Ep. 98: From Nutrition Challenge to Healthy Lifestyle

By: Cassy Joy Garcia
Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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On today's reverse interview episode, I'm joined by listener Kim to talk about how to go from a nutrition challenge to a healthy lifestyle.


We're back with our 98th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 98 Transcription

Today’s show is brought to you by Aaptiv! Aaptiv is a fabulous app and robust online community that allows you access to top notch, motivating personal trainers who guide you through an audio-based workout that is timed to your choosing with fun, perfectly synchronized music. I like to think of it like Netflix for fitness. Aaptiv gives members unlimited access to their entire bank of high-end, trainer-led workout classes. If you’re looking for fresh, high quality, on the go, motivating workouts that adapt to your lifestyle, I highly recommend Aaptiv.

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Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. My name is Cassy Joy Garcia; I am your hostess, and I’m so thrilled to be chatting with you today. {laughs} Today is another very special reverse interview, where I invite Fed and Fit readers and listeners who have written in with fabulous questions to come on the show so we can talk about it and we can record the conversation {laughing}. And they are gracious enough to accept my invitation to come on; and we just like to have a nice little conversation.

And I choose these folks; or invite these certain folks to come on because if you’re new here, just to give you a little background information on these reverse interviews, because I find that there are many questions that are asked that can lead down a rabbit hole that’s a common question. Maybe I get it a lot; I see these concepts come up over and over again; or maybe I just believe at the heart of it that someone else could benefit from this kind of exchange.

So that’s exactly what we’re doing today. I am joined by the lovely Ms. Kim. She is calling in from near San Francisco, California; a small town outside of there. she is a stay at home mom with what sounds like really good kids, two and four years old, and I’m so excited to have you on the show today, Kim! Thank you so much for coming on!

Kim: Thank you so much for having me. I am really excited to talk to you.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Well then it’s a mutual feeling {laughs}.

Kim: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Well I’ll; what I like to do in these interviews, for any newbies here, but what I like to do from here out on these reverse interviews is I’m just going to hand the baton to Kim and she gets to lead the show. So, whatever questions;

Kim: Sounds good.

Cassy Joy: Yeah; whatever questions you’ve got girl, I’m here for you.

Kim: Alright, perfect. So just a reminder for you, I found your book at the library. It literally almost fell off of the shelves into my arms; and I was like, oh my gosh, this is so great! I’ve been doing CrossFit for like 5 years and I’ve done nutrition challenges through my gym off and on. I’ve done, I think, four or five and they’re usually about 4 weeks. And I’ve always had really great results; I love how I feel while I’m doing them, and we do macro counting and I’ve done the Zone one time. I’ve never actually gone full paleo. I’ve always gone like, “Ok, I’ll clean up my diet, cut out most of the processed foods.” But I still love my cheese {laughs} and yogurt I find hard to completely say goodbye to.

So when I saw your book, I was really excited. I was like, ok, this is one of those sorts of 28-day programs, this is great; I’m familiar with that. Now here’s the step I’ve been wanting to take going paleo; or paleoish. And so I loved it.

My question starts with, how do you take these challenges from a 28-day, or 6-week challenge, or whatever it is, and transition that to, this is my new lifestyle. I am taking this on for the rest of my life as a way of living healthy and eating foods that fuel me in a healthy way and just taking my body to the next level or feeling good. And how do you make it sustainable? I find it very hard for me to get off of these challenges and keep it going, and maintain that lifestyle that I want to have so badly {laughing}.

Cassy Joy: Yeah! Oh what a good question, Kim. You are definitely not alone {laughs} in that. And really, and I’m flattered and I’m honored that you would think to ask me, because that is essentially in a nutshell, Kim, the one thing where I was; because I’ve been blogging since 2011, putting out paleo friendly recipes. I’m a nutrition consultant so I’ve worked with folks one on one, and I knew that I wanted to put together some sort of a resource for folks; be it a book or an online program. Mine just happened to be very similar to each other.

But I wanted it to solve a unique need, right? Something that wasn’t being addressed that seemed to be a pain point for people. And your question is exactly it. And that is essentially what I’ve since dedicated my career, and Fed and Fit to, is the concept. And we really launched; we. Pssst. {laughs} Me. Me, myself, and I. {laughing} All the me’s; we launched it with the idea that I wanted somebody; the destination is to just live fed, and to live fit. It’s not a matter of restricting ourselves or dieting, or to constantly be pushing for that next plateau. There’s nothing wrong with that; but it’s just the act of living. Living in that world. So like I said; I’m flattered. It feels good to have your life’s mission called out so directly.

