I started my Nutrition Coaching journey as someone who had tried everything - or, at least, it sure felt that way. Low carb? Tried it. Crazy amounts of time spent in the gym doing cardio? Guilty as charged. Juice cleanses? Kale, yeah!
But, I didn’t journey into the world of weight loss completely on my own. Rather, I sought out what I thought would have been helpful at the time. In 2010, after seeing a bunch of ads on TV and Oprah’s glowing endorsements, I started a well-known weight loss management program. This program required tracking of every bite that I took, and at first, I felt so in control! Sure, I’ll measure everything out! I need to purchase a food scale? Okay! Let me figure out the points! Sounds like a blast, eh? Yeah, I didn’t think so, either. Full disclosure: I was able to find temporary success, but I knew very clearly that the constantly-tracking way of life simply isn’t sustainable (or enjoyable for that matter!). I tried that program three times - and yet, over time, and each time, I gained the weight back.
At the heart of my struggles with weight loss, there was a plethora of larger issues - emotional baggage stemming from a childhood of living with an alcoholic father, untreated depression, and a general lack of self-worth, just to name a few. And let me tell you, some of these struggles were really deeply rooted. For example, growing up, food was my escape from the reality of my surroundings. I have vivid memories of my father drinking, and me taking a bag of pretzels up to my room, closing the door, and eating to distract myself from the chaos that was going on within my own home. While far from an ideal way to handle the situation, it was effective. Plus, when you’re nine, there’s not much you can do to control your environment. Of course, though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the beginning of my very misguided and unhealthy relationship with food.
When I started Nutrition Coaching, I’ll be completely honest: My main goal was not weight loss. Rather, I wanted to figure out what a healthy and well life looked like, and I wanted to pursue that. I knew how resilient I was inside, and I wanted to show that strength externally, too. As a teacher, I knew that if I had tried so many methods to lose weight, but none of them stuck, clearly I really wasn’t learning anything. It was almost like I was studying material (in this case, calculating points, following a cleanse, etc.), passing the test (losing the initial weight), and then forgetting everything on the test as soon as I took it. When the final exam of sustainability came around, I failed each and every time, because I had not actually learned new material. The biggest problem was that these approaches didn’t change my habits, thoughts, or my perspective.
So, not knowing exactly how to proceed, or what to do next, I did what many tech-savvy people do- I reached out to my Facebook network. I asked, instead of weight loss recommendations, if anyone had suggestions regarding a local nutritionist. One of my former high school students recommended Coach Nicole, and 1 short email and private message later, even if I didn’t realize it, I had taken a big step to changing my life once and for all.
It’s important to note that I came to Nutrition Coaching on the heels of one of the most tumultuous points of my life: In addition to not enjoying my job any longer, my husband and I had been battling the emotions of infertility (The issue was on my end- cue the unbelievable guilt!) and the financial stress that accompanies the alternative pathways to pursuing parenthood. In order to cope, and in what I later realized was a form of self-sabotage regarding the guilt that I felt, I turned to eating. Eating my feelings led me to be about 30 pounds heavier physically, which seemed minor compared to how much heavier I felt emotionally. In typical Maria-fashion, I put on a brave face, though, so no one really knew the interior turmoil that I was feeling on a daily basis. Getting out of bed every day was a true struggle, and it was an unbelievably lonely time.
I wasn’t healthy - inside, or out. I had my body fat percentage calculated as part of my gym package, and I was surprised to see that I was significantly into the overweight category for my body type and frame. Then, Coach Nicole and Precision Nutrition entered my world. I started Nutrition Coaching weighing 165 pounds (For reference, at my heaviest, I was around 173), unaware that in the year that followed I’d lose so much more than the additional pounds.
What did I learn in my year with Coach Nicole and Precision Nutrition? Um - I don’t know how else to say this: I learned everything. Now, I don’t literally mean I learned everything there is to know. Not at all. But, everything I know in the world of nutrition and habit formation I attribute to the education I gained through Nutrition Coaching, and that’s a big deal. What were some of my biggest takeaways? I learned that our relationship with food is based on habits, and that our habits are made up of the choices - large and small - that we make each and every day. I learned that trying to do too much too soon is not sustainable, and while it may work very short-term, it isn’t going to ultimately help you reach your goals permanently. I learned that there are far better ways to “treat myself” than with food. I learned that everything has a cost, so even if a food is cheaper monetarily, I pay more for it with my health. I learned that so often, I inhaled my food, not slowing down to pay attention to the details - its texture, the taste, the smell, etc. I learned that it’s important to focus on one thing at a time and master that thing before we move on to the next. I learned that real results come from trying to be just a little bit better- even 1% better- than we were yesterday. I learned to prepare and anticipate any roadblocks during the week and plan my meals, because if I have a plan, I’m less likely to make decisions that do not align with my goals. I learned that there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Most of all, I learned that we overcomplicate things in the world of nutrition and wellness. We think there’s some magic plan or formula that we have to follow, but in reality, if we just slow down and pay attention, it becomes clear that it isn’t rocket science.
My Nutrition Coaching experience wasn’t without some pretty big surprises, too. The biggest surprise? That’s easy - I could not believe how much I learned beyond nutrition and wellness. So much of what Nutrition Coaching taught was applicable to life in general - from mindfulness, to focusing on being 1% better, to focusing on one thing at a time. Additionally, I learned so much about myself, which helped me to be able to apply the lessons to my own life. In terms of successes that I experienced, I’m so happy to report that one year later, I slowly and sustainably lost 20.31 inches and 19.4 pounds. I’m at 145 pounds, which is a weight I have not seen on the scale since college. In fact, for the first time since high school, I weigh less than my mother! I’m really proud of the losses that I’ve seen measurement wise, but the main reason those losses make me so happy is because they are a representation of the things I’ve gained through working with Coach Nicole and Precision Nutrition.
In the last year, I’ve gained the ability to separate my emotions from my food choices, I’ve gained the ability to enjoy the foods that I choose to eat, I’ve gained the confidence to step into new exercise classes that I’ve never tried without anxiety (Hello, barre!), I’ve gained the ability to be a great role model for my daughter that we recently adopted, and, as it was one of my goals and ways of measuring progress that I picked at the start of my Nutrition Coaching journey, I’ve gained the ability to completely finish the lunge track in Body Pump (and can now even add weights to the track!). Hysterically, I said to Coach Nicole (on more than one occasion) that while checking my form in the mirror at the gym during Body Pump, I didn’t recognize myself. Simply put, due to a health condition, I’m unable to lift more than 20 pounds, but I was shocked to see that I actually had muscle definition!
Through Nutrition Coaching, I also gained the knowledge that I have a big dairy sensitivity by paying attention to how my body reacts after eating different foods. Who knew?! Beyond all else, throughout the process of losing the weight and inches physically, I also lost the guilt that I carried for far too long about not being able to make my husband a father, and I was able to release the frustration and anger I held on to regarding the toxic environment that was my childhood home. Through the process of letting go, and wiping the slate clean each day, I gained the ability to forgive - and not only to forgive others, but also myself. Nutrition Coaching where you gain more than you lose? That, my friends, is what I gained through my experience with Coach Nicole and Precision Nutrition. I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my life - mentally, physically, and emotionally - and you can be, too.
Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.