How Dirty Are Your Genes?

“Our genes load the gun, but our environment pulls the trigger.”

Have you heard this before? We are not stuck with our genes. We can change the expression of our genes with every bite we take, step we take, thought we think. This is the concept of epigenetics.

I recently found out I have a copy of a gene mutation called MTHFR. Because I refer to this in many of my recipes as my motivation for eating the way I eat, I want to break it down in an easy, Cliffs notes kind of way. There are many websites out there that can explain it in depth (like this and this), but here are the basics:

An estimated 30-60% of the population has at least one copy of this gene. When you have MTHFR, your body cannot fully convert folic acid into methylfolate, the methylated form of folate, and some experts suggest that ANY folic acid consumed will block the absorption of folate – even that which you consume in whole foods. This is detrimental to our brain health, because neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine need methylfolate for production.

Common health concerns sometimes associated with MTHFR include:

  • ADHD, autism, mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar)
  • Autoimmune disease/thyroid disorders
  • Digestive issues
  • Migraines
  • Recurrent miscarriages
  • Infertility
  • Hormonal issues, like PCOS
  • Blood clots, stroke, embolism
  • And many many more (it’s a rabbit hole)

Continue reading “How Dirty Are Your Genes?”

In Search Of My Goal Weight

“What do you want to change about your body?”

The question must have been standard for the personal trainer asking me, because he asked so nonchalantly, like it was just an everyday conversation topic.

For me, though, it gave me pause. I thought, and I thought, and I thought. A word kept floating in and out of my conscious mind, but I had a hard time grasping it.

“Nothing… nothing… nothing…” the word flickered in and out, like broken lights on an old restaurant sign.

But I couldn’t say it.

It would sound weird to say that out loud. I had signed up for a free consultation, and I thought maybe I’d learn how to properly lift weights. I wasn’t prepared to think about my body’s deficiencies.

But maybe that’s what these sessions are about, I thought. That’s the point of this meeting for most people, right? Maybe it would be stupid to say it out loud? Am I supposed to want to change something? Do I LOOK like I should change something? I mean, I’ve had 3 kids, but I kinda like my curves and my strong thick thighs (and for that matter, so does my husband). I practice yoga because I feel strong and solid, not insecure and unsafe in my body like I did for so many years. I run because I love to get my heart rate up. It cleanses my mind and soothes my soul. It’s a dopamine driver.

So I sat there. And I made up something about wanting toned arms (I’ve never particularly cared one way or other about my arms). He made me weigh and check my body fat. That only further intensified my thought that maybe there WAS something wrong that I should change, and that brief flicker of “NOTHING,” – the thought that there was nothing I wanted to change about my body -that was quickly popping out of my subconscious into real life… faded away and died out.

By the end of our conversation, I realized that I had allowed myself to believe I needed to change something about my body.

It seemed so innocent, so out of nowhere. Just one free consultation with a trainer. But after years of progress and learning to respect the body I’m in, it happened in an instant. I started believing the lie again.

The messages are everywhere. It’s easy to get caught up in it – the quest to look better. Thinner, more toned, younger. It’s easy to idolize it, to make that the goal. Your life will be better if you lose weight.

“When I reach my goal weight, I’ll…” fill in the blank. Have you ever thought that before?

At some point in the last few years I stopped dreaming about the mythical goal weight and started living in the present. I stopped working out and eating for a number and I started living for mental stability and freedom. I gained freedom from rules and guidelines that never make me feel good enough, and I won freedom to eat what fuels ME, not anyone else.

Today, if you asked me what I wanted to change about my body, I would grab onto that floating word with all my strength and not let it go.

NOTHING. I am so much more than a number. I am so much more than a size. I contribute so much more to life than a physical image.

If you are caught in the trap of believing that your life will begin when you reach your goal weight, it’s time to get a new perspective. For me, I didn’t need to change my body. But I needed to change my perspective. That is what brought me the most healing.

It is possible for you to find freedom. Contact me. Let’s work on true, sustainable health – from the inside out.

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Your Diet Is Holding You Captive (And How to Break Free)

Do you resonate with the following scenario?

“Wow. I’m doing so good right now. I haven’t had sugar in like, 12 hours.”

“Crap, there’s a donut. Don’t look at it. Ignore the donut. You don’t need the donut. Think of  how BAD it is for you.”

Ignores donut. A few hours later…

“Oooh, I could really go for that Reese’s peanut butter cup sitting right there. It sounds soooo good.”

A few minutes later…

“Well, it’s only around ___ calories. If I have that, then I just won’t have the apple I was planning on having for a snack. Yeah, that works, I’ll do that.”

An hour later.

“I totally screwed up. I’m so weak. I hate that I can’t have willpower. Ugh, I’ll never look the way I want to look. Bathing suit season is only a few months away. I’m going to be the fat friend again. Guess I’ll go find that donut.”

person holding doughnut with sprinkles
“Just one bite”

This was me, almost my entire life. Good foods, bad foods. Restriction, permission. Guilt, shame, pride. Negative self talk.

