My new clients share a lot of the same concerns. They want to lose weight. They want to have more energy and more body confidence. They want to feel really good about their lives again (or for the first time!).
And what’s so interesting is that these clients will often say the exact same words as they share their worries and hopes:
“Good luck trying to figure me out!”
I get what they’re telling me. They feel like they are somehow an unsolvable problem. They’ve tried so many things to lose weight and nothing’s worked, and so they feel they have no luck.
But the truth is, I don’t need St. Patrick or a 4 leaf clover or a wishing well. I don’t need luck. And neither do you.
When people believe that they’re out of luck, or that they can’t change, there are usually a few assumptions holding them hostage in their pessimism.
Below are three of them— and how my team and I work with clients to show them that luck doesn’t have anything to do with anyone’s weight loss. Especially theirs!
Good luck with me because... I’ve tried it all and nothing’s worked, so nothing will ever work.
Yes, it’s discouraging when you’ve worked hard to lose weight and it either stays on or keeps coming back. But this doesn’t mean your body is a problem. Instead, you are a puzzle.
What you need is someone to help you look at all the pieces that make you you. You need someone to help you see what’s missing or not fitting, from your insulin to your estrogen to the bacteria in your gut to your sleep—these are the kinds of determining factors that stay hidden unless someone looks for them and shows you how they fit together.
Otherwise, you’re just taking stabs in the dark, and that is just relying on pure luck! That doesn’t work, and it’s not what my team and I do. Together, we hunt down those missing pieces to solve your puzzle and get you to the best version of yourself.
Good luck with me because... I don’t have enough willpower to stop eating foods that are bad for me, like sugar.
Controlling your sugar cravings have nothing to do with luck, and nothing to do with willpower. Why? Sugar cravings are only about balancing brain chemistry. Sounds fancy, but it’s true. Sugar cravings happen for two reasons:
Your blood sugar levels are low. You crave sugar when they crash.
You don’t have enough neurotransmitters—brain chemicals like histamine, glutamate, dopamine, serotonin and GABA. These chemicals prevent sugar cravings from overwhelming you.
Both of those reasons mean that luck is totally irrelevant when it comes to mastering your cravings for sugar. What you eat, and when, is the key to maintaining blood sugar and supporting brain chemistry. That is the beginning step to getting free from sugar. Not magic. Not extra willpower. Not luck.
Good luck with me because… my mom was fat, my aunt was fat, my sisters are fat, and I just have to get used to being fat.
For many people, they think that they’re just unlucky in the game of genetic roulette. They feel as though since everyone else is heavier in their family, then they are doomed to live life in a body they don’t love. That’s not the case.
Yes, of course, genes determine a lot about us. But they aren’t a guarantee of this or that kind of body. Not everyone will be able to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Or JLo. Or an Olympic athlete. And that’s okay! Comparing yourself to anyone else (a superstar or a regular person) doesn’t help you one bit. You’re here to be the best version of YOU, the most healthy expression of your genes. More often than not, people’s false beliefs about their genetics hold them back much more than the genetics themselves. And you are following the rules of those beliefs.
For too long, I believed in the rules on what “healthy eating” looked like. It wasn’t until I challenged those beliefs that I actually started eating to support my health and improve my waistline, and, well, make my whole life better. I had to break the rules of deeply held beliefs and seek the truth. That’s not a matter of luck. That’s courage — and that’s something you have in spades.
You are more than cravings, more than beliefs and more powerful than luck! We don’t need luck to help you lose weight. All we need is to get together, and get started.
In order to lose weight and keep it off, you don’t need luck; you need a program that fits YOU and a community that supports your efforts—plus expert advice, accountability, personal coaching, education, and continued support.
The day I earned my certification as a Licensed Dietitian was one of the most important days of my career. I was SO proud: I’d studied hard, followed the rules, and earned the esteemed “L.D.” Becoming a dietitian took a lot of work. In my class, only 50% of the students passed their exams and got an internship to become a dietitian. I was one of them.
Which is why today is so important: I’ve made the decision to kiss that license goodbye.
Why? I’ll tell you.
In a recent post, I shared how I learned the hard way that the old rules about food and weight loss—the very ones I was trained on as a dietitian—don’t work. They’re the rules that caused me to gain 20+ pounds in dietitian school. Those rules also did nothing to protect my father, who I thought was the picture of health, from emergency heart surgery. They’ve led our country to become the sickest and most overweight we’ve ever been. And those rules have been the source of so much pain for my clients, who come to me after being frustrated beyond measure that they can’t lose weight, despite following every food and weight loss rule to a T.
