh.

If this is you, please know that the very most important thing to focus on now, if you want your body to respond well again, is to send messages to it that it is NOT in danger. You are NOT starving it. It is NOT being over stressed with too much exercise.

This doesn’t mean start eating dozens of donuts and watching hours and hours of TV in the name of selfcare. What it means is easing up, having a balanced approach, and getting some help.

It’s a good idea to know where your thyroid levels are. It’s a good idea to know where your sex hormones are at as well. If you have any imbalances going on in these areas, your body will have a very hard time with weight loss, you will struggle with energy, brain fog, motivation, moods, digestion, sleep, and all the things.

Do I recommend KETO?

Maybe, maybe not. This would require some assessment to see if this fits your lifestyle (it is a commitment) as well as to determine if your body is too stressed to try something like this at the moment. Most importantly if your thyroid is low or adrenals are out of whack you can absolutely do KETO, but it needs to be modified.

Confused? I don’t think this is the kind of advice most people want from a health coach. I mean, where do you go from here? This is not an easy answer, as you should know from reading the above. It all takes a very individual approach.

Please do reach out if you are in this position and feel stuck. I am here to help. I offer free consultations via the phone so we can hash some things out and see if there are some things I can help with. Please head here to my calendar to schedule a consult or simply email me at jess@healthwithjess.com

Now, consider having a healthy snack and going on a gentle walk! <3

Do These Hormones Make My Butt Look Big??

Do These Hormones Make My Butt Look Big??

ATTENTION WOMEN WHO ARE IN MENOPAUSE OR BEYOND…. this applies to YOU TOO!! Keep reading for explanation on this!

Are you struggling with your weight, but you can’t figure out why?
Do you have sleep issues?
Do you have fibrous breast tissue?
Do you have heavy periods?
Do you have painful periods?
Do you have an irregular period?
Do you have raging PMS?
Has your sex drive up and left?
Do you feel bloated?
Do you experience swollen and tender breasts?
Do you experience regular headaches (especially before a period)?
Are you moody and/or depressed?
Are you hanging on to fat around your belly and hips?
Have you experienced infertility?
Do you experience cold hands and feet?
Have you noticed hair loss?
Have you been told by a doctor you have thyroid issues?
Does it seem you have the slowest metabolism ever?
Do you experience brain fog and memory issues?
Is fatigue a normal part of your life?
Have been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Have you had ovarian cysts?
Have you been diagnosed with uterine cancer?
All of these symptoms are a sign of ESTROGEN DOMINANCE.

Before you close this article because you think, “that couldn’t possibly be true for me because (fill in the blank)”, please understand that estrogen dominance is EXTREMELY COMMON and MISUNDERSTOOD!

Why is it so common?? Keep reading.

Let’s first set the stage for some basic hormone understanding. Both men and women produce the hormone estrogen in their adrenal glands as well as fat tissues. Women also produce estrogen in the ovaries and men in the testes.


Estrogen is responsible for the physical development in a woman having to do with child bearing: breast development & curvy hips, for example. However, it’s also a driving force in regulating serotonin which plays into mood, sleep and appetite.

Progesterone is important to recognize in that it is a team player with estrogen. It interrupts continuous effects of estrogen in situations such as stepping in to end the menstrual cycle to start the 28 days over again. When the balance between estrogen and progesterone is off, a woman will experience symptoms that our culture tends to embrace as normal and blame hormones in general and/or age. The truth is, the symptoms many women experience that have to do with PMS and menopause (and post menopause such as weight gain) are truly signs of imbalance.

Here’s where you really need to pay attention!


THIS is the question to ask right here! Why? Because it is SO. Darn. Common.

There are three scenarios we are looking at here:

  • 1) Estrogen is high
  • 2) Progesterone is low
  • 3) A combination of both high estrogen and low progesterone

This is keeping it pretty basic, but what you need to understand is that either way, your body will experience the symptoms mentioned above and this is due to ESTROGEN DOMINANCE.

NOW, for you ladies who are in menopause or beyond, YOU STILL HAVE HORMONES!!! So, you do not escape this scenario! Yes, your hormones look different, but you are very much still at risk for estrogen dominance. A LOT of it has to do with our culture. Keep reading.


The crazy thing is how common this is becoming. In fact, this is why people think such symptoms are “normal”. They are in fact not NORMAL but becoming TYPICAL. Big difference.

Here are some root causes:

  • Excess body fat
  • Too much stress, resulting in excess amounts of cortisol, insulin, and norepinephrine, which can lead to adrenal exhaustion and can also adversely affect overall hormonal balance (hello adrenal fatigue)
  • A low-fiber diet with excess refined carbohydrates and deficient in nutrients and high quality fats (hello Standard American Diet, AKA: “SAD””
  • Impaired immune function
  • Environmental agents (which both overload the liver so it cannot properly detox as well as allows our bodies to absorb substances that act as estrogens in our bodies.)

