75 Hard? That’s a Hard Pass… And Here’s Why

To all my hard-working, go-getting, goal-digging female friends:

Oh, how I wish I could sit you down and tell you how amazing you are and how hard your body works for you to keep you alive. How I wish you could truly see yourself the way I do. I would tell you to take a big deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. I would remind you that your body is safe. Your body is on your side.

Instead, I see the pressure. The pressure to punish the female body. To do extra hard things (as if your body isn’t working hard enough already). The latest and greatest in this masochistic movement masquerading as “discipline” is the 75 Hard program.

In case you’re unfamiliar, let me break it down for you.

In a program designed by a man (we’ll get back to that in a minute), it aims to promote mental toughness by engaging in the following activities DAILY for 75 days. Apparently, if you mess up, you start over.

  1. Follow any food plan designed for your goals, but zero alcohol and no cheat meals.
  2. Complete two 45-minute workouts every day – one of them outside.
  3. Every day, drink a gallon of water.
  4. Every day, read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book.
  5. Every day, take a picture of your progress.

Okay, at first glance it really seems like a great combination of holistic health – we’ve got the food piece, the movement, hydration, internal processing…. but hold up. A picture? Every day?

That’s the first thing that stands out to me that is troubling. I’ve posted many times about my personal issues with before and after pictures, so I can’t imagine the obsession a daily picture would create in me. I can just picture myself zooming in on every single roll, bulge, speck, spot, zit, crease, and stance. Making sure my pose is the exact same every day, or sucking in, not sucking in, sticking the hip out here, booty out there. Man, by the time picture time is over I could’ve been reading my 10 pages from a book! This seems to be quite triggering for anyone who struggles with body image issues – which is probably the exact type of person targeted for a program like this. Big nope for me.

Now, let’s get back to the whole “program started by a man” thing. I’m sure Andy Frisella is a very motivating person. He’s a CEO of a large company, and he gets things done. He’s created a movement. But Andy’s body is driven by a different kind of rhythm in order to get work done – the circadian rhythm. And while we females have a circadian rhythm as well, we also have something called an infradian rhythm. And where we are in that infradian rhythm – meaning, which phase of our menstrual cycle we fall into – makes a huge difference in how our bodies are going to be functioning optimally.

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Simple and Easy Tips for Meal Prepping in the New Year

Looking for ways to freshen up your dinner routine in the new year? This interview with Cassy Joy Garcia is packed with ideas.

Cassy Joy is a New York Times bestselling author, of “Cook Once Dinner Fix,” “Cook Once Eat All Week,” and “Fed and Fit,” as well as the creative force behind the popular food blog Fed + Fit. Eager to share her healthy living secrets with the world, she started Fed + Fit in 2011.

Download and listen here or find wherever you get podcasts!

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How to Stop Dieting in 2022

2021 was a year of emotional upheaval for me, and I know I’m not alone. Aside from the division and tension caused by a certain virus and all the politics (unfortunately) intertwined with it, our family went through a major transition. My husband made a career change and we moved cities to follow our dreams. We left family and close friends. I grieved the loss of what we left behind, along with broken relationships that didn’t get mended.

This took a toll on my hormones and digestion. While food consumption and movement didn’t change, my emotional environment did. And my body decided to protect me by storing weight. While I can wear my clothes still, I’m a little fluffier in them. They don’t fit the same. I don’t have the ease of movement in certain yoga poses that I used to.

Because I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, I also know this is where many of us are tempted to go on an extreme diet to lose the weight.

Here’s the thing I want to remind you – your body cannot let go of excess weight until it is in a place of safety and healing.

Trying to drastically cut calories and restrict food consumption in order to lose weight quickly may work at the beginning… at the expense of putting your body into a greater state of survival and fight or flight. This is why 95% of diets fail.

There has to be another way to restore the body to a place of healing.

For me, the key has been creating a healthy relationship with food and exercise. Here’s what that means:

  • Food isn’t something to earn.
  • Exercise isn’t punishment for poor eating.
  • Overconsuming food that has been chemically altered and designed to be overconsumed isn’t a moral failure. It doesn’t mean you lack willpower or discipline.
  • While calories are units of energy, calories in carbohydrates alone provide different types of energy than calories in protein and calories in fat, not to mention calories from a piece of cake and calories from a sweet potato. This looks different for every individual.
  • My response to certain foods changes throughout the month as my hormones shift. What is filling and fueling one day, may not be filling and fueling on another.
  • The state of stress I’m in while I’m eating may matter more than the content of what I’m eating.

Instead of placing an emphasis on food restriction and punishment, I must emphasize nourishment. What can I do for my body that is healing? What can I do that gives it a break from the stress? I think for many of us, it looks like changing the mindset first.

Until our perspective on food and health changes, we can’t make progress. We will always be battling a negative attitude toward our body and food, which perpetuates a state of survival in our already stressed out bodies.

