On today’s episode, I’m sharing my personal journey and evolution with dieting, weight loss, and nutrition. I’ll share what has stayed the same and what has changed along the way through my experience of becoming a Registered Dietitian. And the best part? Tune in for the gender reveal of our baby!!
Where can I learn about true wellness? How can I develop sustainable habits? How do I realistically maintain a healthy diet? Will losing weight finally make me happy? How can I create a lifestyle that serves me and my goals?
Welcome to That’s Healthy?! The podcast where we deep dive to answer these questions and so much more! Tune in for conversations with host, Hope Brandt RD, and guest experts as we bust myths, talk about health and wellness trends, and embrace achievable wellness. We’ll cover topics like nutrition, fitness, mental health, and you’ll learn tangible tools and strategies to transform your life.
Welcome to the podcast where we answer the question that’s healthy?! This is your host Hope Brandt. Social media has really done a doozy on our perception of health and wellness. And I want to help set the record straight, quick fixes and fad diets, unachievable beauty standards, extreme fitness challenges that leave you more broken than when you started all paths, taking ownership of your choices, treating your body and mind with respect, filling your life with things and people that lift you up instead of tear you down. Yeah, that’s healthy. And that’s exactly what you’ll find here. Let’s start the show.
Hello, I am so absolutely thrilled to be here. Welcome to That’s Healthy?! I’m so so excited for this podcast, and just feeling really hopeful about this venture. So I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad to be in your earbuds, headphones, car speakers right now. And hope you’re ready to settle in and have a nice little chat. So this first episode, we’re going to talk about me. But my hope is, from my story, you can take something tangible that you can apply or adjust in your own life, because I did not start out where I am today. Right? There have been a lot of frickin chapters in this book. So we’re gonna do a little bit of a rewind, and kind of go through my personal dieting, weight loss, nutrition philosophy history, and kind of go through what has changed, what stayed the same, and what I have altered or changed my mind about through my experience of becoming a registered dietician, being a nutrition coach for about four years now. And how how all that experience has changed the way I view nutrition, the way I think about nutrition, the way I talk about nutrition, the way I coach nutrition. It’s changed everything. So we’re gonna go ahead and get into this subject matter.
But a very, very important thing that I need to talk about before we get into that subject matter is, if you only came here to hear what gender my baby is, well, wait no longer. We are having a baby girl! Oh my gosh, we’re so excited. David and I both thought it was a boy, the literal entire time, the whole time. From the very first ultrasound where I was like eight weeks. You know, we saw our little frog, our little lizard creature in the ultrasound picture. And we looked at each other. We both said, I’m getting boy vibes. We both for no reason just thought it was a boy. And not even because we wanted a boy instead of a girl. You know, we would have been absolutely thrilled either way, but we just thought it was boy. So we were super surprised. When we went back for my 20 week appointment and the ultrasound tech said what do y’all think it is? And I looked at her and I said, Well, we we both thought that it’s a boy this whole time. And she said Well, you’re wrong. It’s a girl. And of course I immediately burst into tears. David had no reaction at all in classic hope and David form but I mean, he didn’t have no reaction. He’s very, very happy. He’s going to be the actual best girl dad in the whole world. I’m sure if I hadn’t, you know, been worried about wiping up my own tears, maybe he was tearing up a little too. He gets very very quiet when he gets emotional. So who knows? Maybe I just missed it. But yeah, it’s gonna be a girl. I as of this day, I think we have a name picked out. We are still open if some new inspiration hits us. I’m mostly just saying that so David doesn’t rebel against the name that we’ve chosen. But I think we’ve decided on a name and I’ll tell y’all eventually once it’s kind of a little more in stone, and we tell our families and stuff. But it’s just been such a fun adventure so far, not, not all the time. Definitely not fun all the time. There have been some days, and some mood swings where it’s been less than fun, I would say. But the second that we found out, it was girl, it felt like my entire world changed. Sorry, I don’t mean to get emotional. I’m just so so excited, and feel so privileged to be able to be a mom to this little sweet angel that we’re going to bring into the world. And it truly just solidifies the purpose of what I’m doing even more, because I want my daughter to come into a world and to see the example of her mom, treating her body with love and respect, and prioritizing my health, not for vanity reasons, but so I can be the best that I can be for myself and for my family. And I’m just so overcome with excitement, and just feeling absolutely blessed to be able to be on this journey. So we’re having a girl. And we’re so excited! It hardly even feels real to say. We’re just absolutely over the moon. So I appreciate you sharing in this excitement with me. And I do plan on sharing. I’ll just have to see where my boundaries lie and what we feel comfortable with when she gets here. But I consider you guys to be a part of my life. And I just am so tickled that you are here and participating on all the ups and downs of the different aspects of this life with me. So that’s the big news.