What I truly want to drive home today are both the affects of stress and environmental agents on estrogen. The others causes are more cut and dry; these two are SO important and can be complicated.

I have mentioned adrenals and adrenal fatigue a couple of times here. What happens when our bodies are chronically stressed? Our cortisol eventually bottoms out (this is a super simplistic way of describing it, but essentially, that’s what happens). To make up for it, our bodies will convert progesterone in to cortisol, trying to maintain that homeostasis. What then? LOW PROGESTERONE.

Before we leave this topic I want to draw attention to what STRESS is. It’s not just a big fight with your spouse, money issues or a car accident…it is also:

  • never resting (always on the go)
  • not getting adequate sleep
  • not exercising enough
  • exercising too much (can’t tell you enough how bad this is and how often I see it these days!)
  • always being plugged into technology
  • constantly being inundated with artificial light (throws off the circadian rhythm)
  • chronic health conditions
  • not having healthy boundaries (raise your hands all you people pleasers!)

This is one that frustrates the living daylights out of me. WHY? Because people don’t think it’s a thing!

The problem with that is that, not only is it a thing, it is one of the biggest culprits having to do with our underlying health (not just hormone disruption, but chronic disease, autoimmune conditions, mental health conditions…I’ll save this for another article on another day).

How exactly do environmental agents impact our hormones?

Let me paint you a picture:

You wake up in your spring fresh smelling bed with sheets bathed in artificial fragrances from the detergents, softeners and dryer sheets. You then shower using body and hair products full of chemicals and artificial ingredients. You dry off and head to the vanity where you lather lotions on your face and body…then move on to the hair products and makeup: all with chemicals and artificial ingredients.

Next comes breakfast! Coffee with creamer made from milk that has hormones. A breakfast sandwich made from meat that has been treated with antibiotics and hormones…OR you opt for a soy-based food which is a quick ticket to high estrogen. You top it off with a smoothie made with fruits and vegetables all covered in pesticides.

You get where I’m going with this, right?

“Xenoestrogens are any chemical we are exposed to in the environment that has an estrogen like effect or promotes more estrogenic activity. The big ones that people hear about are BPAs and phthalates, but unfortunately, they are in our drinking water, shampoo, deodorant, dryer sheets, laundry detergents, and all plastics, even the BPA free ones. Besides having an estrogenic effect, xenoestrogens also have to be detoxified by the liver and compete with the same pathways to get out of the body.”


This is not meant to overwhelm you. We have these agents around us 24/7. What YOU CAN DO is take baby steps in order to reduce exposure! Then do things to support your body in being able to detox the way it should (I’m not talking about a major, intense cleanse, but giving your body the help it needs using things like supplements/herbs/essential oils in order to do what it is designed to do!).



If you are experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance but want to know exactly what that looks like (low progesterone, high estrogen, etc??) I would suggest getting a DUTCH test. DO NOT get your hormones tested through blood. This will not give us an accurate picture of where your hormones really are. Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones is gold standard as it tests metabolites you simply can’t get in a blood or saliva test. In addition, you can test cortisol which is what you need to see in order to address adrenal issues.

If you work with a functional or holistic practitioner, they will very likely be on board with ordering this test for you. If not, you can absolutely order the test yourself and complete it in the comfort of your own home.

Go here for more info and/or to order: https://dutchtest.com/ Please use my code in order to receive $100 OFF any DUTCH test on their site: hwj100

There’s a lot of great information and education on their site as well!


Whether or not you test to get the real snapshot of what your hormones look like, you can do something about it starting NOW!

Even if you can’t do something major like leave the job you hate, you can do a lot to manage your stress:

  • Exercise
  • Get the right nutrients to support your body
  • Take an adrenal support
  • Pray/meditate
  • Connect with friends/family/church/some kind of network on a regular basis
  • Regularly turn things OFF. Take time to allow your brain to decompress at the end of the day.
  • Take steps to get adequate sleep


Grass fed/finished
No hormones
No antibiotics
No pesticides
No artificial “stuff”
DITCH sugar and refined carbs
Consider going low carb to regulate blood sugar and insulin

Your liver is responsible for cleansing excess estrogen. The problem is that we are overwhelming our livers with all sorts of stuff in our food and environments. In order to support it in doing its job, you can:

A) avoid those things that cause overload (mentioned above)
B) eat foods that support your liver in detoxing: cruciferous veggies for the win!!
C) take supplements that support your liver (herbs such as turmeric, dandelion, milk thistle, peppermint, yellow dock root, garlic, artichoke)

The bottom line here is that all the things that set us up for having estrogen dominance are directly related to our standard American lifestyle! YOU can take steps RIGHT NOW to help support your body and get back to feeling VIBRANT!

