Conversations With A Dietitian - Honor Your Body With Sarah Grace
Guys! How is 2019 nearly OVER!? Is anyone else in shock that we’re already well into the last quarter of the year? I don’t know about you, but knowing this makes me feel motivated to finish the year strong! It’s a great time to think about how you are going to lean further into your potential, how you’re gonna show up and serve better, or maybe it’s time to enter a season of rest and really slow down and find more stillness in your life. Whatever it is, do a quick check-in and then take action...2020 is SO close!
Speaking of 2020...Chasing Freedom has some really awesome stuff to look forward to in the new year, and you're NOT going to want to miss these opportunities! It’s all about helping people step more into freedom with their body image; no more struggling with food, no more dieting, time to find rhythm, routine and be your healthiest self! And it all starts with spiritual health! I’ll be leaking some of what’s to come each week leading up to 2020 over on the 'gram, so if you don’t follow me, go do it now @trainertanner!
Necessary preamble done, you’re really here because you want to hear from a dietitian’s mouth how to honor your body and eat intuitively...so let’s dive in!
Now, let me just start by saying that Miss Sarah Grace isn’t just any dietitian. She has a slightly non-conventional way of helping women transform their health in the world of dietetics. Her approach to intuitive eating is super interesting and I love that it aligns with what I live and preach. Sarah is also a speaker, entrepreneur (helping other nutrition entrepreneurs jump start their businesses!) and lover of the Lord - so much YES! We were brought together by our love for essential oils (lol) and I’m so inspired by Sarah’s multi-faceted business that ties in all her passions, her history, and what she is good at! she makes me feel okay with focusing on a bunch of different things in the Chasing Freedom business, because at the end of the day we have the overarching mission of helping people find health. And whatever falls under that is okay to talk about. It all ties together. Health is ALL encompassing!
Sarah’s story is a personal one. She turned her pain into passion; coming from a background of disordered eating and using this to start her own business and her own practice to really help set women free like she wishes she could have been WAY earlier!
Sarah’s approach is not typical for a dietitian. And that's because she knows deep down in her heart that health is SO much more than the food we eat and the workouts we do. She’s seen this time and time again with herself in her clients.
Health truly is mind, body AND soul.
She believes everything in our life ties back to our health. Our physical environment, our relationships and the people that we surround ourselves with, and our mental and spiritual health health...it’s all connected! Being healthy isn’t just working out and eating the ‘right’ food. It’s about honoring your body! And that doesn't mean focusing on your body, but rather focusing on everything else that affects how you treat your body - your health is SO much more than what you see in the mirror!
One way to really honor your body is through intuitive eating, so I asked Sarah to share her guidance on how to do this and really transform your health. In all Sarah’s years of study and training as a dietitian, they never taught intuitive eating. They teach black and white nutrition and a one-size-fits-all kind of approach. And while it has a place, it’s not through these learnings that one truly comes to honor their body and intuitively find more health. Sarah realized this due to her own struggles with an eating disorder and how she came to find true freedom.
Sarah’s typical client (and I know SO many of you will relate to this) is someone who has tried every diet under the sun, maybe had short-term results, but health improvements never lasted. So she knew she had to focus on helping her clients make lasting lifestyle changes and move away from any and all short-term fixes that simply just don’t work. They don’t work because they don’t change someone’s internal fulfillment.
Sarah’s 3 steps to honoring your body and eating intuitively are:
1. Mindfulness and awareness
It’s important to tune in to what's going on in your mind around and during eating times. For this first step, you don’t even need to change anything about your diet. Just be aware of what you’re thinking about food before you eat and as you eat. Be conscious of HOW you are eating and your thoughts, such as putting foods into categories and labeling them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and then thinking ‘I’m good for having this green juice’ or ‘I’m bad for eating that cookie’. A lot of us don’t even realize we have this internal dialogue going on! So, check in! These thoughts literally pile up and become our natural beliefs about food...and this is what needs to change FIRST before you even make any changes with your food or physical activity. The mindset shift is the hardest part of finding true health, but it’s also the most important part! Keeping a journal can help you to be more aware and even more intentional with your thoughts. Record if you feel guilty, satisfied, still hungry (or were you really hungry to begin with), feeling good etc. etc.
2. Find a middle ground between dieting and eating whatever you want
Intuitive eating sounds like the opposite of dieting right!? It IS very different, BUT the opposite would be eating whatever you want...people get this confused with intuitive eating. The body positivity movement is not the same as intuitive eating. Eating a piece of cake is not equivalent to eating an apple. Neither extreme dieting nor a lax approach to eating literally whatever, are healthy and neither will get you the results you want. We need to steer away from the extremes and focus on honoring our bodies through gentle nutrition and moving to FEEL different.
Even as a dietitian, Sarah believes that movement and nutrition should never be the focus of your life. They should be used as tools that empower you to live out your best life and your purpose.
3. Focus on baby steps that make your eating habits just a little bit better each time
These are things like:
- Slowing down and being mentally present when you're eating is a BIG little step. You can easily do that, but it has a HUGE impact.
- Honor your hunger in a way that also honors your body. For example, honor your craving for ice cream when it pops up, but have a few bites rather than waiting until you can’t resist anymore and end up eating an entire tub. Intuitive eating is honoring your body, feelings, and hunger cues and is NOT eating when you’re not hungry or eating to avoid feeling your emotions.
- Give your body what it actually NEEDS. Your body doesn’t intuitively want cake, cookies and ice cream all the time. Your body genuinely wants nutrients and vitamins and a balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats. It’s just that our head tells us we want something else that looks better through our eyes. Sarah gets her clients to think about the foods they’d give to their children; you want to nourish them the best you can...so why not do that for yourself!?
