Ep. 135: What’s the Project really about?

Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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On today's episode, I'm talking with reverse interviewer Jonnie about the Fed & Fit Project and the importance of viewing our “Perfect You Plan” as a moving target.

Fed and Fit podcast graphic, episode 135 what is the project really all about with Cassy Joy

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Episode 135 Transcription

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Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I am your host, Cassy Joy Garcia, and I’m really excited to be back today with another listener reverse interview. These listener reverse interviews are such a treat for me. It’s when a Fed and Fit listener, or reader, writes in and asks a really good question via email. And instead of politely obliging them with an answer via email, I ask them if they’ll come on my podcast {laughs}. Normally, a lot of them are sweet enough to indulge me. So today we are chatting with one such person, her name is Jonnie. And she lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. A really neat town, and she works in fundraising for a community hospital there.

Jonnie, so the way that these shows work is I’m going to pass the baton off over to her. It’s her show to ask me questions. I know that what we’re going to talk about is going to be of benefit to a lot of folks. So I’m really excited about it. Welcome to the show!

Jonnie: Hi, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, I'm excited. The pleasure and the treat is mine. Well, tell us a little bit about yourself and then we can get to maybe some of your questions.

Jonnie: Yeah, of course. I am based here in New Orleans, and I love it. I’ve been here for about 9 years. I’m originally from Arkansas. A really small town there. And I love everything about New Orleans. It’s people, it’s food, it’s atmosphere. And I do local fundraising here for a nonprofit hospital.

Cassy Joy: Awesome. That sounds like such a fun, rewarding job. But I have to tell you; as soon as you said fundraising earlier before we started recording; I don’t know why this has stuck with me for however long it’s been since I was a sophomore in high school. I don’t want to do the math. {laughs}

Jonnie: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: But I had a Latin teacher who said “it’s fun-duh-raising!”

Jonnie: {laughing}

Cassy Joy: So it has nothing to do with the podcast, but that has stuck with me. And I just admire that job. I worked with PBS when I was growing up, and with the Girl Scouts. So it’s just such a neat thing that you do. That’s really cool.

Jonnie: Thank you. I really love it. It is very rewarding, as you said.

Cassy Joy: That’s wonderful. Well tell us a little bit about yourself, and maybe how that kind of plays into some of the questions you’ve got today.

Jonnie: Yeah, of course. So I really started intently following you in the past few months. Even though I followed you for several years now. I’m about to turn 34, actually next week. December 19th.

Cassy Joy: Whoo! Happy birthday!

Jonnie: Thank you. And prior to my 30th birthday, I had just kind of gotten fed up. I was like; I can’t live this lifestyle anymore. I was really out of shape. I had a knee injury, and I had gone to the doctor and he’s like; yeah, you probably shouldn’t be trying to run. Running’s not something you're going to be able to do in your life. And it kind of bothered me. I was like; wait. I was always very athletic growing up. And I was like; how did I get to this place?

So I started doing some private training with a CrossFit coach and kind of getting into CrossFit, and slowly from there my life just kind of evolved into this healthy progressive lifestyle that I had for about two years. And I really loved it. And during that time, I found you, and I found Nom Nom Paleo, and I found PaleOMG, and all these wonderful ladies that I really admired and looked up to because of the great lifestyles they were leading, and they were being very true to themselves. That really resonated with me.

So then fast forward to today. During that time I lost 30 pounds. I felt great. Diabetes and heart disease run in my family, so it was really important to me to kind of get on this path of health and wellness. And I felt great about doing that. Fast forward to today; and sadly I’ve gained all of that weight back, and a few times. So it really just kind of got me thinking, how did I get back to this place again. And in thinking some of those thoughts, I really started kind of jiving into your podcast and into your website, and into the message that you send to your readers and it really spoke to me. So that’s why I reached out, and that’s kind of why we’re here today.

Cassy Joy: Awesome. Really good summary. That’s wonderful. So what, to get started, remind me what was your first question that you had sent over?

Jonnie: Yeah. So my initial question was; I’m pretty sure I said, “Hey Cassy! I’m struggling to find motivation. I am very eager to try The Project. I read about, and listened to some of your podcasts where people talked about their participation in it. And I really wanted to try it. And I keep wanting to try it. And for some reason, I can’t bring myself to sign up for it. And I think it’s due to my fear of failing.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Jonnie: And that’s kind of what I mentioned to you. I was like; can you give me some encouraging words for those of us who maybe have been on this healthcare journey for a while, and had successes but also maybe are in the midst of our failures. I just needed that motivation to kind of find that community. And that’s what prompted me to reach out. So that was my first question to you.