And we’ll talk about nutrition now, I promise. So let’s kind of get into the heart of the matter here and what we’re talking about today. And really, I’m going to kind of just start from the very beginning of my journey. And it’s gonna seem, I guess, like the very, very beginning. But it all comes together and all ties in. And it all has influenced the way I see things today.
So way back in 2017 we moved to Tahlequah. And it was a very interesting time, in both of our lives. Oh gosh, it was before that. I guess it was like 2015. Oh, holy cow, okay, because we moved to Tahlequah before we were married officially. So David and I moved to Tahlequah and we were pretty isolated and were by ourselves. We were not in a place where we were super happy with our jobs or with extracurriculars or things like that. I think we were both kind of looking for, and I know, I was specifically thinking there has to be something more fulfilling that can occupy my time than just waking up, going to work, coming home, ordering food and watching TV. I was just feeling like I was not living up to my personal potential. And that is my absolute worst nightmare.
I don’t know if you do the Intagram stuff or know about it. But I love doing personality tests and personality quizzes. I think they are so much fun. And some of them can be super insightful. I actually have all of my clients do the Enneagram test. So I can see where they’re coming from and get a little more insight into maybe how they approach things and how they view the world. So if you know anything about that, I’m in Enneagram three, with a super strong four wing, which is kind of a conundrum. Because threes are very image focused achievers and fours are very much about finding uniqueness and prioritizing authenticity. So it’s kind of an interesting balance to strike with knowing that you value how you’re perceived by the outside world, but still more so valuing your own authenticity.
So not living up or feeling like I was not living up to my potential was literally plaguing me constantly. I was not sleeping well, I wasn’t functioning well, I just literally felt like I was kind of a shell of myself. And I didn’t know what my my purpose was, but I was intent on finding it. So I still do this. I choose words of the year. So around 2017, I chose the word “purpose” for my word of the year. And I began just looking for ways that I could live my purpose on this earth because I truly believe that the Lord Jesus has imparted a unique purpose in each of us. And I knew that I wasn’t doing my part to seek that out and find it. And I knew for certain that I wasn’t living it. And so “purpose” is the word I chose.
By March of that year, we had decided to send me back to school to be a registered dietician. So while that was going on, I was kind of having a moment with my own personal nutrition. I had lost about 25 or 30 pounds since my wedding, which was about a year and a half before that. I was cooking and I was obsessed with how food affected our bodies. And this is one of those things we’ll go back to– talking about how my nutrition philosophy has changed. But if I talk about my own history and how I actually started, I got into nutrition by doing the Paleo diet. I was very strict on the Paleo diet. And it was the first time that I could make the connection between the food I was eating, and how my body physically felt. It did not start from a place of looking for weight loss or wanting to change my body, which is one of the things that I’m the most thankful for that I really appreciate about my journey. Because I don’t think I would have been able to do what I did had it only been based on wanting to change my physical appearance. But it was based on wanting to do something good for me, and wanting to prioritize my health because I did not feel healthy in any sense.