Since hanging my shingle as a dietitian, my team and I have helped thousands of people lose weight and keep it off. The results speak for themselves, and each year my business grows by at least 30%.
Here’s the thing though…
The approaches that have worked for all of these people fly in the face of traditional dietitian training. Yup—it’s only when we bucked those outdated rules that their weight fell off, and their lives changed.
But, the Minnesota Board of Dietetics and Nutrition didn’t like this. At all.
The board said that they don’t agree with the principles and approach that I use. They don’t think I should be talking about thyroid, hormones, supplements… or really anything other than food. Problem is, you can’t get results unless you look at the whole picture of health. That’s why we do it—and how we get the results we have.
So here’s what happened:
The results I got for clients, in the end, didn’t matter. They wanted me to stick to “the rules.” And so I had a choice: I could change how and what I teach, or I could relinquish my license.
Now, this didn’t happen overnight. I fought this battle with the board for a while—five long years, to be exact. We’re talking lawyers (and lawyer fees), court dates, mediation, negotiation, interrogation… for five years! I fought because I’ve built my brand on the authority that I believed my dietitian license gave me. I worked hard for those credentials, and for a while I wanted to keep them.
But in this process, I did some soul searching. I asked myself if I was going to keep fighting, or simply let it go. The choice became clear. I’ve chosen the latter. Because in those still, quiet moments, when I thought of surrendering this license, I experienced a newfound sense of peace and lightness that warmed my heart and made me feel faithful, connected and authentic. This is where I want to live and everything I do, and every decision that I make, I want to flow from this space. The choice suddenly didn’t even feel like a choice, but more of a welcomed step toward transcendence, and opening up to newer, greater opportunities.
Even though this was not an easy decision (I call myself “Dietitian Cassie” for crying out loud!), in the end, I had to ask myself, if that license stands for all of the things I don’t agree with, why would I hang onto it? It’s not aligned with what I believe or how I run my business. It’s not aligned with what I know works.
When I told the board what I decided, they were shocked. They couldn’t believe I would give up the credentials. They expected a longer battle. Nope.
I’ve always held myself to the highest standards of service and care, and I wouldn’t want you to settle for anything less.
So here are the main reasons I’ve relinquished my license, and what I’ve learned in the process, since there are things you can take away from my experience as you search for answers in your own journey, too:
Reason #1: I’d rather get results than follow rules.
You know me—I hate rules for their own sake. Makes no sense to me. I believe more in results than in what someone is paid to believe, and while I certainly wouldn’t be the professional I am without my education (since it essentially taught me what not to do), what this license represents doesn’t jive with what I believe and have seen to be true.
Sure, it’s impressive to have letters after your name, I get it—but if losing those little letters means that I’m able to provide the support, insight, and advice I know works—without being at war with an organization and dragged into court by my peers—so be it.
Reason #2: I want to be free from any advice or education that’s brought to you by Big Food influence.
Imagine your doctor’s license to practice medicine was paid for by McDonald’s. Would you be surprised if you got a prescription for a Big Mac? And yet that is exactly what is happening in the world of nutrition. When I attended my first dietitian conference, I was shocked to see an entire tent set up by Pepsi, who was sponsoring a calorie-counting campaign.
I’m sorry, what?
It’s true. As I’ve said many times before, the food industry does not have our best interests at heart. We know this. They’re profit, not people, centered.
One thing that doesn’t work in weight loss? Calorie counting. But have you ever wondered why this myth persists? Because if we treat all calories as created equal, then it doesn’t actually matter what you eat—and that means you can pretend you’re giving good, sound advice...while taking sponsorship dollars from companies whose products you can “safely” consume as long as it comes under your caloric limit (looking at you, Diet Pepsi).
If we all recognize that the type of calorie, and not the sheer number, mattered, then no one could possibly say that this snack or that soda “fits” into a healthy diet. And there goes that stream of income. Calorie blindness happens for a reason: Because it keeps some organizations in business.
Likewise, much of the education for nutritionists and dietitians is similarly flawed.
To this day, the very board that certifies dietitians is sponsored by Splenda, the Dairy Council, sugar producers, a milk company and more. Dietitians need to complete 75 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) every five years in order to maintain their credentials, and companies like Coca-Cola, General Mills, and McDonald’s offer continuing education courses that are approved by the board! Nonsense.
Reason #3: I believe a certification is only worth keeping if it’s aligned with your values.
Quite frankly, I’m relieved to finally get this weight off my shoulders. And the truth is I won't miss that license because I never really felt aligned with it to begin with. The rules behind it attempted to put me in the very box I’ve been telling you to break free from. I couldn’t do it anymore.