Cassy Joy: Love it. Are you ready for me? {laughs}

Jonnie: {laughs} I am so ready.

Cassy Joy: I feel like I’m at the starting block of a race, and I don’t want to get a false start alarm. {laughs} That is such a good question. And I think this is such a great time of the year, especially, to talk about this.

Something that has been on my mind lately; just to kind of, I want you to know that you're not alone in this. You know, I’ve been blogging since 2011. And I actually started, I would say, my health and wellness journey about a year and a half, maybe two years before that. So it was 2009. So we’re going on essentially 9 years of this; and that is a long time. Right? And a lot of things can change in that time frame. I think real food really started to hit its stride; gosh, when did The Paleo Solution by Rob Wolf come out? I think it must be coming up on 9 or 10 years. But it’s been a long time. And folks who started on this journey; it sounds like yourself, this is 4 years ago. Right? 4 years, do I have that right?

Jonnie: Yes.

Cassy Joy: Four years ago when you had that wonderful success, and you felt great, and you lost 30 pounds. We have seasons of life that come in and change. And it’s almost as if we; there’s a couple of different things going on, and I’ll pick your brain on what you think may be the root there. But overall, it’s hard to stay vigilant and tuned in to not only the changing seasons of our lives and how our bodies are changing, right? And how to keep fine tuning the nutrition and lifestyle habits that help us keep feeling our best. Because it’s a moving target.

And nobody tells us that when we get into this. Nobody says, “Ok, great. Here is your goal. Here are the things we’re going to do. We’re going to eat these things. We’re going to do this workout. And we’re going to feel great.” Nobody says that once you get that figured out, and it works for you, to stay on top of it and keep adjusting it. Because that target is going to move. As your body chemistry changes. As different stressors change. Add changes to your body.

So that moving target eventually after years; and I’ve gone through this, as well, myself. But after years, that target. If we’ve sat firmly in this; but this worked one day! Right. This used to work for me. If we keep sitting in that same spot, our target of where we really want to be for optimal nutrition and optimal healthy living could be, at this point, really far away.

So I think it’s a common frustration. I don’t know; I felt compelled to tell you that. Because you're definitely not alone in that. And that’s kind of really who we speak to a lot and work with a lot in the Project. And for those of you listening who don’t know; the Fed and Fit Project that Jonnie mentioned is an online food and fitness program. It starts off with what we call a feel-good reset, which looks a whole lot like a diet. But really what it’s meant to do is get you to a baseline of feeling well.

And then what we do is we put a compass in your hand that allows you to find your version of north. Right? And allows you to figure out, where exactly do I need to be with food and fitness and water and sleep and hydration or in mindset in order to feel my best? Because that’s going to look different. We’re not going to tell you, “here are the coordinates on the map.” We’re going to give you a compass so you can figure out where your destination is.

And, hang onto it, because like I said, it’s a moving target. So it comes up a lot, are folks who have had success and then bounce back. And I don’t want it to feel like this defeating; it feels defeating when you're going through it, right? Because you can probably look at certain decisions and want to say; well that’s why. Or, that snowballed. And depending on how our body is overall, it could be more difficult to get back to where we were before. So, anyway. I just want you to know you’re not alone there.

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Cassy Joy: But what do you think. I’d love to pick your brain a little bit. What do you think were some of the biggest differences in the last four years that attributed to this feeling of going back to where you were before?

Jonnie: Well, I don’t know. Like you said, I think I could attribute it to very many things. I think the most is, and as you were talking it felt like there was an epiphany coming. I think you're right. I guess I am a different person than I was four years ago. So maybe that same approach that I’m trying just isn’t working for the person that I am today.

But, you also talked about kind of evolving as your health evolves. And I think that’s where I really dropped the ball. Once I got a year and a half into my journey, I was feeling great and I was like; ok, this is wonderful. But what got me that far was a very strict regimen of eliminating foods and working out and watching how much I slept everyday and things like that. But what I didn’t do; and this was one of the reasons I’m really drawn to your project. I didn’t find the perfect me. I couldn’t sustain at that level. It was so restricting, and it felt so hard.

And especially living in New Orleans, where there’s delicious food around every corner, and every weekend is a celebration of some sort. I just felt like I was missing out on so many things. Because I was like, I can’t eat that. Or I can’t go there. And then slowly, as I started to let those things back into my life. Instead of just saying, “this is a good balance.” I think I just let it go. I was like; if it can’t be all, then it’s nothing.