I was already working out. I had been working out for a few years at that point. I started CrossFit when I was in college at LSU. Shout out to go CrossFit, my OG gym, absolutely adore them. So I was still doing CrossFit or a similar exercise when I was in Tahlequah those first few years. And despite still being pretty consistent with that exercise routine, it just wasn’t enough. And you know, we know that to be true. I talk about to my clients as well, that nutrition is one of the main drivers of seeing the body composition change you want to see but also literally being able to feel your best throughout the day. Exercise is super, super important and impactful in its own right. But if we are not looking at both of those things, when it comes to creating a lifestyle, that’s going to be the most beneficial for our health, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice. We have to be looking at both of those prongs of an approach. So I had already had the exercise down pat. And I think that’s a fantastic place to start. Because exercise happens, typically, once a day and doesn’t even have to happen every day. If you work out once a day, four times a week, then you’re setting yourself up for some success if you’re following a program that’s designed to produce the results that you want to see. So doing something four times a week is a lot easier to start with than thinking about doing something up to six times a day, every day a week. There’s a lot less opportunity to mess up if we’re just looking at doing something four times a week rather than literally changing the way that you eat, every time you eat every day, right? It’s complicated. And it’s difficult to do. So that being said, I think exercise and dialing in there is a fantastic place to start. If nutrition seems overwhelming, however, and you’ll hear me say this, nutrition does not have to be all or nothing. And this is something that has definitely evolved. And one of my my bigger philosophy changes. We’ll come back to those things. And I’ll kind of list them out once I get through describing my story.
So let’s go back to where I’m eating strict paleo. I loved it at the time, because it gave me a structure and it was super simple to follow. It wasn’t easy to follow. It took a lot of unnecessary sacrifice. But the rules were simple, right? And a lot of times this is why diets catch like wildfire. It’s because they’re very simple. And you can wrap your brain around it really, really easily. And you can do it by yourself. So there I was going strict paleo, realizing whatever this is doing, my body feels great.
Let’s talk about Paleo. If I had to choose a “diet” to go on again, I’d probably choose paleo because I think there are some really great principles that the philosophy instils. So paleo is mostly whole foods. It cuts out (red flag) dairy, grains, soy, sugar, and processed foods, although there’s so many processed foods now that label themselves as paleo, which is just kind of ironic, because that’s not the heart of the movement. So I was really looking at it as more of what can I not have, and then you create your diet around things that you can have. So it was very fruit, vegetable, meat focused, which is not a terrible thing. There were no major macro nutrient food groups that were cut out. So it wasn’t like keto, where you eat super, super low carb, or it wasn’t low fat, where you eat low fat. It was still pretty balanced in that regard. However, I did also choose to eat much lower carb, because that was the trendy thing to do at the time. People, especially in the paleo CrossFit space, were very much into going low carb, not necessarily keto, specifically, but which again, in retrospect, kind of really makes no sense. Because you’re not giving your body a great fuel source. Either way, if you’re eating just under the amount of carbs that you need to produce the desired amount of energy for your body and fuel workouts and also not eating low enough carb to bring your body into ketosis, it literally makes zero sense when I look back on it, which is why I would never tell you to do what I did. But going through this experience has shaped my view of nutrition and really created a perspective that I think lends itself to showing empathy to wherever you are on your journey, because I’ve been there and I’ve done some dumbass stuff. And I thought I was doing really smart stuff at the time. And I would have told you that you should do what I do, you should do what I’m doing. And, you know, I was out to lunch.
So I was strict paleo for a solid three to four years genuinely, and truly thought that was the way, the truth, and the life. I was very much kind of holier than thou, in my view of my nutrition. I don’t eat added sugar. I don’t eat bread or grains or any of these foods that are less than. If I had talked to myself about nutrition I would have thought I was extremely obnoxious. So if we ever interacted and you thought I was obnoxious, I don’t blame you, I really don’t. I think I was obnoxious. However, eating in that way, prioritizing meat, fruit, vegetables, some really quality sources of nutrition. That was the thing, in retrospect, of course, that I realize, changed the way my body felt and the way it looked at a certain point.
Following that way of nutrition for so long, I started to see my body change and realize, like, oh, shoot, I need to buy some new clothes, my clothes are baggy and not fitting. And it really just continued to drive home the impact that what you eat can have on your body and your health. And so, even though I was in the throes of diet culture, following the Paleo diet, had so many food rules, had such a pretentious outlook on food quality, that is what got me hooked on nutrition and wanting to dedicate my career to nutrition, because I truly thought, this is the thing that I can be fascinated with, and can learn about forever. And I think that this can help me help other people, because I felt physically so much better.