And, just sharing this with you, letting this go, and beginning a new chapter is incredibly freeing. I feel more connected to myself, my heart and my calling than I ever have. The weight that’s been lifted now allows me to put 100% of my time, focus, and energy into the practice that has proven results, rather than fighting the system that does not. It feels so good and SO right.
So, how does this affect you?
Honestly, it doesn’t.
Apart from adjusting to the fact that I’ll be changing the name (to my actual name!) and updating my social media handles, this will not affect you.
I still hold my credentials with the national Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). However, I have made the decision to let go of my state license with the Minnesota Board of Dietetics and Nutrition.
And, frankly, this is really more a matter of branding for me; nothing will change in the way I provide insight and support to you. None of our programs will change. Everything stays the same. My proven methodology remains what it is—rooted in science that has been proven time and again to be transformational and super effective at helping thousands of people lose weight and keep it off.
The reason I even felt compelled to tell you is because it was a big decision and one you should know about. I’m always telling you to question the old rules and to break any of them that don’t serve you. Rules for rules’ sake are a waste of time. I’ve asked you to take risks and a leap of faith and abandon old rules, old habits, old ways of doing, even when they were more comfy than effective (read: not effective at all!).
The way I see it, if I’m going to ask you to take that leap of faith, then I need to take one, too. I need to break with the rules that no longer serve me—along with the ruling bodies that never served me or you to begin with.
So, today marks the beginning of a new, exciting era! Here’s to starting 2018 fresh and free. And thanks, as always, for being so receptive, open, and brave.
Let’s go break some more rules while we’re at it!
**This post was definitely not sponsored by Pepsi.
Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight, and struggled to do it, has asked themselves one question: “What am I doing wrong?”
You might assume, as I have, that there’s some set of rules you either don’t know about or aren’t complying with—and THAT must be the reason. So what do you do? Double down on the rules you know (even if they don’t work!). Maybe you work out twice as hard or eat half as much. And when it doesn’t work, it’s incredibly frustrating.
Because the rules should work, right?
Look, I know this frustration. I grew up an obedient follower of rules. I was raised Catholic for crying out loud! And for a long time, those rules never steered me wrong. Do this, get that. Work hard, get A’s. Do your chores, get an hour of TV. Eat your dinner, get dessert.
Fact is, I liked rules. They made life clear and straightforward, and I always knew where I stood. I went to school to study nutrition and become a registered dietitian. I wanted to learn the rules of food and how it worked so that I could help other people follow them, too.
But when I found myself gaining weight in school, I became puzzled—and obsessed. I, too, doubled down on the rules: I severely restricted my caloric intake and lived on sensible meals and 100-calorie snack packs. I worked out like a fiend, pounding out miles on the treadmill and taking every Bootcamp and Cardiokick class at the gym. My body would follow the rules and it would obey.
Except, it didn’t. I got hungrier and moodier and my waistline expanded, despite following every rule I’d ever known. Either my body wasn’t following the rules—or those were the wrong rules to begin with.
Then things hit a new low: I got a call from my mother; my father had to be rushed into immediate, major heart surgery after collapsing while running a race in my hometown. My father was the picture of health—physically active, ate a low-fat diet, all of the things you imagine you should do to stay healthy. And his heart failed him.
When a dietitian came to his hospital room to consult with him, she told him to do the same things he had been doing: avoid fat, stay active. I was beyond frustrated. “But he’s already doing those things!” Good, she said. Keep doing them.
Now, does that make any sense to you? Because if the very things we think of as “healthy” do nothing to keep you out of the hospital, why do them in the first place?
Of course, since then, I’ve learned (the hard way) that most of the “rules” we’ve been told about food and dieting are flat-out wrong. They’re outdated, for one, AND heavily influenced by, well, large companies and industries who stand to gain from putting out misinformation (ahem, looking at you sugar industry!).
Last I checked, the food industry had nothing to do with how the human body functions—but it has played a big role in its dysfunction. But that’s not something you’ll see in the commercials during prime time shows.
What this means is that in order to lose weight and be healthy—actually healthy—you have to break the rules that never served you in the first place. And get to the truth about food.
When you realize the rules (avoid fat, don’t even look at butter, work out till you drop) are not only untrue, but actually bad for us, then you start breaking them. And once you break those rules, you start breaking others too.
I’ve become a bit of rule breaker myself. I eat things that would leave other people aghast (hello, muffins with butter!).
