How to Start Your Health Journey, the Right Way

“Increasing evidence suggests that obesity is not simply a problem of will power or self-control but a complex disorder involving appetite regulation and energy metabolism that is associated with a variety of comorbid conditions. Effective strategies of [better health or] weight loss require management strategies in a combined approach of dietary therapy and physical activity by using behavioral interventions.”[1]

What’s Ahead?

  • How to start out your health journey the right way, with self acceptance.
  • How to avoid making poor decisions about your health and wellbeing by using an abundance mindset.
  • How to get all the nutrients you need to have your body freely releasing fat without having to worry about counting calories or following some fad diet.
  • How to choose the perfect food when shopping.
  • What to expect when you are losing weight the right way.

Study after study shows that behavioral, psychological and cognitive changes are the most beneficial changes needed for weight loss and weight loss sustainability [2]. It all starts in the mind. People who want to maintain weight loss would benefit from focusing on self-monitoring, planning and managing interpersonal relationships.

Self Acceptance is 1st

Self acceptance is defined as an individual’s acceptance of all her or his attributes, positive or negative. This encompases body acceptance, protection from others criticism, and believing in one’s capabilities.

According to Harvard Medical School, “Without self-acceptance, your psychological well-being can suffer, and often, beneficial interventions [i.e. weight loss programs] are less helpful for you than for others with higher self-acceptance”.

Weight loss is a journey from one point to another. The fastest way to get from one point to another is a straight line.

Self acceptance is point #1 and your goal is point #2.

You can’t get out of a prison that you don’t know you are in.

Ram dass

Accepting your starting point means that you will get to your goal faster and easier than ever before. If you don’t know where you are, you will be wandering aimlessly hoping that something or someone will be the magic pill.

You are the magic pill. You are all the wonderful things in this world. You are perfect and you can get what you want.

The truth is that you are a perfect being. You are living out your life exactly the way it was intended. You continue to do the best you know how with the information that you are given. You are a radiant being of love and light surrounded by flesh.

People who have higher self acceptance and self love make healthier choices for themselves, and not the other way around.

You were born into this life and your were taught how to act and behave, what to think, how to eat, how to handle pain, loss, joy, fear and so on. The only problem is, that if you are anything like me, you were taught all of this by people and a society that were sick and in a lot of pain themselves. So, it is no wonder that you have developed certain coping mechanisms. Your flesh wants to stay alive, your brain wants to be accepted, and your heart wants to give fully to others.

Your brain is very protective of you and it is working perfectly to keep you safe. It will create all sorts of beliefs to keep you doing the same thing that worked for you when you were a little scared kid or a bullied teenager… but chances are these things are no longer working in your benefit. Chances are you would benefit from trying on a few new beliefs.

When you learn about who you are and what your inner monolog is saying, it can be pretty messed up. We all have some creepy negative thoughts that are trying to keep me away from bullies and safe from criticism. We can learn to forgive bullies for being messed up and forgive ourselves for not being better and we can even recreate an old experience and train ourselves to have more joy in every moment and compassion for all beings.

New beliefs that are very powerful for transformation:

“I am worthy of love, just the way I am”

“Everything has happened for me, not to me”

“I am enough”

How to Work on Self Acceptance

Choose not to fight yourself. If you feel sad, allow yourself to feel sad. If you feel depressed, allow yourself to feel depressed, if you feel joyful and happy, feel joyful and happy. Emotions are energy in motion and they are trying to tell you something about yourself. If you push away your emotions, you are pushing away yourself. The emotions are still winning, because now instead of feeling fear you are actively not feeling fear… Instead of just being… Does that make sense? Instead of letting the fear move through you (emotions last on average 90 seconds), you are saying I don’t feel fear, I don’t feel fear, I don’t feel fear… You will do this until you finally surrender to the emotion (the part of you that wants to be heard) and let it move through you. “Oh yes, I am feeling fear, that is interesting, I wonder why?”

The longer that you suppress your emotions, the further you delay self acceptance. The further you delay self acceptance the harder it will be for you to lose weight. It seems backwards, like, “I will accept myself when I lose xx amount of ponds”… But the truth is, you will lose xx amount of pounds once you accept the fact that you are a perfect being made of love with all your eccentricities and unique quirks.