So when I went into my undergrad for nutritional science, I had already graduated from LSU with a degree in mass communication. So I already had some credits under my belt, but I didn’t have any of the science, any of the math, any of the statistics, the chemistry, the biochem, etc. So I had to go back to the very, very beginning on all of the sciences, because I’d only taken Gen Ed’s science for non science majors. So I had to go back and take it for a science major. And I think a lot of people don’t realize this, but the curriculum that you go through to be a dietitian is extremely similar to what med students go through in their undergrad. We were in classes with the future doctors and PTs and SLPs of the world. So it’s a strenuous curriculum that is extremely technically sound. So I think that it’s just dieticians don’t get the recognition that they deserve for the type of education that they have.
So while I was in school and my undergrad going through all my beginning sciences, and even through my nutrition classes, I was still very much on the Paleo train. When I first made my Hopewell health account, in my bio, it said “Paleo” as categorizing myself as a paleo nutritionist. So that shows you how far I’ve come and how much I’ve changed. But it’s just really funny. I have a future episode of Mind where I go back and roast some of my previous posts. So stay tuned for that one. Can’t wait. But I mean, if you can’t roast yourself, then you haven’t changed enough, okay? Growing is part of life. So you have to be able to look back and say, I was wrong. Not only was I wrong, I was extremely wrong–I could not have been more wrong. And you learn and you go.
What really started changing the way that I approached nutrition is going through my dietetic internship. There are a few factors that changed the way I looked at nutrition, the first being the accessibility or really the the inaccessibility of a lot of the type of nutrition and wellness that was being pushed and that was so clearly unobtainable for a large sect of the population. And so I started to think and it made me wonder how these things could be the only way to wellness if it wasn’t accessible. So things like eating only organic, things like eating grass fed meat and free range eggs, and all these special flours and sugars. Apparently coconut sugar was okay to have for the Paleo diet, but not regular white sugar. It makes no sense, you guys, it really doesn’t. The argument for coconut sugar was that it had some more minerals in it. Please, please, sugar is not where you get your minerals. Anyway, I digress. But there are some things that were just glaring discrepancies that were very hard to overlook, if I wanted to truly help people make their life better through nutrition. And I kind of open my eyes and realized this is not the way to help people make their lives better. This is putting a burden on people. And it really shifted how I was viewing nutrition and the views that I held as far as what was healthy and what was not healthy.
Next, was learning more about specific macronutrients and how they work in your body and in your diet as a whole. When I was eating paleo, and before I had enough education to know, I was reading blogs and listening to other nutrition podcasts from people who were not dieticians, or who did not have any type of higher credential that I would look for at this point. I’m not saying you have to have a credential to be credible. That’s not true. And there are some very smart people doing great things who don’t have any credentials. So I’m not saying that’s a prerequisite to where you get your information. But it is nice to know. And it can help you kind of weed through the sources that we see nowadays, and at least give you a starting point to start looking for credible information. So I was following bloggers, other people who were nutritionists, and specifically paleo people. And one of the big things that was pushed is focusing on the quality of food that you’re eating. And if you focus on quality, then you don’t have to focus on quantity, because you’re taking all of the bad things out of your diet. And so then you’re going to be healthy no matter what. If you’re not eating gluten, and you’re not eating soy, and you’re not eating grains, and you’re not eating sugar or processed foods– that is faulty logic. That’s not how it works. So I started looking at the value of food quality. We still want to focus on and eat plenty of high quality foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and legumes–all the things that give us the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that we need to be healthy. But when we look at quantity of macronutrients that we’re eating, that’s important too, and can be a big driver in not only health outcomes, but also body composition. And really bringing more of that context into my view completely shifted the way that I was able to look at nutrition. And it really changed how I viewed food. When you’re following a diet, like when I was following the Paleo diet, it was very much this food is good, approved; this foods good. I cannot have this food, this foods bad. So it’s very much categorizing every single food as good or bad, specific ingredients good or bad. I remember looking through every single salad dressing or sauce, and if it had canola oil, it was an immediate No. Oh, that’s bad for me. Canola oil is bad for me. Nope. And this is one of those red flags that I now look for that if someone is pushing that canola oils bad I’m like, nope, uneducated, not up with the research, not into it and will not be listening to this person because that’s just not what the research says. Not only is it not inflammatory, but it’s an individual food. What we have to look at when we’re judging the healthiness or unhealthiness of a diet is the actual, overall context of everything that goes into what we’re doing. It’s not isolating good or bad and labeling foods as good or bad, or that red dye is bad.