Dieting completely screwed up my ability to trust my body.

Dieting taught me to be legalistic and judgmental with myself.

Dieting taught me to punish myself with exercise.

Dieting taught me to obsess over numbers… the scale, the size, the label, the amount.

Dieting taught me to say no, even when my stomach was growling.

Do you relate? Continue reading “Your Diet Is Holding You Captive (And How to Break Free)”

Holiday Food Survival Guide

Thanksgiving is here! With that comes FOOD and for many of  us who have a sketchy relationship with food… anxiety. What to do when faced with all the carbs and sugar? Do I have to give up everything I love in order to stay the size that I am? Will I gain 5 pounds by looking at a piece of pie? Or for those of us who have received so much healing through nutrition – will I have a relapse in my illness if I mess up on one day?

We hear so many mixed messages this time of year regarding what food will cause what, what we need to avoid, what will pack on the pounds, etc. Don’t even get me started on the images that display the calorie counts for a typical plate of Thanksgiving food. It is so exhausting! I’m sick of rules and restrictions regarding my holidays. I don’t want diet mindset to destroy my joy. I want to live in FREEDOM.

So I’ve come up with some reminders and tips for surviving the holiday food explosion. I hope they will help you as they have helped me. Continue reading “Holiday Food Survival Guide”

Top Tips for Immune Support

Fall is here, winter is coming, and with both – all sorts of viruses. Hand sanitizer and a flu shot that is estimated to be less than 20% effective this year is not enough for me. Managing cold and flu season for my family requires the same 4 steps as managing my mental illness:

  • Nutrition
  • Supplementation
  • Movement
  • Relaxation

1. Nutrition – let’s start with sugar. Sugar is public enemy number one when it comes to illness. It will wreck your immune system. Studies have shown that at a blood sugar level of 120 (easily obtained by drinking a soda or juice or a latte or eating candy or a cookie), the white blood cells’ ability to absorb and destroy viruses and bacteria reduce by 75%. It takes 4-6 hours to get back to normal. Don’t forget that refined carbs like processed white flour spike blood sugar even more than sugar itself (like that burger or sandwich you had for lunch AFTER you had a muffin or toast for breakfast). Think about that when you’re figuring out what to do with your kid’s Halloween stash. Continue reading “Top Tips for Immune Support”

Is What You’re Eating Stressing You Out?

Stress. We hear about it all the time. It’s in our daily vocabulary. We feel the weight of it constantly.

What if I told you that the food you consume is stressing your body out and making things worse?

It sounds crazy, right? When I think of stress, I think of a busy schedule, too many commitments, big life events or tragedies, etc. I don’t think of an internal response. However, the food you eat has a major impact on your stress hormone: cortisol.

nature animal wilderness head
I’m more flight than fight, looking at this!

Cortisol is the fight or flight hormone. The purpose of it is actually a good thing! It is supposed to protect your body during times of stress. Imagine living in the wild and a mountain lion is approaching. Cortisol shoots through your body through the adrenals (hello, adrenaline!) in order to increase glucose for energy to ward off the attacker. Your heart rate increases thanks to epinephrine and you’re able to store fat needed for the fight. After the mountain lion has been killed and the situation is resolved, your body returns back to its normal state. All is well.

Here’s the problem with our current diet. When we eat lots of sugar and refined or simple carbs, our blood sugar is frequently crashing, signaling to the body that we’re under attack and need an increase of cortisol. So glucose is increased and fat is stored. This is super taxing on the adrenals, because due to the carb-sugar cycle we are always in, our adrenal glands are ALWAYS shooting out extra cortisol, way more than was intended in human design. Our cells soon become resistant to cortisol. What does this lead to? Inflammation, a poor-functioning immune system, type 2 diabetes, fertility issues, inability to lose weight, cancer, thyroid problems, depression, chronic fatigue…the list goes on. Continue reading “Is What You’re Eating Stressing You Out?”

Why Diets Never Worked For Me

Diets. I hate the D word. They started in high school. I went on my first antidepressant my sophomore year and gained 30 pounds in under two years. It was devastating and embarrassing. I used food to cope with unhealthy emotions. Once I could drive, I hopped in my 1990 baby blue Chevy Caprice and hit up Sonic happy hour for cheddar peppers and slushes. I stocked up on sour watermelon candy at Target and late night Whataburger taquitos. I never felt full, but I loved the dopamine high the food would give me. I knew food had a pull on me I couldn’t escape.

So I tried South Beach, the Zone, and finally, Atkins. The latter helped me lose the “Zoloft weight” and gave me new confidence. But restriction made me bitter. I developed PTSD from salads. I made the act of eating a moral decision – there are good foods and bad foods. Fattening and non. Healthy or not. And I let the shame of indulgence give me value, just as I allowed my size or the number on the tag of my jeans give me value. Continue reading “Why Diets Never Worked For Me”