But here’s the big thing: once I started breaking the rules that didn’t serve my body, I started to break with the rules that didn’t serve my LIFE. Once I was free from worrying about “what I could eat,” I could travel more. And go out more. And yeah, maybe dye a chunk of my hair blue, which I absolutely did.
When you realize the rules you’re following are flat-out wrong, it makes you question what other “rules” you have believed for too long, such as “I can’t do that,” or “I’m not the type of person who does x,” or “I could never wear that.” Really? You sure about that?
I have worked with thousands of people to help them not just lose weight, but create lives they love by freeing themselves from old ideas based on false information.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: That delightful season full of gift giving, family, friends—and all of their opinions about your eating habits.
You know, when your mom announces your new dietary restrictions to the family, your Uncle Steve makes jokes about how much weight you’ve lost (or gained) (or haven’t), and Aunt Jennifer declares a life without bread is a life not worth living.
And unfortunately, Aunt Jennifer’s colorful opinion of your new protocol does not come with a gift receipt, and Mom’s announcements and Uncle Steve’s jokes aren’t exactly delivered with a bow on top.
That pressure can leave you feeling like there are only 3 good options:
1. Just give in and eat, knowing you’ll feel terrible later. But when in Rome...
2. Filibuster dinner with a long, impassioned speech about the power of real food. (If you can’t eat in peace, no one will.)
3. Put vaseline on your teeth to force a permanent smile, stick to your guns, and add a heaping dash of irritation and isolation to your otherwise delicious plate.
Your family and friends most likely have the best of intentions. They haven’t seen your struggles, don’t know what it feels like to be inside your body, and don’t know how much better it feels to eat foods that fuel you.
...But we also don’t have to just grin and bear it. You deserve to stand confidently in your eating choices without having to flip a table or choke down food that makes you feel awful.
Here are the top five food bombs your family may lob at you this holiday season—and the easiest ways to diffuse them!
Comment #1: “Why don’t you just take a Lactaid?”
If only it were that simple. This one is frustrating because it reduces all reactions to one symptomatic response. Plenty of people can’t handle dairy, for example, but it’s not always the lactose that’s the problem. And even if it is, when it comes to serious food intolerances, that statement can feel an awful lot like asking someone to jump out of a plane and saying, “Just wear a helmet!”
Your response? Keep it light and redirect the convo.
TRY THIS: “Thanks, but the risk isn’t worth the reward. Since we’re eating, I’ll spare you the details.”
Shut down any talk of your body and how it responds firmly but politely—it will remind them what they’re actually asking. And if they have any sense, they’ll back off.
And for those particularly pushy relatives?
TRY THIS: “You may be comfortable discussing this, but I’m not. So let’s drop it and eat.”
Comment #2:“Hey, nobody touch the [insert special food]! That’s for her—you know, for her special diet!”
“Don’t touch the Brussels sprouts! I made them for Jeannie because she can’t eat anything else.” Ugh.
The thought and effort is much appreciated, but now there’s a giant spotlight on your intestines.
TRY THIS: “Please help yourselves—I came prepared!”
Your best bet is to come in armed with a dish or two you know are compliant with your plan. See it as an opportunity to demonstrate how delicious healthy eating can be.
Or? Eat a snack beforehand. Not only will you face off with these comments with your blood sugar intact, but you can eat what you feel like eating, and not worry about hoarding all the sprouts for fear you’ll starve. Remind everyone that while you’re sure their green bean casserole is a showstopper, their company is the main event.
Comment #3:“Have you gained/lost weight?”
Why anyone ever thinks it’s appropriate to comment on anyone else’s weight is beyond me. If you want to pay me a compliment, tell me how great I look.
Let’s leave the scale out of this—because anyone who has made a serious change to their nutrition knows the scale should ultimately have no place in how you feel. It’s just a number.
TRY THIS: “I don’t know. I just know I’m feeling a whole lot better!”
Shift the focus back to all the emotional, mental, and physical benefits of how you’re eating. Emphasize how much healthier and happier you feel, how much more energy you have, how comfortable you feel in your own skin.
And if you’re not there yet, let them know how good it feels to pursue a healthier, happier, more energetic version of yourself.
Comment #4:“I could NEVER do what you’re doing. I love food too much.”
What they’re really saying is, “This is the only way I know how to love myself, and change is scary.”
TRY THIS: “I’ve found that I love food on two levels—how it tastes and how it makes me feel. I’ve spent a lot of time loving how things taste without really exploring how they make me feel. Now I’m giving my body a chance to talk back for awhile.”