I mean, this could be a whole episode in and of itself– food rules and how to remove the mindset of labeling your foods as good and bad. You’re missing the forest for the trees when you do that. So I was the queen of doing that when I was following the Paleo diet. So learning more about how macronutrients and micronutrients influence our bodies when I was going through my dietetic curriculum and my dietetic internship really changed how I viewed food. And it became apparent that there were more players in an overall picture of my diet. And that I didn’t have to be isolated to specific ingredients that I had to include or avoid. So I went through continued education, more learning experiences, and the opportunity to be exposed to really smart and educated people who were able to challenge my views. I don’t think I ever got into an altercation or even a debate with anyone about what I believed about nutrition. But I’m thankful that I was willing to have an open mind to listen to people who had the education that I didn’t, that had experiences that I didn’t. And I think that was also a key player in being able to grow and evolve and be open minded enough to do that.
So the two things that I’m thankful for, through my nutrition journey would be number one, starting and approaching changing my nutrition from a place of wanting to respect my body enough to treat it. Well, that was truly the driver of why I was making nutrition changes, and why I think I was able to stick with something long enough to end up seeing the impact from that. And number two, being open minded enough to realize that choosing to be ignorant is worse than being wrong. And when you have new information, it’s your responsibility to adjust your views to be more accurate to the new information that you have. And it’s no personal fault to be wrong, everyone is wrong. Especially when you’re learning new things and you’re creating new theories and nutrition is a very new science, you’re going to be wrong. But the most important thing is to be humble enough to admit when you’re wrong, and care about the betterment of the industry, or care about the betterment of yourself or your family more than protecting your ego. And that can be really hard to do. But I’m thankful that I was open minded enough to be able to take new information and let it better influence the way that I think and what I know about nutrition.
I don’t even think I can say that’s my story in a nutshell, because that was a little long winded. But I do want to go through this list, specifically the three major changes to my nutrition philosophy. These things definitely influence the way that I talk, think, and coach nutrition today. So first huge change to my nutrition was inclusivity. This is one of my principles of eating for comprehensive health–to be as inclusive as possible. The most inclusive diet is the most sustainable diet. When I was eating paleo diet, it cut out so many food groups like grains and beans and told you to reduce fruit at one point. So those are red flags. No one food group needs to be cut out unless you have a specific food allergy. You know who you are. If you’re allergic to something, don’t eat that. But if you’re not, and you’re just trying to build an overall sustainable healthy diet, no food group needs to be cut out– no macronutrient needs to be cut out. The most inclusive diet is the most sustainable diet. And that was something that changed for me over time. And I can tell you, I am so much more content with my nutrition, now that it is so much more inclusive.
The second huge thing that changed was, I was not only focusing on quality, but also quantity. So quality will always, always always be important, and is a great baseline for nutrition. We’re talking about quality foods that are nutrient dense, that give us vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, carbohydrates, essential fats, and all the things that we need. We’re looking for those quality foods to make up the majority of our diet. But looking at quantity of our macronutrient ratio of how much of each macro nutrient, protein, carbohydrates, and fats, what our diet ratio looks like, is also really important. And it’s not just for changing your body composition, it’s important for your health, too. We need to make sure we’re getting enough of each of those macronutrients to support our health in the best way. And if you only are focusing on quality, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be able to hit that mark. They are both important–quality and quantity. A lot of times looking at quality can set you up to be making those really nutrient dense choices. But it’s not the only thing that matters. Quantity matters too.