Actual things that increase self acceptance, self awareness and self-love:

  • Look in the mirror. Really look. Get naked and just look at yourself for 5-10 minutes. Breathe, when it seems like it is too much, just breathe. Nice, what thoughts come up. You don’t have to react to them, you can just let them go, but notice. Are they nice thoughts, are they mean thoughts, do you hear anything over and over again? Most importantly, remember, you are here and you are perfect. Because you are here, you are perfect. As long as you are here, you are perfect.
  • Make a list of your strengths.
  • Write down any recurring negative thoughts in a “creepy negative thoughts” journal.
  • Write down what makes you sad? Why?
  • What makes you happy? Why?
  • What can you not live without? Why?
  • How are your relationships? How do you behave in your relationships?
  • Where in your body do you feel your emotions?
  • What does it feel like to be in your body?
  • FFF meditation. Feel your Fucking Feelings meditation. Emotional healer and conscious comedian JP Sears created this and I love it. You meditate and let whatever feelings you feel come up. Give each feeling about 2 minutes and let it go. Make sure you are in a comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted and remember that you don’t have to react to your feelings or get attached to them. By simply observing them and letting them go, you are doing the work.

The point of these exercises is to let whatever needs to come up, come up without being suppressed. You will, over time begin to see that emotions come and go. It is a part of being human. You will realize it is all a big game and you may even look forward to the feelings and different intensities.

We all have a right to exist just the way that we are. We don’t need to change we don’t need to hide our emotions and we don’t need to please anyone but our higher selves.

Start to get a sense of who you are and accept that. It is extremely empowering and helps a lot when others question or criticize you.

Once you accept the good the bad and the ugly; figure out what you want to change, and why.

Now you have a starting point (you today), an end goal (your ideal self), a list of obstacles to avoid (your negative self talk), and a list of resources to rely on (your strengths).

This deep inner work is crucial for transformation[4]. You can do it, and you deserve the best.

Eat With an Abundance Mindset

Lakshmi, She is the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, love, beauty, joy and prosperity in the material and spiritual world. She signifies the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, with her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness.

Scarcity Vs. Abundance Mindset

When you have weight loss resistance, obesity, or if you have been yo-yo dieting in the past, your body has most likely decided that it is in danger of a famine and it needs to hold onto fat cells like its life depends on it.

Because of this, it is important to remember that nature is abundant and you will never go without anything you need. Your body has to feel like it is safe to release fat.

So, instead of saying to yourself “I can’t have that”, you have to know that you can have whatever it is that you want… “I want to have a beautiful juicy peach”, “I want to have that big bowl of vegan chili, it is delicious, it is making my mouth water”, “I don’t want to have that McDonalds burger because it does not help me get to where I want to go”.

A scarcity mindset alters neural processing that underlies decision making. Not having enough of what you need has long been shown to have detrimental consequences for decision making[3]. When an item is scarce (in calorie restriction it would be food) we have a hyper focus on that item and it is hard to focus on anything else.

On top of the mindest, there is the physical aspect of scarcity. Processed foods, fast foods, even a lot of restaurant foods have low nutritional value. If that is the kind of food that you were raised on, like I was, there is a high likelihood that you may have a few nutritional deficiencies. It is very common and very easy to be overweight and undernourished [9]. Again, when your body does not have something (scarcity of nutrients) it will hyper focus on that thing (obsessed with food, binge eating, always hungry, etc.).

A few tricks and tips to help you have an abundance mindset:

  • Surround yourself with healthy options, purge your cabinets and fridge of everything you don’t want to be tempted by when you’re hungry and tired. Prepare some nutritionally dense dishes that taste amazing and have them ready to eat whenever or wherever you are. Check out my post on “The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prepping & Planning”, for how to set yourself up for fool proof success.
  • A mantra for Abundance. Before you put your feet on the ground in the morning lay for a minute or two in bed and repeat this mantra to yourself. “Every day I grow in love, success and abundance as I inspire those around me to do the same.” Take 2 breaths and then say it again. It may feel silly and you’ll probably hear your mind whispering things like “Liar”, every now and then, but just keep doing it. Soon your mind will start to look for ways that that is true instead of false.
  • Practice gratitude. If you are reading this then you have access to the internet and truthfully you can eat whatever you want whenever you want. You really do live in an abundant time and place. Be grateful for the things that you have. There are so many others that have way less.
  • Detox from the word “Can’t”, you can. Don’t allow yourself to utter that word. Remember that you can do anything you want and you can eat anything you want.