When you frame your choices as an exploration or journey—instead of a decree or judgment—you’ll find that people approach you with more wonder, curiosity and acceptance.
Comment #5: “I couldn’t live in world without bread.”
This makes my head spin. You couldn’t LIVE? Truly? If tomorrow, the globe announced that there was no more bread, you’d just say, “This is my exit”?
All snark aside, the things we crave most can often be signaling what is actually causing the most inflammation and discomfort.
Most people are only thinking about how good they think bread (or cheese or pasta) tastes. They’re not thinking about the symptoms you experience when you eat them—the brain fog, depression, bloat, pain, fatigue, etc.
TRY THIS: “Well, for me, a world with bread is a pretty painful experience. I’ve tried suffering through it, and now I’m seeing what it’s like to live pain-free.”
Bottom line: You don’t need to defend your choices or convert anyone to your way of living. The goal, especially for a family get together, is to keep the conversation light, positive, and moving along. You can make it through this meal with your dignity and your relationships in tact!
To make the holiday season even easier, grab some recipes for yourself by clicking the green button below!
In all my years of coaching clients, one of the most common things I hear is:
“But, I don’t have time to make a balanced breakfast every morning!”
And since breakfast IS the most important meal of the day (for your metabolism, your brain power, and your energy levels!), I want to help you overcome that objection.
I’m sharing with you my absolute favorite, go-to breakfast smoothie recipe for a QUICK balanced breakfast—it takes only two minutes to make! Plus, it tastes delicious and will keep your energy boosted, your blood sugar stable and your metabolism revved all morning long! (AND it's kid approved!) Win-win-win.
And, one of the best parts about a smoothie (other than their deliciousness and convenience!) is that there are SO many modifications and variations, you don’t need to ever get sick of them!
You can customize by adding any ingredients you like–just be sure to keep it balanced by including the three key necessities: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate (PFC). Also note this doesn’t have to be just for breakfast! Many of our clients like to make eggs for breakfast, and have a smoothie as their morning or afternoon snack—or even for lunch.
What if I told you that you could lose weight by eating more, sleeping more and exercising less? Would you believe me? Or does that sound too good to be true?
I get it. It can be hard to comprehend—even for me!—the fact that I’m in the best shape of my life while working out LESS than ever before.
So, first I’ll explain the science behind how this is the case, and then I’ll share with you what a typical week looks like for me. If you’re not a sciencey-person or don’t care to understand the whys, then feel free to scroll down to the exercise part.
Oh, and I also created a free guide for you with my specific nutrient and supplement recommendations for workouts. Click here to get the free guide (you can save, download, and print it!)
The Science Behind Why exercising LESS helped me get into the best shape of my life
The reality is: I don’t have a super structured, rigid exercise program. In fact, I have quite the opposite!
And, the more I was thinking about my LACK OF workout regimen, the more I thought perhaps that’s exactly why I need to write this post. Maybe it’s time to share this truth with you—this liberating, freeing, no-need-to-clock-in-hours-at-the-gym-to-get-your-best-bod truth. And to give you an insider’s look into what my “non-specific” exercise routine really looks like.
I am so laid back about exercise now because I understand the science behind metabolism, energy levels, and weight loss. I now know the less I stress, and the more I rest, the BETTER my body responds.
I know too many people who follow restrictive diets, depriving their body of what it needs, all while putting it through hell at the gym...and they aren’t shedding a single pound. I can relate. I used to do this, too. The thing is weight loss doesn’t work like that anyway!
When I was exercising intensely in an attempt to LOSE weight, I was actually GAINING weight! That’s because the exercise was causing inflammation—something we don’t hear about very often from weight loss experts or the media. Too much exercise can cause inflammation in your body. If you exercise too hard on a daily basis, there is an abundance of inflammation happening that your body isn’t getting a break from. This would explain not only your inability to lose weight—as your body is constantly fighting the inflammation inside of you—but it’s also why you can actually gain weight from exercising too much—because of all the compounding inflammation.
And that’s exactly what was happening with me. I was working out daily, and watching as the pounds packed on my body. I was beyond perplexed. You could see it in my face, too—especially my cheeks. But I didn’t understand why.
Here’s what happens...
Essentially, inflammation drains your metabolism because your body is focused on healing the damaging inflammation. It can also increase your body’s production of cortisol—your stress hormone. This sets you up for weight gain because it raises blood sugar levels and triggers the release of insulin, which is your fat-storing hormone. (That’s also why it’s super important to prioritize rejuvenating workouts like yoga or pilates. These help you reduce your stress levels and make you a more balanced human being, all of which help you lose weight.
