*Editor’s note: These posts were written back when my brand name was Remodel Fitness. I’ve decided to include them here without editing them, in the interest of…well… transparency. 😉
I never talk about food or nutrition.
Maybe you’ve noticed how most fitness professionals also talk about food and nutrition. They share recipes, tips about how to improve your diet, photos of what they eat, and meal prep “hacks.” I don’t do any of that.
While I DO work with my private coaching clients around food and eating behavioral changes, I don’t talk about it online. I actually kind of avoid it like the plague, but in the interest of honoring transparency (yay for #TransparentTuesdays!), I want to explain a bit about my food philosophy.
Why don’t I ever post about nutrition?
First of all, I find nutrition boring. People’s eating behaviors and habits fascinate me, and discussing someone’s relationship to food absolutely lights me up. But nutrition itself- the science of manipulating macros, nutrient timing, and even recipes and cooking- that stuff bores me to death.
I have strong boundaries around how I spend my time and energy- I only make time for things that absolutely light me up, and that does not include nutrition.
Also, I’m not nutrition certified. There is a major issue of “scope” when it comes to nutrition coaching by personal trainers. I have solid roots in evidence-based practices, and have a huge amount of respect for people who spend their whole lives learning all the various and epically complex science surrounding nutrition, like food interactions, nutrient absorption, hormone optimization, and satiety. I prefer to stay solidly within my scope, and leave the nutrition to people who are obsessed with it.
That having been said, I DO have a unique philosophy around food and eating, just like anyone else. I might not often write about or share them, but I pay close attention to what my clients need, and make sure I’m armed to help them.
Today I want to share a little about my food philosophy.
Everyone is a snowflake. You are the only expert on your body, and that’s how it should be. What works for me won’t work for everyone (or even anyone) else. There is no right answer for everyone, and we should stop encouraging people to look for one. We each have incredibly unique bodies, metabolisms, goals, needs, insulin sensitivity, hormone profiles, workout plans, preferences, experiences, and lifestyles. Your nutritional needs are different than the nutritional needs of someone else, and your own can also vary greatly throughout your life, based on activity level, age, muscle mass, goals, stress & sleep habits, priorities, jobs, family situations, and schedule.
Learn to listen to your body. Instead of listening to the external cues like cutting food groups or counting calories, most people would do better to learn how to dial up the volume on their internal hunger and fullness cues. Spend time paying attention and getting to know how different foods affect you and make you feel. If you can’t “hear” your body’s message yet (like your hunger and fullness cues), you might need to clear out old blocks that get in the way of them. My best nutritional advice in that case is: spend a year making friends with your emotions and learning to trust yourself. Most people hate hearing that. They want fast and easy rules and advice to get them results NOW. But if you’re reading this, you already know that’s not my jam.
Make small changes and then gauge how you feel. Don’t overhaul everything and then expect yourself to stick to all the new rules or changes. Make small and sustainable changes plan, stick to it for 2 weeks, and then check in with yourself to see how you feel. If you feel better, keep that change. If you feel worse, get rid of it. Learn what your body needs, in this way, slowly but surely over time. That way you will become a well-informed expert on yourself. Some easy suggestions to help you get started here are: eat more protein, eat more veggies, eat less processed food, drink less sugary beverages, and cook more meals at home.
Eat as though you love yourself. I believe in learning to re-frame the whole process of eating as a form of self-care, a gift to yourself, rather than a battle or a punishment. This often means working to let go of long-held beliefs that you cannot be trusted around food. It often means unpacking what long-held beliefs have gotten in the way of believing you deserve to be well cared for, or whose job it is to make you feel that way.
Enjoy it. Many women want to remove pleasure for the food equation altogether and make it about nutrients and “fuel,” but I disagree. Pleasure (and the act of enjoying) are important aspects of nourishing yourself, and they also help you become more mindful as you eat. Sometimes eating is about fueling, but sometimes it’s about sharing, or soothing, or bonding. I see eating as a form of self-nourishment, and it can be many things. Eat slowly and mindfully, have gratitude for your ability to nourish yourself, and be truly present for the experience of feeding yourself.
Remove moral judgement from the equation. Food is not a moral issue, and you cannot let it become one. Eating one kind or amount of food does not mean you are “bad” or “good.” When you allow food to become a moral metaphor, it will always be a loaded weapon aimed at yourself. Let go of stress and guilt around food by learning to view food and eating with more objectivity.
Whew! As you can see the topic of food and eating is deeply rich and multi-faceted. I wish I had a nice simple set of rules for you, or a formula, but as usual I’ve chosen to walk the difficult-to-market path for long-term, deep, slow, and permanent change.
To me, the topic of food and eating isn’t about about calories, losing weight, fueling your life, or even moderation.
Eating is about how you see yourself.
It’s a reflection of your deepest held beliefs about you, your worthiness, and your place in the world.
Personally, my relationship to food is an endlessly shifting reflection of my “spiritual” well-being, or my emotional inner landscape. When I feel purposeful, connected, worthy, and expansive, I feed myself with absolute love and care.
I fill my perfect body with healthy nourishing foods, I naturally stop eating after an amount of food energizes me, and I don’t use food to distract from anything because I only want to be present.
When I’m struggling and feel isolated, lonely, contracted (stressed), and inauthentic in any way, I eat until I’m tired, I crave junk, and I use food and fullness to distract and numb myself from the present moment.
When I’m light inside, I eat lightly, and I tend to be lighter bodyfat-wise. The same applies to when I feel heavy inside. One part of this cycle isn’t better than the other, because there is no moral judgement to eating. Both are valuable and beautiful and right, because they are authentic expressions of Me.
I know this is a loaded topic. Hit reply and tell me what this triggers for you. How does it feel to hear this? What do you need help with when it comes to feeding yourself?
<3 Jessi Kneeland Get strong. Feel confident. Look amazing.
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