Taste the Rainbow, Eat the Rainbow, You are the Rainbow

There are a million and one diets out there that all claim they will bust belly fat and blah blah blah. Low fat, high fat, low carb, high carb, vegan, vegetarian, pescitarian, porkatarian, librarian. The science is in. There is no significant difference in their efficacy for weight loss[6].

They all work, they will all do what they claim to do… up to a certain point. What is your end goal? Do you want to lose weight and then gain it all back, plus more? Or would you like to fully transform into someone that you have never been before?

The truth is that if you want lasting results, you will have to get in tune with your intuition. You will have to remember that you are a wild and unique creature of the earth with billions of years of evolution inside of your body that will help you determine what you need to thrive. You will have to become acquainted with whole, unadulterated foods.

Mother nature made the best diet for us. She provides us with everything we need to thrive. The problem started when we decided to farm the land, and industrialize our food. We have become very disconnected from our food.

If mother nature wrote a diet book she would say go into nature and see what there is to eat. That is exactly what you need right now. I made all the seasons, I made fruit for the summer to fatten you up for the winter, I made pumpkins for the fall that will last all winter, I made greens so hardy and nutrient dense that you can have them all year long. If you take the time and learn, you can have animals, beans and grains as well. It is all here in perfect harmony ready for you to be in perfect harmony with me.

We are made of a delicate balance of elements that form into nutrients. There are macronutrients, which need to be consumed in relatively high amounts (Carbs, fats, protein, air & water). And there are micronutrients, that are just as important but are consumed in smaller amounts (vitamins and minerals). All of these nutrients are found in plants, animals, air and water.

A fruit or vegetable color signals to you what nutrients and phytochemicals are available in the food. The color can vary based on ripeness, density of nutrients and processing methods[5].

The easiest way to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients that your body requires to feel safe, nourished and encourage it to release fat is to eat a rainbow of food. Eating every different color of the rainbow means that you are getting every different nutrient that the earth has to offer.

Our ancestors didn’t have tools for deciphering the exact nutrient density of the banana vs the mango, how many calories in a buffalo or if this cacao was going to take her out of ketosis. They were in harmony with the earth and they thrived for millions of years. And within 500 years (a relatively short period) we castrated ourselves from nature. We may have all of these beautiful objects and drugs, but quality of life, I think has declined, and according to American Medical Association, life expectancy in the US has been declining since 2014… This is very troublesome and I believe reversible.

It starts with you and it starts with me. We must each do what we can to feel our best so that we can support one another and mother nature.

To boil it all down, we are beings of light that eat condensed, frozen light in the form of plants and animals in order to shine bright.

Eat Organic, Humanely raised, and Sustainable Foods

Nutrient density is the game and organic, locally sourced is the name.

There is evidence that most vitamins are deficient in obese individuals, especially fat soluble vitamins, B12 and vitamin C [9].

There is something that has not changed since the dawn of man. It’s the fact that mother nature provides us with everything we need to thrive. The more we mess with her the more it impacts our health. In order for us to be healthy, we must have a healthy environment.

This means doing your best to make a healthy environment for yourself.

In order for our fleshy little bodies to be here on earth we need to be consuming air, water and food. The quality of all of these things makes a difference in how your fleshy body works [8]. If the food is treated with toxic metals, pesticides, herbicides, radiation, antibiotics, exogenous hormones, unrecognizable additives and preservatives (i.e. fast food and processed foods), then the food is not food, it is poison. Even small amounts of this stuff can set you back for days, weeks or months.