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A Functional Medicine Approach to Restoring Mental Health

Amy Spindel is a functional holistic nutritionist with a mission: to help moms and kids feel happier, calmer, and more energetic so that they can enjoy their best life. She applies a multidisciplinary approach, exploring and supporting mind, body, and spirit, to determine and then provide support around the root causes of why someone does not feel their best.

She received her masters in holistic nutrition from Hawthorn University with additional training from the School of Applied Functional Medicine, and also holds a masters in social work from Columbia University. She is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, Applied Functional Medicine Certified, a Certified Gluten-Free Practitioner, and trained in culinary arts. Amy owns Food With Thought Nutrition, a functional nutrition and health coaching practice in Plano, TX.

Download here or listen wherever you get podcasts.

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When the December Blahs Hit

December is my mental slump month. I recently posted about the top triggers for holiday anxiety, but to be honest, holiday anxiety is not something I struggle with throughout the month. But my “December Blahs?” They’re definitely a struggle and always have been.

Though I’ve never been formally diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, my mood definitely shifts after Thanksgiving. The husband often catches it before I do. This year, I started feeling it earlier than usual. For me, it shows up as complete lack of motivation and willingness to engage. That’s the first symptom. I know from past history that if I let it linger there, I’ll take a deeper dive into true depression.

Last week, I made a trip to the library to load up on some fun holiday reading. As I gathered my stack of no less than seven books, I had this sudden despairing thought that it seemed like such a task to start a new book. Listen – new books bring me so much joy, so that thought was definitely an alert for me. When things that I consider fun stop feeling fun, that’s a sign that my mood is starting to tank.

At that moment, I realized I needed to take a step back and slow it down. I made no plans to fight the lack of motivation with excess activity, to beat my brain and body into submission like I used to. Instead, I came to the realization that for the rest of December, I’m committing myself to erasing to-do items off my lists. I’m not going to fight the blah. Instead, I’m going to recognize it for what it is, and re-adjust my expectations of myself.

This is a difficult mindset shift for me. I like to fill my schedule, I thrive with activity and overscheduling, and I love to have a thousand different plates spinning at one time.

Not for the rest of December.

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You Are Not Your Feelings: How to Make Peace with Your Mind

Amy Johnson, PhD, is a psychologist, coach, author, and speaker who shares a groundbreaking new approach that helps people find lasting freedom from unwanted habits, anxiety, and self-doubt via insight rather than willpower. 

She is the author of “Being Human, The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit,” and “Just a Thought: A No-Willpower Approach to End Self-Doubt and Make Peace with Your Mind.” In 2017, she opened The Little School of Big Change, an online school that has helped thousands of people find freedom from anxiety and habits and live a more peaceful life.

Download and listen to this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Your Weight Is The Least Interesting Thing About You

I had to step on a scale for life insurance this week and it triggered crazy anxiety and numerous unpleasant emotions.

I haven’t looked at the scale in years. According to the BMI (which is a mathematical calculation never intended to be used for health purposes but that’s a whole other post), I have been overweight since I was 16 years old. Because I’ve suffered from chronic health issues my entire life, I know when I’m in a healthy place and I know when I’m in an unhealthy place. The scale has never been a reflection of that. But it can tell me when my body is on high alert or fighting to restore balance. 

Yes, I am a health coach, but I don’t use the scale as a measure of health.

I dig deeper.

Because my endless hours of training are in integrative nutrition and functional medicine, I care more about what rapid weight gain or weight loss tells me about underlying imbalances.

Often times, weight is a protective mechanism. Body fat tissue is biologically active, producing hormones and immune-system proteins that act on other cells. There is a REASON for the inflammation. It’s how our body stores toxins and manages internal or external imbalances, not to mention physical and emotional stress.

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Creating Emotional Intimacy in Marriage

Because I believe so strongly in the mind-body connection and the importance of physical and emotional health, I had to center a marriage episode around the topic of intimacy. I invited the best person I know to come on the podcast and speak on this – my husband, Richard!

Richard Kerry is a Licensed Professional Counselor and specializes in marriage and premarital counseling. In this episode, we get real about our marriage, share when to know counseling is needed, and how to be vulnerable in a relationship while doing conflict well.

Download this episode here, or find and listen wherever you get podcasts!

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Holiday (Detox) Soup

The coolest thing about “un-dieting” and choosing to partner with my body for nourishment – instead of punishment – is that I know when my body is craving nutrients.

After the Thanksgiving leftovers were gone a couple weeks ago, I threw this together. Then I made it again this weekend, because I was missing it. It’s just what my body asks me for after enjoying heavier, richer food this time of year.

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The Opioid Epidemic and Rise of Substance Abuse

Addiction doesn’t just affect the one addicted, but it affects everyone else as well – especially during the holidays, after a season of so much uncertainty and division. This episode comes at a perfect time.

Scott H. Silverman is a substance abuse expert, crisis coach (and former addict) with over with over 35 years of experience working with individuals and families dealing with addiction. Silverman is the CEO and President of Confidential Recovery and Safe Homes Coalition, and the author of several books including his latest, “The Opioid Epidemic: What You Don’t Know Will Destroy Your Family and your Life.”

Download and listen to the episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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