Cassy Joy: Right.

Jonnie: Looking back now as we’re having this conversation, I really think that was the biggest downfall for me. Not evolving and not changing as my life changed.

Cassy Joy: It makes perfect sense. And like I said that’s not; I’m sure you know this on some level. But I want you to really understand that you are not alone in that. That is the most common thing that I come across. And probably the thing that I struggled with the most. When I was trying to figure out my own Perfect You plan.

And just to clarify for folks, who again, are scratching their heads. On Project Talk; the Perfect You plan is what we would call the ultimate destination of the Project. So in that stage where we put the compass in your hand and you figure out what’s right for you. That’s what we call the Perfect You plan. Right? You use this baseline of feeling great. You make educated decisions on some of the foods, whether they’re paleo or not. Right? Or whether they’re typical healthy lifestyle habits or not. That work for you, and work for your mindset.

If, for example, I’m thinking of folks that I’ve worked with in the past. They come into the Project, or they come in wanting to really right-size a healthy lifestyle. They want one that’s balanced, and approachable. And they say; but I love my wine. You know? Or, but I love my date nights with my husband where we go and we let our hair down. Or, but I love my girl’s nights. I love baking. All of the things that they see as counter-to a healthy lifestyle. Because typically, they’re approached with relative disregard or abandon of limits and portions and things like that. Right? Especially when we think about parameters of a diet.

I think that those things have a place in our lifestyle. I think those do have a place in our healthy lifestyle. We just have to make the decision going into it. So, to your point, I think that could be a huge game changer when you really do get to that point. I would say; step one, get you to feeling great so that you can interpret accurately what your body is telling you. You know? And demystify what the body is telling us. It’s such a mystery. There’s nothing more disempowering than coming off of a weekend. I’m thinking about, let’s say we go and visit my in-laws. I don’t think they listen to this podcast, but I would tell them this anyways. Let’s say we go visit; and I think I have told them.

We go visit my in-laws. And usually those visits are full of lots of not great TexMex, and all kinds of other eats that I wouldn’t normally eat. Now, my mother-in-law always does a wonderful job of trying to cook for me, and foods that I can eat. But anyway; I usually come home not feeling great. I know I’m dehydrated. I know I didn’t eat foods that necessarily didn’t agree with my body. I know we got some oils in there. I’m really sensitive to oils, personally. I know I got some oils in there that aren’t great for me that restaurants used. I probably didn’t sleep very well. But all of those things mixed into a pot of just not feel good, those reasons, it just makes you feel crummy. And it makes me want to throw the baby out with the bath water.

We get home, and instead of cooking up some really healthy salmon and some steamed kale and maybe some white rice; food that works for me and really works for my body, I’m like, forget it. Let’s go get burgers and fries. I already feel bad.

Jonnie: Right.

Cassy Joy: Because that’s a very disempowered state of being. Because it’s hard to interpret, why am I feeling this way? And then what do we do when we can’t pinpoint it? Is we say; it’s just me. I was the one who made all those decisions. I could have drank more water. I could have ordered a salad instead of those delicious nachos. You know? {laughs} Whatever it is. So we wind up feeling bad about it. And then we want to double down on feeling bad.

And so, I get that cycle. I speak that. That’s exactly how I’m wired, and why this figuring this out turned into really my professional passion. And so what I think is important is we get to a state where you can feel really good, and then we very slowly and strategically start to test foods. So that you can, from an empowered standpoint, say yes, or no.

For example. Let’s say you get to the end of the feel-good reset. And in the Project, we have a 28-day path A, and we have a 3-month long path B. And this is one of those situations where you really have to know yourself well. Right? So the 28-day; both of them are great. But it depends on you. Which format is best suited for your personality. Are you a rip the Band-Aid off kind of person? And, with the asterisk, you can rip the Band-Aid off and not go into a restrictive dieting mindset. Right? Because that’s important.

Or, are you somebody who easily slips into this legalistic, rip the Band-Aid off, it’s either good or bad kind of mindset. Then I would suggest going with path B. The three-month format. Where even if you're already familiar with this lifestyle; this kind of real food, grain free type of lifestyle. It slowly walks you through it in a way that might feel really slow at times, but it’s a really intentional, methodical method. {laughs} I think that’s redundant.