- Be a little flexible and give yourself permission. Often, giving yourself permission to eat something makes you want it less. Our brains are weird, right!? You also don’t have to eat at set times. It’s more than okay to only eat when you are truly hungry! Letting go of structure can be super scary, but it’s actually SO freeing.
If we're applying all of this biblically, it's everything in moderation (including moderation). We're not called to be obsessed and only eat veggies for a living just as we aren’t called to eat only junk food. That’s where intuitive eating can come into play; knowing where you're at mentally so that can make choices out of love, not hate, or out of celebration, not sadness - that’s really a beautiful thing to be able to do!
And while we’re on moderation, think about restriction...when you tell yourself “I can’t eat this or that,'' then you actually become mentally preoccupied with it because you're still thinking about wanting the cookie or the ice cream, but now you’ve told yourself you can't have it. And your mind just keeps going back and forth. “I really want that, but I shouldn't have it...maybe I'll just...NO! I'm going to stay away from it”...and then all of a sudden, you're obsessed with this idea which shatters your self-control.
- Eat for YOUR body. None of these one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter programs! You are an individual and you have an individual body that is so unique and special and because of that, you shouldn't believe that what's best for somebody else is best for you. That’s why intuitive eating can take more time than your ‘quick fix’ diet, because there’s some trial and error in it. But when you find that sweet spot of what's best for you and what makes you feel your best, then you feel SO empowered to never fall into the dieting world again.
Sarah Grace on meal plans
I was so interested in hearing how Sarah navigates the meal planning part of her profession. She gets all prospective clients to complete an in depth form and part of this tells her whether it’ll be mentally healthy for them to have a meal plan or whether they just need more of a guideline. Now, this individual and holistic approach doesn't always happen in the industry, but treating the WHOLE person is what she is all about. People who don’t have a firm nutritional foundation or awareness are the ones who need traditional meal plans to help them learn what are optimal portion sizes, foods and times to eat. On the other hand, someone with an eating disorder or knows A LOT about nutrition is not going to benefit from a meal plan.
Some clients also benefit more from tracking their food rather than a strict meal plan - it’s such a good form of awareness, and that’s the first necessary step to move into intuitive eating. Eventually, she aims to have all her clients simply learning how to eat for their bodies based on what’s going to make them FEEL the best.
What it’s like to live a multi-passionate life
Sarah has her essential oil business, business coaching (coaching other dietitians and nutrition/fitness professionals) and of course her own dietitian clientele. With all of this going on, I was interested in Sarah’s take on how she balances her life.
In the beginning, she thought she had to pick one, but that didn't reflect all of the things she’s passionate about (I know this feeling well and that's why CFF offers SO much in the health and wellness space). Sometimes you are MORE passionate about one thing than the other too; it’s also important to know that dreams and passions can and will change...and that's okay!
For example, when Sarah started creating her own business and documenting her journey, going from zero to having an amazingly successful business behind her, she had people reaching out for her to help them. And that’s when she developed her business coaching ...never having thought this would be a passion of hers!
Sarah doesn't like the word ‘balance’, and I totally agree with her rationale. Sarah believes managing health or running a multi-faceted business model is all about knowing your priorities and setting boundaries. A lot of the time, this world screams 'business first'. If you're not go, go, go, running and killing yourself in the process, then you're lazy and you're never gonna be anything great...what a load of crap!
Sarah’s priorities go: God, family and marriage, and then business. Does this resonate for you? Are your priorities in order? Are you showing up where it matters? It’s always going to require recheck and constant evaluation because not every day can we say that we have the right priorities...all of us fall prey to things now and again.
Sarah sets boundaries during her work day that help her be productive versus busy. You could try some of these out too.
- No meetings or calls before noon (those are her most focused, productive hours)
- Her first 1-2 hours is NOT on her phone or her business. It's with her husband, being present, having some quiet time, going for a walk, journaling, enjoying her coffee etc. Morning routine can make or break a day!
- A shut-off hour - when she leaves her office, there is NO opening the computer again (she’s a recovering workaholic, so this is important stuff!!)
- At least one day off in the weekend.
- Scheduled time to check her emails - 3 x daily ONLY.
- Time blocked in her calendar for different pieces of work; making an appointment out of something important even if it's not 'work'.
She also emphasized the need to set boundaries with friends and family, especially when you’re your own boss. People can take advantage of the fact that you can choose to have flexible hours. They need to know when your working hours are and aren't and respect those time frames!
The time to focus on your priorities is NOW! Enjoy the journey, not the idea of the destination. God wants us to rest and fill our souls up so that we can go and do good work. There’s no need to run yourself into the ground. If you’re tired...rest. And when you’re not, keep going.
Where is Sarah #chasingfreedom right now
Ummm...did you know that Sarah actually wrote a book during college called ‘Chasing Freedom’!? Honestly, talk about meant to have met each other!!
Like many women (especially in the entrepreneurial world), Sarah is chasing freedom from the need to always go, go, go. Her go-getter, type A personality and perfectionism with a loud inner critic is what she’s trying to slow and quieten at the moment. This means moving away from trying to gain others approval and instead seeking success in the way God has defined it...moving away from the need to always be busy, always going, always driving, always working, and instead, moving toward finding true stillness and peace.
I’ll be praying for that!
When I caught up with Sarah recently, we went deep into all of this ^^ but SO much more, including how she is navigating her new marriage amidst this crazy multi-faceted life she has. Take a listen to episode 67 of The Chasing Freedom Show. You can find it on Spotify, iTunes, or SoundCloud.
You can find more from Sarah on her Instagram @sarahgracemeck - her other pages are linked to this!