I challenge you to take a good look at your body/hair/makeup products, your cleaning products and any other household items such as things that you plug in or spray for odor control.

Download the FREE Think Dirty App to assess the products you use and replace them!
Connect with me and we’ll schedule a FREE consultation to see where I might be able to jump in on this journey and help guide you through this process!

Email me at jessica@healthwithjess.com

Article sources:

What Exactly Are Ketones and What is So Great About Them?

There sure is a TON of hype about the ketogenic diet these days! I used to be SO against the concept of low carb and especially going much further with it into ketosis. I thought it was unhealthy, a fad and for people looking for a quick fix.

Fast forward, I have been following the ketogenic protocol for almost 3 years now (with some carb cycling in there as well)! I can attest that the benefits are awesome and go far beyond fitting into your jeans better. But, rather than just take my word for it, let’s take a dive into what ketones are and just why they are beneficial above and beyond weight loss.

What we know is that when we starve our body of glucose it ends up switching to using fat for fuel and producing ketones which are also used for fuel.

What are ketones?

Ketones are an energy source. They occur when the liver breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol — a process called beta-oxidation. There are three types of ketone bodies {molecules} that are created in the liver once we have run out of glucose: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone.

Ketones are a preferred fuel source for the brain:

  • Glucose build up in the brain causes inflammation and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s. This build up starves the brain. Ketones are a clean fuel source that the brain thrives on.
  • The ketogenic diet increases the permeability of the blood/brain barrier which provides more nutrients to our brain to increase our brain health and productivity. Although the brain uses glucose as about 30% of it’s fuel source, we do not need to get glucose from the diet in order to have it for fuel. Our body will create the needed glucose itself!
  • Ketones limit neuronal loss and preserve synaptic function. This means communication from cell to cell is more efficient and effective. This all increases brain function and clarity.
  • Ketones are a more efficient fuel source for our entire body. Fuel sources need to be converted in to ATP for our body to use it for energy. Converting ketones into energy rather than glucose is a much more efficient process which takes less effort and gives us more energy!
  • Ketones offer increased mitochondria function. Mitochondria protect our cells, regulate cell growth and death. This can protect us from oxidative damage, disease, cancer and just give us more energy in general.
  • Ketones help reduce inflammation. Eating healthy fat and less carbohydrate helps reduce inflammation. BUT, ketones add to this! Back to the oxidative stress as seen above. Ketones help reduce this oxidative stress which creates inflammation.
  • Increases adenosine which naturally fights inflammation and acts as a pain reliever (this why often people notice a reduction in joint pain). Down regulation of the inflammasome nlrp3 through the production of ketones.
  • Increased Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is a naturally occurring protein in the brain that improves brain function and lowers risk of mental disease.
  • Cancer prevention. Cancer results when cells grow faster and live longer than they should. Ketones give mitochondria the boost they need to be able to regulate this overgrowth much more efficiently.
  • Increased GABBA. GABBA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Responsible for reducing activity in the nervous system as appropriate. Without enough GABBA we can feel depressed, stressed, anxious…Also increases our growth hormone which increases muscle and helps boost metabolism.
  • Regulates insulin and blood sugar levels beyond just low carb/high fat
  • Ketones help regulate appetite
  • Ketones help balance leptin resistance (leptin is the hormone that tells us we satisfied).
  • Ketones help balance ghrelin which tells us we are hungry.
  • Ketones will balance this leptin/ghrelin relationship.
  • Improves cardiovascular markers. Ketones has been shown in studies to increase HDL and reduces triglycerides. This will improve overall cardiovascular function and risk of disease.
  • Better mood. A ketogenic state reduces the intracellular sodium levels. This is the same thing we get form mood stabilizing drugs.
  • Ketones can increase athletic performance. Gives us more efficient access to fuel during exercise/competition.

If you are interested in applying this to your own life by following a ketogenic diet and would like some help, I offer a monthly group for Women that is run through a private FB group. I also offer individual coaching. Please email me at jessica@healthwithjess.com for more information!


Stress and adrenal fatigue

Chances are if you’re part of this fast paced, over stuffed, over stimulated, over stressed culture you have experienced adrenal fatigue. This is an issue plenty of people deal with, however there is very little knowledge about it in mainstream medicine and therefore our society in general. Typically, doctors don’t recognize a problem until the adrenal issues have gone to an extreme level and thyroid issues ensue. This is not to point at doctors, it is simply outside of the realm of the modern medical perspective at this point in time. I will add though…awareness seems to be slowly occurring and I remain hopeful.

So what exactly is adrenal fatigue? Our adrenal glands are small walnut sized glands located above the kidneys. They create corticosteroids like cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline that then communicate specific messages to our brains that release certain hormones in response. I am going to keep it simple for the moment and focus on “CORTISOL”.