Jonnie: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: But anyways. You get to a point in either of those where you’ve reached the end of your feel-good reset. So you're feeling great. And then from there, we start to figure out that perfect you plan we’re talking about. Where the first thing maybe we test; let’s say you are a big fan of Thai food and you want to know if white rice works for you. So maybe that’s the first one on your list. Or maybe it’s dairy. Maybe it’s full-fat dairy, because you really miss that extra splash of dairy in your coffee.

So let’s say you test the dairy first. And you test it, and you listen to what your body tells you. And because you don’t have any other variables that are changing, you’re able to accurately determine; yes this works for me, or no it doesn’t. And then what happens is, we do that slowly over time. Testing one thing at a time. And it takes a while to really work through the things that you’re most curious about. But you test one thing at a time. And what you're left with is a guidebook.

And then, when you go and you visit your in-laws, you can look back and you can say; oh. I know I’m really sensitive to oils. I know I probably got some gluten contamination in there; I’m also really sensitive to gluten which messes with my mind. I know I’m dehydrated and I know that that makes me not sleep as well at night. It demystifies it. You know? And then you're able to look back and say; you get that locust of responsibility. Even though, of course, you're in the driver’s seat. I think personal responsibility is important. But the guilt you're able to erase.

Jonnie: Yes!

Cassy Joy: Right? And we’re actually able to deal with it. And we’re able to say; now that that’s aside, what can I do to make myself feel the best here going forward? And for me, I know that’s probably a batch of soup with some kale and a lot of water. Right? Or some really good clean proteins. And it’s so simple. But then I start to feel like myself again. And so there is a way through that.

And then when we stay gracious with ourselves. And let’s say that part of my Perfect You plan includes going to visit my in-laws. In includes ordering nachos at a questionable TexMex place. It doesn’t; that’s not counter to my good progress. It’s a part of my good progress. Because I’m balancing it all out. Because I know going into that weekend that I’m going to come home and I’m going to have the soup and the kale and the salmon and I’m going to drink a lot of water. Right? I know that when I come home I’m going to hit the ground running on some of these other things that make me feel great.

And once this baby is born, wine will become part of my Perfect You plan again. So, anyway. I feel like I'm rambling, but I hope that kind of helps paint the picture a little bit. Because the restrictive mindset is what has tripped up everybody. Everybody who is tripped, I’m going to go out on a giant limb, and maybe look like a giant A-S-S. But I really think that it’s that over-restrictive protocol that’s encouraged, I think irresponsibly by a bunch of practitioners, is doing more damage than good. I think that if we go into a protocol with a specific purpose, and then we give people the tools to build from there is when we’re going to actually see real, lasting success.

Because getting to the end of a squeaky clean protocol; all that does is get us to the end of a squeaky clean protocol. It doesn’t tell us anything about how to turn that into real life.

Jonnie: Yes! Oh my gosh. You're so right. You nailed it.

Cassy Joy: Yeah!

Jonnie: {laughs} No, I mean, because one of the things I was thinking of whenever I knew we were going to have this conversation. You’ve been so successful in what I would call maintenance. You’ve really built a lifestyle; you changed your life from what it was into this lifestyle that you really love. And that makes you feel good every day. And I crave that. I want that. I want to feel good when I wake up in the morning, and when I go to bed at night knowing that I did the best for myself that I could that day.

And I think one of the things that also really attracts me to the Fed and Fit Project is that one; you're so relatable. Thank you for that. I think sometimes, as people kind of grow in their careers, they can become less relatable to the average Joe. But you continue to remain so relatable, so I really appreciate that.

Cassy Joy: Thank you.

Jonnie: But also; you said it in one of your podcasts. To do it for the right reasons. To do it because you want to be more mobile, and you want to live a longer life, and you want to live a healthier life, and you want to be there for those that you love. And that’s kind of where I’m at right now. So hearing that maybe my failures in the past were just because I didn’t have the proper tools to succeed is really encouraging.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. Absolutely. And some of those thoughts going into, those motivating factors. Those long lead motivators, right? Like wanting to be there for the ones that we love. And be able to show up as a good version of ourselves for those ones that we love. Because some days, we’re not going to do it for ourselves. Right? Someday, we’re going to be like; you know what. I’m fine being in a grumpy mood. {laughs} I’m fine with that. Because it’s not going to affect anybody. But as soon as I have an interaction with somebody that I care about, there’s that sense of responsibility.

I’m also an Obliger. I don’t know if you're familiar with…

Jonnie: I; yes, I am also an Obliger.