You might be where I once was. I thought is was smart to skip those kinds of workouts. I thought it was more important to burn the most calories, so that’s where I put all my energy. The reality is that even though I was torching calories left and right, I was gaining weight! Yoga has actually helped lean out my body and reduce my stress by helping to reduce inflammation. Besides, mentally stressing about getting to the gym can cause you to pack on the pounds, too!
5 Core Exercise Principles
So, while I don’t have any “exercise rules” per se, I do have a few guidelines that I instinctively follow that I attribute my physical fitness successes to.
I’ll outline them by showing you what I used to do, and what I do now…and how my mindset on exercise and priorities have changed. The differences are MONUMENTAL. My entire outlook on exercise is different, and as a result, so is my body!!!
Of course, nutrition and supplements are important, too, and for all of those details I created a free guide for you with my specific nutrient and supplement recommendations for workouts. Click here to get the free guide (you can save, download, and print it!)
1. First and foremost, I always listen to my body…a LOT.
WHAT I USED TO DO: Exercise every day no matter what. Workouts took priority above all else. I would fit them in regardless of how busy, sleep-deprived or stressed I was. I dictated them based on what I thought I “should” be doing. And how many calories I had to burn—er...thought I had to burn—in order to maintain or lose weight. That calorie restricting method backfired.
WHAT I DO NOW: I listen to my body first—no matter what. Even if I plan my schedule around a certain workout or sign up for a certain class, I always change my course of action depending on how my body feels and what it is telling me it needs. This used to be a foreign concept for me. I am in control of my body, I’d say. And I’d exert my control by feeding it a certain amount of calories and forcing it to do more work and burn off more than I was taking in, as if it were a machine. But that never worked for me. Now, I pay attention to its signals (Am I sore? Tight? Stiff? Needing some TLC, or itching for a workout?), and this is what determines my course of activity for the day.
If I’m super sore from yesterday’s workout, but have been sitting at my desk all day, what it may need is a brisk walk or a yoga class. If I’m super sore and feeling burned out, I may need to skip all activity and take a warm bath and go to bed earlier. If I’m craving movement and my body feels awesome, I may go and crush a tough Crossfit workout.
And, while I do my best to listen to it and give it that, I’m not always right. But, I’m learning and getting better over time! Listening to your body is a learning process, and like all things around here, it’s not at all about perfection. But it is about progress and gradually shifting your mindset over time…a process I call “unbrainwashing.” Just as we were brainwashed for so many years to believe that eating fat is the enemy, we’ve been brainwashed about exercise, too.
2. Sleep is My New Exercise (in a way)
WHAT I USED TO DO: I used to jolt out of bed to the sound of the 4:30am alarm so that I could be at the gym when it opened (typically a few minutes before, so as not to waste a calorie that could be burned!). I’d clock in my 60 minutes on the elliptical, all BEFORE instructing the 6am bootcamp. The funny thing was that all of that never yielded the results in my waistline and body that I was wanting. Talk about a lose-lose situation! I’ve learned the hard way the toll sleep deprivation takes. My moods would swing, my energy levels were shot, and the numbers on the scale kept going up. Getting more sleep helped me shed pounds and get fitter.
WHAT I DO NOW: Sleep comes before exercise. Period! I will not steal from my much-needed sleep in order to squeeze in a workout. If it’s one or the other, sleep wins every time. Hands down.
3. The difference between an active lifestyle and working out.
WHAT I USED TO DO: I used to feel the need (compulsion) to clock in a structured workout EVERY day of the week—no exceptions. I’d lose sleep over it, I’d sacrifice events with friends and family for it. My life was structured around my workout schedule. My exercise RULED my life.
WHAT I DO NOW: Now I finally understand the difference between an active lifestyle and working out. The difference to me is two-fold: First, while I value being active and moving my body, it doesn’t mean punching the time clock at the gym. It CAN include hitting the gym (and I’m a huge fan of group classes. They’re part of my weekly routine, as you’ll see in the next section of this post!), but my main goal is activity—simply moving my body—not structured exercises at a gym. This can mean a class at a fitness center, going for a walk with a friend, biking around the lakes, or paddle boarding on a sunny day. The second difference in activity is enjoyment, not a militant discipline of punishing myself to skinny. I love the active things I do. Exercise is more fun this way, and certainly more freeing!
4. I exercise when I travel…if it works into my schedule.
WHAT I USED TO DO: Travel always meant MORE stress because I’d have anxiety around when and how I’d be able to fit in a workout. Wake up at the crack of dawn to fit it in. Skip social activities to get in a workout. Miss out on sacred opportunities to explore the city or connected with new people…all to get in a workout.