Our bodies are amazing and designed to work in very intricate ways with impressive communication skills. Cortisol may be a familiar word to some as it is linked to stress and weight gain.

Here is what happens: stress comes in different forms, physical, emotional, mental. What is stressful to me may not be to you and vice versa. We all have different tolerance levels of stress as well as different ways in which we deal with (or avoid) stress. However, when stress becomes chronic, our bodies become overwhelmed.

If I am dealing with a high level of stress for a prolonged period of time, rather than stress hormones spiking and then returning to normal, they will remain at an elevated level. Specifically focusing on cortisol today…if I have an overload of cortisol I will likely experience things such as headaches and backaches, cravings for junk foods (salty and sweet…refined stuff), sleep will be an issue perhaps having a hard time falling or staying asleep and then feeling tired even if I do get an adequate amount of sleep. A big one for a lot of people is weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Cortisol tends to make us hold on to body fat especially around the belly (aren’t we lucky?). Then it gets overzealous and won’t let go. Some people will experience depression and/or anxiety as well as gastrointestinal issues. Infections and allergies are also more prevalent with high levels of cortisol. And one more…it can kill your sex drive.

Anyone relate to any of this stuff in conjunction with some stress you’ve been dealing with? Yup. We all do at least at some point in life…especially in our crazy, fast paced society that has too much, is too busy and far too distracted.

If these type of stress responses continue for long, because we are not able to change the level of stress in our lives or haven’t figured out how, then our adrenal glands get worn down. **newsflash** We are not meant to have chronic stress in our lives. After a while our adrenal glands say…”well, I’ve put in my hours. This ‘overtime’ was not in my job description…I’m out”. They end up slacking off, but it’s because they aren’t equipped for the overload.

When adrenal glands become fatigued, the symptoms are like those I mentioned above. The symptoms often become more pronounced and you will likely have a more difficult time “shaking” whatever you feel you are dealing with.

I went to a naturopath several years ago because of this heavy fatigue I was experiencing that I didn’t understand. I eat healthy and balanced and exercise regularly…but the doctor sat and talked to me about my life in general. He even talked about past stress (yes, some childhood questions came up). He essentially brought to light how spread thin I was and how my body just needed rest (not just the sleep kind of rest) and more balance in all areas. I do struggle with this and have learned to be aware of it and manage it far better than ever before. This whole issue with our adrenal glands can really be a good thing…IF we listen!! It can motivate you to seek balance in your life. And balance, as we know, is one of my favorite things. <3 My hope is to help individuals to start recognizing the havoc that is being reaped on their bodies BEFORE it gets to such a critical level that medication and other things are necessary just to regain some form of “normal”. ATTENTION: once we reach critical levels with our health in general, we risk never being able to return to “normal” without the aid of modern medicine…which can often lead to other issues. It is super important to address problems and symptoms when they are manageable! Our issues are an opportunity to create healthy change!!! As I finish this I am noticing it is nearing midnight. Oops. I am a work in progress 😉 Good night sweet friends…

Where Do I Start???

Is this you?? Have you been wanting to lose weight, get in shape, have more energy, be a good example to your kids, just FEEL BETTER, but you don’t know where to start? OR you start and can’t seem to keep going? OR you just feel OVERWHELMED?

Here are 5 simple tips to help get you going!

