I need to get something off my chest. For me, writing is therapeutic and helps me find my voice in an industry that I love. I’m going to tell you a little story but first, let me give you a little background about me.
My name is Kelsey and I am an addict.
- I am addicted to learning everything I can about the human body and how it works. I am constantly reading, constantly listening to podcasts, following people that are smarter than me and always questioning the “latest and greatest” in the industry.
- I am addicted to sharing knowledge. There are so many diet and exercise programs out there. It’s no wonder that finding the right fit for someone can be a challenge. I love to share my knowledge with people to help them navigate and find the best fit for them.
- I am addicted to helping people. SO much that it hurts. For most of my childhood, adolescence and adulthood, I struggled. I didn’t know who I was. I was overweight and unhappy. I let people walk all over me. My self-esteem and self-compassion was non-existent. Today, I feel strong and confident but find myself aching for any individual who may feel lost.
Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Are you thinking…“Ok Kelsey, great. So you are a nerd who loves to help people. Sounds like you are a good person. Please tell me how this sucks for you!” Cue sarcastic tone.
Let me tell you how this haunts me daily…
The more I learn, the more I question. The more I question, the more I learn. I know a hell of a lot about nutrition, wellness, fitness and how the body works. I am proud of that! I will continue to better my education until the day I die.
I have one major characteristic about myself that I am trying to work on this year. If you know me at all, you would know that I get really passionate about what I believe to be right. Not necessarily uncommon, right? But I get downright offended and fired up when another “fitness expert/guru” steers people wrong. I feel like I’m being forced to watch people happily walk off a cliff as I silently scream, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!”
This leads me to my story…
I’m training my client early this morning and she says to me, “Kels, I’m concerned about my friend.” She proceeds to explain to me that her friend joined a new boot camp style gym and was told that she should take a workout every day (instant red flags go up in my brain). This gym is also a distributor of Medifast; by their own definition, is a diet low in fat and calories based on the consumption of certain foods and beverages developed by Medifast. This woman is desperate to lose weight so she signs up for the challenge for $1000. The diet has her on 600 calories a day (WTF) and working out every day burning about 500-600 calories with every workout. When she later explains to her “health coach” that she feels terrible, is fatigued and not sleeping well, she is told to eat some pickles because she needs some salt (nearly exploded).
As my client finishes explaining her concern, I notice my body has reacted to her story. My heart beats harder in my chest and I feel a huge knot tighten in my stomach. My chest puffs up like it’s going to explode and then deflates heavily as I realize that I want to cry. I empathize with this woman. She is so desperate for change that she grasps onto anything that promises results and a happier state of being in the shortest amount of time.
This is the point that I know I have a problem. Is it a blessing or a curse to care this damn much?! I came home and talked with my husband about it. To be honest, he wasn’t much help because he feels the same way I do. He wants to help everyone too! We both struggle with reality. We can’t fix everyone. We can’t force people to listen. We can’t convince someone to get off the diet roller coaster. This is my struggle. I can offer my help but it’s never going to be my decision whether my help is accepted or not. I have to learn how to be okay with that.
So I am grateful that I have this platform and you are reading this article right now. I hope I can help you in some small way to live a healthy and happy life! With that being said, my personal goal for this year is to try to focus only on the things I can control. I can’t save everyone and it’s unrealistic for me to try. I will continue to focus on my private practice in nutrition coaching and personal training to provide sound advice that is backed by science with proven results. I will continue to help my clients move better without pain, get strong, shed body fat and reach their goals. I will help them build a life full of joy and balance because THAT is my expertise. That is my ultimate dream.
Phew! I feel better already! That WAS therapeutic so thank you for humoring me.
You didn’t think I was going to end this article without giving advice to the woman, did you? No, I can’t make her listen and take my advice. But I can write about it and feel good that hopefully someone is reading and needs to hear what I have to say.
Here are 4 pieces of advice I would offer…
- Find foods you love that fit your goals.
Sure, there are foods that are better for you than others. One fact remains; you should find the foods that you enjoy. While whole foods that are minimally processed are best, you are allowed to enjoy other foods you love too! This means shopping for meats, whole grains, dairy, fruits, veggies and maybe a little bit of chocolate too. Get adventurous and try new things. Focus on the nutrients rather than the calories. Fat loss, increased muscle tone, increased energy, better sleep and an overall joyful disposition are just a few side effects of a balanced and healthy diet.
- Listen to your body and learn how to take action.
There is one ideology that I will always stand behind. You should do things that make you FEEL good, LOOK great and PERFORM at your best. If at any point you don’t feel this way, something needs to change. It could be a number of things that you could change. Of course, diet and exercise are on the top of the list! The foods you eat are directly related to how you feel. So if you are tired, fatigued and have low energy; eat some good food that nourishes your body. Pickles? Really? I would like to enter a heated debate with that health coach on the physiology of the body and how energy balance works. Instead of eating dill pickles, choose some protein to nourish and build your muscles, carbohydrates to provide the energy you need to focus and move well and healthy fat to keep your hormones balanced and leave you feeling satisfied. If you need help understanding portions and why those portions are valid, I got you covered.
- Question the diet trends and do the research for yourself.
Short-term diets yield short-term results. We often find ourselves tempted to try new diets that promise huge amounts of weight loss in short amounts of time. While this can definitely happen, it’s not always healthy for your body! Consuming 600 calories a day is completely insane. I would NEVER advise anyone to consume less that 1200-1500 at minimum! Your body needs calories. Calories provide energy. Energy allows your body to keep it’s organs functioning, heart pumping, brain thinking, lungs expanding, muscles contracting, stomach digesting and so much more. Most women burn at least 1200 calories a day just by living. We burn even more calories on top of that when we walk, drive, digest food, eat a meal, type up a report, walk up the stairs and so on! What makes ANYONE think that restricting calorie intake this drastically would have positive effects on the body? So many scary things can happen when your body doesn’t have what it needs to function and survive. Not to mention that consuming so little calories makes your body catabolic. Meaning, it’s burning through muscle in order to survive. So that drop on the scale you are seeing?? It’s not body fat.
Be a responsible consumer and do the research. Not the kind of research that we do when we “Google it” and read blogs online. Check out the medical research on Google Scholar or PubMed when you want the facts rather than opinions.
- Build life-long habits that are sustainable.
I like to ask one simple question when someone embarks on a diet. “Is this something you believe you can do for the rest of your life?” In other words, is it sustainable? Is it realistic to do it forever? Is it recommended that you do it forever? Do you even enjoy the diet or program? Asking yourself these questions should lead you to the answers you need. Many of us do a diet program because we need “rules” in order to stay on track. We simply don’t trust ourselves to make the right decisions or we don’t know what the right decisions are. Instead of living by rules and restrictions, I would ask that you adopt habits that will lead you to the life you wish to lead. Lead you to the outcome you crave. So if you want to lose weight, can you drink more water? Maybe consume protein at each meal? Eat more veggies? These are just a few ways you can get amazing results that last forever. Then what happens when you have mastered multiple habits? Your body responds in ways you couldn’t even dream. Trust me, there IS a better way!
I hope you have found this article to be helpful. It was meant to not only be informational, but also a proclamation for me! I will stop feeling frozen when I cannot help everyone.
So yes, I am an addict. But this year, I’ll simply be addicted to learning, teaching and inspiring those people who are ready to give up on the diet roller coaster.