Cassy Joy: Oh there we go. Well we speak the same languages. So for me, the fact that I’m responsible to other people, and showing up as a good version of myself is personally a long lead motivator for myself. And that helps me get over my fear of failure. Right?

Something else that helps me get over my fear of failure is just knowing more. Right? I’m a big believer that knowledge is power. And nobody has all the answers for you. So the onus of responsibility of learning those things that really empower you to feel knowledgeable about your body and about what’s best for you; that’s on you. But finding the right tools and figuring out how to get those answers is really important. So that’s what we set out to do.

But, I’m thinking about when it comes to finding that nice, healthy path for you. That healthy lifestyle path where you do; you go to bed feeling like yourself, and waking up feeling great. And you can have an indulgent weekend. And you know that it’s not the end of the world. And it’s part of the plan. I think that that’s possible when you're able to know more about how your body; you're able to predict how your body would respond to certain things. Like, if I’m going to eat a piece of bread at that Italian restaurant, I know exactly how I’m going to feel for the next 5 days. And sometimes, it’s worth it. You know?

Jonnie: Yes!

Cassy Joy: And going in and making that decision; that makes all the difference in the world. Knowing how I’m going to respond. It makes all the difference in the world. And knowing that maybe my joints are going to hurt. I’m going to be a little grumpy. I’m going to be a little foggy. And it’s going to be fine. And these are the four things I’m going to do to help feel better sooner. Right? I’m able to enjoy that piece of bread without a whole lot of guilt. Anyways, I’m going off on another tangent. Dang it! I told you I could talk about this forever.

Jonnie: {laughing}

Cassy Joy: This and Gus. I could just ramble for so long. But yeah, I think that’s wonderful. Finding those long lead motivators are really important. Finding the right reasons to do things. Because short term goals, right? I want to fit into my high school jeans for my high school reunion. That’s a really short term goal. And I’m not trying to vilify that. If that’s something that gets you up out of bed to develop healthy habits; fine. That’s fine. But, if you really want something, in your heart of hearts. If we want something that lasts a long time, a lifestyle plan that exceeds the calendar of this protocol that we’re following, then we need a long motivator that matches it.

So I think it’s great to reflect on those. And that’s another thing we do; we try to help walk folks through goal setting in that regard. Finding those motivators. But I think you are primed and you just sound like you are so ready for something like this. And you have to be ready. You have to be in this mindset. You have to be ready to really throw your anchor out there. Really far. Man I think I’ve used 17 different analogies.

Jonnie: {laughs} They’re all appropriate.

Cassy Joy: They are. This is how my brain works. It’s really like a children’s cartoon, constantly. But you have to be ready to throw the anchor way, way out there if you want to commit to something like this and really find success with it. So you’ve got all my votes and all my confidences. You can do this.

Jonnie: Thank you so much. I really; I wish you could see my face right now. I actually feel more empowered just from this conversation.

Cassy Joy: Heck yeah, girl! That’s awesome.

Jonnie: {laughs} So thank you for that.

Cassy Joy: Thank you. Well I rambled the entire time during our call. Do you have any other burning questions before we tie it up?

Jonnie: No, you really. You’ve inspired me. And really started turning my mind around. So I appreciated all the rambling.

Cassy Joy: Oh good. {laughs} Good. Every once in a while it falls into place. {laughs}

Jonnie: {laughs} Well, I’m looking forward to finally signing up for The Project now.

Cassy Joy: Awesome. Well if anybody else is listening, we’re getting this show out, I think pretty quick. So you're probably hearing this in December. And we’re doing a big group in January. So if you're interested in a program like this, kind of revolves around what Jonnie and I talked about today; much more succinct and less talking in circles than what I did. We would love to have you. You can head over to www.FedandFitProject.com. Or you can go to www.FedandFit.com and there’s a link to it as well there.

Jonnie, thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure talking with you today. I’m fired up today. I’m going to go write some more Project emails. Because, this is such a great time of year and it’s a great reminder that at the end of the day, it’s not your fault. And it’s a good time to sit down, give ourselves the proper tools, use them with intention, and know that it’s all going to be ok. Forward motion is forward motion. It doesn’t matter so much about pace as long as we’re just still moving. So thank you for that reminder. I wish you the best in this holiday season.

Jonnie: Thank you so much.

Cassy Joy: And I hope you have a lovely holiday season there in New Orleans. I bet it’s going to be magical. And to all the listeners, thank you so much for dialing in. As always, you can find a complete transcript of today’s show over at www.FedandFit.com. And as always, we’ll be back again next week.


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