    One of the biggest issues I notice with people is that they want to wait until circumstances are perfect in order to start getting healthier. “I’ll wait until after the holidays” “I need to get through this busy time” “I need to wait until I have extra money to buy healthy food” “Maybe when…”START NOW! You are either procrastinating and really not willing to change things yet OR you’re over complicating it! Life is never going to present the perfect scenario for this stuff.You just have to want it bad enough.
    If you jump into this trying to start exercising 5 days a week (when you haven’t been like….at all), totally overturning your diet, cutting out all sugar, saying no to alcohol (bye-bye nightly glass of wine), waking up early, drinking only water, blah blah blah…..is your head spinning yet? This is what I see people do ALL. THE. TIME. And it makes me a little crazy. Maybe a lot crazy.Don’t do it! Pick one or two things and go from there. AND don’t pick monumental things!! Think LESS.
    Think BALANCE.
    Think BABY STEPS.
    Think LIFESTYLE CHANGE (not “diet”…notice that’s a four letter word?? Just sayin’”
    I think most of us get this one, but, we still don’t always build it into our plan very well. Accountability could mean you check in with someone every day, or it could mean you’re actually doing it with someone! The best kind of accountability is when it is a “doing it together” kinda thing. It makes it FUN! You can relate to each other and have a mutual “YOU CAN DO IT!” thing goin’ on.Have you ever noticed that when you are pulling someone else up who is struggling, you get inspired and motivated yourself? Same with teaching. When you teach someone something you have to be a step ahead to be able to show them what you know. So that makes you dig in a little deeper.
    Seriously people. Change is hard. BE PROUD! Make a chart of short and long-term goals AND rewards for those goals! Don’t skip this part! You need to recognize the small and big steps toward progress that you make. And remember, BIG CHANGE OCCURS FROM LOTS OF LITTLE CHANGE.
    lost 5 pounds, buy a new book, get a mini-massge
    exercised all 5 days you said you would, buy a new nail polish
    drank water instead of soda all week, spend the $ you would’ve spent on soda on a fitness
    magazine or clean eating magazine that inspires you
    reached your goal weight, go on a little mini-trip, get a new exercise outfit, new running shoes…Get the idea?? IMPORTANT: Please, please, please do NOT reward yourself with FOOD!! Talk about a slippery slope! Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself. Reward yourself in ways that keep you on your healthy path <3
    This is another biggie! (Maybe they all are…hmmm….) If I take something out of my life, I need to purposefully replace it with something, otherwise I will subconsciously replace it with something that is NOT beneficial.Extreme example, but I had a guy in my office recently who used to be a drug addict and now he binges on soda and crap food. No big surprise there. Junk food and sugar really hit that happy spot in our brains. Like REALLY. No wonder America is the way it is in terms of health. Ok…let me stop before I really get going on that one. ;-)Here’s the GOOD NEWS: exercise also hits that happy spot in our brains! Like REALLY 🙂 I know it sucks a little at first…but you keep your head up, hold onto your accountability peeps, keep inspiration around you all the time and FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!! One day, you will stop and realize: “I FEEL AMAZING”! Then you’ll be hooked. Trust me. It’s worth it, my friend.

If you are on a journey and trying to change habits in your life I would LOVE to hear from you!!! I want to know if you have tips to share, what’s worked, what hasn’t?

I CONSTANTLY have groups going on and YOU would be welcome to join anytime! Just send me a message and I’ll let you know what’s currently going on and you can team up with us 🙂 Better together is a true thing.

I hope you are all having an amazing weekend and get to take a minute to refuel and recharge <3

Well…it’s 2016! What are you making room for this year?

I’m not a resolution girl. I find that I am continually creating new goals throughout the year. However, I think reflecting is something we all do at the New Year, even if we don’t do so purposely. It just happens. It’s natural, as we close one chapter, to sort of evaluate as we enter into a fresh year. That’s how it feels to me, anyway!

Do you ever step back, though, and realize you’ve been stuck on the same goal, perhaps not just this past year, but year after year after year?

Something that kind of smacked me in the face the other day (in a good way) was the idea that I have fallen in love with certain habits in my life and they aren’t hard anymore. I love them so much they have become second nature. I love identifying myself as a fit healthy person and I LOVE how I feel when I pursue things in my life that are in line with those ideals.

I know this stuff doesn’t happen overnight…trust me! What we can do right now though, is shift our perspectives. Rather than dreading letting go of something or dreading the work we know it will take…let’s focus on what we are gaining, what we are making room for in our lives.

Letting go of crappy food in my life makes room for the energizing, health promoting food that will make me feel GOOD. Letting go of laziness and putting forth even 30 minutes of my time every day to move my body will make room for feeling strong and vibrant. Letting go of time wasters in my life will make room for more purposeful things that will bring me closer to my goals, my dreams… letting go of a relationship that is going in the wrong direction or steering me away from what I value in my life might be hard…but as I pry my little fingers off things like this, I will actually have room for something good, that is in line with where I really want my life to go.

See where I’m going with this? It applies to everything; work, worrying, sleep, comfort zones, etc…

I challenge you, as we start #1 of 365 days in 2016, to get in touch with the feeling you are chasing when you make a goal. Hold onto that feeling and run towards it! Don’t think about the cozy things you leave behind (that aren’t helping you move forward anyway….be real about that), or the pain of any effort you might have to put forth…think about how dang AMAZING you will feel as you get closer to embracing that goal and of all the little amazing things that will happen along the way because you are moving in the right direction!

Happy New Year, my friends! I pray God’s abundant love around you every single second of every single day as you step out in faith this year and go for your dreams!

5 Questions to Ask When You’re Looking for a Diet/Weight Loss Plan

I don’t know if working in the health and fitness field makes all the information zooming around about health and fitness less confusing, or more confusing than ever! There’s always a new “plan” of some sort, new “super foods”, new theories, new trends, etc. And then there are new findings about “old news”; eggs used to be off limits, now they’re good; butter was bad, now it’s good; low fat used to be the way to go, now full fat is the answer; soy used to be an ultra healthy choice, now it’s a “no no!”… Anyone else feel like they’re getting whip lash dealing with all the back and forth?!