Kim: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: So, this is a fantastic question because; it is such a mystery for so many people. And I had to go; I’m a slow learner, so I had to go through this, so it took me a long while. Because I came from, you know I can just relate because it’s my own personal story, but I came from years of dieting. Right? Really restrictive dieting, and then a lot of these paleo challenges; they weren’t really popular back then, but I did do a Zone Paleo, just as what you spoke to, when I first started out, and it was really restrictive, which I could wrap my mind around, because I was used to dieting. But as soon as that Zone Paleo phase kind of was over, I didn’t want to give it up, because I felt so great; again, to your point. I felt so great, and I didn’t want to give up feeling that way, but I also knew that I couldn’t eat every morning a cup and a half of spinach, and I was doing egg whites; it was before we knew to eat the yolks. You know; my egg whites, and my 27 raspberries. I couldn’t live that way forever.

Kim: {laughs} Yeah.

Cassy Joy: So, that’s when I put my thinking cap on and tried to figure out a way to turn it into a real-deal lifestyle. And what took me 9 months to figure out; and then plus the years since then, is what I’ve tried to help folks do; is to bridge that gap between diet and lifestyle. And that’s my very, very long way of saying, welcome; you're in the right spot. {laughing}

Kim: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: So I think there are some tricks to this. Ok; I am cautious. I have a 28-day program, and it almost feels contradictory to a lot of my principles to even have that out there in the world, but that’s why I precede the 28-day program in the book with a lot of that background information. And I also try to put a heavy hand; or emphasize the importance of personalizing that journey for yourself. When you’re limited to a certain number of pages, you have to give specific rules; right? And we have to list out specific guidelines. So it reads like a challenge. However, I call it the Project; the Fed and Fit Project. It’s kind of like you ordered a; I don’t know, a bookshelf from Ikea, and your bookshelf comes in, and they send you some tools, and maybe they send you some paint sets with it, and maybe it has a bunch of little holes; you can decide how many shelves you want. If you want it to be taller, or wider, or whatever it is. And it’s more like a project; you get to figure out how you want to put it together. And your bookshelf is going to look differently than anybody else’s. So that’s why; with a lot of intention and thought and reflection, named it the Project. Because I wanted to feel like I was giving them; yes, it’s a finite number of tools, and it’s a finite number of materials that show up in your box, but you get to use that to make something that’s uniquely for you.

So, that’s kind of the background on the Project itself; the 28-day program. So a way to bridge an investment; because if you do it to the letter; and there’s nothing wrong with doing it to the letter. If you follow the 28-day program to the letter; Project. {laughs} Even I get confused. {laughing} If you follow the Project to the letter for those 28 days as written in the book, the online program is a little bit different because we offer folks a 3-month long version, which is a little more of dip your pinky toe in the pool; and then next week we’ll dip our ankle into the pool. You know; from the book content, there’s nothing wrong with doing the Project by the letter, following the scope perfectly; however, an important part of it is not just what you’re putting on your plate, and how many glasses of water you’re drinking in a day, and how many hours you slept last night, and how often you worked out this week. Although those are, technically three of the four pillars that go into this whole concept; that’s not going to be the big takeaway.

The biggest and most important part of the Project is the journaling capacity; I promise, I’m eventually going to answer your question. {laughs}

Kim: You’re fine. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: I promise I’m getting there. it’s the journaling; the importance of the journal. And it’s not to journal, necessarily, “I had X amount of grams of chicken breast and 27 raspberries,” so much as it is to journal; and long-term listeners, maybe even yourself Kim, this is going to sound redundant a little bit, because I say this a lot. But it’s more about saying, “Wow, I woke up with so much energy today! I feel great, I’m bouncing out of bed. I’m not following maybe a specific plan to the letter. What did I do yesterday that is making me feel this great?” And you can look at it, you can say, “Oh, I had half of a sweet potato with dinner; I had all of my water; I slept 7.5 hours, and I had a bunch of leafy greens with breakfast yesterday morning.” You know, “and I only had one cup of coffee instead of my usual 2.5”

Whatever it is. Those are all arbitrary things that I’ve just thrown out there; but those are kind of big picture concepts that you’re able to say, “these are the things, that if I want to feel this good, maybe it has something to do with those kinds of activities.” So you journal, then, these big high-level lessons learned; the things that work for you and the things that do not work for you. So let’s so the goal of the Project is that you’re journaling 2-3 of those a day. Even if you’re not able; in the book I have a copy of a journal template; we also have a free download online if you sign up for my newsletter; Fed and Fit main newsletter, you get a free download of that, just a PDF copy of it. Mostly for all the listeners listening; just FYI. I always forget to say there are tons of free resources if you sign up for the newsletter.

But anyways; there are specific things to jot down when you’re following that journal. I say write down your breakfast; how did you feel after? How did you feel two hours after? So on and so forth. If you don’t have time to journal that specifically, then just at the end of the day in a little notebook that you start to keep, or even in your phone; start to write down your two to three big lessons learned from that day as it pertains to health and wellness.