Obesogens! These are man made chemical compounds that change the way your body processes and stores fat in a way that will make you gain weight. They are in plastic food bags and leach into your food (BPA) [12]. High fructose corn syrup changes your leptin (hunger hormone) levels so that you are both more hungry and producing more fat [11]. Arsenic found in insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, electronic devices and unfiltered drinking water is linked to obesity and diabetes [13]. The list goes on, Antidepressants [14], perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is used as a surfactant and in non-stick cookware [15], nicotine, if your mother smoked you may be at a higher risk for obesity. There are many more and these chemicals can make you gain more weight even if you are eating less calories. It is really quite unfortunate but a lot of these things can be avoided.

The moral of the story is, you want food in your body, not poisonous chemicals. So, how do you right this wrong? You vote with your dollar. People are waking up to the fact that our food system is working against our health and the health of the planet. Organic food sales continue to grow in number, giving farmers incentive to change their operating systems. Conventional grocery stores are beginning to carry more and more organic foods. Walmart is now one of the biggest distributors of organic food in the nation. But we still have a long way to go. Organic food sales make up only 4% of total food sales in the US [16]. I see a world where organic sales make up 96% of the food sales, reducing the toxic load that we are exposed to every day and giving a better quality of life to farm workers and farm animals and everyone on the planet.

When you buy food, the most nutrient dense, chemical free food is going to be something that is organic and recently harvested. This makes local farmers markets the best place to shop. The longer the food sits on the shelf the less nutrient dense it becomes.

If you are lucky enough to have a farmers market near you, do your produce shopping there and then head over to your local grocer for whatever else you need.

If buying all organic is way out of you budget right now, work off of the Environmental Working Group’s’ Clean 15 for what foods are safe to buy not organic, and the Dirty 12 for which foods you should definitely avoid due to the high amount of toxins they are exposed to.

Again, if you haven’t already, check out my blog on the Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning & Prepping for ways to maximize your shopping experience and minimize splurging on toxic foods and destructive distractions.

Go Slower Than You Think

Lastly, true, lasting transformation happens over time, not over night.

I thought I was finished. I would be good for a month and then I would binge and purge again. Then I thought I was finished when I would be good for 4 months and then I would binge and purge again. Then I went 8 months! 8 months without binging or purging, I was for sure done then, so I binged and purged again… This went on until I learned the lesson that I needed to learn. No more eating disorder! Finally, I am done… Then other things crept in. Marijuana helped me calm down while I was eating… then it helped me not have any passion or motivation… I learned my lesson and I no longer use marijuana habitually… Nicotine creeped in, 1 milligram of nicotine is a cognitive enhancer, I used it for writing… 12 milligrams is terrible and made me take naps and be mean to my mom. I learned what I had to learn and now I don’t touch the stuff… Working out! Working out is a safe a cognitive enhancer. Then working out became my whole identity and I was bored and empty… Lesson learned, and so on.

This process, if you are doing it right, will be slow. There will be many times where you feel like you will never get to your goal, you will feel defeated, your friends and family dynamics will change, it will be painful and that is how you know that you are doing it right.

Don’t give up on yourself. Your spiritual awakening begins the moment you decide to never give up. The choice to not give up on yourself will take you to places in yourself that you have never been. You will grow, you will become reborn again and again. Growth and birth are both chaotic and painful, but out of it comes something new and beautiful.

When you feel like giving up, relax and take it even slower than you did before. Remember to treat yourself with love and compassion. You are doing the hard work for you and your loved ones. Think of why you are really doing this. Ask yourself often “Why am I really doing this?”, and allow your answer to change over time. Use your answers to motivate you to make small changes. Keep in your minds eye, your why.

Of course there will be days when you feel amazing and everything seems to flow perfectly. You can see all the beauty in life and you seem to just float around without a care in the world. I love those days and I know you will have them if you surrender to the process and have faith that things will work out for you just as they were intended to.

Remember to take it slow. If One extra vegetable today is all that you can do, you are still doing it.

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If You are Ready to Take Life by the Ovaries and Get One-on-One Coaching

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Published by Jessica CTNC

I am a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach (CTNC). I guide women through the wonderful world of transformational science, psychology and spirituality. I remind them of how to love their bodies and love their food so that they can stop yo-yo dieting, live life on purpose, have more energy and inspire those around them to do the same.

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