When I look back over my own “diet history” I get a little dizzy. I started with the Scarsdale Diet in the 7th grade, then joined the low fat bandwagon (jumped on that one with both feet!), went vegetarian for several years (living in Alaska changed that for me!), I tried Atkins…for like a day, Nutrisystem… you get the idea.

I think somewhere along the lines my frustration with all this information, plus my growing relationship with research while working on my masters degree, made me start to look and things much deeper than how it was presented and I started deciding how it may or may not be a fit for me.

Here are 5 questions I’ve learned to ask when I encounter a new health and fitness program:

1. What does research say?

Regardless of whether it’s a new trend in food, exercise, stress management, supplements, etc…I check on what research has found about it and any individual elements involved in the program. What if it is so new there really isn’t any good evidence on either side? Then I hold back or use whatever it might be with caution. For me Stevia is a good current example of this. I’m not convinced that it’s perfectly safe quite yet. When something is new on the market, even if it is a food that is found naturally, I wonder about how it is modified and what that means. Or, if it really shouldn’t be used the way we humans have decided it should be used!

Need help figuring out what research is good and reliable when you do find it? Chris Kresser is one of my favorite functional and integrative medicine practitioners. Click here for an article he recently wrote on just this subject. This guy is a science nerd and I LOVE it! It is so easy to go with something based on face value, but it is CRITICAL to look behind the scenes when making a decision about something that could dramatically affect your health!

2. Does it involve real food?

If a program comes with it’s own prepackaged foods, I would most definitely think twice about it (or don’t think about it at all and move on!). First of all, you will more likely than not have to sell off all of your belongings in order to afford to pay for all the food. Even more importantly, these foods typically are chalked full of artificial junk: preservatives, fillers, fake sweeteners, etc. Not only are you then putting potentially harmful ingredients into your body, but these “ingredients” are taking the place of other nutrients that are necessary for your body to function the way it is designed to. Ever heard the term garbage in, garbage out? If you fill your body with garbage, it will look and feel like garbage. Pretty simple.

3. Is it working for other people?

Ok, this one comes with a caveat. When I set out to try something new or buy something, whether it’s new running shoes, a class I want to take, a campground, new gadget, you name it…I read reviews. I like hearing inside perspectives of what I’m looking into. HOWEVER, just because someone has a certain opinion, doesn’t mean I will go in the same direction they chose. The reasons for their decision as compared to what I value is important and should be considered during the deciding process. If I don’t jive with their way of looking at something, their opinion will hold less weight. Regardless, I like to hear what others have personally experienced!

4. Is it sustainable?

This is huge. Why buy into a program that will get you to your goal and leave you stranded and back at square one shortly after it’s over? A good weight loss plan will teach you new habits, without adding a ginormous amount of stress to your life. It will be something you will want to continue in your life indefinitely. The hard truth is that often times this way of doing things takes longer. However, if you want it to last and forego the endless merry-go-round with new diets, this really is the way to go!

5. What is my style?

This fits well with question #4. I am a busy working mom and know that something that takes a ton of prep and cooking from scratch is something that, although I would like to do, will not be realistic for me at this stage in my life. I am also a creature of habit. If I have a menu to follow that changes every single day, it will overwhelm me. I need streamlined, easy, as convenient as possible while still being very healthy. Others really prefer to have a lot of creative freedom with their nutrition. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa. You have to find something that helps you make changes without feeling like you are torturing yourself!

In the end, habits will have to change, effort is required and not all of it will be breeze. A good program, however, will be something that makes you feel great and that is why you will stick with it! The hard stuff will feel so worth it!

Is “everything in moderation” a joke?

Are you sick and tired of hearing “everything in moderation”? Or maybe you are one who preaches this belief system?
One of my favorite podcasters, Chris Kresser, an expert in functional and integrative medicine, will take most health issues he is presented with and usually comes up with the same answer he has for everything before explaining himself. That answer: “it depends”. I LOVE this. Because, the truth is, it does depend. We are not one dimensional beings. We are complicated, in a good way (usually)!

“Everything in moderation” is something I live by. It jives with the 80/20 principle of eating. 80% of the time I’m really on top of eating clean, unprocessed, foods and focusing on the right amount of macro and micro nutrients for my body and activity type and level (not as complicated as it might sound…don’t be scared). The other 20%? That’s my ice cream, my donut on my friend’s birthday weekend, the coffee creamer I “shouldn’t” have but sorta love, the delicious chicken enchilada casserole I had at the church potluck today… You get the idea.

I know myself and this is what I know: I LOVE to be healthy. I love how it feels. I love what it does for my goals. I love the energy it gives me. I love that I don’t have a million health issues and take ZERO medication. I feel pretty darn good!