And then at the end of 28 days, if you followed this Project; whether or not you followed the scope exactly or not; you’re left with this list of powerful reflections that are just made for you. You know? And then you are then able to look at that and say, “Wow. Avocado kind of makes me feel crummy. So if I eat less of it, I tend to feel a little bit better.” Or whatever it is. It could be endless things. Or, “Wow, I do ok with grass-fed yogurt in the morning. It doesn’t bother as much as I was afraid that it would bother me, because it’s not technically paleo.” That’s a way to break out of that strict diet mindset and start to build what’s right for you and make it more lasting.

Because for me, dairy is a part of my; I call it the Perfect You Plan; your PYP, right? Dairy is a part of my PYP; at least dairy in my coffee and the occasional yogurt and some cheese.

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Cassy Joy: Did that answer some of your questions?

Kim: Yes, absolutely. You know; that’s kind of part of the love-hate with these challenges that I’ve had is that you kind of follow these really strict guidelines and you write down; well, when I was doing the macros, you write everything in your little macronutrient calculator, and at the end of the day I start to hate my phone, and hate that calculator, and hate looking at it. I’m just so glad when it’s over, you know?

Cassy Joy: Mm-hmm.

Kim: So this sounds like such a better way to find out what makes you feel good and what doesn’t make you feel good, and look at it in that sort of sense as opposed to; “Ok, well if I eat these amount of calories, I can get to this number of the scale.” You know what I mean?

Cassy Joy: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly right. I’m cautious; I am hesitant to say what I’m about to say; but I’m going to say it anyways. There are a lot of restrictive programs out there that I think do more harm than good when it comes to establishing a healthy relationship with food. You know?

Kim: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: And at the end of the day if you actually want freedom; that feeling of freedom, like you can just live. You can just intuitively eat, and you can just have breakfast, and you can have the gluten free toast or the gluten free pasta; and not worry about sabotaging any efforts, you’re just living your life; or while you’re at your friend’s house, you can have the ice cream, or the extra glass of wine; or whatever it is! It’s just life, you know! And you get to a point where that’s a very freeing thing, and not stressing over whether or not you should or should not be eating those things; I think not stressing about it does more for our health than stressing about it, having a sip, and worrying if you messed things up.

Kim: Absolutely. Yeah, I really like this approach. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Good!

Kim: Than what I’ve been doing. Or the sound of it, at least.

Cassy Joy: Yeah!

Kim: I have to put my feet in the water and get started with it. Yeah, but that’s a really great answer to what I was asking.

Cassy Joy: Good.

Kim: One of my other questions for you; what are some things that you go to; what are your go-to snacks when and if you ever have a salty, chip craving; or a dessert craving that you just, you want to indulge in but maybe you’re not really wanting to say, “Ok, I’m going to go have a piece of cake,” or whatever. Do you have anything like that? {laughs}

Cassy Joy: I do; I do. This is a really good question. So if I know that I’m low carb, or too low carb that day, like I missed maybe a carb with breakfast or any of my meals. I’m very pro healthy carbohydrates in all three meals; two if not all three meals. So if that’s the case, then I will lean on plantain chips if I want something salty and crunchy; or even those Jackson’s Honest Chips; some sort of a potato chip. Read the ingredients and make sure you’re comfortable with the oils and whatever they’re using, but Jackson’s Honest has a really good one. Siete’s new tortilla chips; you don’t need very many of them, but a couple of those will be good and that’s a nice form of a starch.

And then, if I am all covered on my starch intake for the day; which I normally am {laughing} because I’m a girl that loves to eat, but I still want something salty; I like to keep those SeaSnax on hand. Have you ever had those?

Kim: Those seaweed snacks?

Cassy Joy: Yeah, those seaweed snacks.

Kim: Ok, yep. My little guys love them. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: They do; that’s great. That’s a really great one. I like to buy those in bulk. You probably already have them, since your kiddos. I like those, and that just satisfies that crunchy saltiness without really giving me more; because sometimes a snack, I like to think strategically about snacks. Is it making up for nutrients that I didn’t get enough of at a meal? You know, and if that’s the case then I’ll go for the slightly carbier, higher carb snack. But if it’s just something where I just want to munch on something, then I try to make sure it has the lowest nutritional impact, so it doesn’t throw off my body’s normal rhythm between the three meals, so that’s where the SeaSnax come in really nice and handy.

Kim: Awesome.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. And then for desserts; man, I mean it’s hard to say because I’m coming out of February. And for whatever reason, for the month of February; at least me as a food blogger, I felt like all I did; seriously, Kim, I think I bought 20 bags of chocolate in the month.

Kim: It’s Valentine’s Day; it really is everywhere.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} It is!

Kim: It’s wonderful and it’s awful.