Lastly, three. And this is something that I don’t think we have even covered yet. But the third big change in my nutrition philosophy is not being afraid to enjoy my food. And I feel like when someone is in the throes of diet culture or following a diet, it can feel dangerous to enjoy your food, or to like what you’re eating. Because you’re always told that, if you’re on a diet, you’re going to hate what you’re eating. It’s “diet food”, it’s “bird food”, it’s whatever else. And if you’re eating things that you enjoy, then you can’t trust yourself. You’re going to overeat. If it tastes good, it’s automatically bad for you. That is not true. And being able to enjoy your food is such an important aspect of a sustainable diet. And this is something that I talk with my clients about all the time. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re not going to be able to do it for very long. And then, what’s the point of that. We’ve just completely removed the sustainability that we’re trying to create. So we’re walking that line all the time between not going into overindulgence category, but not depriving ourselves to where we feel restricted. It’s about finding the perfect balance for you, of being able to enjoy your food, but still do what you need to do to achieve your goals. So it’s tricky, and it’s difficult to get there. And it took me a lot of trial and error. And truly, the needle is always moving. I call this the nutritional pendulum. And you’ll hear me talk about this when I interviewed Jordan SIAT, too. It’s gonna be one of these episodes that dropped at the same time. So I’m so excited for you to listen to that one.
We talked about the nutritional pendulum, which on one side, we have the bucket of I’m going to do whatever I want, I’m going to eat whatever I want, I’m going to enjoy myself. It’s really kind of hedonistic eating, where you’re only focused on the enjoyment of that food. And then on the other side, the pendulum swings back, and it’s Uber restrictive. This is where you get into extreme calorie restriction, or cutting out food groups going on a fad diet or a cleanse. And it doesn’t ever allow you to find your middle point because you’re constantly just swinging back and forth between f**k it and uber restriction. And so where we want to end up is that balance point in the middle, where you’re still going to be swinging back and forth a little bit all the time, but there’s going to be a range. And when you get to either edge of the range where you start to feel uncomfortable, it’s time to push it back closer to that balance point. So if you’re over restricting, it’s time to incorporate some more enjoyment in my diet. Or if you’re over indulging, it’s time to incorporate a little bit more structure. And being able to find that balance point is key, and being able to create a sustainable diet that’s going to yield the results that we want to see. And not being afraid to enjoy your food is a key element of being able to create that sustainability.
I am gonna wrap this up. But I hope that you were able to take something from my journey and know that I have waded through the s**t. I have gone through being on a diet, having food rules, taking nutrition advice from unreliable sources. I’ve had to weed all that out and come to terms with that and create a truly sustainable diet for myself, while continuing to learn, grow and evolve. I still don’t even view myself as having all of my s**t together. I’ve not always been the balanced or really healthy eater that I am today. And I know that it’s hard to get to this point, because I went through it and it was hard. And it takes time, it takes effort, and I made a lot of mistakes. And those are three of the realistic expectations that I have all of my clients come to terms with. This is something we talk about in the very, very, very first hopeful approach lesson. Accepting these realistic expectations will take time, it will take effort, and you will make mistakes. But coming to a point of forming that nutritional autonomy where you’re making these choices for yourself, not based on food rules, not based on following a diet, not based on following what some nutrition influencer says you should do. But going off of your personal experience with reliable information, and being able to make those choices for yourself, that’s where you can end up. It’s not as easy as following a set of rules. But it’s so much more rewarding when you can make those choices for yourself. And you only have to rely on yourself to make those choices–not asking anyone else if this is healthy, not Google searching, inflammatory foods, you know, all these little catchy things that people use to hook you back into diet culture. You have the capability of forming a truly sustainable diet, but it’s going to take time, it’s going to take effort, and you’re going to make mistakes. But if you’re looking for the right information, and you are committed to being resilient, then you will get there.
But wait, before you go, I’d love it if you’d share this episode with a friend who needs it. And to make sure we stay connected, find me on social media @hopewell_health or for more information about my nutrition coaching services, check out my website, hopewellhealth.online. And always remember you are smart, capable and talented. You have what it takes. I’m just here to educate and encourage you along the way. Catch you next time