I also know, however, that if I go extreme in my diet, you won’t want to be around me. 🙂 Just sayin’. I will get grouchy. I will be far too focused on food. I will feel deprived and at the end of the night eat whatever might be considered edible in my kitchen and then polish it off with “that food” I wasn’t “supposed” to have. So. What’s the point. For me, this whole moderation thing works.

I also subscribe to the 80/20 thing when it comes to activity and exercise. I’m busy. I don’t like to sit down. I exercise regularly. However, there’s a thought in the health and fitness industry that 80% of your results will come from diet and the other 20% from exercise. I believe this to be true from my very own first hand experience. I mean for real…if I’m a regular at McDonald’s I can pretty much put money on it that my 40 minutes on the treadmill (or whatever your exercise might look like) is not going to be super effective. It’s that phrase I love so much: YOU CAN’T OUTRUN YOUR FORK. #truth

(***Disclaimer…you will NEVER see me at McDonald’s. Part of that is due to the level of unhealthy foods they offer and the other part of that is because I’m a snob. I won’t give money to people or businesses I don’t believe in. Period.***)

Here is where you might decide you don’t like me and my advice/perspective doesn’t serve you (ok maybe you already did, but obviously you’re still reading!)…this whole moderation idea does not apply to everyone and I totally get that. There are those with some pretty intense, underlying health issues that can’t survive by such guidelines. Understood. I’m that middle of the road girl. That’s the amazing thing about having so many different people out in the health and fitness world. There’s someone for everyone.

I’m the one that watches portions, listens to my body, eats really healthy MOST of the time and just LOVES to love life! I don’t want to stress over everything I’m eating all the time. Thankfully I don’t have to. I am mindful, and I move on.

NOW, that being said…I do think it takes some training to get yourself to the point where you know what moderation looks like…where portions come naturally and you can listen to your body when it is satisfied and not go beyond that point. Trust me, I wasn’t always able to do it. The 80/20 principle takes time to grasp. It’s a learning curve if you aren’t used to it. Absolutely.

One more point: when I am over focused on what I am eating, that brings my life more away from balance. Balance is my thing. I strive for that. I do not in the slightest bit believe I was put on this earth to stress over my food all day every day. To be healthy and to help others be healthy…heck yeah! There’s a pretty darn big difference.

I hope you all had a wonderful, restful, rejuvenating weekend with people you love and food you love! 🙂 My son and I made some pretty delish oatmeal cookies tonight…oh yes we did!

I’ll share the recipe in the “food” section of my site. Warning…it does contain things I would consider “healthy” such as craisins, whole wheat flour and flax. See…balance. 🙂

Love ya!

Imagine that!

Here it is, into the 2nd full week of the new year. Resolutions abound! I definitely see it at the gym and hear the chatter on social media and among friends. Even if you abandoned the idea of New Years resolutions a long time ago, there is still something infections about starting fresh along with a brand spankin’ new year! The problem, well…there are several…but the stick-to-it-ness is lacking. Along with accountability and planning/goal setting, a huge tool for success, in my opinion and personal experience, is visualization.
What? Is that some weird new age, magic, must use fairy dust and chant kind of thing? Um…no. In fact, it is a scientifically researched tactic that a lot of athletes use. In fact, Aymeric Guillot, Ph.D., a professor at the Center of Research and Innovation in Sport at University Claude Bernard Lyon, in France finds that we actually activate some of the same neural networks (paths of interconnected nerve cells that link what your body does to the brain impulses that control it) during visualization that we do in the activity itself. Does that mean I can visualize running 5 miles instead of doing it? Well, it doesn’t activate your muscles and fat cells so…nice try! But, it gets your head in the game, helps prepare you, builds confidence in your own ability as you “practice” in your head and, as those neural networks are activated, lets you experience some of the adrenaline that might come with what you are envisioning.

“Ok, well I’m not ‘training’ for anything. What does this have to do with me and wanting to lose 20 pounds?”

Visualization can be used in a very powerful way to create new habits. I really believe that when you are changing something in your lifestyle, it is crucial to create sort of a new culture for yourself. Losing a significant amount of weight or starting a fitness program, these things have far more to do with your day to day life than just going to the gym 5 days a week and eating less. It has to do with how we relate with people, how we deal with stress, happiness and emotion in general. It has to do with how we relax and how we celebrate. It has to do with routine and what brings us comfort. I could go on and on…

If I want to become a fit, healthy person, envisioning myself as a fit, healthy person in very specific ways is huge. It makes it real in my mind, I can actually see how it would look in my life. Very important is what it reveals to me that WON’T fit in my life anymore. If I am picturing myself as being strong, energetic and fit but find myself binge drinking with my buddies on the weekend, or on the couch at night numbing out with a pint of ice cream or bag of chips, or I go out with my family and order a meal that puts me into a food coma for the rest of the evening and therefor cannot complete my workout …those things are going to start sticking out as NOT what gels with my image for myself.