WHAT I DO NOW: When I travel, I no longer make exercise a priority. Traveling can already be stressful, especially if I’m speaking or in a different country, or meeting an idol of mine. And since those are the main reasons I travel, I’ve learned to just focus on the intention behind the trip. That means I don’t stress about if, when, or how I’m going to exercise.
Now, sometimes this can go the other way. If I happen to come across a Crossfit gym, or a yoga studio that is near to where I’m staying and I have time to fit in a class or two, then great! This gets me excited! But notice the overall theme here: feeling excited vs. feeling obligated. Obligation comes with feeling with feeling burdened by “needing” to exercise.
My Weekly Exercise Routine
Non-gym based activity 1-2x/week.
My metabolism-boosting insider’s hack 2x/week.
When I first tried Crossfit, I got HOOKED. I loved the workouts (short and sweet) and I loved the coaches, my classmates and the community (so accepting, tight and chill)...and I still love all of these things! When I started, I was coming off of basically 2 years without exercising much at all, as I’d been focused on writing my book and growing my team, and I LOVED what I experienced! I started doing Crossfit workouts every single day and I was seeing tons of progress, specifically in the amount of weight I could lift. It was empowering and gave me something new and exciting to aim for!
A few months after starting this regimen, a couple things happened: First, I noticed my body began to change…a lot. And while I really respect and value being able to lift super heavy weights, I also didn’t want my body shape and size to drastically change. Second, I ended up in the hospital with meningitis. To be clear, Crossfit did NOT land me in the hospital (overall stress did). But doing these intense workouts day in and day out added stress on my already stressed out body, and my body was forced to fight compounding inflammation while my immune system became weaker.
So, over the past year, I’ve been working on finding a healthy balance. The wonderful thing is that I’m actually finding myself HOLDING BACK from going to more than 3 Crossfit classes a week. It’s a wonderful feeling to love your workout so much like that! BUT, like I’ve shared throughout this article, I know the importance of listening to my body, giving it necessary rest time, and consciously choosing rejuvenation. That’s why I’m doing more yoga, which has been great for stress management, peace of mind, and my waistline, too. I haven’t even touched how this practice also cuts out “stress eating” which is also a mega benefit.
So most weeks, I hit Crossfit twice, and yoga twice (one day I do back-to-back Crossfit and Yoga, so I’m at the gym three times a week).
I try to do something else active on one of the remaining days: like go for a short run (2-5 miles is my sweet spot these days.) I also love to bike, paddle board, rollerblade, and during the weeks I’m in San Diego, I boogie board!
So, with 3 days at the gym, and 1 day doing something else active, that accounts for 4 days. What do I do with the other 3? I might work late. I might go to Happy Hour with a friend. I might cook a really nice dinner. I might relax in the hot tub, at the pool, or on my balcony with a really good book. Are you catching my theme here? Most importantly: I rest.
I’ve found that for me to maintain the body I’ve worked so hard for, the name of the game is balance.
So, that’s what I do! I work out a little, rest a little, and am active a lot! And I make it a priority to sleep enough. Above all, I listen to my body.
Morning Metabolism Boosting Hack
On days when I would love to get in some activity but am very short on time, one of my tricks is to get up a tiny bit earlier than usual (~20 minutes) and I sprint to the coffee shop!
Here’s the breakdown: 3 minutes to change into my running clothes, 5 minutes to sprint to the coffee shop (it’s a half mile), 3-6 minutes to get my coffee (which is a wash because it takes me this long to make coffee at home ), and 10 minutes to walk home.
I end up doing this short metabolism boosting insider’s hack once or twice a week and I LOVE it! It gets my day started with some activity, revs up my metabolism, and it’s a fun treat to get coffee made for me, too.
Nutrition and Supplements for My Workouts
Now, I know you also asked for what I eat and what supplements I take for my workouts, and since this post is already a novel, I put these into a quick guide for you.
Not just exercising, but every kind of exercise—running, lifting, yoga, Pilates, CrossFit.
Not just dieting, but every kind of diet—Weight Watchers, Atkins, vegetarian/vegan, Paleo, low carb, SlimFast, Beachbody.
Not just supplements—but hundreds of dollars of pills, powders, shakes, you name it.
Not just self improvement, but every kind of self improvement—meditation, prayer, deep breathing, affirmation, self love.
Then why is it STILL not working?
You’ve followed the rules. You’ve read the blogs. You’ve bought the supplements. Cooked the food. You feel you should be able to figure this out.