Cassy Joy: It is, and I don’t even like chocolate; I like chocolate, but I don’t like chocolate that much. I was making it for demonstrations and for recipes for the blog. Anyway, the month of February I was not missing a dessert. But outside of that, because that’s just what’s recently on my mind, is “no more sweets!” I’m really looking forward to March and spring-type foods. But I would say that I tend to lean on; oh, gummies are really nice, if you like sweet and sour kind of things. I really like lemon-lime gummies. I’ve got a recipe for those in the book. Those are really tart, and really delicious, and kind of sweet. And if you’re not following the Project to the letter, add a little honey in there; it makes them really yummy.

What else? You know, every once in a while if I do bake anything, like a grain free brownie or some cookies or whatever it is. There are a bunch of recipes on my blog, I will freeze them, and wrap them individually, maybe in some parchment paper, and then freeze them in a big bag. And if I ever want a sweet treat, I will just take one of those out, defrost it, enjoy it. So that kind of helps me moderate, so it’s not a slippery slope.

Kim: Yeah, that’s a great tip; I like that a lot. Perfect; well the last thing I had to ask you is about kids. I’m a relatively new listener, but I think you don’t have kids as of yet. But I’m curious what you think of them eating this sort of lifestyle; or eating this sort of way. If it’s something they can thrive on, and if you think that there needs to be maybe some more added to it; like rice or pasta or things like that to kind of beef it up a little bit, or if you think this kind of lifestyle is something that they could go along with, too.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, that’s a really great question. You know; kiddos are going to need a little bit more carbs. I don’t; to answer your question, I don’t have kids yet. We’re tossing it up. We’re going to see what the universe has planned for us. Well, Gus, my Great Pyrenees; feelings would be very hurt right now if he heard that I said that. {laughing} But we don’t have any two-legged kiddos yet.

Kim: {laughs} There you go.

Cassy Joy: You know, that’s a great question. I think that it is true that kiddos; and it depends on what your little ones gravitates towards, what kind of foods they gravitate towards. Because at the end of the day, sometimes they just need to eat. So I think that higher carb, thinking about that, is a really good thing to focus on. Obviously trying to get in vegetables wherever you can, and that depends on their preferences; it’s going to be really important.

To answer your question directly, the paleo template is great for kids but I would definitely focus on more starches for them, and don’t be shy about fruit. It is great. And when I say starches, that includes of course potatoes, beets, plantains; all the potatoes, all the different colors. But white rice is fine to throw in there; gluten free pasta is fine. I do tend to err on the side of gluten free, just because it can be a problematic protein, whether you already have a sensitivity to it or not. While we’re building our digestive tract; it can tend to, over time, build up and cause some sort of a resistance, so every once in a while, introducing it if you’re eating out that’s hard to really control what winds up on your plate, so they’re going to be fine in those regards, unless you know of a specific intolerance to be aware of. But at home, I think it’s definitely fine to have gluten-free stuff. Oatmeal if they like; things like that are definitely great.

Kim: Ok. Wonderful. Well I think you have answered all my questions. I’ve loved starting to learn about you and your project, and I’ve just picked up my own copy of the book last week, so I have it. I just think everything that you’re doing is so wonderful, and I’ve really enjoyed learning from your website and your book so far.

Cassy Joy: Oh, Kim, you’re just the best! Thank you so much for that, that is so kind. I’m excited to know, too, that my book is in a library. It reminds me that I need to run around; I’m in San Antonio, Texas, I need to go to all the libraries here and give them a copy. But thank you so much for writing in, being so sweet and gracious and coming on today’s call, and asking such great questions. I know in the bottom of my tummy, in my gut, that other folks out there are going to be thankful that you asked those questions, so thank you again for coming on.

Kim: Thank you!

Cassy Joy: Awesome. And for all of you lovely listeners, thanks for dialing in today. Remember that you can find a complete transcript of today’s show; so if you missed something and you want to go back and reread it but you don’t want to rewind, then you can just head over to www.FedandFit.com and you can pull up the whole transcript. And if you enjoyed today’s show please head over to Amazon; excuse me, not Amazon! Amazon is where you can review my book! {laughs} Head over to iTunes and leave a review. The more reviews that are left there, the more likely it is that this podcast will pop up in front of other folks; and who knows who might be out there that could benefit from some of these words.

Thanks again, Kim, for coming on the show. Thanks everybody for listening. We’ll be back again next week.


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  1. Nicole says:

    I just realized the podcast isn’t updating on Overcast anymore! I thought you had stopped making new episodes and I was so sad, but it looks like it’s just a glitch with that one podcast app. Any chance Overcast will start carrying your new episodes again? Love the podcast 🙂

    1. Cassy says:

      We’re investigating this, Nicole! We’ve got a support ticket in with them, but haven’t heard anything back. Feel free to reach out to them, too!