Another way this tactic is helpful is in creating that new culture for oneself by bringing new input into your life in a lot of different ways. What I mean is surrounding yourself with things and people that inspire this new way of life in you. It might be friends who are living a healthy lifestyle, a magazine that motivates you, pod casts, books, websites, going to workshops or taking classes. A homework assignment I often give clients is to make a vision board. There are no specifics with the vision board other than making it something that inspires you in terms of a specific goal you are trying to reach. A vision board, if you have never done one, is essentially a collage.

Here’s an example of one (not mine):

Some people like to put quotes up in their house, in their car, etc. I love that idea too. A vision board takes the process a little deeper and the experience of just creating the vision board has a lot of meaning and helps us focus and hone in on where we are going with our goal and how we need to mold certain things in our lives in order to get there.

I would love to see any vision boards that are created! Or hear other tips that you use that you find helpful and inspiring!

Either send me a message through the contact form or you can find me on FB: healthwithjess

Happy 2015!

Love and blessings,

Christmas “stuff”

Wellllll. There goes Christmas and in a week we will be saying goodbye to 2014. I know we say it all the time…but, really…what happened to the year?!

The holiday season always makes us kind of take inventory of our lives, doesn’t it? This time of year brings joy and pain and struggle and closeness; creates memories as well as brings up hard ones. It’s a chaotic whirlwind that ends up in a pile of wrapping paper and ribbon in an unbelievable short amount of time. So much effort is put into creating this big show…this production that we hope impresses our loved ones, our neighbors, our coworkers. Some of us are really interested in it and some of us just go through the motions. The lights, the movies, the cookies and candy….so much. I really always love Christmas Eve and taking time out to go to church to quiet all of that and refocus on the reason for all the buzz. Today, we went on a hike and I felt like that was part 2 of that “refocusing”.

All of this is such a great metaphor for life. Constantly busy trying to GET more and BE more. We are professionals at being distracted. I mean…we’re good. This afternoon I went and watched the movie, “Wild” based off the book by Cheryl Strayed about her Pacific Crest Trail hike; but really, about her life. Have you seen it? More importantly…did you read it? We can sit here and debate the stupidness of some of her decisions regarding her hike; but I’m more interested in the “about her life” piece.

Here is a lady who physically removed herself from the “chaos of it all” and was able to, thankfully, set herself back on a good path after experiencing heartbreaking loss. She was able to get out there and be alone with her struggle to just stay alive and take care of her physical needs. It cut away all the excess struggles we often times create for ourselves. Granted, it’s sort of fairy-tale land for most of us to even consider “dropping” life for a few months to do something like that. Perhaps we can purpose to create lives that are just a little bit more mindful in the day-to-day stuff, though?

I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t think I have “that” in me. Being more mindful. What does that look like? Have you ever seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”? Remember when she is…wherever she was, at a retreat perhaps…and she was trying to mediate in that room full of people. She was trying so hard and just so awkward about it. It seemed as though 20 minutes had passed with the way her mind raced from thing to thing. Then, she looks up just as the clock ticks over one minute. It had been one WHOLE minute that she had been sitting there “meditating”. Well, I’m that girl. I don’t like to force myself to be still. I don’t like it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. What I have discovered about myself is that I get centered and grounded through active things. Running and hiking and just being outside in general do that for me. Really working hard and sweating takes me to a different place physically and my mind and emotions follow suit. Writing is another form of that for me, but a good hard run is my absolute favorite.

So now that we’ve gone down that tangent…we’re going to go down the whole tangent of exercise and fitness in general. I mean, this is a health and fitness blog after all. 🙂 The bottom line when I am working with clients or participants in a class, is that I want to help them get to this “mindful space”. I truly believe that struggle with weight and health in general stems directly from our crazy relationship with distraction. It is a symptom of it. This is one HUGE reason it is so. darn. hard. to lose weight! It really is about changing mindset and lifestyle. FOOD IS OUR DRUG. It is. Watching “Wild” tonight made that realization surface for me once again as I watched her sabotage her life with drugs, sex, bad relationships. We use food and no one can say a darn thing about it…because “everybody’s doin’ it” AND we need food to survive. Dang that’s a hard one.

So to wrap it all up (excuse thebad pun), I challenge you each to think about this whole “mindfulness” thing. What works for you? How can you be more mindful in your life? Is there excess that needs trimming (I’m not taking about pant size…well, that too) that is unnecessary distraction? A worse crime than picking up another cookie, downing another soda and adding to your overflowing calorie allotment for the day, is the heart and mind numbing effect that takes place because of it. Think about that one for a few.

I truly hope you all had a lovely Christmas!