But you haven’t. And it frustrates and exhausts you to no end. It doesn’t seem fair.
Your hormones could be to blame.
My team of Dietitians and I see clients just like you—people who are seemingly doing everything “right” and yet they aren’t seeing the fat loss they want. I know how frustrating it is to work so hard and not see results on the scale or in the mirror!
That’s why we always look deeper in our 1-1 coaching—beyond just food, calories, and exercise. We know that the real answers lie in the commonly overlooked factors (many of which I share with you in my #1 bestselling book.)
One key that has been a huge “a-ha” for both myself and our clients, is hormones!
When your hormones are in harmony, your metabolism is supported and you feel amazing—you’re energized, in control of your moods, your cravings fade away, and you’re ready to conquer the world!
On the flip side, when they’re out of balance, you feel exhausted, out of control, and your metabolism tanks. (And that's when it seems impossible to lose weight, or worse—you gain weight.)
4 Key Hormones and How to Keep ‘Em Balanced:
1) Insulin. You can think of insulin as your master hormone because when insulin is at work, the activities of other major hormones are suppressed. When insulin plays its trump card, all other hormones step out of the way. Insulin’s main job is to store fat, which is why it’s important to keep insulin’s workload as light as possible. When insulin is working hard, you’re packing on more pounds.
How to keep insulin on the sidelines: Keep your blood sugar levels stable to keep insulin levels low...or else insulin takes over the show. Do this by eating in PFC balance to stay off the blood sugar roller coaster that drives insulin (and your weight) up.
2) Cortisol. Cortisol (also known as your “stress hormone”) is one of the most important hormones in your body because without it, you couldn’t handle stress. It regulates your “fight or flight” response, and exists as a survival mechanism—it is triggered when you are in danger and is meant to be released in small doses and for short lengths of time. It serves its purpose when you need to kick into high gear. It increases your blood sugars and blood pressure. You can thank cortisol for the surge of energy you get when you are being chased by a tiger. Because cortisol causes your blood sugars to rise, any time you are stressed out, you have elevated blood sugars, so it’s as if you’re eating high amounts of sugary foods all day long. As we just discussed, this causes insulin—your fat storing hormone—to come out to do its job of transporting sugar from your bloodstream to your cells to be stored as fat. And, well, you see where that can lead. This is how you gain weight when you’re stressed...independent of your nutrition...without even eating any more, less, or differently!
How to keep cortisol balanced: Manage your stress. I know…easier said than done. But the reality is that stress is the enemy of a balanced hormonal system. In short, when your body is stressed, it shifts its resources to make cortisol, your stress hormone, and and other hormones such as the sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, suffer. (That explains why you might notice a low sex drive when you’re stressed out.) Take time out to deep breathe, go for a walk, journal for a few minutes, talk to a counselor, take stress-reducing supplements, and make it a priority to keep your stress in check.
3 and 4) Estrogen and Testosterone. These are BIG ones. Estrogen is what we often think of as our female hormone and testosterone our male hormone. A lot of people don’t realize that both sexes have both hormones, and that estrogen dominance can occur in both men and women. Testosterone tends to be converted into estrogen when men and women gain weight, and problems arise when estrogen levels are out of balance. This can easily happen when we are under stress, eating processed foods, consuming soy, not getting enough sleep, taking hormones (like the birth control pill), and also when we’re exposed to estrogen-like compounds found in plastic and styrofoam. These problems continue to pile up if we aren’t doing anything to eliminate the negative effects. When estrogen levels are too high, we see an increase in the prevalence of breast cancer (in both women AND men!), infertility, low libido and weight gain. Women specifically can suffer from endometriosis, excessive PMS, perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms when their hormones are out of whack.
How to keep estrogen and testosterone balanced: Eating balanced is an important first step, and as important as it is, I’ve found from working with our clients that food just isn’t enough when it comes to keeping estrogen and testosterone levels balanced.
That’s why I formulated SynerVive for women and TestraVive for men. They both promote hormone balance by featuring targeted nutrients that support healthy estrogen metabolism and detoxification to keep these 2 hormones where they should be. These supplements don’t contain any synthetic hormones—instead they help your body balance its own estrogen and testosterone levels naturally.
Here’s what Madeleine has to say about SynerVive:
"Synervive has helped with my mood swings, aches and cramps during my cycle. I was able to run a half marathon the morning my cycle started with the help of this supplement taken on a regular basis. So glad I was introduced to this product!” -Madeleine B.
Implement these tips to get your hormones on track, and download my free hormone balancing guide below: